My new Hilltrek Askival Cotton Analogy jacket was delivered on the morning of 13 June 2015. I chose to have the jacket with some modifications – Karisma fleece lining for the handwarmer pockets and L19 Ventile. I also needed a slightly longer version than the standard sizing. Cotton analogy is basically a Ventile shell with a Paramo directional ‘pump’ liner. I won’t go into the background to these fabrics because so much has been written about them elsewhere. I had done a fair amount of research into suppliers and concluded that Hilltrek of Aboyne, Scotland, seemed to provide the jacket and customer service I was looking for. I bought this new addition to my outdoor gear with a view to it coming in to its own in deep winter conditions – low temperatures, wind, snow and ice. However, the first test was to be in summer – luckily it was raining quite hard when the postman delivered it, so it was out of the packaging and onto my back pretty much straight away! My walking companion was Charlie – a very energetic Scottish Deerhound who had no qualms about the weather as he is already kitted out with his own 100% weatherproof coat.
Charlie and I walked for 2 hours along Curbar and Froggat Edges, Derbyshire, in continuous rain and a temperature of 14C. The rain was not a problem at all. The Ventile shell all but laughed at it. The velcro adjustable cuffs kept the wind and rain out without me having to suffer from ‘soggy wrist’. The hood gives good protection and has a storm peak which can easily be folded back if you want it out of the way. From what I’d read, wearing Ventile in 14C could prove to be uncomfortable from a condensation point of view. I can honestly say that this was not an issue. I had a short but fairly steep, brisk walk up from the road to the top of Curbar edge (Charlie doesn’t hang about!). The walk thereafter was moderately energetic and I had the hood up for most of the way. The combination of breathable Ventile and Paramo liner kept the inside of the jacket uncannily free from the dreaded condensation. Under the jacket I was wearing a Paramo Cambia base layer, so this particular combination of fabrics seems to work fine for me. I had read a lot about Ventile clothing being too heavy but I have to say I didn’t really notice the extra weight of the jacket and as I mentioned earlier, this purchase was really intended for completely different weather conditions. It is a testament to the versatility of the fabric that, for me at least, it remained perfectly comfortablein a warm, June downpour in Derbyshire.
As far as quality and appearances go, this jacket is first class and the workmanship is superb. These jackets do not come in the latest dayglow colours and designs of some manufacturers but they have a classic, timeless appearance that gives them an unmistakable style all of their own. That, and the toughness and versatility of the fabrics used, I’d put money on my HilltrekAskival still going strong in a couple of decades.