Thursday, 15 November 2012

Gear Review - Berghaus Selway Softshell Jacket.

I was recently contacted and asked if I would be interested in testing and reviewing an item of outdoors clothing...the item in question was a softshell jacket from Berghaus called the Selway. It is described as a 'highly breathable - wind resistant jacket for the active user'.... Well I think that I fit the active user category and as I had some various outdoor activities planned where a jacket of this type would be useful it was an opportunity too good to miss......
I took delivery of the jacket just over a couple of weeks ago and during that time I have been wearing it for lots of different activities including trips into town...visits to the pub...a boat trip across Poole harbour....walking along the Jurassic coast....and a camping and cycling trip.. all in all a pretty varied mix of activities and conditions for a thorough test...

Now prior to receiving this softshell jacket my only experience of this type of garment was a softshell cycling jacket designed for use in winter conditions only, which I purchased a couple of years ago.  The material is quite thick, it is also a hi-viz flouro yellow not the sort of thing you would want to wear walking around town. 

This Berghaus Selway is very different....for a start the material doesn't appear to be thick enough to give you much protection at all (weight on my scales was 440grms approx)- but don't be fooled - The Selway is constructed from an own brand material called 'AF Softshell'. 
The label describes this as having the following attributes:  *Breathable *Wind Resistant with a *Durable Water Repellent Finish(DWR) and also with *Lofted Fibres which Trap Air and Retain Body Heat.....

The jacket is designed and cut to what is called 'Berghaus Active Fit'- they describe this as being 'not body conscious' and 'not baggy just a streamlined cut for every kind of activity'... Well my first reaction on reading all this, was that it all seemed too much to ask from one garment that on first sight, appeared to be made from a material too thin to be able to deliver on the promise ......So how did it actually perform during testing.......?
The colour of the jacket I received was a nice bright electro blue and grey...I have also seen the jacket in red and grey and black and grey. 
For me, this colour was perfect as it would be bright enough to wear on the bike or whilst walking, but not too out of place for a trip to town or the pub.....

The material is nice and stretchy which means that in use it did not flap around in the wind and also wasn't restrictive to wear....The quality of construction of the garment is pretty high too as can be seen from the stitching and the material itself....
The zip garages are actually of a size that fit the zip pullers as can be seen in the image of the full length front zip above and the image of a zip on one of the two front pockets shown below.
Behind the full length zip is a full length baffle to help keep out the wind and this proved to be quite efficient. The jacket also has a reasonable drop tail which makes it very suitable for multiple use.

The two hem draw cords really do work with just one hand....I know it might appear a minor point, but in real outdoor use, being able to tighten up the hem with the drawcord with just the one hand is a very important plus point.....there is nothing worse than having to use both hands for this simple operation.....
 The sleeves can be something where a lot of jackets fall short - literally!!.... Having arms that are cut just that little bit too short can be very annoying.....every time you stretch your arms you can get a cold bare wrist.....Not with this jacket though. 
The arms are cut to a sensible length and when you stretch out your arms (such as when crossing a stile,climbing over rocks or riding a bike) you will not experience that cold wrist feeling and the rest of the garment isn't pulled up either due to the 'Active Fit' mentioned earlier. 
 There are two mesh pockets accessible by way of zips on the front side of the jacket...I found these useful for not only putting things in, which of course is their primary use, but they were also useful as a way of venting the jacket in order to regulate my temperature and comfort when on the move such as riding my bike or hacking it along the coast path... 
The pockets also neatly formed additional pockets inside the jacket that were perfect for carrying a good old OS map as shown in the above photo... 

The Selway never failed to keep me warm during any of the various activities I used it for...
On a recent short cycle tour the temperature fell below zero and I used the Selway with just a long sleeved cycling jersey underneath. 
Not only did it keep me warm but I also didn't overheat when putting in a big effort over a couple of major hills on my fully loaded touring bike.....

I found the same whilst walking - it kept me warm and I didn't overheat....this jacket really does seem to breath well.....
When camping it proved to be a great all rounder and I found myself choosing to use it in preference to other garments that I have used in the past.
The one word that I would choose to describe this Berghaus jacket is 'Versatile'. 
It really is a garment that can be used for a wide variety of outdoor activities as I have proved. 

It isn't a purpose designed cycling jacket, but because of its nice fit it lends itself perfectly for a spot of cycle touring....then when you get to camp it is ideal to wear around the campsite and then later on it's ideal for a visit to the pub or a spot of sightseeing.... if you fancy a walk along the cliffs or hills it will deal with that as well.... 

I found that during real world outdoor activities this jacket is breathable...is wind resistant....and did manage to keep me warm when it was cold down to around zero, even on a bike with the extra wind chill factor that creates... Oh yes...The Durable Water Repellent finish(DWR) works well too, as I was able to test on a recent camping trip when I was caught out in a heavy shower...

I have looked hard for something that I don't like about this jacket and people that know me well will agree that I do enjoy finding faults....!!
However, the only thing that I can find so far (and I am stretching a point here) is the position of the pockets. 
If I was only intending to use this jacket for walking with a rucksack,  then I would suggest that the  rucksack straps will actually fall right across the pocket zips making entry to those pockets very difficult.....

However...and this is the main point....the jacket is suitable for a number of activities....if those pockets were moved then they would not be as useful for venting the garment such as when on a bike......
To be honest, for me the jacket is almost perfect as it is for the wide range of activities that I get involved in. 
I have been very impressed with this Berghaus Selway jacket... If you are looking for a softshell jacket of this type...this one is well worth consideration...

I will update this review when I have had more use of the jacket,  but I have a feeling that it is likely to become one of my favourite fall back items of outdoors clothing....

5 comments:

Steve A said...

How would you characterize the sizing? My Cannondale jacket runs very loose for its size.

Trevor said...

*Steve A*
The 'Active Cut' creates a snug fit, but because the material has a four way stretch it does not feel tight or restrictive to wear.
I have a 42" chest and am 5'10" in height.....the large size fits me well, Steve.

rlove2bike said...

Thanks for the write-up. I am of the opinion that good jackets are hard to find. Sounds as if the Berghaus is a keeper.

RL

Victor Bassols said...

Trevor thank you very much for commenting and become a follower ... your blog is very interesting and I will recommend it to my friends.
We are fortunate to be able to travel at the speed of butterflies.
See you on the road ...

Trevor said...

*rlove2bike*
Yes...I was quite surprised by this item. I was prepared to find lots of negatives, but considering the fact that this is not an expensive jacket it turned out to be a pretty good all rounder.

*Victor Bassols*
It's great to have connected with you Victor...We truly are fortunate, just think that a lot of people miss out on the great experience of cycling....