Keela had sent me their Saxon outdoor activity jacket just as we hit the height of our fine Scottish summer, so the chances of trying it out in the wind and rain were few and fa….. oh, wait. I did say Scotland didn’t I? Yeah, our summer lasted about four days and it’s been raining cats, dogs and Siberian tigers ever since, so there was more than ample opportunity to put the jacket through its paces. Thankfully, it passed muster and showed again that Keela as a home grown Scottish outdoor clothing manufacturer can deliver the goods.
Designed with fairly active pursuits in mind (but with some caveats), the Keela Saxon is built around the concept of comfort and protection without the demands of a heavy duty jacket. It won’t see you to the top of Everest or keep you warm in the arctic, but if you’re moving and generating body warmth, the Saxon is an excellent lightweight protective jacket that will keep you dry and keep out the worst of the wind.
Starting from the top down the Keela Saxon has a three-way adjustable hood and it’s designed to fit over a cycle helmet or climbing helmet. The adjusters are toggles at the left and right front side of the hood as well as one at the back of the head. The front of the hood also has a wire ridge allowing you to shape and flex it in order to assist in rain runoff.
The toggles are supported by a loop of material attached to the hood which feeds through each toggle. I’m not quite sure what it’s for, other than perhaps to stop the toggle flaying about as you move, but I found it a little annoying – sometimes it would prevent me from fully loosening off the toggle on the back of the head and I would have to jerk my head forward to help loosen it off fully. I actually snipped this bit of fabric away and it was much better afterwards.
There’s a Velcro retaining strap for when the hood is rolled up but oddly enough, this means the hood sits on the inside against the neck, rather than the outside of the jacket. I thought this might create a pressure point on the nape of the neck, but I’ve worn the jacket carrying several different backpacks of different weights and positions on the back, and it’s not proved to be a problem.
There are two side pockets on the jacket that zip and seal up to give a waterproof barrier – the pockets will happily take the biggest of smartphones but they’re missing one key feature - a line feed on the inside so I can jack my headphones in and run the cable up through the inside of my jacket. A small oversight that’s more of an annoyance than a genuine hindrance, I just don’t want exposed cabling on the outside of my body when I’m running / cycling, etc. due to the snagging risk.
Around the back at the base of the spine you’ve got another wide and deep pocket for whatever bits and bobs you want to have accessible and it also has a line of reflective trim above it for added safety at night.
The sleeve cuffs Velcro over with nicely designed tabs, but I feel that the tab itself is a bit insubstantial, and I’d ideally want something a little bit meatier on there, simply due to the wear and tear that part of the sleeve will take. The Velcro itself is also secured with single stitching, I don’t know if it’s been glued. Again, wear and tear, I always prefer to see double or even triple stitching for that reinforcement and durability. It might increase the overall dimension of the Velcro by a few millimetre but it’s worth it for that strength and hold.
Inside the jacket you can clearly see the taped seams that Keela are world famous for, which you’ll find out more about in our next ‘A Closer Look At’ article. It’s these taped seams that put the Keela range a cut above the rest as it’s their own technology that’s been adapted worldwide.
Now, when it comes to layers I am very much a one layer warrior. You know the type – it could be tornado strength winds or rain that’d drown a fish, but you see him out there still in shorts and t-shirt running. It’s not through bravado or anything like that, it’s just that it doesn’t take much for me to feel like my core temperature is hotter than the sun. I hate layering up, and so to put a jacket on for a run was akin to taking Susan Boyle out for a romantic meal; it just made no sense.
The pace was a nippy sub seven minute mile and the jacket did start to get warm inside, but I used that well known runners trick of pulling the zip down a bit. It was bearable, not overly hot, but at the end of the run there was definitely a hint of moisture on the inside of the jacket which soon wicked away. The moisture however was entirely my own; the fairly heavy rain (the kind with the fat blobs) didn’t get through at all and it proved completely waterproof.
I did have an issue with the pocket my phone was in as my headphone cable got itself tangled around the zip tab and I had to phaff about mid run to release it. This is why I prefer internal cable feeds.
The Keela Saxon is light, comfortable and when running it only made the minimal amount of noise, that kind of “shhufff shhufff shhufff” as the fabric rides up and down a few inches.
The Saxon certainly performed better when I took it cycling and trekking. When I took it out on the bike and pedalled my little arrse off, it really did feel at home and there was no moisture build up inside as it was the legs that were doing the work. It didn’t get in the way, didn’t burden me and the hood was able to go over my cycle helmet, although I had to pop the fancy and pointless plastic forward trim off my helmet for it to fit. For trekking as well, it’s ideal as you’re going to have a backpack anyway so the last thing you want is again, a heavy jacket with dozens of pockets you probably don’t need.
Straightforward, uncomplicated with little scope for failure due to the taped seams and limited features, the Saxon performed well in fairly demanding scenarios. I’d definitely still take it running, but only in the cooler weather. It’s clearly designed with the elements in mind. Realistically, if it’s not ridiculously windy or wet you should only be in a t-shirt anyway and you’d have no need for a jacket (Remember kids! Start cold, stay cool!) but where the wind is howling or the rain is pelting, Keela have got your back with the Saxon.
It’s available in Cobalt, black, lime and orange and retails for £99.95 from Keela.
CLICK HERE to find out more from the Keela site
COMPETITION TIME: We've established that Keela have a fairly arrse-like sense of humour. So.
We've noted that the Saxon can get a bit hot and moist when running. Name another activity you could use the Saxon for that'd also end up with you hot and moist.
Do us proud Arrsers.