Arc’teryx Epsilon LT Hoody (2015)

Features

The 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 a good feature set for walkers. 5/5

Fit

The men’s comes in sizes S-XXL and the women’s in XS-XL. Mine fitted me slightly closer than some others (but it was an M rather than an L), but I could still wear it over a thin fleece. There is no adjustment at the cuffs, apart from elastication; but they fitted me fine, and the cuffs and hem didn’t ride up. The length is average, while the hood fits and moves well. 5/5

Comfort

The polyester double-weave fabric offers good airflow, making the Arc’teryx Epsilon LT Hoody ideal to wear under waterproofs, but it is also windproof enough to make it comfortable on the hill. Inside you get a polyester grid fleece layer for just the right amount of insulation for year-round use. There is a little less stretch here than some fabrics, but overall this is very comfortable. 5/5

In use

The two pockets are positioned high enough to allow access to them while wearing a rucksack hipbelt, and they are large enough for maps. The hood fits well and moves well with the head with its stiffened peak providing good protection, even though it isn’t wired. I would really like a third chest pocket, and Velcro adjustment tabs on the cuffs may improve fit for some, but overall the Arc’teryx Epsilon LT Hoody is great. 5/5

Value

The priced is appropriate for what you’re getting here, which is a good set of features and materials for the hill. 4/5

Verdict

The Arc’teryx Epsilon LT Hoody is not perfect, but this product offers most of what is needed from a soft shell jacket when heading into the hills. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine September 2015

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Simond Alpine Softshell (2015)

Features

Simond 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

Fit

Available in men’s S-XXL and women’s XS-XL, the fit is close and slightly restrictive (and particularly under the arms, I found) so you might want a size up from usual. But there was good movement in the sleeves without the hem or cuffs riding up. Cuff Velcro tabs allowed a close fit and the collar fitted well, although a drawcord collar could fit closer. 4/5

Comfort

The Simond Alpine Softshell was a little stiff due to the close fit, so I felt I was in a straitjacket to some degree, but a larger size may overcome that. The brushed inside finish of the fabric is comfy and this extends to the chinguard area of the collar. The body totally blocks wind and all but the heaviest of rain. It is fairly warm too, but it isn’t as breathable as a soft shell without a membrane. 4/5

In use

The material is nice and abrasion-resistant, making this great for scrambling over rock. The two main pockets are easily accessed above a harness and ideal for hands or a map, but the smaller chest pocket is a little too small really. It takes a phone or GPS receiver but it would be great if it could take a map, leaving the others free for the hands. The lack of a hood is a drawback. 4/5

Value

The price is outstanding and cannot be challenged. The jacket may not be perfect, but the price is. 5/5

Verdict

An outstanding price for a soft shell that is very, very good. Hard to find a better one than the Simond Alpine Softshell unless you choose very carefully. 4.2/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine September 2015

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Mammut Nordpfeiler / Westgrat (2015)

Features

The 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 quite high. 5/5

Fit

The Nordpfeiler comes in men’s sizes S-XXL while the women’s version – the Westgrat – comes in sizes XS-XL. The Nordpfeiler is slightly longer on me than some other soft shell jackets we looked at. The cuffs are only elasticated and I noticed they tended to ride up easier than others when raising the arms. Hood fit was not ideal either. 3/5

Comfort

The fabric is relatively soft and stretchy and as the Mammut Nordpfeiler / Westgrat isn’t as highly insulated as other jackets it feels a little comfier on. But the cuffs don’t fit as closely, so draughts are possible here. As this is a Gore Windstopper fabric it traps warm air quite easily and fends off wind and rain well. But under a waterproof it won’t be as breathable as more open-weave options. 4/5

In use

The hood has no volume adjustment and its peak has no wired stiffening, so this resulted in the face drawcords being too close to my eyes and the peak being distorted in shape, which wasn’t great. The women’s Westgrat has well-placed pockets; but the Nordpfeiler has pockets that are slightly lower, so a climbing harness or rucksack hipbelt will impede access a little. 3/5

Value

The price is higher than other jackets that have better-designed features, so it feels expensive by comparison. 3/5

Verdict

The Mammut Nordpfeiler / Westgrat is designed for mountain use but it’s hard to justify paying the price as it isn’t as well-designed as lower-priced options. 3.6/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine September 2015

