Skye is an excellent testing ground for outdoor kit. The mountains of The Cuillin are steep and rugged. The black gabbro rock is famous for destroying boots, clothing and fingertips. It’s membered coastline pokes out into the North Atlantic all the better to catch the worst of the sou’westerlies. It rains here… a lot!
I had been plotting a Cuillin trip all summer so when my friend Sofiya announced she had managed to secure a weekend booking in the spectacularly situated Curuisk Memorial Hut in early September, the mission was on. Mammut had lent me a Meron Light HS(Hard Shell) Jacket to try out and having never used a Mammut waterproof jacket in anger I was keen to give it a go.
The Meron Light is a technical Alpine jacket and somewhat unusual in that it is constructed from Gore-Tex Active Shell. This is Gore’s thinnest and lightest membrane and is more often found in running/biking products. Interestingly the backer on the inside is the same as found in Gore’s C-Knit products. This adds extra durability and next to skin comfort, I much prefer it to the feel of a standard Active Shell fabric.
The Meron Light is well named at 357g but the tightly woven face fabric doesn’t feel too thin. Feature-wise it’s quite a simple affair. The hem is elastic but the cuffs are adjustable via small yet adequate velcro tabs. There are two outer pockets high enough to stay out of the way of a backpack strap or harness but low enough to stick your hands in comfortably. There is one smaller pocket on the inside. The hood is good with plenty of adjustment. The fit is fairly slim. I vary between medium and large depending on the brand but I’d definitely go large with the Meron for my 174cm / 75kg frame. The medium test jacket just fits but leaves no room for layers.
So how did it perform? First let me set the scene.
We were late arriving in Elgol to catch the Eilean a Cheo run by Misty Isle Boat Trips and had to wait a couple of hours for the next sailing. The boat journey into Loch Coruisk was flat calm, stunning and we were further delayed by an unexpected but a most welcome detour to see the seal colonies in Loch Scavaig. A group powwow was had on finally reaching the hut at 1430 and it was decided that it was now too late for a group of 5 to be setting out to attempt the Dubh Slabs as planned. We decided that the most experienced climber Stuart and Sofiya (who had never been into the Cuillin before) should go for it since a party of two had an excellent chance of getting through the most technical parts of the route before nightfall. The two Ian’s and I set off to scramble up the smaller but spectacular Sgurr Na Stri hoping to soak in the renowned views from it’s rocky summit.
Now back to the Meron Light… The conditions during our wee adventure were changeable. Rain and wind one minute, calm and misty the next. The sun made some brief appearances too and the jacket stayed on throughout. It really is very breathable and I was comfortable for the duration. I love the simplicity of this thing. There is very little faff involved since there’s very little to faff with. I’d happily use it in winter conditions too although it’s probably a bit on the light side for gnarly Cairngorm blizzards. On a fast and light mission with a favourable forecast it would be ideal for walking, climbing or ski touring I reckon.
After a few pleasurable hours of scrambling and challenging route finding in the mist we found ourselves on the top. We lingered in the hope of catching that view and were rewarded with brief yet tantalising breaks in the swirling cloud. The decent was rapid and we made it back to the hut before dark to await our buddies’ return. The pair of them fell in the door grinning not long before eleven, which was something of a relief. They had a great time too on the climb but the decent in the dark was somewhat arduous and they too were glad to back in the cosy little hut. Some whisky was consumed.
Day two was a wash out. Rarely have I seen such wild weather in September. A torrential “sidepour” with gusts big enough to blow you over. We stayed in the hut.The Meron Light was put to the test again on day three when we realised there was no way the boat would be coming back for us as planned. The whitecaps in the bay gave the game away so we loaded up, locked up and shipped out. After much coastal scrambling and river wading we made it back to Elgol tired but happy. Sometimes these trips don’t go to plan but there’s always pleasure to be had in a place such as this and a grim satisfaction in battling the elements.
I can certainly attest to the waterproofness of the Mammut Meron Light. It’s a really excellent jacket and since Mammut haven’t asked for it back yet, I’m looking forward to wearing it again.