The women’s specific Era Jacket from Sprayway is a refreshingly no-nonsense, fit for purpose 2-layer Gore-Tex hillwalking jacket that delivers exactly what you need without overcomplicating the issue.
Hillwalking is essentially a straightforward pursuit yet modern day gear is very often overloaded with gimmicks and gizmos that are quite frankly superfluous to requirements. If you’re heading into the alpine in search of epic high altitude summits then of course you need kit with very specific and often extremely expensive technical features, but if you’re simply looking for a jacket to accompany you on spring to autumn adventures in the UK hills then you can often keep things a bit simpler.
The Era Jacket knows its purpose, understands its audience and has been designed to meet the demands of both. The overall look of the Sprayway Era will appeal to traditional hillwalkers who appreciate good looks and classic styling and are looking for a jacket that will endure colour trends and fancy design features.
The fit is quite loose rather than slim thereby allowing for sufficient layering underneath to withstand a cold windy day on the hill. I tested the Era in a UK 10 and did find the sleeves and hem to be a little bit on the short side for our 5’6” frame so this is definitely worth bearing in mind if you’re taller than average.
Sprayway Era Jacket
Men's equivalent: Sprayway Maxen
More info: sprayway.com
In terms of on-the-hill performance, the Sprayway Era does a solid and reliable job. At 453g, it may not be the lightest jacket in the world but it doesn’t necessarily need to be as its purpose is to withstand blustery showers and windy summits rather than facilitate first ascents on high alpine peaks. The 2-layer Gore-Tex part mesh/part solid fabric is certainly heavier than its 3-layer sibling, and less breathable also, but it still provides the requisite protection from the elements out on the hill.
When the clouds close in, the wind picks up and the rain starts to fall, you really need a safe place to hide and Era’s high collar with soft fleece panels around the chin and neck provides comfort where it’s needed. The hood with wired peak is fully adjustable when wearing gloves and provides good cheek protection from biting side winds and the sting of horizontal showers. It’s also easily stowable if you don’t appreciate a hood flapping around on dry, windy mountain adventures. Another feature of the Era I appreciated was the elastic/adjustable cuffs that are large enough to fit over gloves if that’s your preference.
The Era comes with a range of cleverly designed pockets that hit the storage nail on the hillwalking head. The whole jacket packs down into a large hidden internal map pocket and whilst it doesn’t pack down super small (about 10 x 7 inches), it can be stored neatly in your pack when temperatures rise. The two large front pockets are big enough to hold gloves and maps and there’s also an internal Velcro stash pocket for snacks and compasses. Annoyingly it’s not quite deep enough to store an iPhone so a redesign on that or the addition of a zippered chest pocket would be welcome in the future. And whilst I appreciated the long zipper pulls on the Era as they were easy to operate when wearing gloves, I did find the pocket zips stuck a bit when pulling upwards which was also a tad frustrating.
At £180, the Sprayway Era is decent value for an all-round, mid-weight hillwalking jacket. It’s never going to set the world alight in terms of style or performance but it’s got just enough technical nous to satisfy the needs of the vast majority of UK hill-goers.
Era for Women, Maxen for men / 2-layer Gore-Tex / mesh and taffeta lining / fully adjustable hood with wired peak / mesh-lined ventilation pockets / concealed external map pocket behind front zip storm flap / internal stash pocket / drawcord adjustable hem.