Arcteryx Beta AR womens Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Gore-Tex Pro used is one of the most rugged materials on the market: it’s stormproof, abrasion-resistant and intensely breathable. The material here is reinforced at the shoulders and forearms to make it even more durable. As well as a helmet-compatible, stiffened hood, the Arc’teryx Beta AR also has a separate collar with a micro-suede chinguard. Two outer pockets take an OS map (just) and the interior one swallows a smartphone. 5/5

Fit

The Arc’teryx Beta AR is available in XS-XL for women and XS-XXL for men. The cut is very good, with articulated elbows and gusseted underarms for a full range of movement, without the cuffs or hem riding up. It’s roomy enough to house warm layers but still neatly fitted, with enough length for a little bum protection too. The hood fits very snugly and moves almost perfectly with the head. 5/5

Comfort

There are softer materials available, but not many more durable, so this is a choice – it’s slightly stiff but tough, breathable and unbelievably light. When you’re being blasted by wind and ice, though, you want to feel snugly protected and you do in this, the very good cut elevating comfort levels. And if you get too hot, you can always undo the pit zips. 5/5 

In use

The Arc’teryx Beta AR offers high levels of protection, yet it’s still light and very comfy – which is impressive. The pockets zip close downwards, which is unusual but helps prevent water ingress; and getting an OS map in the smaller opening is a little awkward. There are only minor issues here, which may not be problematic for you: the hood peak is unwired and the drawcord at the back can whip around. But that’s really it. 5/5

Value

You’re paying for premium fabric and design and wow, are you paying for it! Comfort yourself with the fact that it should really last. RRP £430. 3/5

Verdict

The Arc’teryx Beta AR is a top-end winter jacket, which is also light enough for year-round use – but at a very high price. 4.6/5

Haglofs Roc Spirit womens Jacket Review 2016

Features

This jacket features Gore C-Knit backer, which makes it lighter, more breathable and softer than standard Gore-Tex, though not as robust as Gore-Tex Pro. Pit zips add ventilation, and articulated sleeves improve the comfort. There are two OS map-sized pockets and one inner, which takes a smartphone. The hood has a wired peak and a soft, elasticated strip of fabric that helps stop water getting in and heat getting out.    5/5

Fit

Women’s comes in sizes XS-XL, men’s in XS-XXL. The neat cut allows for a warm layer underneath and is nicely fitted at the arms. The back gives good bum protection too, though it rides up a bit at the front when reaching. The helmet-compatible hood moves well, though not perfectly, with the head; and the elasticated ribbon of fabric beneath the peak is snug too. 4/5

Comfort

Thanks to the soft C-Knit backing (the inner layer of Gore’s 3-layer laminate system), the Haglöfs Roc Spirit feels very comfortable on, easy to move in and less plasticky next to the skin. Though breathability levels are technically the same as Gore-Tex Pro, because of the way the membranes work it feels a bit warmer – but the pit zips provide good ventilation. 5/5 

In use

Some jackets are designed for tough, higher-level mountaineering, while others focus on lighter-weight comfort, while locking out the elements. The Haglöfs Roc Spirit falls into the latter category. The material is soft, quiet, light and moves flexibly while still providing durable waterproof protection, which will be comfier in warmer conditions than others. All important features are present too, making this a good choice for year-round hillwalking. 5/5

Value

The price is high but you benefit from an excellent fabric, good features and extended use through the year. RRP £330. 4/5

Verdict

The Haglöfs Roc Spirit  is well-featured and very comfy. Not as tough as some, but a good choice for year-round hillwalking. 4.6/5

Mountain Equipment Manaslu womens Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Manaslu is an Mountain Equipment classic, and for good reason. Gore-Tex Pro fabric offers durable waterproofing and high breathability, and is extremely rugged. The three large pockets all take an OS map – and the inner chest pocket is smartphone-sized. Sleeves are preshaped and articulated for comfort, and there are pit zips to aid venting. The helmet-compatible hood is well-fitting with a stiffened, wired peak. 5/5

Fit

The Manaslu is sized 8-16 (the men’s Lhotse is S-XXL). It’s neat around the hips and waist with room for a thick warm layer and some bum protection from the length. There’s a little cuff movement when reaching, but not much, and the preshaped sleeves increase comfort. The hood moves well with the head, but some pricier options offer a more precise fit. 4/5 

