2012-2013 Scott Decoder Jacket / Mid-layer
Color: Cypress Green
Features: Hybrid insulator jacket with stretch panels at armpits and upper back
Fabric Composition: 100% Polyester
Shell Fabric: 100% Polyester woven ripstop, 2-Layer knit softshell
Insulation: Primaloft® Eco (uses post-consumer recycled material)
Reviewer: 6’0″, 160 lbs.
Test Locations: Utah, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island
Test Duration: 45 days
Price: $240, USD
When it comes to technical mid-layers, I have been feeling a bit dated.
I have been using the same fleece layers for what feels like an eternity, while the rest of the world has moved on to Down or Synthetic puffy insulators.
While I can’t complain about any of my fleece mid-layers doing a decent job of keeping me warm while remaining breathable, there definitely has been room for improvement with respect to weight and packability.
The Scott Decoder is a “hybrid” puffy that is, In Scott’s words, “warm, light, and packable”—exactly what I have been looking for.
When wearing the Scott Decoder, you can feel a little better about your environmental footprint since the jacket is made from 70% recycled materials. Part of that 70% comes from the torso-warming Primaloft Eco insulation. This insulation is covered and protected by a woven ripstop polyester fabric. As I noted, the Decoder is a “hybrid,” and this is because the shoulders, underarms, hood, and sleeves are constructed of the Polartec Powerstrech fabric for a softer, stretchy, cozy feel.
The jacket uses YKK zippers for the main zipper as well as the pocket zippers. Inside the two available pockets is a drawstring to adjust the bottom opening as desired.
I’m not the easiest person in the world to make happy in this department. I’m tall, thin, and have very long arms (my shirt sleeve measurement is 37.5”), and I don’t like my active wear to feel restrictive at all. I’ve been testing the Decoder in XL, and it provides the type of fit that I love, especially in the arms. I can easily slide my hands up into the sleeves to keep my digits warm on a sprint from the car to the grocery store, and I can do so without feeling like I’m going to pull the seems out of the arm.
I can also put my arms straight out in front of my body without the sleeves riding halfway up my forearms (another rarity in my world), and the sleeves are not excessively bulky, which is great for fitting under your outer layer. The versatile fit of the sleeves is due entirely to the high stretch factor of Polartec Powerstretch fabric, and as for comfort, I think this was a great choice of fabric for the Decoder.
The chest/torso portion of the jacket also fits very well, even on my thin frame. The jacket is not excessively baggy, yet still allows enough room for freedom of movement with any type of base layer. The length of the Decoder also feels perfect to me, hanging just below my rear.
Finally, the hood/neck/chin area of the Decoder is another strong point in terms of fit and function. The hood is close fitting, but constructed of the same Polartec Powerstretch fabric as the sleeves. The opening is big and stretchy enough to be comfortably worn over the chin with the hood up or down, while still being close fitting enough to trap body heat.
Scott calls the Decoder “easily packable,” and I don’t disagree. The Decoder reigns supreme in this area compared to all but my thinnest fleece layers. It easily compresses down to roughly the size of a small pineapple, very comparable to a very thin L.L. Bean fleece layer I have.
While this jacket doesn’t quite get down to the size of most full puffys, I’ve found it to be quite acceptable for my needs, which includes keeping the Decoder in my touring pack for use as an extra layer, as well as squishing it into my suitcase for a trip home to Maine.
At 460 grams, the Decoder is not as light as some high-loft down or synthetic layering pieces, but it is very comparable to similar insulating fleece layers. Given the extensive use of fleece on the Decoder, the weight is well within reason, and I find the jacket to feel very light while I’m wearing it.
The Decoder has performed very well in terms of breathability, on all occasions. I have used the jacket as a mid-layer on fast paced ascents—both hiking and ski touring—as well as an outer layer for outdoor winter trampoline sessions, and running in New Hampshire, Maine, and Utah. In all instances so far, I couldn’t be more impressed with this aspect of the jacket.