Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Review: Berghaus Carrock Jacket

It is not every day someone bungs free stuff my way, and when it is a Berhaus Carrock jacket, I'll happily review it. I already have a Berghaus jacket I bought a couple of years ago (not sure what model but it is thin, blue, very similar to the Mera Peak and says 'Goretex pro shell Extrem' on it), so a comparison would be interesting. My own interests in any jacket are to go up hills and not get wet and cold, so how does it shape up to that end? 

General feel

The jacket is light and thin, yet still feels fairly tough. I like this thinness a lot, as it makes for a more versatile, year-round jacket - the same jacket can be worn in summer rains as well as winter storms, by wearing different layers underneath. This also means it packs away into a decent size - unlike some other jackets, it is not going to take up half your rucksack when the sun comes out. A mesh holds the wicking Goretex away from the body, adding an extra level of breathability. There is a general lack of seams and complicated tailoring, which aids waterproofing and durability. It has a nice green colour, ideal for the hill. The jacket, although XL (I prefer a size larger than my own L, so I can get plenty layers underneath in winter and retract my hands into the sleeves), is slightly shorter than I prefer and sitting on a wet surface will give you a wet arse - my own jacket is longer and the hem can be sat on.

The jacket:


Hood

The next thing I noticed about the Berghaus Carrock is that it has a stowaway hood. Immediately alarm bells rang. For me the single most important feature of any hill jacket is a good deep hood. This is a surprisingly hard thing to find on a jacket (when I bought my current one, it and the Berghaus Mera Peak had a good hood, and they were about the only ones in the shop that did). Some might want to faff about with a hood that lets in stinging rain from the side, but I don't. I want a hood like Kenny from South Park. And my fears were justified on rolling the hood out. It has a wonderful, long peak but, for some reason, cutaway sides.

Hood from the side:


This is a hood that is going to chill your face in bad weather. The only excuse is that most other manufacturers also produce inadequate hoods - you will struggle to find the kind of hood I like.

Waterproofing and Breathability

One of the wonderful things about new jackets is the waterproofing. This eventually degrades and never seems to be as good again, even when reproofed. But stand under a hose in the Carrock and the water just beads off as if off a duck's back. Five minutes in the shower with the Carrock and my upper half was bone dry. Of course the real test of waterproofing and breathability is not a few minutes under a shower, but a day sweating on the hill in a downpour. It has been such a nice summer though, I have so far been unable to test this!

The Carrock is made from performance shell Goretex, which was the top standard for breathability for ages. It has been overtaken by pro shell Goretex, and Paramo claim their Event fabric is even better still (though I've never owned a Paramo, so can't confirm this). The truth is you are never going to get perfect breathability if you are sweating hard in a downpour - and in other conditions, I suspect it is hard to tell the various fabrics apart. The gold standard of a few seasons ago will still perform well. Underarm zips (double-flapped to keep rain out) aid sweat loss in humid conditions, and conversely, Velcro wrist bands and adjustable waist ties make a snug seal in cold and windy conditions.

Pockets

The Carrock has four pockets, two external ones for hands and an external and internal chest pocket. As a nice detail, all zip pulls are metal for durability and have toggles, essential for operation when wearing gloves. The external pockets have sealed zips to aid waterproofing though my personal experience is that no external pockets are ever truly waterproof. For this reason I like to put my map (usually folded at the place of interest) in the inside chest pocket. The Carrock has an inside map pocket which just fits a standard OS Landranger map. However open the map and fold it at the place of interest, and it no longer fits in any of the pockets. (My own Berghaus jacket comfortably fits a map folded like this, however only in an external pocket and so in prolonged rain the map is going to get wet).

Map in pocket:


This is not just a fault of the Carrock, it is almost impossible to find a jacket with a really cavernous internal map pocket that will actually fit a map that has been custom-folded. If any manufacturers are reading, please pick up on this point!

Final Verdict

The Berghaus Carrock is a really good jacket from the Berghaus men's waterproof jackets range. It is almost a really good hillwalking jacket. The fit, the waterproofing, the durability, the light weight, the colour, the detailing, the inside map pocket, all make for a jacket that you could do serious hillwalking in at a very reasonable price. And yet the hood (as with many other jackets to be fair) makes walking in strong wind and rain unpleasant. I suppose Berghaus are selling at this price as a trail jacket, rather than a full on hillwalking jacket. But in that respect it falls between two stools. This is too good a jacket just to walk the dog in. But because of the hood, I wouldn't trust my comfort to it in on Clisham in the rain.

1 comment:

blueskyscotland said...

Comprehensive and honest review. Well done to you for getting a freebie.