Holme Valley Mountain Rescue, like other teams across the country, have to fundraise for their own kit and this includes team members clothing. HVMRT are currently testing out jackets with a view to kitting out team members, as we don’t currently have branded waterproof jackets.
This is a significant cost to the team, in the region of £5-6000, so we need to know what we’re buying is built to last and able to withstand the worst of the British weather.
I’ll be reviewing the jackets we get to test, raising the profile of Mountain Rescue teams and the need for kit built to withstand the weather.
First up is the Mountain Equipment Kongur MRT jacket – their highest specification Gore-Tex jacket.
Selling for £500 a jacket this is possibly the most expensive jacket I’ll ever wear, so I expect great things from it. It is predominantly 80 Denier Gore-Tex with 150 Denier reinforcements on the shoulders (significantly thicker than most waterproof jackets), and unlike all jackets on the market it also has storm flaps on all of the zips.
I trialled the jacket in a variety of conditions, to see how it performed on durability, breathability and most importantly on its ability to keep me warm and dry.
As a new jacket it was like wearing a very thick crisp packet and in all but the coldest conditions it is also incredibly warm. I took it to Ben Nevis and in 70mph winds with only a thin fleece and merino tshirt underneath I was hot when moving. It does have fantastic huge armpit zips, but given the conditions I put up with being hot.
The jacket never wetted out on me and created a bubble in which I felt I was hiding from the worst Scottish winter weather.
Surprisingly even the female fit of the jacket is a good long length so it doesn’t ride up when wearing a harness and climbing. I wore it in Cogne while ice climbing and it allowed for great freedom of movement.
The reflective panel, while easy to mark with the rubbing of a rucksack are great in whiteout conditions or darkness to be able to be seen by others.
There’s load of pockets on the jacket too – two really big chest pockets on both sides of the jacket, big enough to fit a map. ME do put the caveat that the pockets aren’t waterproof, which I’d never assume on a jacket but for £500 I was surprised this was so boldly highlighted on the tag.
I love a good hood. I expect it to cover my face in a hurricane. The hood on this jacket is fantastic if you are climbing as it is big enough to easily go on over a helmet. However this does mean it flaps around and blows off if you don’t have one on. The hood does have a toggle on the back and sides to pull it in tight, but in 70mph winds, this only meant that my cheeks had to get blasted by spindrift. Which was better than it blowing off I guess.
Designed specifically for MR teams it only comes in the Black and red combination, so might not meet everyone’s desires for personal kit. (Though I’m sick of women’s kit being purple, pink and teal, so this is a massive plus for me!)
My overall opinion:
A great jacket that I’d definitely consider buying if money was no object, but as a personal jacket its far too expensive to justify a purchase. There’s surely jackets just as capable (with layering) of meeting my personal needs – even if that includes horrendous Scottish weather.