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?
Instead of tucking them away in that tab up there on the top right I’m going to start putting my Sleepmonsters.com kit reviews here on the main page for all to see and comment…
First up some Rab Bergen Waterproof Pants
The Bergen Pants from Rab are an eVent fabric set of waterproof overtrousers. Rab are a company with a deep foundation in extreme mountaineering clothing, only making a move into the ‘lightweight’ world in recent years, so you’d expect some sound bad weather protection from these togs.
eVent is an expanded PTFE membrane fabric, similar to Gore-Tex but claiming improved breathability for the same level of waterproofing. These pants use the three layer version for extra durability but with minimal features they retain a low claimed weight of 340 grams.
The men’s large size was great on me and allowed a good range of adjustment with an elasticated drawcord waist and unusually was long enough for my 33″ inside leg. (Most large size garments just seem to increase the waist size and not the leg!). With an articulated knee design, movement was unrestricted and the pants didn’t catch on whatever legwear I had on underneath, even on the bike. With the addition of an elasticated drawcord on the hems to cinch things in tight, the fit works great on the bike, articulating well, not riding up and not catching in the chainrings. The waist sits high too, so provides a good overlap with a jacket when conditions are rough, and stops the lower back being exposed when bent over on the bike.
3/4 length water ‘resistant’ zips on each leg feature a two way zip making them very easy to get in and out of in a hurry or with crampons or ski boots on. A popper closure at the bottom of the leg means you can simultaneously open the zip at the bottom and the top to create a chimney effect to aid cooling. This combined with the impressive breathability of the fabric makes them very versatile and I have used versions of these for over a year for skiing, running, biking, hiking, standing in the rain placing checkpoints and walking the dogs.
Fit and form are top notch, however, as much as the theory is good and other reports commend them, I have been deeply disappointed with the eVent fabric’s waterproofness. I am on my second set of trousers after the first were returned because they were leaking, but unfortunately the second set have suffered the same problems. This set have only been used for some dog walking duties and a few short bike commutes so certainly are not suffering from being dirty or being overworked with sweat evaporation. They wetted out very quickly particularly on the thighs and rear, and attempts to revitalise this on the first set were short lived and a good 20 minutes of rain on the bike would have them leaking like a sieve. Many other users have reported great things of the fabric so perhaps I have been unlucky but this is the fourth eVent fabric garment that I’ve had problems with leaking, so despite being taken with the theory of the fabric, I’m yet to be convinced of its performance. These pants will continue to be my first choice for skiing when I will value the wind resistance, breathability, fit and durability, however, when it comes to use in the rain I’ll use something that inspires more confidence in the protection it will provide.
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