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

mountain-equipment-pumori.jpg

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

rab%20bergan.jpg

Mountain Equipment Lhotse/Manaslu (2015)

Features

One of the most well-established mountain jackets there is, the Mountain Equipment Lhotse/Manaslu uses tough 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro fabric for durable levels of waterproofness and breathability. There are three big pockets on the chest, plus a zipped internal pocket. The helmet-compatible hood benefits from a wired peak with face and rear volume adjustment, while pit zips add ventilation. 5/5

Fit

The men’s Lhotse comes in sizes S-XXL and the women’s Manaslu comes in sizes 8-16. It has an ‘Alpine Fit’, according to the manufacturer, meaning it fits a bit closer than older ME jackets. It was a little short for me, as my bum was not fully protected, but this is the same with many jackets these days. The hood fit is superb though and really sets this jacket apart. 5/5

Comfort

The 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro fabric is stiffer than some others but that also means it does not buckle in a breeze and so it feels more comfortable to me because of that. The pit zips further aid condensation control and that hood comfortably protects the eyes and face. The Mountain Equipment Lhotse/Manaslu is a little short for my liking but that is the only niggle that comes to mind. 5/5

In use

You can get a map in all three of those chest pockets, and wearing a rucksack with a big hipbelt does not impede access to them. The hood drawcords are easy to adjust while the wire in the peak allows it to be reshaped as preferred for maximum protection. Movement in the sleeves is great with no riding up of the cuffs or hem when scrambling. 5/5

Value

The Mountain Equipment Lhotse/Manaslu’s price offers better value for money than many top-end jackets, but it still makes me wince. 4/5

Verdict

The Mountain Equipment Lhotse/Manaslu is a proven mountain workhorse that provides durable protection for the hills with a great set of pockets, a great hood and a great fabric. It won Trail’s ‘Best in Test’ accolade. 4.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2015

Mountain-Equipment.jpg

First test: Berghaus Civetta (2015)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Specifications:

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

Sizes S-XXL (men’s)

Weight 446g (L)

Verdict

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

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine October 2015

dsc_0414.jpg
dsc_0453.jpg
dsc_0467.jpg

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

rab%20muztag.jpg

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

rab%20alpine%20latock.jpg

Sprayway Tyrant (2014)

Features

There are two main chest pockets on the body plus a third dedicated OS map pocket on the chest behind the main zip stormflap, and this is ideal for hillwalkers. The stormflap over the front zip helps prevent rain and wind penetration. The hood can be rolled and secured at the collar while on the head, and has a wired peak, volume adjustment and face drawcords. 5/5

Fit

The Sprayway Tyrant comes in size S-XXL for men, but there’s no women’s version. It was slightly longer than average, without being too long for scrambling. The fit is loose around the waist, but with a pack on this isn’t a big problem. The overall fit is great as the cuffs or hem don’t ride up easily, and the hood fit and movement are superb. This makes the fit great for hillwalkers. 5/5

Comfort

The body is made from Hydro-Dry, which won’t offer the long-term waterproofness and breathability of higher-priced fabrics but is still a good option. The weight is slightly high at 593g (size L) but it doesn’t feel restrictive, in part due to a loose lining that helps the jacket feel supple and comfortable. Some people will prefer a 3-layer jacket without a loose lining to snag when putting the jacket on and off. 4/5

In use

The Sprayway Tyrant is great for hillwalkers. Pockets allow easy access with a rucksack. All three chest pockets are OS map-sized and the hood allows great vision and moves well with the head. The length gives good protection without being restrictive, while the sleeves and hem don’t easily ride up. More cash brings better fabric/weight, but this is good. 4/5

Value

The performance is up there with the best yet the price is superb, making this outstanding value for hillwalkers on a budget. 5/5

Verdict

The Sprayway Tyrant is great for hillwalking and usable for scrambling. It won a ‘Trail approved’ award.

