Light, clean and comfortable, the new Eigen Comp Jacket is a softshell for jacket lovers.
The Veilance Eigen Comp Jacket is a new casual softshell jacket made of two extremely light fabrics, and it can be worn comfortably indoors and outdoors, with or without layers.
The Eigen is not a proper “raincoat”, as the fabrics are not waterproof. It is made from Gore’s 3-layer Windstopper fabric and a stretchy, breathable double weave nylon. The stretch nylon functions as both the shell fabric of the Windstopper panels and as the standalone shell fabric on the rest of the jacket.
Veilance styled the jacket with shorts in their product shots, which suggests that is intended for very warm weather, but the fabric and somewhat generous fit makes the jacket extremely versatile. The jacket is best suited to being worn with a t-shirt under it, as it maximizes the breathability of the fabrics and the airflow between the jacket and the body. That said, the jacket is still roomy enough to accommodate a light midlayer (Conduit Vest, Dyadic Hoody, Graph Cardigan, maybe even an Atom LT) comfortably while still looking streamlined.
The DWR treatment and adjustable hood with storm flap, along with the Windstopper fabric on the torso, hood, shoulders and sleeves, make the jacket perform pretty well in mild precipitation. Once it starts pouring it won’t take long for the nylon to wet out, but the membrane of the Windstopper should keep the wearer dry enough for a while since it’s placed on the areas of the jacket that are most likely to be penetrated by water. If I had to classify it, I’d say the Eigen is something like an “upgraded windbreaker.”
The Eigen performs best on warm and breezy spring days and summer nights, where a little bit of extra warmth is needed, and perhaps some rain is in the forecast. The fabric’s wind protection keeps the wearer from feeling chilled and its breathability allows the wearer to dump heat and prevents the clammy and claustrophobic feeling produced by fully waterproof shells.
The Eigen Comp is the successor to the Composite Jacket, which Veilance discontinued after SS15. The Composite jacket had a slightly trimmer fit and a different fabric composition than the Eigen, including an older Windstopper on the torso, shoulders and hood, and Terratex on the back and sleeves. The Windstopper of the Composite was less stretchy and breathable than that of the Eigen, and slightly heavier. The Terratex was less stretchy and breathable, while being noisier and more prone to creases and wrinkles, and the pattern of the panels was slightly different.
Aside from the performance of the Eigen, I really like that it is so comfortable that it gives you the opportunity to wear a hooded shell in unexpected contexts. I imagine others who share my unabashed love of outerwear, especially hooded shells, will share my appreciation of the Eigen for this reason. What’s more Veilance than a little winter in summer?
It is also worth noting that fully seam taped softshells are something of a rarity in the outdoor clothing world. Taped seams provide extra rain protection, and gives the Eigen some performance that many soft shells designed expressly for outdoor activities lack. The Isogon MX is another taped seam soft shell jacket offered by Veilance that also doubles effectively as an outdoor sports piece.
Zipper and pocket design
Like many Veilance pieces, the Eigen succeeds and fails because of what it doesn’t have. There is no wrist or hem adjustment system, instead it relies on strategic paneling and fabric placement to optimize temperature regulation, reduce bulk, and create a pleasing, streamlined look. Instead of pit zips, which would add bulk and weight, there is breathable stretch nylon fabric on armpit area.
Taped seams throughout and heavily articulated arms provide additional weather protection and range of motion. The hood features a 3-point adjustment system with Coadhesive cord locks, which is easy to adjust such that it protects the wearer from rain without sacrificing visibility. The collar comes up just below the chin and maintains its shape in spite of being made from unstructured fabric, and has a suede (or is it microfiber?) patch sewn in to prevent skin contact with the zipper.
Veilance have chosen an uncoated Vislon zipper for the Eigen Comp, which can also be found on the Isogon MX. Owners of the Isogon MX have complained about its zipper unzipping itself due to a lack of teeth to hold it in place. Thus far the zipper on my Eigen has remained in place at all times, which could be due to the Eigen fabric being much lighter and therefore exerting less force on the zipper than the Isogon’s Burly Double Weave fabric.
Two reverse facing zippered hand pockets are deep and comfortable enough, but placed a little higher than I’d prefer. The lightness of the jacket also makes it feel and look a little awkward to load the pockets with anything heavy. The right-hand pocket has an internal organization pocket that is great for sunglasses or a wallet and will accommodate an Iphone 11 with a little cajoling.
There are also two zippered pockets on the interior of the jacket. The left-hand pocket accommodates a small wallet or cards, and the right-hand pocket is placed a little lower and has a little more capacity (designed to fit a passport I believe). It strikes me that Veilance hasn’t changed this internal pocketing system since the days of the Composite Jacket, and it’s starting to feel a bit dated. The placement and size of the pockets seem to lack design intent and just aren’t that useful.
It is no secret that Veilance no longer uses cutting edge fabrics. There tends to be a one- or two-year wait for a new mainline Arc’Teryx fabric making its way into a Veilance piece. That said, Veilance fabrics almost always vastly “overperform” for their intended urban/casual use-case. It seemed that experimentation with newer materials was more of a priority during Veilance’s early years, and these days the brand’s innovation is relegated more to construction and design.
