Mountain Equipment (ME) makes a range of hard shell waterproofs and soft shells. But, unlike most modern mountaineering brands, they also produce the Shroud fleece jacket, which combines all the typical practical features that they are known for coupled with Polartec fleece.
Designed to function with other ME layers, the Shroud can be worn over a base layer and under a shell layer. The slim Active Alpine fit is intended to prevent the layers becoming bulky, while the use of stretch fabric allows maximum flexibility when scrambling or generally being active. The Shroud has a full-length front zip and two large chest pockets. There is a third pocket inside too. The stretchy hood can be worn under a climbing helmet or waterproof hood. The cuffs get thumb loops and the hem has a drawcord so that draughts can be locked out.
On the hill
The Shroud gives an instantly snug and comfortable fit that I found ideal over a base layer, while also slipping effortlessly under a waterproof. The stretchy fabric allowed perfect freedom of movement without any riding up, making this ideal for scrambling or just climbing over stiles. Those two chest pockets easily take an OS map or guidebook and they can be accessed while wearing harnesses or rucksacks with large hipbelts. As this is a jacket you get a full-length front zip, which I think is often a little more useful than a smock option. The biggest bonus is the hood, which gives instant warmth in seconds. However there is a non-hooded version also available. Some people may like the thumb loops on the wrist, although I’ve never found such features of any use. The material offers medium levels of insulation and medium levels of air permeability, and for me this is about right for year-round use. It can be combined with a thicker base layer if required of course.
In the lab
The Shroud had medium levels of insulation, so others are better for cold weather. The air permeability test also produced a medium result, meaning the fabric will allow good breathability while keeping light breezes at bay.
Material Polartec 100 Micro fleece; Polartec Powerstretch
Sizes S-XL (men’s); 8-16 (women’s)
Weight 404g (size L)
Made in Hungary
Stores in the UK 50
Stockist details – tel. (0161) 366 5020; www.mountain-equipment.co.uk
Verdict: The Mountain Equipment Shroud Jacket uses stretch fabric with a medium level of insulation and a medium level of air permeability; two large chest pockets; hood; thumb loops; full-length front zip and mesh pockets allow plenty of venting options. However, others are more windproof and warmer, which may be better for winter; while others are a lower price. In summary, it’s a close-fitting, practical mid layer that performs superbly and looks good too.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine October 2009