Cost Smock £110
+ Four way stretch fabric, light, close fitting, simple, good value, thumb loops
- Non-helmet compatible hood. New fabric so untested for long term use
The latest incarnation of the Kamleika range features a new Gelanots fabric with four-way stretch, and a new tighter outer knit to help with water repellency which also gives a softshell feel. Waterproofing and breathability are improved on older models with tests showing eVent-like levels of performance. The fit is close, relying on the very effective inherent stretch to give freedom of movement. With a particularly close fitting hood and all black fabric, wearers may be guilty of feeling like a stealth ninja! The hood fits close, almost like a balaclava, which moves with the head reasonably well on our prototype sample, and this may improve in finished versions. The peak is foam filled and flops against the face in strong winds but again, this may improve before they hit the shops. The main water resistant zip comes to mid chest level and is a two-way zip allowing ventilation from the bottom. A laser-cut external chest pocket is also accessed via a water-resistant zip. Thumb loops are excellent for keeping wrists covered when running and biking but mean there’s no adjustment at the elasticated cuffs if you don’t get on with the loops. Finished off with an adjustable, elasticated waist and plentiful reflective graphics on the sleeves, make this an excellent, simple close fitting jacket for high energy sports. Also available in a slightly looser fitting jacket version with full length zip and handwarmer pockets.
When you think about it, jackets for adventure racing have a pretty tough set of criteria to meet. For the most critical buyers, they must protect from torrential rain, keep you comfortable when you’re working hard and standing still, be Challenger tank durable, weigh less than a sparrow’s fart and cost virtually nothing. Enough freedom of movement to do some gymnastics wouldn’t be a bad thing either! Of course, life’s about compromises and although a bin bag may be 100% waterproof it offers zero breathability, whilst a tissue-thin, highly breathable, ‘waterproof’ may yield to anything more than fog. Accepting that you can’t get everything for nothing is wise. Light, cheap, and fully functional – pick two.
Sometimes racers that love their gear and gadgets get carried away with features, but it’s worth considering what exactly the jacket will be used for. Mostly competing in sprint races? Well it’s unlikely that you’ll be plodding along with your hands in your pockets, so why do you need them? When the race lasts only a few hours and you’re working hard all the time, do you really need ultimate waterproof protection when light weight, packability and breathability are more relevant? If expedition racing is your thing then it’s key to have trust in the ability of your jacket to cope with the worst weather and be durable enough to survive a tumble or scrapes against rocks. If you’re into both sorts of racing, as well as other outdoor sports, you’ll already realise that you probably need to look at more than one jacket to fit your needs.
Aside from the key factors (weight, price, fabric etc), key things to look for are:
- arms that are long enough to keep wrists covered when stretched on bike or scrambling
- body length short at front for leg mobility and long at the rear to cover your bum on the bike
- close fitting or adjustable hood that moves with your head
A series of reviews from the Autumn edition of UK Adventure Sports Magazine will follow including, Rab Momentum, OMM Kamleika Smock, Haglofs Oz, Helly Hansen Volt, Paramo Velez Adventure Light, Montane Halo Stretch, Gore Running Wear Axis II, and Berghaus Paclite Jacket.
I’m testing a batch of waterproof jackets for UK Adventure Sports Magazine this week from Paramo, Haglofs, Rab, and Berghaus. Hopefully a few more will show up, but I wasn’t expecting the little surprise that arrived with Mr UPS from Germany. Seems I was sent a Gore Running Wear Air System Gilet to review alongside the other jackets, but this one is a little bit different so I’m not sure it really fits in. Will probably have to look at it separately and in more detail.
