First Test: Berghaus Changtse waterproof jacket Reviewed (2019)

Using three versions of Gore-Tex fabric makes the Changtse sound like the perfect breathable waterproof, but how does all that tech actually perform on the hill? 

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  • Materials Gore-Tex Active, Gore-Tex Paclite, Gore-Tex Topo Stretch

  • Men’s S-XXL

  • Women’s 8-16

  • Weight 320g (size L)

There is no single waterproof breathable fabric that is ideal for every situation, but by combining a number of different fabrics into one garment it should be possible to increase performance. One of the latest jackets to make use of this idea is the Berghaus Changtse, which promises to be a lightweight technical jacket for those in need of the latest technology and its associated benefits. 

At the heart of the design is the development of three versions of Gore-Tex waterproof breathable fabric. Built into the cuffs and hem sides is the revolutionary Gore-Tex Topo Stretch fabric, which is far stretchier than other Gore-Tex materials. In the shoulders and hem is the new version of Gore-Tex Paclite, which manages condensation better than previous versions and has the benefit of being extremely durable and very lightweight. Finally the core chest and back of the jacket uses Gore-Tex Active, which has the highest level of breathability, making it ideal for minimising condensation. 

This concept of placing different materials in different areas of an item of clothing is known as body mapping, and it is becoming an increasingly popular means of optimising performance in outdoor products. It uses the idea that different areas of the body have different requirements when hillwalking, such as the chest becoming very warm so maximum breathability is required. Shoulder areas and the hips are often the first to wear out due to rucksack and hipbelt abrasion, so more durable materials are required here, while areas which need to fit closely, such as the hem and cuffs, benefit from more stretchy materials. 

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A closer look

On first look the Changtse does not appear very different to other jackets, but turn it inside out and you can immediately see the three different types of material. Less obvious is that there is also an air vent at the base of the collar to allow more airflow through the jacket without the need to open zips. Pit zips are also provided to add further controlled ventilation. All this ventilation does hint that even with all these materials being combined this is no panacea, and it is still necessary to manage body temperature and heat output to ensure condensation does not develop on the inside of the jacket.

The jacket boasts a neat fit, with the stretch cuffs and stretch hem fitting me well, but the women’s version comes up quite narrow on the hips of our female Trail tester. As there are no hem drawcords or Velcro tabs to make further adjustments, you’re definitely best off trying before you buy. 

The hood is helmet compatible and twin rear drawcords allow good adjustment, so the hood fitted my head neatly and turned well as I looked around. The peak is stiffened but not wired, so care is needed to prevent it from becoming too distorted as it cannot be straightened out. The one small chest pocket is ideal for a GPS receiver or small guidebook, and you can squeeze an OS map in there too, although a longer zip would make this a little easier.

On the hill

In use it was noticeable how light the Changtse feels and the ease of movement it allows, with no hint of the cuffs or hem riding up while scrambling over rocks. It also manages condensation well, with only minimal dampness showing on the Gore-Tex Paclite areas, while other areas remained drier.

There is only one pocket though, so for me this limits the usefulness of the jacket, as I like a pair of pockets for my hands that are accessible above the hipbelt of my rucksack. 

If this isn’t an issue for you then this is definitely a great jacket, and compared to other jackets the weight and price are good. Whether this jacket is for you will really come down to how you balance your preferences of weight versus pockets versus fabric performance and, as always, the size of your budget.

Verdict

Three versions of Gore-Tex fabric set the Changtse apart, and while its weight is outstanding for what you get, some users may wish for more pockets, but it is definitely setting new performance standards.

  • Features 4/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 84%


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5 Of The Best... Waterproof Jackets Under £300 Reviewed (2019)

Whatever your budget there is a waterproof jacket that is right for you, so here’s our guide at the best jackets for hillwalkers with price tags up to £300.


Hoods

The hood should fit your head snugly so it does not blow off, but also it must move with your head so you can see where you are going. The hood peak may become bent when the jacket is stashed in a rucksack, so look for a wired peak that can be easily reshaped to allow good vision even in the wind. Lower priced jackets generally have hoods that don’t fit or move so well with the head and often lack wired or stiffened peaks.

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Fabrics

On the high priced jackets you can expect to find that the fabrics used are the most waterproof and breathable available. In contrast lower priced jackets generally have fabrics that are less breathable and may be less durably waterproof in the long term too. Materials described as 2 layer will more clammy than those described as 2.5 layer and these will in turn be more clammy than a 3 layer fabric or any jacket with a loose lining.

Zips

Normal zips used on jackets are not waterproof so they are normally covered by an external single or double storm flap. Water resistant zips are commonly used on high priced jackets but these are not waterproof either. As these zips may leak, they are often fitted with an internal flap that is designed to channel away any water than enters this area. 

