A couple of months ago I took delivery of my Snowsled Wilderness Jacket.. just before the good weather settled in. Whenever we had a few spots of rain I would run outside with the dog but it’s not until this last week I’ve had any decent ‘bad weather’ in which to test the jacket properly.
I have owned all kinds of jacket technology in the past, Gore-tex, eVent, Paramo, you name it. This was the first Ventile Jacket I have ever owned and it really is in a class of it’s own.
Strange when you think about how long the material has been around.
Invented in Manchester during the Second World War, Ventile is a high-quality natural fabric made of tightly woven cotton. It’s both breathable and waterproof adding a huge amount of insulation. I find it warmer than Gore-tex, yet nowhere near as hot as I have found Paramo jackets. It’s pretty tough and I have trawled through dense bramble with no issue. Something I wouldn’t dare do in a synthetic fabric jacket. Also, round the camp fire, embers just seem to fall off it rather than have you fear spontaneous combustion should you get too close to the flames as with other jacket types.
It’s no surprise that Ventile is making a comeback with Bushcrafters. The fabric is soft and quiet. I was amazed when I first put the hood up. I am so used to the rustle of a synthetic jacket that i was not prepared for the shock of still being able to hear what was around me as i walked hood up, through the woods in the rain. The wilderness jacket also has a wired peak making the hood easy to fix behind me should I want to don my Tilley hat and play English Gent/Cowboy.
To be really waterproof Ventile garments are made in two layers As the outer one soaks up the rain it forms a barrier stopping more getting through. Interestingly though, in light rain the weave is so tight I found that the rain sat on the surface in droplets.
It takes a severe downpour for you to really test the waterproofing. Rain of course adds weight to an already mid weight jacket. I can’t see an ultra-light backpacker going for a Ventile jacket but I also can’t see them needing much of the many extra benefits you gain from wearing Ventile. Ultra-lighters mostly tend to be racing through the country. Not always needing a jacket for life or something as heavy duty.
This Snowsled Wilderness is one of many jacket and smock designs hand-made by Snowsled. It is also the longest walking jacket I have ever owned and now can’t see myself ever wanting anything shorter. The extra protection you gain from the jacket dropping past your bum means I have not needed waterproof trousers in all but the severest weather.
Add to these mounting benefits that Ventile does not need to be constantly reproofed, is easily fixed and is as comfortable as you expect cotton to be and I seriously think you cannot find a better bespoke jacket for enjoying the outdoors. I certainly feel more a part of my natural surrounding when wearing it.
They’re not cheep mind. They are also not fashion jackets meant to be cast aside at the end of the year when a new model is out. This is a Jacket for life. And you really do get what you pay for. If you live and work in the country and feel like you deserve the best, Take a look at a Ventile jacket before you look at anything else.
Thanks go to Snowsled for answering all my questions and their great service. Check out their impressive history and for more specs and pricing on the Wilderness Jacket and other clothing please visit the Snowsled Website. http://www.snowsled.com
I still have Autumn and Winter on the horizon and will no doubt update this blog or my other places like http://christianpayne.posterous.com or http://documental.ly with any new findings with the jacket and Ventile in general.
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