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Black Diamond Dawn Patrol LT Shell (2015)

Features

The 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 while wearing a rucksack. The weight of 614g is tolerable but not ideal. 4/5

Fit

The men’s sizes are XS-XL and the women’s sizes are XS-XL with the fit being averagely close while allowing a thin fleece to be worn underneath. The fit of the sleeves is exceptionally good, with the hem and cuffs not budging when raising arms. The cuffs have Velcro tab adjustment too. The hood fits and moves with the head exceptionally well. 5/5

Comfort

The Black Diamond Dawn Patrol LT Shell is not the warmest option as it doesn’t have that pile finish of some, but it is very comfortable in a wider range of temperatures and can be worn effectively over insulating layers or under waterproofs as it is very breathable. It is a soft fabric too, so it doesn’t restrict movement or feel bulky. The fabric is stretchier than most so it’s ideal for climbing and comfort. 5/5

In use

The drawback is the hip pockets, which are too low to allow easy access when wearing any sort of hipbelt or climbing harness. The chest pocket is good and larger than most, so it just about takes an OS map. The hood peak isn’t wired and is quite large, but it is stiffened and didn’t distort as badly as some; however a wired peak would ensure better vision. 4/5

Value

The Black Diamond Dawn Patrol LT Shell’s price seems high as feature-wise it is similar to others or in some cases it has fewer features, so the price is hard to accept. 2/5

Verdict

The Black Diamond Dawn Patrol LT Shell offers good year-round performance and some excellent features, but other models offer similar benefits at lower prices. 4.0/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine September 2015

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Montane Tigertooth Pro (2015)

Features

The 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 peak. The drawback is the 794g weight. 5/5

Fit

The Montane Tigertooth Pro is available only in men’s S-XXL; it fits closely but I was able to wear a thin fleece under it for more insulation. The body length is average but the sleeves fitted me particularly well with no hint of the cuffs or hem riding up. The hood also fitted exceptionally well to allow great protection while maintaining perfect vision. Pity there’s no women’s version. 4/5

Comfort

This is a very warm jacket although as it is a bit thicker than others it does feel a little bulkier and stiffer. Also that weight of 794g impacts on the comfort. It fends off wind and water well, and as it has a membrane it won’t be ideal under a waterproof, as non-membrane materials will be more breathable. But overall this is ideal for the depths of winter. 5/5

In use

The Tigertooth Pro is really dedicated to Alpine or Scottish winter climbing, where it would excel. The hood, pockets and general design are ideal for climbing but it would also be great for walking across the Cairngorms in winter or battling through wind and snow up to any mountain summit. The problem is that it is so heavy you need to be wearing it all day. 4/5

Value

The Montane Tigertooth Pro’s price is high but you are getting a lot of jacket here and it is very, very warm. 3/5

Verdict

If you want a soft shell jacket for winter conditions this is it, but for any other situation alternative Montane jackets are better. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.2/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine September 2015

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Rab Torque (2015)

Features

Matrix 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 more pockets. 4/5

Fit

There is no women’s version of this jacket, but Rab’s Sawtooth (men’s and women’s) is the nearest equivalent in this material. The Torque men’s sizes are S-XXL, and the fit was relaxed enough to wear over a thin fleece without being too baggy. The sleeve fit, hood fit and movement were outstanding. It has a longer body than average too. 4/5

Comfort

The low weight plus the softness of the fabric make the Rab Torque very comfortable over a base layer or a thin fleece. It can be worn under waterproofs too as it is so breathable. It keeps off the wind and the worst of the rain but isn’t very well-insulated. Think of it as a stretchy, durable windshirt to be worn with other layers, and it’s great! 5/5

In use

I love the fabric as it can be used in so many situations, from summer to winter, in fine weather or wet weather when combined with other layers. The hood is outstandingly good, thanks to a super fit and a wired peak. The two chest pockets are great, but you aren’t getting any handwarmer pockets, which are available in the men’s and women’s Sawtooth. 4/5

Value

The cost is acceptable, but for a similar price you can get the Sawtooth (more hand-friendly pockets, less abrasion resistance). 4/5

Verdict

The Rab Torque  is an ideal windshirt for mountaineering, but walkers may prefer Rab’s Sawtooth jacket in the same material with its better pockets. 4.2/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine September 2015

