Branded Waterproof jackets - Worth the money?

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lostplanet

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Aug 18, 2005
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10-15 years ago I would have said paramo was great. Now I think over priced not convinced they are as breathable as they used to be so sold all mine off as I couldn't justify the price against possible damage and need of replacement. My dad does regular walks in all weathers with an old Paramo Alta 1 which has actually fallen to bits. its been back a couple of times to be repaired but got too much so we bought a berghaus goretex outer shell and he uses woolpower 400 zip underneath for warmth. We got him and Alta 3 but its too modern a fit and doesn't get used.

My next walking/low activity winter rain jacket i'd like to try will be a keela Munro. general concensus seems to be they are one size bigger than the norm and good value.
 
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nigelp

Full Member
It’s a bit of a Marmite in clothing. I use both Paramo and Gortex type outer shells for outdoor activities.

I like Paramo when I can keep moving a bit and need ’POLO’ (put on leave on) layers. The movement helps the pump liner to drove out the moisture that will get in if it’s very wet weather. Paramo is not despite what it claims 100% waterproof and will get overwhelmed in very wet conditions. In summer it is too warm but this time of year I will wear a baselayer and my Velez smock only unless I am not moving too much. The cut of the garment seems to make a difference as does the material used. I get on much better with my heavier Velex jacket in terms of breathability than the newer lighter weight fabric garments. I also find the smock less loose and seems to work better in tweet than my Alta 2 jacket that always seemed to have too much excess fabric.

If I’m teaching all day outdoors and spending a lot of time standing around between walking in the rain then I use my Goretex layers which keep me absolutely dry. I’ve worn these in the Welsh mountains for 6 hours plus in rain and sleet and have been as dry as is possible.
 
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Billy-o

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Apr 19, 2018
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It might appear too subjective .. but fans like me and others here will just say buy Paramo because it is as good as they say. Problem is that some people seem to have calamitous experiences, and I don't ever know what the story is behind them.

They are coats, not shells. They are as warm and heavy as a lined coat. Which is what they are. They also seem to wet out but, because of the way they are made, you don't get wet. Only the jacket does.

Anyway. I have a couple and, if I could reasonably convince myself of the need for another, I'd buy another, just because :)

(I might have just convinced myself to buy an Altra3)

EDIT - Here's a thing. I was out all morning in a barbour and a wool power 400 ... got pretty sweaty at times. Not for long, like, as the woolpower can deal with it. But I don't think I'd have got sweaty at all in the Paramo Halcon
 
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Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
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Lancashire
I got the original alta in the 1990s. Poor design but they were cheap and better than the cyclone breathable fabric, padded jacket which never breathed or kept me that dry. I got sick of the design choices of the company that produced an item of clothing that simply annoyed every time I wore it. I couldn't use it when the temperature rose neither so no summer waterproof.

I then got what was one of the lightest, multi activity waterproof jackets in a new fabric called event. Compared to paramo alta it was very well designed, fitted me very well, fully adjustable and I could stash it away in my sack when rain stopped. I changed my approach, softshell or fleece and windproof became my outdoor clothing for most of the time only getting waterproofs out when it got bad.

That jacker failed, pinholes where the rucksack went. So I got the next latest fabric in goretex Pro in a very basic jacket. Very few layers of fabric for example with pockets in mesh not the goretex which reduces breathability. This was the most breathable membrane fabric and jacket design. Only I got wet in heavy rain. Ho hum. What's to do?

Well I got buffalo for colder months. Better wet and warm then very rapid drying when the rain slows or stops. That idea came to me when I left my waterproof behind years before for a walk on a day it wasn't expected to rain. My thin, membrane free softshell handled that heavy rain for the 40 minutes it took to get back to the car.

Then I noticed paramo had woken up and designed jackets for different shaped of wearer. So I tried a few in a main paramo retailer with the full range. One fitted me well and I got it. My idea was wear it like a softshell like a buffalo jacket for warmer conditions. I found it worked really well but being paramo light fabric it feels cool almost damp in torrential rain. It isn't though. The key thing is when the rain stops or slows it dries out on you so you can keep wearing it. Every hardshell / membrane jacket I've used gets wet with sweat inside and stays wet.

Jackets get wet from sweat but also water wicking inside at the edges. For example sleeves get wet at the edges and often water wicks up inside. In heavy rain it's almost impossible to keep fully dry when working hard such as walking in the hills. Paramo excels in recovering quickly when the rain stops.

One good demo of this happened was to me on a winter backpack in the lakes with friends. I was taking the lead and fell through the snow into the edge of a hidden tarn. Water went up my leg halfway up my thigh and I fell forward putting my hands through the snow up to my armpits with the water up to my elbows.

