When folk are talking about synthetic insulation or sleeping bags there’s always someone who brings up Snugpak as being the best thing ever. My experience is limited to a Softie sleeping bag and a purple & orange reversible jacket with removable sleeves that I had a few years ago. I’m always pleased to see gear made in the UK, and as a lightweight sort, I was also interested to see how Snugpak measured up against the gear I’m used to using. I’ve got some test kit in to see what the score is.

The jacket above is a Sleeka Lite, which at 508g for a size large is 250g lighter than the regular Sleeka. It’s a plain full-zip jacket with two hand warmer pockets, high drawcorded collar, adjustable hem and the neat touch of lycra cuffs with thumb loops. the arm length is fine on me and the body is big enough to fit over your other layers. Inside there’s three pockets, one map sized mesh with a hidden security pocket inside, both zipped, and another smaller velcro topped stash pocket on right hand side. Inside the right sleeve there’s Snugpak’s stuff system, a drawcord that compresses the whole jacket into the forearm. I know it works from previous experience, but if you don’t fancy that the jacket comes with a stuffsack included.
It’s soft to the touch, both the Softie fill and the Paratex Light fabric, and packs away well.

Below is the Airpak Reversible jacket, it has the same fill and fabrics as the Sleeka Lite, but adds an external chest pocket on both sides, a large map pocket on the black side a wee accessory one on the green side, and there’s also a basic roll-away hood on the green side. The fit is similar to the Sleeka Lite and the extra features have nudged the weight up to 642g.

Both jackets have a temperature rating of 0°C to -5°C, not the sort of information you see a lot of manufacturers offering up. I don’t know how accurate that’ll be, but sitting on the tops with a cuppa will reveal if it’s warm enough and that’s all we need to know.
The military heritage is obvious, from the colours (green side for day, black for night?) to the robust and simple design, even the traditional British fit is there; stocky! Maybe there’s a few features that haven’t moved with the times, I can’t remember the last time I had a jacket with a drawacord that took two hands to operate for example, but iy all works and I’ll happily be taking these onto the hill.
Do we get swept up in what we’re told is the next best thing too often? The essentials for warmth and weather resistance are there and that’s the essence of the function of this kind of kit. There’s a feeling of feet returning to earth when handling this stuff, I’ll be interested in what kind of opinion I form during testing.

Also in for test is a Softie 3 Merlin in silky looking Black Tactical. It’s one of Snugpak’s lightest bags at 900g as advertised, and packs respectably small.
It has the same Paratex fabrics and Softie fill as the jackets, but adds a layer of Reflectatherm as a heat loss barrier, hopefully maintaining warmth while giving the impressively small packed size.
There’s a full length baffled zip and drawcorded hood, and the shape is a nice slim mummy style.
I haven’t used a synthetic bag for ages and the gay abandon with which you can approach the possibilty of damp camping has not passed me by. It’s rated to 5°C comfort, so it’s a few weeks early for the tops, but it should be great for some of the daft bivying and the like that we’ve been talking about.

As ever, I’ll get it all the gear wet and dirty and come back to it.

15 thoughts on “Snugpak”

  1. I’ve had a snugpak jacket for years now, from back in the days when they did them in red and nobody called them belay jackets. Weights about 900g though, so doesn’t get used much these days, except for the beginning of the rugby season maybe, great for freezing sleet blown terraces ;-). Always loved the thumb loops, why don’t more people use those…

  2. Thumbloops make a noticable difference to warmth when you use them, I’m definitely a convert.

    sbrt, I’ve checked out their gear and had a word. The kit looks good, we shall see.

  3. That Etobicoke does indeed look interesting.

    Any word from Finisterre PTC?

    Are they going to get you one to test? I’m curious to know how warm it is…

  4. I’ve had some comms with them and there’s some stuff in the works, about which there will be more in a few weeks.

    I won’t be seeing any current stuff though. Looks interesting though, the slim cut might make up for the lighter weight Primaloft?

  5. I got a Bise vest for Xmas and had queried them beforehand so can give some info. The fill is apparently 100g/m2. Basically it seems a nice, minimalist thing with a slim fit. The zipless pockets provide a handy loose stuff sack. Outer fabric seems to work well enough.

    Made in Portugal. Not as lovely as the LIM Barrier (I was happy to discover that this was made in Portugal) but nice and a nice company :) Very good at answering e-mail queries/very fast shipping etc too – so small UK companies *can* be organised then ;)

    Weights on the website maybe slightly optimistic (230g for my small Bise vs 190).

  6. Good to know it’s the 100 weight, I would have suspected 60 or 40.
    You’re right, they seem like a deccnt bunch, and enthusiastic about what they’re doing too.

  7. I bought some casual stuff off them last year and very nice it is too, the merino hoodie has become a favourite.

    Nice people and good mail order service. no problems exchanging a jacket for a size smaller.

  8. Looks alright, aye.

    The concept and performance of the fabric is good. Why does it take folk other than Paramo to get the look right!

  9. If only

    Paramo neutrino/fast&light. Might alienate a few ramblers but it would float my boat.

    Ethical waterproof Vapour Rise?

  10. There’s is stuff like that being thought about, but the finacial risk means they’re all waiting for someone to go first.
    In a few years the market will have changed completely, recycling is going to be #1 priority, they all know it and are getting ready.
    I’m seeing some kit next week that’s 90% recycled and recyclable. This I like.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.