Páramo Alta 2009

The Páramo Alta is overshadowed by the Páramo Alta II, which at £220 is slightly shorter and also lighter. However the Alta is ideal if you really want a more protective design as it is the longest here so you can easily put your hands in your pockets and stay warmer and drier. Páramo garments also use a fabric that is far more breathable than conventional waterproof materials.

Design
Like all Páramo garments the Alta uses a unique fabric that is much more rustle-free than the competition, and it’s also very breathable while keeping the rain out. The extra length means you get deep base pockets plus two chest pockets. The front zip is well-protected by a double stormflap too. Páramo garments are warmer than other waterproofs, so you get zipped vents on the shoulder to allow some extra airflow if you overheat. The hood can be rolled into the collar, and when worn on the head it benefits from a wired peak and drawcord adjustment. The long hem gets a drawcord and there is a waist drawcord too for double protection against draughts. The Alta is the heaviest jacket on test, but it’s also the warmest, the longest and the most breathable, while the rustle-free material is ideal for naturalists looking to watch rather than disturb the wildlife.

On the hill
The length allowed me to snuggle my hands into the base pockets while wearing a rucksack with a hipbelt. Better still, I didn’t get a wet bum and didn’t have to wear overtrousers at the hint of a shower. I used this in the Lakes snow of early December, and it was ideal. The extra warmth from the length and insulating material was a real bonus. On scrambling terrain the length is initially a drawback, but I just grabbed the hem, pulled it up inside and transformed the design into a shorter style. The hood fitted well over a helmet too, although the peak was not quite as good at staying in place in a gale as some others. With the sun out, the jacket was warm – and it was heavy when stashed in my rucksack. I’d certainly prefer a lighter jacket for summer. The fabric controlled condensation perfectly and was waterproof (though if I’d fallen and dunked my elbow in a puddle, water would have been forced through).

In the lab
No leakage anywhere on this jacket thanks to careful design of stormflaps and a hood that kept water out more effectively.

Outer Nikwax windproof
Inner Nikwax Analogy Pump Liner
Fabric waterproofness water-resistant/waterproof
Fabric breathability extremely breathable
Sizes S-XXL (men’s); XS-XL (women’s)
Weight 1015g (men’s L)
Made in Colombia
Stores in the UK 62
Stockist details – tel. (01892) 786444; www.paramo.co.uk
Verdict
The Páramo Alta is perfect for winter walking when the length and insulation are a real bonus. Scramblers may prefer a shorter design. Weight and warmth are drawbacks but it performed well in the lab.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine March 2009