Pockets

Big pockets are great for storing maps, guide books and gloves, but they can also be used to protect your hands from wind and rain. Rucksack belts obscure access to some pockets so make sure they are well positioned to avoid this problem. Lower priced jackets often have pockets that are not easily accessed while wearing rucksacks.

Ventilation

Even the best waterproof and breathable fabrics allow condensation to form, so it is important that you can increase ventilation of the jacket. A front zip can be used for venting, as can under arm zips, also called pit zips, while mesh linings in pockets can also increase airflow through the jacket. However, mesh pockets may also allow water to pass through the jacket. 


Salewa Puez 2 Powertex 3L £225

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  • Materials 3 layer Powertex Performance Ripstop Eco DWR

  • Sizes S-XXXL (men’s); n/a (women’s)

  • Weight 411g (size L)

It’s good

What sets this jacket apart from many others is the lower weight while still providing the core features a hillwalker needs. So you get a jacket made from a 3 layer laminate like others here but it has a thinner construction so it is more supple and lighter. You get two good chest pockets like other jackets too and these are easily accessed above a rucksack belt and they easily take an OS map. The hood has a wired peak and it fits nice and close and moves with the head better than most. The body is not the shortest either so you get a little more protection around the bottom and groin than some.

However

This jacket does lose some nice to have details. Firstly the sleeve movement is not quite the best, so you get so the cuffs tend to ride up a little more than the higher priced jackets here. Also there is no third external chest pocket. Then it is worth noting that this thinner material does feel a little colder as it tends to compress a little more than stiffer fabrics, so this is not the best for winter walks. The fabric is probably going to be slightly less durable than a heavier jacket but that should only concern the hardest of users, as for most walkers this is easily durable enough. Also there is no womens version.

Verdict

A superb hillwalking jacket if you want something slightly lighter and don’t need the best sleeve movement or a third external chest pocket.

  • Features 3/5

  • Weatherproofness 5/5

  • Condensation control 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 84%


Alpkit Definition £229

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  • Material 3 layer laminate with nylon face and PU/PTFE membrane 

  • Sizes S-XXL (men’s); 8-14 (women’s)

  • Weight 562g (size L)

It’s good

Like all Alpkit gear the Definition is extremely well priced for its features. It’s made from a layer laminate like other jackets here and the material is also nice and stiff to resist battering winds. The fit is quite close particularly on the sleeves, but you can still easily raise your arms without the cuff or hem riding up during scrambles. The hood fit and movement is also exceptionally good and it has a wired peak too making it ideal for hillwalking. There are two main pockets plus a third Napoleon chest pocket and all these are easy to access while wearing a pack. You even get pit zips for extra ventilation.

However

The third chest pocket is smaller than others and while its useful for a GPS receiver or phone it is not ideal for a map or even many guidebooks and this really lets this jacket down. The body is not the shortest but its not the longest either, so if you want a longer design others are better. Mountaineers may want an even more durable jacket with extra reinforcement but walkers will be fine with this as it is. If you did pay a lot more you can get jackets that have even better breathability and they may also be lighter but again only those in need of the absolute pinnacle jackets need bother.

Verdict

The Ladakh GV offers a solid reliable performance that for many hillwalkers will mean they need look no further but some others have small worthwhile benefits. 

  • Features 4/5

  • Weatherproofness 5/5

  • Condensation control 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 88%

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Rab Ladakh DV £275

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  • Material 3 layer Event

  • Sizes S-XXL (men’s); 8-16 (women’s)

  • Weight 561g (size L)

It’s good

 It is built with 3 layer Event so you get top quality condensation control and durable waterproofness. But importantly this is quite a robust fabric, so it blocks the wind without buckling an important benefit for colder and winder mountain days, and also it’s more durable than lighter jackets. The fit is slightly shorter than some options but fairly typical of modern jackets and the sleeves and hood fit particularly well. Waist and hem drawcords lock out draughts and you get good cuff and hood adjustment. The hood has a wired peak and turns effortlessly with the head. There are also pit zips for venting and a pair of huge chest pockets.

However

You do only get two external chest pockets as there is no third Napoleon style pocket for a guidebook, map or GPS receiver, although there is an internal Napoleon chest pocket inside the main front zip. It’s also quite a heavy jacket compared to what is available so if weight is your priority there are others to consider. It does have pit zips which you may not want and finding a jacket without them would lower weight and price, the two main factors that are drawbacks with this jacket. Some jackets are slightly longer and if you don’t need a helmet compatible hood then others would suffice. So for some users it may be worth looking elsewhere for design details that better suit your personal preferences.

Verdict

The Ladakh GV offers a solid reliable performance that for many hillwalkers will mean they need look no further but some others have small worthwhile benefits. 

