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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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.

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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%

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Mountain Equipment Pumori (2015)

Features

This is made with Mountain Equipment’s Drilite 3-layer laminate, which boasts extremely high waterproofness and breathability figures, plus a softer feel than some heavier jackets. There are also pit zips for extra ventilation, three external chest pockets that are all large enough for maps, plus a hood with a wired peak. So you are getting more features than some here. 5/5

Fit

Available for men in sizes S-XXL and for women in 8-16, the Mountain Equipment Pumori has what Mountain Equipment describes as an ‘Alpine’ fit, which for me translated as a slightly closer fit than some in the body. The body is a little longer than some too, so it covered my bum reasonably well. The hood fits very closely and moves easily with the head. 5/5

Comfort

The Drilite material is slightly softer than others and this is a slightly lighter jacket too, which makes it a little more comfortable. However in really heavy wind and rain that closer fit and softer material mean it feels a little less warm as there is less air trapped inside. But overall the Pumori’s comfort is great throughout. 5/5

In use

The three huge chest pockets are ideal for maps or to warm the hands and this is easily achieved even with a big rucksack hipbelt. The cuffs and hem don’t budge when scrambling and the fit of the hood is superb and allows great vision thanks to its wired peak. If you are rough on your gear ME’s Lhotse is a more durable option, but that is really the only caveat here. 5/5

Value

The Mountain Equipment Pumori is hard to beat at this price, with costlier jackets just adding a more durable fabric. 4/5

Verdict

For hillwalkers the Mountain Equipment Pumori may be everything you need, but harder users may benefit from a higher-priced jacket that uses more durable materials. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2015

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Rab Bergans / Vidda (2015)

Features

The Rab Bergans / Vidda uses a tough 3-layer eVent fabric with a nylon outer for extra durability, which is well-proven as providing extremely high levels of breathability and waterproofness. There are then two huge chest pockets and a hood that boasts a wired peak. Some other jackets have extra pockets or pit zips, but the above is enough for most hillwalkers. 4/5

Fit

The Bergans is available in men’s sizes S-XXL while the Vidda is available in women’s sizes 8-16. On me the men’s L was slightly longer than most, allowing it to cover my bum comfortably. The fit is slightly more relaxed than some on the body while the sleeves fit closer. The hood can be cinched in to provide a good close fit with great movement. 5/5

Comfort

The Rab Bergans / Vidda is slightly heavier and stiffer than some jackets but in a howling gale and driving rain that stiffness is a benefit as it prevents the jacket buckling and warm air being squeezed out. The protection given to the backside makes this more comfortable when out in foul weather, while the general performanceof the fabric is ideal for hillwalking. 5/5

In use

The two main pockets are large enough for maps and easily accessed above a rucksack hipbelt. I’d prefer a third pocket, but this is not essential. The hood peak is wired so it is easily reshaped if needed and this ensures vision is great when wearing the hood. Movement in the sleeves is good too, with very little sign of hem or cuff creep when raising my arms. 5/5

Value

The Rab Bergans / Vidda offers far better performance than most lower-priced jackets and makes it hard to justify paying more, so the price is good. 4/5

Verdict

To get anything better you’ll have to pay a lot more, and for most hillwalkers the Bergans ticks the most important boxes. 4.6/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2015

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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

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Páramo Alta III (2015)

Features

This is the latest update to the iconic Páramo Alta. The most important feature with all Páramo jackets is the use of the company’s Nikwax Analogy fabric system, which is extremely breathable, but also soft and relatively rustle-free. Features include a wired peak, two large chest pockets and two hip pockets. There are zip vents under the arms too. 5/5

Fit

Available for men in sizes S-XXL and for women in XS-XL, the Páramo Alta III’s fit is a little neater than previous versions. The length is similar to others in this feature and remains the same as previous versions for men, although the women’s is 2.5cm longer. Movement in the sleeves was superb with no cuff or hem riding up in evidence. 5/5

Comfort

The Páramo Alta III feels very nice on and manages sweat better than others, but it is quite warm and heavy – two factors that make it better for winter, rather than summer when it may end up being carried. The length is typical of many jackets here, being not quite long enough to really provide maximum protection, but still a good length to maintain comfort for most walkers. 4/5

In use

This jacket is great in colder conditions but it can be too warm even with those small arm vents open. Access to the lower pockets is possible but it will depend on the hipbelt design of your pack how easy this is and better access is available in other jackets. The two chest pockets are great, but the hood movement is not quite as good as the best. 3/5

Value

The Páramo Alta III’s price is relatively competitive, but you do get some better features if you spend more. 4/5

Verdict

The Páramo Alta III is an updated version of an iconic jacket; but it is still not the absolute best choice for hillwalking in terms of some features. 4.2/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2015

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Montane Featherlite (2015)

Features

The Montane Featherlite uses a lightweight eVent fabric called DV Storm with a 3-layer construction but a slightly different outer face fabric than the Rab Muztag, leading to a slightly lighter jacket at only 296g (size L). The fabric is 20 per cent more breathable than standard eVent and you get two good chest pockets with a wired peak on the hood. It looks outstanding on paper. 5/5

