Buyer Nick tests the latest version of Gore-Tex in this waterproof jacket from Mountain Equipment. Find out his thoughts below.

Not many of us really like the rain, but sadly in the UK we have to put up with many long periods where you have to be resigned to just getting a bit wet if you go outside and do anything.

Let’s see how the new MAKALU jacket from Mountain Equipment steps up and saves the day.

My idea of a good waterproof jacket is normally something that packs away small and is fairly light as when I am out enjoying the countryside it normally involves doing something like climbing or running, so having the Makalu to test has been great as it is totally different to what I would normally wear.

What you get with the Makalu is a pretty “Bomb Proof” 3-layer Gore-Tex shell.

It utilises the new ePE Gore-Tex membrane which is completely fluorocarbon free and a 75D polyester face fabric throughout.

It has a pretty big feature set, the main ones being articulated sleeves, fully adjustable helmet compatible hood with wired peak, 2-way pit zips, 3 external and one internal pocket and a4-way adjustable hem. Really there are very few differences between this and the top end mountain equipment shells like the Tupilak and Lhotse so in my opinion the Makalu is a great deal for the substantially lower price point that it offers.

Comparing it to something I normally carry around in my climbing or running pack would be a little unfair when talking about weight and pack size but it does reinforce the fact that this jacket is a fully featured “Bomb Proof” garment. Weighing in at 550 grams it is certainly not light compared to my 2-layer Pertex shield jacket from Rab which tips the scales at a svelte 215 grams. Pack size is also a little different, however, it effortlessly rolls away into a 2-litre dry bag so there is not really much to complain about there.

On to the fit, put simply, I really like it. I am 5.10 with a 45-inch chest and the large is just about ok. The extra large was definitely a bit too big in the body length and width wise, so large it was. I can happily wear a baselayer and a light or mid weight fleece underneath which is the maximum I would wear as I generally run hot. I would not necessarily call myself an athletic build but the Mountain Equipment alpine fit works well for me.  The articulated arms are great and more than long enough to drop down over the hands if needs be and the laminated cuffs take away that extra length if not needed. I also like the length in the body as it is not too long and doesn’t ride up like some other stiffer heavier jackets seem too when you are moving in them.

Performance wise I have been reasonably impressed with the breathability of the jacket. I was not sure how the new ePE Gore-Tex membrane would fair but so far, I have not noticed it being any sweatier than the old Performance Shell Gore-Tex membrane which was its equivalent. The pit zips also really help here, when you are moving and they are open, even just half way, you can really feel the temperature drop inside the jacket. I have worn it on a few windy but quite warm days out on Dartmoor and with just a baselayer on underneath it has been fine so it would seem to pass the breathability test reasonably well.

With the new PFC free DWR coatings on all Gore-Tex shells it is an issue that has to be talked about. They are just not as good as the old fluorocarbon versions at shedding water, so need regular topping up via washing and reproofing with products from Nikwax or Grangers. The upside is that they are much better for the environment. 

Water beading nicely on PFC free DWR

I am not a big fan of stuffing the pockets of a waterproof full of bits and bobs but if you are, then the Makalu has you covered as the 3 external pockets are massive. You can fit several maps in the chest pocket alone and there is more than enough room for hats and gloves in the other 2. The internal pocket is great for your mobile phone, especially in bad weather where there is no guarantee an external pocket will keep out all wind driven rain and whilst I don’t have the biggest smart phone out there, I am guessing it will fit just about anything on the market. The 2 side pockets which some people might call hand warmers pockets are in a good position, you can use them to put your hands in if you want, but they are also high enough to be usable when wearing a pack or climbing harness which is good.

Overall, I really rate this jacket, I think it pretty much ticks all the boxes the average consumer would want when looking for a do it all waterproof jacket. The fit, the features and the overall durability and high quality to the construction and finish of the garment really sell it to me, plus the price is really keen.

The only real user group that would not buy into the Makalu is the fast and light hiker or trail runner/ultramarathon sub set where the pack size and weight is just too much of a limitation so if you are one of those, maybe steer clear