About two summers ago, I got the opportunity to test a Paramo jacket for a month, in Iceland. As the experiences were way above expectation, I just had get my own Paramo. A little research on which specs I wanted directed me straight to the Enduro-jacket, and that is how I ended up here today, writing down some first impressions of this very special jacket.
For those who might not know yet: Paramo produces outdoor garments that have no membranes, coatings or any other well-known waterproof technology, but the brand still claims to provide waterproof performance. This is achieved by -quite litteraly- mimicking the way animal fur works. Animals have long, stiff hairs that bead off the worst rain, and shorter softer hairs that actively push water away from the skin. Paramo does just the same: A nylon shell layer to bead off the worst rain and a so-called pump liner to actively push water out. So far so good. Very importantly though, an animal also produces Keratin and Lanonlin which makes the fur a little greasy and therefore water-repellent. Paramo has to count on a Nikwax-treatment for this to work.
Unboxing is always fun, and especially when it’s a piece of kit you’ve been dreaming of for a while. However it seems like Paramo is facing a quality control problem. 3 out of 5 paramo products in my surroundings, showed some sort of faulty finished stitches, which would tear open eventually. On the bright side however, Paramo nicely repaired the garments under guarantee. It should also be said that none of the glitches would couse serious performance problems. If you know someone that can handle needle and thread, there should be no problems repairing these things by yourself, if encountered. But for the price you’re paying this shouldn’t happen. I got in touch with Paramo and they assured me they’re doing all they can to make sure quality is impeccable.
So, that taken aside, I finally got to test my new favourite piece. The Enduro jacket (and basically all other Paramo waterproofs) is generally promoted to be a winter product. That’s because the pump liner has a certain thickness and warmth to it, somewhere between a longsleeve baselayer and a light fleece. But as I only obtained mine in march, I wanted to test it right away and took it with me to Iceland during the easter break, Iceland again during summer and to Swedish Lappland in august. I don’t run very hot, so I expected that I could easily handle that bit of extra insulation. If I would’n have my Enduro, I would probably have taken my Buffalo Teclite anyways.
Well, The Enduro jacket is warmer than a Buffalo Teclite. During summer, I often regretted not bringing a lightweight windshirt, but alltogether the Enduro jacket managed surprisingly well to keep me cool enough on the milder nordic summer days. Also, I can’t compliment the Enduro’s design enough. Five very usable pockets that are placed well, effective ventilation in the sleeves and through the side pockets, and a very good fit generally. The possibility to roll up the sleeves as extra ventilation also came in very welcome! The hood can be a little fidgety. It was cut to swallow a helmet with ease, but by placing the volume adjuster shockcord just a few centimeters too low, it becomes rather difficult to fit the hood over my head properly when i’m not wearing a cap, hat or helmet. By the way, this is a problem many helmet-ready hoods face, and alltogether the Enduro still manages fine after some fidgeting around!
The first time in heavy rain came after some 2 months of wearing the jacket at every possible opportunity and… the jacket started wetting out. Wait, what? a new Paramo wetting out? I was guiding in Iceland at the time, and even though I knew wetting out sometimes happens, I didn’t expect it to happen so soon. With a little digging through the interwebz, I learned that it isn’t uncommon for the Nikwax treatment to wear out and have the jacket leaking at the pressure points… Guess that was the case for my jacket. The first rain day I still managed to stay comfortable, but that second rain day (it was also a lot colder) the wetting out only got worse until I had to take everything off to put on my Buffalo Sp6s. Phew, back in the comfort zone…
Now, don’t judge Paramo too quick on this. Even when wetting out at times, the enduro jacket still performed like a Buffalo Teclite on steroids. If you’ve read my teclite review, it should be clear that “teclite on steroids” is an enormous compliment to give an piece of kit.
Slightly devastated, I returned home with a lot of questions about what had happened in Iceland. Eager to find answers, I gave the jacket a fresh wash with Nikwax TX.direct Wash-in, and took the jacket to Sweden to hike the Fjallraven Classic (I highly recommend joining that event once!). The weather was very changeable, and my Paramo was back! Just like that first time in Iceland. Hell, when it’s working as supposed, this Enduro jacket is an incredible piece of kit. The softness and breathability are a thousand times nicer than any other waterproof on the market. The ventilation can be finetuned very precisely, thus keeping me nice and comfortable in mountain conditions. I’ll admit though that the Enduro is still a rather warm jacket, but i can’t complain about the incredible comfort I got for never having to put on/off extra layers when the weather turned gloomy again. Dang, when it’s working, this thing fiercely outperforms everything I know about traditional layering with membrane-waterproofs. It’s an amazing (dare I say cathartic?) experience when the same piece of kit keeps you exactly as comfortable in both wet and dry conditions. I must say it is very addictive and I can’t wait for living in my Enduro this winter…. And should I maybe try the Enduro Fleece+Windproof for next summer?
With winter finally approaching, I soon hope to find a few more answers about the rollercoaster of first experiences with my Enduro jacket. How long does the Nikwax treatment keep up, will it continue performing after several washes, … Will it continue to shake up everything I know about Outdoor Gear, like it’s been doing the last few months?
As for today, I want to get a better grip on the longlivity of the Nikwax treatment, but for the times it has been performing as advertised, I cannot express my enthusiasm enough. Keep an eye on this website, as I’ll post a follow-up review after some more testing!
In Belgium, get your own Paramo at http://www.verreweg.be