I'm very gradually building up my gear collection and am currently onto waterproof jackets. I've been using a not so breathable jacket from Decathlon for about 10 years that I got for about £80 maybe, but the seams have disintegrated now. I'm going to repair it for daily use but would like to treat myself to something a bit more technical for hiking, scrambling, climbing.
Ideally I'd like an all-rounder. The jackets in the 'mountain shells around £200' review seemed good - particularly the Rab Arc Eco. However, the Rab (and actually all of the other jackets in that review) were reported to be a bit restrictive when worn with a helmet and the coat fully zipped up (if I'm buying something specialist I'd prefer it not to have any limitations in that area). I've read some forum posts and other reviews about the Arc Eco saying it's not so durable and sometimes wets out under rucksack straps...?
Does anyone have any recommendations for all-rounder jackets that, in order of priority, 1) use no PFCs, 2) are definitely fully helmet compatible, 3) are long and roomy enough to go over a down jacket for colder days, and 4) are ideally built to last.
As these are my priorities, I'd compromise a bit on other things, including weight. I thought about shelling out on more of a winter jacket and using it for other seasons too, but think it might be a bit too much for warmer days, and also better to save an expensive winter jacket for what it's designed for. The £200 mark of the group test felt fairly bearable for something decent, but I could also stretch to 300+ for something that seems worth it and will last.
The Marmot Mitre Peak seems like an ok option judging by the review, so would be interested to hear about it's longer term durability!
I like the ME jackets and you can pick them up really cheap second hand. I had a morpheus for about 8 years which was in decent condition when I got it, was used all year and went up plenty winter routes, ended up being used more as a work jacket and got abused quite badly but was still waterproof by the end of it.
Just replaced it with a Lhotse which was £140 in good condition from ebay. It's a trimmer fit so wouldnt go over a down jacket. If you have a look at their range then I think there are 3 fit types. I expect most brands are of a similar quality now but for some reason there always seems to be a glut of ME jackets second hand and I don't think I'd buy anything else.
Paramo Velez is a good but slightly unconventional option. The thinner material feels very lightweight and potentially not hard-wearing but it's actually very tough - I wouldn't use it for winter climbing but for everything else it's great. Because it's so much more breathable than membrane jackets I wear it much more often, treating it like a softshell with benefits. In terms of longevity so long as you keep washing and reproofing it regularly it will last for years, with the huge advantage over membrane jackets that if you get a hole or a tear you can just sew it up. My experience of the paramo repairs service has been great, they're also a worker-owned company with strong ethical policies, and environmentally speaking they're far better than membrane based jackets which rely on DWRs.
Thanks for these tips! The Mountain Equipment jackets do actually look great, and it's reassuring to hear they're pretty durable, and finding a secondhand one in good condition is a good shout. I've noticed ME are part of the Fair Wear thing too.
The only sticking point is that it sounds like e.g. the Lhotse (and others that I can see so far) wouldn't be long enough to fit over a down jacket. Trying to work out how essentially this is - if e.g. I might eventually get round to buying a winter coat that would make this less important, but I think I'd prefer to an all-rounder to have that option of wearing it over the down jacket... Hmmm.. Presumably you don't find this to be an issue?
This looks like another greaf option. Slightly uncertain about the water resistant thing rather than waterproof but the reviews I've read don't seem to think this is an issue... The breathability and durability sound v good. Also wasn't expecting a reply with a brand that's a worker co-op - that's v nice! Again main sticking point with it is that it sounds like it wouldn't fit over a down jacket... Is the idea that if it's cold enough to want a down jacket on underneath that you'd also want a heavier weight shell...?
Paramo is fully waterproof. Some people on here sometimes disagree with that but if I want to stay comfortable on a really minging day it's what I wear.
I'd never wear a down jacket under a waterproof - it'd compress the down and you'd lose most of the benefit. The insulating nature of down comes from its loft. If you're wearing waterproofs and you want a thin insulating layer underneath look at something like polartec alpha or just a waffle fleece, and if you want more warmth than that (ie too much to do much aerobic work) put a synthetic belay jacket over the top of your waterproof.
RRP is £250 but hunt around and you should find one for £200 or less. As weatherproof as you'll ever get, and slightly longer so the rain doesn't just run off the jacket into your crotch like many jackets do
Hard shell prices have gone up massively in the last 10 years, with most serious brands offering goretex pro fabric jackeks in excess of £400.
