Mammut Masao Light Jacket
If you're after a lighter shell for less-rigorous mountain use, but keen not to sacrifice too many useful features, then the Masao Light could be it, says Pegs Bailey.
Jackets for kids are not always high on the priority list - in fact the concept may seem entirely alien to many people. We are happy to spend £300 on a fancy bit of Goretex for ourselves, but kids can make do with a £10 bit of polythene from Argos surely? Either that or a fancy fashion garment from Next after some peristent pestering. Whilst these two options have their upside - low cost and happy children - they are less attractive if you actually start participating in an activity which requires performance from your waterproof.
"...I was told European law states that any children's clothing produced for the upper half of the body must not have elasticised/rope orientated draw cords around the face or neck areas..."
What Marmot have in the PreCip is a smartly designed jacket, with the functionality of a top quality waterproof and hopefully something of the appeal of a decent fashion garment. You won't get the Argos polythene price tag but at around £50 the jackets aren't exactly going to break the bank either.
The PreCip is both comfortable and light, and you can feel straight away that this is a quality bit of kit. It comes in a range of exciting colours - green, blue, red, orange for boys, green, two blues and purple for girls - and 5 different sizes covering ages from around 4 or 5 to 14 or 15.
The design is simple with fewer features than many of its adult counterparts. There are no pit zips or velcro tabs for the wrist bands, just the two main pockets which means no hidden security pocket, and no drawcords anywhere. I asked Marmot about this and was told that:
"European law states that any children's clothing produced for the upper half of the body must not have elasticised/rope orientated draw cords around the face or neck areas."
This is to prevent suffocation and seems a wise choice for that reason alone, however my son commented that he used to find it irritating when his mates twanged the drawcords on his other coat back into his face, and dangly drawcords also provided a welcome possibility for those kids who persistently need to chew on something - so all-in-all, a bonus all round. But does the hood still perform without its drawcord? In this case the answer is a resounding yes, and probably the strongest feature of the jacket. The hood stays in position without needing endless adjustment and is easy to put up and down. It gives good all round vision and makes you wonder why hoods on other jackets have drawcords at all if this one can do the job so well without one.
The inclusion of just two pockets, both well zipped, seems a little skimpy. Since the pockets are at hand height then it is likely that they could be open a lot of the time when the wearer was active - throwing snowballs, then stuffing the hands back in to keep warm. In such an eventuality, it is quite possible that the contents of the pockets could slip out so a secure money or phone pocket would have been a useful addition.
One of the most important features of kids coats is the durability and useability of the zip. Jackets where clumsy fingers can't start fiddly zips off are a waste of time unless you want your child to run around with an open jacket like a bat cape all the time (they sometimes do this themselves through choice actually). So a good zip that starts off well is a definite positive feature, and one which many kids coats and jackets fall at the first hurdle. The PreCip hasn't skimped on the zipper though and even Lydia with her clumsy fingers and tendency to ignore whatever you ask her to do was able to fasten this one up.
What is of most interest with a rain coat is how well it keeps the rain off whilst maintaining breathability. In this respect the Marmot PreCip with its DryTouch technology ranks highly. It was certainly waterproof enough for every occasion we put it to the test in.
The breathability is obviously also an important consideration - afterall, if you were just after waterproofing then the Argos polythene would do the job perfectly. My feeling is that PreCip isn't quite as breathable as other fabrics and there has been a thin film of moisture on the inside of the jackets when taken off but it certainly hasn't been much more than a very slight dampness, and this was when testing in quite warm conditions.
Other welcome features include some reflective strips on the back of the sleeves - small and subtle but extremely effective when we tested them with a torch - and a 'this jacket is owned by...' label illustrating good attention to detail.
A worthwhile jacket if you are serious about showing your child as much respect as you show yourself when buying waterproofs. Plus points are the excellent design, sizing and colours; the well made drawcord-less hood; and the general functional simplicity. Very small minus point for the lack of a third security pocket. I'll remain neutral on the breathability since it appeared to perform perfectly well in our useage.
It is also worth noting that the PreCip also has a trouser option at around £35 a pair although we didn't have any of these on test.
Alan is the Director of UKClimbing and Rockfax. He started climbing, like many folk, following the example of his father who was an active climber in the UK and the Alps the 1950s and 1960s ( - read Mike James Badile Epic). According to his mother's diary his first route was at Windgather in 1971, aged 7, although Alan himself can't confirm or deny this. Later trips with friends and some very basic gear into the Peak began a life-long obsession with climbing. This included a brief flirtation with Alpine climbing in the late 1980s but a perilous ascent of the NNE Spur of the Droites put an end to any more of that and he gave away his crampons in 1989. His main focus has always been trad climbing especially on the sea cliffs of Britain, but also sport climbing in France and Spain. More recently climbing and walking in the hills of the Lakes and North Wales with his children has provided a pleasant re-acquaintance with some long forgotten classic mountain routes.
See this product at the Joe Brown - Snowdonia shop