  • Features 4/5

  • Weatherproofness 5/5

  • Condensation control 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 88%


Berghaus Extrem 500 Vented £280

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  • Material 3 layer Gore-Tex

  • Sizes XS-XXL (mens); 8-18 (womens)

  • Weight 584g (size L)

It’s good

This was new for 2018 and is an updated version of the Extrem 5000 that sees the addition of pit zips for improved ventilation when working hard and not wanting to remove the jacket due to wind or rain. It is made from 3 layer Gore-Tex so it is top of the breathability and waterproofness rating. Importantly it is also a little longer than some other jackets around the price point and that meant for me it protected my groin and bottom far better than some other jackets. Also you get a huge third external Napoleon chest pocket in addition to the two main chest pockets. The hood is stunning with a wired peak and excellent fit and movement while also being helmet compatible. 

However

Adding the extra length and chest pocket has added a few grams so this is a little heavy compared to some. Also there are of course lower priced jackets if you don’t need all those features and the more heavy and robust 3 layer Gore-tex that is used here. If you were to spend more money then you would get even better condensation control and perhaps a lighter fabric but apart from that it is really hard to see why you would pay more to be honest. For me this is pretty much an ideal jacket for harsh mountain walking trips if you can accept the weight and price tag.

Verdict

For this price band it is hard to find a fault with this jacket making it ideal for those who don’t want to break the £300 price barrier for even better performance. 

  • Features 5/5

  • Weatherproofness 5/5

  • Condensation control 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 92%

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Paramo Alta III £295

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  • Material Nikwax Analogy

  • Sizes S-XXL (mens); XS-XL (womens)

  • Weight 832g (size M)

It’s good

A well proven fabric that provides superb levels of breathability and weather protection and in winter its extra warmth is a real bonus when heading into colder mountain weather as there is less need to carry additional insulating layers. The design is longer than most too so you get far far better bottom and groin protection than other jackets. The sleeves are well designed and so is the hood so both move really well with the body when scrambling. The hood also gets a wired peak for clearer vision and you get four external pockets, which are all easily accessed while wearing a rucksack. 

However

This jacket is warm which is a benefit on cold days but even on a warm winter day it can become quite hot to wear without venting extensively. Also it is quite heavy compared to others so if you stow it in your rucksack it is more of a load. The price is higher than others too, although for long term use it does work out at a good value as this jackets weather resistance is far easier to maintain than others due to its unique properties and construction. So overall there nothing wrong with the design but you do need to decide if the slight drawbacks mean other jackets are better options for your own walking needs. 

Verdict

Excellent design in many ways, with the fabric offering valuable benefits in cold weather in particular, but drawbacks are weight and warmth when the temperature rises but rain and wind persist.

  • Features 5/5

  • Weatherproofness 5/5

  • Condensation control 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 92%


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Berghaus Extrem 5000 Vented waterproof jacket review

It’s good

This was new for 2018 and is an updated version of the Extrem 5000 that sees the addition of pit zips for improved ventilation when working hard and not wanting to remove the jacket due to wind or rain. It is made from 3 layer Gore-Tex so it is top of the breathability and waterproofness rating. Importantly it is also a little longer than some other jackets around the price point and that meant for me it protected my groin and bottom far better than some other jackets. Also you get a huge third external Napoleon chest pocket in addition to the two main chest pockets. The hood is stunning with a wired peak and excellent fit and movement while also being helmet compatible. 

However

Adding the extra length and chest pocket has added a few grams so this is a little heavy compared to some. Also there are of course lower priced jackets if you don’t need all those features and the more heavy and robust 3 layer Gore-tex that is used here. If you were to spend more money then you would get even better condensation control and perhaps a lighter fabric but apart from that it is really hard to see why you would pay more to be honest. For me this is pretty much an ideal jacket for harsh mountain walking trips if you can accept the weight and price tag.

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  • Material 3 layer Gore-Tex

  • Sizes XS-XXL (mens); 8-18 (womens)

  • Weight 584g (size L)

Verdict

For this price band it is hard to find a fault with this jacket making it ideal for those who don’t want to break the £300 price barrier for even better performance. 

  • Features 5/5

  • Weatherproofness 5/5

  • Condensation control 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 92%



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The Big Test: Waterproof Jackets reviewed (2018)

Staying dry during a hillwalk can be a challenge, but pack the right waterproof jacket and you’ll be warm, dry and comfortable no matter what the mountain throws at you. We put six jackets to the test on the Lakeland fells.

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The Runners Up


Sprayway Santiago / Atlanta £90

Tester: Jon Bennett

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  • Materials 2-layer hydrodry with loose mesh lining

  • Men’s XS-XXXL (Santiago)

  • Women’s 8-20 (Atlanta)

  • Weight 606g (M) 

This jacket is made with 2-layer Hydrodry fabric. Although on paper this is not the most breathable fabric, the mesh lining on the inside very effectively managed condensation and kept me drier from condensation than the other lower-priced jackets. There are two handwarmer pockets and a map-sized chest pocket. The foldaway hood has face drawcords and rear volume adjustment. Compared with the other lower-priced options there’s a good length to the jacket and it felt warmer owing to the air gap provided by the mesh lining. However, although the hood protected my face it did not turn well with my head. The handwarmer pockets were also not easy to access when wearing a rucksack and the chest pocket was closed by Velcro, rather than a more secure zip.