Size

This is only available in men’s sizes S-XXL. It is designed for alpine climbing so the fit is neat and precise, and closer than some others, particularly around the armpit. I noticed some movement in the cuffs and hem when raising my arms though. But the hood fit is superb and it moves really easily with the head. 4/5

Comfort

The underarm area seems slightly too close and some larger folk may find it uncomfortable. But the fabric is great in terms of condensation control, though as it is quite thin and a close-fitting design it can’t trap warm air inside so well, thus the Montane Featherlite isn’t the warmest option. The pockets aren’t mesh so they keep you dry. 4/5

In use

Used for hillwalking, this jacket feels superb. At just 296g it can easily be stashed in a pack. The two large pockets take maps or warm hands very easily while wearing a pack, and while a third would be good that would increase weight. The hood is outstanding. 5/5

Value

The price is higher than some other jackets at similar weights and designs so it isn’t the ultimate in value, but it’s still acceptable. 3/5

Verdict

The Montane Featherlite is not absolutely perfect, but the weight combined with what you do get is a great option for hillwalking and backpacking. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.2/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2015

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Rab Muztag (2015)

Features

This 2015 jacket uses a very lightweight version of eVent fabric called DV Storm with a 3-layer construction so the inside layer can manage condensation. The fabric is said to be 20 per cent more breathable than standard eVent. You also get two huge chest pockets plus a hood with a wired peak along with face drawcords and rear volume adjustment. 5/5

Size

The Rab Muztag comes in size S-XXL for men and 8-16 for women. The cut and fit are similar to others with a length that doesn’t cover the bum and a fit that is averagely close. The sleeves and hem don’t ride up easily and the hood is superb, a close fit allowing it to move effortlessly with the head to maintain vision. 5/5

Comfort

The 3-layer eVent DV Storm fabric feels great and appears to manage condensation really well, without being too crinkly. Like all thin fabric it tends to buckle in the wind so it’s not the warmest. As the pockets aren’t mesh they will keep you dry, but you cannot use them as vents, though you have a front zip for that. 5/5

In use

The two large pockets are ideal for hands or map. I’d like a third ideally (but then it would weigh more). The weight is ideal for summer and the hood is fine all year round. Other Rab jackets will probably be more durable in the long term, but for hillwalkers this is ideal. 5/5

Value

Compared to other jackets the price is actually really good, but clearly £200 is not the cheapest option. 4/5

Verdict

Taking everything into account, the Rab Muztag is one of the best lightweight hillwalking jackets around, assuming you are able to splash out on the price tag. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade.

4.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2015

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Jöttnar Hymir (2015)

Features

There are lots of ways to save weight, and the Jöttnar Hymir strips away features to achieve its 346g (L). So it is a smock design with a short front zip, and it’s relatively free of seams too. There is only one pocket, but it does take a map. The hood gets a wired peak as well as face drawcords and rear volume adjustment. Other jackets have many more features. 3/5

Size

This jacket just comes in sizes S-XL; there is no women’s option. It is designed for climbing so the fit is reasonably close but you still get good arm movement without the hem or cuffs riding up. The large helmet-compatible hood cinches down neatly to fit and move with the head very well. The length is similar to others. 5/5

Comfort

The Jöttnar Hymir uses the lightest type of Polartec Neoshell fabric, so its breathability is exceptionally good. It is a 3-layer material, so an inner scrim soaks up and helps disperse any condensation. There is less ventilation due to the short front zip, and like most lightweights the fabric easily buckles in the wind. But overall it is great. 5/5

In use

If you don’t need pockets for hands, or a full-length front zip, this is the best jacket in our test. You can put a map in the single chest pocket and that pocket isn’t mesh-lined, so water cannot creep through. The hood is outstanding. But for hillwalking it isn’t ideal. 4/5

Value

The price is higher than some other jackets with more features, meaning it's not the best-value purchase. 3/5

Verdict

If you like smocks and don’t need two pockets then the Jöttnar Hymir is perfect, but it’s not the lightest in terms of weight or price. 4.0/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2015

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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

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First test: Rab Flashpoint (2015)

The lighter your gear, the less you’ll be weighed down – and the more enjoyable heading to the hills will be. But we also like to be comfy when the weather turns ugly, and minimal weight at any cost is something few hillwalkers will tolerate. So the 182g weight of Rab’s Flashpoint jacket is certainly impressive, but it’s important that this does not come at the cost of performance.

The jacket is made from a new material – unique to Rab – called Flashpoint, a 3-layer laminate with a waterproof and breathable membrane sandwiched between an outer layer and an inner layer of fabric. In theory this means the waterproof layer is protected from abrasion on both sides, and the inner layer can soak up and disperse any condensation that may form inside the jacket. Rab quotes impressive lab results of 20,000+mm hydrostatic head and a moisture vapour transmission rate (MVTR) of 40,000g/m²/day. This puts the fabric at the top of the league table for waterproofness / breathability.

