Cortazu Mountain Shell Jacket | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Cortazu Mountain Shell Jacket | Review

A super tough, super breathable three-layer jacket from a new brand from Holland

Why We Chose It: Breathable, durable, technical feature set

Price: £350
Weight: 750g
More info:

We love it when new brands come along. Especially when they make some genuinely good kit, and even more especially when they show some good eco efforts. 

Cortazu are a young brand from Amsterdam that specialise in durable outerwear protection with a backcountry skiing focus. They burst onto the scene earlier this year, picking up one of the highly coveted ISPO Gold Awards for a waterproof jacket made from recycled nylon, and although we couldn’t get our hands on that item, they did send us this non-recycled version, which, for every one they sell, a patch of land in Africa gets ‘re-greened’.

“It’s fully recyclable, which is reassuring.”

It’s an initiative run by an organisation called Just Diggit. Together with Cortazu, they’re on a mission to ‘cool down the earth’ by working with farmers to help regenerate land that has dried up and died, using a mixture of traditional and modern techniques.

The jacket itself is very similar to the Arc’teryx Beta LT, or the Mountain Equipment Rupal. It’s a durable three layer offering, made from a material called Dermizax EV (Bergans are another brand to use this by the way). It’s breathable stuff. In fact, it’s rated at 20,000 grams/24 hours, which is a decent number. What’s really interesting about this however, is that this slightly stretchy fabric is also non-porous, and that means that there’s no little holes where body oils and dirt can get trapped, thus damaging the breathability. It doesn’t require any special detergent either, like Nikwax or Grangers, so cleaning the jacket is easy. Oh, and it’s fully recyclable, which is reassuring. 

A durable three-layer jacket for mountain use. Photo: Chris Johnson
Pit zips for ventilation. Photo: Chris Johnson
A pocket for your ski pass. Photo: Chris Johnson

There’s a lot to talk about in regards to features here as well. There are loads of little touches to this, things like one-hand adjustable drawcords, a headphone connection hole, built-in google wiper, internal phone pocket, a ski pass pocket on the arm and built-in Recco technology. Basically everything a mountaineer, or ski mountaineer would want.

We’re big fans of the hood, which is properly protective and helmet compatible, and we like the slightly longer hem which comes down to partially cover your backside.

It would be wrong to say that £350 is affordable, however, it is still a fair bit cheaper than many of its direct competitors – even those that have a smaller feature set. Arc’teryx’s Beta LT, for instance, costs £400. The secret is in the simple way Cortazu run their business: they’ve basically cut out all middle men, with their customers ordering the jacket directly from the factory in Vietnam.

One final thing. This is designed to be worn over a couple of layers, including an insulated jacket, so it’s worth sizing up one more than usual. The Size S we got was as big as some Size L jackets out there!

Three-way adjustment on the hood. Photo: Chris Johnson

Tester’s Verdict

John Wells, Outdoors Magic Staff

“I was able to get a very wide range of conditions to attack the new Cortazu Mountain Shell jacket. It endured extremely rainy coastal walks, dense forest explorations, and sunny hikes that turned into freezing summit climbs in the Picos De Europa, plus a few trips to the pub.

“In your hand the Cortazu feels very good; the fabric feels high end, with a nice feel against your skin and a bit of stretch to it. It looks good, I was equally happy walking around bars and restaurants as I was in the mountains. The cut is on point, allowing plenty of room for layers without looking too baggy (I’m 6ft1” and 12 stone).

“It performed as well as it looks, holding up really well in persistent rain. I didn’t see a drop of dampness on my underlayer. That’s all thanks to that 20,000mm hydrostatic head.

“Temperature and breathability-wise it performed pretty good. The under arm vents helped a lot, but the only weakness was that I found the arms got quite humid. But bear in mind I was in massively varied temperatures on hikes; from very hot 22 to as low as 0 degrees.

“The adjustable hood and high collar provide great coverage without impairing your ability to see, and breathe. Overall this is a great jacket that is comfortable and accommodating for all the mountains and life can throw at you.”


Trade Secrets

Wiebe Poelmann, Cortazu

“Sustainability is clearly one of our values. Aside from our re-greening initiatives, we’re also trying to innovate within product categories. For example, this year we introduced the world’s first 3-layer outdoor jacket made out of recycled nylon shell, membrane and inner layer.

“We were the first brand to bring such a product to the market and we encourage the entire industry to follow suit. Because of this, we have won the ISPO Gold Award this year, which is a great recognition.

“We have proved that it is possible to create high-quality outdoor gear in a sustainable way. In the future, we hope to bring more sustainable product innovation to the market whilst maintaining our high standards in terms of quality.”

Chosen For Our Green Gear Guide 2019/20
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