4.6/5

www.sprayway.com

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2014

sprayway%20tyrant.jpg

Mountain Equipment Lhotse/Manaslu (2014)

Features

The Mountain Equipment Lhotse/Manaslu has been a favourite jacket of mine for years, in part due to the fact that it has the essential features for hill and mountain walks. Primarily you get those all-important three big pockets on the chest, plus a zipped internal pocket. The helmet-compatible hood has a wired peak with face and rear volume adjustment, and there are pit zips. 5/5

Fit

The jacket, which comes in sizes S-XXL for men and 8-16 for women, boasts an ‘Alpine fit’, which is closer than Mountain Equipment jackets of old. It didn’t quite cover my crotch, so I’d prefer a little more length, but this is the same with most jackets these days; that said, I did like the scoop tail, which provided extra protection at the back. The hood fitted really well and moved with my head perfectly. 5/5

Comfort

Being made from Gore-Tex Pro means the Mountain Equipment Lhotse/Manaslu is a durable waterproof and breathable jacket that will keep users comfortable. A mesh-lined jacket is more comfortable, but heavier, and the mesh tends to snag. Lighter jackets are softer and more flexible, but less durable. Pit zips further aid condensation control. So overall for durable mountain comfort this is ideal. 5/5

In use

Wearing a pack, I could put a map in any of the chest pockets and whip it out without having to undo or adjust any buckles. The hood is easy to adjust, and allows great vision thanks to good movement and a wired peak. I could also do a scramble without the hem or sleeves riding up. External stormflaps may make the zips more water-resistant, but I had no problems. 5/5

Value

Without doubt a great jacket, but only regular users may feel it’s worth the price tag. 3/5

Verdict

The Mountain Equipment Lhotse/Manaslu is tried and trusted for mountain trips when wild weather demands the best performance.

4.6/5

www.mountain-equipment.co.uk

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2014

mountain%20equipment.jpg

Montane Alpine Endurance (2014)

Features
Designed for alpine-style mountain trips, the Montane Alpine Endurance comes with four large pockets on the chest, an internal zipped pocket, an internal stretch pocket and pit zips. The hood is designed to be helmet-compatible, and benefits from a wired peak as well as a rear volume adjuster and a collar drawcord. There’s also a sleeve pocket and extremely robust cuff adjustment tabs. 5/5

Fit
Sizes are XS-XXL for men and 8-16 for women. A waist drawcord meant this fitted slightly better than some. The body just about covered my crotch, so this is the same length as most other jackets we looked at. The scooped tail adds protection. Cuff adjusters mean you can easily ensure a great fit around the wrists, while four adjustment options allowed the hood to fit very easily while maintaining great vision if I moved my head. 5/5

Comfort
eVent 3-layer fabric is used in the Montane Alpine Endurance, and it’s a proven performer in terms of waterproofness and breathability. A 2-layer jacket with mesh is more comfortable, however, and so is a lighter jacket, but when you want durable comfort then this is as good as it gets – making this an ideal option for mountain travel in wild weather. 5/5

In use
You can access all those chest pockets easily while wearing a rucksack, and the hem and cuffs don’t ride up when scrambling. The sleeves provide great movement, and that hood fits and moves well with the head so you can see where you are going. The jacket is a little heavier than similar models at this price being 658g, but you do get all those pockets.  5/5

Value
Great for regular hill trips in bad weather but casual users will find the price hard to justify. 3/5

Verdict
Hard to fault, ideal for regular foul-weather trips – but not everyone will want to pay the price.
4.6/5

www.montane.co.uk

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine November 2014

 


Lowe Alpine Wildfire (2014)

Features
The Wildfire is the latest release from the reintroduction of Lowe Alpine clothing. It features three external chest pockets with an additional zipped internal pocket and an internal stretch mesh pocket. The third chest pocket is small though and won’t take an OS map. There are pit zips for ventilation, while the hood gets a wired peak, as well as face and rear volume drawcords. 4/5

