Lightweight, well cut, and very breathable, the Paclite Dynak Jacket is good value for a high performing all-round shell, say Fliss Freeborn and Lewis Mulholland. Here they check out both the men's and women's versions.
When my partner Lewis and I were asked to review two Berghaus Paclite Dynak jackets as a his and hers piece, I wondered whether that'd mean us writing a word each, passing the laptop back and forth like some sort of LCD cigarette, or writing two separate columns to be combined in the same review. As it turns out, not much differs in our jackets apart from colour and fit, so I've written the bulk of it and he has interjected with his thoughts on fit and breathability. So take this as direct evidence that - contrary to popular belief - he can fit a word in edgeways...
Good breathability, nice active cut, lightweight, and a fair price
Not many - hood's a bit small for helmet use
We can't say it's a lot of jacket for your money because the point is that it's not a lot of jacket. But it does its intended job well
The Paclite Dynak Jacket is a lightweight summer-oriented waterproof, with pared-back features and a slim-fit design to really cut down on bulk. It's unobtrusive enough to live forgotten in your pack until you need it, keeping you dry during occasional showers, and it's this on-off sort of weather that it's best suited to, rather than a deluge of winter wind and precipitation.
Berghaus have used Gore-Tex Paclite, whose 2-layer construction does away with the inner lining of a typical 3-layer waterproof, thus keeping the weight down significantly. The result is a jacket that feels supple and pliable between your fingers. The use of a PFC free coating (PFCs are part of a group of harmful nasties that bioaccumulate) is always a bonus too. It's worth noting that the two-layer construction may be less long-lived than a 2.5 or 3-layer shell; but there had to be some payback for the lightness.
On our kitchen scales the men's size M comes in at 360g (Berghaus say 365g) while my women's UK8 is just 281g. As well as being pretty darn light - if not an ultralight - the Paclite Dynak Jacket squishes down nicely, taking up little more room than a 500ml drinks bottle - perfect for those days when the forecast says you shouldn't get too wet but there's still a chance you might encounter a shower or two.
Waterproofing vs breathability
Among Gore's fabrics, Paclite is about middle of the road in terms of breathability, on a par with Gore-Tex Pro Most Breathable but slightly less breathable than Gore-Tex Active. But more informative than any numbers is how it feels in use - which is pretty darn good.
As more of a summer-oriented waterproof, the Paclite Dynak Jacket finds itself in a difficult position: balancing weatherproofing with the ability to provide sufficient breathability is a tough ask. And when it actually comes to testing this on the hill, there is a key variable involved - the internal thermostat of the wearer. Personally, I run colder than Jack Frost's nipples after a January skinny-dip, so getting really sweaty on the uphill has never been much of a problem for me. My partner, on the other hand, will get home from work in the dead of winter, rip his shirt off, proclaim he's "bloody boiling", chug three pints of iced water, then hang his half-naked torso out of the window to cool down. He is usually a dripping mess by the time we're at the top of any hill, so his opinion on breathability is probably the gold standard here:
Happily, the Paclite Dynak has performed excellently for me in terms of balancing breathability and waterproofness. Over the course of a long-running test over this year's Scottish approximation of a summer, it fared well across a wide range of activities: as well as countless long, often wet hill-days, it coped admirably with light fell-running duties, proving un-sweaty enough to be the favourable option over braving the biting Scottish wind and mizzle with only a softshell. It also saw repeated action as an outer layer for mountain biking days, and was the jacket of choice for any summer alpine forays; beefy enough to give a little more confidence than the crisp-packet cagoules so often favoured by the weight weenie, while taking up almost as little room in the pack.
Most importantly, it's proved that it can withstand the toughest battle of any waterproof jacket outside of a winter climbing season - the hanging-around-a-campsite-in-Scotland-in-the-rain test. It performed so well in fact that it kept the big and beefy Gore-Tex Pro hardshells unused. We both stayed as dry as a bone even in those heavy summer squalls.
Overall it does exactly what is says on the tin here, and it does it well.
I'm usually a bog-standard UK 8, but I always opt for a size 10 when choosing waterproof jackets so I can fit enough insulation underneath. However, due to the intended use of the jacket I opted for my usual size here, seeing as it should only need a thin fleece and a baselayer underneath rather than 4 inches of duck down and a hot water bottle. Happily, the 8 fits true to size, and isn't in the least bit boxy, with a flattering feminine cut.
There's good manoeuvrability in the shoulders, which I've found to be excellent for the casting action when fishing, as well as for scrambling. Unusually for me, the length in the arms is good - not too long- and the hood fits nicely too, with space for Fairly Substantial Hat (my preferred sub-genre of hat, if you're asking). The bottom hem of the jacket is also the perfect length for my ewok-like frame, but I imagine anyone taller or long in the torso could find it slightly too short, especially if they're reaching upwards for scrambling holds.
I know it's not really the point of these reviews but it should also be mentioned that this jacket is also quite stylish, working well as an oot-n-aboot waterproof for commuting, or other general non-hill activities. I happen to love the colour scheme too, which is my favourite shade of not-purple.
The men's Paclite Dynak Jacket has a rather more boxy fit than the women's version, and does not have the same "alpine" style slim fit that is common among many of the waterproof shells on the market. It's therefore a good choice if you like the option to fit a few layers underneath your shell, or if you're not a fan of the trend towards the slim fit. The sleeves are slightly shorter than some others, which suits me, though if you have very skinny wrists you might find they don't adjust narrow enough. This does mean there is lots of room for big gloves if need be. The hood is spacious and cinches down really well to keep the weather out, but unfortunately is not quite big enough to fit a climbing helmet.
The jacket is rather light on features, with only two outside hand pockets and nothing in the way of bells and whistles; this helps it save on both cost and weight. There's drawstrings on both the bottom hem and on the hood, which feel well-made and durable. In terms of waterproofing, the main zip is waterproof; the pocket zips aren't, but Berghaus have opted for storm flaps to protect from light ingress. In substantially wet weather this means you might end up with a soggy OS map, which Dan Bailey will be pleased to know just squeezes into the pocket. The pockets sit high enough that they can be accessed when wearing a harness, if that's your thing.
This is a good value jacket, coming in at £170 - naturally pricier than a pac-a-mac but a whole lot better at keeping you dry both inside and out. We can't say it's a lot of jacket for your money because that's not the point of it: it's not a lot of jacket. But it does its intended job well, and its pack weight and size are its real winning features. We've found no need to hoick out the winter-weight Gore-Tex Pro jackets over autumn, and will definitely continue to use the Paclite Dynak Jackets for as long as we can get away with into the winter season.
New relationship goal: become a human Battenberg cake as per first picture. Good work.