Solipsist Jacket

Review by planetFear
Thursday 30th November 2006

I used to think that all Gore Tex jackets are pretty much the same.  After all they all use pretty much the same fabric technology so any difference will surely be down to which cut suits you personally or what colour you wish to be seen in?  This new addition from Berghaus takes a unique look at the waterproof jacket concept and comes up with some striking features.  The first thing you might notice is the strange unpronounceable name, which according to Wikipedia is a “metaphysical belief that the universe is entirely the creation of one’s own mind… the belief that nothing exists outside of ones own mind.”  Hmm! Luckily this is the daftest thing about this otherwise well thought jacket.

The Solipsist is one of Berghaus’ flag ship pieces from their Big Wall range designed in conjunction with their sponsored big wall stars Leo Houlding and the Huber brothers.  Initially you could be forgiven for imagining the world of big wall climbing is one of sun drenched vertical camping in California but it might surprise many at how severe these walls can quickly become when the weather turns, for instance last year two climbers died of exposure on the popular Nose route of El Cap.  The Solipsist is designed for particularly bad wet weather so as well as walls will be found of interest to all mountaineers, ice climbers and in particular those surviving the Scottish winter experience.

The major area of innovation here is in the sleeve design with both a long stretch internal cuff and a reinforced extra external sleeve with zip tightening.  Although I haven’t had the chance for some really serious storm testing the result looks to be one of the most comprehensive weather proofing systems on the market.  In particular it should deal with that tricky area of creeping moisture dripping down from arms held overhead such as in ice climbing or bad weather aid and free climbing.

The hood is a proper climbing hood i.e. it fits comfortably over a helmet has a stiffened peak, high collar and moves with the head when craning upwards looking for holds.  It’s also another example of the attention to detail on this jacket with the volume reducer draw-cord protected from the elements by its own “mini hood”. Another detail on the jacket I liked was the two way front zip which allows for the jacket to be put over a harness and the zip be pulled up to leave knots and belay device nice and clear.

The one niggle I have is with the pockets which on my sample were limited to two central chest pockets which were still too small for a OS map or the new larger format SMC guidebooks.  However according to their website the production model promises two more outer pockets plus two internal mesh pockets so that could solve that issue. 

It’s obvious that a lot of thought has gone into this piece.  For those looking for serious bad weather protection the Solipsist’s novel design and attention to detail makes this a top choice for climbers and mountaineers. 


Weight: 730g


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