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Waterproof Jackets

Berghaus Light Trek Hydroshell Jacket | Review

New for 2015 lightweight walking shell ticks the boxes but sheds the ounces.

New for spring 2015, no-nonsense, lightweight and stowable waterproof walking jacket made from the new Berghaus Hydroshell 2.5-layer fabric complete with all mod cons, but still with a decently light weight of just 410g.

Basics

  • £170 / 410g (medium)
  • Hydroshell Elite 2.5L fabric with polyamide face
  • Four pockets (two chest, two hand)
  • YKK main zip with double external storm flap
  • Adjustable hood with wired peak
  • Anti-odour Argentium print
  • Reinforced shoulders, hips and outer sleeves
  • Reflective details on back and cuffs
  • Body vents with water-resistant zips and storm-flaps
  • Comes with mesh stuff-sac for stashage

Performance

We’ve had the Light Trek on the go since Berghaus launched its new Hydroshell waterproof fabric family last summer  and we’re impressed. Put simply you get an awful lot of and an awful little of jacket for your money.

What the heck? Well, first the jacket has pretty much all the features you could possibly want including four pockets – two big enough for maps – core body vents, a decent hood with wired peak, reinforced abrasion points and a thorough attention to detail that includes stuff like a double storm-flap and reflective details.

Generous Length

It’s also cut on the long side for added protection and has enough spare space for a fleece or other insulation. It’s simply a no-nonsense, dedicated hill and mountain walking shell. And the little? Well, despite all that, it still weighs just 410g in a medium and packs down to a size that won’t have you wishing you had a yak or porter in tow.

A lot of that is down to the lightweight Hydroshell Elite 2.5L fabric. The 2.5L bit means that it uses a raised print on the inside instead of a full-on layer of fabric. The plus side of that is that it weighs less, the negative is that despite having a ‘dry feel’ texture, it still feels a little less reassuringly robust than conventional 3-layer fabric and a initially little cool against the skin if you layer it over a baselayer tee for example. though it’s more a lingering suspicion than full-blown issue and the fabric’s significantly less slimy than the majority of 2.5-layer stuff we’ve tried.

Dry And Comfortable

In use we’ve found the jacket generally decent. The fabric’s kept us dry and comfortable in the wet and it’s breathable enough to take most normal walking use in its stride. If you do get a little moist, the twin body vents work fine with a pack in place and together with the rollable sleeves, provide handy steam outlets. They’re also reasonably tucked away from the rain, though in heavier showers, you’ll need to zip up to stay fully dry.

The rest of the detailing is also thoroughly thought out: we like the double storm-flap on the main-zip, the reflective detailing out back and on the cuffs and the non-venting pocket-bags, though you should be aware that the lower pockets sit below pack-belt level.

The hood’s good too. Plenty of protection from the wired peak and enough fabric to cover the lower part of the face up to nostril level on gnarlier days. Nice soft chin-guard too.

Finally the fit’s longish for added crotch protection and while it’s by no means ‘billowy’ there’s still plenty of space, for us at least, to accommodate a fleece for added warmth if needed.

Small Package

All this and it packs down to a package roughly the size of a Nalgene water bottle in the mesh stuff-sac supplied, which we’re confident of losing quite soon.

If we were being very fussy we’d say it would be nice to have a double ended zip for convenient loo-stops when toting a pack, the lower pockets could be higher and possibly an elasticated waist or half-cord adjuster at the waist would make for a neater profile, particularly if you’re not wearing a pack. None of those though are real deal breakers.

Verdict

Most lightweight waterproofs skimp on coverage, features, fabric performance or all three, the great thing about the Fast Trek Jacket is that while it’s relatively light and packable, it also performs really well for all-round hill and mountain walking and has a full array of pockets, a decent, UK-friendly hood and is both waterproof and acceptably breathable.

At a gut level, we’d still prefer a sturdier-feeling, three-layer jacket for winter mountain use – handily Berghaus has a Hydroshell one of those out this autumn – but for the rest of the year and, as perhaps as a more packable addition to an existing mountain jacket or indeed for trekking use, the Fast Trek Hydroshell is pretty hard to beat.

Pros

• Decently light, but with comprehensive coverage
• Fabric one of the best 2.5L we’ve used
• Decent hood, good all-round detailing
• Reinforced pack contact points
• Vents add comfort when going gets steamy

Cons

• Feels less robust than 3L fabrics
• Could use a double-ended main-zip
• Hand-pcokets sit under pack belt

Scores (out of 5)

Performance: 4.5
Value: 4.5
Overall: 4.5

For more details see www.berghaus.com where there is also a women’s version of the jacket.


Water-resistant zips on hand pockets, but they sit at pack-belt level for us.

Effective hood has wired peak, adjustment and covers lower face if needed.

Dry touch lining is anti-odour treated and also feels less slimy than other 2.5L fabrics we’ve tried.

Body vents let you blow off steam, but need closing in heavy rain.

Reassuring double external storm-flap with Velcro closure works fine.

Neat cuff details include a reflective strip on the fastener – there are two more on the back of the jacket.

Details like this comfortable chin guard are less common on lightweight shells.

Lining looks slightly slippy, feels mostly dry to the touch.

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