Comfort

The Gore-Tex Pro used is a robust and slightly stiff fabric, designed to keep terrible mountain weather out – and this is very reassuring in the depths of a Scottish winter. Though relatively heavy, it’s breathable, and you can use the pit zips to cool down. Not as soft as some, but that’s the trade-off for bombproof weather protection. 5/5

In use

If you’re mainly a low-level hillwalker, the Mountain Equipment Manaslu may be too much; but if your ventures include winter forays to Scottish summits, it will suit you well. The three main pockets will swallow maps, GPS devices, phones and anything else you want to keep close. The helmet-compatible hood fits well and everything’s designed for use with gloves. The material is extremely robust. Made for high mountains. 5/5

Value

Impressive fabric and excellent features – this is real mountain armour. The price is high but it’s competitive in its market. RRP £330. 4/5

Verdict

The Mountain Equipment Manaslu is a mountaineering jacket with the features and material to prove it. A safe choice for winter. It won Trail’s ‘Best in Test’ accolade. 4.6/5

Bergans Eidfjord womens Jacket Review 2016

Features

Bergans’ Dermizax/ecodear fabric is a 3-layer laminate, partially made from molasses, rather than crude oil, which is better for the planet. It’s extremely breathable, with added stretch; softer and comfier than most, with articulated elbows for greater freedom of movement. There are pit zips, three pockets (all a little smaller than OS map-sized) and a non-wired helmet-compatible hood with stiffened peak.    4/5

Fit

The women’s jacket comes in sizes XS-XL, the men’s in S-XXL. The fit is a little closer than some but will still comfortably cover a warm layer. Freedom of movement is very good, especially around the arms, thanks to the articulated elbows; and there’s no cuff movement when reaching. It’s cut longer at the back so you get some bum protection too.    4/5

Comfort

The Bergans Eidfjord is one of the more versatile jackets we looked at. Though not quite as bombproof as others it will be more comfortable in warmer conditions, thanks to its breathability and the lighter fabric. The pit zips are useful for cooling, making this well-suited to faster travel. The material is noticeably softer and easier to move in too, especially around the shoulders. 5/5 

In use

The Bergans Eidfjord offers durable waterproof protection while still remaining light, comfy and soft. You can’t fit a map into the pockets, but the chest pocket at least happily takes a large phone. The hood fits well and moves with the head, so there’s good visibility. All in all, this seems made for movement and it will have a greater reach into the summer months than some others. 4/5

Value

Here the focus is on comfort and durable waterproof protection, and the material is excellent so the price is competitive. RRP £280. 4/5

Verdict

The Bergans Eidfjord is light with good breathability, and durably waterproof. Not as bombproof as some, but comfier than most. 4.2/5

Berghaus Extrem Sumcham womens Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Berghaus Extrem Sumcham is made from Hydroshell Elite Pro, with a heavier variety of the same fabric over the hips and shoulders, to help resist backpack abrasion. There are two chest pockets, both of which take an OS map (the opening is slightly smaller than some but accessible with a rucksack hipbelt), and there’s a phone-sized inner Napoleon pocket. Ticks for cuff and hem adjustment and a wire-peaked, helmet-compatible hood, too. 5/5

Fit

The women’s Extrem Sumcham comes in sizes 8-16 (and the men’s Extrem Hagshu in XS-XL). The fit is loose enough for several warm layers, but still neat, with a bit more bagginess around the arms. There’s no cuff movement when reaching, and hem movement isn’t problematic either. It’s slightly longer at the back to give you some bum protection, but others offer more. 4/5 

Comfort

The Hydroshell Elite Pro used is a tough, stormproof fabric. There aren’t any pit zips but the chest pockets are mesh-lined so can be used for venting, though this does mean that water can pass through if they’re left open or if you stuff wet things in, and isn’t ideal if you’re carrying things in them. The jacket feels reassuringly protective in harsh weather but might be too warm in more forgiving conditions. 3/5

In use

The Berghaus Extrem Sumcham is a tough jacket, designed for British winters, but it’s less durably waterproof than those using laminate materials like Gore-Tex Pro. The material feels quite stiff and heavy – welcome when it’s howling a gale, especially with the excellent face protection you get when it’s fully zipped right up to the nose. The wired hood and moves well, though not perfectly, with the head. 4/5

