Guest Blog. Originally posted on The All Or Nothing Girl. Re-blogged here with kind permission.
Since the start of my ultra marathon journey I have felt that I am on a continual search for a solution to the scottish weather. I have fallen many times for various manufacture’s promises that their jacket is the answer. That they have found the balance between waterproofness, lightness and breathability. I have wanted to believe this sooooo badly. I have ran in some of the best known jackets on the market; trying products from rab, mountain equipment, omm, north face and marmot to name a few. I've tried materials including e-vent and gore. Unfortunately the combinations of face fabrics, waterproof tech fabrics and engineering has resulted in pieces that may be very good in certain conditions but do not meet the high demands that I set on them out on the mountain with those three factors that I cannot do without! I cannot sacrifice the waterproofness for the breathability and I dont want to sacrifice either of those for lightness.
When your in the mountains you shouldn’t have to sacrifice anything, you should have the freedom to explore, to push yourself to the max and to literally be that adventure.
The guys at gear pest told me they had found something that worked! I wasn’t a hundred percent sure, but they are always spot on! I remember when I first met them in the middle of nowhere; the heart of the mountains in Glen Affric. It was pitch black and freezing cold. These guys aren’t like other outdoor shops where the majority of the information is from the catalogue or the website, these guys actually use this stuff too!
I usually never wear a piece of kit in an event without having worn it first and I had only worn this jacket on short stints to the local shop in the week before the Great Glen Ultra Marathon. It was risky to wear the Gram Comp for the first time in the event but I am glad I did. My choice essentially was based around that fact that I knew that every jacket that I had would annoy me due to specific reasons, I knew I had no jacket that would be perfect so why not give the new one a shot?
Apart from the first 2 hours of the event in which it rained solidly, the rain was on and off for the entirety of the next 16 hours. The weather was so challenging that 15 percent of the field dropped out by halfway! After having worn it for those first two hours I came to the realisation, as I was running, that I hadnt actually noticed it yet. This might seem like a strange thing to say but I always have issues with something. Either its too tight across the back or too baggy on the arms or I cant do the zip up over my chin!!! That last one is definetely something I could rant about for hours!! I mean who thinks its acceptable to engineer a jacket that a women cant zip up the whole face guard area on. Come on! Anyway, sorry, I realised there was nothing actually annoying about the jacket. I thought this was funny. I thought I was bound to come up with a million things. I didn’t!
The arms were great, not too wide but at the same time free. The material moved over my skin in a flexible, light and comfortable way. The inner fabric felt soft and gentle against my arms, not plasticy or slimey like the others. The sleeves didnt flap around in the wind or cause excess drag. There was enough space so I didnt have to wrestle to get the sleeve over my gps watch :-) The front zipped over my face easily and when I had the hood up it didnt swamp me. When I had it down it didn't flap around. The back of the jacket came down over the top of my bum so I didn't get soggy shorts! In general it was amazing.
Even more amazing than that was the versatility. When the sun came out after few hours I took the jacket off and was able to stuff it easily into my running vest. My running top underneath was actually dry! I wasn't wet from the rain, nor was I a sweaty mess! I was genuinly dry! Gobsmacked! The weather was so changeable over the course of the next few hours that I took the jacket on and off before ending up just running in it until the later hours of the race. With the easy zip action and the elasticity of the arms, I didnt feel like I was wrestling when I took it off and was able to keep a reasonable running pace at the transitional points :-) This is something I realy like in a good piece of kit; it works for you, you don’t work for it. When I decided to keep it on, I just pulled the zip down low for venting and pushed the sleeves up. No problems.
At the Devil of the highlands the rain was on and off the whole way through, with me feeling sauna conditions one minute and blaticness the next; I tried a different strategy with the jacket for this, pulling it on over my ultra running vest and wearing it over the top of everything. Due to the cut of the jacket this worked prefectly. I literally ran past various people stopping to take jackets on and off throughout the day, where I just had mine on top, I felt no discomfort and suffered no constriction of movement. A definite highlight to this jacket.
Walking up that hill out of kinlochleven! Jacket over the top of running vest
Okay so some tech spec chat!
- Weight-255 grams.
- Materal- Gore Tex active shell, active 3 layer, 30D ripstop weave (its tough too), hydrostatic head >25,000 mm (above UTMB minimums!)
- Great legth on drop seat bum
- Good articulation on arms and thumb loops that are actually at the right length!
- Hood- 3 three bungees and a visor; great fit!
I have mostly worn this jacket running but the next port of call will be to get out on the bike with it and see how it is. I'm also intrigued to see if this would be good for skimo in the winter.
Running through the lairig, jacket on top of vest
This is a pretty exciting bit of kit, and I would challenge anyone that buys one not to fall in love with it too!!