Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sunice Golf Flexvent and Zephal Rain Jacket Review: Silencing Mother Nature

Every golfer knows playing in the rain and wind creates a few challenges.  The condition of the course changes in the rain.  The responsiveness of your ball changes in the wind.  Even the way you think about how to approach your round will change. 

But when you're battling the elements, there's nothing worse than spending time worrying about how cold or wet you are instead of concentrating on your game. 

The Sunice Kern Flexvent and Carleton Zephal jackets are your cure for the bad weather blues, and will protect you against Mother Nature at her worst.  Without a doubt, these are two of the best performing rain and wind jackets on the market today.

As much as I love playing golf, I'm not usually running to the course "because" it's raining.  And believe me, I got a few disapproving looks from the cashiers and starters this season when I showed up on days where conditions were masochistic.  But the Flexvent almost makes you look forward to the next rainy day. 

Water Resistance & Breathability 
The worst conditions I played in came in October.  Constant battering rain and wind all round.  I'm talking about Bishop and Spackler from Caddyshack kind of weather.  By the end of the round, the outside of the Flexvent did start to get damp.  But on the inside I was still as dry as if it wasn't raining at all. 

In light rains, moderate rains, heavy rains, sustained rains, and blowing rains, the Flexvent protected me from the worst frankestorms Mother Nature could throw at me this season.  And trudging around the course in high winds and heavy downpours all of a sudden became a lot of fun, not worrying about leaky rain gear or only making it through 10 holes before getting completely soaked. 

And speaking of fun, I can't very well video review four-and-a-half hours of golfing in the rain to show you how well the Flexvent performs.  But what I can do is recruit my girlfriend to simulate high-pressure pounding rain... by hosing me down at close range.  Exhibit A. 

Now even if a rain jacket keeps you dry from the outside, it still needs a degree of breathability to keep you dry from the inside.  One of those yellow, school bus yellow rubber rain coats would keep you 100% dry in any condition, but you probably wouldn't last more than a few holes before you perspired like you just ran the New York City Marathon. 

And the biggest surprise about the Flexvent was how extraordinary the breathability was.  Yes, it allowed my body to breathe in the cold, damp, wet rains of late fall.  But it also allowed my body to breathe in the spring and cooler summer rains, where temperatures reached 70-degrees.  With a turtleneck layer on the colder days, and a simple polo on the warmer ones, I couldn't have asked for better rain protection and breathability. 

Comfort & Mobility 
When you put something on that fits perfectly, it's a hell of a thing.  And comfort with the Flexvent is unsurpassed.  Featuring a semi-fitted cut to reduce bulk, you can wear it like a stand-alone pullover, but also with layers thanks to four-way stretch fabric. 

No uncomfortable tug at the shoulders, no pull under the arms.  And articulated arms that mimic the normal anatomical shape of your arms makes it that much more agreeable. 

To be honest, the whole range of motion thing is a bit overhyped.  Of course it's important.  But if you find anything that fits well, you're generally going to swing freely unless it's just poorly designed.  The Flexvent however, takes complete range of motion to even greater heights, and truly moved with my swing.  My swing was never compromised.  And that's common sense design at its best. 

Durability & Quality 
For a rain jacket to be waterproof, pores have to be small, and stitching holes have to be small.  Holes mean water can get in, they are holes after all.  So the Flexvent seams are laser cut with twill tape framing, using high-tech coating for maximum protection.  This is the kind of rain jacket clearly made for golfers, by golfers. 


The problem with some coating however, is it breaks down, or wears away after time.  Not so with the Flexvent.  After an entire season of play and multiple washings, it performs as well today as it did my first time wearing it months ago. 

Top that off with an incredible attention to detail, including lock-down, waterproof zippers, a contoured top collar lycra cuffs with adjustable velco straps, an adjustable bungee at the hem, and two front pockets (one with a ball cleaner shammy), and it becomes obvious that Sunice is clearly a company that brings enormous passion and innovation to the table.  And that bodes well for even the most demanding golfers. 

The Zephal is remarkably similar to the Flexvent in terms of overall performance.  But there are a few key differences that should be highlighted if you're deciding between one or the other.  So the Zephal part of this review will only focus on those differences. 

Water Resistance & Breathability 
In light to moderate rains, as well as heavy off and on rains, the Zephal performs on par with the Flexvent.  The key difference is the Flexvent can withstand a constant, pounding rain longer than the Zephal can. 

Keep in mind though, I'm talking about the kind of rain most people (other than yours truly) won't golf in.  Or when conditions are so bad, courses will often close and hand you a rain-check. 

But if you're a golfer who always packs a rain jacket in your bag in case of a sudden downpour, the Zephal will let you carry on business as usual.  Is it raining?  You'll hardly notice.  And in terms of breathability and wind protection, the Zephal and Flexvent are nearly identical. 

Comfort & Mobility 
Like the Flexvent, the Zephal delivers all you could hope for in comfort and mobility.  The Zephal is lighter than the Flexvent, making it easier to pack.  But also a bit roomier, which allows for additional layering. 

The Zephal also has a silky-smooth feel to it, compared to the more microfiber-like feel of the Flexvent.  Both jackets are extremely quiet. 

Durability & Quality 
The Zephal and Flexvent are basically twins when it comes to durability and quality.  I wore the Zephal just as often as I wore the Flexvent this season, and neither jacket deteriorated in performance over time protecting against rain and wind. 


And as with the Flexvent, the Zephal features laser cut twill detailing, waterproof zippers, two front pockets (also with a ball cleaning shammy), and extra protection from the elements around the collar, cuff, and hem.  Both are extremely well made. 

We've all bought rain gear that seemed great at first, only to disappoint later.  And there's no greater buzz kill than being out on the course in bad weather, making it through a few holes, and then finding yourself completely soaked inside. 

But the Flexvent and Zephal jackets didn't merely keep me dry.  They surpassed all expectations I have for quality, dependable rain jackets. 

So much so, that the Sunice logo now represents one thing to me.  Integrity.  And these jackets have earned a spot in my closet as two of the best performing, most reliable, exceedingly comfortable rain jackets that I've ever owned. 

For more information about the new Sunice line of rain and wind gear, check out Sunice Golf.  And as always, if you have any questions, shoot me an email here, or DM in twitter @PGAPappas.

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