Some soft shell jackets are fully waterproof, and the Mammut Gipfelgrat is one example. It is made from Polartec Neoshell, which itself comes in many forms; and in this jacket the microporous membrane is sandwiched between a heavy, robust face fabric and a soft inner lining. The membrane has tiny holes in it to allow water vapour out, thus preventing condensation building up inside from a hard-working sweaty body, but these holes are small enough to prevent rain from entering the jacket from the outside, so the result is that you should stay free of condensation and dry from rain. The seams are taped too so no water will enter the jacket through stitching, so this is a waterproof jacket – even though it is (and is called) a soft shell. The jacket is part of Mammut’s 50th Anniversary Eiger Extreme range, so its design is very much mountaineering-orientated and to that end it is ideal, with nice large chest pockets, a great hood and pit zips. The benefit of the Gipfelgrat over a waterproof hard shell is the durability and stretch the fabric provide, and it is this that makes this soft shell ideal for more abrasive mountaineering situations when a normal waterproof would get torn and be too restrictive due to a lack of stretch and its general cut.
Material 3-layer Polartec Neoshell
Weight 788g (size L)
The Mammut Gipfelgrat is the best choice for alpine mountaineering among the soft shells jackets we looked at.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine August 2012