Fit
This is available in S-XXL for men only. A size medium (M) was supplied so it was naturally a closer fit than the size large (L) jackets here, but it still appeared fine and was of similar length to many others, meaning it only just protected my crotch. The hood and sleeves fitted well, though, and both allowed great movement. 5/5

Comfort
The Lowe Alpine Wildfire is built with 3-layer Triplepoint fabric featuring an eVent membrane, so it performs as well as other top-flight jackets we looked at in terms of waterproofness and breathability. Jackets with mesh linings are comfier and so are lighter, but this is good comfort for a jacket that offers the durability needed for mountain trips in all weathers. 5/5

In use
The Lowe Alpine Wildfire performs as well as many higher-priced jackets in our test. I’d like that third outside chest pocket to be large enough to accommodate an OS map though. But if you can live without that then the price and weight benefits are good compensation. The hood moves well with the head to allow easy vision, and the hem and cuffs don’t ride up when scrambling. 4/5

Value
The pockets aren’t perfect and there are lighter options, but if you can tolerate that then the price is excellent. 5/5

Verdict
The Lowe Alpine Wildfire is a good jacket at a very good price, but you may want to pay more for fine-tuning the details. It won Trail’s ‘Best Value’ award.
4.6/5

www.lowealpine.com

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine November 2014

 


Páramo Enduro/Ventura (2014)

Features
There are four external chest pockets here, meaning there’s plenty of space for maps, compasses and hats or gloves between showers. Interestingly one of these pockets has a Velcro opening for ‘fast access’ says Páramo, while the others have zips. Zipped vents are also provided on the arms, and the helmet-compatible hood gets a wired peak with face and volume adjustment. 5/5

Fit
The men’s Enduro comes in sizes S-XXL and the women’s Ventura in XS-XL. The fit is closer than some other Páramo jackets but not too tight, while the length is slightly shorter than other jackets so my crotch area was more exposed to the elements than I would like, particularly if you allow for any riding up of the jacket hem. Sleeve fit and movement were excellent, and the hood fit superb. 4/5

Comfort
Like other Páramo garments this uses Nikwax Analogy fabric treated with Nikwax TX Direct, well-proven to provide superb condensation control and comfort. In mild weather it can be too warm, but that is the only major drawback. A major benefit is you can re-treat the material for ever and it continues to perform, making it an extremely durable option. 4/5

In use
On cold, wet days the Páramo Enduro/Ventura is excellent. I’d like some more length, but the hood fit and movement plus its wired peak allow great vision. The four pockets are ideal for hand-warming and storage of maps, while the arm vents are very easily operated. The weight is a drawback if this ends up in your pack and the insulation could be too much. 4/5

Value
The Páramo Enduro/Ventura is great for colder weather only, but its long-term performance has to be considered too. 3/5

Verdict
The Páramo Enduro/Ventura is a well-proven clothing system that’s ideal for cold, wet mountain trips, but could be longer.
4.5/5

www.paramo.co.uk

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine November 2014

 


Rohan Elite (2014)

A frequent favourite in Trail tests, the Elite uses Rohan’s own fabric, Barricade Elite, which offers performance that is equal to the best in the industry. I’ve been using the jacket for several years and find that on the hill it is just as impressive. At only 334g the Elite packs in a host of useful features for heading onto the hills. The body is short like most lightweights and has an exposed front zip of the more water-resistant variety with a very stiff internal baffle to keep any leaks under control. There are an excellent pair of chest-mounted pockets, which aren’t mesh-lined, so they keep water out more readily than most. These pockets are huge and they’re ideal for stashing a map, guidebook or just for warming hands. The Rohan Elite’s hood can be rolled down and secured at the collar in mild conditions, but when the heavens open the stiffened peak and excellent fit and movement will really be appreciated. The hood drawcords extend around the outside, rather than through internal channels, so they look a bit messy, but they work well. The fabric feels a little like paper, but so far I haven’t torn my older version of this jacket, although I think it’s necessary to treat it a little more carefully than some heavier models.

