Guest Gear Review: Free Country Men's Peak 3-in-1 Systems Softshell Jacket

In today’s guest gear review, Dan Herscovitch puts the Free Country Men's Peak 3-in-1 Systems Softshell Jacket to the test. As a paramedic, he spends a good deal of time working outdoors in all weather conditions.  As a year-round bicycle commuter, he can appreciate an outer garment that can protect him from wind and rain. “After spending one day at work in this softshell,” he says, “I never went back to my old work jacket.” 

Free Country designed the 3-in-1 system with both style and versatility in mind.  The outer two-shaded softshell is made of a densely woven stretch polyester that acts like a suit of armor against anything Mother Nature throws at you.  It’s lined with a thin, soft microfleece layer that provides a surprising amount of insulation - so much that I found few opportunities to wear the full system because it was too warm.  Though not waterproof, water beads off the outer layer and I still get the breathability benefits of a softshell. I was completely dry after about 45 minutes of walking around the city in moderate rain.  

It’s also longer than most technical softshells I’ve used. Coupled with a drawcord around the bottom hem and sturdy velcro cuffs, the extra length helped keep out drafts and road spray on those 6am 30ºF rides.  The zipper is backed by a double-thick, extra-wide flap of the same material as the outer shell, eliminating zipper leaks. 

For cool, dry nights out in the city, the inner “Plaid Puffer” layer is perfect by itself.  It is light, warm, and sports an attractive, yet discreet grey-on-grey plaid pattern.  It is packable and stuffed handily into my backpack as an insurance policy against changing weather conditions.  The Plaid Puffer fastens to the outer shell with snap buttons at the cuffs and collar, and two hidden zippers. Though I found myself quite comfortable down to 25ºF in just the outer shell, I was glad to have the option of adding an insulating inner layer during two trips to Quebec this winter (the legends are true, Montreal winters are the inspiration behind electric blankets and engine block heaters.)  The full system held its own against high winds and -10ºF temperatures, although I found myself wishing for a hood.

Unlike some companies who place two perfunctory front pockets on every jacket just because, Free Country designed the Peak 3-in-1 Softshell Jacket’s pockets to be used and loved.  The four outer pockets offer zippered closure and fleece lining - two low on  the front ideal for smaller items, a large breast pocket, and a patch pocket on the left sleeve that is easily accessible without removing backpacks, safety vests, radio straps, etc.  Finally, there is a discreet velcro inner breast pocket that drops in from the zipper at an angle. The “Plaid Puffer’s” front pockets have no closure, but does have a velcro closure inner breast pocket. 

On sizing the Peak 3-in-1 Softshell Jacket, Free Country was quite generous.  I’m 6’0” tall and normally wear a medium or large, so I opted for the medium Peak 3-in-1. I could likely wear the size small, but I am happy to have the extra room of the medium. The sleeves are a bit longer than comparable jackets, which I’m thankful for while hunched over the handlebars of my bike. 

I wore the Peak 3-in-1 System almost exclusively in an urban environment, and based on my testing, that’s its niche.  Free Country successfully rendered high performance fabrics into a stylish and functional design, but I don’t anticipate using the Peak 3-in-1 jacket for mountaineering, ice climbing or skiing. The thick, heavy fabric and lack of certain technical features (such as a detachable hood or snow skirt) signal that this product is not intended for technical performance.  That is not to say that it is not durable; the thick shell resisted many unmentionable liquids, abrasions, and sharp objects with not a single stitch popped. 

The bottom line? When the wind is howling and the mercury drops, don’t sacrifice style for comfort. The Peak 3-in-1 Softshell Jacket is my go-to choice for urban work or play. And as of right now, the jacket is over 50% off on the Free Country website. 

About the Author: Dan Herscovitch developed a passion for the outdoors at an early age skiing, rock climbing, mountain biking and backpacking around his Southern Ontario home. A paramedic by trade, he now lives in Philadelphia where he continues learning and growing in those pursuits. He recently unearthed passion for distance running, but when he's not hitting the Schuylkill Trail, he can be found scaling walls at one of Philadelphia's climbing gyms or local crags.


Shannon Wood said…
Looks like a good fit for the outdoors if you are hiking or riding your bike and maybe even just to have a cool evening around the camp site. Thanks for sharing the info on this product. I still love my outer base layer Under Armour for the hunting situations.