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.
+ Stretch panels, comfortable, pit zips for ventilation
- Weight, breathability
The Volt is designed for hiking and backpacking rather than fast moving adventure racing, so is heavy on features and this means weight. The fit is on the large side of large, meaning plenty of room for insulation layers but not ideal for fast movers. Waterproofness and breathability details on the fabric are not close to challenging eVent, and we found in the field that it got hot and clammy damp inside pretty quickly when working hard. A mixture of stretch and light weight fabric panels are combined to give good freedom of movement, but all the seams results in a lot of seam tape which reduces breathability and increases production cost. The hood fits well and will accept a helmet; however, the peak isn’t stiff enough to handle strong winds. There is a pair of handwarmer pockets hidden under a storm flap and a single chest pocket with water-resistant zip, but it’s not big enough to take a map and none of the pockets have drain holes to allow any water that gets in to escape. There is a soft perforated beard guard at the top of the offset zip which makes for a cosy place to be when the weather is rotten. While a few years ago 580g would have seemed lightweight for a waterproof jacket, fabric and construction technology has come a long way and there are better, lighter options around. This isn’t a bad jacket, just more appropriate for walking than racing.
Cost £140 though I’ve seen it here for £56!
+ Mesh stuff sack, short cut, rollaway hood
- Terrible hood, boxy chest
This was one of the first Gore Paclite jackets around and little has changed over the years. The large chest sizing, rollaway hood and hand warmer pockets suggest it’s more appropriate for easy going backpacking and travelling rather than athletic sports. It has a short body length with no drop in the tail to protect you when biking though the hem is the standard adjustable elastic. The hood suffers from serious design flaws that mean it doesn’t come close to sitting snug on the head and annoyingly billows up or blows the peak down on your face in a wind. As a result it doesn’t move with the head meaning when you turn to look to your side all you see is the inside of the hood. There’s no adjustment at the wide neck so when the hood’s not up and the wind is, it can send a shiver straight down the spine. A double storm flap, adjustable cuffs and waterproof zips on the pockets keep the rain out and the pockets are mesh lined to aid ventilation. However, when worked hard Paclite will always feel damp on the inside, but bear in mind all Gore jackets come with a Satisfaction Guarantee – if you’re not impressed then take it back for a refund. It’s probably best suited for easy-going ramblers or as a small, light, packable jacket for gap year travellers and their ilk. If you can get it for £56 then go for it, but if you’re looking for ‘the’ jacket to take out in all weathers then look elsewhere…
+ Durability, breathability, waterproof, can be reproofed and repaired indefinitely
- Too warm for summer use, short arms
To those that haven’t tried it, the Paramo concept can be hard to explain in a short review, so I would urge you to read more about it elsewhere. Feeling soft like a shell suit, it can be hard to believe that the Nikwax Analogy fabric could keep you dry, but with Directional Waterproofing abilities it works exceptionally well. The regular Velez Adventure Smock has been widely acclaimed and is used by many experienced kit aficionados as well as mountain rescue teams, however, it is a bit on the heavy side at 774g. The new Analogy Light fabric drops weight by 20% to a more reasonable 580g. Although heavy compared to other jackets I’ve had on test it outshines everything in performance tests, being superbly waterproof and breathable, as well as soft and comfortable to wear. Sizing is a little odd, with short arms, though this may be addressed and custom sized versions are available. The smock may not be to everyone’s taste but it’s great ‘fit and forget’ kit; once on it can be worn with just a baselayer in all but the coldest of conditions. The extra layers of fabric unfortunately provide extra insulation that makes it a bit too warm for summer unless you run really cold, but for really bad weather use it works exceptionally. A large front pouch pocket will swallow an OS map and clever side vents expose two internal handwarmer pockets. The wired-peak hood fits well and moves with the head, though is a little small to fit a helmet under. Superb comfort, breathability and waterproofness in new lighter weight format. Highly recommended for winter or expedition racing.
+ Ultra lightweight, simplicity, superb hood
- Long term durability, breathability, expensive
Made from the latest Gore-Tex Paclite fabric this is a weight fetishist’s dream jacket. Haglofs’ clever smock design means the jacket, excluding hood, is only produced from two pieces of fabric. This results in minimal seam taping, hence reduced weight and improved breathability (as seam tape will never be as breathable as bare fabric). It’s squarely aimed at fast and light movers looking for the lightest, most packable fully waterproof shell around and there are none better at the moment. The face fabric, to which the Gore membrane is laminated, is exclusive to Haglofs and is extremely light, which with the minimalist design gives a genuine weight of 175grams for the test size medium. Body cut is slim, as would be expected, and features are sparse to save weight. It does have a laminated front chest pocket, (not big enough for an OS map) and an astounding hood with unusual external compression system.
There is compression adjustment by a toggle at the back of the head, which thankfully doesn’t get in the way when worn under a bike or climbing helmet. Dual toggles adjust the peak position, but in windy conditions I found the peak a bit too floppy and some other reviewers including PTC, have modified their Oz’s by inserting speaker wire into the peak brim. Check out their sites for details on modifications, however, the 2010 Oz, now called the OZO will feature a stiffer peak.