Specifications:

Fabric Barricade Elite

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XXL

Women’s sizes XS-L

External pockets 2

Stowable hood? yes

Side/pit zips? no

Weight 329g (men’s size L)

Website www.rohan.co.uk

Verdict

Thehood and pocket design set the Rohan Elite apart from many competitors, the only drawbacks being the price tag and the slightly fragile feel of the fabric. It won Trail’s ‘Best in Test’ accolade.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2014

rohan%20three%20quarter.jpg

OMM Aether (2014)

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

Specifications:

Fabric 3-layer Event

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XL

Women’s sizes none

External pockets 2

Stowable hood? no

Side/pit zips? no

Weight 238g (men’s size L)

Website www.theomm.com

Verdict

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

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2014

omm%20three%20quarter.jpg

Marmot Precip (2014)

To stay dry in the hills, walkers need not only great clothing design but also a great fabric. The Precip is a well-established lightweight jacket but this year Marmot has introduced a new fabric to its range called NanoPro, claiming it is 43 per cent more breathable than the brand’s previous coated fabric. This could make the Marmot Precip the must-have jacket of the year, and with a price tag of just £85 it demands a closer look.

NanoPro is a microporous material, with tiny holes small enough to prevent rain from coming through but large enough to allow water vapour out, so there is no build-up of condensation on the inside. In the lab it has breathability figures of 17,000g/sq m/24 hours, which puts it up there with the best on the market. There’s also a NanoPro Membrain fabric available that is even more breathable with figures of 47,000g/m2/24 hours and this is being used on the Marmot Artemis jacket, which is priced at £200.

Both fabrics can withstand the pressure of a 10 metre high water column, which is lower than other high-end fabrics, which often can withstand a 20 metre water column. However, in reality it can be argued that a jacket that is durably waterproof to 10 metres throughout its life is more than waterproof enough for hillwalking; indeed, it is well above the 1 metre British Standard for a jacket to be called waterproof. The fact here is that the more waterproof you make a fabric, the less breathable it may become, and so to stay dry in the hills walkers need to find a balance between breathability and waterproofness.

NanoPro and NanoPro MemBrain are both 2.5 layer fabrics. This means they don’t have a full scrim on the inside to soak up any condensation, so if condensation does form it is going to be visible and the jacket will feel a little clammy in those situations.

Lab testing is all very useful, but what really matters is how a jacket performs on the hill in a wide range of temperatures. I’ve been using a NanoPro jacket since summer 2013 and I have been amazed at the ability of the fabric to manage condensation. It’s certainly the best 2.5 layer fabric I’ve used, with barely any condensation developing in the summer weather of the Lake District. As the temperature cooled during autumn and winter, the performance hasn’t been quite so good, although it still outperforms any 2.5 layer fabric I’ve used. I have managed to get some condensation build-up though, and on those days a 3-layer fabric with a scrim on the inside would feel drier and more comfortable – but such a jacket would also cost twice as much and probably weigh far more too.

So what this boils down to is that NanoPro is a great fabric. Here it is being used on the Precip, which now benefits from a wired peak on the hood and it also has good large pockets that can be accessed reasonably well while wearing a rucksack. Pit zips are provided, which hints that Marmot realises ventilation is still important if you want to stay comfortable. At £85 the Marmot Precip in NanoPro fabric is a bargain when you consider its breathability performance.

