The Hilltrek Blog

Ski mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies with the Braemar Single Ventile Smock - a review

Ski mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies with the Braemar Single Ventile Smock - a review

Posted by David Shand on 15th Oct 2019

A customer Richard has given us feedback on the Braemar SV smock that he purchased from us last year.

I primarily purchased to smock to take on a 3-week ski mountaineering trip along the continental divide of the Canadian Rockies, that I finished last week. We skied 330 km and climbed a total of 21,000 m - so on a trip like this it is crucial that you trust your gear. I first heard about Ventile back in the 1980s when an outdoor pursuits teacher at my school had a double ventile jacket and raved about it. I then recently found out about your company when searching on the internet.

On our trip we had a lot of bad weather - strong winds, and snowing most days. Temperatures ranged from about -20C to barely above freezing. Your Braemar Smock was my only outer layer and I wore it every day. I would only have a thermal shirt, or sometimes an extra thin fleece under the smock during the day. In the evenings I would also have a down jacket for camping.

I love the breathability of the smock.

Everyone in my team lost about 15 lb of weight in the 3 weeks - we were working hard for up to 10 hours each day. However, the smock breathed very well, and I would always have dry clothing by the evening. The smock sometime would get damp, but usually would dry out in the tent overnight.

I chose the bronze colour to reflect and keep cool in the sun. Unfortunately we had very little sun, but on the couple of days we did I had to remove the smock for trailbreaking uphill to keep my temperature down.

I love how the fabric is tough. We sometimes had to ski down to the valley’s below and cross through dense trees. My rucksack has ended up with many puncture holes in it from the branches, but the fabric on the smock has no sign of damage.

I chose the Single Ventile(SV) version of the smock with no frills because I wanted something light and functional. I was very pleased with this choice. I will certainly take the smock on many more ski mountaineering trips in future.

There was one day when I got very cold in it. This was as much as my incorrect expectations rather than it not working the way it should. I was standing on a snow ledge at the base of an abseil for about 2 hours in strong wind. I was continually showered with snow and ice from my group above and so the smock got socked, leading to my under clothes getting wet. Because I was not moving I got very cold. In future I took better care to manage my under layers, but this is a situation I will have to be careful about not repeating.

One small point that I would have preferred differently is the fit. I realize than not everyone is the same size. I am 6 foot and I would consider myself average proportions. I found that when the front pocket was full (hat, gloves and map), and my rucksac belt was tight, there was not much fabric left below the rucksac belt. I would have found an extra inch or two on the length nice to have.

But in general I love this smock. It is a great piece of kit, it is well made and looks like it will last a long time. I am looking forward to many more adventures with it.

Hilltrek Outdoor Clothing