Bergans Storen (2015)

Features

The Bergans Storen uses two-way stretch Toray Dermizax NX 3-layer laminated fabric, which is extremely waterproof and extremely breathable. It is quite thin and softer than most jackets here, and relatively lightweight too. You get four main pockets on the outside, plus a hood with a stiffened peak. Mesh-lined pockets and pit zips allow extra airflow. 5/5

Fit

Men’s sizes are XS-XXL and women’s sizes are XS-XL, and I found the fit to be slightly closer than others featured here and also slightly shorter in the body. I also had a bit more movement in the hem and cuffs when raising my arms, so overall it felt a little restrictive and too close a fit compared to others even though it uses stretch fabric. 4/5

Comfort

If you don’t mind the closer fit, the Bergans Storen will feel quite comfy, as it is light, soft and flexible. The pockets are mesh-lined, so they can provide extra airflow, but if water gets in them you can feel wet more easily than in jackets with sealed pockets. Also as the fabric fits so closely and is so soft, insulating air is more easily squeezed out than from stiffer options. 4/5

In use

The Bergans Storen’s fit and comfort impact on performance on the hill; also the pockets are slightly too small, so while I could just about squeeze a map into one chest pocket, it did not fit in the hip pockets properly. The top-entry chest pocket is very deep, so getting items from the bottom is a challenge. Overall a little irritating compared to others. The hood is good though. 4/5

Value

The use of stretch fabric has pushed the price up, but its benefit is limited here I think, so the price seems steep compared to others. 3/5

Verdict

The weight and the fabric are great but the pockets and hood are not the best. At this price, however, the Lakpa Rita is still a good option. It won Trail’s ‘Best Value’ award. 4.4/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2015

Bergans.jpg

Sherpa Lakpa Rita (2015)

Features

The Sherpa Lakpa Rita is made from a thinner version of the 3-layer eVent fabric used in other jackets, which helps to keep the weight down to a respectable 419g (men’s L). You still get two main pockets plus two small pockets on the chest. There is also a wired peak on the hood. Some others have pit zips and even bigger pockets, but this does have the key essentials for hillwalkers – plus that weight bonus. 5/5

Fit

Sizes are S-XXL for men and XS-XL for women. On me the jacket’s length was typical of many with a generally relaxed fit. Sleeve movement was good, with only a tiny amount of rise in the hem or cuff. But even when adjusted the hood still seemed a little too big and my vision was slightly obscured by its huge wired peak. 4/5

Comfort

The Sherpa Lakpa Rita is a lighter jacket than many with a softer feel to the fabric, which makes it feel more comfortable, although really strong winds will squeeze away any trapped warm air inside the jacket more easily than with stiffer options. But overall this is a very comfortable option for general hillwalking. 5/5

In use

The two main pockets are placed above rucksack belt for easy access and then you also get two additional Napoleon chest pockets, which are annoyingly small, so they won’t take a map, but they are good for phones or GPS receivers. The hood is the main problem here though as its fit is not close enough and the wired peak blocks vision a little too easily. I love the weight of this jacket, though. 4/5

Value

The Sherpa Lakpa Rita’s price is good, but you are not getting such good features as in higher-priced jackets. 4/5

Verdict

The weight and the fabric are great but the pockets and hood are not the best. At this price, however, the Lakpa Rita is still a good option. It won Trail’s ‘Best Value’ award. 4.4/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2015

Sherpa.jpg

Arc’teryx Theta AR (2015)

Features

Using the tough 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro fabric for durable levels of waterproofness and breathability, the Arc’teryx Theta AR is a workhorse design. It has two huge chest pockets, plus pit zips. The hood is helmet-compatible with a stiffened peak. All that for 450g (size men’s L) looks great for use on the hill. 5/5

Fit

Men’s sizes are XS-XXL and women’s are XS-XL, with a fit that is longer than most jackets and the longest in the Arc’teryx range. On me it came to just below my bum and offered welcome protection that others didn’t meet. Sleeve movement is very good with no cuff or hem movement. The helmet-compatible hood fitted closely and moved well with my head. 5/5

