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First test: Sherpa Nangpala Down Jacket (2014)

£250.00

The traditional and well-proven choice for top-quality insulation has been down, gathered from geese. However, as down loses some of its insulating performance when wet, synthetic fibres are often used instead, which perform better than down when wet, but are heavier and less compact. This is not ideal, say when carrying an insulated jacket in your rucksack. So over recent ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 0
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Berghaus Capucin (2014)

£160.00

FeaturesThere are a lot of nice touches here, but some annoying elements too. The hood has face drawcords, but no volume adjustment at the back. The three pockets on the outside are placed reasonably well for access with a rucksack on, but they aren’t quite big enough for an OS map. The cuffs get internal elastication, though, which is neatly ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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The North Face Thermoball Hoodie (2014)

£170.00

FeaturesWhat a difference a hood drawcord makes – and that’s what sets the The North Face Thermoball Hoodie apart from others. You also get elasticated cuffs where the elastication is tucked inside so the cuff is neater and potentially less draughty. The two main pockets are happily OS map-sized; but, like most, access is obscured when a hipbelt from a ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 0
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody (2014)

£180.00

FeaturesThe Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody has seen a major improvement since Trail reviewed it in March 2013: the hood now has a rear volume adjuster. The two pockets on the body are still just too small to take an OS map, though, and access to these is also slightly obscured by rucksack hipbelts. Like most jackets in our test the ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Mammut Rime Pro Jacket (2014)

£170.00

FeaturesBeing able to wear a warm jacket over a waterproof can be a real advantage in some situations, and the Mammut Rime Pro Jacket is designed to do just that. It has a hood with a wired peak, and drawcord adjustment at the face and back of head. But all three outside pockets are a bit small for OS maps. ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 0
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Rab Vapour Rise Guide Jacket (2014)

£160.00

Exceptionally comfortable and billed as the ‘original’ soft shell, Rab’s insulated Vapour Rise garments aim to be very warm yet extremely breathable. As such they are well-suited – and well-proven as such – to excelling in the British hills in seasons when you really don’t know what’s likely to be thrown at you. The Vapour Rise Guide Jacket is very ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Montane Sabretooth Jacket (2014)

£165.00

The Montane Sabretooth Jacket is in many respects the one to beat here, having previously won both ‘Best in Test’ and ‘Best Value’ awards in Trail tests. There’s no denying that the Sabretooth has been designed with the British hillwalker firmly in mind. Features-wise, you get four pockets – two big ’uns on the chest plus two others above the ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Marmot ROM (2014)

£160.00

ROM stands for ‘Range Of Movement’, and this selling point is achieved by an all-over two-way stretch fabric with four-way stretch breathable panels under and along the arms. The Marmot ROM is also a generously long jacket that isn’t prone to riding up. Both of these assets notwithstanding, the freedom of movement isn’t massively more striking than other jackets in ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Outdoor Research Alibi (2014)

£190.00

Here’s an impressive jacket from Seattle-based Outdoor Research, a brand that – despite being massive Stateside – is still a relatively rare sight in the UK hills. The Alibi has a hybrid construction, utilising waterproof panels in the hood and shoulders to give protection where the ‘weather hits hardest’. This does work for short showers or snow, but it’s no ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Arc’Teryx Epsilon LT Hoody (2014)

£150.00

There’s a lot to be said for simplicity. It’s something Arc’Teryx is very good at: making products that seem minimalist but sport features that feel very considered. The Epsilon LT Hoody is fairly light, highly functional and understated-looking, with performance that is pitched just right for most regular conditions. So this is for those who prefer to have a basic, ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Mammut Ultimate Light Hoody (2014)

£170.00

Far and away the lightest soft shell we looked at in this test, the Mammut Ultimate Light Hoody, by its rather cocky name, has a lot to live up to. On paper it adds up: Gore Windstopper fabric provides premium protection from gales, while remaining relatively breathable. That said, you’ll still heat up if working hard, and for this there ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Mountain Equipment Vulcan (2014)

£200.00

There’s something retro about this new jacket from Mountain Equipment. With its chunky zips and vintage colour, from a distance it’s easy to mistake the Vulcan for the old-style fleece jacket that in a way it spiritually replaces. Thick and soft, it has the feel of a drysuit and the Gore Windstopper’s impressive DWR (durable water repellent) continues this illusion. ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Mountain Hardwear Hueco Hooded Jacket (2014)

