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.

Main.jpg

The Runners Up


Sprayway Santiago / Atlanta £90

Tester: Jon Bennett

DSC_0447.jpg
  • 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

DSC_0596.jpg
  • 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

DSC_0413.jpg
  • 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?

DSC_0946.jpg
  • 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%

Best-value.gif
 

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?

DSC_0353.jpg
  • 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?

DSC_0277.jpg
  • 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%

Best-in-test.gif
 

For the latest reviews - including extra photos and products that won't appear online - 
pick up a copy of the current issue of Trail magazine!


Five of the best lightweight waterproof jackets reviewed (2018)

There’s no need to be weighed down by a heavy waterproof jacket in summer, so here’s the best waterproof jackets that weigh less than 350g.

Weights

Manufacturers often give average weights or the weight of the medium jacket. All the jackets here were weighed when tested, so our stated weights may vary from manufacturers’.

Ventilation

Even the best waterproof and breathable fabrics allow condensation to form, so it’s important that you can increase ventilation. A front zip can be used for venting, as can pit zips, while mesh linings in pockets also increase airflow. Lightweight jackets are often fitted with mesh pockets but this may not be ideal for really wet weather as they may also allow water to pass through.

Hoods

The hood should fit snugly so it doesn’t blow off, but it must also move so you can see where you are going. The peak may become bent, so look for a wired peak that can be reshaped.

0J5A2538-2.jpg

Zips

Normal jacket zips aren’t waterproof, so are usually covered by a single or double stormflap, but these are often removed on lightweight jackets. Water-resistant zips are commonly used on high-priced jackets, and some of these are fitted with an internal flap to channel away any water that gets thorough.

Pockets

Big pockets are great for storing maps, guidebooks and GPS receivers, but they can also be used to protect your hands from wind and rain. Rucksack belts may obscure access to some pockets, so make sure they are well positioned to avoid this problem.

Fabrics

Higher-priced jackets will generally use the most waterproof and breathable materials available, so while there may be small differences between them this will be difficult to notice on the hill. Your comfort levels therefore will often be dictated by features such as hood, pocket and sleeve design. In contrast, lower-priced jackets generally have fabrics that are less breathable and may be less waterproof. Fabrics described as 2-layer or 2.5-layer tend to gather more condensation than fabrics described as 3-layer. Thin fabrics also tend to buckle in the wind, so they feel colder than stiffer fabrics that can trap warm air inside.


Rab Downpour Plus £130

  • Men’s S-XXL
  • Women’s 8-16
  • Weight 329g (size L)
  • Material 2.5-layer Pertex Shield Plus

It's good

This offers exceptional lightweight performance for the price. So you get excellent chest pockets that easily take an OS map while wearing a rucksack. They are also sealed rather than mesh-lined, so they won’t allow water to easily pass through the jacket. The 2.5-layer fabric has a Dry Touch treatment on the inside to help manage condensation, but you also get pit zips to allow extra ventilation. The hood is great too, thanks to a wired peak and great drawcords at the face and rear, all of which combine to allow great vision as you move your head.

However

This is not the lightest jacket you can get, and it also feels slightly cold and clammy compared to a 3-layer fabric that controls condensation even better. A third chest pocket would be useful, like many lightweight jackets, but at least the two main pockets you get are great. There is very little wrong here if you want a practical lightweight jacket for hillwalking, but some details are better on higher-priced jackets.

Verdict

 For £130 this is a superb lightweight jacket, but a bit more budget may bring a few benefits.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 5/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 92%

Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra £165

  • Men’s XS-XL
  • Women’s 8-16
  • Weight 202g (size L)
  • Material 2.5-layer 20-denier Pertex Shield with stretch

It's good

The 2.5-layer fabric is stretchy and very thin, which shaves off some weight. I found this jacket fitted closely while still providing very good freedom of movement without the hem or cuffs riding up. There are two main pockets with mesh linings, which are easily accessed while wearing a rucksack belt and just about take an OS map. The hood is elasticated at the back and has face drawcords as well as a wired peak. A nice touch is a section of soft brushed fabric at the chin behind the zip. The weight is very impressive for what you get too.