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Rab Ventus (2015)

Features

The 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 for sure. 4/5

Fit

Men’s sizes are S-XXL and women’s sizes are 8-16, with the jacket fitting closely without being tight or restrictive. The hood even fitted okay due to there being stretch in the material, which allowed it to hug my head and move well. The cuffs too – despite only having elasticated cuffs – fitted well, and the cuffs and hem didn’t budge when I raised my arms. 5/5

Comfort

The Rab Ventus is a thin, stretchy, wind-resistant top with minimal insulation. Its comfort level is high, but it is not very warm, so in summer you could wear it over a base layer but in autumn you’ll need a thin fleece or thick base layer system. Not as water- or wind-resistant as other soft shells, but for walkers who carry a waterproof all the time this may be a benefit. 4/5

In use

This is superb at what it does, which is provide a stretchy, comfortable, slightly wind- and water-resistant layer. The pockets have very easy access, and are nice and large. The hood is great too. My problem is I’m not sure how useful it is. Some people will love it while others will prefer a fleece or thicker soft shell. But it is unique in what it offers so well, and for that reason it demands a look. 4/5

Value

The price is good but not stunning as the Rab Ventus uses much thinner fabric than higher-priced options, but it’s a better design than similar options. 4/5

Verdict

The Rab Ventus is a thin and stretchy spin on the soft shell concept that is ideal for climbing, backpacking, and fast and light activity. 4.2/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine September 2015

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Montane Alpine Stretch (2015)

Features

The 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 wired peak. 5/5

Fit

The men’s version of the Montane Alpine Stretch is in size S-XXL and the women’s version is in size 8-16. The fit isn’t loose but it did allow me to wear a thin fleece underneath. There are Velcro cuff adjustment tabs and a hem drawcord, and I found these areas didn’t easily ride up. The helmet-compatible hood has a remarkably good fit that puts most soft shell jackets to shame. 5/5

Comfort

The Montane Alpine Stretch is ideal for a wide variety of conditions as you can wear insulation underneath or a waterproof over the top, and it is comfortable enough to wear all day thanks to its softness and breathability. It doesn’t have the high level of insulation or waterproofness, but that makes it a more flexible layering garment for hillwalkers. 5/5

In use

On the hill the Montane Alpine Stretch is great for walking, scrambling or mountaineering as it is comfortable, breathable and has four great pockets (two for women) so you can warm your hands and stash maps for easy access. The hood has a wired peak and a fit that make navigating across a wet and windy hillside a breeze. The only minor niggle is that other options are lighter. 5/5

Value

The price is good for what you’re getting as this is better suited to many hillwalkers than most jackets at any price. 4/5

Verdict

The Montane Alpine Stretch is one of the best soft shell jackets available for hillwalkers at any price. Others are lighter or warmer, if that is what you need. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine September 2015

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Berghaus Winter Valparola (2015)

Features

Gore 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 in winter. 5/5

Fit

There is no women’s version of this jacket; it is just available in S-XXL for men. The fit is close but I could wear a thin fleece underneath. The body is very long and covered my bum better than many waterproof jackets. The helmet-compatible hood fits and moves with the head really well, the only niggle being the sleeves, which tend to ride up when reaching up. 4/5

Comfort

Apart from having sleeves that can ride up, the Berghaus Winter Valparola is very comfortable and warm. It does feel heavy, though, and as it has a membrane in the Gore Windstopper fabric, breathability is not as good as open-weave soft shell options. But you do get pit zips to prevent overheating. It is warm and will keep you dry in all but heavy rain, though. 4/5

In use

In damp but not winter conditions this would be a great jacket. The four chest pockets are all quite large, so you can warm hands easily or stuff a GPS receiver or maps and guidebooks inside them. The hood is very good, but the peak isn’t wired and there’s a lot of fabric that may soak up water rather than shed it. The body length is a real bonus, but the extra weight is a drawback. 4/5

Value

Considering all the features it boasts and the material used, the Winter Valparola’s price is acceptable. 4/5

Verdict

The Berghaus Winter Valparola is built for winter mountain adventures in cold, snowy and icy conditions, but it is heavy and too warm outside those conditions. 4.2/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine September 2015

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Patagonia All Free (2015)

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 of chafing. But there are some odder features. The handwarmer pockets are zipless, which makes them very insecure, as well as inaccessible under a backpack hip-belt. Then there are the unusual cuffs: they look almost tailored, more akin to a linen jacket than an outdoor layer. There’s no adjustment, but they are made of stretchy stuff so you can pull them up easily and comfortably. So it has a lot of merit as a walking piece, but a few strange decisions rather let it down. On the plus side, on looks alone, it doesn’t half look smart.

