Based in New York City, and looking to compete with the likes of The North Face and Arc’teryx, Toren Technical Apparel will ship its first jacket this year. We got the brand’s debut product, the Fundamental Shell, in house for a test.
The company, founded by Ethan Wishnick, has a “direct to consumer” approach — you order all products online, not in stores. This lets it cut costs by stripping out traditional retail markup.
At $245, the Fundamental Shell is a good deal — we tested the hardshell jacket against several models, some which cost hundreds of dollars more, and found the performance did not disappoint.
When creating the company, Wishnick said he found much technical outerwear to be “prohibitively expensive.” We agree — many technical hardshell jackets cost $400 to $500. (The pre-order price of the Fundamental Shell is $195, but you must order by May 26; the price increases to $245 after that.)
But despite a smaller price tag Toren didn’t skimp on materials. Toray, a leading Japanese manufacturer of technical fabrics, provides the material for the Fundamental Shell.
Like a Gore-Tex jacket, the Toren is made with a membrane-based waterproof/breathable fabric.
The rip-stop polyester material is mid-thickness for a hardshell, and it breathed well enough in our test (which is to say on par with many hardshell jackets). I wore it in pouring rain, and the jacket, which has a good hood, kept me 100% dry.
I like the big-tooth zipper and the large side pockets. There are the requisite pit zips and a cinching hem at the waist.
Small “vent” holes in the pockets give some extra airflow — a nice touch. A media pocket inside was made for a phone.
The Fundamental weighed 16.5 ounces on our scale in size large. This is lighter than average. The fit was spacious enough for layers underneath, though not baggy.
The company plans to lunch its full e-commerce site around Labor Day. Pre-orders of the Fundamental Shell are available now. For 2015, Toren has plans to expand with base layers, mid-layers and puffys — for the city or the woods. —Stephen Regenold