So, I’d joined the Paramo mailing list – I can’t remember why, I think it was probably for a competition. That’s not really the point of this post tbh. Anyway, there was an offer whereby I could get £115 off if I bought both the smock* and the trousers together. So I did. That was in October and I’ve worn them quite a bit now and I feel like I can give them a considered review.
So, what did I get for my £275? Well, a smock and some trousers. I’m not going to dwell massively on the Paramo directional clothing concept here – Paramo have an entire website for that. Long story short: softer than membrane waterproofs, no rustle, easy to reproof.
The smock has an adjustable, wired hood that will just about accommodate a climbing helmet; a chest zip; kangaroo-pouch chest pocket; twin vent zips with an internal hand warmer pocket; hook-and-loop adjustable cuffs; waist drawcords. The trousers have an integral belt; thigh ventilation zips; hook-and-loop adjustable ankle cuffs; two hip pockets with zips; a zip fly.
The bad things
The drawcords. They’re pretty flimsy and you have to pull about a thousand metres of cord though the cord-locks to adjust the hood or waist by about 2cm. The hood drawcords aren’t self-tailed. It’s 2018 and drawcords whirring in your face shouldn’t be a thing, not at this price.
The hood adjustment is a bit strange too. I can’t find a way to crank the hood in so that it protects my face from the weather without the wire brim and drawcords trying to eat my eyebrows.
I’m not convinced about the durability of the fabric. I’ve only had this kit for 8 months, I haven’t been scrambling in it, and the fabric is puckered in places (see picture).
The fit. I’m a pretty average 5’9″ and I got the regular fit 32″ trousers and they’re too long. I’m also a pretty average 36″ chest and the size small smock is a bit baggy for me.
The internal hand warmer pocket should be external. As it is, you have to unzip the vents and then unzip the pocket. The hand warmers on the (for example) Buffalo Mountain Shirt or the Montane Extreme Smock is a much better deal.
The good things
The hood does turn with my head. As noted, the adjustment is a bit troublesome, but it does move well and keeps my head dry and out of the wind. You can button it up at the chin but leave the chest zip unfastened if you want to batten down the hatches but still have some ventilation.
The fabric has thus far lived up to the billing. I’ve read that it’s a bit heavy if you run hot, but I don’t. I’ve worn it in strong wind, snow, endless drizzle and it’s done the business, and it really does breathe. In my epic fund-raising trudge for Keswick Mountain Rescue Team, I walked in continuous rain for around nine hours and my base layer was starting to get a little damp. Now I’ve tried a lot of membranes and all of them would have wetted out quite some time time before nine hours and they don’t breathe as well either. Appropriately layered, I’ve been absolutely fine. I’ve been a bit parky when I’ve not had on enough layers because I really don’t run hot. So maybe test out its reputation for overheating before you’re on the summit of Whernside in a really cold wind.
The venting is effective and helps with the whole not-faffing-your-waterproofs-on-and-off thing. There are zipped vents on the thighs (not as discreet as the marketing suggests – you can see my pants) and the abdomen, you can roll the sleeves up, and open the chest zip with the hood still battened down.
Although the bad things list is longer than the good things list, I’m actually pretty pleased with this kit. I like that I don’t have to pack separate waterproof trousers. If I’m sensible with layering, I don’t have to take off the smock at all either – I can just stick a belay jacket on top when I stop for lunch. As well as less faffing on the hill, this means I’m not dragging as much gear up and down. For dalliance on rocky surfaces or full on winter mountaineering, I’d want to look at some of their more durable garments, but on balance, I am converted. It does mean I’m going to have to invest in a smaller pack and you all know how much I hate kit shopping.
*A quick glance at my other gear reviews will tell you that I do like a smock.
Note: Sadly, I have bought all this kit myself and received no payment whatsoever.