Rain beads on the Climescape fleece

Rain beads on the Climescape fleece

Climescape Mock Neck Fleece Jacket
Price: £48
Weight: 616g
Fabric: 80 per cent cotton, 20 per cent polyester
Colour: navy blue
Country of manufacture: China
Recommended wash: 30C wash, gentle cycle. Can be tumble-dried

The fleece jacket has a venerable place in the history of outdoor clothing, keeping walkers and mountaineers warm for more than three decades.

Fleeces play a part in many outdoor fan’s layering system, providing midlayer warmth under a waterproof shell jacket.

Usually, they can’t be relied on to keep out more than a brief shower, but Climescape wants to change your mind on that matter.

New to the UK, and a development of the Canadian Six Tiger Holding Corporation, Climescape’s fleece promises to keep out rain and snow for up to seven hours.

Unlike most fleeces which are 100 per cent polyester, the Climescape jacket is 80 per cent cotton, with just 20 per cent polyester. This makes it quite a heavy jacket – heavier than any of the items in our recent midlayers test.

The Climescape Mock Neck Fleece Jacket

The Climescape Mock Neck Fleece Jacket

The waterproof treatment relies not on a spray-on durable water repellency treatment, but one that relies on changing the molecular structure of fibres within the garments. The fabric has been produced by Californian company Nano-Tex.

So how does the jacket perform in Britain’s notoriously wet climate? We put it to test in both showery conditions and in cool, persistently wet days, of which there have been many recently.

The first thing you notice is that rain does bead on the outer surface of the fleece but, unlike a conventional shell jacket, it doesn’t then run off, but rather stays in place. This makes the jacket feel like it’s soaking through.

But, feel inside it and it’s bone dry.

It breathes well too, letting out perspiration better than a shell jacket that relies on a breathable membrane.

Warmth was moderate. On a cold winter’s day, the Climescape won’t be enough. But on cooler, windy days it provides a similar warmth to, say, somewhere between a standard 100 and 200 fleece.

We asked Climescape to provide a jacket without a hood – still in the conventional fleece frame of mind. We’ve always previously used a fleece with an extra shell jacket with hood when it’s raining. Without a hood, you’re going to need something to keep your head warm and dry. Obvious when you think, which we clearly weren’t.

Climescape does make hooded version. Something to consider.

Still, with a hat in place and the Climescape jacket firmly zipped up, the rain stayed out and the wind was kept at bay.

It’s an interesting if slightly odd approach to waterproofing and feels counter-intuitive. The instinct is to reach into your rucksack and pull out your nice shell jacket when the heavens open. The waterproofing of the fleece was as good as Climescape’s claims.

On a more showery day, wearing the fleece obviates the need to keep stopping an put on or take off a waterproof.

The company says its fabric will continue to repel rain for 30 washes, after which the waterproofing can be reinvigorated by a hot iron. Fabric conditioners are a no-no.

The full-length zip is only partly protected by twin baffles, but it didn’t leak during our test.

The jacket's elasticated cuffs don't have any adjustment

The jacket's elasticated cuffs don't have any adjustment

There are no drawcords to tighten things up. The hem is elasticated, as are the sleeve cuffs, but there is no adjustment. The neck again is elasticated and the zip parks neatly just below the chin.

There are two handwarmer pockets, but these have no zips and there are no other pockets. This is, in our view, a major drawback if the jacket is to be used as the outermost layer on trips to the hills.

You really don’t want things falling out of your pockets only to discover miles later something vital is missing. Equally, there is nowhere to stash safely a map, compass, GPS unit or mobile phone.

So the only option is to use trouser pockets of put things in your rucksack, which means they’re not readily available.

In fact, the whole design of the Climescape Mock Neck Jacket seems a bit half-hearted when it comes to accommodating outdoor fans. Yes, it will keep you quite warm and keep out the rain, but it lacks those technical design elements that say: this is a garment for the outdoor enthusiast.

It feels to be aimed more at a more casual market rather than the technical user who needs the features necessary on the hill.

That said, it’s good value for money and does keep out both the wind and the rain.

We’d like to see a little more useful design embellishments to make this a truly useful item for the outdoor enthusiast, even if it means adding a few quid to its retail price.

More details are on the Climescape website, though prices are in dollars.

Waterproofness 22/30
Breathability 22/30
Warmth 3/5
Features 1/5
Quality 5/10
Value for money 16/20
Total score: 69/100