Ator jackets are known for their style, but how does this one perform on the hill?
Berghaus Women’s Ator Pressure Jacket Tested
Weight: 543 grammes
Features: Two layer Gore-Tex Performance shell, two zipped waist pockets, zipped pocket on the left sleeve, grown-on hood with laminated hood peak, lined collar, drawcord hem, Velcro sleeve adjustments, drawcord adjustment on front and back of the hood, four colours (pink, blue, grey and black), sizes 8 – 18.
What's It For?
The Ator range was first designed for autumn/winter 2007 with streetwise youth in mind. The target age group was 25 to 35 and the plan was two-fold: the gear had to be technical enough for wear on the hill but also attractive enough to wear around town.
If you’re over 35 – or under 25 – and you don’t mind looking like a bedraggled climber when you’re on the high street, this needn’t necessarily put you off. The Ator Pressure jacket is an all-round walking jacket, with enough technicality for those climbing / scrambling moments, but not enough technicality to send the price skywards.
One more thing – the design’s female-specific so unless you’re a particularly curvy bloke it’s probably not your thing.
The Techy Bits
The jacket’s made of two-layer Gore-Tex Performance Shell, which is the recent incarnation of classic Gore-Tex, as opposed to XCR. It’s generally less technical than the Pro Shell version but, as you’d expect, still carries Gore’s traditional combination of waterproofing with breathability.
How It Performs
The Ator Pressure jacket is an all-round walker’s jacket – both reassuringly expensive and reassuringly cheap, if you know what we mean. There are a couple of features that gramme-counters would probably be happy to dispense with, but most walkers will appreciate them and not mind an extra few coins-worth of weight.
So, on the leisure side of the design there’s a zip-up internal pocket for your iPod with a convenient hole where the lead can emerge at the top and then run out through your collar. The pocket’s made of mesh so it doesn’t break the weighing scales and we all want to listen to a spot of Mozart around the hills, don’t we? Or do we mean Eminem? Ahem.
Anyway, there’s also a handy zip-up pocket on the left arm which is large enough to hold your mobile, or your keys, or enough cash to buy a pint at the end of the walk, so long as it isn’t in a London pub. The pocket’s on the lower arm, which for some reason is less intuitive than the upper arm, but we’re getting used to it nicely.
And now we’ve dispensed with the luxuries, will it keep you dry? The Gore-Tex fabric is of course designed for exactly that purpose, especially as it’s combined with all the usual water-defying features you’d expect, like a layer of waterproof fabric behind the zip. Waterproofing is as much about the fit as the fabric and features though.
On that note, there’s a drawcord around the waist, which we’d struggle to adjust with big gloves on but so long as we geared up beforehand it did the job. There are also Velcro adjusters around the wrists, which we thought might be a bit vulnerable once we’d caught a blade of grass or three in them, but they’re actually proving pretty hardy. We often find the hood is the trickiest feature to fit though.
In this case, we were pleasantly surprised. Last year we tried out the Berghaus women’s Paclite Retract Jacket, which had such a retracting hood that it didn’t cover our head far enough to stop the water dripping down into our face. No such problem with the Ator Pressure Jacket. In fact, the hood probably extends further over our face than on any other jacket we’ve tried.
It’s laminated, so not only has it kept the rain off but it’s been up to the job of staying in place when the weather threw a gust or two of wind at us. That said, the laminate doesn’t feel as sturdy as full wiring so we’re not sure how it would fare in a full-on windfest, but we’ll let you know if we find out.
The other good thing about the hood is the size. It’s on the generous side of ample, which means it’s just about big enough to fit a climbing helmet under it. (We should point out that that we have a very small head and hence a small climbing helmet, so don’t quote us on that if you’re better endowed in the skull region). At the same time, the drawcord adjustments at front and back work well enough to hold it comfortably in place without a helmet.
The other thing we like about the hood is how clean the design is. Every adjuster on the drawcords has its own little niche or pocket to live in, so it won’t flap around in the wind and sting the side of your face. On the downside, the adjusters are small enough that you’d be pushed to use them with a big pair of gloves, as with the cord at the waist, but at any other time they do the job.
And finally, the style. We don’t normally say much about colour but we are actually quite keen on this one. We’ve got the blue version – sorry, we mean ‘cobalt’ – and yes, we did once write a scathing article about baby blue women’s clothes. This isn’t baby blue that’s about to turn muddy brown though – this is proper bright blue so we’ve got no quibbles with it at allJ
And does it do the Ator job of being technical and stylist at the same time? Well, we’d certainly be happy to wear the jacket around town and we suspect most other people would too but that’s your call.
The Ator Pressure Jacket’s a reliable middle-weight waterproof. The featherweight smocks could easily undercut it in a gram-fight, and top-end technical jackets could swing more punches in a contest of features. But if you don’t want to climb the Eiger North Face or trek a hundred miles with a 45l pack, camping gear and all, this needn’t bother you.
For the standard walker, the jacket does just what you want. You’ve got easy access to your iPod, little or no access to the rain, and minimal access to your own sweat, which are all important considerations. As for the other features, the hood’s both protective and nicely fitted, and although the overall fit will be slightly short and wide for some, this is less the case than with previous Berghaus models we’ve tried.
If you’re looking for something reliable that’s not too pricey and not too heavy – and, importantly, you’re female – you could do much worse.
Style and a well-cut hood.
Hood adjustments can be fiddly if you’re wearing gloves.
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