Montane women’s Prismatic Jacket

Our expedition to the Western Zaalisky was supported in part by the Montane Alpine Club Climbing Fund and some of the team were also provided with jackets too.

I got the women’s Prismatic jacket. Available in four colours, Blue, Black, Berry and Red, I chose the blue colour in a size 10.

It’s always exciting to be given outdoor clothing to test, but in all honesty this jacket wasn’t about to fill a gap in my wardrobe as I already have something similar which performs well in a variety of situations. So how would this jacket compare to what I already have?

Montane bill this jacket as:

The women’s specific Prismatic Jacket is an essential item of mountain clothing. Warm yet lightweight and packable, it can be worn on the move in cool conditions for a variety of outdoor activities. Using 40g/m2 PrimaLoft® SILVER ECO insulation throughout ensures that the Prismatic is warm yet lightweight enough to be worn on the move in cool conditions.

Great Features

The Prismatic jacket did provide great insulation and I wore it for a lot of the expedition for both pottering around base camp in the evening and high alpine days when the wind was cold or it was early in the morning. It insulated me from the cold without me feeling like I would get too hot and sweaty in it.

I like that the jacket is made in part from recycled materials:

Approximately 28 recycled water bottles are used in the production of each kilogram of PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Eco, which averages 6 bottles per finished jacket.

The jacket size worked well as it was fitted around the waist, without being too snug that I couldn’t get another warm layer underneath.

The length and cut was also good, as it tucked into my harness and didn’t ride up as I climbed.

Just before the final rocky ascent to the summit of Pik-a Boo (5122m)

Things that I’d change

Pockets. This is always my first complaint with women’s outdoor clothing. There seems to be an assumption that women carry less stuff than men. Despite being billed as an Alpine Jacket it only has two pockets, neither of which would be possible to put a map into. There is no internal pocket or chest pocket, unlike on the men’s equivalent Prism jacket.

For some reason the women’s hood is designed to fit under a helmet and the men’s over a helmet. I’m not sure why there’d be a difference, and to be honest I’m not sure which is better. I personally prefer to be able to put my hood over the helmet so when I heat up towards mid day I have the option of taking it off.

Colour is usually my other major complaint with women’s outdoor clothing – as we only get offered dark colours, with a predominance of pinks and purples.

For me, when I’m out in Scottish winters or on Alpine routes I want bright colours that make me stand out from the environment. That way if something happens and I want rescuing I can be easily found. They also look much cooler in photos!

To be honest, the men’s version of this jacket isn’t much better in this regard as they have black, grey, dark blue, a two tone green and a red jacket to choose from.

L-R – Steve in the orange Fireball Jacket, Stuart above in the red Prism jacket, Andy in the two tone green Prism, me in the women’s blue Prismatic and Jared in a black Prism.

My overall opinion

The women’s Prismatic Jacket is a good jacket that provides medium weight insulation. It moved well with my body and was long enough to fit under a harness and not ride up.

It is priced at £125 which about comparable to competitor jackets of a similar type.

Would I buy it? It needs more pockets for me, and at least one big enough to fit a map in. I’d also want it in a bright colour, lime green or orange, something I can be very visible in.

Vegetarian Freeze dried foods – Expedition Foods v Summit to Eat

On our expedition to the Western Zaalisky we took a range of freeze dried foods to cook at our Advanced Base Camps. We opted for the 1000kcal options for all as it enabled us to ensure that we were sufficiently fuelled for our strenuous kit hauling days and summit days.

As vegetarians Jared and I are used to having a much reduced list to choose from whenever we eat, but we were pleasantly surprised by the choices available to us.

When it comes to vegetarian options both companies have a great selection with 4 main meals each.

I should add that Expedition Foods supported our trip with a great discount on their foods, but this hasn’t affected the honesty of our reviews of the meals.

All the instructions for the meals are easy to follow with clear guidance of quantity of water to add and time to allow to rehydrate. That said the Summit to Eat meals have a fill line on the inside of the bags which makes it easier to do when wild camping, rather than trying to measure hot water.

Cooking dinner for 3 in a tent requires a bit of organisation!

