Product Review- Berghaus Smoulder Half Zip

25 10 2013

Berghaus’s Techy Bit:

  • POLARTEC® POWERDRY® High Efficiency fabric offers excellent insulation, moisture management and packability creating a highly versatile year round piece of kit for your mountain adventures
  • The multi-zone body-mapped design allows for maximum comfort and insulation taking into account your body’s natural thermoregulatory system
  • Essentials can be kept at hand in the bonded sleeve pocket

RRP £90

Berghaus Smoulder FleeceOur Thoughts:

Wow! What a nice fleece! As soon as I took it out of the packet I loved this fleece. The Smoulder fleece looks fantastic with it’s highlighted seams, and the micro grid feel the Polartec Powerdry gives it just feels amazing.

There isn’t too much to say in terms of features about the fleece, it’s still just a fleece. It hosts a pocket on the arm which would easily hold an energy gel or bit of money, or in my case, business cards! The fleece also has some well designed thumb loops that are also really comfortable to wear, unlike some which just seem to be frustrating.

The main technical feature of this fleece is the Polartec Powerdy. The Polartec Powerdry is designed to provide excellent levels of warmth to weight, but most importantly super efficient moisture management.
I decided to take the fleece out for a fell run up Latrigg on a rather mild evening. Underneath I was wearing a synthetic tech tee. I started the run through the trees and thought – ‘I shouldn’t have bothered with the fleece!’ After just a few minutes I completely forgot about the fleece and I didn’t seem to be overheating at all. It continued to be comfortable all the way to the top. After a short rest on the top we started with our long descent off of the back, but now in the wind I decided to utilise the thumb loops and give my hands a bit of protection. I never usually like wearing thumb loops on jackets, but to be honest I actually forgot I even had my thumbs in the loops, a real testament to the design. We finished our run and I got back in the car to drive home. I decided to feel around the fleece to see if it was damp. Amazingly my underarms were hardly damp at all and my back was just slightly damp because I had been wearing a pack, I was impressed!

So in short, if you want a good looking fleece that would be just as useful as a warm but non-bulky midlayer when hiking as it would as an outerlayer when running or biking, then the Smoulder Fleece by Berghaus would be a fine contender!
Berghaus also make a hooded version for those of you who are into hooded fleeces 😀




Product Review – The North Face Catalyst Micro

23 10 2013

The North Face’s Technical Bit:

  • 800 fill Hungarian down offers superior warmth yet remains extremely compressible
  • Flash Dry™ panels under arms enhance comfort
  • Slimmer downchambers with deep baffles capture and maintain more warmth
  • Sleek hood with elastic binding swivels with head for a natural, unobstructed view
  • Zip handwarmer pockets are generous and easy to access
  • Stuffs into its own handwarmer pocket
  • Water-resistant Down treatment keeps moisture at bay

Retail Price: £200

Matt in front of Mera Peak

Our thoughts:

I managed to pick my Catalyst Micro up in a TNF Sample Sale so unfortunately it doesn’t have the new Thermoball technology that the jackets now host so I am unable to comment on the efficiency of this new technology.

My Dinner Jacket

The main aim of getting the jacket was to have it as a warm layer for our trip to Nepal to climb Mera Peak. As an item from TNF’s Summit Series range I was expecting a very technical piece of kit which was designed for purpose, after all it has been tested and approved by their sponsored athletes. Along with this you should also expect the highest quality of manufacturing so it can withstand everything you are going to throw at it on your adventure- did I get this?

For the first week or so of usage the jacket was purging a lot of feathers, so much so that I thought I was going to come home with a piece of limp red fabric which was once a down jacket! However, this is normal for down jackets, and it is for this reason that manufacturers will over-stuff jackets.

The jacket got tonnes of use when on the trip, probably my most used item of clothing! It would quite often be the first thing on in the morning or at lunchtimes and I also spent pretty much every evening wearing it in the tent or when having dinner. A couple of times I did wear it whilst actually trekking and I can honestly say it was great. The jacket also showed no obvious signs of wear on the shoulders after having worn it with a pack. I found the jacket made a fab warm, but non bulky mid-layer on summit day when I actually wore it under another bigger TNF down Jacket. With the two coupled together and my merino base layers I felt quite toasty at 6000m+

The elastic cuffs on the jacket are great as it means there is less faff when wanting to get the jacket on or off quickly and the stretchy sections under the arms do provide comfort as TNF state, and it also means you don’t have a load of down underneath your armpits inducing unwanted sweat.

Matt pretending he knows how to read a map...The hood is a nice addition although you can get one without it. It is helmet compatible but sized sensibly so it isn’t huge when not wearing a helmet. The neck on the jacket has also got quite a high cut to it, so when fully zipped up it covers your chin and mouth and therefore gives you your own little cocoon to get warm in.

The Catalyst Micro packs down superbly, and even stows into it’s own pocket. The level of warmth the jacket provides is also superb. The jacket has a Durable Water Resistant (DWR) coating which holds off any drizzle or snow well as it should.

Although this jacket may seem expensive, coming in at £200, it is a mighty fine piece of kit! As I said at the start, a Summit Series logo on the arm automatically sends your expectations soaring, but thankfully in this instance they were easily met and surpassed. If you are a keen outdoor enthusiast  who demands 100% from clothing at all times, then I would deeply recommend you to consider the Catalyst Micro to add to your arsenal as an ace mid/outer layer.

In addition, the jacket not only had a prominent role in my pack in Nepal but I have had good use out of it back here in the UK!


Selfie with the Catalyst