Clothing Arts Cubed Travel Jacket Reviews

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Introduction:

Many companies produce jackets geared towards travel, but most seasoned travelers will trend towards lightweight hiking jackets instead, as they pack much more than most travel jackets. Partly because of this, I’ve always been skeptical of any travel jackets, so it is with that bias that Clothing Arts sent me their new Cubed Travel Jacket.

This jacket uses eVent material (like GoreTex) to keep you dry and well-vented. It features a zip-off hood and a ton of secure interior pockets. But more than that, this is supposed to be the only jacket you must take when you travel, so is it?

I tested it in the famous Seattle rain to see how it performed. In sticking with how I usually wear clothes, I only packed a sweater under the jacket while I walked the streets of Seattle in the rain and wind over Thanksgiving weekend. It was fantastic, slightly chilly, but not cold. I was impressed with this jacket the entire weekend and every time I have worn it.

Comfort:

One of the reasons hiking apparel is so comfortable is that it optimizes mobility — they pretend people will wear their jackets to climb a mountain. Optimizing for this, though, often creates a less flattering look as fashion takes a back seat. Optimizing for eyes often makes a less comfortable or less moveable jacket.

Here, the Cubed does a great job — even with a bulky wool sweater on under it, I found the jacket to be very free-moving. I never once felt like my arms were restricted in their movement. The entire cut and fit of the coat was highly comfortable — even when driving, which is relatively uncommon for me to find.

The jacket hits just below my waist, which is where I want it for this type of usage. The exterior of the jacket doesn’t feel slick and smooth like most rain jackets, instead feeling softer to the touch — I think this adds a bit to the comfort when your skin does come into contact with it — but it also adds a lot to the “doesn’t quite look like a waterproof jacket” nature of it.

Performance:

My primary hiking jacket has been an event REI jacket for years, and I’ve always found it excellent. The same holds with the Cubed — I found it to be a bit thicker overall, making it feel warmer without a sweater on under it. With the shirt on, it was warm and scorched.

One nice aspect is the extra tall collar, which helps to keep your neck warm without needing a scarf. It also stopped errant drops from shooting down the back of my neck — which was welcomed. The collar comes up just past my chin but below my bottom lip — I like the extra height.

There was nothing else to say about the performance — it stopped the water and wind, and I never overheated. Thumbs up.

Looks:

I don’t care for the jacket’s look when the zip-off hood is attached; however, it is a solid-looking jacket with it removed. You’re wearing it for the performance first and the eyes second. It looks like a rain jacket but not like a hiking jacket.

I think the looks are greatly helped by the fabric’s texture, which gives it less of a “hey, I can stop all the rain” type of feeling and more of an everyday look, too. I liked it; my wife didn’t comment one way or the other on it.

I do think the jacket fit me a little boxy, but I believe this is because I am in between sizes (between L and XL); I think an L would be too short in the sleeves and torso, and the XL was a little too wide through the gut for me. Ultimately, I always need to size up in these situations, so I wonder if the boxiness I saw was because of the style or the fit for my body type. It wasn’t nearly as boxy as you are likely now picturing.

Note on Warmth:

This is a rain shell, not a jacket to keep you warm. You must wear layers under it — enough to be comfortable without wind or rain. This jacket is there to stop the wind and the rain, so it will keep you warm.

I had no trouble wearing this jacket over a button-down in 52° weather with a drizzle and light wind. I needed to add a sweater to the mix when it dipped colder to stay warm. One night, I wore just it over a button-down in mid to upper 40° weather, and I was a tad chilly. Layering techniques are essential with a jacket like this, as this is not something you toss on, and you’ll be warm down to X degrees. You wear this to keep the wind and rain out.

Security and Storage:

One of the prominent features of the Cubed is that it has several internal pockets that also securely close. They work by clipping the zipper to a sewn attachment point, which keeps the bag from being unzipped easily.

If you use these security features, you need two hands to zip the pocket but only one to unzip the interior pockets. It’s a nice touch if you are in an area with lots of pickpocketing going on, but likely overkill for all but the most paranoid people. I mostly found that they added bulk to the jacket — I would love an option to get it without this feature.

Even still, I can appreciate why they exist and their cleverness.

These pockets also add a lot of storage. I could go for an outing without needing a backpack on a vacation if I was wearing this jacket. The external pockets easily held my X100T, which was comfortable as long as the coat was zipped up. Otherwise, one side felt too heavy.

If you are someone who is always looking for more pockets, you are going to love this jacket.

Traveling:

The Cubed is billed as a travel jacket, and at the top, I mentioned how seriously lightweight travelers pack hiking clothing because it is light and packable. This jacket is considerably heavier and bulkier than the hiking rain jacket I usually pack. Because of this, I would only pack this jacket if I knew I would need it for most (if not all) of the trip — certainly not as a just-in-case jacket.

I do think that for adventure travel, this would be a stellar option — quickly moving from city exploration to forest exploration. I see this jacket performing well on a wet wooded hike while being fine as an everyday jacket.

Overall:

At $380, this will be a costly purchase for most people, but that price is also on par with many hiking jackets. It could be better for lightweight travel, but if I was coming to the Pacific Northwest in the winter, this is the jacket I would want to pack with me.

Or, to put it another way, I live in an area known for its rain. I have (off the top of my head) about 5-6 fully waterproof rain jackets. Even after I finished my testing, the Cubed is the jacket I grab when I need a rain jacket. It’s what I wear.

I’m not too fond of hoods; they get in the way and mess up your hair, and I can remove the hood from the cube altogether. I have all the pockets in the world to hold all the small but utterly significant junk my kids ask me to pack around without needing a backpack. It looks nice, but it performs even better.

I was skeptical when I received it, but now I am glad I have this jacket as an option. It’s what I recommend if you need something for wet weather.

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