Comfort

The Arc’teryx Theta is a stiffer jacket than some but that for me is a benefit as it does not distort as easily as others in the wind, which means it can retain warm trapped air inside. Breathability and waterproofness are great in part as the pockets are sealed rather than mesh and you have pit zips if required. Nothing wrong here and great comfort in challenging weather. 5/5

In use

The weight and features are generally great on the hill and I particularly liked the extra length. But there are only two pockets, however they are big and easily accessed while wearing a pack. The hood’s peak does perhaps not provide the same level of protection as the absolute best, which boast a larger wired design. A third pocket is my main request! 4/5

Value

You can get jackets with more pockets and a wired peak with similar fabric performance for less, which makes the Arc’teryx Theta AR extremely pricy. 2/5

Verdict

The Arc’teryx Theta AR is an excellent lightweight jacket that is very practical for tackling wild mountain weather, but the price is a little too wild for many I suspect. 4.2/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2015

Arcteryx.jpg

First test: Fjällräven Keb Eco-Shell Anorak (2015)

It’s no longer enough to say a jacket is waterproof and breathable, as just about every jacket can offer this. According to Fjällräven it’s now important that a garment is environmentally friendly too, so it has introduced the Keb Eco-Shell clothing collection to ensure hillgoers are looking after not only themselves but also the planet. The range is intended to be recyclable, so it has an eco-friendly fluorocarbon-free durable water repellency (DWR) treatment, with each garment being minimalist with clean lines.

The material has a hydrophilic (water-loving) polyester membrane that blocks wind and rain while drawing sweat in the form of water vapour out of the fabric, to ensure breathability is good enough to prevent condensation build-up. On the inside there is a polyester lining to manage any condensation that may develop. On the outside a DWR treatment is given to the polyester outer to help fend off rain. The result is soft and relatively rustle-free material that boasts a ‘hydrostatic head’ of 30m and breathability of 26,000g/m2/24hr – values up there with the best.

But as any walker knows there is more to being comfortable in the hills than a great fabric, as a jacket’s design is equally if not more important. So I took the Fjällräven Keb Eco-Shell Anorak into the Lakes for a few weeks of testing in mixed conditions to see how it fared. 

This is a smock, with a jacket also available. It is long enough to cover my bum, which many jackets aren’t. It is also quite a loose fit, but you still get a small amount of hem or cuff movement when raising your arms over your head. The hood fit and movement are outstanding, with a wired peak providing perfect protection and great vision. The two chest pockets are Napoleon-style and easily take maps, but the main drawback of this design is there is nowhere to warm your hands. You get two side zips to vent the body, which are useful but rarely needed now that waterproof materials are so breathable. I’d rather have two hand-accessible pockets

than side vents for hillwalking.

The design is free of unnecessary seams for maximum breathability and durability, and this also helps to reduce the weight, which is 508g (men’s L) – similar to many top-end waterproof jackets. But the price is a little steep as there are really good jackets with similar designs costing around £50 less. 

Verdict

The fabric is a good step forward, the weight and the hood are great, but accessible pockets for the hands would make the Fjällräven Keb Eco-Shell Anorak better for many hillwalkers. The price is also a little steep compared to what else is available.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine September 2015

dsc_0475.jpg
dsc_0482.jpg
dsc_0490.jpg

Arc’teryx Beta SL (2015)

Features

The Gore-Tex Paclite fabric used in the Arc’teryx Beta SL is designed to be lightweight and packable, but it doesn’t control condensation as well as 3-layer fabrics. You also get two good-sized pockets that are well-positioned and don’t have mesh linings, so they should keep water out. The hood has a stiffened peak, however it isn’t as well-stiffened as others. 4/5

Size

The men’s sizes are S-XXL and the women’s XS-XL. The fit is a bit more relaxed than others but it still allows good sleeve movement without hem or cuffs riding up. The helmet-compatible hood fits very well and moves easily with the head. The length is similar to others: in other words not quite able to protect the bum.  5/5

