by Mark Wetherington and Ryan Jordan

Introduction

The Enlightened Equipment Torrid Apex Jacket is an ultralight hooded jacket insulated with Climashield Apex (synthetic), weighs 8.4 oz (238 g) in size M, and has an MSRP of $170. It is designed for backpackers looking for an insulating (at-rest or in-camp) layer that is more weather-resistant than a down-fill garment. The Torrid Apex features a minimalist design and low weight, making it especially popular among gram-counting ultralight backpackers and long-distance hikers.

ENLIGHTENED EQUIPMENT TORRID APEX REVIEW: Heat Map Image

Many possibilities for customization are also available for those who prefer a collar instead of a hood, different deniers for the interior or exterior fabrics, or a color other than black.

In fact, customization offers “so many color options, you wouldn’t believe it…..”

ENLIGHTENED EQUIPMENT TORRID APEX REVIEW: ee colors

Men’s and women’s versions of both stock and customizable jackets are available:

The men’s cut is boxier, the women’s is more fitted:

Torrid Apex Jacket: Male and Female versions side by side
Torrid Apex Jackets are available in both men’s and women’s versions.

Other products in the same apparel line:

Torrid apex: women's vest, men's vest, and pants
Custom Torrid Apex vests for men and women, and stock and custom Torrid Apex pants, are also available.

Review Context

This is a performance review based on extensive field research by both authors and some laboratory testing performed by Backpacking Light community member Stephen Seeber of Active Wear-Dynamics.

The primary context for this review is to evaluate the jacket’s ability to keep a user warm in cool, wet environments while not moving (e.g., in camp).

Features

  • helmet-compatible hood with drawcord adjustment
  • elasticized waist and wrist closures
  • zippered pockets
  • DWR finish on face fabrics
  • regular fit (vs. trim, slim, or athletic) to accommodate layers underneath

Specifications

(size men’s medium)

  • weight:
    • claimed: 8.4 oz  (238 g)
    • actual measured: 8.01  oz (227 g)
  • fill:
    • type: Climashield Apex (2.5 osy / 85 gsm)
  • fabrics:
    • face: 10-denier ripstop nylon
    • lining: 10-denier ripstop nylon
  • zippers:
    • #3 YKK coil
  • sizing measurements:
    • chest: 46 in (116 cm)
    • hips: 45 in (114 cm)
    • back length: 29 in (73 cm)
    • length from sleeve to base of neck: 39 in (99 cm)

Product Category Overview

The Enlightened Equipment Torrid Apex Jacket is a synthetic-fill high-loft water-resistant insulating mid-layer. This is in contrast to similar jackets with far more breathable shell and lining fabrics, such as the Arc’teryx Proton LT jacket, which is considered a synthetic-fill high-loft highly-breathable (active) insulating mid-layer. The former is traditionally used for warmth while at rest, in camp, or in your sleeping bag. The latter is traditionally used as a mid-layer under high levels of exertion (e.g., alpine climbing or hiking).

An additional area of contrast to similar garments is related to its insulating material. The Enlightened Equipment Torrid Apex Jacket is insulated with synthetic-fill, which is more resistant to loft collapse in response to moisture absorption and dries faster than a down-filled garment.

We’ve previously reviewed lightweight synthetic-fill jackets in this state of the market report. The Enlightened Equipment Torrid Apex Jacket was not available yet when the jackets in that report were reviewed.

Design/Technology Overview

  • Face and Lining Fabrics
    • 10d calendared ripstop nylon, generally considered to be highly water-resistant (not waterproof) and somewhat breathable (but not enough to be used as a mid-layer during high levels of activity).
  • Insulation
    • Climashield Apex, an unbatted high-loft insulation made with continuous-filament solid-fiber extruded polyester.

Performance Assessment

We tested the Enlightened Equipment Torrid Apex jacket in a variety of conditions between September 2019 and early February 2020 in southeast Wyoming, northern Colorado, and western Montana. It was tested as an insulating layer when resting during hikes at warmer temperatures (more than 30 F or -1 C) as well as an active layer when cross-country skiing and hiking in conditions of 10 F to 30 F (-12 C to -1 C). The jacket was tested in windy conditions as well as in drizzly rain, light snow, and sleet. By using the jacket in as wide a variety of conditions as possible, as well as pushing its limits both in regard to temperatures and use as an active layer, we intended to gain a thorough understanding of how it might fit into our backpacking kits.

xc skiing
When cross-country skiing in cold temperatures the Torrid was a functional active layer if left unzipped, despite not being designed for that purpose. In warmer temperatures more representative of 3-season conditions, it’s generally too warm to use as an active layer.

Description of Field Testing

Locations

  • Bitterroot and Sapphire Mountains in western Montana
  • Rocky Mountain National Park in northern Colorado
  • Snowy and Laramie Ranges in southeast Wyoming

Dates and Seasons

  • September 2019 to February 2020

Environmental Conditions

  • Altitude: 3,500 feet to 12,100 feet (1,067 m to 3,688 m)
  • Weather: Temperatures from 10 F to 55 F (-12 C to 13 C), primarily calm winds but some breezy conditions with sustained gusts up to 45 mph (72 kph)

How Many User Days?

  • This jacket was tested in the field for a total of 58 days.

Use Case Scenarios

  • Insulation Layer: as an insulation layer when at rest over a base layer (150-200 weight wool, as well as Arc’teryx Phase SL) in mild conditions and worn over a base layer and lightweight fleece in colder conditions. Worn under a waterproof-breathable shell in wet and windy conditions. This was the intended purpose of the jacket and, therefore, was how it was most frequently used.
  • High-Output Activities: As a primary outer layer when cross-country (Nordic) skiing in both tracked and untracked terrain.
  • Inclement Weather: as a primary outer layer in winds, drizzly rain, light snow, and sleet.
  • Cold temperatures: as a primary insulation layer when resting while hiking or cross-country skiing.
Mark on top of a summit on a chilly afternoon.
The Torrid was an ideal layer for wearing when taking in the view from atop a summit on a breezy and chilly afternoon. On especially cool or windy days I often wore it on the descent.

List of Performance Criteria

We assessed this jacket by evaluating its performance in a variety of conditions and activities, with the primary focus being on how well it functioned as a primary insulation layer when resting. Careful attention was paid to critically examining its features, or lack thereof, and their ability to provide warmth and protect the wearer from the elements. In addition, we compared the jacket to others that we have worn in similar conditions or for similar activities. The assessment has been separated into the following categories:

  • Warmth
  • Weather Resistance
  • Breathability
  • Comfort and Fit
  • Durability
  • Manufacturing Quality

Warmth (Plus R-Value and Clo Measurements)

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