However

Those two pockets are mesh-lined, so water can potentially creep through this jacket, but also it is a tight squeeze to get an OS map into them. Also the cuffs are elasticated rather than having Velcro adjustment, so you cannot control their fit as well as others. The hood fit and movement is acceptable, but it does not move as well with the head as others. Finally, the fabric feels more cold and clammy than stiffer 3-layer fabrics.

Verdict

A lighter jacket with stretchy material – but the cuffs, pockets and hood are not perfect.

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 4/5
  • Comfort 3/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 76%

Alpkit Balance £175

  • Men’s S-XXL
  • Women’s 8-16
  • Weight 338g (size L)
  • Material 3-layer laminate with nylon face and PU/PTFE membrane

It's good

The 3-layer fabric feels a little tougher than lighter jackets, and also it benefits from a thin bi-component knit backer to manage condensation better than some lighter jackets. You get two good-sized pockets that take an OS map easily while wearing a rucksack. The pockets are mesh lined which reduces cost, weight and increases airflow for condensation control. The hood is very good thanks to a wired peak and excellent fit and movement. There is reasonable movement in the sleeves too. All that for this price and weight is hard to beat for hillwalking and backpacking.

However

It would be great if the pockets were sealed rather than mesh to help keep water out. Also a third pocket on the chest would be really useful. While the fabric is thicker than other lightweights, it still buckles easily in the wind more than heavier jackets. A slight niggle is that you do get a little movement in the cuffs when raising your arms such as during a scramble. There are lighter and lower priced jackets.

Verdict

The hood and 3-layer fabric set this jacket apart from others, but the mesh-lined pockets may let water in.

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 84%

Patagonia Stretch Rainshadow £190

  • Men’s XS-XL
  • Women’s XS-XL
  • Weight 309g (size L)
  • Material 2.5-layer H2No 30d stretch nylon

It's good

Having a third chest pocket sets this jacket apart, and can be used for a GPS receiver while the two, larger main pockets can store OS maps or used as handwarmers. All these pockets are sealed rather than mesh, so water can’t creep through them easily. There are also pit zips for added ventilation. The main fabric has stretch, the body is slightly longer than others and there is good freedom of movement. The hood gets rear volume adjustment, fits very closely and moves well with the head.

However

That third pocket is a little small, so won’t take chunky guidebooks or maps, and access to the lower pockets is easily obscured by rucksack belts. While the hood does fit and move with the head well, it leaves the head more exposed than others as the peak is very small, and the sides of the hood don’t come very far forward. Finally, the material is a little colder and more clammy than stiffer 3-layer fabrics.

Verdict

Well-featured jacket with Patagonia’s eco-credentials, but some minor details could be better.

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 3/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 80%

Rohan Elite £249

  • Men’s S-XXL
  • Women’s XS-L
  • Weight 303g (size L)
  • Material 3-layer Barricade

It's good

This is a 3-layer nylon fabric with high levels of waterproofness and breathability, but equally important is that this jacket has sealed rather than mesh pockets as well as a stormflap behind the front zip, which all adds up to more water resistance than many other lightweight jackets. Importantly it still has a good weight and the two pockets easily take an OS map, and you can access those pockets reasonably well while wearing a rucksack. The hood has a wired peak and also a great fit and movement with the head. So for general walking this is pretty good.

However

The fit is quite baggy compared to others, and also we noticed the hem and cuffs tended to ride up more easily than others. So this is fine for walking but less ideal for scrambling. The main two pockets are nice and large, but items tend to sink to their bottom, which places them below a rucksack hipbelt, so retrieval is not ideal. There are lighter and lower priced options.

Verdict

Good 3-layer fabric with sealed rather than mesh pockets but the fit is not ideal.

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 4/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 76%

For the latest reviews - including extra photos and products that won't appear online -
pick up a copy of the current issue of Trail magazine!


