The Topo jacket is a lightweight Gore-Tex jacket from Swedish clothing manufacturer Haglofs. The jacket is excellent but I should mention at the outset that it will not suit some ARRSErs as it is not suitable for general military use.
The Topo is lightweight – somewhere between a cycling / running shell jacket and a hill-walker’s Gore-Tex. It’s very high quality and suitably pricey. It is also unusually smart according to my wife (therefore it must be true). So if you’re interested in a general purpose, high quality, lightweight and smart Gore-Tex, and don’t want to look like SF Billy, then read on.
This jacket is expensive but not overpriced. If you’re after a brand jacket of the same type, and ultimate breathability and quality is not so important, you can get a Gore-Tex-alternative Berghaus that would do roughly the same job for a little over half the price.
The quality of the jacket is outstanding. I can’t fault it. The stitching is immaculate throughout, the velcro is tough, weak bits are reinforced and there are natty little Haglofs-labelled trims all over the place (inside that is; this is for your more wealthy, discrete and stylish outdoorey type, after all).
I said it’s not for military use and the reason is simply that the fabric is too lightweight. In my opinion this jacket will not withstand much abuse. I don’t think that bergan straps and wear are a huge problem, but a bit of barbed wire, thorn bush or crawl across rocky ground would quickly damage it. Some will say that you can wear a smock over the top. If that’s your thing, fine, but in my view this jacket is just not for work.
So who is the jacket for? Well… as I mentioned at the start it is smart enough to wear round town and not look like you got lost on your JSMEL course. It’s a slim-ish fit, it’s not covered in Gore-Tex and other techno badges, and it’s a single colour – somehow not a single colour in the old bright-blue spotter’s style, but actually very nice. Just as importantly it’s not too shiny and not too wrinkly – unusual qualities in such a lightweight jacket. It’s also ideal for general use; for someone who doesn’t have a dedicated ski jacket, cycling, jacket or hill-walking jacket, but does work up a sweat out doing ‘stuff’ in general and needs a really breathable jacket.
Some key design points: Double layer. No snow skirt. Does have mesh interior pockets for drying stuff out. Doesn’t have underarm zips (a significant weakness in my opinion). Does have a removable hood and a nice fleecy collar. Does have storm flaps over the main zip and pockets and a sealed zip on the chest pocket. The hood is not wired, but does have three adjustment strings and straps (effectiveness not tested). Mesh lined on body. No shoulder reinforcement. Velcro cuffs, no cuff seals or reinforcement. Longish, straight body with bottom drawstring so that it could be bloused.
In conclusion, a stylish and high quality general purpose jacket, suited to both casual and active use. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a simple but well featured lightweight jacket, where price is not an important consideration, but the excellent breathability of Gore-Tex is. I would not recommend this for harsh use such as military, rock climbing, or mountain use beyond hill walking.
Value: 4 out of 5. While not cheap, if you must have real Gore-Tex then it offers a lot of quality and features per pound.
Function: 4 out of 5. Excellent for the target general outdoor use. With underarm zips I would give it 5.
Quality: 5 out of 5.
Robustness: 2 out of 5.
Appearance: 4 out of 5. Pretty damned good for an anorak.
Thanks to the guys at RVOps for providing the test jacket. They are big fans of Haglofs and I can now see why. RVOps stock the Topo in sand and black for £170.