(The Gear Loop) - Building on the success of their battery-powered heated jacket last year, Regatta Great Outdoors has returned with an exciting new launch for A/W 2021: an innovative range of waterproof smart jackets for men and women featuring built-in lights in the hood peak to brighten up dark winter walks, hikes and tent-based fumblings in the dark.
The idea itself is a simple and obvious one, and yet the Brite Lite Wearable Torch Technology collection is so ingenious, you can't help but wonder why every jacket on the planet doesn't already come with an integrated torch as standard. Moreover, the sheer versatility and hands-free practicality of the range means its applications go way beyond the uses it was intended for.
Invest in one for your next camping trip, and you may find it becomes as indispensable as your tent, especially when you're pitching up in low-to-zero-light conditions or navigating late-night trips to the loo. Not convinced? Keep reading to find out why…
Waterproof, warming, breathable and highly versatile, the Regatta Carletta VI 3-In-1 Jacket copes brilliantly with everything the Great British weather can throw at it. Designed for hiking, with an integrated LED torch in the hood, it is extremely useful in most camping scenarios too, and makes for a great investment considering that you can wear the inner softshell on its own for outdoor workouts or chilling indoors.
The hands-free hood torch really ups the safety factor, whether you're pounding pavements or dodging campsite obstacles in the dark. A new camping essential.
Regatta Carletta VI 3-In-1 Waterproof Jacket
- Hands-free torch light
- Fully waterproof
- Versatile 3-in-1 style
- No USB charging port
In the Loop
Here's a brief summary of what you get from the Regatta Carletta VI 3-In-1 Waterproof Jacket:
- LED torch in the hood
- Waterproof and breathable
- Detachable softshell inner for warmth
Shining a light on your set-up
When you're setting up camp for the night, it helps to have a bit of light on the subject. Experienced campers would never deliberately pitch their tents in the dark, but traffic jams, accidents and longer-than-intended rest stops in country pubs can happen on the way to your campsite.
Before you know it, you're laying out your ground sheet in the pitch black, and that can lead to disastrous set-up issues. Choosing flat ground, avoiding any dips that can cause flooding, and clearing fallen debris are just three basic things to consider, but you might also need to think about sun and wind exposure, being close to water and other facilities, and where to position your entrance.
All of these tasks are made infinitely harder in the dark, but there are ways around it. You can use a hand-held torch, but that means losing the use of one hand (not ideal for banging in your tent pegs) or relegating someone else to the boring task of being the designated torchbearer. Headtorches are a useful alternative, but they can get sweaty and uncomfortable over time. This is where a Regatta Brite Lite jacket comes into its own.
Wearable torch technology
There are various styles within the Brite Lite collection to cope with differing weather conditions. We plumped for the seriously versatile Regatta Women's Carletta VI 3-In-1 Waterproof Jacket at the top-end of the range, but each design features the exact same tech: a slim strip of five LED's built into the hood peak to provide 55 lumens of brightness and act as a headtorch.
Operated by a concealed flat button placed on the top of the hood directly behind the light strip, the torch is powered by two AAA batteries (not included) that are housed in a slim, lightweight battery box in the left chest pocket. Indeed, it's so small (approximately 62 x 25 x 14mm), you don't notice it's there, and there's still plenty of room for other essentials in the same zip-up pocket, including a mobile phone, a wallet, and a set of keys.
Additionally, the battery pack is removeable for machine washing and easily disconnects from an internal power cord that unnoticeably runs from the hood to the chest. And when you pop in a couple of premium batteries, you can expect up to 15 hours of light. But just how effective is the torch itself?
In a word, extremely. We put it through its paces over a weekend of camping at the end of October and, after setting out late on a Friday afternoon, the family arrived at our campsite long after the sun had gone down. We were all immediately impressed by the torch's capabilities for viewing objects up close and from a distance.
The hood stays in place when pulled up and doesn't budge when the jacket is fully zipped-up, so a gentle lifting or lowering of your head is all it takes to direct the beam to wherever your focus is, whether that's reading a map, laying out the bulk of the tent, assembling poles, or getting an overview of your pitch and surroundings.
Indeed, the beam lights the path ahead for up to 20-25 meters and, when you're walking, it measures around 1.5 to 2 meters across if you're looking slightly further ahead for ditches, debris, and cow pats on the ground. As with any LED torch, it can be dazzling for others to look into directly, but you soon get used to not shining it in people's eye, although that sometimes looks as if you're not really listening to that person.
For the wearer, it's like the torch is barely there, thanks to its foolproof, super-lightweight design that boosts visibility without resting on the forehead or needing to be held - something that we found boosted balance when walking in the dark (don't you always feel wobblier when you can't see the way ahead properly?).
In case of emergencies
Of course, the built-in light source isn't as powerful as a 1000 Lumen spotlight torch, and it wouldn't be our first choice in the event of a targeted search on the moors or trekking in the wilds. But it is waterproof, and works well for most typical late night camping scenarios, from stumbling back from the pub or refilling your water container to dealing with emergencies like locating lost car keys.
But the best bit is that the torch is always there with you. Because, when you think about it, who sets off anywhere in the Great Outdoors without having an extra layer to pull on when the weather changes? It's worth noting that kids' versions for 3 to 16-year-olds are also available, except that the torches are positioned on the sleeves, and they have a USB port for added convenience - a feature we would love to see added to any future updates of the adult jackets.
There are three different styles to choose from in the men's Brite Lite collection, including the Highside, the Britedale, and the Sacramento VII 3-in-1, each of which are available in sizes S-XXXL. The women's range comes in size range of 8-20 and has female-specific versions of the Highside and the Britedale, while the range-topping Carletta V1 3-in-1 is the female version of the men's Sacramento jacket.
As mentioned, we opted for the Carletta style thanks to its versatile design which comprises of a lightweight, waterproof outer layer which opens to reveal a detachable, high-necked, warming stretch jacket underneath. This means you can wear the outer layer with integrated torch on its own, and wear the warm stretchy softshell jacket alone too, or put them together for two layers of protection against the elements.
When you choose to wear both, the layers are held in place at three different points with secure poppers on the neck and both sleeves, so the whole thing goes on and comes off fairly easily. That said, it's often easier just to layer up with mid-layers and base layers, rather than having to attach everything.
Fit for purpose
The fit of both the inner and outer jacket is sleek and streamlined, so we would recommend going up a dress size if you intend on adding bulky layers underneath. That said, both layers feature a natural stretch to provide extra give and unrestricted movement, and they also keep you very warm.
So warm in fact, that we were grateful for the fabric's amazing breathability, which kept us sweat-free and comfy while hiking and wrestling with the tent. The outer shell is made from fully waterproof Isotex 15000 Stretch fabric which, when combined with the adjustable Velcro cuffs, long curved hem, and fitted hood, help keep out heavy downpours.
The jacket also provides a plethora of pockets: four in the outer shell and two on the inner liner, plus there are also two zips placed down the sides of the waterproof shell so you can access the inner liner's pockets without undoing the outer layer's front zip.
This fully waterproof and highly breathable jacket packs plenty of features, including a plethora of pockets and an integrated torch in the hood peak. This new camping essential will light up all your outdoor adventures in comfort and style while keeping your hands free at all times.