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First test: Montane Fireball Verso (2015)

£100.00

Staying warm in the hills is relatively easy; but avoiding overheating and sweating is a tougher challenge. The problem with a lot of insulation is that it is not very breathable – so you stay warm, but you also get sweaty. This is particularly a problem when working hard in the hills, and particularly when moving fast. Silver Insulation Active ...

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Montane Alpine Stretch (2015)

£100.00

FeaturesThe four-way stretch Chameleon3 is a polyester fabric without a membrane where the tight weave ensures it is very windproof and very breathable, though not quite as waterproof or as warm as some others. The men’s has four large pockets with superb ease of access, the women’s has only the two main pockets, but both have a hood with a ...

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Rab Ventus (2015)

£65.00

FeaturesThe Rab Ventus provides just a little more wind and water resistance than a fleece but lacks the insulation of one. It has two main pockets placed high on the body, plus a hood. There is hem drawcord to keep out draughts, while the cuffs are elasticated but there is no hood adjustment. It’s minimalist compared to most soft shells ...

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Rab Torque (2015)

£130.00

FeaturesMatrix Double Weave Stretch (Matrix DWS) fabric is used to make the Rab Torque very breathable as there is no membrane; also it’s very durable, with hood and elbow reinforcement. The hood is helmet-compatible and has a wired peak. The weight of 488g (size L) is great, but you only get two Napoleon chest pockets. Rab’s Sawtooth jacket (£100) has ...

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Arc’teryx Epsilon LT Hoody (2015)

£130.00

FeaturesThe Arc’teryx Epsilon LT Hoody is a good all-rounder in terms of features, so you get a medium-weight fabric that offers medium level of insulation, wind and water resistance – potentially ideal for general hill and mountain use. There are two well-placed main pockets and a hood with face and volume adjustment. The 566g weight is reasonable too, so overall ...

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Sprayway Cerberus (2015)

£75.00

FeaturesThe Sprayway Cerberus has instant hill appeal, thanks to a hood and two large pockets on the chest with easy access even when wearing a rucksack with a wide hipbelt. The front zip is full-length and gets a baffle on the inside to block draughts while the top of the zip is protected to prevent chin scrape. Thumb loops are ...

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Rab Shadow Hoodie (2015)

£140.00

FeaturesThe Rab Shadow Hoodie has almost everything you could dream of with its hood, two huge chest pockets and highly abrasion-resistant material. There is no external third smaller chest pocket, but you do get an inside chest pocket which is very large and could be used for compass, GPS receiver or phone. The drawback is all that extra weight if ...

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Mountain Equipment Shroud (2015)

£80.00

FeaturesThe Mountain Equipment Shroud has been a favourite of mine thanks to its combination of a hood and two large chest pockets that can be easily accessed while wearing a pack with a wide hipbelt. It has thumb loops and a hem drawcord, and the front zip has a baffle inside to keep draughts out as well as a chin ...

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Mountain Equipment Scorpion (2015)

£135.00

FeaturesI would always choose a fleece with a hood, but if you don’t want one then the Mountain Equipment Scorpion is the best option around. It has two large main pockets that can be accessed while wearing a rucksack, plus a third smaller chest pocket for GPS receiver, guidebook or compass. There is also added abrasion resistance in key areas ...

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Páramo Bora Hoodie (2015)

£100.00

FeaturesOver-the-head smock designs such as the Páramo Bora Hoodie do have real advantages, as they allow a large chest pocket to remain easily accessible while wearing a rucksack. Here you also get a hood and a third small chest pocket. There’s also a lot you don’t get though, including adjustment on the hood, a long zip for ventilation and no ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
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Rab Xenon X Hoodie (2014)

£140.00

FeaturesThe Rab Xenon X Hoodie’s two main pockets and a chest pocket are all map-sized and have zips, although if you wear this with a rucksack you do lose some access to the lower pockets. The hood is elasticated around the face with no drawcords at all, while the cuffs have no adjustment and are simply elasticated. 4/5 FitThere is ...

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Páramo Torres Jacket (2014)

£140.00

FeaturesThe moment you reach a summit and want to throw on some insulation, in most cases you have to remove your waterproof before you can add a warm layer – and in the process you freeze. The Páramo Torres Jacket, however, is designed to go over your waterproof. It also has large, well-placed pockets and hood drawcords. The front zip ...

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Aclima Warmwool Hoodie (2014)

£80.00

FeaturesThis oddball from Norwegian wool specialists Aclima can be worn as a crew, a polo neck or sporting a full hood, making it ideal for a range of cold conditions. You also get a tunnel pocket and thumb loops so – while it looks a bit Flash Gordon – you’re getting great value here. A women’s fit is available. 5/5 FabricThe ...

