Lightweight, three-ply Gore-Tex Pro Shell Ascender
waterproof mountain jacket, full storm flap protected front
zip, Stealth hood with laminated wired peak and new larger
bonded fleece guard, one pull volume adjuster, two large
front pockets with water-resistant zips, external map pocket
with fully-taped pocket bag, dual hem shock cord system,
tethered waist and hem drawcords, adjustable rubber cuff
Mountain Equipment says that the Morpheus jacket ‘is designed
lightweight but full spec mountain walking and climbing jacket.’ In
other words, full protection, but in a lightweight package that’s
easy to carry when not needed.
Previously a Gore-Tex jacket at this sort of weight would
likely have been made from PacLite and have an emphasis on light
weight at the expense of robustness. New Pro Shell fabrics mean the
company’s been able to priduce a lightweight jacket that should still
be reasonably tough.
The new Gore-Tex Pro Shell fabrics have three big advantages
the old XCR material. The woven backer that forms the inner surface
of the fabric is bother lighter and more durable than the old knitted
version, but also nicer to wear as it slides more easily over inner
layers giving appreciably improved mobility and comfort. Used here
with a lightweight face fabric, it means you can have the pros of
PacLite without the cons.
The rest of the jacket isn’t really ground breaking, but
ME’s traditionally capable features, in particular the effective
The key to Mountain Equipment’s reputation as arguably the
definitive British mountain shell jacket brand has been getting the
basic functionality right. ME’s jackets may not always look as sexy
as some of its rivals, but you can bet your waterproof pocket zip
that the hood will work well, the hem will stay put when you reach up
for a hold and the cut will fall nicely into the happy zone between
contour hugging and baggy.
So it’s no surprise that the Morpheus ticks all those boxes.
cut is generous enough for us to fit a fleece underneath, but not
really loose, stuff like the cuff adjustment works well and the
pockets are arranged so as not to interfere with pack belts and
harness. There’s an external map pocket that’ll take a 1:25,000 OS at
a pinch and means you don’t have to open the main zip’s double storm
flap every time you want to get your map out.
Length is kind of medium – not quite as long as a traditional
mountain jacket, but not as short and boxy as the short-cut climbing
jackets intended to be used with shell pants. We found it about right
for general mountain use, though that will depend a little on your
own proportions so try before buying.
You also get the latest incarnation of ME’s effective Stealth
complete with laminated and wired peak. With bare head or hat it
works excellently with the adjuster cord gripping the top of your
head so the hood moves seamlessly as you turn your head sideways. It
will also accommodate a helmet, but we found the helmet peak sat a
little high and the chin piece was too tight in lidded mode, so
again, try before buying if you intend to use it in climbing
The Pro Shell fabric generally works well and is the key to
Morpheus’s light weight and packability – it’ll fit easily inside a
climbing helmet for example. Breathability isn’t quite at eVent
levels – we used main zip and easily rolled up cuffs for venting –
but the smooth inner face slides easily over lower layers giving a
silky smooth, mobile comfortable feel in use.
We’re not sure how tough the lightish face fabric would be in
really brutal use, but we’d definitely take it over Paclite for
general durability and effective waterproofing too.
Quibbles? The chinguard is a bit tight across the point of the
chin, we didn’t really use the half drawcord at the waist and it
would be a nice touch if the two hem cords – one front, one back –
used either colour coding or different shaped toggles so you could
tell easily which is which. That’s it really.
With the Morpheus, it really does seem like you can have
cake and eat it. The three-ply Pro Shell fabric keeps things light,
packable and mobile, but you also get good levels of protection and
Mountain Equipment’s proven design features.
We would suggest you check the chin area of the hood for fit,
particularly if you intend to use a helmet occasionally, but other
than that, you’re getting a great jacket. The only open question is
over durability and with that, only time will tell. For really
aggressive use with big packs you may be better off with a jacket
featuring reinforcement on shoulders and hips.
Light, compact and with an
excellent balance between weight
Hood chin piece may be tight when used with some climbing