Musto Keepers Softshell jacket - review
PUBLISHED: 11:30 05 January 2021
We test out the super versatile lightweight hunting jacket from Musto – the Keepers Softshell
I’ve always struggled with jackets. I’m one of those people who is either shivering or sweating, and when the stalk will likely involve sitting in highseats and periods of hard physical exertion, it can be really tricky to know what to wear to stay comfortable. If the mercury has dropped right the way down to freezing, and I know I’m mainly sitting, I have a seriously thick, fur-hooded Pinewood coat that does the job; for summer stalking, I generally don’t need much more than a long-sleeved T. Spring and Autumn, on the other hand, require something a little different.
I was sent the Keepers Softshell Jacket from Musto in late September – right around the time that the weather starts to turn slightly. The jacket is designed to work as a top-layer in the warmer months, and a mid-layer when the temperatures drop. It is water-resistant thanks to the DWR treatment on the outer softshell material, while internally the jacket is lined with a thin fleece for a little insulation. It has a robust windproof membrane and is light, flexible and breathable.
First impressions were good – the jacket is smartly cut and mine came in a nice olive-green colour (carbon grey is also available but is probably less use for stalking!). Although I do see the appeal of jackets with lots of pockets, being pretty scatty and prone to losing things, I actually really like the fact that the design of the Keepers Softshell is very simple, with just two large side pockets securely closed with zips. There is plenty of space for phones etc., and you won’t forget which pocket you put things in! It has a full-length zip for easy access, and can be zipped right to the chin to protect your neck form drafts.
I wore it several times before taking it out for the big hunt, mainly as really smart, comfortable top-layer while clay shooting. It really did the job of keeping the elements at bay without bulking me out at all on a couple of wide open, wind-whipped grounds, and I had two comments about how smart it was – it has a technical, sporty look to it that allows it to double as a more casual jacket (in other words, it doesn’t look like it lives and dies in the hunting field... you could certainly wear it for all manner of outdoor activities). For the proper field test, I went out looking for fallow bucks with Owen Beardsmore of Cervus UK in some stunning Hampshire woodland. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect test scenario really – it was drizzling all day with a decent breeze, and although it couldn’t have been described as warm, it definitely wasn’t cold either - exactly the weather I struggle with normally! We would be enjoying a mixture of sitting in highseats, and actively stalking up and down the steep slopes of the woodland. Jacket donned, we headed off into the trees at 6am.
What can I say? Worn atop a thin base layer and a cotton short sleeved t-shirt, the Keepers Softshell was ideal. It kept the drizzle at bay (rain drops slide off it like a duck’s back!); it kept the wind out; and I was extremely comfortable temperature-wise all day. It provides great freedom of movement with no resistance felt when shouldering the rifle, and the material didn’t “squeak” or rustle when I moved. We didn’t see any fallow, but ended the stalk at the very last minute with a totally unexpected, absolutely beautiful little muntjac buck; it’s now my new lucky jacket!
In short, the Keepers Softshell comes highly recommended for those tricky days when a coat is too much, but a t-shirt too little.
(Note: this is a men’s jacket, but I personally had no problem with the cut; however, I am tall, broad shouldered, and not very well blessed in the “chest” department. For women with curvier frames, I would probably not recommend this jacket to you, but Musto do have a great range of women’s gear to check out.)
Available in S-3XL in Forest Green (pictured) and Caron Grey