UKC

Mountain Equipment Squall Jacket Review

© Rob Greenwood - UKC

Following on from my review of the Mountain Equipment Hope Pants (see UKC Review), I have been out and about on the UK crags in the Squall Jacket - and yes it has seen some squalls!

Rob Greenwood testing the Mountain Equipment Squall Hooded Jacket and Hope Pants on a grim day in Pembroke

The Squall is a super light soft-shell jacket constructed of a high stretch breathable/windproof fabric. It is designed to be worn as an outer layer, keeping out the elements out on cold/windy days (i.e. those days discussed earlier – ‘British’ days); however, because the jacket does not feature a membrane the breathability is above and beyond you're average softshell - as a result it's use extends beyond the cooler seasons and into a more general year-round lightweight windproof.

The Mountain HC Hood being put to the test in miserable conditions  © Rob Greenwood - UKC
The Mountain HC Hood being put to the test in miserable conditions
© Rob Greenwood - UKC
Featuring Mountain Equipment’s superbly designed Mountain HC (high capacity/helmet compatible) hood it really does have the capability to keep the elements at bay. Features like the offset zipper, which rather than coming up centrally beneath your chin goes to the right side of your cheek, means that whilst the hood is up there isn't any annoying/chafing zipper right in your face. Whilst this feature was ideal for when the hood/zip was up, when down it meant that there was a bit of extra of material to flap around and considering I wore the hood down 90% of the time the flapping did get to me after a while. It is worth mentioning that most of my personal use has been throughout the spring, so this feature is potentially more applicable to those operating in cooler conditions when the hood is more frequently up (it would be perfect for the Alps). 

The cut, much like the Hope Pant, is exceptional and provides complete freedom of movement, with limited (if any) ride when the arms are raised above the head. Body-wise the jacket has a slim/athletic cut, feeling quite snug for it's size, but with generous arm length. Elasticated cuffs keep the wrists nice and snug, but not too tight, and hem draw cords at the waist allows further to both fit and temperature control.

Warming up at Oliana, despite the blue sky it was a very cold/windy day!!  © Rob Greenwood - UKC
Warming up at Oliana, despite the blue sky it was a very cold/windy day!!
© Rob Greenwood - UKC
Mountain Equipment Squall Hooded Jacket   © Rob Greenwood - UKC
Mountain Equipment Squall Hooded Jacket
© Rob Greenwood - UKC


Were I to make a single change to the jacket it would have been to include a reversible zip on the Napoleon chest pocket, in which to stuff the jacket into when it wasn't required. Having discussed this with Mountain Equipment they explained that this had been considered, but due to the garments highly breathable nature it was more likely to be a 'stay on' piece throughout the whole day (plus there would have been a weight/bulk penalty to adding an additional feature). Personally, I'd still have been all for it - irrespective of the weight. Sometimes you don't know what the temperature is going to be like, frequently there can be a chilling breeze at the top of the crag, then by the time you abseil in it can be scorching. I really don't like overheating and I really I don't like wrapping things around my chest/waist, it gets in the way of your harness, gear and slings and causes a bit of a mess. In all fairness the solution is quite simple - use a stuff sack (which is what I did) - but a reversible pocket would have been a neater solution in my opinion.

Overall

The Squall is an ideal outer layer for cold/breezy days and would be perfect for use in the Alps. It is exceptionally lightweight and stretchy, with a great cut, and as a result easy to forget that you've got on. 

 

What Mountain Equipment say:

Mountain Equipment Squall Hooded Jacket  © Mountain Equipment
The ultimate rock climbing Soft Shell; light, tough and protective it's a definitive choice for everything from big walls to sea cliffs.

Lightweight stretch double weave EXOLITE 125 fabric gives unhindered mobility for exposed Dolomite ar'tes allied to the toughness required for open book corners in Yosemite. A helmet compatible hood and offset front zip with shaped and pleated face panel seals out icy gusts.

For more information visit the Mountain Equipment Website.

Weight: 310g
RRP: £100

 

Rob Greenwood - UKC's advertising manager, eater of fried eggs and climber of 8a routes.  © Rob Greenwood collection
Rob Greenwood - UKC Advertising Manager, eater of fried eggs and climber of 8a routes
About the Author:

Rob Greenwood is the Advertising Manager at UKClimbing.com.

He's a passionate climber, hot yoga addict and eater of vegetarian food. He has done more UK trad routes than he's had roast dinners (and that's got nothing to do with the vegetarianism).

Aside from UK trad, he's dabbled with alpine climbing, Scottish winter, Himalayan climbing and more recently Peak limestone sport climbing.



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11 Jun, 2015
No mention of the uncomfortably tight sleeves then. I tried one on and thought it horribly restrictive, even with the stretch. And I'm a stick insect.
11 Jun, 2015
Hmm, haven't really noticed that - I've worn mine with 3 layers underneath without problems. The sleeves are certainly narrower than most jackets, but the material is pretty stretchy.
Interesting, I didn't find this to be an issue - do you mean the sleeve or the cuff? The cuff is definitely on the snug side, but were this to be the other way (i.e. loose/baggy) it would be even more annoying as it would let the wind in and ride up. As for the sleeves, I'd like to think - as pretty much everyone would - that they've got a respectably sized set of forearms. For me they fitted perfectly, but (once-again) - were they to have been much larger they'd just blow around in the wind, create a sail and start flapping. Guess it's always worth trying one on before you buy, fit is such a personal thing after all.
11 Jun, 2015
Admit it, you're Popeye! (No problems with the forearm for me either, and that's the only place I have any muscle).
11 Jun, 2015
I meant the forearm and cuff really. Much as I'd like to see myself as Popeye, it just isn't the case. Perhaps it's just a question of expectation. I don't feel a shell garment should be tight anywhere, needing as it does to accommodate layers beneath. I'm also sensitive to overheating and restrictive clothing as I run very warm. I tried the Squall and the Arcteryx Psiphon side by side at Joe Brown's in Llanberis and the fit was chalk and cheese. The Squall fitted my arms like a mid layer, in fact like a shiny Eclipse, the Psiphon like a shell. By way of balance, I'd criticise the Psiphon for lacking warmth in chilly, windy conditions, possibly precisely because of the looseness of the sleeves, but I see it more as a breathable wind-shirt than a full on shell, like a Rab Boreas, at which it performs well.
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