What is the Loop Akka jacket for?
The Loop Akka "stretch performance" jacket is a lightweight softshell designed for wearing as your main jacket in mild and dry weather or as a base layer beneath a rain jacket when it's cold or wet.
What's special about the Akka jacket?
This softshell is made from particularly stretchy fabric. Loop says it has a four-way stretch so it's soft and comfortable and doesn't restrict your movement when casting as some other clothing can. It's made from what feel like very high-quality materials and has excellent zips and neat stitching.
What's this softshell made from?
It's made from modern man-made fabrics and consists of 78% nylon, 12% polyurethane and 10% Coolmax. This jacket is made in Sweden and includes high-quality YKK zips and has reinforced stitching to add a bit of extra resilience.
Is the Loop Akka jacket waterproof?
It's not designed to be waterproof. It will keep you dry in a light shower but it's primarily for windproofing on cool or mild days, or as a mid layer under a regular hardshell rainjacket in cold weather. Loop makes a couple of waterproof jackets, including the top of the range Lainio wading jacket and the Loop Rautas waterproof hiking jacket I use.
What is the fit like?
The Akka is a really comfortable jacket. Loop says it "feels like a second skin", which kind of sums it up. It keeps the wind out well and that makes it fairly warm, despite it being a fairly thin jacket. The cut is moderately slim (not as baggy as Patagonia's softshells) and there's plenty of "give" in the fabric to allow you to cast comfortably. I'm a lanky 6'4", so I'd personally prefer it to be a bit longer, as it can ride-up a bit when you cast, but people who aren't freakishly tall will probably be fine with it.
If you get too warm, you can unzip the jacket and keep the middle fastened using the Velcro tab and the bottom press stud. This is a nice feature as it also means the front doesn't gape open, flap around in the wind or get in the way of your fly line.
The cuffs are elasticated and don't have any fasteners to snag on your fly line and there's a simple elasticated pull cord on the waist to tighten it up and stop you getting a cold back.
Does it have any pockets?
Like most softshells, this is a fairly minimalist jacket. There are two very simple handwarmer pockets on the sides with no zips and there's a small pocket on the sleeve. This has a waterproof coating and zip but it appears like it's there more to look cool than to serve any functional purpose as it's a bit on the small side to keep anything in.
What colours are available?
The Loop Akka softshell hoodie comes in two colours: the Swedish Blue colour you'll probably have seen all of the professionals wearing in Loop's brilliant fly fishing videos, and a more subtle Carbon Grey one. Seeing as I've already got a Carbon Grey Loop Rautas jacket, I went for the Swedish Blue Akka softshell this time.
How much does it cost?
When is Loop stuff ever cheap? The Loop Akka jacket retails for around £218 (though you can pick it up for a lot less if you shop around). I paid around half that for mine. The price is fairly high but is on par with what Simms charge, and it's undeniably a great quality jacket that should last for years.