There are thumb loops in the sleeves to keep wrists covered while running, scrambling or on the bike and an adjustable elasticated hem. The fabric was very waterproof during testing, though breathability struggled when working really hard and the inside often felt damp to the touch (not to be confused with leaking). Paclite has a habit of breathing well then suddenly being overwhelmed, creating a damp inner surface. However, those that understand fabric technology will understand that internal condensation is crucial in how Gore-Tex fabrics work, so some should be expected. Additionally, I’ve always been of the mindset for fast moving sports, that if it’s cold enough to need a full waterproof shell, as opposed to a windshell, then chances are you’ll be (or should be) wearing a long sleeve wicking baselayer, so you simply won’t feel any clamminess next to your skin.
Anyway, if weight and pack size are your priorities in a waterproof shell and you want the assurance that your jacket will protect you from the heavens when they open, then look no further, the Haglofs Oz Pullover is a stunningly good jacket. As the 2009 Oz is fazed out and replaced by the 2010 OZO then there are many bargains to be had, in fact a quick search reveals it at half price here. Get there quick!
Weight 410 grams
+ eVent fabric, stretch panels, helmet compatible, breathability, fit
- Stiff feeling fabric at first, expensive
For a company that makes so much excellent lightweight outdoor gear, it’s a little surprising perhaps that this is the first item I’ve had the chance to review for sleepmonsters.com or UK Adventure Sports Magazine. Hopefully it won’t be the last, as the quality and performance of their products is superb and the constant refinement of designs means that over the past few years they’ve really sharpened up a range of ‘Fast and Light’ that’s got to be near the top of most people’s ‘Must Try’ list.
Heavy on features and talking points, the Halo could be the jacket for those looking for bombproof weather protection and excellent breathability . The, unique to Montane, lightweight eVent fabric is as waterproof as it gets with breathability surpassing the best Gore has to offer, meaning it works especially well for those who run hot. It feels stiff at first but after a couple of washes it will soften. Stretch fabric panels on the back, underarms and forearms give extra freedom of movement especially noticeable when wearing a pack while scrambling. The hip and forearm sections are reinforced for durability at minimal extra weight.
The integral wire-peaked hood offers great face protection and will cinch tight around the head as well as accommodating a helmet underneath. It’s a superb fit whether onto bare head or helmet and the neck section is long enough to allow full freedom of movement and with the stretch panels gives a proper ‘ninja’ feel. There are two soft mesh lined handwarmer pockets, which help with venting and there’s a large chest pocket which features a ‘love it or hate it’ upside-down water-resistant zip to make getting something from the bottom of the pocket easy. On the plus side it’s easy to get small things in and out of the pocket and it stops the weather getting in when you need that lip balm hiding in the bottom corner, but it can be easy for small items to fall out when you pull that fat gloved hand out again…swings and roundabouts. Another boon is that the pockets are designed to be expandable so as you fill them, they increase in volume internally instead of stretching the exterior fabric, ultimately increasing comfort.
Body fit is ‘athlete-ready’ close, though relatively long making it suitable more for walking and mountaineering, than running. There’s not a whole bunch of reflectivity going on, but those looking for such featured are probably in the minority and there are a few patches dotted around to keep your mind at ease for those late night bimbles along dark lanes. Pleasingly, long arms keep wrists covered when stretched out on the bike or jumaring, making this a great all conditions, all-activity jacket ready for the toughest expedition races.
The waterproofing level of the fabric is top of the line as is breathability, so combined with great fit and exceptional freedom of movement, I’m struggling to see any downsides to this jacket. The water repellent treatment on the fabric is still beading up after 8 months of use and when the time comes I know it can easily be revitalised in the washing machine – another of eVent’s many great attributes is its machine wash capability, something that is in fact recommended to be done often to keep it oil and much free and keep it performing optimally. If push came to shove I’d have to say there are other jackets that come close in performance but don’t have the stretch panels, for example, and therefore are on the shelves for a bit less moolah, however, I’ve seen the Halo in the sales for as little as £150 so if you see one, snap it up quick!
+ Weight, fabric, great cut, long arms, hood
- Nothing really
The Momentum is Rab’s lightest eVent jacket to date and is aimed squarely at alpine climbers and adventure racers. It’s made from lightweight three-ply eVent with a micro-grid rip-stop pattern for added strength and there is narrow seam tape on ‘non-critical’ seams to save weight. Breathability is as good as it gets for a traditional hard shell fabric and the close fit helps with the Direct Venting eVent is well-known for. It’s short at the front for freedom of movement and long at the back for backside protection. The hood has a wide range of adjustment and will cover a climbing helmet with wired peak protecting the face. It moves as one with the head and is one of the best hoods we’ve ever come across. Something we’re pleased to see is long arms that keep wrists covered when stretching out – why can’t other manufacturers get this simple, key factor right? There are two Napoleon style deep chest pockets that will swallow OS maps with water resistant zips. Zip garages on the pocket and main zip help stop water penetrating any gaps and the main zip is two-way easing use over a climbing harness. While weight isn’t down there with the sub-200g products, it is nonetheless acceptably light and packed down it occupies little space. At the moment it looks like Rab are onto a winner with this jacket and only longer term use will judge how the light fabric stands up to abuse. So far so very good!
Bottom Line – UK Adventure Sports Magazine Recommended
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?
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.