Price £85

Material NanoPro 2.5 layer

Men’s sizes S-XXL

Women’s sizes 8-16

Weight 320g (size M)

Stockists www.marmot.eu

Verdict

NanoPro is probably the most important development in waterproof jacket technology in the last 12 months, and when combined with the great Marmot Precip jacket design and a superb price for the performance, this could be the best buy of the year.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine March 2014

060gt%20peak%202%20dec%202013a.jpg
070gt%20peak%202%20dec%202013.jpg
082gt%20peak%202%20dec%202013.jpg

Berghaus Civetta (2013)

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

Weight 461g (size men’s L)

Fabric 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XXL

Women’s sizes none

External pockets 2

Can hood be rolled down? yes

Side/pit vents yes

Website www.berghaus.com

Verdict

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

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2013

berghaus.jpg

The North Face Point Five VG (2013)

The North Face’s Point Five VG is built around Gore-Tex Pro, and in our test it was the lowest-priced Pro jacket we received. The design is fairly standard with two chest pockets, pit zips and hood, but all these features are very well-designed. The body is not as short as some, but you can get longer jackets, so it is of average length. There is an exposed water-resistant front zip, which is not one of the chunkier designs, but it is perfectly good. Inside you get a flap to manage any leaks, which, although not as well-designed as some others, is perfectly good enough. The two chest pockets are large enough for maps and well-positioned for good access when you’re wearing a pack, but you do not get a third chest pocket, which is a pity. The hood is exceptionally good and certainly better than I would normally expect from The North Face as it has a wired peak plus great fit and movement. When scrambling there is good movement in the sleeves to prevent cuff or hem lift. Overall the The North Face Point Five VG is a good jacket in terms of design and at 452g (size L) it is a great weight – but I’d prefer a third chest pocket, and to maintain the current weight and price I’d choose to ditch the pit zips. But you may like it as it is.

Weight 452g (size men’s L)

Fabric 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XXL

Women’s sizes XS-L

External pockets 2

Can hood be rolled down? yes

Side/pit vents yes

Website www.thenorthface.com

Verdict

The TNF Point Five VG is the best-priced Gore-Tex Pro jacket in our test, and if you can live without an additional third chest pocket it is the ideal choice for hill and mountain walkers.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2013

thenorthface.jpg

Mountain Hardwear Exposure II Parka (2013)

A well-established jacket that has been restyled. The Mountain Hardwear Exposure II Parka uses Dry Q Elite fabric with a nylon lining, which offers high levels of condensation control while feeling robust enough to withstand abrasion on rock. It does weigh in pretty heavy at 694g (size L), which is in part due to it having a loose lining and such a rugged outer fabric but probably also because it is so much longer than most jackets, completely covering my bum. The cut is not as well-fitted as other designs though, so on me the body ‘billowed’ in parts a little more than I would have liked. There are two great main pockets on the chest plus a third small pocket that just about takes an OS map at a tight squeeze. You get pit zips and the front zip is exposed as are most, with an internal flap to trap leaks. The hood fitted well and moved well with the head but the peak is not as stiff as other jackets around this price, which is a bit of a let-down. Overall, the Mountain Hardwear Exposure II Parka is reasonable for the price and the extra length is a real benefit, but the finer details could be better. But if £250 is your budget this is a great option as you will need to pay quite a lot more to get big improvements.

Weight 694g (size men’s L)

Fabric 2-layer Dry Q Elite

Lining nylon

Men’s sizes S-XXL

Women’s sizes none

External pockets 3

Can hood be rolled down? no

Side/pit vents yes

Website www.mountainhardwear.eu

Verdict

The longer body length is the real benefit of the Mountain Hardwear Exposure II Parka, but the weight, third chest pocket and hood could all be better if you are looking for top performance and can afford to spend more cash.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2013

mountian%20hardwear.jpg

Rab Nexus (2013)

Rab has used Polartec Neoshell in the Nexus, which is a relatively new 3-layer fabric that boasts excellent breathability in the lab. The theoretical drawback is that the material is not as waterproof compared to some higher-priced options, but according to Polartec this is plenty waterproof enough; increasing it just reduces breathability. To date the fabric has performed superbly on the hill and my view is that the design probably plays a greater role in comfort anyway. To that end the Nexus is also superbly designed. It’s a notch longer than some other jackets we looked at, so overtrousers won’t be needed quite so readily. The sleeves allow good movement and the cuffs can be adjusted to fit inside or outside gloves. The main zip is left exposed to the elements but it is a chunkier version than most, so it should keep water out pretty well – there is an internal gutter system too. There are just three pockets, which I think is ideal, and these are all large and easily accessed. The hood is excellent thanks to good adjustment and a wired peak. Although you don’t get pit zips or additional pockets, that does help to keep the weight down to a reasonable 511g (size L) and, when combined with the price, the Rab Nexus all adds up to a very good winter mountain jacket.