Value

Map-sized pockets, tough fabric and a stiffened, wire-peaked hood: good features and weather protection here for a relatively low price. RRP £260. 4/5 

Verdict

The Berghaus Extrem Sumcham is on the heavy side, but this is an extremely durable jacket for the price, and well-featured. 4.0/5

Rab Latok Alpine Womens Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Rab Latok Alpine uses 3-layer eVent fabric for durable, breathable protection. There is drawcord adjustment at the hem and neck, and Velcro on the cuffs so you can effectively trap heat. The wire-peaked, helmet-compatible hood is good too, adjustable and moves well with the head. Two large chest pockets both swallow an OS map and are accessible with a rucksack hipbelt, plus there’s a smartphone-sized inner Napoleon pocket. 5/5

Fit

Available in sizes 8-16 for women, and men’s S-XXL. It’s cut to Rab’s Regular fit, which allows plenty of room underneath for layering while being contoured at the waist and neatly fitting. It offers a full, unrestricted range of movement, with negligible movement at the cuffs when you reach, and is long enough to cover the bum. The hood fits almost perfectly too. 4/5

Comfort

The Rab Latok Alpine belongs to the heavier and stiffer family of jackets. The material feels like armour when it’s on, which in terrible weather is reassuring but in milder conditions might prove a little too much – though you can always open the pit zips. The roomy interior allows for plenty of layering without compromising comfort, and the length gives you additional protection around the bum.  4/5 

In use

Fully zipped, your face is protected up to the nose, and it’s possible to cinch it even tighter. This, the tough fabric and other adjustments, mean body heat is really locked in. The pockets get a big tick for size and accessibility while wearing a pack with a hipbelt. All in all, the features list is impressive at this price; some may want an extra pocket, but if not – great. 4/5

Value

This is a robust jacket, with all the essential features ticked and good design around the hood, making it very good value. RRP £260. 4/5

Verdict

The Rab Latok Alpine is a robust, well-featured jacket at a very good price, though you can get more if you spend more. It won Trail’s ‘Best Value’ award. 4.2/5

Mountain Equipment Rupal Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Mountain Equipment Rupal is built with Gore-Tex, but not the higher-spec Pro version – although it does have the benefit of feeling very robust to fend off bad winter weather. You get two huge chest pockets that are easily accessed and a hood with a very well-stiffened wired peak. Pit zips are provided for more ventilation control. There are only two chest pockets though and some others are slightly lighter. 4/5

Fit

Available is sizes S-XXL for men and 8-16 for women. The fit is about 4cm longer than the short jackets we looked at, so it does give the bum some protection. The hood fits closely and moves easily with the head, and sleeve movement is very good with barely any movement in them or the cuffs when raising arms. The overall cut is less close than some. 5/5

Comfort

This does feel stiff, which you may not like in milder weather; but for me I prefer this when battling across the winter mountains as it buckles less in the wind and feels warmer as more air remains trapped inside. There is a massive patch of soft fabric at the top of the zip to protect the chin from being scratched, which I really like. 4/5

In use

On a tough day’s scrambling the Mountain Equipment Rupal really proves itself. It uses 75 denier fabric so it has more abrasion resistance than some others. It feels nice and protective, and those two massive pockets are ideal for maps, gloves or guidebooks. The hood really makes foul weather enjoyable as it offers so much protection. I’d like a third pocket ideally, but that is the only niggle. 5/5

Value

There are lots of lower-priced jackets but this has benefits that others cannot offer and you have to spend more to better it in my view. RRP £250. 4/5

Verdict

A really solid performance on the hill that is ideal for those heading into more challenging conditions. The Mountain Equipment Rupal wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.4/5

Rab Firewall Jacket Review 2016

Features


Pertex Shield Plus with a 3-layer construction is the main fabric in the Rab Firewall. It offers excellent waterproofness and breathability, and feels soft and comfortable and relatively lightweight. You get three chest-mounted pockets, which are all OS map-sized. The hood has a wired peak and there are pit zips too. The niggle is that the fabric is less durable, thinner and softer than others for wild weather. 4/5

Fit

The men’s sizes are S-XL and the women’s 8-16. The body is about 5cm longer than the shorter jackets we looked at so it covered my rear better than others. The cut is slightly closer than some on the sleeves, which is good; and better still if you raise your arms the sleeves and hem of the jacket don’t ride up. The hood fits exceptionally well and moves effortlessly with the head. 5/5

