New this winter, Paramo's Mens Pasco Jacket takes the shorter, cut of the brand's lighter jackets like the Quito, but uses the slightly heavier, full-weight Nikwax Analogy fabric rather than the lighter Nikwax Analogy Light.
That adds a little weight, but also should mean slightly more weight and better long-term durability. It also, in a rather modish twist, has colour contrast zips - in the case of our test jacket, red zips with blue fabric.
It's all about the Nikwax Analogy fabric, an odd mix which uses a sort of sandwich of a windproof and water-repellent outer face and a 'pump liner', which has a sort of furry surface, but all you really need to know is that it's soft and quiet, effectively wind and waterproof and breathes really, really welll.
You do need to wash with Nikwax Tech Wash then reproof to maintain performance and it is warmer by about a baselayer's worth than conventional shell clothing, but but the lack of rustle and good breathability and wicking make up for that increased wamth and heavier than average weight.
Performance So Far
The Pasco weighs around 650g, not light, but light-ish by Paramo standards, mostly because it's cut shorter than more traditional jackets like the Alta II and has minimal pocketing. The length, a little like the Cuzco, is a kind of mid-crotch on us, though there's a drop-tail to give extra protection for bikers and runners.
The shortness we can live with, particularly with shell-ish trousers, but for us at least, the jacket's cut a tad on the loose and boxy side of things, making it flappy at speed and generally inefficient and overall we'd happily narrow it down and use the spare material to add a little extra length. Ironically this is pretty much what Paramo has done with its latest women's designs.
That loose fit is a shame because as ever, the performance of the Nikwax Analogy fabric in UK winter conditions is excellent. Yes, it is slightly warmer than conventional equivalents, but it breathes and wicks really well and we never had condensation issues. There are also big pit-zips with double zips that you can use either as sleeve or torso vents - our preference - or both to compensate for that extra insulation.
One thing we didn't like about the pit-zips was that to operate the sleeve end of things, you have to stick your arm straight up in the air and pull the sleeve taut by holding the cuff. Not always convenient and another good reason to use them purely as torso vents.
The Pasco also uses a mesh-like Pump Liner® reinforcement on shoulders and back which is claimed to give extra protection to vulnerable areas in heavy rain where the fabric is compressed by a pack and straps. It seems to work so far.
What else? Simple Velcro cuffs work fine as does the adjustable helmet with wired peak. Pocket fiends need to bear in mind that there's just a single OS-map friendly chest pocket to play with, though opening the torso vents also gives access to two internal handwarmer pocket bags stitched into the lining.
We actually quite liked the latter, most because we don't use them muych. They're there to save weight and complexity but there were times when you didn't really want to open vents direct to the torso to warm your hands.
Brilliant, characteristic UK-friendly, condensation-free fabric performance, but for us at least, let down by the short and boxy cut, which means it's more a heavier-duty Cuzco equivalent than a real alternative to the longer-cut, all-round mountain jacket designs like the fusty Alta II.
It's a shame as the individual features like the sleeves, cuffs, hood, vents and pockets all work okay and the jacket looks a little more contemporary thanks to the contrasting zips. Mix up all those ingredients with a sleeker, slightly longer, more fitted, 'active' cut and it could be a really effective jacket, but as things stand, it's only halfway there.