PHD is a small British company that specialises in designing and making products here in the UK that are at home in the world’s most extreme environments, from the Poles to Everest. The Taiga Fleece Mountain Jacket boasts total practicality in fabric and features.
The PHD Taiga Fleece Mountain Jacket is based on a well-proven design of a long jacket body with two chest pockets and a hood. The jacket is a little longer than most, making it ideal for wearing with a harness or rucksack hipbelt, which inevitably cause shorter fleeces to ride up. The two large chest pockets are ideal for stashing maps, guidebooks or gloves. While most fleeces have air mesh pockets for improved venting, these pockets are lined with a non-air-permeable layer, which extends down the front of the body to give extremely high levels of windproofness to the front of the jacket. The hood is a basic design without drawcords, but you do get a hem drawcord, waist elastication and thumb holes for keeping out the draughts.
On the hill
Hoick the PHD Taiga Fleece Mountain Jacket from your rucksack on the hill and its performance is immediately evident, but put it on in the pub and the style does the wearer few favours. As the fabric is not stretchy it has been cut quite loose to allow freedom of movement in the sleeves. This works well on the hill as the cuffs don’t ride up and the jacket never restricts movement. I particularly liked the long body, as it kept me well protected in all kinds of mountain activities. The hood is a little basic and although it fits it would benefit from some elastication to improve matters… unless it happens to fit you anyway, of course. The windproof front did make the top feel a little too hot for me across the chest, but it does mean you don’t have to put on a windproof so often. I really liked wearing this fleece, but I would prefer more style and I am not 100 per cent sure that the windproof front is ideal when wearing this under a waterproof jacket.
In the lab
The PHD Taiga Fleece Mountain Jacket provided medium levels of insulation in the lab and medium to high levels of windproofness generally, but the front of the jacket had a low air permeability of 0.24cm3/s/cm2. This combination is potentially ideal for hill-walking as it will keep users warm without demanding a windproof at the slightest hint of a breeze.
Material Taiga fleece
Weight 462g (size L)
Made in UK
Stores in the UK 1
Stockist details –tel. (0161) 303 0895; www.phdesigns.co.uk
Verdict: The PHD Taiga Fleece Mountain Jacket has two large chest pockets; hood; high level of windproofness on front; medium level of insulation; long body offers excellent protection; thumb loops on cuffs; hem drawcord; elasticated waist. But the fabric is not as stretchy as others; baggy, unflattering style; the windproof front may restrict breathability too much. In summary, the PHD Taiga Fleece Mountain Jacket offers superb functionality but similar performance is available for less cash, less weight and more style.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine October 2009