A good insulation layer is an essential piece of kit to enjoy the great outdoor all year round. As part of a layering system, it needs to be warm, lightweight, breathable and packable. Today, we are looking at the Berghaus Ignite jacket, part of the Extrem range.
The Ignite is a light and thin jacket, made out of Primaloft One insulation and wrapped in a Pertex Microlight layer. The Pertex Microlight is a DWR+ fabric that will keep water at bay reasonably while keeping the weight down.
Putting those two together should make a feather light jacket and at around 320g for the size S, for the version without hood, I think it is a success. Looking at the competition, you will find the Rab Photon hooded at a given 410g, the Arc’teryx Atom LT at around 300g or the Patagonia Micro Puff, 430g.
Very much like the Rab Microlight Alpine, it feels great to have it on. The Pertex Microlight is silky smooth and the weight means you soon forget about it. The Ignite is also windproof and can be worn on its own provided it is not raining. As I said before, the shell is treated DWR+ and is fine if you get caught in a light shower but don’t expect to stay dry all day in it. The stretch-binding cuffs will prevent any drafts and the zipped hand warmer pockets keep things securely inside. Pockets are even lined with soft fleece-like fabric to make the warming experience greater.
In normal conditions, with above freezing temperatures and during physical effort, the Berghaus Extrem is slightly too warm. After around half an hour going uphill, it felt too hot and I had to take it off soon after or playing with opening more or less the main front zip for an adequate temperature. It does breathe better than the down equivalent though, but it’s more a jacket you would put on when you stop for a break or going downhill.
It performs admirably in windy conditions and provides 100% protection against strong winds but the lack of hood means you will have to find something else for your head (note there is also a hooded version).
Cold weather and snow
In cold conditions, it does a good job too as part of a layering system. I took it to -15 °C, with a long sleeve merino baselayer and a fleece jacket underneath and the Berghaus Gore-Tex Active Shell on top. This combination was fine, even after a couple hours walking in the snow, but my arms where a little cold. There is only so much you can do with this type of lightweight jacket and you would probably be better off with something a bit warmer if you are planning a few days in the wild with that kind of temperature.
Primaloft One compressibility is good and paired with the lightweight Pertex Microlight outer shell, fits into a small compression bag provided with the Berghaus Ignite jacket. Rolled up well, there is even space for a couple of small items you would need to store in the same place. However, as the bag is made out of mesh you can’t leave it hanging out your backpack if the weather is bad. It would have been nice instead of a separate bag to be able to use one of the jacket’s pocket.
Berghaus’ Ignite jacket doesn’t disappoint when it comes to practicability. It’s super lightweight, tiny when compressed and keeps you warm when the temperature drops or when you stop for a break. It’s not arctic-expedition grade of course, so think about what you need your insulation layer for. You can get some great deals at the moment on Amazon for around £80/$75.