When this arrived for test I was in the middle of doing a vintage style heating installation, so the Sabretooth spent it’s first couple of weeks with me crawling under floors and fending off the attentions of tools, pipe & fittings and splintered Victorian woodwork (I think we got away with that last bit…). It came through unscathed and has been having an easier time of it on the hill, stilsons are definitely more badass than ice axes.
I tend to wear technical fabrics to work (merino base layers etc) so I was well aware of the Sabretooth’s Polartec WindPro fabric’s ability to breathe when working hard in minging weather and that translated to the hill. As a non-membrane fabric it’s not boil-in-the bag and repels enough wind to keep you just right when you’re on the move. There’s not a huge amount of insulation there and that balances out with the wind resistance to keep that comfortable middle ground across a good range of temperatures.
At lower levels the wide adjustable cuffs and mesh pockets do allow air flow to take the dge off, but this is definitely an autumn to spring all-day jacket, not something to sling in your pack.
Other good points about the fabric are that it’s got just enough stretch and that the DWR is frighteningly good, rain just rolls off, and if you’re working hard your body heat seems to keep the effect going for as long as your legs keep moving.
The cut is slim but not tight, I can wear a light and heavier base layer together under it and not feel restricted. On cold winter days this works really well and unless it snows consistently or the wind is very strong you’re set for the whole day.
There’s a simple hood which works well, it could maybe do with some volume adjustment on it, but it layers fine under a shell and it doesn’t get blown off my head, so it’s not a deal breaker.
The wide velcro-adjustable cuffs allow for venting as mentioned, but also let you pull the sleeves right up to your elbows for really cooling off and you can get big gloves neatly streamlined under them as well.
The pockets are a combination of ultimate joy, there’s two lower sited hand warmers so you can defrost fingers without losing core warmth and two high napoleons for actually useful and accessible storage. They’re all mesh as well for venting and minimal hinderance to breathability.
I would add and inch to the front as it’s climbing harness short, and I haven’t worn one of those in a few years now, so that’s maybe just a personal thing, not a fault as such.
It’s a smashing bit of kit, I like it. It also looks really cool.
I was worried by the whole softshell thing at first, my memory filled with WindBloc and Windstopper horror tales. I thought I was going to sweat and have to carry more and better clothes than normal to compensate for some apparent deficiencies in it’s performance. But after wearing it once and getting a feel for it I adjusted what I wore with it and never had an issue at all. It’s not a replacement for anything as such, it’s just a different clothing method and now that the fabrics available are super wind resistant without having a clingfilm style membrane in them, the performace matches the idea.