Pros

Price, condensation management, lots of features and good protection in general.

Cons

Heavy compared to others and hood does not move with the head.

Buy it if...

You want a good all-rounder at a superb price and don’t need either the lightest or absolute best performance on the hill.


Berghaus Stormcloud £100

Tester: Graham Thompson

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  • Material 2-layer Hydroshell

  • Men’s XS-XXL  

  • Women’s 8-18 

  • Weight 324g (L)

The big advantages here are the price and weight, as both are very appealing. The fabric is a 2-layer Hydroshell, which kept the water at bay while scrambling up the gill but soon became very sweaty inside as there is no inner layer to hide or soak up the condensation. But importantly the pockets are not mesh lined, unlike some higher-priced lightweight jackets, so even if water entered the pockets I didn’t get wet inside. The hood fits quite close and did move a little with my head, but higher-priced designs offer better adjustment. When scrambling the cuffs and hem tended to ride up far too easily, which left my body more exposed to the elements than all the other jackets here. The two main pockets are both annoyingly small and too low to allow the optimum access while wearing a rucksack hipbelt. 

Pros

Price and weight are the main benefits here for hillwalkers.

Cons

Lots of condensation build-up, and not the best pockets nor the best hood design.

Buy it if...

You want a lightweight low-priced jacket for stowing in your rucksack and just wearing during short showers when any condensation will be tolerable.


Rab Ladakh DV £275

Tester: Tim Butcher

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  • Material 3-layer Event

  • Men’s S-XXL 

  • Women’s 8-16

  • Weight 604g (XL)

The Ladakh DV is made using the durable 3-layer Event fabric, which is superb at controlling condensation and keeping the rain out. The size XL is roomy and nicely long, with adjustment in all the right places, including waist and hem drawcords, plus longer sleeves, all of which kept out draughts and stopped the jacket riding up. The large hood is helmet compatible and has sufficient volume adjustment to keep it in place in wind and rain, and it moves nicely as your head turns to look for holds or take in the view from under the stiffened peak. With pit zips open and just a long sleeve base layer beneath I was never damp from condensation on scrambles or walks. The only design drawback is the lack of a decent third chest pocket, whilst some may consider it heavy in terms of weight and price for hillwalking.

Pros

Durable waterproof and breathable fabric, great pockets, great hood, great sleeves.

Cons

No third chest pocket, and others are lighter and lower in price.

Buy it if…

You want a durable waterproof jacket with generally great features and don’t require a third chest pocket.



The Top three


Montane Atomic £125

Tester: Graham Thompson

The low price and light weight make the Atomic instantly appealing, but how does it compare to higher-priced and heavier alternatives?

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  • Material 2.5-layer Pertex Shield

  • Men’s S-XL 

  • Women’s 8-16

  • Weight 331g (L)

It’s good

This light jacket packs down small, so you’ll hardly notice it in your rucksack. The weight saving comes from the use of 2.5-layer Pertex Shield fabric, and there’s no inner layer, just a printed surface to manage condensation. The fabric is quite thin and supple too. This all adds up to this being very comfortable. 

The sleeves don’t ride up badly when scrambling and the hood has good face drawcords and rear volume drawcord adjustment, so it was easy to see even as I moved my head around to look for good holds during scrambles. 

The two main pockets are well placed to allow access while wearing a rucksack, and both are large enough for a map too. These pockets are lined with mesh, which improves condensation control by allowing a means of adding airflow, while a pair of pit zips add further venting. So in many ways there is lots to like here and for general walking in warmer wet weather this is a superb choice.

However

Problems start to show themselves when you really challenge the material. Firstly this jacket is not as stiff as others and the fit is slightly closer than some, so in the wind it feels a bit chilly. Also as it is only a 2.5-layer fabric condensation develops easier than the 3-layer fabrics, so did get pretty clammy once I overheated. 

Those mesh pockets also allow water to pass right through the jacket, meaning I had to keep them closed properly during the gill scramble – not a problem you’d get with sealed pockets. 

Other jackets also have a useful third pocket for a guidebook or phone, but here you have just two. Of course all these small drawbacks could be reduced by adding features that would increase both the weight and the cost, so you need to decide if weight or comfort is your priority before parting with your money.

Verdict

The weight and price are great, and the design is ideal for milder conditions, but in really wet and windy mountain conditions you may prefer different features.

