Recommended Price: £229
Weight: 350g (Womens S)
Sizes: XS-XL (Womens) S-XXL (Mens)
Mens version available
My usual layers of choice for cooler, windy days in Scotland are either baselayer, microfleece and wind shirt or baselayer with a primaloft insulated jacket on top. However I often tend to feel cold in the wind when not ascending, only to overheat quickly once I start climbing. Recently I’ve been testing Mammut’s revamped Ultimate V softshell jacket and it seems to fit the bill as an outer layer for dry, windy Scottish conditions.
The first thing you notice is that the fabric is softer, thinner and stretchier than many softshell jackets. I thought this would mean it wouldn’t be warm enough but the 3 layer Gore Windstopper construction has proved more than adequate in providing an excellent barrier against the wind in some fairly extreme conditions recently in the Cairnorms. The fabric itself seems to breath very well and the 2-way underarm zips mean there are lots of venting options from small pit openings to having the sides fully open. Wind is also kept out with a full length baffle behind the front zip, the grabbers for which are easy to use with mitts and the zips themselves seem very free running.
Whilst the jacket is very windproof it is only suitable for short, light showers, I wouldn’t want to spend more than 20 minutes in drizzle or less in heavier rain without donning a proper waterproof. It does have a water repellent coating which works for a limited time. The good breathability means it seems to work well under a full waterproof in the rain.
The fixed hood is plenty big enough and moves well with your head; it can be adjusted using 2 slightly awkward drawcords. There is a high area to cover your chin and mouth when the front zip is fully done up. There are two large hand-warmer style pockets which are not totally obscured by most hipbelts, again the zips can be opened with mitts. The hem doesn’t have a draw cord (its already quite fitted) but is slightly elasticated at the sides for extra movement.
The women’s cut is closely tailored so won’t fit over bulkier midlayers, but is fine over a warm baselayer which I think is when it works best. The stretchy fabric, long arms (with thumb loops) and cut means it moves well with the body even when scrambling or making awkward movements. The inside of the fabric feels soft against the skin so can comfortably be worn over a vest or t shirt and it doesn’t snag on other clothing. The outer has shown no sign of wear and tear even under rucksack shoulder straps, and it has withstood snagging by undergrowth so far.
Available in 5 sizes in both mens and womens and also in 5 different colours, the men’s version has a Napolean-style chest pocket.
PROS: Very windproof, breathable, comfy fabric
CONS: No chest pocket on womens version