Comfort

The use of 3-layer Pertex Shield Plus makes this very comfortable as the material is soft, flexible and lightweight. It does buckle more easily than heavier fabrics though so in strong winter winds it will feel a bit chilly. Also it is less durable than higher-priced Rab jackets so it needs to be respected. But overall a very comfortable option for lighter conditions.     4/5

In use

For mild weather the Rab Firewall is an exceptional jacket and at 503g it is light enough to stash in a rucksack. The three main pockets are all OS map-sized and easily accessed while wearing a rucksack. The hood allows very clear vision as it moves so well and has a great wired peak. If needed you can vent the sleeves with long zips. Others feel more durable and protective in wild weather, though – and that is my main concern. 4/5

Value

Good value for what you get, but higher-priced jackets have benefits around that extra durability to withstand tough conditions. RRP £200. 4/5

Verdict

The Rab Firewall is an excellent jacket for milder hill and mountain days but others are more robust for tougher conditions. 4/5

Keela Cairn Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Cairn is a new jacket from Keela, using Aquaflex 3-layer fabric, which is thin, flexible and slightly rustly, but it does help to keep the weight down to a competitive 337g (size M). There are two main pockets that extend to close to the hem. The third chest pocket is quite small and potentially too high on the chest. You do get a wired peak on the hood, though, which is good. 4/5

Fit

This is only available for men but there is a wide size range, from XS-XXXL. The fit is shorter than other jackets by quite a margin, but it does have a good fit with excellent freedom of movement in the sleeves without the cuffs or hem riding up. The hood also fits and moves with the head exceptionally well. Pity there’s no version for women, though. 4/5

Comfort

The material is light and soft, so this moves with the body and feels very comfortable. 
The hood fits closely and is very comfy too. But as it is shorter than others my bum is less well-protected, so the Keela Cairn is not a jacket for the wettest and coldest of conditions. The thin material also buckles in the wind more easily than that used in heavier jackets. 3/5

In use

The weight is a real bonus but this is less suitable for wild conditions as it does not trap warm air inside so well due to that short length and flexible fabric. The hood is great though. The pockets are annoying as the main ones extend to the hem so they can be difficult to fully access while wearing a rucksack hipbelt. The high chest pocket is very small and a rucksack shoulder strap can partially cover it. 3/5

Value

The price is very good but with some slight changes in design this would offer far better performance for the money. RRP £176. 4/5

Verdict

The Keela Cairn is a light, well-priced jacket; but the details let it down, which makes it frustrating to use in challenging weather. 3.6/5

Berghaus Thunder Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Berghaus Thunder is made of Gore-Tex, but at this price it’s not the high-spec Pro version. However it has a nice robust feel and there is a mesh lining inside for more comfort. There are two main pockets, and a hood with volume adjustment and face drawcord. The hood peak does not get a wired or stiffened peak though. It does lack some extra features like a long body and a third pocket, but it has the basics. 3/5

Fit

The men’s sizes are S-XXL and women’s 8-18. It has quite a loose, baggy fit but is relatively short so it did not cover my bum as effectively as some higher-priced jackets. The hood fit is good, but I found the rear volume adjustment stiff to adjust and the hood did not move very well with my head. There was some movement in the cuffs and hem when moving my arms too. 4/5

Comfort

The Berghaus Thunder does feel generally comfortable as you get a mesh lining inside the Gore-Tex outer and the baggy fit does trap plenty of air. The material also does not buckle too much in the wind. You don’t get such good protection of the bum, though, and no soft brushed panel to protect the chin from the zip. Others are certainly less comfortable, but this could still be better. 3/5

In use

On the hill this provides the basics of protection you need. But the shorter length is a drawback and the style is overly baggy, I felt, and sort of gets in the way. The two main pockets are very large but access to them is easily impeded by rucksack hipbelts as they are quite low on the body. The hood does not turn as well as others either. But I do like that it provides more robust protection than lighter jackets. 3/5

Value

You are getting Gore-Tex here and it has plenty of features; if slightly better designed its value for its performance would be higher. RRP £170. 4/5

Verdict

The Berghaus Thunder is a good basic jacket if you’re heading to the hills, but little details are much better on other jackets. 3.4/5

