Thought you might appreciate an early look at the new lightweight technical fleece from Berghaus for this autumn, the Extrem 7000 Hoody which rocked up at OM Mansions the other day.
It's an interesting hybrid beastie that uses Polartec Power Grid lightweight fleece fabric with a gridded backer for most of the body, but also has panels of stretchy, non-grid fabric in the hood, integrated balaclava - more in a second - and cuffs.
Look closer and you realise that the gridded fleece comes in two different weights with the warmer stuff in some areas and a lighter version in others. It's all body mapped so you get more warmth where you need it. Or that's the theory, but it's an area where Berghaus has lots of experience based on extensive research involving climate chambers, heat sensors and more.
The jacket's a slim fitting, 370-gramme, lightweight that feels to be about the right warmth for active use under a shell in winter conditions. Any warmer and you'll be boiling on the move we reckon.
So far, so good, but what makes the Extrem 7000 a little different from previous Berghaus gridded fleeces - the legendary Smoulder for example - is that at the back of the integral hood lurks a strip of fleece fabric that can be pulled over your head to form a balaclava giving Ninja-stye facial protection up to eye level when things get properly gnarly.
No messing about with separate face-masks or balaclavas, just reach and deploy. It all sits very neatly under a helmet too. And when it's not in use, it's no more noticeable than a standard fleece collar. A very neat idea, though not a totally original one, Arc'teryx uses a similar concept in its Konseal Hoody, though that's not quite as warm.
Other features include integrated basic thumb-loops, a comfortable chin-guard and, a nice tough this, Polygiene anti-odour treatment, which we've found excellent used on lighter garments like Rab's Aeon Tee, which we've just reviewed.
We're liking the Extrem 7000 Hoody. It's not cheap at £120, but we're big fans of Polartec's fast-wicking and drying grid fabric line, which has a great warmth to weight ratio and the cut is neat and should work well layered with close-fitting shells.
Finally, the integrated balaclava idea, though not 100% original, is ingenious and potentially dead useful, whether you're a climber or a winter mountain walker. Throw in the Polygiene treatment for reduced washing and improved sociability and it's looking like a very nice bit of kit.
We'll be back with some proper user impressions once things get cooler and ruder out there.