What place on Earth is better for testing a rain jacket than the Pacific Northwest? This unreal outdoor paradise extends from Oregon in the USA to Canada’s British Columbia. And on our spring adventure, it really did present us with everything nature has to offer, from snow-covered peaks to wild rivers and waterfalls to crystal-clear lakes, rainforests and rugged coastlines with never-ending beaches. And the climate can be just as changeable as the landscape. Another reason to have clothing that can adapt seamlessly to the quick-changing conditions.
The Páramo Alta III Jacket
To be honest, I haven’t known the brand Páramo that long, even though it’s been around since 1984. Being unhappy with the outdoor clothing available at the time, Nick Brown, the founder of Páramo, decided to develop his own small but fine collection.
On my first trip, I really got to feel the over 30 years of experience Páramo has in the outdoor clothing market. Non-stop rain in Olympic National Park, one of the wettest regions in the Pacific Northwest. As a dauntless hiker, I am of course not afraid of a little rain. Still, I was a little sceptical throwing on the Alta III jacket because the material was so different from what I had come to expect from rain jackets. It was unusually soft, almost like a sports jacket, not stiff like the usual material used for rain jackets. Consequently, the jacket felt really comfortable and also, something I didn’t notice for a while: it was silent, not a sound. With Gore-Tex you are constantly accompanied by the crackling and rustling of the fabric rubbing against itself. With the Alta III, all you hear is your own breathing and the sounds of nature.
Two hours in the rain and did the jacket live up to its promise? Absolutely! On this trip and several others that followed, even when caught in sudden downpours, I stayed completely dry. This was all thanks to the directional and waterproof Nikwax Analogy material. “Directional” means that the material is not only breathable but also actively directs moisture and condensation away from the body. The advantage over regular breathable materials is obvious. By moving moisture away from the body, the jacket loses none of its warmth; it stays dry and your body won’t get a chill, even when you’re taking a break. And if that’s not enough, there are also meshed upper arm vents with can be opened.
And the windproofing is also excellent, which I was able to really appreciate on my long walks along the beaches in stormy weather.
The cut of the jacket is classic; timeless, you could say. On my trip, the jacket worked well over a simple t-shirt or over a couple of warm mid-layers. What always endears me to a piece of clothing is the attention to the details and the Alta III has a lot of wonderful details. I especially love the two large chest pockets, both with zippers and velcro, and one with an additional D-ring which can be used for securing your key. I was able to store pretty much everything I needed in the generous pockets: valuables, wallet, mobile phone, as well as snacks and navigational equipment.
In the inside lining is another large pocket, perfect for maps, and a further, smaller, pocket. At hip level are two handwarming pockets.
Also very cool is the adjustable hood. The hood has a wire rim, which may sound a little unwieldy but is actually very helpful for adjusting the hood to fit your field of vision. Works well and doesn’t get in the way at all, not even when storing the hood away in the collar.
The waterproofing with Nikwax is responsible for the jacket’s fantastic water-repellent characteristics. Even damage to the material such as the small holes that it got from an encounter with thorns didn’t impair the performance of the jacket. The same with small repairs to the outer material, which means the jacket will be a trusty companion for long years to come.
If after some time you notice that the fabric is beginning to absorb some of the moisture, then it’s time to re-waterproof the jacket. All you have to do is wash and reproof the jacket in the wasching machine with Nikwax Tech Wash and TX.Direct Wash-In. It’s that simple. On top of that, the waterproofing agents are free from PFC—that means: free from the chemicals that are more and more being used for waterproofing rain gear—thereby protecting the environment and your health.
As a matter of fact, Páramo is very dedicated to environmental protection and supporting social projects. For example, they were the first outdoor supplies company to sign the Greenpeace Detox Campaign.
Practically every piece of clothing from Páramo is recyclable. In fact, if you return an old item, they’ll reward you with a voucher towards your next Paramo product.
Páramo also supports numerous environmental projects such as the World Land Trust and the Río Canandé Reserve.
And if that’s still not enough, the cherry on top lies in how the clothing from Páramo is produced. More than 80% of the yearly production comes through their partnership with the Miquelina Foundation in Bogotá, Colombia, which gives vulnerable women with high risk of drugs or prostitution training, employment, housing and child care.
It’s not often that I’m so completely taken in by a product, from Páramo’s environmentally-conscious approach and support of social projects, which unfortunately is still no matter of course in a market so closely associated with nature and people, to the perfectly designed jacket brimming with great functionality. You can feel the experience and—yes absolutely—the passion of Páramo in their products, making the Alta III truly a superb rain jacket that I was very happy indeed to have as my trustworthy companion on my very wet adventure in the Pacific Northwest.
– Upper arm vents
– rapid-drying mesh Pump Liner reinforcement on shoulders and back
– adjustable, wired-peak hood
– Shoulder and arm articulation
– Two-way locking front zip with poppered internal storm flap
– Lifetime Guarantee
(Photos: Julia Zierer for Outdoor Aesthetics)