  • Features 4/5

  • Weatherproofness 3/5

  • Condensation 3/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 5/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 76%

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Paramo Alta III £295

Tester: Jon Bennett

Does Paramo’s unique fabric combination improve comfort to a level that overcomes any drawbacks of the design?

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  • Material Nikwax Analogy

  • Men’s S-XXL

  • Women’s XS-XL

  • Weight 832g (M)

It’s good

The unique Paramo fabric delivers far greater breathability and better condensation management than the other fabrics on test, and this is why I love wearing the Alta in cold, wet conditions.  

The incredible six pockets – two inside, two chest (one map-sized), and two handwarmer – are all useable when wearing a rucksack. The jacket is a good length and zipped upper-arm vents offer top ventilation. The wired hood also moved really well with my head, with excellent hood adjustment. The Alta is the warmest jacket on test, so when the others were reaching for extra layers at the summit I just zipped up. 

And good to know is that Paramo has strong ethical manufacturing standards, and doesn’t use environmentally hazardous polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).

However

While I love wearing the Alta in cold conditions, it can be overly warm in summer (although Paramo does now make a lighter version of its fabric for summer use). Consequently, the Alta is the warmest and heaviest jacket here, and would bulk up a ’sack if solely being carried waiting for a shower. 

Some care is also needed when leaning on wet rock during a gill scramble, as water can pass through the jacket under high pressure. The fabric dries exceptionally fast though, so I was totally dry during our waterfall adventures. 

There are cheaper jackets than the Alta, but if you sweat a lot then it will at least quickly pass through this jacket to the air so you’ll be dryer than in a cheaper one!

Verdict

Unique fabric ensures that condensation is managed far better than other jackets but the extra warmth, extra weight and extra cash are the main drawbacks to consider.

  • Features 5/5

  • Weatherproofness 3/5

  • Condensation 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 84%


Mountain Equipment Lhotse / Manaslu £350 

Tester: Tim Butcher

This is a well established 3-layer Gore-Tex jacket but is it really worth paying all that extra cash? And could this classic be even better?

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  • Material 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro

  • Men’s S-XXL (Lhotse)

  • Women’s 8-16 (Manaslu)

  • Weight 531g (XL)

It’s good

The Lhotse continues to be the benchmark against which other jackets are measured. Built of tough 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro it’s incredibly durable, giving armour-like protection in storms and high levels of waterproofness and breathability, so I was never damp on our final test day in Langdale, even with changing conditions. 

The design also delivers when it comes to practical features, providing both good body coverage and unrestricted movement, with sleeves and hems staying put when reaching for holds on the steep rock. The three external pockets are in just the right places, clear of rucksack straps, allowing ‘hands in pockets’ walking and a chest pocket large enough for a map or guidebook. 

Pit zips, which aren’t stiff under the arm, open easily to improve ventilation, and the hood with a well-stiffened peak and rear volume adjuster kept the wind and rain out without restricting vision whilst walking and scrambling.

However

With top-spec gear, the cons are often weight and price, and it’s not the lightest jacket available. It could be argued that it’s over-specced for most Lakeland days out, and a lighter jacket would suffice, but if you walk year-round in the UK as we do, and you’re looking for one jacket that’ll tackle everything, then the extra weight is worth it. 

Moisture management relies on having the right combination of base layers underneath, so in changing conditions it was fleece on/off a number of times to maintain ideal temperature and prevent overheating. 

However, I can’t fault the fabric or the design, and coming onto the summit of Harrison Stickle into a cold, rain-laden wind, with both test jackets in my pack, it was the Lhotse I instinctively reached for.

Verdict

A seasoned performer, with high-end fabric and brilliant design, I’d wear it with confidence in any conditions in the British mountains.

  • Features 5/5

  • Weatherproofness 5/5

  • Condensation 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 92%

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Berghaus Extrem Sumcham womens Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Berghaus Extrem Sumcham is made from Hydroshell Elite Pro, with a heavier variety of the same fabric over the hips and shoulders, to help resist backpack abrasion. There are two chest pockets, both of which take an OS map (the opening is slightly smaller than some but accessible with a rucksack hipbelt), and there’s a phone-sized inner Napoleon pocket. Ticks for cuff and hem adjustment and a wire-peaked, helmet-compatible hood, too. 5/5

Fit

The women’s Extrem Sumcham comes in sizes 8-16 (and the men’s Extrem Hagshu in XS-XL). The fit is loose enough for several warm layers, but still neat, with a bit more bagginess around the arms. There’s no cuff movement when reaching, and hem movement isn’t problematic either. It’s slightly longer at the back to give you some bum protection, but others offer more. 4/5 

Comfort

The Hydroshell Elite Pro used is a tough, stormproof fabric. There aren’t any pit zips but the chest pockets are mesh-lined so can be used for venting, though this does mean that water can pass through if they’re left open or if you stuff wet things in, and isn’t ideal if you’re carrying things in them. The jacket feels reassuringly protective in harsh weather but might be too warm in more forgiving conditions. 3/5

