Páramo Zonda and Bentu Jackets

  • Hey Guest, We're having our annual Winter Moot and we'd love you to come. PLEASE LOOK HERE to secure your place and get more information.
    For forum threads CLICK HERE

Quixoticgeek

Full Member
Aug 4, 2013
2,483
14
Europe
waterdropletslogo_sm.jpg


I've used my Páramo Quito jacket for all of last autumn, winter and spring as my main jacket, be it cycling to college, hiking the Downs, or just wandering to the shops. It has worked pretty well, breathing better than any membrane based jacket I've owned, but like much of the Páramo range, it has one major draw back. It's warm.

In the middle of winter the fact I can hike in just a jacket and base layer has been useful, I can leave the fleece at home. If I was warm, I could use the pit zips to vent. But as summer approached, no amount of ventilation was able to counter the laws of physics. Páramo is warm.

With this in mind I did some research into alternatives that might be more suitable to summer use, particularly when a cool breeze takes otherwise T-shirt weather, and makes it chilly. My research led me to the Páramo Zonda windproof and fleece combo.

For those not familiar with the way Páramo works, rather than having a moisture permeable membrane (like goretex), they use multiple layers of polyester fabric, treated with wash-in black magic from Nikwax to create a waterproof garment with what Páramo call "directionality", and what users call "great moisture management".

This multi layer fabric combo is comprised of a inner most "pump liner" which is a very fine micro fleece, and a water resistant outer which is a tightly woven polyester fabric. With this combination of micro fleece and tightly woven polyester, you can see why Páramo garments are well known for being too warm for summer use. Especially if you're only after the wind proof feature.

What the Zonda windproof and fleece does, is take these two layers and split them into two garments. A thin lightweight wind proof, and a thin light weight windproof fleece. Wear them together and they perform the same as any other waterproof made from Páramo's "Analogy Light" fabric. Great, sounds perfect.

I wandered along to the Páramo store in Covent garden with cash in my pocket ready to buy a Zonda windproof and fleece combo.

Which is when things kinda didn't goto plan...

First thing that struck me was the colour choice, neither the neon blue or the pink clover are particularly muted, they both screamed "GIRLIE!" In a loud way. Maybe the I could live with the blue... it'll mostly be under a backpack anyway. Let's try it on...

I picked the largest size off the rack put it on, went to do the zip up, and failed. I could do the first inch or so over my stomach, but as it approached my upper chest there was no chance of being able to zip it closed over my breasts... ladies fit... made for women... women have boobs... well not those Páramo is targeting their women's range at obviously. I had a lengthy discussion with the very helpful staff and tried on various items from the women's range. Nothing fitted. I'm not exactly massive, most of my clothes are 16-18 depending on where I buy things(I wear a size 16 RAB MeCo Baselayer).

There is a men's version of the Zonda combo, called the Bora, but this is a smock format, not a jacket format, so while I could find something to fit, I really wanted a jacket rather than a smock.

Having been shut out of any of the women's range due to having breasts, I turned my eye too the men's range.

Where the ladies range covers various sizes of pixie, the men's range is much wider, covering sizes large enough I could fit my back pack inside the jacket( S, M, L, XL, XXL in mens, vs XS, S, M, L, XL, in womens. Mens L is larger than Womens's XL...). Maybe something here will fit...

Following the same principal of splitting the classic Páramo layers into two garments, there are a few options in the men's range. As well as the previously mentioned Bora smock, there is the Enduro jacket (ladies version: Ventura) and the Bentu jacket (ladies version: Zefira).  There is also the Fuera ascent jacket, and Fuera smock, tho there two don't have matching fleeces (The Fuera ascent was designed to go with the Summit hoodie, but this is no longer listed on the Páramo website) to go with them unlike the Bora, Enduro and Bentu. The fleece that pairs with the Enduro is a smock, not a jacket, so I discounted that. This just left the Bentu windproof jacket and fleece.

The Bentu is available in two colours, a blue, and a green. Tempted tho I was by the green for not standing out when on the hill, the shade of blue used is sufficiently dark as to be acceptable.

The Bentu has two chest pockets, both big enough to take an ordnance survey active map, and two hand warmer pockets. The fleece has two hand warmer pockets and a Napoleon pocket, just the right size for a compass or small wallet. The main zip is two way to aid in ventilation. But unlike the Quito, Enduro or Fuera ascent, it doesn't have pit zips(Interestingly while the men's Enduro has pit zips for venting, the ladies Ventura doesn't... do women not get warm?].

