Berghaus Trek Stretch Baselayer Review
Berghaus is one of those brands that has a long history in hillwalking, being one of those brands that I’d aspire to as being the best when I started hillwalking *cough* years ago. But since gaining street cred in the late 90s, I’d been given the impression that they were no longer the serious brand they were. I’d even thought they’d gone down the same road as Karrimor. While the latter are certainly a brand that has fallen from grace, I coudn’t have been further from the truth with my misguided impressions of Berghaus.
Looking for a decent baselayer, I came across the Berghaus Trek Stretch Half Zip Top over at the Berghaus store at Simply Hike. It was a bit if a punt, but I needed a decent walking top that I could use in all but the warmest conditions. After shelling out for a few £6 tops recently, I’d been disappointed with their performance on the hill. Fine as casual wear (though, they didn’t look that good!) but wicked poorly and offered as much wind protection as a string vest, and as a result I’d felt cold and uncomfortable on some recent trips. Spending eight times or so more on a top, I had high expectations.
The Trek Stretch Half Top is made from AT stretch fabric which on first impressions, feels as if it’ll be pleasantly warm and soft to wear. It doesn’t disappoint. The fit is active, so beer bellies will not be hidden, so if you’re self conscious you may need one size up! I found the Large to be a perfect fit, despite a few spare kilos giving the garment a bit more work to do around the waist. Compare this to a Paramo Cambia baselayer that’s certainly more flattering, but being baggier isn’t necessarily better for performance and comfort.
The arms are long, and you think it’s tailored for an orangutang when first worn. That’s down to the stretchy nature of the AT fabric, and once you’ve got your hands out the holes at the end of the sleeves, it doesn’t feel to be any longer than it needs to be but has that extra stretch for when you need it. Scrambling on Tryfan, it stretched when you’re stretching up for a hold, and didn’t feel like it was riding up your arm at any excuse. I felt that the thumb loops help a lot, giving a bit more cover for the hands and might be the difference between having to wear gloves in marginal conditions.
What really impressed however, is how comfortable the top has proven itself to be under different conditions. It’s not overly warm for summer use, the half zip certainly helping for that, but also warm enough for poorer conditions. I found it was considerably more windproof than any of the other tops I’ve used and falls somewhere between a typical baselayer, a fleece and a stretchy softshell. The Berghaus site mentions a chest pocket, which was absent on mine, but not something I’d want anyway. I think a top needs to be kept simple, and that means no pockets. I prefer to keep my valuables elsewhere, as a pocket on a top isn’t the most practical addition.
Despite no claims on their site (there’s very little info on the Berghaus site, so luckily the Simply Hike store had some information on this!) regarding the garment’s stink resistance, I used it four times over a week without washing and It didn’t smell. At least, nobody told me if it did. Having a 5 day trip to Blackmount and the Mamores coming up next month, at least I know I won’t get kicked out of the Kingshouse lounge mid way through! This item comes highly recommended, and unless I find something better, will be replacing my ancient, stinky, manky Lowe Alpine tops.
Summary: Mid or Baselayer in stretchy active AT fabric that’s comfortable, warm and a little bit windproof.
Purchased the item from Simply Hike Berghaus store, and just thought I ought to plug the informative videos that they’ve got on their site. They’ve got more information on the garment than the Berghaus homepage and they’ve been a reliable source for gear for a while now. Here’s the video from their site for this item.