There was a time when Berghaus technical mountain jackets were a bit baggy and a little unremarkable, but not any more, the new for autumn 2012 Kangchenjunga Jacket in Gore-Tex Pro is a full-on mountain all-round waterproof jacket that should cope with pretty much anything.
Designed by the elite Mtn.Haus team in condjunction with Berghaus athletes like Philippe Gatta – the name comes from his ascent of Kangchenjunga – it’s not quite as focussed as, say, the lightweight Asgard Smock, bu that makes it usable by a wider spread of people.
The jacket’s made from the current version of Gore-Tex Pro, a fabric that majors on durability thanks to hardcore face fabrics and a durable woven backer, and feels reassuringly tough despite an overall weight of just 470g for the medium. It’s cut relatively long by modern standards and, as you can see from the images, has a pronounced drop tail too.
Fit is described as technical and ‘close’, but while it’s definitely fitted, it’s nothing like as snug as the Asgard Smock or the Velum Active Shell jacket, which means there’s plenty of room to layer underneath it and it should fit those who aren’t scrawny climber types.
We’re not saying, by the way, that it’s loose, it’s definitely not that. More that it’s not tight.
So what’s new? One obvious change is the YKK Vislon Aquaguard zip, which uses interlocking plastic teeth to create a very water-resistant barrier – there’s a storm-flap back-up as well. The rest of the zips are more conventional water-resistant, urethane-fronted ones, but we like the Vislon zips, they’re effective, smoother-running and easier to use with gloved hands.
Then there’s the rather good Berghaus Asgard helmet hood that works with a single pull on all four adjusters up front and has excellent lower face protection even when wearing a helmet. Still one of the best hoods we’ve used.
The hem’s single hand-hand friendly with just the one, hidden, adjuster on the shockcord and the cuffs are ergo cut to work well with gloves. The lower sleeves are also loose enough to roll up, which we rather like, though others may not.
Plenty of pockets too – two Napoleon chest ones which just about take an OS Landranger map and a sleeve one for a lift pass or whatever. Finally, rather than pit-zips, the Kangchenjunga features 3D venting pockets, which are mesh lined and cut to stay open like a fish’s mouth for maximum cooling to the core torso area.
Nice to have the option, we’ll keep an eye on rain ingress through the water-resistant zip, though it is backed with a narrow storm flap and generally modern water-resistant zips do work well.
First impressions are that the Kangchenjunga is one of those jackets that could turn its hand to anything from winter mountains in the UK through to Himalayan peaks via the odd alpine ascent – you’re not likely to outgrow it in terms of ambition.
The Gore-Tex Pro fabric isn’t as breathable as some – the new version out next year addresses that – but it’s tough and durable, slides easily over lower layers for good mobility and, in our experience, is reliably waterproof.
And on top of that you get an excellent hood, decent cut, enough pockets to satisfy even the most ardent hoarder – there’s a mesh internal bottle pocket too by the way – and handy venting options including those ingenious 3D pocket vents that really do gape open for maximum effectiveness.
At £300 it has a fairly serious asking price, then again the Kangchenjunga is a pretty serious sort of jacket.
More information at www.berghaus.com.