Haglöfs Viper II Hooded 2010

The Haglöfs Viper II Hooded is very stretchy 3-season lightweight jacket intended for use in a wide variety of activities from climbing to hill-walking.  It uses a non-membrane fabric for improved levels of breathability while maintaining a degree of water resistance.

Unlike most soft shell jackets, the material in the Haglöfs Viper II Hooded does not include a membrane. This allows the fabric to be far more stretchy, which should make it ideal for more active sports, but means it is less water-resistant. The increased level of air permeability should also make it more breathable, allowing it to be comfier when worn both on its own over a base layer and under a waterproof. The design is relatively simple with just a front zip, hood and a couple of pockets. The fit is closer and shorter than some, with drawcord adjustment at the hem and elasticated cuffs along with a hood that has face drawcords and a volume adjuster.

On the hill
The Haglöfs Viper II Hooded’s fit was great; it felt comfortable worn under a rucksack and it was particularly good for scrambling, climbing or bending over bike handlebars. The fabric is not as water-resistant as others, so it is not ideal in snow or wetter conditions, but you can wear a waterproof over the top. For walking in a mix of wet and dry weather this is a good option, but the more water-resistant fabrics of others would be better for wearing in heavier showers. The hood was excellent, although an ability to fasten it down when not in use would be useful. The pockets would be even better if they did not extend quite so low, as a rucksack hipbelt did obscure access a little more than is ideal.

In the lab
With a TOG value of 0.56, the Haglöfs Viper II Hooded is not as warm as my old Haglöfs Triton Hooded fleece, which provided 0.65 TOGs according to a past Trail test. But it is far more wind-resistant at 1.79 cm3/s/cm2 so it could be warmer in windier conditions. It is also more breathable than many other soft shells, which means it will perform better under a hard shell by, allowing the waterproof to breathe out sweat, keeping you more comfortable.

Fabric 90% nylon, 10% spandex, non-membrane Flexable soft shell
Sizes S-XXL (men’s); XS-XL (women’s)
Weight 522g (size L)
Made in Vietnam
Stores in the UK 50
Stockist details – tel. 0845 602 7343; www.haglofs.se

The Haglöfs Viper II Hooded plus points include stretch fabric; very breathable; better than most for wearing under a waterproof jacket. But it’s not as water-resistant, windproof or warm as others. It’s an ideal spring / summer / autumn soft shell that works well under a waterproof  as well as over a base layer, and it won ‘Best Value’ in our test.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine September 2010