Of all of the bits of kit that I had on my recent Mountain Leader assessment, I was most impressed with this little jacket. I first saw it last year, a grid fleece inner with a water resistant outer layer of Helium 30rs - a fabric made specifically for Mountain Equipment. A fleece with a windproof layer, a hood and that folds up into its own pocket.
|Fleece inner, Helium shell outer|
Lynne actually went and got one first, and after seeing it in action I went out and got one as soon as I could.
I used it a bit in Switzerland, but not really in anger, but a week later, on Mountain Leader assessment I barely took it off. It was raining for virtually the whole way through, and even though the Helium RS face fabric on the outside was soaked, the grid fleece inner felt dry and good against the skin. Which is important when you end up with ridiculous amounts of eczema when you have damp clammy skin, like I do.
There is also an elasticated strip on each side, running from the waist right up, under the arm, and continues to the cuff. Stretchy stuff to allow for reachy moves if climbing, and lets you move easily. A good touch for dynamism which is sometimes not allowed for in outdoors clothing. It also has waist toggles to allow for pulling the waist in around you.
The face fabric itself, as already mentioned was designed exclusively for ME as a windproof and downproof outer shell - and for those that care, its about 29grams per metre. (It also has a surprising resilience to moisture, beading for quite a long time before wetting out when exposed to rain.
|Lightweight, but windproof and water resistant|
Equally, when I wore it under a waterproof, it was a great insulating layer, but it still breathed enough that I was walking, to not completely wet out inside the jacket, providing an excellent and breathable alternative to fleece
|Hood bungee bits|
I have to admit weighing it and a Patagonia R1 on the kitchen scales, just for interests sake, and the Ultratherm weighs less than the same size Patagonia R1 (by about 50g).
|Helmet compatible hood|
(thats a petzl elios under there)
The only criticism is that the side pulls on the hood are not one-hand adjustable - not the end of the world, but it would have been an excellent touch. (but difficult on a fold away hood of this lightweight material).
It isn't a strong waterproof, but nor is it meant to be. The hood is, however, helmet compatible, and clamps onto your head whether you are wearing headgear or not. Mountain Equipment really have got their hoods sorted out. I had a Changabang a few years ago and
|Stuffed into its own pocket|
I've worn a fair few mid-layers and "softshells" and this is almost certainly the best one I've worn.
The amazing thing was that it just felt comfortable for the entire week, no matter what I was doing. Even
when it was wet.
|Stuffed into a stuffsack - much smaller|
Just go out and buy one.