The Berber Tech Smock has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best jackets for 2020.
Reviewers Paid: $70.00-$100.00
Bought this jacket in 2002 and it's been all over the Alps, including minus20 with another 20 degrees of windchill, at 3500 metres. I got icenip on my nose, which was the only thing sticking out of the brilliantly designed hood and chin guard. Yet at plus 3 all I do is open all the zips and let the cool air in. Incredible.
It's now completely worn out. So I phone Rab in 2006 - we don't make them anymore they say - the jacket is too hot for most people - in fact I'm talking to the designer - he is most upset that its no longer in their product line. IT IS A TRULY CLASSIC PIECE OF HIGH ALTITUDE KIT - for skiing, mountaineering...MAKE IT AGAIN RAB....
Fabric: pertex outer - berber fleece inner
Price Paid: $70
A fantastically versatile garment designed for true function. The pertex outer is wind and shower/snow proof and the berber pile is exceptionally warm. Well-cut zips (side, neck and front chest pockets) allow plenty of air circulation that can be readily closed down if the level of activity is reduced. The jacket breathes well (from my experience, better than fleeces with a windproof layer sandwiched, such as windstopper, duofold etc.) and dries quickly, though it is certainly on the heavy side for technical insulation.
I haven't used it with the hood much (detachable via poppers, preferring to wear separate hats or whatever, but it is well shaped for visibility and insulation. Zips can generally be worked one-handed and with gloves, though side vents can be a bit fiddly under a pack or with thicker gloves/mitts. I have worn it many times in heavy rain under gore-tex or hellytech outer shells and it works okay as an intermediate layer (though a polartec 300 might be more breathable), but it's real strength is as a jacket that you can wear all day long in colder conditions, adjusting vents to cope with heat and vapour output rather than having to keep taking it off.
I usually wear it with just a polypropylene base layer T-shirt or rollneck. The result is definitely more breathable than the classic baselayer-insulation-waterproofing system (though obviously heavy rain will eventually soak through the pertex and significantly lower the insulation performance).
I don't think anyone would claim it is the most stylish jacket for winter outdoor activity, but if you want something that does the job using appropriate materials, I can highly recommend it.
Fill: Berber fibre pile
Price Paid: around �$100
I use my Berber Tech Smock virtually every single day and would recommend it to anyone. I run a survival school in the Cambrian Mountains in Wales and it is definitely one of the best items of clothing equipment I have. It is an extremely versatile smock and has coped with some absolutely appalling weather in both temperate and arctic climates. It has also proved to be very 'low maintenance' and easy to clean. In the winter months especially, I would not leave this jacket behind.
Fabric: pertex outer, berber fleece inner
Price Paid: approx �100