Rab Charge Jacket Review 2016

Features

Rab Charge.jpg

The Rab Charge’s weight of 314g is really impressive yet you do get two large chest pockets. These pockets are mesh-lined to ventilate the jacket, but that also means they won’t keep water out as effectively. The main fabric is a 2.5-layer version of Pertex Shield Plus with stretch, so it doesn’t control condensation as well as 3-layer fabrics and it is also less durable. A great lightweight option though. 3/5

Fit

The men’s sizes are S-XXL and the women’s sizes are 8-16. The Rab Charge is about 4cm longer than the shortest jacket we looked at so it provides a little more protection to the bum. The sleeves are particularly well-shaped to fit closely, but importantly the hem and cuffs don’t move when you raise your arms. The hood adjusts and fits exceptionally well. Brilliant. 5/5

Comfort

This is very light, and the 2.5-layer stretch Pertex Shield Plus fabric offers little if any restriction to movement so it feels exceptionally comfortable in good weather. However it does not control condensation as well as higher-priced 3-layer fabrics and it buckles in the wind, making it feel quite cold in foul weather. So, good up to a point
– but others are better in poor conditions. 4/5

In use

The two huge chest pockets are great for handwarming or maps, but there is no third pocket. The pockets are mesh-lined too, so they can allow water to pass into the jacket if it enters the pocket, and it also means this area is less wind-resistant. But the hood is ideal for the hill, the sleeves are great and if used for milder conditions the Rab Charge is excellent. It is just less appealing in a blizzard. 3/5

Value

The price is very good compared to what others at this price can offer, but a higher price brings better mountain performance. RRP £150. 4/5

Verdict

The Rab Charge is a superb choice for milder weather, but in tougher conditions I’d prefer to use other jackets. 3.8/5

Montane Atomic Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Montane Atomic is made with Pertex Shield, which has a waterproof, breathable coating applied to the material rather than using the more durable laminated construction of Pertex Shield Plus. The material is 2.5-layer rather than 3-layer so condensation control is not ideal. The jacket has two large mesh-lined pockets and a hood with a wired peak. It weighs in at a very good 319g (size L), which is appealing. 3/5

Fit

Men’s sizes are S-XXL and women’s 8-16. The body is a little shorter than others so your bum is less protected. The fit is quite close, though, and there isn’t any movement in the cuffs or hem when raising the arms. The hood fit is very good and easily adjusted. This is virtually perfect, but others are slightly longer and offer very slightly better movement. 5/5

Comfort

This 2.5-layer garment does feel a little clammy compared to 3-layer jackets; also jackets using Pertex Shield Plus feel more comfortable against the skin. But this is stiffer than others, meaning it does not feel as cold in the wind, so in winter the Montane Atomic is a better option for hill-goers. The fabric does not stretch, but it does not restrict movement either. 4/5 

In use

You can warm your hands in the two chest pockets or stash a map for access on the go. The pockets are mesh-lined, though, so they can allow water to pass through into the jacket if you are not careful in a downpour. The hood is great, as is the sleeve movement, and I like the fact that this is a little stiffer for windier conditions. But I’d ideally like some more length and a third pocket. 3/5

Value

For just £120 you get a very lightweight jacket that competes well with higher-priced options so this is great value for money. RRP £120. 5/5

Verdict

The Montane Atomic is a very good jacket for its price if walking in milder conditions, but it’s worth paying more for better protection. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.0/5

Regatta Cross Pennine II Hybrid Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Regatta Cross Pennine II Hybrid uses Isotex 5000 fabric with stretch areas on the hood, shoulders and lower sleeves to improve fit and movement. There is a loose lining to improve comfort. You get two main pockets plus two Napoleon chest pockets higher on the chest. The hood has rear volume adjustment, face drawcords and a wired peak. There are pit zips too, and a very large, soft panel around the chin for more comfort. 4/5

Fit

The men’s sizes are S-XXXL and women’s are 8-20 – which is a wider range than most jackets can offer. The body is longer than most, and it fully covered my bum – unlike any other jacket we looked at. The hood fit is superb and moves effortlessly with the head. The sleeves do ride up a little when raising my arms, but that is the only niggle here. 4/5

