Once again I've had the opportunity to test out some bad weather outdoors gear and once again the weather has been unseasonably mild and dry. So, now you know the reason why.
The garment in question is the Berghaus RG1 jacket for men from Go Outdoors. There is a similar jacket for women called the Tryfan. They're a well-established brand in the UK, known for producing dependable gear for our wet and windy places.
The RG1 is advertised as an entry level outer shell with a RRP of £85. Go Outdoors currently have it on offer at a smidgen under £65 (as of this morning. Tonight it's on offer at £42.50, so fill your boots) . Is it worth the outlay? I approached the question from 3 points of view, as and when conditions outdoors gave me the opportunity.
Firstly, is it presentable in the 'hood? Let's face it, even the most ardent hill walker and rambler will spend more time in a waterproof top just popping down to the shops or going to work than striding off across the bogs. In my opinion, it is. Take this with a pinch of salt if you like, after all I once thought purple flares and cheesecloth shirts were 'real cool, man'. The jacket has a classic, athletic cut and is sufficiently restrained in style to allow you to walk the streets without young boys pointing at you as if you're fresh in from a polar expedition. There are 4 different colours according to the Go Outdoors website (though I gather there are more). It's a workaday top for everyday purposes.
Windproof? An ideal opportunity arose the other week in the shape of the Pentland Skyline hill race (an FRA AL event, 16 miles, 6200 foot of ascent, all for a fiver). I'm currently off the road for racing, it was a seriously windy day and so I volunteered to act as a sweeper for the first half. This involves bimbling along at the back as a safety measure. The last runner was the legendary Bill Gauld of Carnethy Hill Racers at 78 years old and, let me assure you, that if I can bimble at his speed at that age I will be a very happy fellow.
The wind was gusting at up to 50mph on the exposed tops of the Pentlands, coming from my half right and threatening to blow me off the left hand edge. There was also that all-pervading drizzle coming in horizontally. Well, with 2 base layers on underneath, the RG1 kept that wind out. At its strongest I protected myself from the elements by getting my hands into the nicely long sleeves and I used the high storm collar to good effect. When I stopped I began to get cold. Remember the RG1 is a hard shell, you need to wear or carry extra gear to keep you warm underneath that shell.
The AQ2 fabric is therefore windproof. It is also breathable when working hard at a walking pace. Of course it is not breathable enough when running in an attempt to keep Bill Gauld in sight, no fabric can be both windproof and allow through the much larger quantities of moisture that a runner gives off. So, ventilation here is a matter of opening the zip or taking the thing off.
So, how about waterproof? The jacket kept out that 50 mph drizzle for sure, but it didn't satisfy me as a reviewer. I was looking for a downpour and one came earlier this week. The sort where drivers turn their lights on at two in the afternoon, where there's standing water in the streets and water comes up out of the drains. Hurray, I thought, time to go for a walk. Yes, it's waterproof. The hood was deployed: it's a generous sized hood, helmet compatible and made of the same material as the jacket. It stows away neatly when not required. I was out at a brisk pace for an hour. When I got home I was drenched from the bottom of the coat to my toes, courtesy of a few drivers and an enormous puddle. The part of me under the coat had remained dry.
I like the following about this jacket. The sleeves are long and it's cut longer at the back to keep your backside covered. There is a detailed sizing chart from small to XXXL. At 540g it's light and packs away nicely if the weather is fine, so there's no excuse for not taking it with you in the hills.
And a few quibbles. It's an entry level coat, as the manufacturer themselves say. There are just 2 outer pockets, which are large and zipped. There is no inner pocket. The storm collar is not fleece-lined. If you're not careful with the zip you can get the mesh inner snagged up in it. This is what I'd expect at this price. If you want better, then you'll need to pay for it.
The RG1 is an honest windproof and waterproof jacket and would suit those who want a decent bit of gear at a decent price, but also need to know it's up to the job.
Berghaus RG1 Jacket supplied courtesy of Go Outdoors who also have a vast array of other men's waterproof jackets!