Bristol Manager Tom tests out and reports on the latest mid-layer from M.E the Shroud Jacket

The Mountain Equipment Shroud hooded jacket is a versatile hybrid mid-layer designed for cold weather mountaineering, ski touring and alpine climbing. It has a densely knitted Cycloknit fabric with a “hard face” outer that is wind resistant, abrasion resistant and sheds snow, combined with a high loft inner fleece that makes it seriously warm and comfortable. There are also softer Pontetorto Technostretch inserts that are faster drying and lighter, to allow for increased mobility in technical use. These are placed under the arms where breathability is most needed and on the inside of cuffs.

I received the Shroud Hooded Jacket in the Cardinal Orange/Medieval Blue colour. This is the brightest of the colours available and my favourite as it makes you more visible when wearing it as an outer layer in the mountains. The slim fit is described by Mountain Equipment as “active fit” which fits closely but leaves enough room for extra layers underneath when temperatures demand it. The hem length is a bit shorter than it would be on a softshell or a hard-shell jacket which works well when using it as a midlayer. The arms are quite long to ensure that your wrists don’t get cold when lifting your arms above your head as often happens when mountaineering. There is also very little hem lift when doing this. The Shroud is also seriously comfy due to its fluffy high-loft fleece and I find myself wearing it all of the time.

I’ve worn the jacket walking on cold still days, breezy days on Dartmoor and downright windy days in the lakes and have been very impressed with its wind resistance. It’s comparable to some of my lighter softshell layers but doesn’t quite match the weather resistance of double weave softshell jackets like the Mountain Equipment Frontier.

The thing that I found most surprising about the Shroud jacket is just how well the Cycloknit fabric repels water. I wore it on a day with very low cloud cover whilst walking the Kentmere horseshoe and didn’t need to put on a hard-shell, despite the moisture we were walking through. It even held off a brief shower due to its impressive beading even after washing. During the milder parts of the day, in the valleys where it was very still, the Shroud was breathable enough to prevent me from overheating.

Higher up it got properly windy and I was very impressed with how well it kept the wind out. That being said, when temperatures fall below zero and the wind really gets up you will be wanting to wear a hard-shell over it to retain more heat. I also found that the Elastane bound hood, which layers so well under the hood of my hard-shell, doesn’t deal well with high wind by itself due to the lack of adjustment. This does however allow it to fit well under a helmet, even over a beanie.

When I have attempted to wear true soft-shells under my waterproofs in the past I found myself getting hot and sweaty when moving briskly but, with the Shroud, I felt like I was just wearing a warm mid-layer which moved moisture away from my skin effectively.

The jacket also features a YKK centre front zip and a Napoleon chest pocket that is large enough to fit a phone, compass and any other items you need quick access to. The two hand pockets are large enough to comfortably fit a hat, gloves and Buff, with room to spare for cold hands. These pockets have concealed zips, which protect from wind and snow ingress, and although they are not fully accessible when wearing a harness or rucksack hip belt I was still able to access my gloves.

I was not sure how much I would use this hybrid midlayer/soft-shell, having never owned one before, but since I began testing it I have chosen this over the soft-shell jackets I already own every time.

Mountain Equipment describe the Shroud Hooded Jacket as “Sufficiently windproof to be worn alone in better conditions it’s also a formidable mid-layer under a shell in severe weather.” Whilst I haven’t yet had opportunity to test it in full winter conditions, I have to agree with them.

If you’re looking for something that bridges the gap between midlayer and softshell to create a highly technical, high performance jacket that’s hugely versatile, then this could be exactly what you’re looking for.