Alpkit Fantom Down Jacket
Whether it's scaling alpine aretes, winter walking lunch stops, long belays in the shade, or just knocking about the tent after sundown, a toasty down jacket is your number one ally against the cold.
"Mountaineers have long searched for the optimum balance of warmth-to-weight" say Berghaus, "and the Ramche 2.0 delivers just that". I wouldn't be much of a reviewer if I took all such claims at face value, but I'm happy to admit that this duvet jacket more than lives up to its billing. With its high quality hydrophobic-treated down, top class tailoring, techy construction and ultra-light fabrics, the Ramche 2.0 is one of the best down duvets I've used. And yes, you do indeed get tons of warmth for not much weight.
Since a down duvet jacket is designed primarily for warmth, I've always been a little disappointed by models that are cut short in the body. No such complaints with the Ramche 2.0. The hem sits comfortably below the waist, dropping lower at the rear to offer almost total bum coverage.
It's what's inside that counts; and what's inside in this case is a high quality 90/10 goose down with an impressive 850 fill power. What's more it is Nikwax Hydrophobic
The sleeves have a decent length too, and there's no significant lift in the hem when you raise your arms. Though the jacket is sized to fit over other layers - I've worn it quite comfortably on top of a fleece and shell combination for instance - it does not feel excessively baggy. This fitted shape reduces dead space to a minimum, which helps keep you warm, yet the tailoring allows for full freedom of movement nonetheless. In brutally cold weather you could climb quite comfortably wearing this jacket. In short, you don't feel like the Michelin man inside the Ramche 2.0.
On first impressions I wondered if the tissue-thin 7-denier fabric (a featherweight 22g/m2) might just prove too flimsy for hard wear and tear; it is also very shiny, with a crisp packet-like crinkle that takes some getting used to. However in use it has proved resilient - indeed Berghaus say it is "100% stronger than equivalent weighted fabrics" and though I'm not sure which other fabrics they are comparing it with, I'm personally satisfied after several months of wear that this fabric is up to the rough and tumble of mountain use (not that you'd want to make a habit of rubbing it on gabbro boulders). However I have seen an anecdotal report of someone else managing to tear theirs (when climbing in it, I believe), so make of that what you will. It's clearly not the most durable fabric available, but for its negligible weight I've no complaints so far. It also feels very wind proof, and happily shrugs off a bit of moisture from drizzle or melting snow.
It's what's inside that counts; and what's inside in this case is a high quality 90/10 goose down with an impressive 850 fill power. That sort of fill alone would make for a very decent duvet, and its compressibility and loft are indeed as good as you'd hope. Traditionally of course down has been considered a bit of a non-starter for UK use, as it rapidly loses its insulating structure when wet (and if there's one place you can expect to get wet, it's Britain...). To get around this problem manufacturers in recent years have taken to using waterproof-treated down. Here Berghaus have opted for Nikwax Hydrophobic down, an industry leader that's treated to stop it absorbing moisture. Get the Ramche 2.0 wet and the down should maintain its loft for up to 16 hours, they say. While I've not had cause to push this claim to its limit (reviewers have to draw a line somewhere) I have worn the Ramche 2.0 quite happily in both damp melting snow and blasting spindrift. On a truly wet day I would probably still go for a synthetic instead, but in anything less than constant rain, and particularly if the temperature is sub-zero, I think the Ramche 2.0 arguably has the edge. Hydrophobic down has at least partly rewritten the rules of down use in the soggy British environment. On a typical UK winter climbing, hillwalking or camping trip you can expect to get a bit damp at some point; the Ramche 2.0 takes this sort of thing very much in its stride. Since I've not had to worry about it getting a tad soggy I have used it, for instance, as a belay jacket.
With ethical and environmental concerns gaining traction in the outdoor industry, it's nice to know the credentials of the down in use here - it is RDS (Responsible Down Standard) certified, while the Nikwax treatment is free of harmful PFCs.
Construction of down clothing and sleeping bags can be a baffling affair (sorry). Around the front and the rear of the body the Ramche 2.0's baffles are offset so you don't get cold spots at the seams in key areas of your core such as the chest, abdomen and kidneys. The fact that the baffles are stitched right through on the side panels of the body and the arms is, presumably, to save bulk where you need less insulation and more freedom of movement; I can't say I've noticed any cold spots even here. The amount of fill in each baffle varies, in order to optimise the insulation where it's most needed - the result of a mapping exercise carried out by Berghaus both in the lab and in the field.
