1 Velez jacket, Paramo, £275.
This versatile rainjacket is designed for active outdoors people who like to move swiftly through the countryside – including trail runners, backpackers, hill walkers and cyclists.
The slim-fit shape means the jacket clings to you comfortably on a run, and there’s less loose fabric to flap in strong winds when you reach the summit. A scooped rear hem protects your lower back when you are cycling. The orange colour is practical when you need to be seen (though more muted colours are available).
A few practicalities. The jacket fits closely, and while there may be room for a thin midlayer such as the Rab Xenon X Jacket beneath when it gets cold, you won’t fit anything much bulkier underneath. That is deliberate – as Paramo, unconventional as ever, recommend that when you need to layer up, you pull their insulating Torres Alturo jacket on top of the Velez; if you are worried that commits you to another £160 spend, a similar, water-resistant insulating layer, if you have one, would do the trick, too.
The close-fitting wired hood is highly effective, but the pockets vexed me a little. There are two, well positioned above the harness belt if you are carrying a pack. They are too small for an OS map, and too shallow for my peace of mind – if you forget to zip them up, things will easily fall out.
On the other hand, the Velez performs wonderfully well in rain. Paramo jackets are probably the most reliably waterproof around, which give you a tremendous sense of comfort when the weather turns bad.
They do, though, have a reputation for feeling warm when the temperature rises. There’s a good reason for this – Paramo’s Nikwax Analogy waterproofing system uses two fabrics sandwiched together, one of which is effectively a microfleece. The result is very breathable, and directional (drawing moisture away from the body) – but it does have insulating properties.
The Velez tackles this by scaling back to a lightweight version of the fabric in its lower third, and providing discreet vents to let in cool air on chest and arms. It will be interesting to see how it performs once the temperature rises in spring, but Paramo are adamant that the jacket will perform well all year round.
VERDICT: Thoroughly enjoyable advanture jacket – soft, comfortable, close fitting, with excellent waterproofing.
2 Tough and breathable
Further Faster Neo jacket, Montane, £250.
• Women’s version available.
Designed for long distance trail runs, this versatile jacket is perfectly well suited to backpacking or hiking, too.
The Further Faster Neo is made of the excellent Polartec Neoshell fabric, one of the most breathable waterproofs around.
This means that the moisture that builds up inside your jacket can escape through the fabric – so that you feel comfortable beneath, even when you are toiling up a slope.
It’s a fairly substantial fabric, but the slight stretch keeps you comfortable as you move. Elastic in the small of the back keeps the fit close, so the jacket doesn’t jump around as you jog.
The other main features are well executed. Deep pockets are big enough for an OS map and sit above the waist so they don’t mix with your harness if you’re wearing a backpack. The excellent wired hood has a substantial peak and turns with your head.
VERDICT: An impressive and versatile jacket for active adventures.
Hyper 100 Extrem jacket, Berghaus, £260.
New to the shops this spring, this ultra-light waterproof jacket comes with quite a fanfare, having won gold in the 2016 Outdoor Industry Awards.
That’s because of the ingenious new fabric, so light that the Hyper 100 weighs less than 100g.
Feather-light it may be, but there’s no compromise on performance – the fabric comprises three layers sandwiched together, a technique also used in much heavier fabrics. So it’s fully waterproof and windproof.
If that sounds tempting, note that if you’re a steady walker, this is not for you. The close-fitting cut disqualifies it from the kit-closet of the ambler/rambler, as there’s little room for anything more than a base layer beneath. The hood is rudimentary, with a tiny peak. Yes, it fits into a small stuff-sack the size of an apple, which makes a good back-up mac in the event of summer showers – but you are unlikely to spend £260 on an emergency waterproof.
So the appeal is a little niche – mainly trail runners, but also cyclists, and hikers who like to travel light and move at a lick.
But the Hyper 100 fills that niche outstandingly well.
The slim-line shape helps as it means the jacket won’t jump up and down as you move. (Hopefully the next version of the jacket will devote a few grams to a fastening at the neck to stop the hood jumping around with each pace.)
But the massive advantage of the Hyper 100 is its breathability. Berghaus say that in tests the fabric is twice as breathable as Gore-Tex Pro, the fabric used by many garment-makers for active pursuits such as climbing. This makes it remarkably – startlingly – pleasant to wear when your body is working hard and building up a sweat. I can't wait to try it on a muggy summer's day.
Hopefully in the future Berghaus will offer a women's version – and some brighter colours for good visibility on country lanes.
VERDICT: Pricey, but outstandingly good for trail running in rain and wind.
Reviews by Countryfile Magazine gear editor Joe Pontin
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