I am particularly impressed with the hood which is plenty big enough to fit over a climbing helmet. In fact it just about squeezes my cannon ball ski helmet under it. Yet it still manages to cinch down to provide a close fit without a helmet. This is due to two separate volume adjusters on the back. The hood is also wired in the peak. I wore it in some howling conditions in both France and the Howgills and I would go so far as to say it is one of the best fitting hoods I have used. Well done Haglofs I hope this is a feature of all of your jackets.
Image - Dave Mac
So do I like the jacket? Or more importantly, would I buy it?
I initially had a lot of scepticism about this jacket. This is nothing whatsoever to do with Haglofs' design. The fit features and looks of this jacket are fantastic.
Image - Dave Mac
Windstopper fabric, any good? I don't know about anybody else but I have used windstopper in the UK and found that it does everything that Gore say it does. It is breathable and 100% windproof. But, and this is a big but, Goretex is breathable, 100% windproof, and 100% waterproof. So why would you buy a windstopper jacket when in many situations you would also need to carry a waterproof? Every Boy Scout knows you should never head into the hills without a waterproof. Or should you?
Image - Dave Mac
After a bit of research I found that the windstopper layer in the fabric has a hydrostatic head high enough to achieve the British standard for waterproofness. However it is not possible to tape the seams. So what we have here is an almost waterproof jacket with waterproof zips. It also has a DWR (Durable water repellent) outer treatment. The difference in breathability between windstopper and Goretex is not going to be great. They are both going to provide a barrier to water vapour.
So this is beginning to sound a bit negative but in answer to my above question, Yes, I would buy it. It is a brilliant cold weather jacket. In below zero temperatures you are not going to get wet inside. If it is below freezing you are obviously not going to get rained on. The large temperature difference between the inside and outside will aid breathing. The pit zips provide excellent ventilation. On a -5 degree 70mph day in the Howgills (above photo) I could happily skin uphill for an hour with pitzips undone and ski down again without worrying about being sweaty.
The durability of the fabric beats any Gore-Tex face fabric hands down. If you are the sort of person who enjoys rubbing yourself up against Scottish mixed ground, or climb leashless and like to hook your newly sharpened ice axes over your shoulder while swapping hands and don't want to worry about ripping a hole through your £300-£400 Goretex (or just want a jacket that will last longer) then seriously consider a softshell. If like me you can't bare the idea of going in to the hills without a waterproof then stick the lightest one you can find in the bottom of your pack. Probably a good idea for days out on the Ben. You might have to walk in or out in rain before you cross the freezing level. I haven't used mine yet.
In summary, a well cut, well featured jacket for below zero conditions but don't expect to stay dry in a downpour.
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