It’s constructed from a mixture of different Gore fabrics, Performance Shell and Paclite along their Comfort Mapping theme – putting tougher fabrics in higher wear spots and lighter, more breathable fabrics where they can get away with it. You might spot the unusual looking matrix across the front, which continues on around the lower back. This is an air chamber that can be inflated by blowing in the black valve on the chest, creating a web of small compartments on the inside. These trap warm air next to the skin, in the same way as down or synthetic insulation does, however, being Gore, the outer fabric is waterproof, making this a pretty interesting piece. So its a waterproof gilet with adjustable insulation, that won’t stop performing if it gets wet like down, or becoming sodden like Primaloft etc. I’ve yet to try it in anger, but I can see it being quite versatile meaning days on the hills with a windproof need only be augmented by the gilet if the weather turns shit. Keeping the core dry is clearly the most important point, which this will do. Still getting chilly or stopped at a belay point midway up a climb? Just blow in the valve for some instant insulation. Ready to move again? Just release the valve and be on your way!
I’m keen to see how it works out and about on the hills, but in the short term I quite like this, but that’s maybe just because its different and I welcome Gore’s attempts to bring something different to the market. My only niggle at the moment is a lack of handwarmer pockets, but hey it is designed for runners and who runs with their hands in their pockets?
The Tranter’s Round attempt was one of the best moments of the year, although yet again unfortunately the weather was against us. It had been so perfect and such a beautiful night that we were well up on the existing record, however, the weather totally changed as we climbed onto Aonach Beag, the first of the 4000ft hills, and we had to face increasingly dangerous winds and treachorous ice. Full story is on this Sleepmonsters report.Christmas has been and gone, and this year it really just snuck up and hit me between the eyes. I was working for Jon, Mark and Robbo’s Easy Drinking Whisky Company, plugging their wares in Jenners department store in Edinburgh, and before I knew it, it was Christmas Eve and the present buying hadn’t even begun. Thankfully inspiration came from somewhere, the day itself passed pretty quietly and now the New Year is around the corner. Looking forward to some arrivals from Iraq and Australia, just in time for Hogmanay thankfully. It’ll be a different one this year, for the first time I’m working, again with JMR this time pumping out Hot Toddies in Princes Street Gardens at the big ceilidh going on there. Should be fun…
Reading back through some of this blog I’m never quite sure of any time when I don’t have an injury! Somehow though I still manage to heal just in time for the next race, only to break myself again in pusuit of adventure. Thankfully the season is drawing to a close with only a few more races in October to go and then a chance to spend a winter in the gyma nd on the bike and doing the first proper training since back in 2002. Before that I have to master a new art…inline skating!At the end of August I joined Cotswold Outdoor for the inaugural Wilderness ARC World Series adventure race in Lochaber, starting in Fort William and lasting 5 days continuously over a 400km course. During the course of this week I had the most amazing experiences and adventures of my life so far and made some solid new friends. Unfortunately the weather was appalling during the first night after a glorious first day which took in a paddle down Loch Linnhe and traverse of the Aonach Eagach ridge in Glen Coe. The cold and wet led to many teams pulling out due to moving too slowly or having insufficient clothing for the conditions, as was the case with the rest of my squad. Luckily the decision to bail out was made before it got silly cold and one of the guys ended up going down with food poisoning so it was quite fortuitous in the end.
However, myself and Fred Yong combined with a couple of other guys including Peter from Denmark and were reinserted into the race at a kayak stage after only missing one mountain bike stage. This was followed by a 23 hour trek through the wilderness of Moidart, where I got to know Peter’s Danish friends including Thure who has now invited me across to Denmark to compete in a race in Copenhagen at the beginning of October. (Hence the inline skating!). The trek was followed by a 130km mountain bike ride out to the Ardnamurchan lighthouse, the most westerly point on the British mainland, where the angels of the light looked after us with tea, curry and a lighthouse living room floor! Ask me sometime and I’ll explain more! A further 6 hour kayak up Loch Sheil to the finish at Glenfinnan was all that remained to cap and incredible week, with so many funny and scary anecdotes.
Thankfully I was pretty much injury free for the whole event but am now suffering with hamstring tendonitis with only a week to go until the Mourne Mountain Marathon with Tim Lenton…One of these days I’m going to begin and finish a race injury free! Maybe.