What does your jacket say about you? Back in the late Nineties the name Mera Peak said mountaineer and serious skier. The Berghaus Mera Peak was the 2-layer Gore-Tex version of the 3-layer Berghaus Trango Extrem, a benchmark mountaineering jacket that allowed the casual observer to identify Brits in Chamonix at over 100 paces.
But times change, designs evolve and the most iconic product names gain mythical status in tales of ‘the good old days’ at the end of a tiring day on the hills.
Wind the clock forward to 2009, and the Mera Peak is back. It’s retained the 2-layer Gore-Tex fabric, the four external pockets and the foldaway hood. But have our expectations of a classic piece of kit moved with the times, and is the Mera Peak better left to our memories?
Gore-Tex fabric has improved over the years. First we had XCR, then we had Performance Shell and Pro Shell. Today the Mera Peak is built from Gore-Tex Performance Shell, which is more breathable than the Gore-Tex fabric used in the 1990s but not as good as Pro Shell.
Performance Shell is a 2-layer material with a mesh lining. A mesh lining adds comfort and keeps the outer more supple, but it also adds weight and can just get in the way. I’ve always felt it to be unnecessary in hill-walking and mountaineering products, and so I’d always go for a 3-layer fabric, which tends to be lighter and easier to live with in general. That is why I went for the 3-layer Trango back in the Nineties rather than the Mera Peak.
The old Mera Peak had four large pockets, all accessible while wearing a rucksack at a push. The new Mera Peak retains that essential access, and for 2009 the chest pockets are Napoleon in style, which allows easier access than the top-entry patch pockets of its predecessor.
I’ve been using the Mera Peak for a few months and have definitely enjoyed wearing it. But the chest pockets are a little small so squeezing a map into them required some extra folding. Pit zips, which weren’t a feature of the 1990s jacket, are provided – and although they work well enough I am not convinced they are necessary, except perhaps for mountaineering. The hood is very good and it’s certainly up there with the best. The double stormflap of the 1990s jacket has been replaced with a water-resistant zip and an internal flap. This did not leak in my tests, but in my experience similar designs have leaked eventually, so I’d like an external flap for really wet weather.
The weight of 752g (size L) is a drawback by modern standards, but when compared to other 2-layer mesh-lined jackets this is a good weight.
I can see the new Berghaus Mera Peak becoming popular – but times have changed, expectations have moved on and I’d prefer to remember the old Mera Peak as a mountaineering classic. I rate the new version as a great jacket that does not quite live up to my memory of the original.
Outer Gore-Tex Performance Shell
Inner mesh lining
Fabric waterproofness extremely waterproof
Fabric breathability extremely breathable
Sizes XS - XXL
Weight 752g (size L)
Made in China
Stockist details tel. (0191) 516 5700; www.berghaus.com
Verdict: The Berghaus Mera Peak has four external pockets that are all accessible while wearing a rucksack; mesh lining for extra comfort; superb hood. But it’s relatively heavy by modern standards and the chest pockets are annoyingly small. Overall, it’s a good all-round outdoor waterproof, but there are lighter jackets out there.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine October 2009