On top of all that, the addition of an internal reflective aluminium mesh boosts the insulation around the core of the body by a quoted 10%, I'd guess for the penalty of very little extra weight.
At only 458g (size L) the Ramche 2.0 looks on paper like a typical light-to-mid-weight down duvet. However in terms of performance it punches well above this weight band. Thanks to its high fill power down, zoned fill, offset baffles and reflective mesh - not to mention the fact that it maintains a good level of loft even when damp - this jacket offers a seriously impressive amount of warmth for its modest weight. So far this season I've subjected it to some pretty heinous Scottish summit wind chill, and don't feel I've pushed its limits in the least. The Ramche 2.0 ought to take you well down into negative double figures, at a guess -15 or -20, which puts it in the running for alpine winter and expedition use.
Add another 10g for the stuff sack. While the Ramche 2.0 is not the most compact jacket you'll have seen, it still squishes down to a very manageable pack size and could at a pinch hang off your harness for belay jacket duty.
The chunky YKK Vislon front zip has a double zipper for easy harness access, and it's backed with a draught-excluding strip that more or less refuses to snag in the zip. Two external zipped hand pockets are a good size for gloves etc. Accessing them under a harness or rucksack hip belt is a struggle, but then in most situations you're not going to be wearing the Ramche 2.0 for extended periods of walking or climbing in any case - it's too damn warm. The tails of the hem elastic are accessed via these pockets, which keeps them neatly out of the way. Inside is a further single zipped pocket on one side and a stretchy mesh pocket on the other, which is good for keeping your gloves warm; again, both are a decent size. All zip pulls feature glove-friendly plastic pulls, while the wrist closures work even if snowy.
My favourite feature in the Ramche 2.0 is the hood. Sized for a climbing helmet, it fits over my high-ish volume Petzl Meteor without a struggle - which is what you want from a belay jacket. Thanks to an effective volume adjustment that runs from the lower face around the back of the head, the fit on a bare head is equally good, and vision isn't impaired. The adjustment toggles are a little fiddly to use when wearing bulky gloves, but in their favour the tails of the hood elastic stow neatly inside the collar, so they don't get in the way or risk whipping you in the eye when it's windy. A slightly stiffened brim adds a measure of structure for windy conditions, while an internal stretchy 'gaiter' pulls the fit in closer around the forehead. In addition a little internal down-filled collar/baffle helps prevent draughts and spindrift finding their way down the back of your neck. Overall it's a superb hood, roomy yet snug, and easily adjustable.
With its superb tailored fit, high fill power goose down and well-designed hood, the Ramche 2.0 is a class act. Ultralight fabric, clever zoning of the down fill and a reflective mesh all contribute to its impressive warmth-for-weight, giving you a lot of insulating performance for only a fairly modest weight and pack size. Hydrophobic down adds peace of mind for winter belays or bivvys, and at least to an extent boosts its usefulness in the damp UK climate. There's no denying the Ramche 2.0 will make a large dent in your wallet, but whether you're climbing in a Scottish winter or heading somewhere colder and higher, this is one heck of a duvet jacket.
With warmth-to-weight precision, the Ramche 2.0 builds on its predecessor's success to deliver a lighter and warmer version that is the new standard in mountaineering down jackets.
Mountaineers have long searched for the optimum balance of warmth-to-weight and the Ramche 2.0 delivers just that. Scientifically engineered to deliver precision heat zones through body-mapping technology, every down baffle has been analysed for optimum down fill and performance in conjunction with the body's thermoregulatory framework. The original Ramche featured our revolutionary hydrophobic down and for the Ramche 2.0 we have an update to this ground-breaking technology - Hydrodown, powered by NikWax. This PFC-free hydrophobic down provides water repellency for up to 16 hours and is R.D.S certified for guaranteed ethical sourcing of down products. The Ramche 2.0 also contains an internal reflect mesh over the core body areas for up to 10% greater thermal efficiency. A highly durable 7 denier outer fabric completes the package – at 100% stronger than equivalent weighted fabrics, this is the perfect choice to give your jacket unrivalled durability against the rock.
For more info see: berghaus.com
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