Vaude Fjordan (2015)

Features

The big plus here is that the Vaude Fjordan only weighs 380g (size L), and that is due in part to the use of a 2.5-layer stretch Ceplex laminate membrane fabric, rather than a 3-layer option. This material is also Bluesign-approved to meet environmental standards. There are three outside pockets, the hood has a wired peak and you even get pit zips for this weight. 5/5

Fit

Men’s sizes are S-XXL and women’s 34-46. My L had a much closer fit than others of the same size. The material is thinner and stretchier than others, so it still allows good freedom of movement in general; although I did notice the cuffs and hem moved more easily than others when I raised my arms. The hood fit and movement are very good though. 4/5

Comfort

The weight and soft material make the Vaude Fjordan comfy, although the 2.5-layer fabric is a bit clammier than 3-layer materials used in other jackets. As it’s a closer fit and softer it can’t trap as much warm air inside, so in heavier weather it feels less comfy than a stiffer jacket. The small movement of the cuffs down the wrist means this area is less well-protected. 4/5

In use

In summer the Vaude Fjordan would be great due to its weight, but in winter or wild weather others feel better in use due to the comfort they offer. But the two large main pockets are good and can be accessed above a hipbelt. The third chest pocket is small but it’s useful for a GPS receiver. The hood works very well and sets this apart from many other jackets. 4/5

Value

There are compromises and benefits here, and while this price isn’t a bargain it’s still good compared to some. 4/5

Verdict

If you want a lightweight jacket with a closer fit and some good features the Vaude Fjordan is worth a closer look. 4.2/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2015

vaude%20fjordan.jpg

Sprayway Nomad/Topaz (2015)

Features

The Sprayway Nomad/Topaz is a mesh-lined jacket with a 2-layer HydroDry waterproof and breathable outer, and so while this isn’t the most breathable material, that mesh helps manage the comfort better than an unlined jacket. There are two pockets, which are also mesh-lined, and the hood has a wired peak. But higher-priced jackets have more sealed pockets and other benefits, so this is a limited feature list. 3/5

Fit

The Nomad is available in men’s sizes S-XXL and the women’s Topaz comes in 8-18. The jacket has a shorter body than average with a relaxed fit so you can easily wear it over insulating layers. Movement in the sleeves is quite good. The hood’s wired peak is great, but fit and movement aren’t as good as others. 4/5

Comfort

The mesh lining ensures the Sprayway Nomad/Topaz is more comfortable than some other jackets. Its weight of 473g (size L) doesn’t really impact on comfort or performance for most hillwalkers. But the pockets are mesh-lined so water could creep inside through them. That hood isn’t ideal either. So overall this is tolerable, but other jackets offer more comfort. 3/5

In use

You can put maps in the two lower pockets but your access to them is severely impeded by a rucksack hipbelt. There are no other pockets so this really limits performance. The hood movement isn’t great, so when walking in rain it’s a little frustrating as you have to turn your whole body rather than just your head when looking around. 3/5

Value

The Sprayway Nomad/Topaz’s price is very good, but if you can pay more you will get a far better jacket. 5/5

Verdict

If this is your budget then the Sprayway Nomad/Topaz is a workable solution, but it has many drawbacks compared to higher-priced jackets. 3.6/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2015

sprayway%20nomad.jpg

Craghoppers Ashton (2015)

Features

The Craghoppers Ashton is all about the length, as it’s one of those rare models that’s long enough to really cover the bum and allows you to get your hands into the hem pockets below a rucksack hipbelt. It uses 2-layer Gore-Tex with a mesh lining, which makes it heavy. The hood is also not quite as well-featured as the better jackets. But if you want length, this is it. 4/5

Fit

The men’s Ashton comes in S-XXL (the nearest women’s option is the Madigan – £100, 8-20 – which is of a similar length but uses AquaDry, not Gore-Tex). The long body fully protects the top of the legs and fit is similar to most general jackets with some movement in the cuffs when you raise your arms. The hood fits closely but doesn’t move with the head easily. 3/5

Comfort

The Craghoppers Ashton is a heavy jacket at 771g (size L) so in your pack it weighs you down. When worn it feels more restrictive than others, but it is made from a soft version of Gore-Tex while its 2-layer construction means there’s a mesh lining for more comfort. Some will feel this is comfier than skimpy lightweight jackets; others will feel it is cumbersome and obtrusive. 4/5

In use

This jacket’s length is the real bonus here for walking in foul weather as it offers so much more protection than others. You can access the base pockets below a rucksack hipbelt but you have to open the front zip to find a map-sized pocket. The hood has a stiffened peak, but it doesn’t move well with the head so it’s a little irritating compared to others. 3/5

Value

The Craghoppers Ashton is made from 2-layer Gore-Tex and it has a long length that makes skimpy, shorter jackets appear quite pricy by comparison! 4/5

