The Summit Zero is the latest in Condor’s jacket lineup. It is constructed of a four way elastic stretch material with a polyurethane membrane. This material gives you great wind blocking and water resistant properties while still allowing a wide range of motion. This is very beneficial for weapons manipulation or dynamic movement.
It seems that many outdoor soft shells are stripped down to the bare minimum. This can sometimes work well, but often in the shooting sports we have to carry ammo, magazines, ballistic calculators and other paraphernalia. The Summit Zero has a ton of pockets to accommodate way more gear than the average person would want to haul. The sleeves are equipped with left and right biceps pockets. The left sleeve has a single forearm pocket that seems perfectly suited for data cards or other flat, light items. In our testing this did not work well as an iPhone pocket. The phone causes the sleeve to hang and swing in a strange manner.
The chest of the jacket has a Napoleon pocket on either side. When wearing the jacket in a casual environment the pockets may seem unusually high for use as hand warmers. When you throw on body armor or a chest rig you suddenly see why this is a “tactical” soft shell. The pockets are positioned in a manner that allows you to access them through the arm holes in your rig. Inside each of the Napoleon pockets is a small pocket that is perfectly suited to holding an iPhone in place.
The Summit Zero has a full width back pocket that can be accessed by zippers on either side. This pocket is lined with a mesh material and can act as a vent when the zippers are left open.
Under each arm the Summit Zero is equipped with “pit zips” that can be used to quickly vent heat before you start to sweat. This has got to be one of my favorite features of any jacket and one I find myself looking for when contemplating any jacket purchase.
The front and sleeve pockets of the Summit Zero have zipper “garages” built in to cover the zipper pulls when they are “parked”. All of the main zippers are augmented with what appear to be Chums style zipper pulls. These work very well however we did have one pull off of its cord. A simple dap of glue should repair the problem, but since the regular zipper pulls are still present it has not been a pressing issue. None of the other pulls came loose in use.
The inside of the Summit Zero has two lower front mesh pockets. During our testing these two pockets caused some irritation. It was not really the pockets themselves, but the zipper closures. When closed the zippers are parked to the center of the jacket. When shooting from the prone position on hard surfaces, these zippers would grind into a rib or two. The solution was simply to leave the inner pockets open so that the zipper pulls are off to the side and out of the way.
The Condor Summit Zero features a very well designed hood. I normally despise hoods and prefer instead to wear an appropriate hat for the occasion. However there are instances where a hood is much preferred for keeping the weather from running down your back. Most hood designs severely limit your peripheral vision and give you a claustrophobic feeling. The hood on the Summit Zero has the traditional pull cord to cinch down the opening. It is also equipped with a cord lock in the back of the hood. When tightened this cord and lock combination serve to pull the sides of the hood back, opening up your view of the world. The two factor adjustment also allows the hood to fit tighter to your head, lessening the wind intrusion.
When the hood is not in use it can be rolled and stowed away in the collar. The added bulk it provides is a benefit. In cool weather it allows the collar to stand up and block the wind.
This version of the Condor jacket line offers no built in insulation. I prefer unlined jackets for my outer clothing. They give me greater versatility when layering. The sizing is perfect for fitting over a Condor or other fleece jacket. During most of the cold weather evaluation the Summit Zero was worn over a Condor Alpha Fleece Jacket. This combination worked well from nippy to below freezing with varying levels of activity.
We tested the water resistance of the Condor Summit Zero on numerous occasions. The jacket does a great job in light drizzles and heavy snow. The Summit Zero does not have taped seams or waterproof zippers, so extended downpours will eventually make their way through.
The Summit Zero is cut generously enough to allow for freedom of movement without feeling baggy. The design allows for you arms to be raised in the prone position without uncovering your waist in most average body types.
The jacket does come equipped with two large loop patches on each shoulder. This makes it a snap to add unit or moral patches, but definitely lends a military appearance. This should be taken into account if you frequently travel internationally.
Overall the Condor Outdoor Summit Zero Soft Shell Jacket offers a great deal more value than its sub-$100 price would warrant.