Klättermusen is a Swedish brand with which I am completely unfamiliar; without outdoor flash-sale site, SportPursuit, that would probably still be the case. Their Vidblåin smock has an eye-watering RRP of £249, at which price I’d expect it to cook my dinner. I found it on SportPursuit at £99, so I thought I’d cook my dinner myself and give the smock a whirl.
What did I get for my £99? A pretty decent bit of kit as it happens. It’s slim-fitting, rather dashing looking thing. The front, shoulders and upper arms are made from cotton, of which their website claims “The long, densely-woven cotton fibres in this garment swell when they are exposed to moisture, so they become highly water resistant” – so it’s basically like Ventile. The back is made from a less wind-resistant and stretchy fabric to allow airflow around a rucksack and to enable a close fit. The lower arms are reinforced with a synthetic fabric called Duracoat – it looks like a very finely woven Cordura – and have discreet thumb-loops. The hem looks like it’s been reinforced with the Duracoat too. The high collar has a diagonal venting zip and foldaway hood, and there is a tunnel pocket across the abdomen.
It’s close cut and, with the limited mobility in my left shoulder at present, a little bit of a struggle to don – I’m sure that will change as my shoulder heals. There is also a women’s cut available and that has a side-zip. Despite the minor struggle to get on (and off), it’s a comfortable smock and moves with the body very well. The hem is longer at the back to keep your backside out of the draft and the cuffs cover the backs of your hands, which is a nice touch. If thumb-loops aren’t your thing, these close up when not in use.
The diagonal zip is good too; its cut allows more ventilation than you might expect from its comparatively short length. The hand warmer pocket has external baffles on the zips and is deceptively deep. I had a moment’s panic when I thought I’d left my iPhone on the summit; it was still in the pocket but had slipped below my rucksack’s hip belt.
So far, so awesome. My one niggle is the hood. It’s rubbish. It’s certainly windproof and it’s three-way adjustable. It’s flimsy though and has a really floppy attempt at a stiffened peak. It probably turns with your head, but the adjustment’s a bit sticky and I reckon the peak with deform in the gentlest of breezes. If I’d paid £249 for this, I’d want a hood that deflects time itself. At this price, I’m not fussed – I’ve a fantastic windproof and theoretically £150 to spend on a hat. In fairness, the hoods on most of their range look really solid, I just can’t understand what’s gone wrong with this one – it rolls into the collar, though, and is out of my way.
I wore this on my recent trip up Whernside and it was brilliant. It was a bright, sunny day with a bitter wind. I didn’t realise what a great job the smock was doing until I took it off to tuck the hood away and the wind nearly peeled me. It’s light, incredibly breathable and seems pretty tough. It’s certainly a much better top than my Haglöfs Lizard (which, to be fair, only cost me about £80). I was comfortable all day in the wind and it even turned back a little bit of hail at the end of the trip. It won’t keep you warm if you’re not moving – it’s not insulated – but it does what its says on the tin. Actually, Vidblåin was a dwelling place for the souls of the dead after Ragnarök, so it doesn’t do what it says on the tin. It’s a fantastic bit of kit, though, and well worth looking out for at this bargain price. Get a hat, mind…