With a weight of 182g (size M) and a packed size of a large fist, if you wanted to leave this in your rucksack you’d hardly notice it.

I took the Flashpoint on the Lakeland fells during typical blustery sunshine and showers, the sort of weather where carrying a waterproof is important, but I didn’t want to be weighed down by full heavy waterproofs and I’d probably take it off for part the walk.

The design is quite short and close-fitting, which saves weight and also makes it more suitable for faster movement. But you do get a helmet-compatible hood with a wired peak, face and rear volume adjusters plus a full-length zip, hem drawcord and Velcro cuff adjustment. You do only get one pocket, though, so if (as I do) you like to have somewhere to put your hands, this jacket is not ideal. But at least that pocket is big enough for a map. It is also properly sealed, rather than mesh-lined, so if water does get inside it you will stay dry.

What is most noticeable about the Rab Flashpoint is that there are hardly any seams, and those that are there have narrow taping. This reduces weight and bulk but also improves breathability. On the hill I did find the taped areas held some condensation, but the body of the jacket stayed drier and was up there with the best in terms of moisture management. The thin fabric does mean this jacket can feel a bit cold in the wind, though, which is a problem with most lighter jackets. There’s no women’s version either, which is a shame.

Specifications:

Fabric 3-layer Flashpoint

Sizes S-XXL (men’s)

rab.equipment/uk

Verdict

The Rab Flashpoint’s weight, the fabric and the hood are great, but you might want more pockets for regular use. However this is probably a compromise worth making for a jacket designed for moving fast and having ready in your rucksack to throw on when needed in mixed conditions, rather than being worn all day in the foulest of weather. Pity there’s no women’s version, though.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine June 2015

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Lowe Alpine Grand Teton (2015)

www.lowealpine.co.uk

Features

Using Triplepoint Eco, an environmentally friendly material, with a Sympatex waterproof breathable membrane, the Lowe Alpine Grand Teton jacket feels nice and stiff and robust to combat mountain weather. It has two main pockets and a useful third chest pocket that is large enough for maps. The Raptor Hood has a wired peak and great adjustment at the face and rear. 5/5

Fit

Available in size S-XL for men and 8-16 for women, this feels stiff at first, which I like as it protects against the high winds of a mountain day far better than a thinner, suppler jacket. The length covered my bum and the movement in the sleeves was stunning with no hem or cuff movement. The hood moves better than most with the head and has a great wired peak. 5/5

Comfort

The material is stiffer than most and the Lowe Alpine Grand Teton is heavier than most at 613g (size L), but it is that stiffness that improves comfort on a windy day as this jacket fends off the wind to keep you warmer inside. The waterproofness and breathability of Sympatex is well-proven, and as this is a 3-layer fabric any condensation is well-hidden. 5/5

In use

Most of this jacket, like the hood and sleeves and material, is perfect for the hillwalker who wants to get out whatever the weather. The one major problem is that the two lower pockets are too low, so their access is easily obscured by rucksack belts, although as this jacket is slightly longer than many you can sometimes get your hands into them below some sack belts. 4/5

Value

This is the best jacket we looked at for wild mountain days but you have to pay a little more for that level of protection. 3/5

Verdict

The Lowe Alpine Grand Teton is the only jacket in our test I’d want to use regularly in the wind and rain of the UK hills, but the weight and pocketing are not ideal. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.4/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine Spring 2015

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Rab Alpine Latock / Myriad (2014)

Features

The Rab Alpine Latock has very good set of features for most mountain-baggers, with two huge chest pockets that are ideal for map storage or handwarming. A third would be useful for map, compass or GPS storage. The hood gets a wired peak with volume and face drawcords. The exposed front zip is more water-resistant than lower-priced jackets and has an internal rain gutter. But no pit zips. 4/5

Fit

The men’s Alpine Latock comes in sizes XS-XXL, the women’s Myriad in sizes 8-16. The body isn’t long enough to really protect the crotch area. The hood fits superbly and is helmet-compatible. Movement in the sleeves is among the best available for scrambling. Ideal for Munro-bagging where some scrambling and battling against the elements is needed. 5/5

Comfort

The Rab Alpine Latock uses 3-layer eVent fabric, top of the league for long-term waterproofness and breathability. It is also slightly stiffer than some fabrics, which I find preferable as it prevents wind from squashing out the warm air. There are no pit zips here, though, so if you overheat easily you may prefer a jacket that features them for comfort in rain. A longer jacket would provide more protection, too. 5/5

In use

This jacket weighs just 498g (size L) and has most essential features for great performance. Some will want pit zips, a third pocket and more body length – but the hood allows easy vision in a storm and you can access the two pockets easily while wearing a rucksack. Overall, little to complain about here. 5/5

Value

Perfect for some, while others may want more, but at the price it’s better than average. 4/5

Verdict

The Rab Alpine Latock is a great jacket for hillwalking if its features suit you. It received a ‘Trail approved’ award.

4.6/5

www.rab.uk.com

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2014

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