Die deutsche Version dieses Reviews kann im Tacticalforum gelesen werden.
This year at IWA in Nuremberg, my friend Ben – who is also a contributor to this blog – made me aware of a Czech company named Tilak. Unfortunately I did not have as much time to talk with the guys as I would have liked to, but enough to get me interested. The company dates back to the 1980s and manufactures every item of their collection in the Czech Republic. The family business is located in Sumperk and uses only the highest grade materials for their products.
The name “Tilak” is a 3500 year old expression from Sanskrit, meaning “mark” or “spot”, describing the caste marks in India. The whole spiritual meaning behind this would have sold me already, but wearing one of their jackets for three months now definitely did.
Enter the “Loke”:
Overview and Specs
The Loke – named after the northern god of mischief – is an universal outdoor jacket made out of 100% cotton Ventile fabric. It is highly water resistant due to the unique properties of the Ventile fabric, but I will come to this in a dedicated paragraph. The jacket features four outer pockets, two sleeve pockets, pit vents, an adjustable and stowable hood as well as adjustable cuffs. It weighs about 640g and has a very small packing volume.
Sizes range from Small to XXL and the Jacket is available in 5 different solid colors: Navy, Olive, Cinnamon, White and Jade.
As mentioned before, the jacket is made out of a very special cotton fabric named Ventile. The concept was developed in England in the 1940s and incorporates cotton made out of the finest, long stable fibres. Due to this high quality of the fibres as well as the tightly woven characteristics, the fabric closes up when coming in contact with water. This happens because the fibres expand and close up the interstices.
Therefore the fabric has water resistant (not waterproof!) properties as well as a protection against wind. At the same time it offers the wonderful qualities of cotton: great wearability comfort, breathability and very low noise production in movement.
The Loke features four outer pockets at the front. Two Napoleon style pockets and two hand pockets. All pockets are closed with Aquaguard zippers from YKK. The hand pockets are also hidden by a flap, so you can only see the Napoleon pockets at first glance.
The main zipper to open the jacket is also an Aquaguard zipper by YKK. Behind it you can find a windbreak that folds over the zipper at the top to act as a chin guard.
Under each sleeve there are ventilation openings, that can be closed by zippers. These are positioned not directly in the armpit area, but in the triceps area which is a brilliant idea in my opinion since you don’t have to wrestle with the zipper in the curve of your armpit, while wearing the jacket. At the same time the ventilation works the same way.
In the biceps area you will find one sleeve pocket each. These can be closed/opened with Aquaguard zippers as well, which are hidden under a flap.
You can adjust the cuffs of the sleeve using velcro cuffs.
All the above mentioned pockets do not feature any kind of additional organisation possibilities like slip panels, D-rings, or other loops. These are basic, no nonsense pockets. Also the inside of them is made by a fine but robust mesh material, giving the user additional possibilities to add ventilation by opening the pockets.
At the bottom of the jacket you will find shock cord to adjust the jacket anatomically. It is secured with cord locks.
The color of the jacket is a very nice olive green and the zippers are matched with a nice tan color. This makes for a very low profile and subtle look.
The hood can be stored away in a very simple and effective manner. You basically roll it up and fix it with a flap that is sewn to the collar. Using five small velcro tabs, you can put it in position nice and easily, without creating too much bulk. If the hood is being used, the five tabs can be secured at the collar.
Because of this configuration, there is no entrance or collection point for water, as seen in other jackets, which have the hood stored inside a dedicated pocket.
The hood itself has shockcord at the sides as well as on the back to bring it closer to the head, with the intent to not block the eyesight while moving.
The Czech textile industry is regarded as one of the best in the world. Tilak is a fine example for this. The seams on the jacket are done very neatly and the look of the jacket speaks for itself. I couldn’t find one loose thread or a messy seam.
The workmanship leaves no room to complain, as do the materials. So I can keep this paragraph short.
Fit, Feel, Sizing
The feel of the jacket is special indeed. If you wouldn’t know it is cotton, you wouldn’t guess it at first glance. The haptic is quite dense and stiff at first, giving you the impression of a technical fabric. Once broken in it gets softer, like a shirt.
The sizing is typical European and the company’s sizing chart on the homepage is spot on. I am always in between sizes when I am going for international sizes. My Loke is size Large which equals the European sizes 52 and at the time of the review I am 180cm tall and 75kg heavy.
The fit is relaxed with enough room to add another layer underneath. I have enough room around the shoulders and the sleeves are long enough for my gorilla arms.
General Observations and mid term use
As mentioned before I am using the jacket for three month now. So I had plenty of time putting it to good use in different conditions. By now I had temperatures between 15°C and 25°C and mild to strong rains as well as the typical late spring humidity in southern Austria or strong winds in the city jungle of Vienna.
I was out in the rain a few times. Always for around 30-60min. The water stayed outside of the jacket and formed drops on it. I even tried rubbing it in sometimes. No success. The Ventile fabric did its magic. As far as I know the jacket is also impregnated. Therefore the combination is working really well!
Only on one instance a little amount of water was getting inside: The seams at the arms had a wicking effect and transported a ridiculous little amount of water inside. But that’s what makes a jacket water resistant and not water proof. Jan from Tilak told me that the jacket is able to withstand the rain at least for an hour until the fabric gets to its limit.
Breathability is always a difficult thing to describe since it is completely subjective and everyone has a different body climate.
For me personally I never had an outdoor jacket that was able to incorporate this kind of breathability/waterrepellence ratio. Even at times with an unbearable humidity the jacket was comfortable to wear. The fabric allows enough air to pass through since it is cotton. If you need further ventilation you can open different pockets or the pit zips.
Wind resistance is verygood, but not perfect. Of course… after all it is Cotton. But to be honest I could never tell if I feel the wind getting through or if it was a thermal bridge sucking body temperature.
Either way, with the right layer underneath you have enough wind resistance to go out and about. At the same time one has to consider the thinness of the jacket. One can only expect so much, which does not mean that it isn’t impressive!
The jacket is like a big outer T-shirt. Just comfortable and if it gets warmer or hot, the fabric has the comfort of cotton… it doesn’t stick to your sweaty parts like any technical fabric.
The jacket is quite rustle free. It doesn’t have the loud characteristics of Polyester and the like but it is not stealthy as well – for that you have to be nude. It is the most silent water resistant jacket I have though. Try rub your Jeans and imagine it a little bit louder.
Ben and me were talking about the Ventile fabric for quite some time now, but never seemed to find a company that builds decent and/or affordable products with it. Therefore Tilak was a great find of Ben.
After three months of use I am surprised there are not more products with this fabric available. At the same time I realize it can be hard for some people to understand the cost of a 100% cotton fabric if you don’t have the background of the Ventile concept and manufacture – in that regard Tilak gives a lot of insight in their brochures.
By now the Loke is one of my favorite jackets – light, packable and absolutely comfortable to wear. The workmanship is very convincing to say the least, as is the guarantee philosophy of the company.
Tilak also manufactures outdoor clothes with other high quality fabrics and even have a military line, that is not on the homepage. Seems like the company is highly regarded in the Czech Republic and I have no doubts that they can expand that reputation internationally.
For some time now I am looking for a way to get away from technical fabrics towards more natural ones. With the Loke jacket I was able to come to that particular goal one step closer.
With that I would like to end. Thank you for reading and much Thanks to Jan from Tilak for the help!
For more info, vistit: http://www.tilak.cz/