From September, pretty much all of the Berghaus down range uses the water-repellent Hydrodown and we have a sample to take a look at.
If you caught our scoop look at the Berghaus autumn/winter 2013 range last Friday, you'll know that from September not only is there more down in the Berghaus range, it's pretty much all the innovative water-repellent Hydrodown.
Berghaus has Hydrodown in its range right now, but it tends to be the high-end jackets like the lightweight, zoned Ilam - one of our favourite products from 2013 and the all-singling, all-dancing, specialist mountaineering, Ramche Jacket, which means it's kind of expensive, even if the water-repellent down is a real plus for any level of down jacket.
It's Autumn Already
From September though, it's kind of 'Hydrodown for the people' time and, to emphasise that, Berghaus gave us a pre-production sample of the Autumn 2013 Furnace III jacket, which is part of the 'Mountain' collection rather than a top-end Extrem garment.
There's a Furnace in the range right now and like the new version, it's a micro-baffled goose-down jacket with a weather-resistant Pertex shell and 700 fill-power down, but Berghaus has made a two big changes for autumn.
Hydrodown As Standard
First, the new version uses 700-fill power Hydrodown - same insulation value, same loft, same weight, but with added water repellency, which means you don't have to fret if you get caught in a shower. If it does get wet, it'll recover most of its loft without special drying techniques, unlike 'normal down' and over the course of a long trip, moisture buil-up from repeated use, won't degrade its performance. Which is what we love about the current Ilam jacket.
And Bodymapping Too
And second, in a trickle-down from all the thermal-imaging based research Berghaus did to develop the Ulvetanna down suit, the new Furnace uses body-mapped panels at the side of the truck and insides of the arms to reduce bulk where it's not needed - same as the Ilam in fact.
Finally, as seems to be the trend with the latest Berghaus kit, the cut is very decent. There's a nice athletic fit to it, so you could layer it under a shell more easily and the lack of air-gaps will help it work more efficiently and a neat drop-tail with its own draw-cord so you can shape it to mould to your butt, ahem...
It's surprisingly warm too. It weighs a genuine 330g in medium and definitely feels like it offers appreciably more warmth than the ultra-light stuff that comes in at around 100g less, oh, except for one, which I'm not going to tell you about just yet...
Not Flash, But Neat
It's a really nice bit of kit. Not flash, but neat, well-cut and with all the benefits of the Hydrodown. And it costs a tenner more than the current Furnace at £170. No, that's not 'just £170', it's not a cheap jacket, but it's still a cool £70 less than the ultra-light Ilam jacket, even though it's not quite as warm, and £130 less than the Ramche.
So... it's 'more affordable' rather than outright cheap, but then the Hydrodown makes it more versatile than the current version with no fretting over getting caught out in showers, and you could argue that makes it a much more sensible buy.
Of course, now I have it, spring has arrived in the Peak District brandishing random rays of sunshine and something feels disconcertingly like warmth... never mind. It'll be summer soon and based on previous years, hydrophobic down'll be just the thing...