Full-on winter mountain soft shell from the outdoor accessory specialist - excellent hood and robust build.
We told you a bit about the new Trekmates Soft Shell Jacket last month, but we now have an actual jacket in our sticky paws.
A rapid recap – the jacket's been developed by Trekmates in association with the British Association of International Mountain Leaders as a full-on technical mountain shell. It has a full mountain hood, three large external pockets, water-resistant zips and adjustable everything.
In the photos it looks like a no-nonsense sort of thing and in the flesh, that impression's only reinforced. The large size sample we have here weighs a chunky 860 grammes – smaller sizes will be slightly lighter – and the fabric itself has a tough bomb-proof feel to it.
Just as well really given that the jacket's going to be standard issue for all BAIML members and get a proper thrashing. It's also very definitely a winter conditions jacket. The tough, stretchy, windproof outer is lined with a micro-velour fleece for extra insulation, hood and all.
Unfortunately until a sample in our medium test size arrives, we can't give you definitive info on fit, but given that the large isn't overly loose, we suspect it'll be a medium volume, medium length sort of gig.
Three things we can tell you though are that on, the jacket feels sturdy. That the fabric is definitely windproof and based on a rapid photo shoot in the rain, has an extremely effective DWR from new at least – Trekmates' press blurb says it's 'water proof', but as far as we can see, the seams aren't taped, so that may just refer to the fabric. And finally, the hood is a proper, protective, full-on mountain one which fits well around the crown of the head for smooth movement and protects the lower face too. Plus there's a wired and stiffened peak.
Hems and cuffs are adjustable and pockets are voluminous, mesh lined for venting and sport water-resistant zips.
We used similar lightly-insulated winter soft shells from Haglöfs and Berghaus last winter and found them excellent for mountain use in both snowy and cold dry conditions. And while we can't comment on fabric performance yet, the Trekmates jacket seems to sit in the same sort of zone, but has a significantly more protective hood than either of those, which should give it an edge in gnarlier conditions.
It should also, we reckon, work well in cold, dry, high mountain environments, which makes sense with the BAIML connection. Yes, in an ideal world, it would be slightly lighter, then again you have to factor in rugged fabric with extra insulation.
Trekmates have promised to send us a medium example for review as soon as it's available, but if you're convinced by the spec, you can pre-order the BAIML Soft Shell Jacket for £100 from the Trekmates web site at www.trekmates.co.uk.