Berghaus Women's Extrem Sumcham Jacket | Review
Berghaus's new women's-specific mountaineering jacket uses its own Hydroshell Elite fabric for a solid-feeling, waterproof and breathable mountain shell.
'Over-generous, oddly shapeless cut and uncompromising helmet hood detract from a tough-feeling mountain jacket '
Outdoors Magic: Robust, reassuring feel, big venting pockets, solid build quality, hood works with a helmet. Good price. Stealth hidden adjusters are neat.
Outdoors Tragic: Strange cut, massive hood, heavy and bulky.
Outdoors Grabbit? Not unless your body shape matches the Sumcham's odd wide-shouldered/slim-hipped cut and you mainly wear it with a helmet. A shame as the fabric's decent and the jacket feels reassuringly robust and protective.
Women's-specific waterproof mountain jacket / 3-layer Hydroshell Elite Pro fabric / helmet hood with wired and stiffened peak / twin venting pockets / YKK moulded Aquaguard main-zip / adjustable cuffs and hem / stealth hood adjusters / lifetime guarantee
Full Review Below
Sumcham Jacket - The Tech
What makes the women's Sumcham mountaineering jacket different from, say, the impressive Mountain Equipment Manaslu is that Berghaus has chosen to use its own Hydroshell Elite Pro fabric instead of a branded name like Gore-Tex.
That's one reason why the jacket is around £70 cheaper than its ME equivalent. Do you lose out? In truth, a little. The Hydroshell is heavier than Gore-Tex Pro, doesn't breathe as well and may not be as durable in the long term.
'First impressions were that the Sumcham was a straightforward red jacket, that felt and looked robust and ready for anything.'
It's still a decent, fully waterproof fabric though and reasonably breathable helped by mesh-lined venting pockets. It also, like Gore-Tex, has a lifetime guarantee against leakage.
The rest of the tech is decent enough as well. A helmet hood with a seriously stiffened peak complete with wired edge so you can mould it to suit your preferences. A top-notch YKK main-zip, though the pockets get less swish alternatives. And a generally solid build throughout as you'd expect from Berghaus.
Sumcham Jacket - Performance
The Suncham's reassuring heft and solid feel augured well for an uncompromising mountain jacket, but the fit was universally panned. 'It's like going back to the days when women's jackets were just shrink and pink versions of men's' said Caroline, who used to work in outdoors shop.
Specifically, although our test jacket was a nominal size 12, it felt more like a 14 in the upper body and shoulders, but still had a narrow hip-shape that rode up with movement along with a loose fit elsewhere. 'Sack-like' was one of the harsher verdicts...
To be fair, there was no problem adding warmer layers underneath, but this is one where you really do need to try before buying. It didn't fit any of our four women.
'I failed to satisfactorily adjust the hood to suit. There was some wallowing of material and floppiness preventing the best long distance vision without the peak interfering.'
Also contentious was the helmet hood. Yes, it works well with a helmet and gives good facial protection, but the pay-off, particularly for those with smaller heads, is that with a lid, you're simply swamped with the peak tending to fall forwards over the eyes and restrict vision. Caroline could pretty much set up camp inside...
All of which is shame because the solid-feeling fabric works fine for general mountain use, though it's not as breathable as some. The build quality is good with decent features like a serious storm-flap behind the main-zip and those big venting pockets that also take a map quite happily and stealth hood-cord and hem adjusters tucked neatly away so they can't flap around in serious wind.
Overall though, we kept coming back to the cut and the hood as fundamental issues.
Sumcham Jacket - Verdict
Somewhere inside the Sumcham, there's a decent, robust, protective jacket struggling to get out, but all our testers had issues with the oddly shapeless fit and the voluminous helmet hood.
It's a shame as otherwise the Sumcham feels like a well-designed mountaineering shell at a very competitive price. The own-brand Berghaus fabric works well and there are neat touches like those stealth adjusters, venting pockets and overall solidness, though it is a little weighty at 510g.
We're not saying you should automatically dismiss the jacket as an option, but we'd try it carefully before buying and make a special point of ensuring that the hood works okay for you both with and without a helmet.