The Berghaus Caudale is a lightweight microfleece midlayer weighing in at a reported 322g (according to Berghaus), but offering a great warmth-to-weight ratio. It features several well thought-out design features including elasticated hem and cuffs, soft chin guard, bonded pocket on arm for small essential items, deep neck zip for ventilation.
- Lightweight but warm (322 g)
- Chin guard
- Deep neck zip
- Bonded pocket on the arm
- Good looks
- Good construction
- Pricey (although not exorbitant by any means)
- Sizing a little small, going one size up is recommended
- Stitching is adequate but could be more robust
Fit and Comfort:
I typically wear large (5'10 and 1/2", 200 lbs), but can often get away with medium with many North American brands, British sizes tend to be a lot less generous, so like with most UK brands, I had to size up for a comfortable fit. A size large fit me very well, and is adequate for comfortably layering over a baselayer/shirt.
I found the top to be very comfortable with no areas of friction, tightness or gapping. Unlike most microfleece tops, the Caudale has an elasticated hem and cuffs which help for a nice fit, particularly when layering on top. The bottom doesn't ride up, and the sleeves stay in place under a softshell or rain shell. Another nice touch is the chin guard which prevents friction from the zipper against my beard, something which can become very irritating after a long day out.
There is no adjustability to speak of, but the addition of elastic hem and cuffs is a nice touch and allows for a better fit.
Breathability and Moisture:
Being a lightweight microfleece, it breathes fairly well, and does a decent enough job of wicking moisture away. The use of a deep chest zip is a good touch for ventilation and it does a good job of cooling you down should you overheat.
For the weight, it is quite effective at keeping you warm. It is not going to compete with heavier weight fleeces (200, 300g), but it works very well for a microfleece. Part of that is probably due to the elastic hem and cuffs and the snug but comfortable collar which help seal the warmth it.
As a lightweight fleece top, it is ideal as a mid layer (although it is soft and comfortable enough to work as a baselayer if someone would be so inclined). Although I have mentioned them multiple times, the elastic cuffs work well for layering as they don't ride up as easily when layering over this top.
Berghaus market the fabric of this material as "AT Micro - Lightweight packable micro fleece made from 100% polyester micro denier yarns, designed to offer a comfortable feel to the skin. The micro fleece has a non-pilling face to ensure its performance and looks are retained after repeated home washing." So far it has resisted pilling and looks very good. I have not used it as an outer layer, so I cannot comment on how it would resist rash from a pack, but so far, being used as a mid-layer it still looks great.
Besides the elastic hem and cuffs, and the deep neck zip with soft chin-guard, the Caudale also features a bonded pocket on the arm, which besides giving the top a unique look, is just about perfect for an emergency credit card, or some cash, or maybe a key.
Construction and Durability:
So far this garment looks well put together and has not shown signs of wear. It is a lightweight top, and it is microfleece so I don't expect the world of it.
I have used this as a mid-layer hiking in Scotland and Wales. I usually wear it early in the morning on the way to the ascent, for which I put it away, then put it back on to stay warm on the descent. So far it has not disappointed.
Ultimately this is a very nice microfleece top, It has some nice touches that the average microfleece does not (elastic hem and cuff, chin guard, non-obtrusive pocket on arm), it has a nice cut and looks great, and the construction is of a good standard. Still at nearly 40 pounds or 60 dollars, it is price substantially higher than most decent (albeit less featured) microfleeces (many Craghoppers can be had for 25-30 dollars), but also less than many other brands. If it got lost or damaged, I would buy it again (but would wait for a sale).
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 40 pounds/60 dollars