Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Henri Lloyd Cipher: Gear Review

The Henri Lloyd design team has been working hard this winter developing the next generation replacement for the popular Breeze Line. The result is Cipher - which features impressive numbers. It’s 25% lighter and 33% more breathable than the Breeze.

Henri Lloyd’s Cipher line includes a jacket, vest, and matching waist pants. The jacket is available in a multitude of colors; red, bronze, black or silver. The vest and pants are available in black.

This is a no-frills, extremely comfortable range that has been constructed of TP1 Alpha fabric, a fully waterproof and windproof fabric that’s designed to transport perspiration and condensation away from your body. An abrasion-resistant mesh finish feels good against your skin and ensures comfort. A durable water-repellent (DWR) finish sheds water. Overall, it’s a great line with minimal extras, a great fit, and a price tag under $100.00. This line is going to be hard to beat.

Cipher Jacket & Vest

The Good

Overall, it has a nice feel, and it’s truly lightweight. During those summer months when you need protection against a passing shower or a (usually welcomed) cool night, this will be your go-to piece. It packs well and will yield no complaints for added weight in your gear bag. The cut is nice, the arms are long enough to provide full protection, and (unlike other jackets) the wrist adjustment tabs are flexible and thin. You barely notice they’re there until you need them.


With a differential hem, it sits a little lower in the back - hopefully preventing it from riding up too much while hiking. It has a shockcord adjustment to ensure the right fit. The neck has a brushed mesh collar for increased comfort. It feels good against your neck, but will remain comfortable even on those really hot nights.

The inside is comprised of a single layer of fabric. With no mesh lining, there’s no bunching up of layers or difficulty putting it on if you’re layering or already a little wet when you’re told to keep hiking when the rain starts.

The best feature in my mind is price. It’s hard to beat a fully waterproof, breathable, lightweight, and packable jacket for less than $100.00. With this price, it makes decorated crew gear a little more affordable while still having the right amount of protection.

The Bad

During Summer months or those times when you only need one layer, this is a great jacket. However, in other conditions, it just wouldn’t be enough. I tried layering it with a fleece, and although it would work, it wouldn’t be my first choice while layering. With that said - if you’re a jacket-collecting junkie like me, this won’t be a problem. It will have its time and place.

There’s no hood. It’s a personal opinion and quite the debate; but to offer my two cents, if you’re going for a rain jacket type feel, a hood is necessary. That summer thunderstorm is going to go straight down your jacket without one, and that’s not a comfortable way to sail.

First impressions are the most important, right? Well, I feel this jacket doesn’t make the best first impression. I worried it was a little too light weight. After further examination and a few laps around APS, I found it grew on me. The initial fear that it’s too light melted away, and I found it to be quite nice. With that said and to be clear, I would not want to be caught in the rain for an extended period of time. If there’s a passing shower or cool summer night, bring it on…

Overall

If you want a lightweight, packable jacket, the Cipher won’t disappoint. It has some good technical features - the cut, longer arms, and no-mesh lining - but it will never be your nasty weather choice. The price makes it a great option for team gear, with a jacket that will work on and off the boat while still being fully taped at the seams to make the Henri Lloyd Cipher completely waterproof.

Cipher Waist Trousers

Waist pants have their appropriate place. They’re easy to throw on when needed, not going to prevent water from seeping in the rear, but waterproof enough to protect against waves and showers….The Cipher is just that. As with the jacket, they seem to be too light to be true. With the same fabric, they are fully waterproof and breathable.

The Good

The lightweight and simple design make the Cipher Waist Trousers a great alternative to bibs or salopettes. Easy to slip on when needed, they will provide that extra water-resistance you need. The elastic waist has the same soft-to-the-touch material as the collar on the jacket making it comfortable and not sticky. The zipped ankle opening makes it easier to get on over shoes. Overall, they were well thought out and well designed.


The Bad

They wouldn’t be my go-to for all conditions, but for what they’re designed to do, they’re great. The rear pocket is not waterproof so after some time on a wet deck, it’s going to start seeping. The knees aren’t reinforced, which means they aren’t going to work very well for bow monkeys out there.

One good slide across non-skid, and your once waterproof pants are going to make better waterproof shorts with a little tailoring. There is a buckle closure on the waist that seems that could get caught on lifelines and generally be in the way. The sizing is a bit weird, but they are men’s sizes…and well, I’m a girl.

Overall, they would work well for those not sliding around on the deck. Great for the quick run down below before the summer shower, they would keep you dry and comfortable. However, with no reinforcements in the seat and knees, I would worry about their longevity.

Henri Lloyd’s Cipher is a great line of gear for the price. With fully taped seams, a completely waterproof set of gear isn’t easy to find for less than $100.00. Lightweight and breathable, you’ll be in good shape for that passing shower or cool night.

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