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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Mountain Equipment Shroud (2014)

£90.00

The Mountain Equipment Shroud is a jacket that I’ve been wearing regularly for four years and amazingly its price hasn’t changed in that time. It’s built around Polartec 100 fleece fabric, which for me provides just the right degree of insulation to wear year-round in the UK over a base layer or under a waterproof jacket. The fabric also offers ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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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
  • 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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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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Mammut Kala Patar Tech (2014)

£110.00

Not everyone likes pockets, and if you have a hands-on approach to your outdoor activities, such as when scrambling and mountaineering or just due to using trekking poles a lot, then do you really need them? If the answer is no, then the Mammut Kala Patar Tech may be for you. It’s made from a combination of two fabrics: one ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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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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The North Face Hybrid (2014)

£45.00

Despite coming in at the lowest price-point of all the base-layers here, the Hybrid boasts some pretty impressive technology. The fabric is mapped out according to the body’s hot and cold spots so that the underarms, for instance, are ventilated while the sides are insulated. Under test, it did a fantastic job of regulating my body temperature at a comfortable ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 0
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Smartwool NTS Mid 250 Zip (2014)

£75.00

At the top end of the price range, we find this: supremely comfortable merino wool, fitted but not clingy, a completely natural thermostat and easy to wash too. And as a bonus, it's muted enough to hide all its technical brilliance in a top that looks profoundly ‘normal’. I wore it on four separate trips without washing it, and it ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 0
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Paramo Grid Classic (2014)

£50.00

If you want a warm, clever and versatile top that doesn’t look too flashy, look no further than the Grid. It’s a relaxed fit, but it’s made with a thick, insulating fabric (almost like fleece) which is so comfy I was still wearing it as an outer layer in late autumn. The distinctive grid pattern of this Parameta G fabric ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 0
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Mammut GoWarm (2014)

£60.00

Here we get a bit more athletic. This is a high-performance technical top and the tightest fit in the men’s group, although it adapted nicely to my body shape after three outings and careful washes. It’s a complex blend: a merino and polyester face fabric plus a polyester-only inner lining, which together offer great temperature regulation on hard climbs. There’s ...

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

£35.00

A comfy top which ticks most of the boxes for a great price. ‘Stripped-back’ is the word: it’s extremely lightweight, almost tissue-thin, with uncomplicated stitched seams; a lean top for those who like to move light and fast. It isn’t close-fitted at all, in fact it’s rather baggy and shapeless round the waist and at the wrists. This means it’s ...

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

£65.00

As its name suggests, this is a top which means business. The Bionic is sleek and technical, with a slightly looser fit than the other base-layers to ensure ease of movement for strenuous days out in the hills. It’s incredibly lightweight and floats against the skin like gossamer – perfect for sweaty climbs on otherwise chilly days. But it’s the ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 0
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Icebreaker Oasis (2014)

£70.00

Here comes the merino champion: luxurious, comfortable and expensive. Unlike the coarse, itchy wool which comes from your bog-standard sheep, merino sheep produce exceptionally fine and soft wool which feels like silk next to the skin. And with this top, Icebreaker have engineered it into a top-of-the-range, deluxe base-layer. Made from 100% merino, the Oasis is tailored to be snug ...

  • LFTO.com rating rating is 0
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Sherpa Adventure gear Dikila (2014)

£50.00

Though the heaviest base-layer in the women’s group, the Dikila is surprisingly versatile. Using their own blend of synthetic fabrics called Dry-Zone, Sherpa have created a top which can double up in both a summer and winter wardrobe. It kept me warm on low-level strolls during the cold snaps of November, but it’s also breathable enough to cope with warmer ...

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

£300.00

The Ramche is one of Berghaus’s MtnHaus products, designed by mountaineers for top performance in the fiercest conditions. It features hydrophobic down, which resists water better than normal down, so it’s better able to retain its insulating performance when wet. Offset baffles reduce heat loss from the body core, while square baffles on the upper arms and stitched-through baffles under ...

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

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