inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex Review

An in-depth review of the inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex.

By on January 12, 2023 | Leave a reply

The inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex ($155) is an ultralight, waterproof jacket that weighs next to nothing yet provides waterproof protection when the weather takes a turn. This jacket is the perfect just-in-case layer that is light enough to carry in your pack unnoticed, but actually works when you need it to, and we named it the best ultralight rain jacket in our Best Running Rain Jackets guide.

The jacket’s ultralight packability makes it a popular choice for mandatory race kits, fastpackers, and weight-conscious adventurers who need a truly waterproof jacket but have limited space and are trying to minimize pack weight. With an actual weight of 3.3 ounces (94 grams) in a men’s size medium, it packs down extremely small and feels incredibly lightweight when worn.

If you are looking for bells and whistles or all-day-in-a-hurricane level of protection, you’ll have to look elsewhere. But if lightweight protection in an extremely functional package is what you seek, then the inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex is a solid choice.

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inov-8 raceshell hz - front view action shot running

The inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex in use. All photos: inov-8

Inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex Fabric and Fit

The inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex is made of a polyester shell with a waterproof polyurethane membrane. It has fully taped seams to prevent water entry. As per the manufacturer’s listing, it has a waterproofing rating of 15,000 Hydrostatic Head and a breathability rating of 15,000 B-1.

In short, this means that the jacket offers fairly good waterproof protection and breathability. For more information about what these numbers mean, check out our Best Running Rain Jackets guide. In real-world use, we found it to breathe well and provide solid protection against moderate rain.

This jacket is a unisex, anorak-style pullover with a half zip on the chest and a hood. It is a simple design with no pockets or adjustment points. The pullover style makes it a little more difficult to get in and out of quickly, and in our use, we found the zipper to be slow. So, use caution to avoid pulling it too hard, as it could potentially break with an impatient hard jerk.

In our testing, we had no problems with its durability. The fit is on the wider side when compared with some of the other running rain jackets on the market. This does make it easier to get it on and off and to fit over a hydration pack.

inov-8 raceshell - hz front view

A front view of the inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex.

While it’s not quite as easy to get in and out of this half-zip jacket as it is a full-length zipper jacket, we find the anorak style to have some of its own benefits. First, half-zip jackets vent well via the zipper and, second, they seem to stay in place on our bodies better when partially unzipped compared to their full-zip cousins.

We found the fabric to be nice and quiet while running, free from obtrusive crinkling or swooshing with movement. This is a difficult-to-find but awesome detail, as some running rain jackets are so loud it can be hard to hear the world around you or your running partner talking.

inov-8 raceshell hz - back view

A back view of the inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex.

Inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex Features

The inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex is a minimalist jacket by design, so the features are predictably minimal. To keep the jacket as light as possible, inov-8 has foregone the adjustment points found on most other jackets. There are no cinch cords or adjustment points on the hood, hem, or cuffs, but they do have some light elastication to keep them in place.

This works well to keep the cuffs from shifting, but the bottom of the jacket does tend to flap in the wind due to the looser fit and lack of cinching adjustments. The hood has some light elastic and a brim to help keep it stable and off of your face, which gets the job done, but it is on the small side and doesn’t stay up as well as hoods with adjustments.

Perhaps the best feature of this jacket is its lack of features. It is incredibly light and packs down very small, making it easy to stow away when not in use. It is also light and airy when worn. The lack of pockets, zippers, clips, and cords means there is nothing to break or malfunction, it is simplicity at its best.

It is because of this simplicity that this jacket is iRunFar’s Meghan Hicks’s “oh shit” jacket that stows in her waistbelt or hydration pack for half-day or shorter missions when the weather forecast is good and a jacket should only be needed if something goes a little wrong. She also loves to wear this jacket for snowy runs, as the jacket deflects snow well and the half zip comfortably vents in variable conditions.

inov-8 raceshell hz - hood up

The hood of the inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex.

Inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex Overall Impressions

The inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex does exactly what it is built for, providing robust protection from the elements in an ultralight package. It is made for a race or long adventure situation where you may encounter bad weather and need a packable, breathable, and waterproof jacket just in case. The lack of adjustability means the fit can’t really be dialed in, but also makes the jacket extremely simple to throw on and keep going when the rain or snow starts.

The pullover, half-zip style is a little tougher to get on and off as compared with a full zip, but it is easy enough to pull on, especially if sized up to fit over a pack. The jacket will remain fairly functional even if there is a problem with the zipper, which is a plus.

This jacket isn’t our first choice for long days in consistent heavy rains or wet weather, as it does not have the level of waterproofing or adjustability meant to withstand those conditions. But that is not what it is designed for. It does, however, provide very good waterproof protection when unexpected or sporadic showers roll in. Overall, this jacket is a top-notch choice for a race kit, light rains, and having on hand for unexpected bad weather, which is why we named it the best ultralight rain jacket in our Best Running Rain Jackets guide.

Shop the inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex
inov-8 raceshell hz - rear view running

Back view of the inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex.

Call for Comments

  • Have you used the inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex in bad weather? How did it perform for you?
  • Would the appearance of this jacket be a deal breaker for wearing it?

[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

inov-8 raceshell hz - zipper

Zipper of the inov-8 Raceshell HZ Unisex.

Carly Eisley
Carly Eisley is a trail runner, hiker, mountain biker, and traveler. Her home base is in Connecticut, where she lives with her husband and two rescue dogs. When not writing or adventuring, she works as an emergency department nurse practitioner. Follow her on Instagram.