There are many waterproof and breathable fabrics out there, and for autumn 2011 there is a new kid on the block: Gore-Tex Active Shell. This new addition to the Gore stable is billed as their ‘most breathable waterproof fabric ever’, so if you are tired of getting wet in the hills from condensation could this be the fabric you have been waiting for?
Gore-Tex Active Shell will be featured in many jackets this autumn, but one of the first gear companies to show its hand has been Mountain Equipment, with an Active Shell version of its Firefox jacket, formerly made from Gore-Tex Pro Shell. The jacket goes on sale in early July.
The new, updated version of the Firefox features two large chest pockets that are easily accessed while wearing a harness or waistbelt, plus a superb hood, and it weighs just 316g (men’s size L). But you also get pit zips, which suggests the fabric is not quite as breathable as we’d all like.
I first wore Gore-Tex Active Shell at a press event in Germany in 2010, and it is certainly extremely breathable; however that does not mean you cannot get condensation inside it, as you can. But compared to other waterproof and breathable fabrics it is up there with the best, and it makes Paclite for example seem very ‘last century’. If you are really into lightweight travel, though, Paclite is around 10 per cent lighter than Active Shell. Meanwhile Gore-Tex Pro Shell is intended to be more durable, leaving Active Shell as the comfortable and lightweight option that most people will probably find ideal for their needs.
The Firefox’s pockets and hood are well-designed. But it’s short, so you’ll need overtrousers – the Firelite Pant made of the same Active Shell fabric as the jacket will do the job. Thankfully they also come in black!
Material 3-layer Gore-Tex Active Shell
Sizes S-XL (men’s); 8-16 (women’s)
Weight 316g (size L)
Made in Hungary
Stockist details – tel. (0161) 366 5020; www.mountain-equipment.co.uk
Gore-Tex Active Shell is a great fabric that when used with great design in the Mountain Equipment Firefox Jacket provides a winning combo.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine August 2011