Comfort

As the Arc’teryx Beta SL is made of a 2-layer fabric rather than 3-layer, it feels a bit clammy and shows up any condensation that forms. But it is extremely breathable and extremely durable, and those pockets aren’t mesh so if water gets in them you will still stay dry. The looser fit and stiffer fabric is good for overall warmth. 3/5

In use

The 340g (men’s L) weight is good, the pockets are great, and the hood fit and movement are superb. But the peak isn’t stiffened with wire so you need to stash the jacket carefully to prevent this becoming misshapen. The main drawback is the 2-layer fabric, though. 4/5

Value

The price is high compared to what else is available, but it is typical for this type of design and material. 3/5

Verdict

The Arc’teryx Beta SL is a very good jacket for hillwalkers that’s better than most of a similar design, but it isn’t an outstanding option compared to the absolute best. 3.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2015

arcteryx%20beta%20sl.jpg

Target Dry Element/Echo (2015)

www.targetdry.com

Features

A past winner of Trail magazine tests and £5 down in price from 2014, the Target Dry Element (Echo for women) packs some great features for the price. Two Napoleon chest pockets allow easy access to maps and guidebooks, and the length means two lower pockets should have okay access in use. Pit zips allow ventilation, and the hood has a wired peak. 5/5

Fit

The Element for men comes in sizes XS-XL and the Echo for women in sizes 8-18. The body is longer than most jackets so it covers my bottom well. Hem and cuff movement occurs when you raise your arms, which is not ideal for scrambling. But the hood does fit well and moves very easily with the head, even without the main zip adjusted to the top. 4/5

Comfort

The fabric is a Teflon-coated Oxford nylon, which cannot boast the waterproofness and breathability of higher-priced materials, but at this price it is similar to others. The mesh lining and pit zips improve comfort while the Oxford nylon provides a good, durable and stiff outer to fend off wind, making this better than some lighter jackets for windy summits. 4/5

In use

The weight of the Target Dry Element/Echo is a drawback straight away as 786g (size L) is heavy in a rucksack. But when worn the length, the hood and those two OS map-sized chest pockets are a real bonus. Due to the extra body length the two lower pockets can be accessed below the hipbelts of some rucksacks. When hillwalking this works well. 4/5

Value

The price is exceptional for the features and length of jacket on offer, and it was the best choice under £170. 5/5

Verdict

The performance of the Target Dry Element/Echo far outweighs the price; but spending more brings better fabric performance and lighter weight. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.4/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine Spring 2015

target%20dry.jpg

Target Dry Element / Odyssey (2014)

Features

Finding a long jacket isn’t easy, but the Target Dry Element is longer than most, which means you can access the hem pockets below a rucksack waist- or hipbelt. You also get two chest pockets that take an OS map and are great for a compass or GPS receiver. Pit zips are provided for venting and the hood has a wired peak. All that is ideal for hillwalking. 5/5

Fit

The men’s Element comes in XS to XXL, the women’s Odyssey 8-18. The jacket easily covered my bum without being restrictive when scrambling. The sleeves rode up a little too easily, though, which is annoying. The hood fitted well and also moved well with my head. For hillwalking this jacket is fine, but you’ll want a better fit for scrambling. 3/5

Comfort

At 776g (size L) this feels heavy in a rucksack, and a little stiff and heavy when worn too. But it uses a heavy-duty Oxford nylon fabric, so it should withstand a lot of hard use. The fabric is waterproof and breathable but higher-priced options will have better performance in these areas, although the mesh lining does ensure good comfort. So, reasonable for general walking. 3/5

In use

For walkers the Target Dry Element performs really well, thanks to its long body and good pockets. The wired hood gives great protection and the pit zips prevent overheating. But its weight is a drawback. For more cash you’ll get better performance in terms of fabric breathability and arm movement. 4/5

Value

For the price this jacket is exceptionally good value for general hillwalking. 5/5

Verdict

The Target Dry Element is good for walking but heavy, and the arms ride up.

