Hard Shell jackets
shell only really exists as a term because of ‘soft shell’, so really
we’re talking conventional waterproof jackets. We’ve already
told you about the Kongur MRT with its serious outbreak of reflective
strips, and the rest of the well-proven range remains pretty much the
One welcome change though, is that the Mountain Equipment Tupilak
jacket – below – has a revised cut for this winter. When it was
introduced a year ago, it looked highly promising – it was a first for
ME, cut slimmer than their usual fit and at a genuine 430 grammes for a
medium, a very light Gore-Tex Pro Shell top.
Unfortunately, something went wrong at the manufacturing stage and the
jacket was disproportionately tight across the chest with the armholes
cut too high making the jacket restrictive and rendering the pit-zips
unuseable. Those issues have been fixed, says ME, which should make it
an excellent lightweight jacket. Confirmation once we’ve tried the
It seems unlikely, but ME has been pantless
for a while with their hardshell legwear dominated by salopettes /
bibs. They’re great for climbers and mountaineers, less conventient for
walks, so for this autumn, there are new Gore-Tex and DriLite hardshell
mountain pants for serious hill and mountain walkers.
The new Kongur Pant
– below left – is made from three-ply Gore-Tex Pro Shell, has
three-quarter length water-resistant side zips, articulated knees, a
semi-elasticated waist and comes complete with braces. Claimed weight
is a very reasonable 390 grammes, price is £180.
If that’s a bit rich for you, the new Ogre Pant – right –
shares many of the Kongur’s design features, but is priced at a more
It’s made from Drilte Extreme, has three-quarter zips, but with a storm
flap cover, and the same active cut with articulated knees. It has
brace attachment points, but comes without them.
The Mountain Equipment guys have been busy on the down
clothing front with some seriously warm new kit using 93/7, 700 fill
The Omega Jacket
was already in the range, but it’s been massively overhauled for
autumn. Box-wall baffle construction is now fully welded. That means
less down leakage and better water resistance thanks to the lack of
stitching. There’s a helmet compatible hood, anti-wicking strips at the
hems and lots more.
The outer fabric is a new version of Drilite Loft which is a serious 17
grammes per square meter lighter than before. The end result is a
jacket designed to work down to -20° or so in alpine
conditions, but at 745 grammes, it’s lighter than the current
Lightline, which is pretty impressive. Price is £250.
Brand new for this autumn is the Vega
down jacket. It’s a pure, lightweight alpine jacket, which like the
Omega, uses top-end 700+ fill power down and the new, lighter Drilte
Loft fabric. It’s stitch through to save weight and has a
water-resistant main zip.
Mountain Equipment says the weight is around 280g lighter than a
Lightline – that’s sub 500g – but just as warm. Price is £200 and
the jacket’s also available as a – inevitably more attractive – women’s
version called the Sigma.
Finally, there’s a brand new and rather neat looking basic women’s down
jacket called the Taiga.
It uses the slightly less warm 600+ fill power down in a stitch-through
construction with an unusual Ultrasoft shell and an active cut. Weighs
570 grammes, costs £100
for the jacket or £80
for the vest version. Both look very cool in the flesh….
On the synthetic side of things, the Fitzroy Jacket with
its Primaloft insulation is another one that’s had a serious overhaul.
It’s now both warmer and lighter, albeit 15 quid more expensive at £150. It
uses the new Drilite Loft fabric and now has a double-layer hood.
The old version had a number of cold spots due to the way it was
constructed, they’ve beem eliminated for this year, so, for example,
cord channels are now insulated as they would be with a sleeping bag.
Looks neat too.
Also new, are the Nordland
jacket using ME’s own Polarloft synthetic filling with a completely
windproof and water-resistant microfibre shell featuring
pack-compatible handwarmer pockets. Looks like a good fleece
replacement option and retails for £80.
The kit above should be in the shops right about now, or by the end of
September at the latest. More details at www.mountain-equipment.co.uk.