Specification

Weight: 292g

Fabric: Polyester with DWR finish

Colours: Black, blue, green, purple

Men’s version: Yes

Contact: 08000 260 055

www.patagonia.com

Verdict

Good for street-life and lower hills, but you’ll want a tougher beast for anything higher.

Originally reviewed by Sarah Ryan in Country Walking April 2015

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Helly Hansen Challenger 2 (2015)

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. All this means you can move with freedom. Cleverest of all is the H2Flow design. This consists of a series of soft, raised discs inside the jacket which trap air to increase insulation without additional weight, while tiny holes in the armpits vent out the heat you don’t want. The result is that I never once felt sweaty in this jacket. But I would only recommend it as your main layer on fine days. If the weather’s closing in, you’ll want your hard shell on hand, with this working as an insulating mid-layer.

Specification

Weight: 388g

Fabric: Polyester & elastane with DWR finish

Colours: Pink, black.

Men’s version: Yes C

ontact: 0800 142 2210

www.hellyhansen.com

Verdict

Lightweight and easy to move in but not snug or secure enough for changeable British weather.

Originally reviewed by Sarah Ryan in Country Walking April 2015

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Fjallraven Pro-Lite (2015)

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!). I particularly like the hood, which is well-shaped and very adjustable, with a soft sleeve around the drawcord which stops the cord rubbing and feels lovely as it strokes your forehead. The jacket is made with a lighter version of Fjällräven’s G-1000 fabric (though it is still pretty heavy), so if you rub Greenland wax into it, it should become a full waterproof, making it a potential money-saver. It’s on the heavy side for a soft shell, but it’s meant to function as a tough outer layer, so you may conclude that the trade-off is worthwhile.

Specification

Weight: 456g

Fabric: Fjällräven G-1000 Lite

Colours: Beige, blue, olive, cork

Women’s version: Yes

Contact: 02392 528711

www.fjallraven.co.uk

Verdict

Not light, but a tough, reliable windproof jacket which adapts well to any kind of walk.

Originally reviewed by Nick Hallissey in Country Walking April 2015

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Musto Evolution (2015)

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 the outer holds its own against the very coldest wind. A durable water-repellent finish sheds rain to a decent degree too. All this reflects Musto’s heritage in sailing (they have been outfitters to Olympic medallists and record-breakers since the 1960s). The elasticated cuffs aren’t adjustable but they sit snugly against the heel of the hand, effectively holding out breezes, and are faultless when combined with gloves. There is no chest pocket though, so once again, there is zero pocket access if you’re wearing a backpack with a hip-belt.

Specification

Weight: 370g

Fabric: Polyester, Spandex, DWR finish

Colours: Green

Men’s version: Yes

Contact: 01268 495 824

www.musto.com

Verdict

Lessons learnt on the water translate brilliantly to land. Protective, warm and built to last.

Originally reviewed by Sarah Ryan in Country Walking April 2015

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Paramo Bora Smock (2015)

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 is designed to be used with a Bora fleece (£100) and Nikwax proofing treatments. Put on both Boras and rub the latter into this, and you have a fully waterproof, windproof and breathable combo that is also extremely light. It’s a very clever proposition, and if you buy the combo together (for £165), you can potentially tick off all your spring/summer mid and outer-layer needs for the same price as a good waterproof alone. It’s perhaps too light for really nasty rain, but it will deflect the average squally summer shower with ease.

Specification

Weight: 178g

Fabric: Nikwax Windproof

Colours: Blue, green

Women’s version: Yes (Zonda)

Contact: 01892 786444

www.paramo.co.uk

Verdict

A good soft shell in itself, but even better value when added to its fleece brother and some waterproofing gel.

