'A fantastic portable fortress of a shell jacket capped off with a magnetically-secured hood that works superbly with or without a climbing helmet - genius!'
Outdoors Magic: Genius hood design, bombproof fabric and feel, excellent mountain cut, flawless build quality and components. Great balance of protection and breathability.
Outdoors Tragic: Noisy fabric, vent zips sit under some pack straps, expensive.
Outdoors Grabbit? Yes if you want the ultimate in expedition hard-shell jackets. It has everything you need for technical mountaineering and the best helmet/non-helmet hood design we've ever used. The fabric is tough and proven, every detail has been thought through and the build quality is amazing. A proper portable fortress to shield you from bad weather, though arguably a little over the top for typical UK mountain use.
Expedition mountaineering jacket / Gore-Tex Pro fabric / XpanseBack system / XpanseHood / venting chin-piece / YKK Vislon zips / twin Napoleon chest pockets / twin core-vents doubling as pockets / adjustable hem with drop-tail / adjustable cuffs / Cohaesive cord grips / soft lined collar and chin-guard
Full Review Below
Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro Jacket - The Tech
We're not sure we've ever seen a waterproof jacket with so much concentrated attention to detail. The whole thing has a feel of top-notch build quality starting with the tough, but light Gore-Tex Pro fabric and running through to the smallest touches like the easy-to-use and nigh-on indestructible round, flat Cohaesive cord-grips used for hood and hem adjustments.
The major design stand-out though, is the Xpanse Hood. It's the Berghaus answer to 'the problem with helmet hoods', which is that it's almost impossible to design a hood that not only works properly with a climbing helmet, but will also fit neatly over a bare head.
It's All Done With Magnets!
The answer, believe it or not, is magnets. They're used to hold a pleated section of the hood tightly shut in normal use without a helmet. But don a lid and they allow the hood to expand accordingly. Apparently it started off as a bit of a joke, but rapidly turned into a real-world solution when the Mtn.Haus design team realised they were actually onto something. Does it work? Wait and see.
The other unusual touch is the XpanseBack, a pleat in the centre of the back section held closed by a stretch mesh panel inside, but free to expand as you reach out or up. The idea is that it allows a close fit, but never restricts movement.
Like we said, it's all very ingenious, but does it work in the real world... read on.
Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro Jacket - Performance
The clue's in the name: the Extrem 8000 Pro is designed as a full-on expedition mountaineering shell. It was developed with Leo Houlding, who told us he thought it was 'the best waterproof jacket Berghaus has ever made' - but he would say that - and despite the restrained styling, in the flesh it oozes bombproof build quality.
All the details are 'just so'. The ultra-narrow seam tape on the excellent Gore-Tex Pro fabric is millimetre perfect, the Cohaesive cord-grips are distinctive and easy to use, everything just feels right.
But it's not until you use the 8000 Pro that you realise just how good it really is. The cut is excellent, not in a super-close fitted way, but in the sense that there's enough room for a proper insulation layer underneath.
The real trick though, is that that pleat in the back of the jacket means that in use, it feels sort of larger cut than it actually is. There's no restriction to reaching up or forwards - a classic climbing movement - just easy motion.
The hem's neatly done too. There's a serious drop-tail and a notch un the fabric at each side that makes high-steps easy. There are also all the pockets an expedition mountaineer could want. Two Napoleon-style chest ones with zips hidden under neat storm-flaps are backed up with enormous core-vents lined with stretch mesh that are also ideal for stowing gloves, hats and even water bottles close to the body.
Our one quibble with the latter was that some pack straps covered the zip-pull making it awkward to access on the move. Arguably the only real issue we had with the jacket at all.
Hoods You Win...
All of which is great, but how does it work in a classic UK mountain deluge? In a word, it's brilliant. A lot of that comes down to the hood. We were expecting it to work well with a helmet, but what surprised us was just how well it works without one as well.
The volume-reducing pleat really does the job. The hood cinches down to move neatly with your head, the stiffened and wired hood juts defiantly out into the storm and the substantial chin-piece means you can protect everything from your nose downwards.
There's no interference with movement or vision despite excellent side protection, and none of the loose floppiness we've experienced with other helmet-specific hoods. Instead it's like being sheltered inside your own little portable fortress.
Outside the rain may be lashing into you, but inside you feel protected, almost isolated from the weather. It's genuinely a little bit uncanny. It is, without question, the best dual-purpose hood we've used and one of the few out there that manages to offer full facial protection with or without a climbing helmet.
We also love the zip-open vented section on the chin-guard. It really does help if you're working hard and feeling a little suffocated by the all-enveloping face mask. Nice touch.
The whole hood really is a little slice of genius. The whole magnets thing might sound a bit zany, but the result is superb. Just keep your compass well away...
The Small Things
The detailing's good too. Zip-pulls are easy to use with gloves as are the South African Cohaesive cord grips. Classic Velcro cuff adjusters do the business and there's plenty of gauntlet-friendly wrist volume.
The only real issue we had was that glitch with the hard-to-reach vent zip-pulls. Once open the vents give decent extra cooling combined with storage. To be fair though, the latest version of Gore-Tex Pro fabric breathes well enough that you only need them if you're piling on the pace uphill.
It's also slightly noisy in use, but the pay-off is improved durability allied with decent lightness. For sure, 570g is at the heavier end of the spectrum, but there's an awful lot going on here.
Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro Jacket - Verdict
In short, the Extrem 8000 Pro is one of the best high mountain shells we've ever used. It's a cracking blend of a top-notch fabric and impressively thorough design from the Mtn.Haus team. And the cherry on the icing of the cake is that superb hood.
Not just because it works exceptionally well with a climbing helmet in place, but because the magnetically secured XpanseHood design is just as good without one. The end result is a superbly protective waterproof shell that feels like a protective mobile fortress in use - 'a suit of armour' was Houlding's take.
You feel almost hermetically sealed away from the onslaught of wind and rain, a little as if you're sat behind double-glazing.
It is, of course, also frighteningly expensive at £450. And you could argue that it's overkill for UK mountains, then again, no-one seems to have told Scottish winter conditions that. One of the best technical mountain waterproofs out there, but at a price.