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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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Black Diamond Dawn Patrol LT Shell (2015)

£250.00

FeaturesThe Black Diamond Dawn Patrol LT Shell is made for durability with Schoeller stretch woven nylon, which lacks a membrane so it is very breathable but resists wind. Nanosphere technology enhances its ability to shed water. The design has a hood with a stiffened peak, a chest pocket and two hip pockets that are a bit low for easy access ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
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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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Simond Alpine Softshell (2015)

£40.00

FeaturesSimond clothing is available through Decathlon and carries extremely impressive price tags. This jacket uses a stretch abrasion-resistant material with a water-repellent membrane inside. The brushed polyester finish on the inside provides some warmth and comfort. There are two main pockets plus a third smaller chest pocket. 4/5 FitAvailable in men’s S-XXL and women’s XS-XL, the fit is close and ...

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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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Berghaus Winter Valparola (2015)

£180.00

FeaturesGore Windstopper soft shell fabric makes the Berghaus Winter Valparola durable and very water-resistant with a micro-grid polyester lining for extra warmth, but the drawback is the weight of 774g. There are four chest pockets, however, plus pit zips for ventilation and a hood with a peak, so you’re really getting a lot of features. Definitely built for the mountains ...

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Montane Tigertooth Pro (2015)

£250.00

FeaturesThe main fabric used in the Montane Tigertooth Pro is Polartec Power Shield, which has a membrane sandwiched between the outer and inner layers, making it more water- and wind-resistant. The outer is very abrasion-resistant while the inner is a very thick fibre pile layer. You also get four main pockets with great access and a hood with a wired ...

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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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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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Mammut Nordpfeiler / Westgrat (2015)

£285.00

FeaturesThe Mammut Nordpfeiler / Westgrat offers high abrasion resistance with stretch thanks to Gore Windstopper fabric (its membrane will help fend off wind and water). Pit zips add ventilation while the hood has a stiffened peak. There are three pockets on the body, which can all be accessed above climbing harnesses or rucksack hipbelts. But the weight of 728g is ...

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Helly Hansen Challenger 2 (2015)

£130.00

The Challenger is modelled on a running design, but walkers can benefit from its breathability and ease of movement too. Where the Regatta jacket prioritised weather protection, this  takes a lighter approach. The front is made from standard soft shell polyester, hardy enough to beat off wind and rain, while the back and underarms are made from lighter, stretchier material. ...

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Paramo Bora Smock (2015)

£80.00

The Bora takes a different approach to soft shell. It is essentially a thickened-up, over-the-head windshirt, so it is exceedingly light (just 178g) and very packable. By itself, it is highly windproof (the peaked hood is especially good) and very breathable, thanks to two vertical venting zips up the abdomen. But the Bora has more to it than that. It ...

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Fjallraven Pro-Lite (2015)

£170.00

Even though it’s called Lite, this is a full-on, heavy-duty soft shell that is so robust it actually crinkles. The first thing you might notice are the colossal but cleverly-placed pockets. The zips run vertically up both sides of the upper torso, making the pockets accessible even with a rucksack on and big enough to take an OS map (each!). ...

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Craghoppers Pro-Lite (2015)

£50.00

It’s rare – very rare – that our reviews could start and finish with the cheapest item, but Craghoppers’ new Pro-Lite really does give you the whole story of a soft shell jacket in a nutshell. It’s lightweight, sharply-cut, very breathable and completely windproof. It works up a mountain, in a country park and on the high street, and it ...

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Patagonia All Free (2015)

£110.00

This jacket was originally designed for climbing, but walkers can get a fair bit out of it too. Freedom of movement is great, as you might expect given its roots, and it stretches beautifully. It’s very lightweight, and water just glides off it, even when subjected to a ruthless water-bottle dousing. The neck is high and snug with no danger ...

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Musto Evolution (2015)

£119.00

Cocooned. It’s a comforting word, bringing to mind snugness, warmth and security. All the things you’d want from a product that is intended to protect you against the wind, the wet and wild weather in general. ‘Cocooned’ popped straight into my mind on donning this, one late winter’s day. The inner is traditionally soft and fleecy, and immediately warming, while ...

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Black Diamond BDV (2015)

£160.00

Black Diamond are probably better known in this country for accessories (in particular their walking poles) than clothing. But you will see more and more of their jackets hitting UK stores this spring, and the BDV (which stands for Black Diamond Vertical) is a perfect example of their innovative approach. It’s a robust, slim-cut jacket that feels fantastic as both ...

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Regatta Nebraska (2015)

£40.00

I’d forgotten the price when testing this and was so surprised post-walk that I had to triple-check the figure. Surely there’s a ‘one’ missing before the ‘four’? Nope. A simple £40 it is. It was already praiseworthy, but in light of that, it’s hard to beat. The Nebraska performs wonderfully. On a late winter walk it proved resistant enough to ...

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Craghoppers Pro Lite (2015)

£40.00

FeaturesThe Craghoppers Pro Lite is a low-priced fleece jacket with a hood and three pockets is a good option for many hillwalking situations. This one has no baffle behind the front zip, though, so it can be draughty and there’s no chinguard for the top of the zip. There are no adjustment cords at the cuffs, hem or around the ...

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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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Mammut Eiswand Tech (2015)

£175.00

FeaturesThis jacket from Mammut’s Eiger range is designed for alpinism and climbing, but it also works really well as a hillwalking and scrambling fleece thanks to its ‘alpinist’ features. So you get two large chest pockets, a hood and a close fit to allow active movement without riding up. There is no third chest pocket, though, which is a surprise ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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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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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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Columbia Fast Trek II Full Zip (2015)

£50.00

FeaturesWith the Columbia Fast Trek II Full Zip three pockets. You can fit OS maps in the hip pockets and a small guidebook in the chest pocket. The two lower ones are easily obscured by a rucksack belt, but at least you have a more accessible chest pocket. You also get a drawcord at the hem to block out the ...

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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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