For the Keele Peak Jacket Marmot have teamed up with Pertex to produce a lightweight, waterproof and breathable jacket. Sound familiar? Yes, these are indeed the features of every single other waterproof jacket in the universe - so what makes this, and the Pertex Shield Pro membrane, any different from the others? Rob Greenwood takes a look…
Weight and Durability
At 340g the Keele Peak is probably best described as a lightweight, fully featured jacket. It's worth remembering that these days you can get much, much lighter jackets, but that these aren't going to stand up to anywhere near as much rain as this. The Keele Peak is, after all, a proper waterproof designed to actually be worn whilst it's raining, as opposed to being packed away in the hope that it won't. It comfortably sits within a 'three season' category and would realistically be able to handle winter too (although it probably wouldn't be my first choice, as it's nice to have something slightly burlier).
When it comes to durability, there have been no signs of wear whilst we've been using it. The face fabric has a durable and slightly textured feel to it. Whilst it is lightweight, it is - as per the thoughts above - a jacket that has been designed to be used; as such, it will take a bit of abrasion against rock without immediately disintegrating, like a great many lighter offerings would. When it comes to the componentry, once again everything feels of a sufficient quality to last, with YKK zips all around.
Finally, the membrane. The Keele Peak features a 3-layer Pertex Shield Pro membrane, which - by its very nature - is more durable than its 2.5 layer equivalent (more on this below).
The Pertex Shield Pro membrane is ultimately what dictates the jacket's performance. It's been a fair few years I last used a Pertex membrane, and even then it was Shield (as opposed to Shield Pro) and the experience has felt quite different.
Shield Pro features a microporous PU membrane, which allows sweat and water vapour to pass through freely and easily. In practical terms this means that it is a very breathable jacket. Due to it being manufactured from PU (Polyurethane) it is also softer and more relaxed in its feel than an equivalent ePTFE (i.e. Gore-Tex) jacket. Whereas the latter can feel quite bulky/scrunchy, the Shield Pro feels much more packable, with a significantly softer and more wearable feel - something that is added to by its two-way stretch.
It's worth noting that as with most waterproofs these days, the lack of PFCs used in production (a good thing, environmentally) means that you'll end up re-treating it more often to maintain the effectiveness of the DWR treatment. On balance, do we end up causing less impact over time, or more?!
Nb. standard 'non-Pro' Pertex Shield uses a slightly different technology, a hydrophilic membrane that has no pores. Instead, moisture moves through the solid membrane via diffusion. This is great when it comes to making the jacket light, but less great when it comes to its breathability - hence the benefits of using Pro.
Good news is that the Keele Peak comes in both men's and women's versions. My first impression when putting on the Keele Peak was its sizing, which is undoubtedly on the generous side. The Medium supplied is realistically more like a Large, so be prepared to take this into account if purchasing online.
Aside from that, the cut itself is active, with a good freedom of movement (partly as a result of cut, but boosted by the two-way stretch fabric) that means it's great for scrambling too. It's got a good length in the arms and has plenty, but not too much room across the shoulders and the chest. Unsurprisingly as a result of it being quite large for its size it feels quite roomy, so just to repeat - try before you buy!
The hood fits with the maxim of the rest of the jacket, insofar as it is designed to function in actual wet weather. The issue with a great many lightweight jackets is that they scrimp on the hood, but when it's wet in the British mountains it tends to be very wet - hence an insufficient hood can leave you cold and miserable.
The Keele Peak features a wired peak and plenty of volume, which can be reduced courtesy of the adjustment on both the back and the sides. It's not helmet compatible, but given the spec of the rest of the jacket this won't come as too much of a surprise.
The pockets on the Keele Peak are at waist level, which makes them comfortable to put your hands into whilst walking, but clearly covers them whilst wearing a harness or rucksack hip belt. As a result, this probably isn't the jacket for those looking to climb. Hillwalking, scrambling and even running would be ideal. Running is not necessarily what it's designed or marketed as being for, but due to the breathability I think it would be ideally suited to it (I haven't used this running as much as I might, as the larger sizing means it's quite baggy for such activity). In addition to this there's a chest pocket which is suitable for phones and can just fit a Cicerone guidebook (suitably tested when a downpour arrived and I needed somewhere to put it).
Just above the pockets are the pit-zips, which further add to the jacket's breathability. That said, because the USP of the Shield Pro is breathability, I have not yet found myself using them a great deal, as the membrane seems to do a proficient job of shifting moisture on its own (and I've been on a lot of walks in hot/humid conditions, so trust me - I should know!). One issue I've had with the design is that the zips for the pockets and the zips for the pit-zips are very close together, meaning that you often mistake one for the other, which can be quite annoying.
The Keele Peak is a wearable, fully-featured jacket that manages to achieve a lot for its weight. It's light, but not too light, and is designed to be fully functional (i.e. worn in the rain, as opposed to carried in your bag hoping it won't). It is comfortable to wear, noticeably breathable, and has a good cut, although the sizing is potentially up to a size out - something which is worth taking note of if you're ordering online. Due to the positioning of the pockets its focus is very much on the walking/scrambling side of things, although due to its breathable nature it'd also be well suited towards running too. Finally, the Keele Peak isn't cheap, coming in at £320, but 3-layer waterproofs aren't cheap and given its fabric, design and durability the price should come as no surprise.
A fast and light shell that's designed for speedy ascents. 3-layer Pertex Shield® fabric is windproof and waterproof, yet offers breathability and 2-way stretch. 100% seam taping prevents water from sneaking in. Its 2-way, water-resistant center front zipper prevents bunching. Core vents mean you can add this shell to your climbing pack for comfort all year long. Articulated elbows make it easy to move when layered. The attached hood offers maximum coverage with an adjustable drawcord at the back that won't interfere with a helmet.
- Sizes: S-XXL (men) XS-XL (women)
- Weight: 340g (M)
- Fabric: Pertex Shield AP© 3L 100% Nylon Plainweave Stretch 2.9 oz/yd
- 3-layer Pertex Shield® fabric with 2-way stretch is a waterproof, windproof, breathable membrane for lightweight and versatile protection against the elements
- 100% seam-taped to keep water out; Water-resistant core vents
- 2-way, water-resistant center front zipper with snap bottom; Zippered chest pocket
- Articulated elbows for increased mobility
- Helmet-compatible hood with peripheral cord adjustment
- Adjustable drawcord hem; Adjustable VELCRO® cuffs
For more info see marmot.com