Expedition Foods – Vegetable tikka with rice

I had this vegetable tikka with rice meal on both our climb up Pik a Boo and the expedition into the Kok Kiki when Jared and Steve climbed Ak Kalpak. I expected this to be very spicy but it was actually quite sweet and pretty tasty. This meal is available in an 800 and 1000 extreme calorie option with the extreme option weighing 185g and costing £8.49.

I did find on cooking that some of the vegetables, however remained crunchy, even after the recommended 8 minutes. I also found the 600ml recommendation for hot water was too much and made the meal a bit sloppy, so the second time around I only added 500ml which seemed about right. Nevertheless it was a good meal and very tasty and certainly one I’d buy again.

I’d scored this 4/5.

Summit to Eat – Spicy Pasta Arrabiata

Pasta is always a good option for camping meals as it guaranteed to fill you up. This is available in a 600kcal and a 1000kcal option. The big pack option seemed like a very large portion of pasta, but being hungry from long ascents it turned out to be just the right amount.

The big pack weighs 260g and costs £7.75.

I expected the pasta to end up crunchy as with cheaper supermarket pasta meals but it cooked well in the 8 minutes. It was certainly a tasty meal and packed a punch with spices. I’d definitely get this again.

I’d score it 5/5.

Summit to Eat – 5 Bean Cassoulet

One of the new vegan meals the 5 Bean Cassoulet was a very tasty meal although it was another which was a bit sloppy. It was nice that it didn’t rely on lots of spices for flavour, and it was certainly tasty – a potato based bean stew. Being packed full of beans it did provide hours of flatulence afterwards though!

Available in 600kcal and 1000kcal option, the big pack version weighs 170g and costs £7.75. I enjoyed this, but it wasn’t the most tasty of the meals we tried.

I’d score it 3/5.

Summit to Eat and Expedition Foods Macaroni and cheese

Both companies provide a Macaroni and cheese meal. Cheese is always a welcome edition to the vegetarian diet while out on expedition, providing essential protein. However I’m not convinced Macaroni and cheese is the answer. Both of these meals were too watery, even when the water amount added was reduced. They were also quite tasteless compared to all the other meals.

Summit to Eat provide a 600 or 1000Kcal option with the big pack costing £7.75 and weighing 197g.

Expedition Foods provide a 800 and 1000kcal options with their big pack costing costing £8.49 and weighing 225g.

I’d score both of these meals 1/5.

Expedition Foods Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta

I expected this meal to be tomato based as most pasta meals are, this was however cream based and this made it a bit different to others available.

There are 800 and 1000kcal options with the big pack costing £8.49 and weighs 172g.

Lentil based with olives it was a tasty meal, albeit one which wasn’t spicy. It made a nice alternative to the spicier meals we had in our food stash.

I’d score this 4/5.

Expedition Foods – Vegan Couscous with Cajun spices and Vegetables

Couscous is so cheap to buy and make your own tasty meals I’m not sure I’d usually buy these as food packs, since not much in the pack was really freeze dried.

Available in 800 and 1000Kcal meals the big pack version weighs 245g and costs £8.49.

The meal cooked well and was actually really tasty and packed full of flavour with added beans and lentils for variety. The big pack however was far too much couscous to be able to finish the meal; I’m guessing the only way to get the calorie value was the quantity of couscous added. For me the extreme pack size was too much.

I’d score this 3/5.

Expedition Foods – Chocolate Chip Biscuit Pudding

Everyone loves chocolate after a day on the hill and a hot chocolate pudding was definitely on the list. This pudding requires hot water to make and was essentially like a chocolate custard with biscuit bits in it.

Weighing only 100g, providing 416kcals and costing £6.49, I was really happy to have gooey chocolate at the end of the day.

I’d score this 4/5.

Summit to Eat – Chocolate Mousse with Cherries and Granola

I’d had this dessert before and was extremely happy to buy more for this expedition. It only requires cold water, making the preparation easier. It definitely better with slightly less water than recommended so it is truly a mousse rather than just chocolate goo.

This seemed to be darker chocolate than the Expedition Foods dessert, and the cherries make a nice contrast to the chocolate.

Providing 416kcals and weighing 97g, this dessert is £4.50.

I’d score this 5/5.


Both companies have fantastic options and really tasty meals in their extreme freeze dried meals, and I’d recommend either for long trips.

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