Orc PCU level 5 Review

A number of years ago I got my hands on an ORC level 5 softshell. I had wanted one for a long time to see what the softshell hype was all about. The first thing I noticed about this jacket was how light it was. The Epic Nextec material is very thin, but at the same time does a great job of reducing the effect of wind.

At best, I'd say that the level 5 was water resistant, though definitely not waterproof. After a few years using the coat, and even after reapplying DWR, the jacket had trouble in the rain. For instance, the seams are not taped, but that didn't matter, because the water would seep through the material all over the shoulders and hood. However, the level 5 was never designed to be a raincoat...that's what level 6 is for, right? The idea being: if you are out and it starts to rain, the level 5 will keep you dry while you find somewhere suitable to take off your gear and change jackets. So no real complains in that respect.

The hood rolls up and stows away neatly in the collar, which is then retained by a thin strip of velcro. I had the hood deployed 99% of the time, and never felt like it got in the way. To be honest, the only times I rolled it up was when I was bored and had nothing else to do. If you are using the hood, you will notice that it is very roomy, but not so big that it becomes unwieldy. It's large enough to accommodate a helmet, but is designed so that it never disrupts your vision by hanging over your eyes. The material is also light enough that if you turn your head side to side, the hood will move with you, for the most part.

There are two large zips in the front, and when opened reveal very large mesh pockets. While I suspect these openings are designed primarily for ventilation, I always found myself stuffing these pockets with odds and ends. On the arms are bicep pockets with loop velcro and drainage grommets. It's funny how I'll go out of my way to buy jackets with this feature, but it's also laughable how infrequently I use them. Regardless, they function well, and are good for keeping small first aid kits, and small bug-out items. (Just make sure they are in a bag to keep them dry.) There are also cinches on the hood and the waist that I never used. What's nice is that the velcro cuff closures (that got a lot of use) never lost their effectiveness, unlike some other jackets I've owned.

The jacket served me well for a number of years. It was my go-to jacket for summer nights by the fire or long hikes; for whenever you wanted a long sleeve to keep the elements and bugs at bay, but didn't want to wear something that was going to make you sweat. Conversely, when layered with a level 2 and 3, I could comfortably go outside into temperatures as low as 0°C (32°F). It was the versatility of the jacket that made it my favourite. And then… I lost it (which should explain the lack of pictures). Unfortunately, ORC is no longer producing level 5 jackets in alpha green; only in UCP. Sure, the material around the elbows were pilling a little, and sure the jacket had a perpetual smell of campfire. I loved that jacket… Oh well, time for an upgrade.

Geardo Ratings:
Warmth: 2
Breathability: 4
Wind: 4.5
Water: 2

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