In use

The Berghaus Extrem Sumcham is a tough jacket, designed for British winters, but it’s less durably waterproof than those using laminate materials like Gore-Tex Pro. The material feels quite stiff and heavy – welcome when it’s howling a gale, especially with the excellent face protection you get when it’s fully zipped right up to the nose. The wired hood and moves well, though not perfectly, with the head. 4/5

Value

Map-sized pockets, tough fabric and a stiffened, wire-peaked hood: good features and weather protection here for a relatively low price. RRP £260. 4/5 

Verdict

The Berghaus Extrem Sumcham is on the heavy side, but this is an extremely durable jacket for the price, and well-featured. 4.0/5

Berghaus Thunder Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Berghaus Thunder is made of Gore-Tex, but at this price it’s not the high-spec Pro version. However it has a nice robust feel and there is a mesh lining inside for more comfort. There are two main pockets, and a hood with volume adjustment and face drawcord. The hood peak does not get a wired or stiffened peak though. It does lack some extra features like a long body and a third pocket, but it has the basics. 3/5

Fit

The men’s sizes are S-XXL and women’s 8-18. It has quite a loose, baggy fit but is relatively short so it did not cover my bum as effectively as some higher-priced jackets. The hood fit is good, but I found the rear volume adjustment stiff to adjust and the hood did not move very well with my head. There was some movement in the cuffs and hem when moving my arms too. 4/5

Comfort

The Berghaus Thunder does feel generally comfortable as you get a mesh lining inside the Gore-Tex outer and the baggy fit does trap plenty of air. The material also does not buckle too much in the wind. You don’t get such good protection of the bum, though, and no soft brushed panel to protect the chin from the zip. Others are certainly less comfortable, but this could still be better. 3/5

In use

On the hill this provides the basics of protection you need. But the shorter length is a drawback and the style is overly baggy, I felt, and sort of gets in the way. The two main pockets are very large but access to them is easily impeded by rucksack hipbelts as they are quite low on the body. The hood does not turn as well as others either. But I do like that it provides more robust protection than lighter jackets. 3/5

Value

You are getting Gore-Tex here and it has plenty of features; if slightly better designed its value for its performance would be higher. RRP £170. 4/5

Verdict

The Berghaus Thunder is a good basic jacket if you’re heading to the hills, but little details are much better on other jackets. 3.4/5

Berghaus Stormcloud Jacket Review 2016

Features

Updated for 2016 from Berghaus’s AQ2 material to the brand’s Hydroshell fabric, the Stormcloud still offers the same basic performance. The 2-layer fabric keeps weight down and improves suppleness, but it does not control condensation as well as 3-layer or mesh-lined jackets. The two main pockets are sealed rather than mesh, so they are watertight. The hood does not have a wired peak. 3/5

Fit

The men’s is available in S-XXL and the women’s in 8-18. The body is quite short so you don’t get much protection for your bum. The sleeves are quite a close fit, while the hood fits very closely and moves well with the head. The hem and cuffs don’t ride up when raising your arms. Overall this has a far more tailored fit than many jackets in its price band. 5/5

Comfort

Combining a 2-layer fabric with a closer fit means the Berghaus Stormcloud is a little clammier than some other designs. It is quite a thin fabric too, so in really windy weather you can feel a bit cold and battered. The pockets are sealed rather than mesh-lined, though, so at least you’re more likely to stay dry in this compared to jackets with mesh pockets.  3/5

In use

If you put on a rucksack with a hipbelt it is not easy to get into the main pockets, which isn’t ideal (and there are no additional pockets). But at least they are map-sized. The hood would benefit from a wired or more stiffened peak to be perfect, but its fit and movement are very good. The weight of 319g (size L) is a real bonus so while not perfect this is better than many for hillwalkers. 3/5

Value

For its price the Berghaus Stormcloud is very good, but if you pay more you do get a much better jacket. RRP £80. 5/5

Verdict

If your budget is very tight then the Berghaus Stormcloud is a perfectly good jacket, but if you can pay more you get many benefits. 3.8/5

Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro Jacket Review 2016

Features

Littered with innovative features, the Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro is designed for mountaineering. Its Gore-Tex Pro material has a unique Xpanse back design for more stretch across the shoulders. There are two main pockets with mesh linings, a hood with wired peak and magnetic volume adjustment, and a zip-out perforated panel to allow easier breathing when the jacket is fully zipped up. 5/5

Fit

The Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro comes in men’s sizes XS-XL, but there’s no women’s version. The fit is reasonably close but still allows outstanding freedom of movement. The unique Xpanse back design means there is no hint of cuff or hem movement when raising the arms, and absolutely no restriction across back and shoulders. The hood fits superbly and moves effortlessly with the head. It’s a pity women cannot benefit from it, though. 4/5