The windproof has a pump liner layer on the shoulders and hood, which makes it more rain resistant than it would otherwise be. The sleeves are a loose cut with a Velcro adjuster on the cuff, this allows you to roll your sleeves up for venting.

The cut of fleece is quite loose, and it reminds me of a cardigan in it's fit. There is no hood, and no adjustment on the loose fitting sleeves. Again you can push them up for ventilation, but without the Velcro, there's nothing to stop them falling down.

But what about the important part, how well does it perform?

Both the windproof and the fleece have proved to be windproof, if it's not raining, which of the two layers you wear for wind protection comes down to temperature. Warmer, wear the windproof. Cooler, wear the fleece. In a light shower both keep most of the wet out, tho the fleece seems slightly better in drizzle or a short light shower. I had wet forearms wearing just the windproof in the rain, but the rest of me was dry.

The cycle ride to college today was your typical early autumn rain, not hard enough to make you think you need a jacket, but enough to soak you if you didn't wear one. I wore the Bentu fleece for the ride and arrived at class nice and dry, with lots of droplets of water beading on the outside. A success.

By the time I left college for the ride back to the station, the rain had picked up, so I chose to wear both layers. Alas the fleece hadn't completely dried during class and the forearms were still a little damp. A good chance to test the moisture management me thinks...

I set off into the Kentish night, hood up against the rain, and peddled my way the half hour to the station. As I rode the warmth of my body drove moisture from the fleece. Even with the additional liquid water falling out the sky. By the time I had spent 20 minutes on the platform waiting for my train, the inside of the sleeves of the fleece were no longer wet, but somewhere between damp and moist. By the time I got home, they were almost dry. The rest of me stayed dry throughout.

I can't fault the performance, together the fleece and the windproof work just as well as my Quito, yet at the same time providing me greater flexibility for when it's dry, warm, yet windy. So what are the downsides of this performance? The main down side is the weight. Neither item is particularly light. My size large fleece measures 420g, and the Windproof 458g. By contrast my size Large Quito is 545g, a weight similar to what I would expect a Zonda combo to weigh, if it had fitted me. Other than that the only other niggle is the absence of a hanging loop on the fleece, making it so I can't hang it up on the hook as easily.

In summary:

Páramo Zonda Windproof and Fleece combo:

  • Pros: Unknown
  • Cons: Women's XL is too small for me.

Páramo Bentu Windproof and Fleece combo:

  • Pros: Great performance, great breathability
  • Cons: Weight.
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
36,889
2,768
S. Lanarkshire
Nice interesting and informative review :D and testing :cool: Thank you Julia.

In our sodden wet climate water management is crucial for any comfort. One fleece to do it all must seem like such a good idea, but I think it's still a work in progress. At least with layers you have options.
That's some journey if you have to cycle half an hour to and from the station every day. Going to be fun in Winter :hatscarf: no wonder you're looking at outdoor clothing !

I find myself constantly appalled at the sheer number of people walking around in ill fitting clothing. One set of sizes really does fit nobody very well. At best for many it's an 'it'll do' :sigh: Add on any generosity in female curves and it's almost as though the designers cannot pattern cut, instead they just make things sack like with arms so long that one thinks of tieing them in knots. Huge, too wide, necklines, waistlines that sit too low and on the hips, and cuffs that don't close over tight enough to stop wind and water. Hardly encouraging to, 'get out and do it'. When folks actually complain they're simply told to lose weight…..tell me how that will lengthen arms ? or make waistlines drop to our backsides ? :rolleyes:

Thanks for the write up Julia, it'll be interesting to hear how you get on with it through the next few seasons and how well it wears.

cheers,
M
 

Tony

White bear (Admin)
Admin
Apr 16, 2003
23,043
1
1,147
51
Wales
www.bushcraftuk.com
Thanks for the review Julia, I like Paramo gear, it's good stuff. There's nothing like actually having to use stuff day in day out to get a proper feel of it.
 

bigbear

Full Member
May 1, 2008
954
123
Yorkshire
Exceellent review, pertinent comments sizing and cut from both Julia and Toddy. I am short with a big chest and find a lot of mens garments assume that only those six foot two or higher can ever have a 46 inch chest. Its bloody annoying.
However, I am another Paramo fan, it fits me OK and is excellent in our climate.
 

Hultafors Outdoor knife for Sale

We have a a number of Hultafors Outdoor Knives with Firesteels for sale.

You can see more details here in this thread OUTDOOR KNIVES The price is £27 posted to the UK. Pay via the paypal button below.