The title ‘Winter Waterproofs’ is a little misleading; perhaps ‘Mountain Waterproofs’ or ‘Hardcore Hardshells’ would be more appropriate? In this review, and the companion men’s winter waterproofs review from Phil (read this for the introductory discussion of waterproof breathable fabrics), we seek to distinguish between the lightweight, ‘just in case’ waterproof jackets of summer and something more substantial that can cope with the worst Scottish mountain weather.
Karrimor Elite Alpiniste RRP £199
This was my first introduction to eVent, a 3-layer waterproof breathable fabric that is stiffer with a more robust feel than some. After testing in a variety of winter weather conditions I was very impressed by its breathability, no need for pit zips, although the large torso pockets allow some extra ventilation. It kept the rain out completely even though I had some concerns about the water resistant, YKK branded zip, which is backed by only a small internal storm flap. The torso pockets are high enough to access with a rucksack belt, have mesh liner and can take OS maps. There is also a small breast pocket only really suitable for a GPS or phone – all the pockets have the same water resistant zips. The overall fit is fairly slim although I have managed comfortably with a duvet jacket underneath around camp, the sleeves are a good length with velcro fastening and plenty of movement and flexibility. There is a draw cord at the bottom. The helmet compatible roll-away hood is on the massive side, although once adjusted was fine and has a good wire peak allowing good visibility and movement and there’s a nice fleece chin guard. This jacket has recently been on offer at around half the RRP and for that price I think its a great buy for all but the most severe weather conditions.
Protection: eVent Weight: 500g (Size S)
Berghaus Civetta RRP £260
A good quality hardshell which I’d use all year round as it uses lightweight, very comfortable fabric with good breathability, aided by pit zip ventilation. The water resistant zip is backed by a fairly large internal storm flap and fleecy chin guard. The hood is a good shape, very adjustable with nice wired peak. The zips on the two, membrane-lined, front pockets could be longer to allow easier access – I couldn’t really use them for OS maps and the small breast pocket although suitable for a mobile is only accessible once the main zip is open. There’s plenty of movement in the fit although it could be on the short side for taller folk, as the size 10 only came down to my upper thigh and I’m 5’3″. There was room for plenty of layers underneath but like most of these jackets the cut is fairly slim and on the short side so trying one on would be wise before buying.
Protection: Gore Tex Pro Weight: 380g (Size 10)
Adidas Terrex Icefeather RRP £400
Having last encountered Adidas through school sports shoes this high spec, technical garment turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. Made from GoreTex Pro, an upgraded and more durable fabric than Pro Shell, its aimed at the active mountaineer and performed very well in terms of flexibility and keeping out the rain, with a great fit and long pit zips and mesh-lined pockets to aid ventilation. The zip on and off snow skirt adds approximately 50g of weight and kept out the white stuff during the all important sledging test. The helmet compatible hood adjusts well and has a bigger wired peak than most. The water resistant zip has a fleecy chin guard but only a very small internal storm flap, possibly a weak point in very wet conditions. The torso pockets are sensibly placed high out of the way of the rucksack belt but although you can fit an OS map in, its a squeeze. There’s also an internal and 2 external breast pockets handy for a mobile or GPS. The rather shocking lime green is a sample and has been replaced by a more subtle dark mint colour. This would be my recommended buy if it wasn’t for the high price and slight concern about the front zip.
Protection: Gore Tex Pro Weight: 510g (Size S including 50g detachable snow skirt)
Keela Munro RRP £160
This is the heaviest jacket on review but I’d say that the extra bulk and weight is well worth it if you are looking for a robust coat you can wear comfortably all day in the worst winter conditions. Whilst I didn’t like the feel of the bulky mesh lining that is part of Scottish company Keela’s System Dual Protection, it proved to be adequately breathable and extremely waterproof in the harshest conditions, with pit zips providing added ventilation. The YKK zip is covered by a large storm flap. The two hand warmer pockets are fleece lined and there’s a large breast pocket which will take an OS map. The other breast pocket is designed for a mobile or GPS, although it might be a squeeze fitting larger models in, both these pockets are accessed without opening the main zip. The rollaway hood adjusts well with a wired peak providing good visibility and movement. There is a waist drawcord and a removable snow skirt which doesn’t drag on the legs too much and provides good protection against blowing snow. Elasticated cuffs are a slight downer in my opinion but too small a niggle to weight against the robustness and value of this perfectly-named coat.
Protection: System Dual Protection Weight: 800g (Size 10 including detachable 80g snow skirt)
Outdoor Research Paladin RRP £200
This lightweight jacket is more suited to 3 season use but would be a good option for active winter days when the forecast is not too bad. The cut is slim and the shortest of all the jackets here. It beaded very well and although a little less breathable than some it still performed well and the torso pockets, with nice big two-ended zips, are mesh lined for added ventilation. The helmet compatible hood requires a fair bit of adjustment and the drawcords are kept away from your face – the peak is not wired. A full length water resistant zip is supported by an adequate sized storm flap and there’s a nice fleecy chin guard. A draw cord allows adjustment at the hem and the velcro-cuffed sleeves with articulated elbows are roomy enough to allow good upward movement. The internal breast pocket has a headphone hole and the torso pockets can take and OS map comfortably.
Protection: Pertex Shield 3L Weight: 340g (Size S)