I got pulled out and we found a sheltered spot out of the strong, cold wind. It was serious so I got my paramo trousers out from the 1990s and put them over my softshell trousers for the warmth. I put another fleece on under the softshell with the wet arms and put my spare gloves and liner gloves on. It was painfully cold with my hands and my legs too. We the got moving. In 5 minutes my legs stopped being cold. In 15 minutes my legs were dry under the paramo. The wicking softshell passed the water through the paramo analogy trousers which dried my legs out. My softshell jacket wicked the water out from my arms. My only cold part was my gloves which took an hour and half to get my hands warm and comfort again.

This experience shows me that paramo has the best bits of buffalo with the best bits of a hardshell waterproof. By this I mean it pumps water away from inner layers quickly like buffalo jackets and similar. It also stops water getting in from heavy rain like hard shell waterproof jackets. It's not as much as a barrier as membranes though so water can be forced through say when you kneel on wet ground or possibly rucksack straps in heavy rain. Not perfect but better than hardshell jackets and softshell too if they fit you well IMHO.

My issue now is my paramo velez adventure lite fits me well but it's a little too short. I prefer buffalo special 6 length so the waterproof directs the rain onto my thigh not groin. If only wearing the top waterproof wet groin is uncomfortable but wet thigh isn't quite so uncomfortable. If only they'd do a dog walker jacket length with the body shape of the velez AL. It's the shoulders and slimmer fit. The standard velez simply doesn't fit, they look similar shape but when worn they fit differently. It's why you have to try every paramo on to find your fit jacket. Don't go for looks or pockets or anything else just fit with paramo is my advice.
 
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Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
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People question paramo like I question merino base layers.

I've never found merino to match the hype. They absorb not really wick ime. They hole out very quickly and ime really no good in summer. Every time I've worn merino I've found they've got wet through particularly lower back.

However the actual fabric that is paramo's nikwax analogy does work. The only issues are getting used to it and getting one that fits.
 
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Billy-o

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Apr 19, 2018
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Yes, but I am not sure where the idea that wool wicks especially well comes from.

It does move away from the body somewhat, sure; quite quickly if it is worn under a very breathable layer or no layer at all.

But that's not why it's prized. It doesn't pong after one wear. There's that. But, primarily its value is in keeping you warm when you are wet.
 
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Nice65

Full Member
Apr 16, 2009
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W.Sussex
Paramo clothing - what do I need to know ? the good and the bad

Thanks
Totally subjective report on the Halcon, which seeing it in the shop (Gorge Outfitters, Cheddar, good bloke runs it) is a beefed up Fuera and more suited to strolling or sitting about (this being the issue with the Ridgeline stuff too). The thing is expensive beyond belief, but it kept me dry and warm in hours of rain the first day I put it on. Further testing needed, the Halcon jacket runs warm which suits me all the way.

The outer does wet out, and looks wet, it looks like a wet and cheap anorak from Milletts in 1980, but nothing comes through at all, not a drop. It doesn’t look like much and you’re not going to win the fashion awards, it isn’t Fjallraven (because they don’t work well and cost more), but experience with the only bit of Paramo kit I’ve bought so far is positive.

Downsides. Well none so far, I don’t think the outer material is tough (bramble/bushcraft type thing), and it’s not advertised as such. I wouldn’t sit next to a sparky fire either. That sort of stuff is where the old Keela Ventile comes into its own. it grins at incoming sparks.

It did a day in this constant rain, had a tee shirt and thin Tesco type long sleeve tee under.

E779ED69-5BC7-492A-BEF8-D296D89D27EC.jpeg
 
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Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
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Oh I've read people on here and outdoor forums mention merino wicking. Also you said you'd got sweaty in your barbour but says something about your woolpower base layer dealing with it. I took that as meaning it wicked but tbh could have meant absorbing the sweat not wicking it.
 
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Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
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Lancashire
I did buy one when they first came out, the explorer or mountain one I think. Elasticated bottom edge and cuffs, bungee cord in fabric tube, and a kangaroo pocket accessible whichever way around you wore it. That's the top you wore inside out on warmer days to not overheat. I wore it under a buffalo windshirt in summer rains as my only protection because paramo is too warm.

Not very good back then. They were too keen on being different to others. Led to poor design choices which have now been dropped I reckon.

No idea of current models. They're only wicking layers. Wear any synthetic, wicking top underneath it'll work OK. For best performance polypropylene base layers wick fastest and will keep up with paramo pump liner. Just live with the aroma it acquires.
 
