berghaus knoydart jacket review

Wed, Aug 17, 2011

I came into possession of a Berghaus Knoydart jacket courtesy of Go Outdoors recently so I decided to take it out in some pretty foul weather in the Cuillin on Skye. For this kind of outing a jacket has to be both weatherproof and tough as the gabbro can rip it to shreds, so I was interested to see how it did. I chose the green one as it looks great on the website:

and it was just as green when it arrived!

It’s made from AQ2 fabric which is, to quote Berghaus:

“…a tried and tested lightweight 2 layer construction that offers great waterproofing, breathability and windproof protection…”

The first thing I noticed about it was the size of the cuffs. They’re quite big for a mountain jacket but they have velcro closures so the size lends them well to ventilation if you get a bit hot. And you might just do as this jacket is slightly heavier than the ones I’m used to. It feels tough and yet the fabric is really nice to the touch. And I love the colour. There are three external pockets and you can use the lower two with a rucksac. In fact they’re quite well placed for bimbling along with your hands in your pockets. The chest pocket has a neat little cover over the top of the zip. None of the pockets will take a map though. The blurb said internal pockets but I could only find one. It also says it’s ideal for your music/phone/gps but as you can see, it’s tiny pocket. You can just squeeze an iPhone 3GS into it.


The outside material of the jacket does feel nice but the inside is a little clammy on the skin and sags a little when wet. This I found out when I took it out in a storm on Blaven.

Crossing the burn on Blaven

I wore it all day, from the minute I left the car, to arriving back, after a real soaking in gale force winds. It was subjected to some pretty awful weather, in that worst of environments, where it’s too wild to not wear a jacket but it’s also fairly mild so you end up sweating quite a lot. The jacket coped well with my sweat on the steep pull up the hill and in the storm winds I was impressed at its ability to keep out of the worst of the weather. It didn’t leak once. However, the hood is not much use. Well, I had a medium jacket and the hood itself felt a little small and there’s no wire in the brim so it flaps around in the wind. The toggle at the back of the hood is good for cinching it down but the front toggles pull the brim down over your face where it flaps around and I had to grab hold of it every time I wanted to look upwards to see where I was going.

On the summit of Blaven

My arms started to feel the cold after a while but the wind was gusting 40mph so I’d expect similar in a more expensive jacket and after 4 hours the inside lining was a bit clammy although it dried out fairly quickly. It wasn’t rain getting in, it was me breathing inside the chin guard and the condensation running down the inside of the front. I get that with all jackets though, unless I poke my chin outside.

Wet weather on Blaven

For most of the day the water beaded on the jacket and ran off, although bits on the front were beginning to wet out after hours of heavy rain. Nothing penetrated the jacket though. One thing I missed were the toggles that let you cinch it under your chin. It has toggles for the hood but none around the chin area, so that’s why I ended up breathing into the jacket. As for breathability, it’s not as breathable as event or the more expensive goretex jackets but you get what you pay for and at the price of the review jacket, 60 quid, you can’t go wrong with it. It’s a bargain bit of kit for someone who’s on a budget and can put up with limited storage options. As I said, the internal pocket is too small for anything useful and is made of mesh so is open to condensation and rain when you open the jacket. I’m not really sure what that pocket is for.

To compare reality with the claims made by Berghaus, “great waterproofing” : the jacket never leaked during 5 hours of heavy rain. “breathability” : it’s not as breathable as event or goretex but it’s half the price so I can’t argue with that. It’s not sweaty and in fact I was quite impressed at staying mostly dry inside. “windproof” : it’s definitely windproof in 30-40mph gusts. My arms did get cold but I was also low on food by that point and I soon warmed up after a good feed on the summit. I only wore a thin base layer all day under the jacket and so I’m pretty pleased with how it performed in the high winds.

Combine this jacket with a pair of  Hi-Tec Altitude boots and you have a very good entry level set of walking kit.

Go Outdoors have quite an impressive selection of waterproof jackets, most of them on sale, so it would be worth a look to see what’s on offer.