Comfort

With its longer body the Regatta Cross Pennine II Hybrid is comfier than many in bad weather as it offers more protection. Also that loose liner adds to the comfort and the excellent hood improves it further as it makes walking in the rain a real pleasure! The material is not as breathable as higher-priced jackets, but you get pit zips for ventilation and the loose liner prevents it becoming clammy. 4/5

In use

If you’re heading to the hills the Regatta Cross Pennine II Hybrid feels great in many ways, with the hood being the highlight. But none of the pockets is big enough for an OS map, and access to the lower pockets is not ideal if wearing a rucksack with a hipbelt. The pair of Napoleon chest pockets are handy for smaller items but they would be so much more useful if a little larger. But if you can live without perfect pockets this is a good choice for the hill. 3/5

Value

The price is good when you consider how many features you get; it is just a pity the pockets are not better designed. RRP £100. 5/5

Verdict

If you don’t need access to large map-sized pockets the Regatta Cross Pennine II Hybrid is great for hillwalking, and well-priced. 4.0/5

Sprayway Naxos Topaz Jacket Review 2016

Features

Using Sprayway’s well-proven HydroDry fabric with a loose lining for greater comfort, you also get three external main pockets and a hood with a wired peak. The two main pockets are placed quite low down so access to them won’t be ideal while wearing a rucksack. Having that mesh lining increases the weight a little, but it is still reasonable. For its price the Naxos offers a good set of practical features. 4/5

Fit

The Naxos is available for men in sizes S-XXL, with the women’s Topaz in sizes 8-16. The design is a little shorter than others, meaning it doesn’t quite cover the bum. The body is slightly baggy, and when I raised my arms the cuffs tended to ride up more easily than other jackets. The hood does fit and move well with the head however. 4/5

Comfort

The fabric is not as breathable as higher-priced jackets but you get that mesh and taffeta lining to hide any condensation so it does feel nice. It is also comfortable as it is a softer fabric than some 3-layer materials, and as it has a lining it tends to feel warmer and more comfortable in windier conditions when lighter, thinner fabrics buckle. 4/5

In use

The two main pockets are a big enough for OS maps but they extend quite low so when wearing a rucksack hipbelt access to them is impaired. The higher chest pocket is map-sized, though, and easily accessed. The hood is great and benefits from a wired peak, although this is not quite as good a peak as higher-priced jackets offer. But for general hillwalking the Sprayway Naxos/Topaz is pretty good overall. 4/5

Value

This is a good price for a jacket that may not be perfect but has a lot of advantages over many of its competitors. RRP £100. 5/5

Verdict

The Sprayway Naxos/Topaz is a good hillwalking jacket that has drawbacks but is very functional and well-priced. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.2/5

Berghaus Stormcloud Jacket Review 2016

Features

Updated for 2016 from Berghaus’s AQ2 material to the brand’s Hydroshell fabric, the Stormcloud still offers the same basic performance. The 2-layer fabric keeps weight down and improves suppleness, but it does not control condensation as well as 3-layer or mesh-lined jackets. The two main pockets are sealed rather than mesh, so they are watertight. The hood does not have a wired peak. 3/5

Fit

The men’s is available in S-XXL and the women’s in 8-18. The body is quite short so you don’t get much protection for your bum. The sleeves are quite a close fit, while the hood fits very closely and moves well with the head. The hem and cuffs don’t ride up when raising your arms. Overall this has a far more tailored fit than many jackets in its price band. 5/5

Comfort

Combining a 2-layer fabric with a closer fit means the Berghaus Stormcloud is a little clammier than some other designs. It is quite a thin fabric too, so in really windy weather you can feel a bit cold and battered. The pockets are sealed rather than mesh-lined, though, so at least you’re more likely to stay dry in this compared to jackets with mesh pockets.  3/5

In use

If you put on a rucksack with a hipbelt it is not easy to get into the main pockets, which isn’t ideal (and there are no additional pockets). But at least they are map-sized. The hood would benefit from a wired or more stiffened peak to be perfect, but its fit and movement are very good. The weight of 319g (size L) is a real bonus so while not perfect this is better than many for hillwalkers. 3/5

Value

For its price the Berghaus Stormcloud is very good, but if you pay more you do get a much better jacket. RRP £80. 5/5

Verdict

If your budget is very tight then the Berghaus Stormcloud is a perfectly good jacket, but if you can pay more you get many benefits. 3.8/5

Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro Jacket Review 2016

Features

Littered with innovative features, the Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro is designed for mountaineering. Its Gore-Tex Pro material has a unique Xpanse back design for more stretch across the shoulders. There are two main pockets with mesh linings, a hood with wired peak and magnetic volume adjustment, and a zip-out perforated panel to allow easier breathing when the jacket is fully zipped up. 5/5

Fit

The Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro comes in men’s sizes XS-XL, but there’s no women’s version. The fit is reasonably close but still allows outstanding freedom of movement. The unique Xpanse back design means there is no hint of cuff or hem movement when raising the arms, and absolutely no restriction across back and shoulders. The hood fits superbly and moves effortlessly with the head. It’s a pity women cannot benefit from it, though. 4/5

Comfort

Gore-Tex Pro is the main fabric, and this offers a good all-round level of comfort. The hand pockets are mesh-lined so they can be used to vent the jacket, but in a hillwalking situation I would prefer that these were sealed to prevent water passing through pockets to the wearer. The two Napoleon pockets are sealed, however, which is better. 4/5

In use

Apart from those mesh-lined pockets the Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro is stunning. It is about 5cm longer than the shorter jackets, with a scooped tail to protect the bum. The chest pockets and main pockets are all OS map-sized and easily accessed. The hood is superb, although others do have a deeper peak for even more face protection. The sleeve movement is outstanding. 5/5

Value

The price is extreme and hard to justify unless you really need the Xpanse back and the stunning freedom of movement. RRP: £450. 2/5 

Verdict

The Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro is an extremely good design for extreme mountaineering conditions – with an extreme price tag. 4.0/5

Paramo Enduro Jacket Review 2016

Features

The new Enduro jacket from Páramo benefits from its Nikwax Analogy fabric system, which is extremely breathable, but also soft and relatively rustle-free. There is a wired peak on the hood, two large main chest pockets plus two additional Napoleon chest pockets. There are zip vents under the arms too. The only niggle is the 831g weight. 5/5

Fit

The men’s sizes are S-XXL and the women’s sizes are XS-XL. The body is about 4cm longer than the shortest jacket we looked at. The sleeves and body have a closer fit than many other designs, though, which Páramo describes as an ‘athletic fit’. Sleeve movement is excellent without the hems or cuffs riding up. The hood fits closely and moves effortlessly with the head too. 5/5

Comfort

The softness of the Nikwax Analogy fabric sets the Páramo Enduro apart from all other jackets, and it is also more breathable, but it is warmer so you can overheat in warm weather. But at least you don’t need to take so much spare clothing, making it ideal if you know the conditions are going to be cold. There are pit zips for more ventilation too. 4/5

In use

The two main chest pockets are OS map-sized, they’re great for the hands and they can be easily accessed while wearing a pack. The two Napoleon pockets are good for maps and a GPS. The hood’s wired peak improves vision, and the length of the body and sleeve movement add up to real mountain functionality. The weight and warmth are the only potential concerns. 4/5

Value

The price is creeping up but you can reproof the material more successfully than others, so the Páramo Enduro does have greater long-term value. RRP: £370. 4/5

Verdict

The Páramo Enduro is ideal for colder, wetter conditions, but if you get a mild day it can be too warm and a bit heavy to carry. 4.4/5

Arcteryx Zeta AR Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Arc’teryx Zeta AR uses 3-layer Gore-Tex and the C-Knit backer increases its softness and lightness, but this is less durable and feels hotter and clammier than Gore-Tex Pro. There are pit zips for temperature control, though. The weight of 442g is very appealing. You also get two large chest pockets. The hood only has rear adjustment though and the peak is not as stiff as others. 4/5

Fit

The men’s sizes are S-XXL and the women’s XS-XL. The jacket is about 8cm longer than some of the shorter designs so it easily covered my behind. The sleeves are also more profiled than others with a closer fit, yet the hem and cuffs didn’t ride up at all when I raised my arms during scrambles. The hood fits like a close-fitting beanie and moves effortlessly with the head. Hard to better. 5/5