Originally reviewed by Nick Hallissey in Country Walking April 2015

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Black Diamond BDV (2015)

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 mid-layer and outer. The secret is the Schoeller stretch-woven fabric, which is supple, flexible, highly abrasion-resistant and very breathable. It also beads nicely in the rain and dries out quickly afterwards. That’s a fairly magical mix, especially on a high-level or long-distance walk. There’s super-soft fleece lining around the neck and chin, and a decent-sized chest pocket for phone or GPS. No other pockets, though: this is a functional jacket for rucksack wearers, rather than an everyday throw-on.

Specification

Weight: 392g

Fabric: Schoeller soft shell C

olours: Black, red, green

Women’s version: Yes (Dawn Patrol)

Contact: 01572 772436

www.ellis-brigham.com

Verdict

A tough, flexible, breathable jacket that is great for hill-walks and long-distance hiking. 

Originally reviewed by Nick Hallissey in Country Walking April 2015

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Regatta Nebraska (2015)

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 hold out strong, chilly gusts and gallantly fended off a hail shower. The cinchable hem and adjustable cuffs allow you to really batten down the hatches in bad weather, and when the sun comes out, you can loosen them to stay fresh and cool. My only beef comes with the pockets: two handwarmers and no chest, so if you’re wearing a backpack with a hip-belt, pocket access is zero. And the inner lining of one pocket pulled away after a couple of outings, so it is perhaps unlikely to be the longest-lived jacket in your cupboard.

Specification

Weight: 410g

Fabric:  Polyester, elastane

Colours: Black; lime/turquoise; orange/purple; coral/pink

Men’s version: Yes

Contact: 0161 866 0579

www.regatta.com

Verdict

Great protection at a real bargain price, but build quality may be somewhat compromised.

Originally reviewed by Sarah Ryan in Country Walking April 2015

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Craghoppers Pro-Lite (2015)

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 looks good in all three landscapes too. It’s part of a new mini-range called Pro-Lite, in which the complete outfit of jacket, fleece, trousers and base-layer weigh in at less than 1kg. That implies this might be a rather skimpy jacket for emergencies only, but it’s no such thing: it really is a fully-functioning item for all-day use. Plus you get luxuries like handwarmer pockets, a good-sized chest pocket and an internal pocket. It isn’t as water-repellent as some of the more advanced jackets on the market but in all other respects, this is pretty much the definition of a good soft shell jacket.

Specification

Weight: 422g

Fabric: Polyester/elastane

Colours: Navy, black

Women’s version: Fleece only

Contact: 0844 811 1022

www.craghoppers.com

Verdict

Well-featured, practical, adaptable and good-looking, at a price that is too good to resist.

Originally reviewed by Nick Hallissey in Country Walking April 2015

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Regatta Breaktrail (2015)

Features

The Regatta Breaktrail’s biggest benefit here is the price of just £25, but at such a low cost it isn’t surprising to find that hillgoing features are limited. There’s a short front zip, only one pocket and no hood. But the zip does have an inside baffle to block wind and prevent chin scraping. The pocket is large enough for a small guidebook, GPS receiver or compass. 3/5

Fit

The Breaktrail is available in S-XXXL for men and 8-20 for women, which is a very wide size range compared to most other options. The fit is close rather than tight or baggy, and is well-sized for wearing over a base layer or under a soft shell or waterproof jacket as part of a layering system. The elastication at hem and cuffs has no adjustment but fitted well. 3/5

Comfort

The Regatta Breaktrail’s material is a soft 200 series polyester fleece that offers excellent breathability while providing good windproofness and insulation for general year-round use. Thermally this is ideal over a base layer all year round, but in winter you might want to add an extra layer under or over it for the chillier days. As the front zip is short you can’t vent it too much. 4/5

In use

I like to have a pair of large chest pockets and a hood on a fleece, which the Regatta Breaktrail doesn’t have. So for me this is either something to wear under a waterproof or other fleece jacket, or for use as a main fleece for moving fast when you don’t want pockets or hoods. The chest pocket is too small for OS maps. 3/5

Value

The value is superb but you aren’t getting many features, so you must decide if it offers enough for your needs. 5/5

Verdict

The Regatta Breaktrail is low-priced with minimal features that are great as part of a layering system, but as a main fleece others have benefits. 3.6/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine March 2015

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