I have been wanting to write an article about waterproof jackets for a while now, and now having Covid and being in Isolation I thought what better time to write.
Waterproof jackets fall into a few categories-I’m going to look at polytetrafluoroethylene (PFTE) materials. These are basically your Gore-tex layers. originally developed as Teflon, it is a kind of non stick coating to your jacket so liquid runs straight off it-known as beading.
I am going to discuss the pros and cons of three jackets I own. These included he top of the range offering from Mountain Equipment-the indestructible MRT, PHD’s silk like Alpamayo jacket, and lastly an army surplus British waterproof jacket.
The Kongur MRT.
Mountain Equipment is one of the top Brands around if you’re after high end durable, guaranteed protection from the elements. The Kongur uses the latest Gore-Tex Pro and has a heavier weight (more durable and abrasion resistant) material than any of the other jackets in the range which include the amazing Changabang (I’ve owned a few of these and will mention its use as it uses the similar Gore-tex Pro.)
The Kongur is a full length jacket-covering the bum, so you wont get a wet behind. It has 4 outer pockets. The pockets are laser cut and laminated. It uses great quality YKK moulded aqua guard zips, has pitzips and weighs in at 670g. It’s currently listed at £575.
The current Goretex pro is an incredible material, water proof, tough and multipurpose. It is a fantastic wind-stopper. Something incredibly valuable and much needed in a waterproof jacket. Therefore this jacket can be worn as an outer shield in inhospitable climates where wind could and regularly does kill people. The pockets are great, plenty of space, and good quality zips. An OS map will stash in both breast pockets. It has bungee chords at the bottom of the jacket, along with an internal waist volume adjuster and of course the hoood adjustment, and volume adjustment on the top. The Velcro cuffs are material-in older generations these are rubber, and perish. The tabs are well stitched and feel reliable.
Braving the elements, when you have this thing on, this thing feels like Kevlar. You know you’re protected, and you trust in those hundreds of pounds. Skiing on ice, skiing on powder, falling over again and again-this abrasion is what this jacket was designed for. It’s designed to be the jacket. THE JACKET.
This jacket is lightweight. I purchased the poncho, but it is avaliable as a jacket. I simply thought that if you need a waterproof that’s as waterproof as it can be, then zips are a weak point, so minimise zips. That said, PHD use dry suit zips. They don’t make any qualms, they go to the very top and use the very, very best quality.
PhD’s Alpamayo jacket is the lightest by a mile, and I’ve had mine for years now. I look after it well and regularly Nikwax wash and proof it. I have worn it on several of my trips in various continents and have featured in PHD’s newsletter. The jacket was worn in northern Wales whilst I was doing my Mountain Leadership training. If you’re in the know, then you know that this is a demanding place. A place where some of the best gear avaliable is created and used. During this training the jacket was superb. Many of my team-mates were wearing the centre’s (Plas’Y Brenin) Mountin equipment Lhoste jackets-these use a goretex pro shell.
During our emergency abseiling training, whilst using our bodies as a friction gate, the PHD was not as practical as the Goretex Pro shell-simply because its so thin. It still managed the task, and there is no damage to the jacket, but I am fully aware that the potential friction to skin would be higher in the PHD Alpamayo. The jacket is comfortable, the hood is good, and I love the waterproof chest pocket. I paid extra for the pit-zips, but am aware of my own working temperatures and with the zips it enables you travel slightly further without having to remove the jacket from overheating.
Army Lightweight MVP, MTP Waterproof.
This lightweight jacket uses a PFTE membrane that is apparently Gore-tex Paclight. Goretex’s lightweight active shell. This is all speculation, but my own research leads me to believe this is correct. Ive worn it on day hikes here and there and find it pretty great. It is a little large for me and I will purchase a medium. The material is good, and durable and has prooven waterproof. The zip has broken, and I superglued the zip at the bottom and added silicon sealant. I now use the jacket as a poncho.
This is fine, and something I don’t really see as an issue. The jacket only has shoulder/arm pockets and although you are able to put keys and a face mask in them they aren’t my favourite pockets. The lack of hand pockets is not an issue this time of year but come November it will be important to bring light gloves. The camouflage is actually fantastic, and when I’m mudlarking it’s great being a little incognito. This is great when out in the sticks, in town I feel a little self conscious. The build of the jacket excluding the material isn’t great, but for £40 its far better than the cheap hideous “waterproof” jackets.
So three very different jackets. Three very different jackets. The army jacket is my favourite jacket. Walking from home on day hikes, taking it in case of rain, using it when pushing through undergrowth-it is fantastic. It’s cheap, I don’t baby it, I’m not worried if it tears or breaks-so far its hanging on in there.
If I was on a multi day hike, no rest from the elements, sleeping out then the PHD. Simply as it’s so compressible and packs brilliantly it has a very special place in my pack. The Kongur is, without compromise, It is totally impervious to the weather. It’s worth nearly £600 and this is where I struggle. It is so expensive, and doesn’t compress quite as much as the PHD.
What do you think?