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Sherpa Tsepun Zip Tee Zip (2014)

£55.00

FeaturesFrom a company owned by Sherpas, the Tsepun Zip Tee has a chest pocket big enough for a credit card or the like. Nice details include the ‘endless knot’ symbol on the rear neck and ‘prayer flag’ zip, plus padded cuffs and collar. The zip is generous: more like 1/3 than 1/4. The women’s equivalent is the Dikila. 5/5 FabricWhile ...

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Montane Primino (2014)

£60.00

FeaturesNew this autumn from British brand Montane, the Primino is an unflashy zip-neck top with minimal features (on a base layer, though, so you may not want them!) and clever fabric that’s useful for standalone use in autumn/spring and as a layer in winter. A women’s fit is available. 4/5 FabricA clever idea (common to several other brands), the Primino ...

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Rab Shadow Hoodie (2014)

£135.00

The Rab Shadow Hoodie is made from Polartec Windpro, which is four times more wind-resistant than traditional fleece, but it doesn’t have a membrane inside – and so retains enough air permeability to allow water vapour to escape, thus preventing condensation building up. This fabric is therefore ideal for windier conditions, in places that will still necessitate a waterproof jacket ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
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Patagonia Piton Hybrid (2014)

£135.00

Although I’d always choose a fleece with a hood, some folk will prefer a non-hooded fleece that allows them to wear a separate hat. If that’s you then out of the jackets received for our test, the Patagonia Piton Hybrid was the best option in terms of its features and design. It is made from Polartec Windpro, which is four ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
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Páramo Bora Fleece Hoodie (2014)

£100.00

The Páramo Bora Fleece Hoodie (men’s) and Zonda Fleece Hoodie (women’s) feature an over-the-head smock design, which won’t be to everyone’s liking but has distinct advantages over the more conventional jacket style. As there’s no front zip to get in the way, there’s a tunnel chest pocket that can be accessed from either side. This is ideal for warming hands ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Vaude Basodino Hooded Jacket (2014)

£75.00

The Vaude Basodino Hooded Jacket is made from Bluesign-approved fabric, which means the material is environmentally friendly. The fabric is also nice and stretchy and provides a good level of insulation, which makes it ideal for hillwalking. Put the jacket on and it instantly feels comfortable and really hugs the body, but without being restrictive. There are three pockets. The ...

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

£85.00

The North Face’s Storm Shadow is designed as a next-to-skin or mid layer fleece. To provide maximum comfort it’s a close-fitting top that’s extremely air-permeable while offering superior ‘wicking’ (moisture-removing) performance. All this makes it ideal when used under a waterproof jacket or when worn on its own during highly aerobic activities, or for scrambling or walking in non-windy environments.  ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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The North Face Iodin Jacket (2013)

£100.00

Brand new for spring 2013, this is a lightweight and really stretchy jacket. The fit is simple and flattering, with hidden hem adjustment in each pocket for fine-tuning the fit, and fuss-free cuffs that rely on stretch for adjustment - they pull up really well, but check the fit because if they’re too long they’ll slip down over your hands. ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Sherpa Tseten Jacket (2013)

£100.00

A tough and full-featured jacket made from quite thick, three-layer fabric. It has a grid fleece lining inside which means it’s much warmer than others out there, and it feels bulkier and stiffer – great in cold weather but too warm in summer. Performance in the hills is great in cold weather, with a fleece-lined collar to trap warmth (shame ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Salomon Darbon Light Jacket (2013)

£100.00

A lightweight and sporty-looking jacket made from stretchy, double weave soft shell. It behaves much like a wind shirt, so it works best as an outer layer in any kind of dry weather. It’s got a soft, high collar to trap warmth, but the elastic cuffs are way too loose – they’ll pull up easily when you want to spill ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Jack Wolfskin Activate Jacket (2013)

£80.00

A really great-looking jacket with a flattering, contoured fit. The fabric is soft, light and supple, with lots of stretch and articulated elbows too, so it feels fantastic to walk in. The close fit and high, fleece-lined collar trap warmth brilliantly, helping it feel surprisingly cosy in cool weather. Breathability and wind resistance is excellent, and the zip is covered ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Patagonia Simple Guide Jacket (2013)

£100.00

A light but effective soft shell that ticks all the boxes. Made from eco-friendly recycled polyester, the fabric feels light and stretchy – ideal for those that move fast – yet it keeps out wind, breathes well and repels a fair bit of drizzle thanks to the Deluge DWR. Low bulk means it slots easily beneath a shell but it ...

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

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