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Inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex lightweight running waterproof review: so stripped back it’s barely there

An ultralight smock jacket, the Inov-8 Raceshell HZ has nothing but the most essential features to keep things fast and light on the trail

Inov-8 Raceshell HZ lightweight running jacket
(Image: © Inov-8)

Our Verdict

An ultralight, well-designed unisex smock that scrunches up unnoticeably small for carrying just in case of soggy emergencies or on fast, light hill races.

For

  • • Peaked hood
  • • Water-resistant, dual-center half zip
  • • Glove-compatible zip cord
  • • Slight droptail

Against

  • • No hood adjustment
  • • No pockets
  • • No hem or cuff adjustment
  • • Unisex design

Inov-8 Raceshell HZ: first impressions

The ultralight Inov-8 Raceshell HZ smock packs down into an incredibly small package, which you can then secure with the provided elastic cord – a nice, neat design touch, which means you can hold it in your hand if you’re really running fast and light. And that’s just one of the reasons it features in our best lightweight running jackets buying guide. 

It’s a smock design with a long water-resistant half zip, and two glove-compatible zip cords so you can ventilate the jacket from the center if needed. The comfy 2.5-layer waterproof fabric with taped seams is polyester with a PU lining and gives 15,000 mm hydrostatic head and has a breathability rating of 15,000g/m2. 

This material is also nearly transparent in both the grey and blue colorways so you can see a race number underneath (the jacket meets all FRA and ultra distance race requirements). 

The hood, cuffs and hem are elasticated without adjusters to save on weight, and in a similar vein there is no pocket. 

As with all smocks, it’s a unisex design so ladies just be sure to get a large enough size if you are ample in the hip department, and everyone be aware that most people will need a smock to be a little on the larger size for ease of getting it on and off easily. This style is great for guaranteed weather protection without having to do up any tricky zippers with cold hands.

Specifications

• RRP: $170 (US) / £130 (UK)
• Weight (Men’s size M): 100g / 3.5oz
• Hydrostatic head: 15,000mm
• Breathability: 15,000 g/m2
• Colors: Grey / Blue
• Compatibility: Super light, packable and waterproof, great for racing hard

Inov-8 Raceshell HZ: on the trails

Inov-8 Raceshell HZ lightweight running jacket

If it were any more stripped back the Inov-8 Raceshell HZ would be invisible (Image credit: Inov-8)

Running in the cold, windy and rainy Peak District was a breeze and a pleasure in this ultra light Raceshell smock. Although it’s unisex it manages not to be too billowy in high winds, and the slight droptail is a good addition to the fit around the hips. 

We especially liked the way the fabric was transparent so you can pin a race number underneath and it’s still visible. It’s excellent to have such a lightweight smock jacket to fold up neatly in your pack for events – we honestly didn’t notice it was there on every single trail- and cross-country race. 

Those with smaller wrists might notice a little bit of gaping at the cuff area, because they’re only elasticated (rather than having velcro adjusters) to save on weight, so you might not be able to make them fit tightly enough. Then again, while you’re racing you might be glad of the ventilation. 

Overall, for the weight, fit and features we found this a very well-designed smock that will be perfect for keeping in your running pack or even scrunching up to almost nothing and holding in your hand when running or racing in the valleys and mountains in all weathers. 

The co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine, Claire now runs the YouTube channel Wild Ginger Running, creating films packed with trail- and ultra-running content. An award-winning journalist, writing for outdoor and adventure sports magazines and websites, her first book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running 5k to 50k is out in January 2021. Claire also speaks and presents at events and races.