Comfort

Gore-Tex Pro is the main fabric, and this offers a good all-round level of comfort. The hand pockets are mesh-lined so they can be used to vent the jacket, but in a hillwalking situation I would prefer that these were sealed to prevent water passing through pockets to the wearer. The two Napoleon pockets are sealed, however, which is better. 4/5

In use

Apart from those mesh-lined pockets the Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro is stunning. It is about 5cm longer than the shorter jackets, with a scooped tail to protect the bum. The chest pockets and main pockets are all OS map-sized and easily accessed. The hood is superb, although others do have a deeper peak for even more face protection. The sleeve movement is outstanding. 5/5

Value

The price is extreme and hard to justify unless you really need the Xpanse back and the stunning freedom of movement. RRP: £450. 2/5 

Verdict

The Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro is an extremely good design for extreme mountaineering conditions – with an extreme price tag. 4.0/5

Berghaus Stormcloud (2015)

Features

Berghaus’s AQ2 material used in this jacket is a 2-layer fabric, which means it keeps weight down and improves suppleness, but also it doesn’t control condensation as well as a 3-layer or mesh-lined jacket. You get two main pockets too, which are also sealed rather than mesh, so they’re watertight, plus a hood with a peak, but it’s not wired. 3/5

Fit

The men’s Berghaus Stormcloud comes in S-XXL and the women’s in 8-18. The fit is slightly closer than other jackets and more tailored, but there’s still room underneath for insulation layers. The body is short, like most jackets. The hood has an exceptionally good fit though and really sets this apart from many in its price range. 5/5

Comfort

The closer-fitting 2-layer material isn’t as breathable as fabrics used in higher-priced jackets, so it feels a bit clammy. It’s also quite soft so it easily allows warm air to be squeezed out when walking into the wind. So it feels a bit chilly compared to higher-priced jackets that offer more protection due to a looser cut and stiffer fabric that may be more breathable. 3/5

In use

Pocket access isn’t great as there are only two pockets and these are easily obscured by rucksack hipbelts. But you can get a map in these pockets and they’re sealed so water does not easily pass through them. The hood would benefit from a wired or stiffer peak, but its fit and movement are great and allow good vision. The weight of 319g (size L) is a bonus too. 3/5

Value

For £70 the Berghaus Stormcloud is good; it’s just that you don’t get much at this price. A great option if this is your budget though. 5/5

Verdict

If you cannot spend more the Berghaus Stormcloud is a decent option but a higher price brings many comfort and performance advantages. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 3.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2015

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First test: Berghaus Civetta (2015)

Staying dry and comfy in the rain is one challenge all UK hillgoers have to face. Modern waterproof and breathable fabrics are better at managing those comfort levels than ever before, and the latest innovation from WL Gore is no exception.

Gore’s Gore-Tex is a well-proven provider of extremely high levels of waterproofness and breathability. The material has a 3-layer laminate construction, with a Gore-Tex membrane sandwiched between an outer material and an inner material. The Gore C-Knit is the new inner material, and it is this that promises the improved comfort.

Compared to other 3-layer Gore-Tex, C-Knit reduces the fabric’s weight by 10 per cent and improves its breathability by 15 per cent, so there is less chance of condensation forming inside the jacket. The material is just as waterproof as other Gore-Tex products.

Another benefit is that Gore C-Knit allows the fabric to be softer and so it also feels nicer against the skin, such as when worn over a short-sleeved base layer. More importantly perhaps it also slides more easily over base layers and mid layers. This should all add up to more comfort when it is worn on the hill.

To test the theory I’ve been using a new version of the (men’s-only) Berghaus Civetta jacket featuring Gore C-Knit technology. Compared to my normal Gore-Tex Pro Shell jacket it certainly does feel softer and suppler in the hand. It is light too at just 446g for a well-featured size L jacket. The new jacket has controlled condensation well; but then, to be fair, so does Gore Pro Shell – however it is nice to have that extra suppleness and thinner, lighter feel to the fabric.

So why would anyone still buy a Gore Pro Shell jacket, and why would any manufacturer use the fabric, given it is heavier, stiffer and less breathable? The answer is that Pro Shell is more durable – so if you are a really hard user you may prefer to opt for longer-term performance. For me and most hillwalkers the Gore C-Knit technology is probably easily durable enough, though; but mountaineers and those who really hammer their kit may still benefit from choosing Pro Shell.

Most importantly for me the Berghaus Civetta jacket is also well-designed, with a proper hood that boasts a wired peak, and fits and moves really well with the head. Then there are two superb pockets that can be easily accessed while wearing a rucksack hipbelt. So it’s not just about a great new fabric; it’s about a great jacket that uses a great new fabric – and that’s the real key to comfort outdoors.