Verdict

If you want a longer jacket then the Craghoppers Ashton is a rare example, but it has drawbacks in terms of weight and features. 3.6/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2015

craghoppers%20ashton.jpg

Keela Prosport (2015)

Features

The Keela Prosport features System Dual Protection comprising of a 2-layer waterproof and breathable stretch outer with a high-wicking ADS laminate lining to manage any condensation, so you stay dry from both rain and sweat. You also get pit zips for venting, and three outside chest pockets plus a dedicated map pocket under the stormflap. The hood has a wired peak too. 5/5

Fit

The size range is huge, with the men’s version available in XS-XXXL and the women’s in 8-20. The four-way stretch fabric allows a closer fit and movement in theory. On me the fit was slightly looser than some and did not quite cover my bum, which is like many jackets. The hood fits closely though and moves well with the head. 5/5

Comfort

The Keela Prosport is heavy at 837g (size L) and feels bulky and obtrusive compared to other jackets. It’s also a little warmer due to the System Dual Protection construction, so in summer it may be too warm, but you can wear less underneath in winter of course. The good news is you don’t get any condensation build-up inside as this system does manage it very well. 4/5

In use

The weight and bulk are drawbacks for year-round use but the features are quite good. The hood fits and moves well and has a wired peak so vision is great. The two main pockets are map-sized and easily accessed while the third chest pocket is great for a GPS receiver or phone. The dedicated map pocket inside the main zip stormflap is great. 4/5

Value

There are a lot of features here so the Keela Prosport has to be good value compared with many jackets, but it is very heavy. 4/5

Verdict

If you want a lot of great features and can tolerate the weight and warmer design then the Keela Prosport is ideal, particularly at this price. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.4/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2015

Keela-Prosport.jpg

Rab Atmos (2015)

Features

Pertex Shield Plus is the main fabric: a well- proven 3-layer laminate with extremely high levels of waterproofness and breathability. It is also thin, making it lighter than most, hence the Rab Atmos only weighs 303g (size L). You get two good chest pockets and a hood with a stiffened, but not wired, peak. Other jackets have more features, but this is lighter. 4/5

Fit

In men’s sizes XS-XXL and women’s 8-16, this jacket has a fit that’s slightly closer than some others but there’s still room underneath for insulating layers such as fleeces. The body is typically short but you get slightly better movement in the sleeves than other jackets, without even a hint of a cuff or hemline rising. The hood also fits superbly. 5/5

Comfort

The weight and slightly closer fit coupled with the unrestrictive movement make the Rab Atmos feel very comfortable. As with all thinner fabrics, though, it does buckle more easily in strong winds so it can feel a little chillier than a stiffer and heavier garment. The pockets are sealed, however, so no water can creep through them. Overall this is excellent. 5/5

In use

The Rab Atmos has two large chest pockets that are great for hands or maps, but a third would be useful. The hood fits well and has a very good stiffened peak. I’d prefer this to be wired for maximum performance, but to be fair it is very well-designed. This is not as durable as higher-priced jackets, so some care is needed if you scramble or treat jackets roughly. 4/5

Value

The price is very good for what you are getting here – namely great fabric, great features and low weight. 4/5

Verdict

If you want a lightweight jacket with practical features for hillwalking then this is it, but heavier jackets have advantages too. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.4/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2015

rab%20atmos.jpg

Montane Minimus (2015)

Features

At just 265g (L) the Montane Minimus is exceptionally light, and the features are minimalist to reach that goal. The main weight saving comes from the Pertex Shield + fabric, which is very thin and feels quite delicate. Also the three pockets have mesh linings, to save weight. But at least you get all those pockets, and the hood has a wired peak, so this has some important features. 4/5

Size

This is available in sizes S-XL for men and 8-16 for women. The fit is quite close with an average length. The sleeve movement is very good with no movement in the hem or cuffs when raising the arms. The hood also fits exceptionally well with excellent movement, and the wired peak is superb. 5/5

Comfort

The close fit combined with the very thin fabric makes the Montane Minimus feel quite cold in a strong wind as any warm insulating air is easily squashed out. Also the pockets are mesh-lined so water can creep in through them. The close fit means there is less space for extra insulation underneath. 3/5