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Wander

Settler
Jan 6, 2017
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Don't forget army surplus.
Well, in this case, RAF and Navy surplus.
You can get either an RAF or Navy goretex jacket for just £30. Good thing is, rather than being in camouflage, they are both dark blue, which means you don't look such a walt in public (if that bothers you).
A goretex jacket for just £30 has got to be a winner, eh?
I have one of the RAF ones and it's perfect.

The main drawback with surplus clothing, is that the average user is young and fit. Which means finding something that is *ahem* 'gentleman-sized' can be a chore.
 

Tiley

Full Member
Oct 19, 2006
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Along with that endless discussion about whether Paramo stuff will keep you dry or not, I've found the cut of their jackets pretty awful. At one point, I was trying out one of their smocks, I can't rtemember which, and was described by a friend as looking like "a sack of s**t tied up in the middle"; certainly, the floppy nature of the smock's cut didn't endear me to it.

Later, I tried one of their 'fleece' and shell combinations. Here, there were two things I really didn't like: the 'stickiness of the fleece's sleeves, which made it difficult to get on and the hopelessly unwaterproof performance of the combo.. I did like the idea, though; it was a shame that, for me at least, it just didn't work.

My observations on the above's shortcomings led to Paramo offering to replace the fleece/shell combination with a lightweight, better-vented-but-waterproof jacket. I have worn it a couple of times and it seems OK, but, again, is victim of a pretty poor cut. Methinks the models they use for creating the clothes are still a very odd shape indeed.

Now, I have pretty much abandoned the Paramo idea because it just didn't work for me. For dog walks, it's the good ol' shapeless Barbour and for more serious wild and mountain outings, I'm sorry to say that I have returned to Goretex.
 
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Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
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You need to get to a paramo main dealer that carries the whole stock. There's probably about 6 different fits to their jackets and smocks. Most people don't look past the velez, alta, cascada or the green ones. Can't remember the name but the highest priced one designed for ski mountaineering. Mountaineering and extreme use is fitted around what they call an athletic fit. The velez adventure light is to a lesser degree. The two velez versions have completely different fit, the standard did not fit me in any way but the adventure light is a cracking fit for me and I like you always found the fit useless. I tried so many, including the shop owner's own jacket in one style because he had sold out of it in my size. It was after first lockdown so he couldn't restock at the time.

Things have moved on with sizing and design at paramo. Having said that if you're looking at it like a hardshell user you'll be disappointed. The fabric simply doesn't behave like goretex and other membranes. That filters into their fit and look. None of that straight up and down of stiff goretex. It drapes closer to a woolie pullie I think. A soft fabric drape. Looks **** compared to a slim appearing, stiff, goretex jacket. Also smocks tend to be looser to fit on.
 
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jackorion

Member
Sep 8, 2021
15
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Exeter
what's the consensus on Ridgeline nowadays? just popped into a local shop and the owner was raving about the Monsoon Classic smock... I'm not 100% about a smock as I feel it might be a faff getting it on and off, but it felt pretty comfortable once it was on and not crazy expensive at £150... but then I googled them and everyone says they are sweaty, which is no good for me if I'm going to be working outdoors in it... this is more difficult than I thought it would be!
 

Nice65

Full Member
Apr 16, 2009
5,469
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W.Sussex
what's the consensus on Ridgeline nowadays? just popped into a local shop and the owner was raving about the Monsoon Classic smock... I'm not 100% about a smock as I feel it might be a faff getting it on and off, but it felt pretty comfortable once it was on and not crazy expensive at £150... but then I googled them and everyone says they are sweaty, which is no good for me if I'm going to be working outdoors in it... this is more difficult than I thought it would be!
It’s unfortunate the breathability stigma has stuck since the original smock. The material is more breathable than it was, but like the Paramo Halcon, the smocks aren’t designed for high activity, more warmth and rain protection over long periods outdoors waiting to photograph birds and animals, shepherding etc. The shepherd on Clarksons Farm was wearing one out in a rainy field and I thought at the time, that’s the sort of use it’s designed for, not hiking.
 
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jackorion

Member
Sep 8, 2021
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Exeter
It’s unfortunate the breathability stigma has stuck since the original smock. The material is more breathable than it was, but like the Paramo Halcon, the smocks aren’t designed for high activity, more warmth and rain protection over long periods outdoors waiting to photograph birds and animals, shepherding etc. The shepherd on Clarksons Farm was wearing one out in a rainy field and I thought at the time, that’s the sort of use it’s designed for, not hiking.
Interesting - I literally told the shop owner "I need something that will keep me dry when I'm working hard outdoors without getting all sweaty and it doesn't need to be warm"
 

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