Why We Chose The Paramo Bentu Windproof: Eco-friendly, good features, innovative design
For some hillwalkers, Páramo gear is the best-kept secret in the outdoor industry. Unlike most other brands, they don’t use waterproof membranes, instead relying on Nikwax water repellency and clever two-layer constructions incorporating a mesh ‘pump liner’ to keep you warm, dry and comfortable. This innovative approach has garnered many fans, giving rise to a cult of outdoorsy types – Páramaniacs, if you will – who scoff at Gore-Tex and the like.
But even by Páramo standards, the Bentu jacket is an unusual beast. Ostensibly it’s a windproof, a breathable yet protective outer layer intended for breezy but mostly dry conditions. However, this is no featherlight and minimalist windshell – instead, it’s a fully-featured jacket equipped with a zoned pump liner in the hood and shoulders that, when worn with the Bentu Plus fleece, brings a great deal of wind and rain protection to the table.
Who is the Páramo Bentu Jacket For?
According to Páramo, it’s for ‘people who enjoy outdoor activities all year’. That’s because the Bentu is designed to work as a standalone layer in summer and in conjunction with the Bentu Plus fleece the rest of the year round to give the wearer a warm and protective system.
Now, at just over 400g, the Bentu jacket is more than twice as heavy as the lightest windshells. But it’s also more substantial, more protective and better equipped, with a proper hood and plenty of pockets. The weight alone means it’s probably not going to suit ‘fast and light’ types, but for general hillwalkers and even most climbers, it’s ideal.
Materials and Construction
The Bentu is made from Nikwax Windproof fabric, which is a tightly woven polyester treated with a Nikwax water repellent finish. It’s soft, supple and comfortable, though it has no stretch.
The hood and shoulders are also lined with Paramo’s unique mesh pump liner, as found in the Analogy waterproof garments. This provides an additional layer of weather protection and helps to move moisture away from the body, keeping you dry and comfortable through light to medium-heavy downpours. If a very heavy downpour does end up soaking the jacket, you can rest assured that the fabrics and Nikwax treatment will work away to ensure it dries up quickly – much faster than common waterproof fabrics.
Another great thing about Páramo’s wet weather systems is that, unlike regular waterproof systems, a small rip or tear won’t lead to any compromise in the protection. What’s more, you can simply repair any damage using a sewing kit. Technically then, this should last a lifetime.
As we’ve mentioned, the USP of the Bentu is that it combines with the Bentu Plus Fleece to form a waterproof garment system. But even when worn alone, that zoned Pump Liner in the hood and across the shoulders provides extra protection from on-off showers.
Otherwise, it has all of the features we look for in a proper hillwalking jacket. This includes a fully adjustable, peaked hood and plenty of pockets. There are two large chest pockets designed for easy access, both of which are big enough to hold an Ordnance Survey map. Additional storage comes from two zipped hand-warmer pockets, sensibly-placed so as to stay clear of a rucksack hip belt. The Velcro cuffs are fully adjustable but can also be easily pushed up and secured for cooling.
The fit is also better than the Páramo garments of old, which admittedly did have a bit of reputation for being somewhat baggy. In contrast, the cut of the Bentu is much more modern, and nicely sculpted (if not exactly trim fitting). However, it offers lots of articulation and has a scooped tail, with an elasticated hem for additional protection at the lower back.
This is a well-designed and fully-featured jacket that is best thought of as a ‘windproof plus’ – it’ll fend off drizzle and dreich much better than most lightweight windshells. It’s also a versatile beast, especially when combined with the Bentu Plus fleece as intended. That combo extends its use beyond the summer months, and also means you can get away without needing to carry a waterproof jacket. It’s still not quite as protective as a Nikwax Analogy waterproof though, so in the worst weather, we’d probably still pick something like the Velez, the Alta III or the Enduro.