The North Face Kishtwar Jacket

Softshell doesn’t seem to be a sticking point or a controversial subject these days, I think that’s largely due to the better fabrics the jackets are been sewn or welded out of. The fit and technicality are as specialist as you’d ever need in the top end stuff, so when TNF said test it as I was trying a Kishtwar sample on for size, I just thought “winter mountain jacket” rather than Oh, softshell… This is a good approach I think.

Talking of fabric, what we have here is Polartec Powershield Pro, and I already know this a million miles away from the rubble sack plastic membranes in windproof fleeces of old, having used it last winter. This variety feels tough, the outer face has a texture that for some reason is exactly what I’d imagine a shark to feel like. I realise that’s absolutely no help at all, but think of a smoothly upholstered killing machine and you’re on your way.
There’s a nice bit of stretch in there too, the cut is great for mobility (it’s a Summit Series piece) so the stretch isn’t covering up for lack of ergonomics, it’s allowing a closer fit and this makes a size medium a perfect slim fit over a base layer on me.
The inner face is a nice velour affair, and as I’ve discovered this does hoover up any moisture you produce. and with the mesh-lined chest pockets opened as vents it’s pretty usable in warmer weather.
But it’s home is winter, it does feel heavy duty, both with the fabric and the spec. The hood is badass, adjustable at the front and rear, close fitting and has a great shaped peak. It’s laminated, not wired so it’ll layer under a shell okay. There’s a huge wind baffle behind the front zip, those chest pockets are huge too and have the hem drawcord ends inside for sneaky adjustment and no dangling ends outside. There’s a single napoleon pocket too for wee bits and pieces.

There’s some lovely detailing, the inside is very well finished, the seams are flat despite the thickness of the doubled fabric, and capped with stretch tape where they’ll get the most abrasion (the front zip) or be most annoying (at the neck). The chin area is lined with microfleece, and with those nice green zips even the grey colour appeals to me.

I like the look of this so far, it’s been repelling light rain and been very user friendly. I’ll need to get it on some proper mountains days to be sure though.

20 thoughts on “The North Face Kishtwar Jacket”

  1. As you know, this is top of my list.

    Not too many people stocking them, and not too many other manufacturers using Powershield Pro either.

    I mentioned the jacket to someone in Tiso last time I was in (for a laugh) and they had no idea. Mind you, to be fair, TNF do make a *lot* of jackets.

  2. Tiso? Great cafe, mind you I was in the new Perth one last week and it was a barn of disappointment.

    The Kishtwar looks good Johnny, I really want to know how it feels with just a baselayer in winter conditions on a hill.

  3. This is Edinburgh, there’s not even a cafe (in either of them).

    The Perth one amuses me, since it’s obviously situated to get trade heading to or from the hills.

    But, generally (for me at least), when I’m heading to the hills, I want to get to my destination quick style. And when I’m heading home again, I want to get home double-quick style.

    I can’t see many circumstances where I’d shop there. I’m obviously not the target demographic (being active in the hills from time to time).

  4. Fascinating to see how this fabric works out actually. Its got an awful lot of potential from the paper specs.

    A bit confused about why they haven’t seam taped this one though.

  5. Just checked out the price, definitely in the top end, softshell prices aren’t that different from hardshell really. There’s no difference in the level of fabric technology of construction detail either, so the fact that a hardshell keeps the rain out and softshell doesn’t always, makes us expect a bigger price differential between the two I think?

    The rumour on the street is that the Perth Tiso staff have been poached from Primark, Farmfoods and TK Maxx rather than Craigdon or Mountain Supplies.
    Training in overdrive then I hope? Folk on the way to the Cairngorms won’t stop a second time if they get the wrong answers in there.

    I got an interestin g fact on taping softshell with an inner surface like the Kishywar has, the velour would have to be shaved manually to get any taping to bond properly which puts anothyer £100 on the tag price!

  6. It would be interesting to see how long it keeps the rain out for. I really like the concept of soft shell, love the keks, and we would all happily wear a softer & more comfortable fabric all the time instead of our standard hardshell stuff but as the price range is the same in some normal waterproof models for me the fabric would have to be comparitive to make me buy one. Still not convinced that softshell jackets are really suited to our changeable mountain weather and you still need to take a waterproof, but i would be happy to be proved wrong.

  7. The waterproof softshell that hits the mark best is probably OMM’s Kamleika. If the designs were tweaked a little they could be perfect. Cheap too.

    Oh, I want a Hurtta jacket in brown. Where’s their contact details…

  8. I’ve asked an official stockist (who I know personally) if they can weigh it, bearing in mind they only have XXS to hand, will get back to you.

  9. Umm, excuse me, but that’s the second time in two days I’ve seen the phrase “waterproof softshell” (the other was from a well known if not necessarily well respected outdoor clothing brand ;)

    Isn’t it a contradiction? If softshell goes full circle to be waterproof then aren’t we just back to ‘shell’???

  10. Ant, I forgot to weight this. I shall, later…

    Matt the term “waterproof softshell” has been an issue in the trade. Some folk reckon it’s a death sentence for a waterproof to have the softshell word near it, but if it is waterproof and has a stretchy, soft handling fabric, then it is softshell.
    There’s been attempts to make hardshell and softshell apply to the nature of the fabric, and add either waterproof, weather resistant or windproof to that so that folk can see exactly what it is, but like everything in the outdoor trade they all put their fingers in their ears and wish it was 1989 again.
    Same reason we’re stuck with the ludicrous boot and crampon compatability sacle.

  11. If you want a softshell waterproof then you may as well get a Paramo jacket which is more breathable than any of the membrane softshells with a similar level of warmth. And they do enough styles and colour combinations now to cater for the majority of bodyshapes and tastes.
    I suspect a lot of hill people reject Paramo on image grounds rather than performance when it comes to Winter use.

  12. I tried Paramo and Furtech last winter and it’s fine, Furtech is a better fitting on me and does look better :o)
    I must say I don’t like any of Paramo’s hoods, comfy kit to wear though.

  13. I’ve found the hoods on the Aspira smock and Velez Adventure Light to be the dog’s danglies for protecting my face from an arctic ‘sandblasting’. The detachable hood on on the standard Velez isn’t quite so protective when the hail or ice bombs strike!

  14. I recently bought a Rab Baltoro Guide jacket. Polartec Powershield is supposed to be very breathable but I have been very disappointed. I much prefer Paramo or my Patagonia Infurno jacket when it’s very chilly.

    Off topic but I also picked up the old Rab Demand Pull on in that nice Mayan blue colour for £80. It is though strictly a Summer or a low level running waterproof for me.

  15. That’s a good price for the Demand, nice one.

    Softshell fabrics will always be a bit hit and miss for folk I think, so many varieties and few are anything close to do-it-all.

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