The 'light and fast' approach has taken off in recent years, and clothing and gear manufacturers have responded by producing ever lighter kit. Developed as part of Leo Houlding's Asgard antics, the Mount Asgard Jacket (reviewed here) and Smock are Berghaus' latest flagship 'fast and light' shells.
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My jacket weighs just over 350g (it's size medium). The Asgard Jacket is certainly light in weight but, as each of these grams costs about 74p, it's not exactly light on the wallet. So aside from featherweight what does the £260 recommended price tag get you? In essence, a jacket where every little detail has been revisited, thought through, tested, tweaked and tested again. The result: a subtly different, minimalist yet very functional and generally excellent piece of kit.
Starting with the fabric, the Japanese Gore-tex Pro Shell is as good as it gets. It's light (obviously enough), very flexible (no restriction and little rustle), impressively tough for the weight (no signs of wear from rucksack straps and scrapes), and it breathes very well, with the water resistant coating beading rain so well that it can almost be shaken dry.
Berghaus Asgard jacket
Berghaus Mount Asgard Jacket
More info on the Berghaus Website
The main zip, instead of being the normal coated waterproof type found on most light jackets, is a more substantial Riri zip. It seems much tougher, is easier to use (less sticky) and very weatherproof. It also has a zipper at both ends, so the jacket can be thrown on over a harness when the heavens open, and the zip opened from the bottom to allow belaying.
Moving on to the details, lots of thought has gone into how all the adjusters and features work, with everything being kept as accessible, minimal and as clutter free as possible. The excellent stiffened peaked hood uses a clever drawcord arrangement that puts all the adjustment (one handed) on the front of the jacket, so there are no elastics or toggles on the back to catch on slings or rub under a helmet. The same logic has been applied to the hem drawcord, with everything tucked away so there's nothing to tangle with a harness or gear.
The combined vent/pocket arrangement (zipped chest vents with mesh inner pockets behind them) takes a while to get used to, and personally I'd have preferred just pockets but it's a neat way to have both venting and pockets without lots of external zips. Rounding off the package is a helpful carry sac complete with clip in loops for carrying on a harness - though quite why it needs to be made in the same Gore-tex fabric as the jacket is beyond me.
Overall, the Asgard is a great (if pricey) piece of kit. It's marketed as an 'extreme' climbing shell, but it's more versatile than this suggests: I've found it to be a great all-round lightweight waterproof, working well for everything from bad-weather cragging backup, long days in the hills, to the daily cycle commute.
Summary: A top of the range, very functional all round lightweight shell with well thought-out minimal features, good fabric and a great slim fit.
About Viv Scott
I've been climbing for a bit over ten years, and am currently based in Edinburgh having escaped from the southern flatlands. Climbing highs include Scottish winter climbing, a couple of trips to the Alaska Range, classic alpine routes, sunny ski touring, cragging in the UK and abroad, and beers and craic in the pub afterwards. Lows include Scottish winter climbing, alpine bivies, base camp blues, midges and the UK weather... I guess I'd like to be a jack of all trades and I'm definitely a master of none, but most enjoy the great variety of climbing and look forward to trips back to old favourites and hopefully many new and different places.
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