The Iconic Haglofs Spitz Jacket, has been on my wish list of mountaineering gear to test for some time, so when the opportunity arose to head to the hills for a weekend with one, it needed to be grabbed with both hands, to stop it blowing away in the winds of hurricane Ophelia.
Although designed with high alpine adventures in mind, the north west highlands of Scotland is as good a jacket lab as any and better than most. The weather removed any chance to climb in the Spitz, but horizontal rain and gusts I guestimate at 70mph (115kmph) provide a stern test of any garment and soon locate any weak points.
The plan: Rendezvous on a Friday evening, camping by the Cluanie Inn at the top of Glen Shiel. Head north along the tough to pronounce Allt a Chaorainn Bhig, to the river Affric. Leave most of our kit in the Camban bothy a couple of km to the west, before heading south to the summit of Ciste Dhubh returning to the bothy for the night. Sunday, head back to the cars over the peaks of Mullach Fraoch-choire and A'Chralaig.
First some technical details. The Spitz is made from highly durable 3-layer GORE-TEX® Pro fabric, with a hydrostatic head of >28,000mm and RET:>6
In civilian speak this means it's tough, very water proof and very breathable.
Although this trip was wet and windy, it was mild, so I found myself using the underarm vents, opened and closed by zips, often. These were easy to use even with a backpack on, with sturdy zips that stayed in the position I wanted. The more sheltered parts of the walk in and up the steep ascent of Ciste Dhubh, this feature was most welcome.
The 3 way adjustable hood was also a godsend in these conditions. With the front zip done all the way up and hood drawn in tight, it remained fast to my head without restricting visibility as I turned. I had no helmet on, but there is plenty space for even the largest of lids.
For what is a light weight jacket the Spitz feels a sturdy barrier to the elements and comfortable to move in. The pro shell gore has been reinforced over the shoulders, sleeves, back and hips for extra durability where you need it. The 2 napoleon pockets remain free from a chest strap and are of a decent size. I didn't use the inside pocket, preferring instead to keep my valuables in a dry bag in my pack, but there is one there, along with a useful pocket on the left sleeve much larger than you find on some jackets. All the zips are laminated and secure.
All in all I really think this jacket is first class, a sign of which is how loathed I am to hand it back. I can look forward to testing the Spitz again in the snow I guess, but for now I can say it certainly held up well in some fierce conditions. What could have been a fairly grim experience in a lesser shell, was in fact a great weekend out.
I can also say the Cluanie Inn still serves a fine pint.
Thanks to Haglofs for the lend of the Spitz and here's a shout out to Igor from the Ukraine, who managed to find his way safely to the bothy after dark on his ownsome. I hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip in Scotland.
Cheers for now...
Haglofs Spitz Jacket Men (sold out I'm afraid).