4.0/5

www.targetdry.com

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2014

target%20dry.jpg

Arc’teryx Beta SL (2014)

The Arc’teryx Beta SL weighs in at 349g (men’s size large) and is made from Gore-Tex Paclite, which is designed to be the lightweight and durable option from the house of Gore. The jacket, which was a comfortable fit on me, has a short body with a water-resistant zip up the front. There is a small baffle on the inside of the zip to keep draughts and leaks at bay. The two chest pockets are well-placed to maintain access above a rucksack hipbelt and they’re also large enough for maps and guidebooks. Most importantly the pockets are not mesh-lined, so they won’t leak through the jacket if water enters the pocket. The cuffs get Velcro adjustment and the sleeves have good movement, allowing this jacket to perform well when scrambling. The hood has face and volume drawcords, and these provided a close fit that allowed the hood to move really well with the head to maintain vision. The hook peak isn’t wired and isn’t as large as some, but it does have some light stiffening that works quite well. The main drawback with the Arc’teryx Beta SL is that Gore-Tex Paclite doesn’t control condensation as well as a 3-layer fabric such as Gore-Tex Active, but Paclite is durable and light and so for long-term performance it’s a good option.

Specifications:

Fabric Gore-Tex Paclite

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XXL

Women’s sizes XS-XL

External pockets 2

Stowable hood? no

Side/pit zips? no

Weight 349g (men’s size L)

Website www.arcteryx.com

Verdict

The Arc’teryx Beta SL offers good features and weight for hillwalking, although slightly better hoods are available and some jackets manage condensation better.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2014

arcteryx%20three%20quarter.jpg

OMM Aether (2014)

The OMM Aether is made from 3-layer eVent fabric so you get the benefits of a 3-layer fabric – maximum condensation management – along with the top-end breathability and water resistance that this fabric is well known for. The Aether is available as a smock or the jacket design featured here. The style is slightly looser around the body than some other jackets in this test, but this is barely noticeable once a rucksack is being worn as the straps tend to prevent billowing. The front water-resistant zip has an internal flap, which is smaller than others, to prevent draughts and leaks through the zip. There are just two pockets, both on the chest and easily accessible above rucksack straps while being large enough to accommodate maps. These pockets aren’t mesh-lined so they won’t allow water to pass through the jacket. The sleeves are well-designed to allow easy movement without riding up while the Velcro tab cuff adjustment is simple and effective. The hood is particularly good with a stiffened, wired peak and a fit that allows it to easily move with the head and maintain great vision. You don’t get the pit zips and third pocket of other jackets, but for most hillwalkers the OMM Aether offers all you need from a lightweight jacket.

Specifications:

Fabric 3-layer Event

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XL

Women’s sizes none

External pockets 2

Stowable hood? no

Side/pit zips? no

Weight 238g (men’s size L)

Website www.theomm.com

Verdict

The OMM Aether offers a great fabric and feature combo for hillwalking if minimal weight and practicality are your priorities, but its price is less appealing.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2014

omm%20three%20quarter.jpg

Target Dry Element/Odyssey (2014)

It’s so hard to find a jacket that has a decent length on the body, so when you finally discover one it really is an uplifting experience. The Target Dry Element (women’s version is the Odyssey) jacket is long enough to nicely protect my groin from getting wet in the rain when I’m not wearing overtrousers, which is really useful. The jacket is made from a coated fabric that doesn’t offer the lab test results for breathability and waterproofness that high-priced jackets can, but it keeps you perfectly dry in heavy rain; and the mesh lining means condensation is well-managed. The Oxford nylon outer fabric also feels durable, making this great for rubbing shoulders with rock or rucksacks. There are also pit zips in case you overheat, while the two hip pockets are zipped and can be accessed beneath a rucksack hipbelt, thanks to the longer body length. The two Napoleon chest pockets swallow OS maps with space to spare too. I was also really pleased to find a great hood with a wired peak on this jacket. If I’m being picky then tiny details are better on some pricier jackets, such as a bit more movement in the hood, very slightly better movement in the sleeves so the cuffs don’t ride up, and higher-spec fabric that leads to lower overall weight. But I am being picky. For the price the Target Dry Element/Odyssey is stunning.