Specifications:

Fabric 3-layer Gore-Tex with Gore C-Knit backer technology

Sizes S-XXL (men’s)

Weight 446g (L)

Verdict

Gore C-Knit backer technology is yet another step forward to having fabrics that manage rain and condensation better than ever before. But for real comfort on the hill those fabrics have to be built in to a great design – and this new version of the Berghaus Civetta jacket proves that is possible. Comfort on the hill just took another step toward perfection.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine October 2015

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Berghaus Light Hike Hydroshell (2015)

www.berghaus.com

Features

Designed, according to Berghaus, after gathering insight from walkers on the West Highland Way, the Light Hike Hydroshell’s main feature is its weight of just 336g (size L). It has only two mesh-lined pockets, plus a hood with wired peak. It is good to see the front zip has an external stormflap for better rain protection than many lightweight jackets. 4/5

Fit

It’s available for men in size S-XL and for women 8-16. The jacket is average length so you get some protection of the derrière, but not as much as some jackets offer. The sleeves performed well, with the cuffs and hem not riding up when the arms are raised. The hood also fitted very well and moved very easily with the head. 5/5

Comfort

The material is 2.5-layer Hydroshell Elite with a raised print on the inside for better condensation control, but you’ll still be slightly comfier in a (albeit heavier) 3-layer or mesh- lined jacket. The fabric boasts very high waterproofness and breathability figures, but the pockets are mesh-lined so care is needed to stop water passing through them. 3/5

In use

The Berghaus Light Hike Hydroshell offers just two main pockets with no third pocket for a guidebook, compass or map. The two main pockets are easily obscured while wearing a rucksack, so quite annoying to use. Also those pockets are mesh-lined, so you need to keep them zipped up in rain. The hood is great and the weight is a bonus in drier conditions when this can live in a pack. 3/5

Value

There are lots of lightweight jackets, and this is slightly better than some; it also lacks some features but overall the price is fair. 4/5

Verdict

If low weight and a reasonable price are priorities the Berghaus Light Hike Hydroshell is great, but the pockets are not the best option for hillwalking with rucksacks. 3.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine Spring 2015

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Berghaus Voltage/Electra (2014)

The Berghaus Voltage for men and Electra for women feels nice and robust compared to other lightweight jackets and that makes it instantly appealing for hillwalking as it means it should be better able to trap air around the body than softer and more flexible materials. The fabric is Gore-Active Shell, a well proven development from the house of Gore that I have been very impressed with for lightweight hillwalking. The jacket is designed with a good water-resistant zip up the front that also benefits from a stiff internal flap to block out wind and water that may pass through the zip. There are just two pockets and these are disappointing as although they are map-sized the zip opening and pocket bag sits directly under rucksack straps so they are not ideal for walking with a rucksack. The pockets are also mesh-lined, as in many lightweight jackets, so water can pass through the jacket in this area. The hood is also a little bit of a letdown compared to most Berghaus jackets as it does not move well with the head. It does have a stiffened peak though. If you want a lightweight jacket for hillwalking there are better options than the Berghaus Voltage/Electra around this price.

Specifications:

Fabric Gore Active Shell

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XXL (Voltage)

Women’s sizes 8-18 (Electra)

External pockets 2

Stowable hood? yes

Side/pit zips no

Weight 352g (men’s size L)

Website www.berghaus.com

Verdict

The Voltage/Electra is not one of Berghaus’s best jackets sadly as the pocket and hood design are not up to the brand’s normal high standards.

Review by Graham Thompson

Just missed out on featuring in Trail magazine July 2014

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Berghaus Civetta (2013)

The Berghaus Civetta uses the latest version of Gore-Tex and this new Pro version is said to be more breathable than previous Gore-Tex fabrics, so it’s about as good as it gets. The jacket design is fairly plain but functional. You get an averagely short body with a main zip that is very chunky, allowing easier use because it’s less likely to get clogged up; but there is no external stormflap, so an internal one drains away leaks. The pockets are big enough for maps and they’re placed high on the chest for easy access above rucksack belts. There are pit zips too for extra ventilation. Sleeve movement is good, although not quite as good as the best here as I did get some hem movement when raising my arms. The hood has a great wired peak, and it fits and moves effortlessly with the head even without the jacket fully zipped up – and this is the best feature of the Berghaus Civetta. The weight of 461g (size L) is good but you are getting fewer pockets and the design is quite short. The overall style is somewhat less fitted than other jackets and somehow it feels as if you are getting less finesse, but at £280 it is nonetheless probably ideal for most hill and mountain walkers and scramblers.

Weight 461g (size men’s L)

Fabric 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XXL

Women’s sizes none

External pockets 2

Can hood be rolled down? yes

Side/pit vents yes

Website www.berghaus.com

Verdict

Not the most inspiring design, but the Berghaus Civetta’s basic feature set is well-designed to be practical on the hill. Relatively good value, and light, too.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2013

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