This is a personal review. The jacket was bought (sob!) with a lot of my own hard-earned cash. Other brands, from other retail outlets, are available.
I’ve spoken about this jacket in some of my previous blogs, so apologies for any repetition.
The first thing to say about the Mammut Whymper jacket, not that it needs telling, is that it’s RED, AMAZINGLY ALMOST OFF THE COLOUR PALETTE RED. It’s nearly luminescent, especially with the touches of, equally bright, yellow on the zips. You can probably see me wearing it from the moon! But ‘red’ works for me, it’s the colour of my favourite football team – the might Barnsley FC (COYR!), it matches my politics (sorry!) and is, according to my wife, apparently the only colour I wear.
I was looking for a new jacket because The Walking Dan and I had a couple of Close Encounters of the ‘Named Storm’ kind in December 2015. Both Storms Desmond and Frank had left me completely and utterly freezing and soaked to the bone, so I made a promise to myself that I’d retire my long-serving jacket and get something fit-for-purpose. The Walking Dan and I are so desperately unlucky when it comes to walking as you can guarantee that the days (weeks!) leading up to a walk are going to be fine, but cometh the day – cometh the rain/wind/hail/snow/storm. Just pick one at random.
My first port of call on my search for a ‘real’ jacket was my pal, ex-colleague and survival-specialist Tony. Tony’s weekends notoriously involve either walking, fell-running, climbing (or a competitive combination of all three) somewhere in remote parts of the Lake District or Scotland. Occasionally he slums it with The Walking Dan and I (although from about 50 yards in front of us). He does all this stuff in all weather’s too, usually camping out as well at the top of a random rock in the wilderness. He knows his sh*t basically!
I didn’t ask Tony what brand of jacket to get, or where to look for it as I was more interested in the type of material used, to allow me to understand (bypass) the marketing language used on the websites of various outdoor clothing specialists.
So innocuous question asked, or so I thought.
I knew I was about to settle down and ‘enjoy’ a long and informative read when Tony’s response started with ‘well, you’ve opened up a can of worms with that question’. A while later, after I’d woken up from a death-like trance – some of the words of wisdom had sunk in. In essence I was looking for Polartec Neoshell or Gore Tex Pro, the latter being more waterproof and the former (still good on the waterproof front) but a whole lot more breathable. Gore Tex Pro wins the waterproof battle due to having 3x the hydrostatic head of Polartec Neoshell – apparently.
After a couple of failed online searches one of the regular emails I receive from a well-known Outdoor Clothing shop flagged up the Whymper Jacket and I went for it.
So let’s have a look at what the marketing text says:
Lightweight: Yup, ‘tick’. Very light, but proving to be very warm too – I’ve felt extremely cocooned and snug within its polyamide, polytetrafluorethylene’ness.
Robust: Too early to tell after just a couple of walks, but seems to be excellent.
Extremely waterproof: Yup, ‘tick’. That’s the 28,000 hydrostatic head rating.
Windproof: Yes, big time. I didn’t think this was possible – but zipped up / hooded up in Storm Kate over Easter, I was transported to a new dimension where I could hear the wind, but not really feel it.
Internal and external zipped pockets.
Other pockets and hood allow for harnesses and helmets to be worn – so great for mountaineering and climbing.
There’s also underarm ventilation to help offset the fact that it may become ‘too’ warm when wearing it in less extreme conditions.
Is there a downside? None that I’ve found yet, unless you want too do anything stealthy in it. Chris say that it doesn’t have a ‘stealth-mode’ at all. That’s not just down to its insane redness either – the material rustles too, feeling and sounding like a huuuge bag of crisps.
It’s not the cheapest item going, but if you are going to be walking in wet and windy conditions for long periods of time (4hrs +), then you seriously need to think about how you protect yourself from the elements. I put off splashing the cash for at least a year too long. With walking gear – clothing or footwear, I am a strong believer in ‘you get what you pay for’ and you should look at getting the best gear you can afford. If you are struggling to justify your spends, then tell yourself it’s going to last 20+ walks a year over a 5 year period and the cost per walk won’t sound too bad… having one less posh coffee a month will cover it.