Weight 511g (size men’s L)

Fabric 3-layer Polartec Neoshell

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XXL

Women’s sizes 8-16

External pockets 3

Can hood be rolled down? yes

Side/pit vents no

Website www.rab.uk.com

Verdict

In the Rab Nexus great design for mountain walking and scrambling is combined with a good price and a great fabric to create the perfect combination for most hillgoers. The jacket won Trail’s ‘Best Value’ award.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2013

rab.jpg

Mountain Equipment Lhotse/Manaslu (2013)

The Mountain Equipment Lhotse (men’s version) has previously been a firm favourite of mine and it’s regularly done well in Trail gear reviews. For 2013 this classic gets a few design tweaks as well as the new Gore-Tex Pro fabric, which boasts increased breathability over its predecessors. The jacket now has an ‘Alpine fit’, meaning it is closer-fitting than before, which is no bad thing as it had started to feel a bit ‘boxy’ compared with newer designs. But for me the new version is a bit short and I’d prefer a good 5cm extra in length. Like many modern designs the main zip is left exposed, with an internal flap to keep leaks under control, while the chunky nature of the zip itself should resist grit and mud easily. The three large chest pockets are ideal for hands, maps or guidebooks, while the pair of pit zips can be used to vent the jacket on the move. The hood is a typically good effort from Mountain Equipment, with a wired peak and excellent fit and movement making it a joy a wear. All that for 571g and £300 is pretty good by current standards, although for my money I’d like a bit more length to make it absolutely perfect when mountain walking, backpacking and scrambling. The Manaslu is the women’s version of this jacket.

Weight 571g (size men’s L)

Fabric 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XXL (Lhotse)

Women’s sizes 8-16 (Manaslu)

External pockets 3

Can hood be rolled down? yes

Side/pit vents yes

Website www.mountain-equipment.co.uk

Verdict

A reasonable price and weight for a jacket that is generally well-designed for heading to the hills, unless you want a little more length on the body. The Mountain Equipment Lhotse/Manaslu won Trail’s ‘Best in Test’ accolade.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2013

mountain%20equipment.jpg

Montane Alpine Endurance (2013)

The Montane Alpine Endurance is designed for alpine-style mountaineering, where a climber is belaying his mate one minute and then taking the lead. It is made from a good version of eVent, so it has proven waterproofness and breathability performance, but it’s also sturdy enough not to buckle in a breeze or tear when rubbing shoulders with rock. The length is typically short, but the rear is extended so your bum gets some extra protection. If you raise your arms over your head the cuffs and hem don’t budge, which is essential. A nice detail is the cuff adjustment, which is neat while allowing the cuff to be worn inside or over gloves. The front zip is a chunky design, so it is better able than some to resist snow and grit from impeding its action. There is no external stormflap, which is not ideal, although there is a good internal flap to act as a gutter to funnel any water away. There are four chest pockets and all are ideally designed with large zip pulls, and a nice addition is a small mesh vent at the top of the inner lining of the pocket to allow a little airflow. There are also pit zips for extra venting. The hood is helmet-compatible but it also fits the head superbly well, even when the face drawcords and front zip are not adjusted properly. But the Montane Alpine Endurance’s weight (642g, size M) is a drawback.

Weight 642g (size men’s M)

Fabric 3-layer eVent

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XXL

Women’s sizes none

External pockets 4

Can hood be rolled down? yes

Side/pit vents yes

Website www.montane.co.uk

Verdict

The Montane Alpine Endurance is a superb jacket for mountaineering but the weight is a drawback.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine November 2013

montane.jpg