Weight 776g (size L)
Fabric Oxford nylon with Teflon coating
Lining polyester mesh
Men’s sizes XS-XXL
Women’s sizes 8-18 (Odyssey, £90)
External pockets 4
Can hood be rolled down? no
Side/pit zips? yes
Website www.targetdry.com

 

Verdict

The Target Dry Element/Odyssey is an outstanding jacket with a long body and well-designed features: ideal for general hillwalking. If this fits into your budget, buy it. Remarkably, it won Trail’s ‘Best Value’ AND ‘Best in Test’ accolades!

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine Spring 2014

 


Adidas Terrex Swift Light 2.5-layer Climaproof Storm (2014)

Adidas may not be the first brand that springs to mind when thinking about waterproof jackets for walkers, but there is no denying that this product is well-designed for the hills. It weighs in at just 325g (size 38) so it’s great for stashing in a rucksack. The fabric is a 2.5-layer material, so there is no lining and it does feel slightly clammier than 3-layer fabrics or jackets with linings of course. The style is short and very close-fitting on the body; indeed, I would have to go up a size from normal if I was wearing this jacket regularly. The jacket is short, but it does have a scooped tail for more protection. The sleeves have good movement in them too without riding up at the cuffs. The front zips is exposed and it is not one of the more water-resistant designs, so as leaks here are possible there is an internal flap to drain water away. The two pockets are easily accessed while wearing a rucksack and they easily take a map too. They are mesh-lined, though, so not totally waterproof. The hood is excellent as it fits well and moves superbly with the head. If the body was a little looser the Adidas Terrex Swift Light 2.5-layer Climaproof Storm would be a great lightweight jacket for me, but if you are wearing a fleece underneath you may struggle to get it on. Great over a base layer though.

Specifications:

Weight 325g (size 38)

Fabric 2.5-layer Climaproof Storm

Lining none

Men’s sizes 32-48

Women’s sizes 6-16

External pockets 2

Can hood be rolled down? no

Side/pit zips? no

Website www.adidas.co.uk/outdoor

Verdict

The Adidas Terrex Swift Light 2.5-layer Climaproof Storm is a very lightweight jacket with a close-fitting body, which may mean you may not find it fits over mid layers easily, so check the size before buying.

(This jacket is very similar to the Montane Atomic at £110 although the fit is a little more forgiving in that jacket and the hood is slightly better, but otherwise there is very little in it.)

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine Spring 2014

adidas-1.jpg

Quechua Bionnassay 600 (2014)

The Quechua Bionnassay 600 is made from NovaDry, a 3-layer laminate with a membrane that offers good breathability figures (that said, it only boasts a 5 metre hydrostatic head, while higher-priced jackets offer around 20 metre hydrostatic heads, so like any lower-priced jacket it may not compare as well in the long term as higher priced options). The jacket is light at just 516g (size men’s L) and its short, closer-fitting and more active style will appeal to scramblers and climbers as well as anyone wanting to move faster than some longer, heavier jackets might allow. There are two huge chest pockets, which can be accessed easily while wearing a rucksack. As these pockets are mesh-lined they will improve airflow, and save weight, but they may not be the best option for keeping rain out. There are also pit zips that extend down the sides to improve ventilation. The sleeves are quite a close fit, but they still allow excellent freedom of movement. The hood is a good close fit and moves well with the head, although the peak is perhaps not quite as good as others, however it is at least stiffened. The Quechua Bionnassay 600  is well-designed to save weight and money, but if you are out in really heavy rain then a longer design with sealed pockets may be worth the extra weight. You can get higher-specification fabric at this price, too.

Specifications:

Weight 516g (men’s L)

Fabric 3-layer NovaDry

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XXXL

Women’s sizes XS-XXL

External pockets 2

Can hood be rolled down? no

Side/pit zips? yes

Website www.decathlon.co.uk

Verdict

The Quechua Bionnassay 600 is a relatively lightweight jacket but the mesh pockets and shorter style make it slightly better for wet summers rather than wet winters on the hills.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine Spring 2014

quechua-1.jpg