What better bit of a kit to turn up on a dour, wet day than a brand new lightweight waterproof shell from Mammut in the form of the new for 2012 Kento Jacket - a 350g, 2.5-layer top that's probably the brightest thing we've seen this year thanks to a vivid orange colour scheme. It'll be a dark day on the hill before anyone fails to spot you in this...
Bright, Tight, Light...
It's a nice-looking, well-specced sort of fella too complete with storm-flapped pit-zips, two mesh-lined, vening 'hand-warmer' pockets and a single chest pocket. The main zip and all the pocket zips are water-resistant items and there's a drop-tail for added butt protection and harness friendliness.
The fabric is a 2.5-layer one called DRYtech Premium. The 2.5-layer bit means the membrane is protected on the inside by an abrasion-resistant print rather than a liner, which keeps things lighter - 350g may not be ultra-lightweight, but it's respectable for a mountain shell - and aids breathability.
Try Before You Buy
It's got a bit of stretch to it. Normally we'd scoff at that, but actually in this case, it may come in useful. The Kento is cut properly, technically close - that's close as in Arc'teryx or Haglöfs technical cut close. Great if you want a snug-fitting, efficient technical jacket, not so great if you're a tad thick-set, carrying a little extra weight or want to be able to layer more than a thin fleece underneath. It might just be that the give in the fabric is enough to make the difference between wearable and not. In any case, this is one jacket we'd suggest you try before buying if you're not built on the wiry side.
We like it and the cut is neat enough and sleeves long enough that you can still reach up and out without your dainty wrists being exposed to the ravages of the wind or your hem pulling up to your tummy. The sleeves are slim, but will roll up too, cuff adjusters are easy to use Velcro-type with an elasticated drawcord at the hem. The fabric feels nice too, a little bit soft-shellish.
Fixtures And Fittings
The pit-zips are single-ended and start at the sleeve end of things, which means you can't opt to vent the core only which is an option with double-ended ones. They do move slickly though, probably because Mammut has chosen normal zips with protective flaps rather than stickier water-resistant ones.
The hood's a non-helmet one, but still multi-adjustable and fits well moving with your head. There is a peak but it's not stiffened, which seems to be par for the course for this sort for jacket that's intended to sit in your pack while, say, a technical soft shell gets worn most of the time, then hauled out when things get really wet.
There are lighter equivalents like Rab's new Pertex Shield shells, but to the fair, the Kento has neater cut, nicer feeling fabric and a more sophisticated vibe all round. Then again, it also has a retail price of £175 making it a bit of a premium buy.
The other colour options are just as bright by the way and there's also a similarly vivid women's version called the Keiko with a weight of around 300g and the same price tag.
More to follow and more information at www.mammut.ch.