SoTeer Waterproof Hooded - Women's Review
Cons: Sleeves a bit short, small pockets, sloppy construction
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The SoTeer Waterproof Hooded is a full-zip windbreaker with a drawstring hood, made of 95-100% polyester (some versions have 5% spandex). It's a relaxed fit jacket with old school drawstrings with end tabs on the hood and waist.
The SoTeer does a reasonable job of blocking mild to moderate winds, though it lacks the flare of many of the more technical windbreakers we tested. Standing on breezy hilltops and windy ridgelines, the fabric itself blocks a fair bit of wind. The zipper is also small-toothed and well-protected, offering additional protection for your chest. It features a full hood that can be pulled up and tightened with a classic drawstring and tied in a bow — just like elementary school. While many high-tech windbreakers do away with hand pockets to save weight, the SoTeer keeps them, adding both hand protection and casual comfort for everyday use. The sleeves aren't adjustable but are fully lined with elastic, which can help keep gusts at bay depending on where the sleeves end on your arms.
The hood is just large enough to wear, but doesn't leave much room for ponytails or buns — let alone a full helmet. It also lacks any sort of chin guard or volume adjustability. We appreciate the hand pockets for casual use, but they're quite small, forcing us to ball up our hands to fit them in completely, and not quite securing a full smart phone. While the cuffs are elastic, the sleeves are also a bit short, making it more difficult to get adequate wrist protection, particularly while being active. And though the waist does have a drawstring that can be tightened against cold winds, it's another classic drawstring that requires being tied off to stay put — and when not tied, dangles oddly between your legs.
If you need your windbreaker to keep you comfortable on a long run, the SoTeer will probably disappoint you. Made of 95-100% polyester (some colors have 5% spandex incorporated while others are all polyester), this jacket blocks wind from the outside and heat from the inside. It has no vents anywhere and collects sweat readily on warm summit missions and neighborhood jogs. Oddly, excess fabric from the construction of the jacket isn't cut off and sewn into seams and zippers like every other model we tested. Instead, large flaps of fabric are left, folded back on themselves from the main zipper and under the hood. Not only is this a construction strategy that we find strange and sloppy, it also leaves even more layers between you and the world outside — not a great feature when you need to dump some heat.
It's not all bad though. The SoTeer is relatively lightweight material that's both thin and flexible, helping it to be fairly comfortable for everyday wear. The wide elastic cuffs also allow you to push up the sleeves when you're really warm, just like a sweatshirt, without pinching your forearms as much as the many models with narrow cuffs. And as a full-zip option, it's easy to leave totally open if you really need it. Though the SoTeer isn't our top choice for high-output activities (like biking, running, or hiking miles up a mountain), it's breathable enough to be a solid option for casual, everyday wear. Our favorite uses for this jacket include evening dog walks and weekend errand runs.
Weight and Packability
Weighing just 6.6 ounces, the SoTeer is about average among windbreakers we tested. It doesn't pack down quite as small as some others but is still relatively easy to cram into a backpack or day bag. However, it doesn't stuff into its own pocket like most of the models we tested, so loses some points when it comes to organization and convenience. You can, of course, roll the jacket into its own hood, but it's just not the same as packing and zipping it away into a pocket.
We do have some concerns about the durability of this jacket, though nothing broke, snagged, or tore during our testing. It's one of a handful of coats we tested that isn't ripstop and there are many details that we're not confident in their ability to withstand years of abuse. The drawstrings are prone to unraveling — though some versions of this jacket come with fused plastic caps on the ends of the drawstrings to prevent this. The large flaps of extra fabric inside the main zipper and neck have loosely sewn hemstitching that looks all too easy to snag accidentally. Again, we didn't have any issues with this jacket's durability during our extensive testing period, but we found many aspects of it that are concerning to us for longterm usage.
When it comes to versatility, we like to ask ourselves what kinds of activities we're happy wearing this jacket during. The SoTeer proves to be relatively pleasant to wear for most casual activities. Its relaxed fit helps it layer over warm clothes during inclement weather while still being light and thin enough to be comfortable on mild and even some warmer days. It's not so loud and swishy that you feel everyone around you is staring as you walk past. Instead, it's fairly soft and flexible, adding to its comfort as an everyday jacket. The two hand pockets contribute to its friendly comfort. The SoTeer is available in an astonishing array of colors and even some patterns, from solid hues to 2 or 3-colored blocky patterns, and even some with bright contrast zippers.
Of course, if you want a windbreaker that can go out to coffee and for a 50 mile bike ride comfortably on the same day, the SoTeer isn't the ideal choice. When it comes to sweaty sports and activities that need a wide range of motion, this jacket leaves a lot to be desired. It's not as well-equipped for the more technical missions that many others are designed for. But if an everyday layer is what you desire, this just may be what you're looking for.
With "waterproof" right in the title of this jacket, you might expect it to be a rain jacket. And if your idea of rain is a light sprinkle on your morning walk, the SoTeer does the trick. While many competitors treat their fabric with a re-appliable DWR (durable water repellent), the SoTeer lacks any such treatment, instead relying on its polyester fibers to repel water. And they do — for a while. After several minutes of moderate to heavy rain, water soaked through this jacket right into our shirts underneath.
If we haven't said it enough yet, we'll say it again — the SoTeer lacks some thoughtful details that many other windbreakers have. When it comes to water resistance, not only does this jacket have no water-repelling treatment, the pockets are open and easily collect rain. The hood lacks a brim and is quite small, offering little in the way of face protection. And the sleeves are a bit on the short side, making it more challenging to pull cuffs over your hands when you feel like a little extra coverage. But for a windbreaker, it's not bad and certainly isn't the worst option we tested. We wouldn't head out on a rainy winter day in Seattle in the SoTeer, but we're comfortable tossing it on for a drizzly afternoon of errand running in the car.
Without a doubt, one of the most attractive aspects of the SoTeer is its low price — especially in this line-up of models. Though "you get what you pay for", means this jacket lacks a lot of the finishing details, careful construction, and thoughtful designs that many other more high-tech coats have, it still has a lot to offer for a very modest price. As a non-technical option, we enjoy this jacket for everyday wear — and the price is right.
The SoTeer Waterproof Hooded may not be totally waterproof, but it's a solid casual windbreaker that works well for everyday use. It's lightweight, relaxed, and easy to wear on mild days. Though it lacks some of the thoughtful design and convenient details of more impressive models, there's still much to love about this simple jacket that helps you stay within your budget.
— Maggie Brandenburg