This has been on my mind for a while. Pockets are a divisive issue, opinions vary widely and affect the outcome of reviews, which will have a knock on effect on sales (I have learned that the power of a review in Trail or TGO should not be underestimated) and therefore design.
Waterproofs with a single pocket are fine, as are those with two, three pockets are good because you get the advantages of the single pocket design with a centre pocket and two at the sides for venting. I’ve even got a waterproof with four external pockets and two inner (still under 600g) which is great if it’s worn all day in winter. So no marks off for anybody really, It’s just that you really only needone pocket in a waterproof. The Haglöfs Oz and LIM Ultimate, and the Montane Air prove the point as they work all year round. These pockets are all high up on the chest of course, waterproof pockets under a pack hipbelt are rubbish. Although, in the days before style was a consideration you could get waterproofs that were long enough to have pockets completely below your hip belt. The jacket would also be long enough to keep you pretty much dry in rain that wasn’t wind driven. Walking up steep slopes you would just unbutton the bottom of the jacket so your knees wouldn’t bunch it up at the front.
No pockets is an option, but it would be a pain in the arse.
Midlayers though, that’s the real thing that’s been bugging me. I’ve got a few test midlayers in and they’re all different, high pockets, low pockets, napoleon pockets, no pockets. Low pockets are supposed to be for dog walkers to keep their hands warm, high pockets are technical and to be expected on a proper mountain piece. This maxim appears to be an unquestioned constant throughout reviews and has been used to condemn potentially good jackets and elevate otherwise average fleecy jumpers.
I got sucked into this and found myself annoyed with low pockets, just because. But, it’s bollocks isn’t it?
I wore the Karrimor Alpiniste Fleece for years, still do on occasion. It has two handwarmer pockets that were covered by a packbelt and two unventing upper pockets for storage. It was a classic, everyone loved it, and rightly so.
Now, high pockets that vent, like the discontinued Haglöfs Triton, are great. But for hand warming they just let the heat out from your core. Tucking your hands into low pockets doesn’t do this. I condemned the Triton’s replacement, the Gemini, for its lower sited pockets. The fact that it’s better cut, longer and had a much better hood didn’t matter as convention said that the pockets were pish.
Fast forward to now and I’ve been using a real mix of jackets over the past while, my own and test kit, and not once have I said “Oh I wish the pocket were…”. Fabric is vital, articulation, long enough arms; these are what I’ve been looking at.
The pocket thing is another stupid bloody widely accepted rule of thumb.
I’m not saying that one style is better than another, both have advantages and disadvantages, but it should be down to what fits best and what you like best. Not about convention saying something stupid again.
Next week: Hobnailed Boots, is your nail pattern acceptable?