Comfort

The low weight of 442g (size men’s L) and the use of soft 3-layer Gore-Tex with C-Knit backer mean the Arc’teryx Zeta AR is far lighter and more flexible and has a greater level of comfort when worn. Pit zips aid ventilation too. In foul weather the longer body length aids comfort but the peak does not provide much protection, as it is small. The soft fabric does not resist buckling in the wind as well as stiffer, heavier fabrics. 4/5

In use

In fine weather this is a great choice as it is so comfy, but in rough weather that batters the body it is less appealing as it does buckle under the wind. The two huge chest pockets are useful but having a dedicated pocket for maps or a GPS would be handy for some users. A hood with a bigger, more protective peak would also be a bonus in really bad weather. 4/5

Value

The price is high considering the features you get here, so while it is nice to wear in fine weather the price is less appealing. RRP: £360. 3/5

Verdict

The Arc’teryx Zeta AR’s fabric’s weight and softness are great, but in the worst weather other jackets have benefits. 4.0/5

Mammut Meron Jacket Review 2016

Features

Gore-Tex Pro rather than standard Gore-Tex is used in the Mammut Meron, and it has a 3-layer construction with an extra tough outer layer in the grey areas for more durability. Two huge pockets on the chest extend almost the whole side of the jacket. There are pit zips, and the hood gets good adjustment with a stiffened but not wired peak. Others have more pockets, but the weight is lower than some. 4/5

Fit

The men’s version comes in sizes S-XXL and the women’s is in sizes XS-L. The jacket fits a little more closely and neatly in the body and sleeves than some lower-priced jackets, while it is a little shorter than most of the lower-priced jackets here so my bum was slightly less well-protected. The hood fits well and moves well with the head, but I did get some hem and cuff movement when raising my arms. 4/5

Comfort

The neater fit of the Mammut Meron does mean it feels a little more comfortable and less obstructive when moving. As it is made with Gore-Tex Pro you get better control of condensation than with standard Gore-Tex. The pit zips aid ventilation further. There is a nice soft patch of material at the top of the zip to protect the chin, and the hood fits comfortably. A little extra length would be good for comfort however. 5/5

In use

Those two massive pockets set the Mammut Meron apart as they swallow maps, gloves and hands. But there are only two, meaning you cannot safely stash a map or GPS receiver as you warm your hands as easily as other jackets. A little less movement in the cuffs or hem would be good for scrambling and a wire in the stiffened peak may make it even better. But the weight is good. 4/5

Value

Gore-Tex Pro rather than standard Gore-Tex has pushed the price up but others also have more pockets or additional features. RRP: £340. 3/5

Verdict

The Mammut Meron is a tough jacket with huge pockets that is almost perfect, but some details may niggle. 4.0/5

Mountain Equipment Lhotse Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Mountain Equipment Lhotse is made with 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro fabric for durable levels of waterproofness and breathability. You get three big pockets on the chest, which can be easily accessed while wearing a rucksack belt. There is also a zipped internal pocket. The helmet-compatible hood has a wired peak with face and rear volume adjustment. Pit zips add extra ventilation. 5/5

Fit

The Lhotse comes in men’s sizes S-XXL. For women the Manaslu comes in sizes 8-16. The fit is described as ‘Alpine Fit’ by the manufacturer, and it has a slightly closer fit than older Mountain Equipment jackets. It is not the longest model available and my bum is not fully protected, but this is the same with many other jackets. The hood fits superbly. 5/5

Comfort

Three-layer Gore-Tex Pro fabric is used here. It feels slightly stiffer than other versions, so it does not buckle as easily in the wind as softer fabrics, and thus it’s comfier in the wind. The pit zips aid condensation control if needed without removing the jacket, while the hood very comfortably moves with the head and protects the eyes. The slightly short length is a niggle but many jackets have this problem. 5/5

In use

Those massive chest pockets easily take a map or hat and gloves. Access is easily maintained when wearing a rucksack with hipbelts, as they are nice and high with long zips. The hood peak is stiffened and can be reshaped if it gets distorted, and the hood moves well with the head so you can easily see when scrambling. Movement in the sleeves is also great for scrambling. 5/5

Value

The Mountain Equipment Lhotse’s price is lower than many other top-end jackets, but it is still a considered purchase despite offering better value than some. RRP: £330. 4/5

Verdict

A great combination of features makes the Mountain Equipment Lhotse ideal for heading onto tougher mountain terrain. It won Trail’s ‘Best in Test’ accolade. 4.8/5