Gear Review: Mountain Equipment Kongur jacket (2011)
Mountain Equipment Kongur jacket:
This heavyweight jacket, (my version now last season), has regularly been touted as bombproof, persistently being named as best waterproof jacket in many tests. I have to agree with those results, this thing has performed admirably, barring the inevitable water ingress at the cuffs and hem, (where the cuff meets your inner sleeve, and where the hem drawstring soaks up water), this jacket has kept me pretty much bone-dry, even during a 12-hour summer washout on Scafell Pike in the Lake District.
Being a 3 layer Gore-Tex Pro shell fabric, (with reinforced/higher denier face fabric panels in the relevant places, i.e. shoulders, arms and hips), this epic waterproofing and durability must inevitably come with somewhat reciprocal breathability, (it can get hot and sweaty in here when reasonably active!), however, water resistant pit zips and the double, (inner and outer), storm flaps on the main zip, mean that substantial venting is available which I find to be quite useful!
There are 4 external pockets, two being big enough to take an OS map, and one containing a plastic whistle attached to a section of cord! The double storm-flap with it’s drainage channel, is a boon when you’re active and generating masses of heat, allowing you to unzip the jacket fully whilst doing up the hook & loop fasteners, this keeps the rain and wind off/out and dumps heat and moisture at the same time.
The Kongur, (or at least this version), has a relatively slim fit with no excess material flab, it’s also long enough that it snugly covers my behind, even after long periods of activity under the influence of the drawcord and whilst it’s not baggy, it will easily accommodate an extra warm layer or two low-volume layers underneath.
Perhaps my only bug-bear would be the layout of the pockets. Whilst they are located in optimal positions for getting things in & out whilst in a harness or a pack, and are above obscuring by a rucksack hip-belt, their relative positions lead to many layers of waterproof fabric atop each other. This could then lead to a reduction in breathability. Despite this, I think the pit-zips and double storm flap can be used to combat this, and the convenience of the storage options is desirable in inclement weather.
I bought the Kongur around a year ago, a purchase taken due to my disgust at the durability of a particular 2.5 layer I owned, i.e. cracking and splitting of the PU layer, and other delamination artefacts which I believe are quite common in such products. In terms of durability and waterproofing, this product has performed admirably in some serious conditions and it certainly feels like it can walk the walk, and with the appropriate care, I look forward to subjecting the jacket to many years of abuse.
n.b. The latter point about appropriate care refers to the necessity of taking appropriate measures to ensure that the waterproof membrane, (main waterproof barrier), and surface DWR, (aids water shedding from the face fabric), remain intact and fucntional. Sweating during work is unavoidable, especially with that pocket arrangement, as is transfer of dirt from hands/pack/etc… As weat can clog the membrane pores and dirt affects DWR function, it gets washed at 30C on a low spin rate, (high rates may generate quicker wear & tear on the face fabric and membrane), and in Tech Wash regularly, (Tech Wash is a non-detergent based soap, detergent can mask the DWR if not washed out properly), though hasn’t yet been/needed to be re-DWR’d. I don’t fold it when stored at home, and when taken out and it’s in the pack, it gets randomly rolled away into the hood, which also prevents repetitive flex of the same fold-lines/seams, thus aiding the membrane’s longevity. Some useful care advice can be found at this OM thread.