Over the last few years the golf outerwear category has begun to struggle a little. Club golfers are buying new waterproofs less regularly. Fact. This is down to a number of things, but mainly the fact that technological advancements from the likes of Galvin Green, FootJoy, ProQuip and Sunderland, to name but a few, means that waterproofs are genuinely 10 times better than they were 10 – 15 years ago.
Buy a jacket these days, pay the thick end of £300 for it, and you expect it to last 8 – 10 years. If you spend a decent amount, a waterproof jacket is not a purchase you’re going to make every other year. However, there is also the other ongoing problem that most golfers don't like wearing jackets when swinging a golf club.
So, in creating the HydroKnit, FJ has been pretty bold in an attempt to generate some excitement back into the outerwear category. In true FJ style, they are genuinely trying to innovate by creating this product. They have taken what they believe to be a genuine gap in the market and ran with it. Step forward, the FootJoy HydroKnit.
What’s It All About?
FootJoy is insisting that this is not a waterproof jacket. Instead, they have created what they are calling a ‘waterproof pullover’. Make of that what you will, but in my opinion they can do all the clever marketing in the world but golfers are still going to refer to this as a jacket. After testing the Hydroknit, I do however understand where FJ are coming from by not referring to it directly as a ‘jacket’.
In developing this product, FootJoy started with their tour pros. The likes of Bernd Weisberger, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Paul Dunne and Wade Ormsby. Their findings resulted in the realisation that elite golfers don’t like wearing waterproof jackets. Simple and fairly obvious really. When do you ever flick on the TV and see pros marching down the fairway in a full set of waterproofs? The exception being this year’s Open Championship where Shane Lowry and Tommy Fleetwood battled some of the most testing conditions we have ever seen at an Open. Northern Ireland for you eyyy...
Royal Portrush aside, it’s no doubting that there is a reluctance to wearing waterproof jackets whilst swinging a golf club, and not just at elite level - across all levels of the game.
FJ's feedback from tour players and amateur golfers highlighted a demand for a garment that provided full waterproof protection with all the comfort and versatility of a mid-layer. Therefore FJ have tried to come up with what you’d describe as the best of both worlds.
‘Designed to Make Every Day Playable, FJ’s HydroKnit pullover is an ideal garment for golfers who want protection from the elements, with the added comfort and versatility benefits of a pullover. It marries the attributes of a conventional woven waterproof jacket with the comfort, stretch and soft feel of a knit garment for ultimate versatility.’
When it comes to testing waterproof golf gear, there isn’t a much better test than 4 and half hours of driving Scottish wind and rain at Gullane GC, playing course #1. The conditions were brutal. Cold, windy, and wet. Very wet. If there were going to be conditions that could break the HydroKnit, I certainly played in them.
To make it a fair test, I also tested the HydroKnit in much drier conditions at Stockport GC. I was keen to see how it performed in dry, slightly warmer conditions, as if I was wearing the jacket as a substitute for a mid-layer.
FootJoy HydroKnit Waterproof Pullover Review
The FootJoy HydroKnit is a great looking piece of golf apparel. It’s simple yet contemporary looks will suit the eyes of 90% of golfers out there.
It is available in three different colourways: Black with Charcoal, Navy with Kelly Green (in my opinion, the colourway you will see most worn by amateur golfers) and boldest of the three, Sapphire and Geranium (the colourway I was given to test the jacket).
I think in these colourways, golfers are bound to find a look that suits them. If you’re looking to maximise the waterproof capabilities of this pullover throughout winter – I suggest the navy or black option. But if you’re looking to wear this more throughout the summer months then the sapphire option isn’t as garish as it might look in the pictures, and will be a colourful, refreshing addition to any golfer's wardrobe.
One thing I liked a lot about the HydroKnit was it’s simplicity in both look and design. There is nothing that doesn’t need to be there. The seam-sealed half-zip not only looks smart but keeps the jacket looking clean and timeless.
Apart from the two coloured wings under the arms and down the sides of the torso – the HydroKnit really is as simple as it gets. The only other standout features are the large FJ logo on the collar and the small elasticated waistband on the back of the jacket. FootJoy has done a good job of giving golfers very little to dislike here.
Firstly in the rain at Gullane, the HydroKnit performed outstandingly from a waterproof point of view. FootJoy claims that the HydroKnit has a 15,000mm waterproof rating. In English, this means you could pretty much throw anything at the HydroKnit and it would keep the water out. I can testify. Gullane threw everything at me, and somehow I walked off the 18th green with my upper body dry.
The only areas in which some moisture had begun to come through towards the end of my round was around the cuffs.
Trust me, that is impressive. For the first 9 holes or so the DWR finish of the HydroKnit, said to "bead water away", did just that. After that, the knit waterproof pullover did absorb moisture but didn't let any in. To say the HydroKnit is constructed from three-layer bonded knit fabric, with no Gore-Tex in sight, meant this was a pretty impressive feat.
To prove this further, back at Stockport GC I carried out the highly scientific 'Golfalot Waterproof Test'. Pouring a full litre bottle of water over the jacket across 30 seconds. Again, the HydroKnit proved strong with the water I threw at it simply bouncing off.
I was also a fan of the HydroKnit in the fit department. Overall it is what you would call a 'slim fit', which I must admit certainly lends itself much more to the younger generation of golfer rather than the older generation who would be used to a more classic, 'baggy' fit. In terms of performance however, this is by no means a bad thing.
One reason why golfers don't like wearing waterproof jackets is because they feel they restrict their golf swing. There was none of that here. The raglan sleeve construction meant I had good, unrestricted movement around the shoulders during the golf swing. The knit fabric also has a quite stretchy feel to it, which just gave me the extra peace of mind that I still had full range of movement when swinging in the jacket. Big tick.
Out of the rain, back at Stockport GC, in much drier conditions I put the 15,000g/sqm moisture permeability (breathability) rating to the test. Again, the HydroKnit performed well. Because the jacket is so light and thin, this is the kind of jacket you could happily wear on wet, and slightly colder British summer days.
Versatility is what the HydroKnit is all about. You genuinely could wear it in all four seasons. My only worry would be in how warm it would keep you during the winter when it gets really cold. You would certainly have to couple it with at least a pullover or mid-layer beneath it and then I feel like you're defeating the purpose of the HydroKnit altogether.
Having said that, I also believe the contemporary look and feel to the jacket means you wouldn't look too out of place wearing this jacket to and from the golf course, or even to and from the office. Hmmm, maybe that's a little bit far, nobody wants to be that guy do they?
FootJoy HydroKnit Waterproof Pullover Verdict
FootJoy have tenuously set out to do something 'different' with the HydroKnit, and although I was a sceptic at first, since testing the waterproof pullover on numerous occasions - I'm a convert.
I think this jacket will do extremely well in the golf market at an RRP of £180 to say it does everything a waterproof jacket would do, but offers more appeal in terms of how much use you can actually get out of it. Get used to seeing a lot of the HydroKnit both at your local club and on tour over the next 12 months.
Would I Use It?
Yes, and I have done on more than one occasion. The HydroKnit was my clothing of choice during Open week at Royal Portrush. Throughout the week we saw, wind, heavy rain, light rain, and warm sunshine and the HydroKnit didn't put a foot wrong. In fact it was joy to wear.
- Stylish, modern looks
- Highly waterproof in heavy rain
- Good amount of choice in terms of colourways
- Slim fit meant it was easy to swing in
- Light and breathable for warmer weather usage
- Competitive price tag in a highly expensive market
- Probably not warm enough to wear throughout a cold winter
- No way of adjusting the fit around the mid section