Mountain Equipment Vulcan (2014)

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. It gives a generously long, sculpted fit, with a high collar, helmet-compatible hood and a wired peak. The inner is a soft microfleece grid that – while not as lofty as the Rab Vapour Rise Guide Jacket’s plush lining – is very comfortable. The fabric has a bit of stretch in it, though not much, and such is its warmth and robust design, the Mountain Equipment Vulcan will be as at home as a cold-weather winter layer as it would be as a standalone jacket for autumn and spring. This comes at a cost in terms of weight: this is the second heaviest in our test, along with the warmer, cheaper Rab, and the jacket feels very substantial when on, which could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what time of year you’re using it. To increase its potential versatility you get pit zips for venting. You also get four pockets – one small gadget pocket in the chest, an inside zipped pocket and two handwarmers that will (just) take an OS map. The zips are excellent: a double, harness-compatible zip up the front and smooth-running zips everywhere else, with double cinches on the waist to help refine fit. Also, like Rab, ME has long been the trusted choice of professionals, and the Vulcan will no doubt prove a very durable, long-serving jacket. But while quality necessarily costs, £200 still feels like a big ask for this jacket considering the competition. 

Specifications:
Outer fabric Gore Windstopper
Weight 660g (size M)
External pockets 3
Internal pockets 0
Hood? yes
Pit zips? yes
Men’s sizes S-XXL
Women’s sizes 8-16
Website www.mountain-equipment.com

Verdict

The Mountain Equipment Vulcan combines unflashy high-quality traditional elements with contemporary design to make a warm jacket for the shoulder season and winter that will serve any walker or mountaineer well. The brand is well-proven, but that price is still a sting.

Review by Simon Ingram
First published in Trail magazine September 2014