Paramo vs Hardshell, my personal views

I have been using Paramo clothing since 2003, prior to that I used a Buffalo Smock for many years as my main mid/outer weather protective layer.

I have been using an Aspira Smock since 2004 in all weathers found in the UK in summer and in winter, as well as in the Atlas Mountains and Norway in winter. This bit of kit has never let me down. Being warm, windproof, supremely waterproof and somehow at the same time extremely breathable, with perhaps the best hood ever developed on an outdoor jacket!

Now unfortunately Paramo have stopped making the Aspira Smock and instead have chosen to go with a full length zip front jacket with slash pockets and a slimmer fit.  Now, I tried one on, and yes it felt reassuringly Paramo, but it wasn’t an Aspira Smock, no big pouch on the front, which is great for storing all sorts of items, map , compass, snack food, hat, gloves etc etc, it didn’t matter that this brilliant pouch wasn’t waterproof.  So  no more useful dump pouch and instead some hand warmer pockets and a couple of front Napoleon pockets. Yes the constructions is reassuringly Paramo, but some of the functionality has been lost I feel.

Now there is a plus side; You can still  get the Aspira Smock, but only in Red and only if you are part of the Paramo -Pro Scheme, which I am, or are a member of a Search And Rescue organisation, which I am. So They still make and sell the smock but only for SAR personnel.

So this year I have gone back to a traditional hard membrane shell jacket, and of course chose the Goretx-Pro material and an Arcteryx Theta AR Jacket in a lovely green colour. I hate it! It crinkles like a crisp packet, it doesn’t breath, so I get a slick of sweat on my skin, I haven’t found a base layer or fleece combination in my large array of kit, that seems to work well with this jacket, oh and major downside? It leakes and I have been wet and cold on a few occasions! It leakes through the front zip right from brand new, It also lets water in through the pit zips if you get them lined up in the wrong place, although to be fair, Arcteryx did attach a disclaimer label to the zips, stating that they were no waterproof. The hood is also a big let down as it doesnt adjust as close fitting as I would like, and leaves most of your face exposed, and believe me, when the wind is driving the rain at you from all directions, not being able to batten down the hatches is very disappointing and also hammers your morale as you tough and bear it whilst trying to remain professional at work in the mountains. Now I know why I see so many unhappy looking Arcteryx owners on the hill hahahahaha.

After many months using a hard shell jacket again, and not being happy, I am now considering going back to Paramo and getting one of the new winter versions that is no longer a smock and is not called the Aspira.

Paramo, please bring back the original Aspira Smock with contrasting colour panels as it would now be ‘bang on trend’ again.