£150.00

Brand new for this autumn/winter, the Hueco Hooded Jacket joins the future classic Super Chockstone Jacket among traditionally high-end Californian manufacturer Mountain Hardwear’s hillwalker-relevant products. It’s warm, featuring plush fleece lining and a full-weight, helmet-compatible hood beneath a proprietory face fabric called Airshield 3L, designed by Mountain Hardwear to be breathable before the clammy effects of exertion kick in. The ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Montane Sabretooth (2014)

£160.00

The Montane Sabretooth is a frequent winner of Trail’s ‘Best in Test’ award when reviewed as a soft shell jacket. However in our test, the drawbacks of a soft shell were compared with the benefits of a fleece. The Sabretooth is made from Polartec Powershield, which has a perforated laminated layer within the fabric. This provides far better wind resistance ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Rab Ascent (2014)

£185.00

The Rab Ascent is a down jacket with an outer made from Pertex Endurance, which is water-resistant enough that the down is protected from melting snow and tent condensation. Inside the size L jacket is 330g of hydrophobic down, which is better able to maintain its performance when wet than standard down. The removable hood gets a volume adjuster so ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 0
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Mountain Equipment Bastion (2014)

£190.00

Synthetic insulation cannot compete with down in terms of keeping you warm in the coldest of conditions, but it’s ideal when you need to stay warm while being active. The Bastion uses Mountain Equipment’s own Polarloft synthetic insulation and this is combined with a Gore Windstopper shell, which provides water and wind resistance. There are stretch side panels where there’s ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 0
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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The North Face Alpine Project Hybrid Hoodie (2013)

£170.00

The guides at Glenmore Lodge (the Scottish National Outdoor Training Centre) will be wearing the The North Face Alpine Project Hybrid Hoodie during summer 2014. It has been designed as a versatile layer and it’s made from a thinner version of Gore Windstopper than other jackets in our test, which puts it in the mild spring/summer/autumn bracket rather than being ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Arc’teryx Gamma LT Hoody (2013)

£170.00

Arc’teryx describes the Gamma LT Hoody as a jacket for everyday use that is ‘equally at home in the mountains or around town’. I think this sums up the jacket quite well: it’s very much an all-rounder that doesn’t excel in either environment. On the hill its feature set is slightly spartan compared to others, with just two pockets, no ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Mountain Equipment Trojan Hooded Jacket (2013)

£160.00

Not all Gore Windstopper fabric is the same, and the version used in the Mountain Equipment Trojan Hooded Jacket is a lighter weight without added insulation inside – and the result is a more general-purpose garment that is slightly lighter in weight than some options. The Trojan offers the wind- and water-resistant qualities of other jackets, but has a softer ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Berghaus Cristallo/Teton (2013)

£160.00

The Berghaus Cristallo for men and Teton for women is designed for winter use and so it employs a heavier weight of Gore Windstopper fabric than some other jackets, with a thicker insulating layer on the inside to give it extra warmth. To further improve winter performance, the cuffs have an inner liner with thumb loops, and the hood is ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Montane Sabretooth (2013)

£160.00

A frequent winner of Trail tests, the Montane Sabretooth has everything a hillwalker, scrambler or mountaineer might need from a soft shell jacket. It is made from Polartec Powershield, a fabric that is water- and wind-resistant thanks to a membrane that is full of tiny holes. However the key benefit of this fabric is that it is not totally windproof, ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Rab Baltoro Alpine (2013)

£150.00

As the name suggests the Rab Baltoro Alpine is designed for Alpine climbing, so it should also be ideal for winter scrambles and mountaineering in the UK. It is made from a heavier weight of Polartec Powershield than the Montane Sabretooth for example, and is generally a very strong construction with triple seams throughout and an incredibly robust feel. The ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Haglöfs Geko Hood (2013)

£150.00

The Haglöfs Geko Hood is Bluesign-approved, which means 95 per cent of the materials used meet the environmental standards set by Bluesign (a Swiss-based body of private textile experts), so in short it is better for the environment than most other jackets. The fabric is Haglöfs’ own brand of soft shell material, which allows a little more air to flow ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Fjällräven Abisko jacket (2013)

£150.00

Like many Fjällräven jackets and trousers, the Abisko is made from G-1000 polyester cotton, which the manufacturer recommends users treat with Greenland Wax to make it water-resistant. One important benefit is that the Greenland Wax can be applied where necessary, so you can make the shoulders more water-resistant than the front of the jacket for example, to maximise breathability. To ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Mammut Ultimate Advanced Jacket (2013)

£200.00

This is an awful lot to pay for a soft shell, even one as good as this. It’s cut from Gore Windstopper: a stretchy membrane fabric that blocks wind and keeps a fair bit of rain out too, but it doesn’t breathe as well as some. Lengthy pit-zips and good-sized venting pockets go a long way towards compensating for this, ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0

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