First featured in our 2019 Green Gear guide, Dutch newcomers Cortazu came onto our radar at the start of last year when they picked up one of the biggest awards in the outdoor industry for a recycled three layer waterproof jacket – more on this further down.
It’s great to see how it’s now become the norm for each brand to have their own way of doing their bit to help the fight against climate change. In the case of Cortazu, they’ve chosen to partner with a company called ‘Justdiggit’ who support farmers and landowners in Tanzania and Kenya to help harvest rain water and ultimately bring dead land back to life, turning it green again.
For each jacket sold (they only sell direct to consumer), Cortazu are promising to work with Justdiggit to re-green fifty square miles of what was once fertile farm land at the foot of Kilimanjaro – somewhere that has seen the harsh effects of global warming first hand.
This young company aren’t just throwing money at sustainability projects so they can do the environmental legwork for them, however. They’re also looking to make sure that all of the production involved across their line is as low impact as possible. As I mentioned above, in 2019 they won a ISPO Gold Award for sustainability in reward for their development of a three-layer jacket made from recycled nylon, one that can be easily recycled when it reaches the end of its life. This is particularly impressive in a time where we’re still seeing many of the big players struggling to produce technical outerwear from recycled materials – even those who are selling themselves as the most sustainable.
“The Dutch brand aren’t just paying others to do the dirty work”
So what about the jacket itself? Well, the Cortazu Mid-Layer is a lightly filled synthetic jacket (we’re working on finding out the name of the insulation) that works best as, well, a mid layer funnily enough. I’ve been out in this whilst ski touring in Zermatt, the Scottish Highlands and back to Switzerland again. It’s not been blue skies, cold temperatures and powder the whole time unfortunately, in fact we’ve had a real mixed bag of a winter in the Alps, with rain, sleet and hail thrown our way, along with some unseasonably warm temperatures. But this has meant I’ve been able to see how this holds up through just about everything.
Its temperature regulation has been good. That’s mainly thanks to the face fabric by Toray, called ’Airtastic’, which is not only extremely low in weight but also offers an impressive level of stretch and breathability for comfort. From what I’ve seen, the relatively low bulk insulation that’s trapped between quilted stitching let’s hot, moist air from your body move freely out of the jacket when you need it to.
Related: Cortazu Mountain Shell Reviewed
I’d compare the Mid-Layer to a jacket like the Arc’teryx Proton LT; they’re both ideal winter mid layers for those looking for something that’s able to regulate temperatures during periods of high intensity. I must admit that I frequently found myself pairing these two jackets together underneath a waterproof shell during extremely cold conditions – we’re talking -15 degrees along with windchill. As the mercury rose, I paired the Mid-Layer with a Polartec Power Stretch fleece beneath and a shell jacket over the top and found that I rarely had to strip layers, both on the uphill and the downhill.
The cut is a bit of an odd one with this All Season Mid-Layer. I had the Size L and, for me this fits like a usual Large would around the chest. But then there’s a slightly short body and long arms. I’d say I’m someone with a relatively big wingspan, but I still found fabric bunching up around my wrists. I’m normally in-between a Large and a Medium with most jackets and in this case, I think I would’ve been better sizing down and going for a Medium.