Luckily there are just as many cheaper jackets from the same brands using other fabrics such are pertex. On paper the cheaper fabrics are inferior interns of breathability but you will likely see a big improvement in comfort over an aged Decathlon jacket. IMO the pertex on offer now are on a par with the top end jackets of 10-15 years ago.
Personally I use my cheaper, lightweight jackets most of the time and save the heavy duty goretex (with reinforced shoulder areas) for winter days with a heavy sack.
Shop around and you'll likely find some bargains, but if you can, buy from an independent shop and keep them in business against the big boys
(Bear in mind that I've collated comments about Paramo in general, so different jackets etc will vary a bit on some details)
Mostly very durable and very repairable. Lifetime guarantee.
For a lot of people, much more comfortable, breathable and less plasticky than Goretex.
For most, it's warmer than other shells - seems good for temperature apart from summer. For some it can manage summer too. For some it’s too hot even outside of summer.
Seems very good for people who sweat a lot as gets rid of water moisture/vapour much better than Goretex/membrane.
Some people say it’s v waterproof, even in very heavy rain for many hours Some people say it fails miserably even in moderate rain Some people say it’s great but eventual fails in torrential rain over long period (overcomes the 'directionality' that gets rid of moisture) Some people say it depends on whether you keeping moving (to get the wicking happening). One person takes an actual 'waterproof' membrane jacket to put over their Paramo if/when they stop for a longer amount of time. Some people say e.g. Goretex eventually wets out and/or leaks, so at least with Paramo it gets rid of water once it's in Some people say it's bad if you put pressure on the jacket (e.g. rucksacks, sitting) There's generally a sense of mystery around why some people love it and seem to have very reliable jackets (including used by lots of e.g. mountain rescue teams) while others have very bad experiences. Some people have suggested quality control issues at the factories.
Overall, they sound like not the all-round jacket / safe purchase I'm looking for at the moment, but I'm still very tempted to try it at some point in the future for the comfort/durability factors vs Goretex - particularly for cooler/cold days where it's not going rain really heavily and relentlessly, but also to give it a try in those conditions...
Thanks for this recommendation! After quite a bit of reading around I think this is what I'm going to go for. Designed more for the winter end of things but sounds like it's ok in warmer weather (I'm not a heavy sweater, so fingers crossed). And lots of other positive things that fit what I'm looking for. Oh, and v eco-friendly!
I was a bit worried about the 30 denier fabric, but it's a 3-layer coat and with ripstop, and people seem to think this is solid enough (both on this jacket and others). And Patagonia will repair it. I might not use it if I ever get round to the heavier end of winter use - heavy rucksacks etc.
Fit comes first. It's no use having a jacket that's perfect for your needs if it isn't built for someone your shape. In general terms, if you're a long and slim shape then ME and Rab are good; if you're more of a rectangular shape then the North Face might be better. But there's no substitute for trying something on.
FWIW, I'd avoid light weight waterproofs. Something made of spit and cling film has a role for many but, from what you've said, not for you. Paramo is divisive; for some it's the hound's rounds, others (including me) really don't get on with it.
Helmet compatibility is also something you need to try for yourself. What a manufacturer says is compatible may well be different from your own experience. You have to try it.
All that said, I'll make one recommendation; try a Berghaus Athunder jacket. It's old-fashioned in that it doesn't have a waterproof zip, but is also quite tough in its construction and, provided it fits you, will do the job you want it to do and come in under your price limit.
Honestly there's not a lot in it between the middle of the road offerings from any of the big manufacturers (ME, Rab, Montane etc), all of their general mountain jackets in the £200-£250 price range will be very good.
I have owned, been issued or long term loaned the following hard-shells in the past 5 years or so (Lucky me!) :
Rab Latok, ME Kongur, ME Shivling, Keela Pinnacle, Rab Kangri, ME Makalu
All of them were great jackets, but they all had different strengths and weaknesses. The one that stood out to me for performance vs price was the Mountain Equipment Makalu, had one for 4 years now, proper good workhorse, always felt safe from the elments in it and has the best hood of the lot. Worth considering.
worth getting out and trying a bunch on someplace.
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