It doesn’t get much more niche than Finisterre – a Cornish company specialising in cold water surf apparel. It may seem strange that a surf company would appear on the radar of a hillwalking website, but amongst the hoodies and chunky jumpers are a few technical pieces that I think are worth a look.
Finisterre Ekman DB Waterproof Shell
Weight: 425g (size large)
Most outdoor brands have a 400g hardshell in their range, and Finisterre’s is pretty good. The fabric is an unbranded three-layer waterproof breathable laminate which is particularly soft and crinkle-free, with a pleasant soft brushed inner layer for against-the-skin comfort. The outer face is reinforced with a ripstop pattern and is available in a choice of colours. Despite the fabric this doesn’t feel like a hardcore alpine shell – the cut is relaxed to allow for easy layering over thick insulation and the back is long with a scooped tail. For those of us that run hot and prefer to wear a hardshell over just a baselayer there’s a bit of excess fabric to deal with – I could have sized down. The hood is a good design, with a wire brim and cordlock adjustments to repel typical British beach weather, but it’s obviously not helmet-compatible. A fabric tab inside the collar allows it to be folded away. All zips are good quality YKK water-resistant models, with the double-ended main zip backed by a wide internal storm flap just in case. It’s obvious that this jacket has seen some real-world testing in the development phase… The two zipped handwarmer pockets are covered by a rucksack hipbelt and there’s no external chest pocket, just an internal mesh pocket which doubles as a storage pouch for the jacket. Despite the generally high-quality hardwear used, the plastic bit on the end of the cord zip pulls came off in my hands on the first use – as it happened on both pockets I can only assume a manufacturing fault – but it’s frustrating nonetheless and lets down a decent jacket. The Ekman is definitely not mountain-specific and lacks the cut and ruggedness of a jacket designed for hard use, but for lower level walks and general outdoor wear it’s excellent.
Finisterre Incus Insulated Gilet
Weight: 300g (size large)
I recently re-discovered the joy of insulated gilets – a puffy synthetic insulation garment is a key component in my layering system, and it’s not as if I regularly get cold arms… The Incus is a classic gilet filled with 60gsm PrimaLoft Sport insulation – it doesn’t possess the higher warmth-to-weight ratio of PrimaLoft One, but it’s a bit cheaper and most users wouldn’t be able to tell the difference anyway. The insulation is kept in place by a series of baffles that manage to avoid a Michelin Man effect, and the inner lining prevents the stitching causing cold spots. Containing the insulation is a low-bulk windproof and water-resistant nylon shell with a ripstop pattern offering some reinforcement. The main zip is chunky and smooth, with a grosgrain-covered internal storm flap which prevents draughts and resists snagging well. The two large handwarmer pockets are lined with microfleece for cold-hand comfort and hemmed with Lycra – a neat finish that is also used on the arm holes. A large zipped inner pocket doubles as a stuff sack. To help keep out draughts, the bottom hem has a shockcord adjustment and there’s a tall fleece-lined collar with beard guard. The weight and small packed size make this an ideal layer to have stashed in a pack for piece breaks or an integral part of a layering system. Mine has seen a lot of use.
Finisterre Keele Base Layer
Weight: 188g (size large)
Why should baselayers be plain? The stripy Keele baselayer top looks good, fits well, and performs. Merino is an excellent baselayer material, dealing with moisture while breathing and remaining comfortable, and most importantly resisting odour. It’s warm and cosy but can take a while to dry. On its own, merino isn’t particularly durable, so Finisterre have blended it with 18 % polyamide and 12 % polyester. This beefs it up as well as enhancing the moisture wicking properties – key in a baselayer. The model reviewed has a standard crew neck and long sleeves; long sleeves are great – offering flexibility and protection. The crew neck is less ideal – it looks nice, but a collar to provide sun protection plus a zip neck for ventilation would be a better option. More annoyingly, the shoulder seam runs right across the shoulder – where most outdoor garments move this seam away from the area impacted by rucksacks straps, that hasn’t happened in this case. It’s a small, flat seam, but it can still cause irritation when heavily loaded.