On first glance the Sugoi HydroLite's transparent material makes it look like it is made out of a shower curtain, and while the outside feels like a shower curtain, the inside of this running jacket feels like a smooth rubber. Texture aside, we thought this piece performed exceedingly well in the rain. Additionally, the HydroLite is the one of the lightest models we tested, which makes it a good choice for long distance running; however, this piece lost major points in breathability and wind resistance. For another lightweight running jacket that breathes well, check out the Editors' Choice winner, the Arc'teryx Incendo.
Sugoi HydroLite Review
Cons: Poor breathability and wind resistance
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Sugoi HydroLite has an interesting design that effectively repels water. While its lightweight material makes it ideal for long distance runs, this piece didn't perform well in our breathability tests, and it lacks certain desirable features, such as pockets.
The Sugoi HydroLite has two small mesh panels in the armpits to promote circulation of air and disperse moisture. When we ran a few miles in warm temperatures, we unfortunately thought they were too small to make any difference. For the most part, there isn't enough space between arms and side to allow air to circulate via the mesh pit vents. In fact, the vents are almost entirely smothered by the arms (unless you run with your arms flapping like a chicken wing!). After five miles of running, there was heavy condensation on the inside of the HydroLite, mainly in the sleeves, but also throughout the torso. A similar model that performed well in breathability is the Arc'Teryx Incendo.
When we ran in windy conditions, the Sugoi HydroLite's thin material didn't hold up against the wind too well. Since it lacks any wind-stopper material behind the zipper, we could feel the wind whip right through the front. From there, it didn't take long before we could feel the wind taking away our body heat with each gust. On the other hand, the HydroLite does have elastic cuffs to keep the wind out of your sleeves, and a drawstring around the waist as well. Though everyone's body is different, when we used the drawstring, we found that the hemline tended to ride up our torso as we ran, thus it did more harm than good. The Brooks Infiniti Jacket and the Marmot DriClime are great alternatives to the HydroLite if wind chill is a big concern.
As we ran through heavy rain, we were very excited to find that the Sugoi HydroLite really shined in water resistance. This piece relies on a DWR chemical finish over a very interesting material, which is comprised of a plastic-like coating over a net of mesh threads. While running in the rain, we noticed that water doesn't bead up on the HydroLite at all; instead, the moisture disperses over a wide surface area for speedy evaporation. We were thoroughly impressed by this unique design.
We were disappointed to find that the HydroLite had the fewest features of any of the products we tested for this review. There are no pockets anywhere on it, and doesn't come with a separate stuff sack like the Montane Featherlite. The HydroLite also doesn't have any reflective material at all, which we think is inexcusable in a running jacket. Safety first!
The HydroLite is on the lighter side of the pieces in our review, weighing in at 6.5 ounces. Both the Arc'Teryx Incendo and the Montane Featherlite Marathon weighed in just a bit lighter.
The HydroLite is a slim fitting piece. The sleeves come down to the knuckles, and the play around the shoulders and chest is great. The front of this layer runs a little bit short, but the backside extends past the hips (great for cyclists).
We think that the HydroLite is great for running in rainy conditions. And since this piece is so light, we would suggest it for long distance or trail running, but we wouldn't recommend using it in cold weather or windy conditions.
At $90 this is the least expensive model that we tested. It repels water very well and it's on the lighter side of all the products we tested. Sadly, we cringe at the thought of buying a running jacket that doesn't breathe well.
The Sugoi HydroLite excels at repelling water and it is lightweight, which would be great for long distance runs if it only offered better breathability. Overall, we wouldn't recommend this piece unless you are running in highly precipitous climate.
— Jared Dean