In use

The weight of 265g (L) means you’d barely notice the Montane Minimus in a rucksack. The hood is great and all three pockets take an OS map, but they’re mesh-lined, so water can get in. Also, lower pocket access isn’t great with a rucksack. The weight and hood are the benefits. 3/5

Value

The price is appealing and it is a very lightweight jacket so it compares well to those with higher price tags, but it has drawbacks too. 3/5

Verdict

Buy the Montane Minimus for the low weight and you will love it, but it inevitably has drawbacks that some hillwalkers will not want to tolerate. 3.6/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2015

montane%20minimus.jpg

Montane Atomic (2015)

Features

The Montane Atomic is made from Pertex Shield fabric, which boasts good waterproofness and breathability but isn’t as good as Pertex Shield + used in the Montane Minimus, although it does feel more robust. The two mesh-lined chest pockets would be better if sealed, but they have good access; and the hood gets a wired peak with face and volume adjustment. 4/5

Size

Available in men’s sizes S-XXL and for women in sizes 8-16. The body is typical of all these lightweight jackets in many ways, but with a slightly closer fit. The cuffs and hem move a bit when the arms are raised but not too much. The hood is exceptional with a great fit and superior movement to allow easy vision. 4/5

Comfort

This version of Pertex Shield is stiffer than Pertex Shield + fabric used on the Montane Minimus, so while not as light, it is warmer and comfier. Condensation builds up on the inside more than with Pertex Shield + though. The pockets are mesh-lined so good for venting, but water can creep in through them. 3/5

In use

The Montane Atomic’s weight is good and the two pockets large enough for OS maps while allowing access if wearing a rucksack with a hipbelt. The hood is ideal for hillwalking thanks to that wired peak and great movement. My niggles? The pockets are mesh-lined, so water can creep in, and condensation can be a problem. 4/5

Value

The Atomic’s price is very good and as it has a great hood and large easy-to-access pockets, this is the best option we looked at under £150. 5/5

Verdict

I’d like the pockets not to be mesh; but apart from that the Montane Atomic is an excellent lightweight jacket for hillwalkers who can’t extend their budget beyond its price tag. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.0/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2015

montane%20atomic.jpg

Vaude Crestone (2015)

Features

The Ceplex Advanced fabric used in the Vaude Crestone is Bluesign-approved, meaning it meets stringent environmental standards. It is a 2.5-layer fabric, so it’s not quite as good as 3-layer materials for condensation management. But it is light at 313g (size L) and you still get two main pockets, plus a third chest pocket, a hood with a wired peak, and pit zips, which is remarkable at this weight. 4/5

Size

The Crestone comes in sizes S-XXL for men and 34-44 for women. The fit is slightly closer than some others, but I found the sleeves or hem did ride up when raising my arms. The hood fit was good but it did not move with the head as well as higher-priced jackets. The wired peak fits very well, though, to protect the face. 3/5

Comfort

As with all 2.5-layer fabrics, condensation isn’t controlled as well as in 3-layer jackets and it feels a little clammier in general. But you do get pit zips to aid ventilation. The pockets are sealed so no water gets through them. The close-fitting sleeves and soft fabric mean warm air is not easily trapped here, so it can feel a bit chilly. 4/5

In use

The Vaude Crestone is better than most. The two large pockets are ideal for maps or to warm hands. The third chest pocket is good for a GPS or compass. The peak is excellent, and the hood moves just about well enough with the head to be better than some. Condensation is the main drawback. 4/5

Value

The pros outweigh the cons when the cost is considered, as while not perfect this jacket is very good at the price. 4/5

Verdict

A very light weight combined with good pockets and a reasonable hood make the Vaude Crestone a good choice for the cost-conscious hillwalker. 3.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2015

vaude%20crestone.jpg

Vaude Casson (2015)

Features

The Vaude Casson’s 2.5-layer Ceplex Advanced fabric gains Bluesign approval for its environmental benefits, but condensation control is not quite as good as 3-layer fabrics. There are two main pockets, pit zips and a hood with a wired peak. It has a decent weight of 310g too. The main drawback is the two pockets: they’re mesh-lined so they may allow water through. 4/5

Size

In men’s sizes S-XXL and women’s 34-44, the Casson’s length and fit are similar to other lightweight jackets’. But the hem and cuffs ride up a little when raising your arms. The hood is great though, with just a little cinch of the volume adjuster needed for a great fit and easy movement with the head. 4/5

