I’m always banging on about down vests as being the miracle component in your Airfix kit of outdoor joy, but in rainy, damp weather they can be vulnerable and if you do get it wet it’s not drying out again until long after you’re home. So synthetic filled kit sticks it’s hand up and waves merrily like an unsuspecting Tommy on his first day in the trenches volunteering to check what the weather’s like in No Man’s Land.
I’ve been wearing the Haglöfs Barrier Vest all winter, and apart from it being a packable bundle of instant warmth on the hill, its understated looks are great for wearing all day at work if it’s cold, as you can meet customers without looking like a mountaineer whose poor map reading skills have directed him to a boiler house instead of a summit.
It’s a simple bit of kit, full length zip, high collar and two big handwarmer pockets. It’s the detail that gives it an edge though, the armholes are lycra and seal in the heat, the same goes for the hem, the neck is cut to allow you to pull the zip right up when wearing it over other layers (sometimes it seems that it’s only Haglöfs that think of this).
The Performac fabric is soft and has a dull finish which makes a nice change from shiny Pertex, the Thermolite fill is warm and compressible, and experience has taught me that the water resistance of both fabric and fill is outstanding. Folk might baulk at the thought of buying not Primaloft, but other than a little more packed bulk there’s nothing much to mention. Like I always say, if the fit and features are right, look at the logos next if you really have to.
Sizing is slim, with room for a couple of light layers, so I’m still my regular size large, but the body isn’t the longest, I’m about on the limit for it.
In this damp weather it’s the first choice for packing (tonight I was wearing it in light rain at a rest stop on a blast round the Kilpatrick trails, it’s small enough to pack into the smallest rucksack)and teamed with the LIM Barrier Pullover it’s still winter weight insulation, so it doesn’t have to have restrictions in it’s application.
Synthetic definitely isn’t a second class citizen to Mr Down who lives in the big house up the hill, sitting in his leather chair watching reruns of Last of the Summer Wine, flicking stray feathers off of his velvet dressing gown whilst sneering at the villagers.