Berghaus Attrition Jacket Review

Please note this is a review of the original Berghaus Attrition jacket which is now unavailable.

 I must admit to a preference for smock-type waterproof jackets.  My favourite lightweight smock is the OMM Cypher and it's been a long time since I used a Gore-Tex® jacket with a full-length front zip.  So long ago, in fact, that the last jacket I owned was one of the first generation of Berghaus Gore-Tex® cagoules in the then ubiquitous, almost knee-length British Racing Green!  Things have moved on considerably since those early game-changing days with new materials, designs and colours, with Berghaus once again at the forefront.  The chance to have a top-of-the-range Berghaus Attrition Jacket for review on Hard Light was a mouth-watering prospect and I was really keen to see how things had changed in the jacket vs. smock option and where the state of the art in mountaineering outer protection shells is today.

The most obvious thing when the package arrived was the weight of the garment inside.  My sample weighed-in at 700g.  Anyone who has been used to other lightweight laminates, Event® obviously comes to mind, would immediately recognise that this jacket is intended for bomb-proof weather protection and not for gramme-counting ultra lightweight backpacking.  The Attrition's 3-layer Gore-Tex® Pro Shell construction is clearly intended as durable, elemental body-armour!  I was a little concerned over the sizing, the only one available for review was in large size and I am no lightweight at around 5'11", 14.5 stone and 45" chest.  Usually, I find I need XL size in smocks.  When I slipped it on, I remembered that Berghaus weights and volumes are rather out on their own.  Their backpacks always seem to have far more capacity than the stated amount and their garment sizes seem to be one size to the greater than most other manufacturers.  This was no different, the Attrition fitted me perfectly.  With a Montane Bionic base-layer and Rab Generator smock underneath, the fit was just right across the shoulders and arm length was spot-on.

One of the most interesting features of the Berghaus Attrition jacket is the design and construction of the Raptor Hood for entire neck, face and head protection.  The vented face guard is innovative and really does help to reduce condensation.  During the review, the temperature was -2c with a moderate, steady breeze with the added effect of wind-chill.  The vent holes did not seem to 'leak' cold air into the hood even when facing the wind and the helmet-friendly hood with wired peak is very volume adjustable for use with or without a climbing helmet underneath and all round vision is unimpeded when the various adjusters are cinched-down .

Areas that could be prone to wear from backpack straps and waistbelts and harnesses are reinforced with a heavy nylon fabric.  The front waterproof zip is slightly offset and curved for ease of use, it is very flexible and does not 'bunch' when bending or crouching.

Sleeves are adjusted with Velcro tabs.  The plastic tab is easy to open and close with gloves on.

The cut of the sleeve cuff is diagonal to counter any riding-up.

Plenty of shoulder room for and no restriction on movement.

Hood volume adjusters at the sides and back are the captive shockcord and plastic cord lock variety.  the cord locks are quite chunky and easily used with gloves.   The faceguard gives excellent protection. A ski mask would complete the set for total facial protection.

 The shoulders and sleeves articulate without restriction, the cut is designed to prevent riding-up when stretching.

Scooped back prevents riding-up.

There are pit vents and side vents to help regulate core temperature and condensation.  Water repellent zips have pullers that are easy to use with gloves.  A guidebook pocket zip is located on the left side behind the main zip protection flap, which is closed by Velcro.

 Two external pockets have zips with double pullers to aid rapid opening and closing.

Unrestricted movement and infinitely adjustable fine-tuning is one of the strengths of the Berghaus Attrition.

The faceguard peak is wired.

Hood volume adjusters.

Diagonally-cut sleeve cuff to maintain protection when stretching and reaching.

 Internal pocket is made from a stretchy Lycra type fabric.  There is also a pouch for holding a drinks bottle inside the jacket against the body to prevent the contents from freezing.

 The faceguard is vented and covered on the inside with a fleece to reduce condensation.

Another nice touch is the internal collar which adjustable and insulated with Primaloft.

The Berghaus Attrition jacket in 3 layer Gore-Tex® Pro Shell is not just good, it is a great jacket.  It is an impressive mountaineering shell for winter hillwalking with climbing usability.  Not only in the choice of materials and standard of workmanship of the construction, but also in the details and the careful thought that has gone into the various components: ie the cut of the shoulders, sleeves and especially the hood.  The pricing seems to be around the £170-£200 mark.  With a little internet searching, it may be possible to find it cheaper, but overall I would say this is what I would expect to pay for a jacket made to this quality with these materials.  The Berghaus Attrition Extreme is up there with the best and should be at the top of any shortlist.

Would I buy it?  Yes. Hell, I even like the lime green and black colour option!

Pros:  Durable fabrics, cut, fit (for me!),  unrestrictive and innovative features (especially the Raptor Hood), faceguard, weather-proofness, attention to detail.

Cons: Might be a little on the short side for very tall people, internal guide book pocket is too small  and the jacket is quite heavy.


Alan Sloman said…
I was sent this jacket to test almost a year ago but sent it back as it was no longer in the Berghaus range.

I didn't see the point of reviewing a jacket that wasn't made any more.

It is a thing of beauty, but overkill for my requirements.
Steve Walton said…
The Attrition is currently listed on the Berghaus website, I've linked to it above. My OMM Cypher smock seems almost minimalist and rather more delicate by comparison but overall I think the Attrition suits it's purpose for those conditions when a lighter and less-featured shell would be challenged.
Alan Sloman said…
What you have there, Steve is the old Attrition I, in "Wild Lime & Jet". The Attrition II is totally different, if you look at the specifications, which is why I sent it back in November 2011. As I said, it is a thing of beauty and technical wonderment, but it is not the current beast, by a long chalk.
I sent it back to Code Computer (the company that sent it to me on behalf of Berghaus) and Berghaus's other PR company sent me a different jacket to test, that *was* in their current line-up.
I can understand them wanting reviews of gear but I struggle to see the point of sending gear that isn't made any more. Chris Lines (Berghaus's other PR company) agreed with me.
It's a funny old world, but, as you rightly point out, it is a stonkingly good winter jacket at three times the weight of your OMM smock.