Comfort

The 2.5-layer fabric feels a little clammy and doesn’t control condensation as well as 3- layer fabrics. The pit zips ease condensation build-up and the pockets are mesh for more airflow, but that’s no good in the rain of course, so you’ll need to keep those

pockets closed to stay dry. 3/5

In use

The Vaude Casson’s weight, hood and large pockets that can be easily accessed when wearing a rucksack with a hipbelt set this jacket apart from many others. But slightly better movement in the sleeves would be ideal, and having sealed rather than mesh pockets would be a bonus in the wet. But it’s better than most. 4/5

Value

This is the best jacket around this price when weight and performance are taken into account, so good value. 4/5

Verdict

The Vaude Casson is a reasonable jacket for hillwalking and a good price, with the main drawback being mesh pockets that can let water through. 3.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2015

vaude%20casson.jpg

Mountain Equipment Aeon (2015)

www.mountain-equipment.co.uk

Features

There are lots of similar jackets to the Mountain Equipment Aeon, but I liked the combination of features here. It is reasonably lightweight at 362g (size L) with three pockets that can be easily accessed while wearing a rucksack and a hood with a wired peak to improve vision in wet and windy weather. The downside is mesh pockets and a short body. 4/5

Fit

This is available in size S-XXL for men and 8 to 16 for women. The body is of average length at the front with a scooped tail for better protection of the bottom. The cuff area of the sleeves is a little baggy but can be tidied up with the Velcro adjusters. The cuffs and hem don’t ride up when raising your arms, and the hood fits and moves with the head well. 5/5

Comfort

The Mountain Equipment Aeon uses a 2.5-layer Drilite material, which boasts top-quality waterproofness and breathability. But like all 2.5-layer materials it is clammier than 3-layer or mesh-lined products. It is very thin too, which means it does not shed wind so well as thicker and heavier materials. Also, the pockets are mesh-lined, allowing water ingress if not carefully managed. 3/5

In use

For a lightweight jacket the Mountain Equipment Aeon is superb in many ways. The pit zips can improve comfort, while the two main pockets take maps easily. The third chest pocket is not big enough for maps, but it is useful for compass or GPS. The hood and sleeve movement are excellent, the main niggles being mesh pockets and a material that is not great in the worst weather. 4/5

Value

There are a lot of similar jackets to this at the same price, but this has the edge on them, so its price is good in comparison. 4/5

Verdict

The Mountain Equipment Aeon is the best lightweight jacket we saw in our test under £170. While it’s not perfect, I suspect many walkers will find it more than capable. 4.0/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine Spring 2015

mountain%20equipment.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

The North Face All Terrain (2015)

www.thenorthface.co.uk

Features

Gore-Tex 2-layer fabric with a mesh lining is provided in the The North Face All Terrain, which guarantees high levels of waterproof and moisture management. The jacket has two lower pockets and a third chest pocket, while the body is longer than most. The hood gets a wired peak but can also be rolled into the collar when not in use. 5/5

Fit

This jackets comes in sizes S-XXL for men and XS-XL for women with a longer cut in the body than most jackets that even allowed the size M to provide better protection than the sizes L we looked at. Sleeve movement is not ideal, with cuffs and hem riding up when arms are raised. The hood fit is superb, though, with effortless movement with the head. 4/5

Comfort

The mesh lining inside the 2-layer Gore-Tex fabric makes the The North Face All Terrain a softer jacket than some, with the benefit of extra comfort against the skin. The waterproofness and breathability of Gore-Tex is well-established and so overall this is very comfy to wear, although its weight of 625g (size M) coupled with the extra bulk of that lining isn’t ideal for backpacking. 4/5

In use

The two main pockets are quite low, so with some packs access to them is not ideal (although the extra body length does allow them to be got at below some rucksack belts). The third pocket takes an OS map at a squeeze but would be better if slightly larger. The hood is great though. The weight and bulk are drawbacks if carried in a pack. 4/5

Value

The price is good for a Gore-Tex jacket with reasonable features for the hill-goer. 3/5

Verdict

The The North Face All Terrain is a great general-purpose walking jacket thanks to its length and comfort, but there are lighter and even more practical options. 4.0/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine Spring 2015

thenorthface%20all%20terrain.jpg