|the full body shot, after a butt kicking in Arran. Nice n dry though.|
I don't do gear posts often. I'm still amazed at some of the offers made by PR agents to test products not remotely relevant to this little blog, and that's the best of it. Other crazy fools want me to insert their links, ads and keywords, just for money. Nope. Then, Berghaus offered a trial on the mark 1 version Mount Asgard Jacket. I cautiously accepted. It seemed like a genuine offer - try it out, tell people what you think. Err, ok. I can do that. So here goes.
|a casual, off the cuff pose from your favourite male model|
The Asgard is made of Gore Tex, a material which has obviously grown up a bit since the last time I wore one of these, in 2007-8. The 'Pro Shell' variant is apparently at the more robust end of the spectrum, and I've no qualms about it's durability - the Asgard is made of tough stuff. Over the past few months, it's been shoved into tiny gaps in soggy rucksacks, dragged along rocks, snow and ice, dunked in mud and skidded along grass (it's not impossible to fall over out there, you know), and has had no trouble fending off any of it. No fraying on the sleeves from scrambling, no abrasion wear under rucksack straps. Still good as new, after about 20 days of use (by which I mean days worn, not days out).
Waterproof? Yes, well you'd hope so, it is £270 retail. Absolutely no complaints here. Over the back end of winter and into the usual mixed 3 season conditions north of the border, it beads very well and the hood keeps out the weather. This jacket pretty much laughs in the face of wind and water.
|waterproof at the waterline|
Breathability? This is the crux for me, usually. I'm not alone in not liking waterproofs for this reason - I'd rather be wet than too hot. The Asgard does well, but it is a stiffly laminated '5 season' high altitude mountain jacket, so don't expect it to breathe like 3 season eVent. I'm directly comparing it to my previous rain jacket here, which isn't really fair - I don't think it's as breathable, but then again I'm not convinced that eVent always stands up to backpacking - I think the Asgard will. Anyway, this impacts in both directions on how I'd use it. I wore it in the Cairngorms in alpine conditions at Easter, and would have preferred softshell. At other times, in gusty squalls on Rum and Skye, some truly filthy weather on Arran, and packrafting for the first time recently in Inverpolly, it really came into it's own. Horses for courses...?
|where's the sweets?|
Whilst we're on breathability, I should mention the vents. These are placed above the hipbelt line on the ribcage - there are 2 vents only, 1 on each flank. It's much more sensible to have them here, rather than in the armpit (which only function properly if you climb, or walk with your arms above your head) and it's easy to fine tune temperature control. These vents are also used to access the pockets, which are mesh, but a little small for my liking. One more thing - the zip is offset on the bias, so important to close it with both hands, or you end up with a small gap at the top that could theoretically let water in. This hasn't happened yet, and the gap is concealed under a storm flap, but is worth noting.
|OK, Dave, do it again, but this time, look more epic|
I've only briefly mentioned the hood. It's pretty obvious that the whole jacket has been built around it, and it works well. There are 2 volume adjusters, one for the head and one for the face. The clasps for these are concealed inside the hood ring, at the nape of the neck, which stops them taking your eye out in a stiff breeze. I couldn't get the hang of this at first, but after a faff, I tried adjusting without mitts, and it's been easy enough to fix and forget. The hood is helmet compatible, which means there's a bit of excess here if you're not climbing, but that's a niggle really. Conversely, the extra material means total coverage and the whole lot moves with the head, so visibility is not compromised at all, even when the weather's in. Chin guard is the best I've used yet, and adds to the feeling of protection from the elements.
|the backpacker's 'mince'|
What about the rest of the fit? I chose a large, based on an Argentium top I have, and to tell the truth the Asgard is probably a little big on me. This means extra fabric in the body where I don't need it (it's just not possible for me to eat any more cheese than I do already). But it's a good length that doesn't ride up with a backpack. The cuffs have velcro fasteners which can cinch tight, and the zip is monster sized and will probably outlive the mountains, let alone me or the jacket. On my scales (accurate to 5grams) the jacket is 355gms, and it packs down to the size of a grapefruit in it's own little 'climber's chalk' style bag (an additional 25gms).
|Canna get a witness?|
In conclusion, this is a bullet proof mountain jacket with just enough features and no more. I'd prefer bigger internal pockets, maybe a slightly leaner cut in the body, and there maybe more breathable offerings out there (which in turn will be less durable) but otherwise, when I need the big guns for high tops or nasty weather, this is coming with me.