Introduced to the mass public at the ISPO 2015/16, the Inov-8 ‘Race Ultra Shell HZ’ instantly become a ‘must have’ piece of gear for a whole lot of folks around the world. Initially, and still to some degree, the ability to acquire this shell was/is rather difficult, both in Europe and here in the USA.
One of my readers, who lives in Alaska, was able to acquired one from a store in Europe. After using and not finding it to work out for him, he contacted me and asked if I would like to have it, to which I said yes and a week or so later it showed up at my house — so many thanks to him!
Before I talk about how this shell performs, I think it is important to really address what this shell was designed for. More so than many other pieces of gear I have used over the years this shell has proven itself to me, and others that have reviewed it, to have a rather narrow POU (Purpose of Use) and in many ways, the POU that Inov0-8 seems to have designed this shell for is not where it seems to be performing all that well at. But that is far from saying it does not excel at other POU’s, or in different climates, because it surely does.
I have gotten dozens of people asking me about which one they should buy, if there are any real-world differences between the fabrics – both for breathability and water resistance – and all those type of questions.
From a usage perspective the only one of these wind jackets that I have personally used is the Montbell Tachyon – something I have extensively used, put to the test, and reviewed.
For help with this article I have contacted a fellow by the name of Richard Nisley who is widely known and very well respected within the BPL community. He has the tools and resources to test fabrics at a level few of us have. I have often cited his research in my whitepapers and publications.