Buying a waterproof jacket is probably one of the most important decisions you will make when buying outdoor kit. Go Outdoors were kind enough to send me a Paramo Velez Smock, one of their range of waterproof jackets to review. I have no connection with Paramo or GO Outdoors and this is the honest opinion of someone who has spent 10 years walking, climbing and biking in Scotland. This was my first experience of using Paramo gear and I must say that I was intrigued to try it. Many of the mountain leaders I know and have worked with swear by it and won't consider using anything else. The whole concept was foreign to me and for years I have clung to my preconceptions and used Gore-Tex based waterproof jackets. Would the Paramo Velez Smock change my mind? Would I too be converted to a Paramo evangelist like so many others? Read on and find out.
As opposed to the vast majority of waterproof jackets, which use a waterproof breathable membrane, Paramo uses the Nikwax Analogy system. According to the blurb these fabrics, designed by Nikwax, function in the same way as animal fur. The Nikwax Analogy Pump system actively pushes water away from the skin to the outside of the garment. Keeping you warm and dry. The fabric is light, not affected by puncture, and can be renewed by washing with Nikwax products. I had been put off buying Paramo because I had heard that although comfortable it was very warm and if you sit/lean against wet surfaces the water comes through. Time to put it to the test.
When the Paramo Velez Smock in Fire/Rock (red/grey) dropped through my door I couldn't wait to pop it on and I was blown away by how light, comfortable, flexible and quite it was on. It really doesn't feel like a waterproof jacket, much more like a really comfortable fleece/pertex soft-shell. The colours are great, although more muted than a traditional shell, as I always think the brighter the better when it comes to outer shells. The only negative is that I felt the arms where a wee bit short, especially for biking or climbing when your arms are extended. But overall first impressions were very positive and the quality is clearly visible. The Velez smock is recommended for walking and hiking, adventure racing, mountain biking, climbing, multi activity, trek and travel and country pursuits(?). I would use it for summer hill walking, mountain biking, climbing, running and it will definitely be going into my bag when I head to Mexico next week. The scooped tail, good wicking and active fit would make it particularly good for more active outdoor pursuits such as trail running, mountain biking and adventure racing. The list of features is a long one and includes a high collar, with roll-away hood, a scooped tail, single hand adjustment, bite tabs on the cuff, a chest pocket, which easily takes an OS map, a hand warming inner pocket (an essential in any jacket and my favourite feature), double lining on the shoulders and back, a fully wired and flexible hood plus much more. Fair to say that this is a very well specced jacket and the only activity I would rule out would be winter walking/mountaineering as it just doesn't have enough pockets for hats/gloves and gear and is cut a little short for this.
For the past two weeks the Velez Smock has hardly been off my back. I have used it for going to work, running, mountain biking, walking and generally just kicking about. I have used it in every type of weather from torrential rain to wet and windy weather to balmy wet evenings biking through the Mugdock mud. The only thing I haven't done, and will be doing soon, is spent a really wet full day on the hill. This jacket has come up trumps on every occasion. When the rain is pouring down the wired hood is comfortable and flexible while the water just beads off the fabric. Biking and running in a mix of conditions the Nikwax Analogy Pump system exceled in keeping me comfortable and dry despite the higher level f activity and resulting sweat. The soft and flexible fabric makes it a joy to wear as a day to day jacket and my first choice when I am heading out the door and the Scottish weather is doing its normal thing. The features that I particularly liked were:
- Fleecy lined inner hand-warmer pocket.
- The rollaway hood, which forms a high collar to keep the wind and rain out and help regulate temperature.
- The ability of the jacket to keep you dry in spite of strenuous activity.
- The soft and comfortable feel of the fabric, both inside and out.
- The bite tab cuff adjusters
- It felt a bit short on pockets (I'm not a huge fan of chest pockets)
- The arms felt a little short.
The bottom line
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