Lightest Waterproof Jacket Ever Arrives!
The world's lightest waterproof jacket arrived at OM Mansions on Saturday morning. It came in the sort of smalish packet that would normally contain, oh, a DVD maybe, or a slim book, but inside was an early example of a Berghaus Vapourlight Hyper Smock, a fully waterproof hooded pull-on with a claimed weight of 110g.
Sub-100g On The Scales
That, says Berghaus, would make it '30% lighter than its nearest known competitor. But here's the thing, we stuffed it into its tiny stuff-sac - supplied - and popped it on a digital balance where it registered a frankly ridiculous 99g. Take away the weight of the 5g-odd stuff-sac, and we make the smock itself in a medium, 94g. Yes, really, ninety four of your EU-certified metric grammes.
That's bonkers. To put it in perspective, just a few years back we were raving because the Haglöfs Oz Pull-on came in at under 200g... the Hyper Smock is roughly half that and weighs less than most windproofs. Or the same as two typical energy bars.
Our Montane Minimus test smock - same size. but shorter and tighter - weighed in at 138g, quite a lot heavier in percentage terms.
Note that the Hyper Smock we have is a pre-production model and the real thing won't be in the shops until spring 2014, which is the weird world of the outdoors trade means some time around February or March.
Size Of An Apple
And the pack size is similarly tiny. About the size of a medium apple in fact, just right for stuffing into a small pack pocket or a jacket pocket. Which is what it's all about.
The Hyper Light is aimed at lightweight runners and adventure racers and was developed in conjunction with Berghaus athlete Philippe Gatta, who is currently running the length of the 1700km Great Himalayan Trail over 40 days...
Anna Gatta's report from the ground reads: 'Philippe's week in Dolpa put all the kit to the roughest test. The smock is very waterproof and works amazingly well. Together we have used it during a 10-hour day with heavy snow and rain for over eight hours. Nothing to say, other than it really works. I was not wet underneath.'
So what is a sub-100g waterproof like? The fabric, rated to 7000mm hydrostatic head - that's 'waterproof' though not as waterproof as, say, most Gore-Tex or eVent fabrics which will rate over 20,000mm, but should be 'waterproof enough' - and it's filmy light.
The face uses an exclusive 7D face fabric - lighter even than, say, Pertex Quantum GL - with a very thin PU coating. The fabric is taped at all seams while the reversed YKK zip seems to be bonded in place and it has an adjustable hood as well as a small sleeve pocket.
The sleeves and hem are elasticated to save weight and there's reflective trim too, a flash on the back and a Berghaus logo up front.
What's really impressive is that for all the focus on saving weight, the Hyper Light is still a decent medium length with a drop tail and a cut that while's it's 'athletic', still has enough space to accommodate a microfleece as well the OM editorial torso and not be restrictive. There's some rustle from the fabric, but it's not insanely crisp-packety and the feel is quite soft.
All in all it's a fantastic piece of technical clothing engineering. What you do have to bear in mind is that it's honed and targeted like a pedigree racing car. You wouldn't pop down to the supermarket in an F1 car and similarly the Hyper Smock will be of little use to climbers or anyone who prioritises durability or breathability we suspect, though that's hypothesis right now.
It won't be surviving regular contact with rocks. It doesn't have pockets for lots of nick-nacks, though a small phone might fit in the sleeve one. And regular use with an unsympathetic pack will almost certainly take its toll on shoulders and hip areas.
What Is It Good For?
But all that would be missing the point. What the Hyper Smock is all about is being able to stash a 'just in case' waterproof shell in a minimal bum-bag when you're out on a fell run. Or for wiping the smile off the faces of race scrutineers who can't believe it's waterproof - show them the taped seams. And for shutting up weight weenie ultra-packers in boring pub debates. And for running the length of the Great Himlayan Trail in 40 days when you're carrying everything you might need on your back.
For all those, it promises to be absolutely, minimalistically, uncompromisingly brilliant.
And The Price Is,,,
And it's not even, by the standards of ultimate lightness, going to be that expensive. Some £120 when it reaches the shops in early 2014.
Between then and now, we'll be giving it a bit of a thrashing and letting you know how we get on. Apart from anything else, we reckon we'll be winning lightweight jacket bragging rights for the next few months...
More Berghaus stuff at www.berghaus.com.
Lots more images below. Note that the packed smock is larger than both an egg and a medium-sized onion, but not actually very big at all compared to other waterproof jackets out there.