Expert Review: 686 GLCR Men's Hydra Thermagraph Insulated Jacket

This review is my honest opinion of the jacket, which I purchased with my own money in October of 2021.

A man standing at the top of a snowy pass wearing a helmet and the 686 GLCR Men's Hydra Thermagraph Insulated Jacket.

All photos courtesy of Noah Todd

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About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the jacket, which I purchased with my own money in October of 2021.

My take

The GLCR Hydra Thermagraph Jacket is the ideal jacket for powder hounds who love innovative features and unconventional style.

A man standing at the base of a ski resort while wearing the 686 GLCR Men's Hydra Thermagraph Insulated Jacket.

About the piece I own

  • Model: 2021 NASA Limited Edition
  • Size: Medium
  • Fit: Runs true-to-size

About me

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 185 lbs
  • Experience: 13 years of snowboarding

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: October 2021
  • Days tested: 20 days
  • Where I’ve used it: Brighton, Solitude, Snowbird, Copper, Beaver, Breckenridge, Lake Louise, Banff Sunshine Village, Kicking Horse
  • Conditions I’ve used it in: Powder, bluebird days, icy days, spring conditions

How it performs

Breathability
5/5
Comfort
5/5
Durability
5/5
Style
5/5
Warmth
3/5
Waterproofing
5/5

What I was looking for

I was riding like a scrub after buying on a college budget for four years, so when I graduated and got a job, I wanted a new outfit that was comfortable and easy to spot. I also wanted a jacket that was designed specifically for the needs of a snowboarder or skier. I saw the 686 x NASA collaboration, and I bought the jacket almost immediately.

Close up of the zipper on the 686 GLCR Men's Hydra Thermagraph Insulated Jacket.

Why I chose this gear

To be quite honest, I bought this product because I love rocket ships and NASA, and I think 686 is one of the best snowboarding apparel brands around. I also wanted people to be able to spot me easily, so I was looking for an outfit that was bright and easily distinguishable. I wanted my friends to be able to see me in a crowd or a cluster of trees. The main reason why I like 686 is that they design apparel specifically for the snowboarding/skiing experience. My dad, who skis, also has the same jacket, which he bought after trying mine on.

I believe Volcom and 686 are the best apparel brands for snowboarding. There are other acceptable brands like Picture Organic, ThirtyTwo, and Burton. However, the 686 and Volcom are especially tailored for the snowboarding experience. Both brands think about small things like where to put chapstick or how to easily access my phone on a chairlift.

The 686 GLCR Men's Hydra Thermagraph Insulated Jacket hanging up.
A snowboarder wearing the 686 GLCR Men's Hydra Thermagraph Insulated Jacket.

What I love about it

  • Fit: The GLCR is about the same as most T-shirts. I got the size I usually buy for my shirts.
  • Range of Motion: The range of motion is good. I can adequately flail my arms when I’m about to wash out on a jump in the park.
  • Design: In my opinion, 686 is one of the more stylish brands in the ski/snowboarding market. While other brands just design for function, 686 understands that people also want to look good on the mountain.
  • Style: I’d say this jacket is just a normal fit.
  • Quality of Materials: The GLCR features 686’s premium materials. It doesn’t use GORE-TEX, but it has breathability and waterproofing of 15k and 20k respectively, which comes close to the quality of GORE-TEX.
  • Durability: As long as the user washes the clothes with Nikwax, the material will stay waterproof through wash cycles. My jacket has stayed intact through various falls, but if the clothing were to rip, 686 has fabric patches for repairing tears. 686 also covers the jacket with a lifetime warranty.
  • Pockets: I think 686 found a good balance of providing pockets without making those pockets look unstylish. There’s a pocket for almost every need.
    • There’s both an inside and outside phone pocket on the left side of the chest with headphone slits and a clear, plastic window to check and use a phone. I usually put my phone on the outside, and even with the pocket open, my phone has never fallen out (thank you, 686).
    • There’s a pocket in the sleeve to put passes in, which also has a clip.
    • There’s a chapstick pocket.
    • There’s a large, mesh pocket inside the side of the jacket that’s perfect for storing extra layers or water bottles.
  • Waterproofing: The GLCR is rated for 20,000mm of waterproofing, which is higher than anyone will ever need. The various zippers on the jacket are also waterproof. Finally, the spray skirt on this jacket is excellent, and it includes attachment points that can attach the spray skirt to belts or belt loops.
  • Breathability: The fabric used in the GLCR is rated at 15,000gm, which is exceptionally breathable but not quite as breathable as something like GORE-TEX. Still, the material is about two to three times more breathable than most materials used for ski gear. Additionally, 686 designed Vader vents, which are zip-up vents under the arms that allow for more airflow.
  • Weight: The jacket is nice and lightweight.
  • Features: In addition to the features mentioned above, there are wrist gaiters that create a waterproof layer between the sleeve and glove. I also want to reiterate the spray skirt attachment system, which keeps the inside of my pants nice and dry.
A snowboarder wearing the 686 GLCR Men's Hydra Thermagraph Insulated Jacket standing at the top of a snowy run.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Warmth: This jacket is designed to accommodate a mid layer, so it only provides medium warmth. However, I was comfortable wearing just this jacket and a wool base layer down to about 15°F. Anything lower than that, and I threw on a mid layer to keep me warm.
  • Other: My only issue with this jacket is the long side of the jacket will occasionally slap me in the face when it’s unzipped. However, I just tuck that part under my backpack strap when I unzip the jacket now.
A snowboarder turning down a mountain while wearing the 686 GLCR Men's Hydra Thermagraph Insulated Jacket.

Favorite moment with this gear

On a powder day, I jumped off a 20ft cliff into a powdery landing. I didn’t land it, but I got up and rode off with a smile on my face and no snow in my pants.

Value for the money vs. other options

I think I got what I paid for with this jacket. However, 686 isn’t a good brand for people on a budget in general, and this jacket is no exception. Volcom’s Iconic Stone Jacket and The North Face’s Freedom line are both affordable options that are still high quality.

Final verdict

The GLCR Hydra is a high-end jacket that offers innovative features to its wearer.

Selling 686 on Curated.com
686 GLCR Men's Hydra Thermagraph Insulated Jacket
$269.95
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Written By
A few years ago, my family went to Snowbird, and I fell in love with snowboarding. The powder has been calling me ever since, and I've been visiting as many resorts as possible, with the hope that one day I'll live near one. I particulary enjoy exploring the wilderness, finding more difficult terrai...

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