Gore’s fabrics are hard to keep track of, since they engineer new fabrics and give them old names, and regularly change the names of their product lines. The 3-layer Gore fabric on the Eigen is one of a few variants of their “Infinium with Windstopper Technology,” with a windproof and water-resistant membrane and a soft and stretchy face fabric. My experience is that this Gore fabric is virtually waterproof and will not wet out unless exposed to a sustained downpour. It’s got a pleasantly soft hand feel and looks more matte than most technical fabrics.
I might be wrong about this, but I believe the stretch woven nylon shell fabric of the Eigen was strictly used for pocketing prior to SS20. It can be found inside many Veilance pieces including the Arris, Nemis, Seque Tote, Isogon MX, and many others. I wish I knew more about the history of this fabric at Arc’teryx, but I can say with some confidence that this is the first season it has made an appearance on the outside of a jacket. If that is the case, Veilance really went all-in on this fabric for its inaugural season, as it is also heavily utilized on the Apsis Coat and the Dyadic Comp Hoody and Pants. All that aside, it is a durable, ultralight, stretchy, comfortable fabric that works really well on a jacket, especially the Eigen.
Light and loose
The whole Eigen package is light, stretchy and drapes well off the body, so I would rate it very high for comfort. People who prefer more structured jackets might experience some discomfort wearing it, however. The Eigen is so light that it can be a little awkward to wear unzipped during a breeze, since the light fabric is easily picked up by the wind. And as mentioned above, putting heavier items like a phone into the pockets perceivably weighs down the jacket.
The fit is just about the same as the Isogon MX Jacket, which is a fall/winter softshell designed to accommodate layers. It might be that Veilance doesn’t have the resources to develop new jacket fit patterns, but it seems to me that the Eigen is intended to fit a tad oversized like the Isogon in order to optimize airflow, and provide extra weather protection while accommodating a light midlayer. I could see some people preferring to size down in order to get a trimmer, “athleisure-y” fit though. As with mainline Arc’teryx pieces, the body and sleeves of Veilance jackets tend to be a little long for one’s true size, while sizing down to optimize the sleeve and body length can result in the jacket being too tight in the chest and shoulders.
The weight and distribution of the fabrics on the Eigen cause the jacket to drape in a subtly diagonal way. It is barely noticeable in person, but I would imagine the shape might accommodate a protruding stomach.
The siltstone color I went with is pink and a little loud for Veilance, but brownish hues give it a muted appearance in person. I’m a big fan of wearing colored Veilance pieces, as it highlights the distinguishing details of the designs, and softens up the edginess of most Veilance designs. From buying Veilance over the years I have learned that I tend to regret opting for black instead of color, as Veilance tends to do a great job with color designs and seasonal palettes. Their colors tend to be difficult to pin down (is it pink or brown?), which adds extra visual interest.
Questions about durability
I have two main concerns about the Eigen. The first is how the stretch double weave nylon will hold up, especially to abrasion. One can assume that it is pretty durable as it has been used inside pockets, which need to stand up to constant pressure from sharp objects, but it is unclear how it will hold up to the kind of wear a jacket gets.
The second concern is the seam tape, which has a tendency to delaminate and in turn create a risk of blowouts. It is probably safe to say that the Windstopper will hold tape well, but less obvious how the stretch nylon will do, as there is some variance in how fabric responds to Veilance’s seam tape.
Stress on the seams can also cause the tape to delaminate, but the loose fit and drape of the jacket should minimize this issue. In any case, Veilance typically will repair or replace faulty seam tape under their warranty program.
The Eigen Comp Jacket is far from a wardrobe essential, even a techwear-focused wardrobe essential. As said above, it is an upgraded windbreaker that feels made for people who love jackets, or love wearing hooded shells on as many occasions as possible. When the conditions aren’t quite right to wear Gore-Tex proper — too warm, too sunny, no rain in the forecast — the Eigen hits the sweet spot. It ticks just all of the boxes for a non-waterproof spring/summer hooded jacket, while packing some bonus features like taped seams, extra water resistance via paneling, and internal pocket organization.
As expected from Veilance, it is an excellently constructed garment in a subtly stylish package, retailing at $600.
The Eigen is an embellished version of a very standard hooded jacket silhouette. The silhouette itself is tried and true (if a little tired), but the embellishments earn the Eigen high marks for form. Paneling, different fabrics/textures, and extra seaming all look great and add to the performance of the jacket. This effortless blending of form and function, which is business as usual for Veilance, is a rare thing in the world of fashionable outerwear.
The Eigen performs about as well as one could expect from a windbreaker and warm weather soft shell, especially designed for urban use. It protects the wearer well against the wind, is very breathable and stretchy, with above average water resistance to boot. Thanks to AV’s design and construction, the Eigen strikes an excellent balance between comfort, breathability, and weather resistance, which makes it a more versatile piece than your typical windbreaker. The slightly loose fit also adds versatile in the form of increasing airflow or offering extra layering room.