Ferox Apalone Hardshell Jacket Review
Rik Henderson brings us his review of the Apalone Hardshell Jacket from Ferox, a brand new independent British outdoor clothing company that specialises in waterproof garments
When I first saw Ferox’s subtle, pre-launch campaign pop on Instagram, I was intrigued and interested to say the least, a company who from the outset showed they were serious about picking the best materials possible and testing them in the harshest environment’s including the Scottish Highlands, Lake District, Iceland and Patagonia to name a few….environments that require high performing and robust clothing & equipment.
We were delighted to get our hands on their launch piece, the Apalone Jacket, a system that combines durable materials, a super waterproof & breathable Porelle Extreme membrane, and high quality and durable components. As a brand-new company Ferox and their Apalone Jacket have a lot to live up to, pitching this system against industry leaders who already dominate the waterproof shell market.
Receiving delivery of the jacket was already a different experience, packed in recyclable/compostable bags with their mission statement and jacket info written on acid-free paper and with soy-based ink, a company who are partnered with One Tree Planted (with the sale of each product money is donated to plant trees) and who care about sustainability within their company and those they work with.
What Ferox say:
Ferox® Apalone Jacket is outfitted with a 3-layer fabric that’s waterproof and highly breathable, along with waterproof zipper closures and fully taped seams. Constant air exchange and pit zippers prevent overheating, making this an ideal outer shell that can stand up to the toughest environments, with best in class durability available on the market.
On handling the jacket, I was first struck by how rugged the shell felt, the 3-layer system uses a 100% Nylon, Twill weaved DWR treated outer fabric…. essentially creating a stronger, wrinkle resistant and harder to stain outer. With reinforced sections across the lower arms, you can tell that this jacket was developed with mountaineering in mind, naturally there was only one place to put this jacket through its paces, an equally harsh and brutal environment in the form of North Wales’ finest range, the Carneddau mountains.
The weather forecast for this mid-November jaunt into Ogwen Valley was light snow showers during the morning and temperatures on the tops of -4 degrees on a brisk wind, but improving in the afternoon with sunny spells. This trip followed a period of heavy snow and excellent winter conditions the previous week and although brief, the tops were still covered in a generous layer of the white stuff…. on paper then perfect testing conditions for a 16km loop, three significant mountain tops and over 1000m elevation gain.
As we parked up alongside the A5 in Ogwen valley the decision to don waterproof jacket’s was met with no resistance due to the moisture in the air, I’m an advocate of “start bold, start cold” and anyone who has climbed Pen yr Ole Wen from the A5 knows how immediate the climb is. With a boggy section at the beginning that requires some skill and navigation especially with rain and melt water thrown in, the risk of overheating straight off the bat is a real one, so minimal layering underneath was crucial. As we meandered up through the boggy terrain and the going got hard, I vented the jacket by opening the pit zips, loosening the wrist cuffs and undoing the main zip down to the chest.
Truth be told I was weary about using a system that boasts such a high hydrostatic head rating (greater than 20,000mm), as when using similarly performing systems in the past I had overheated and sweat profusely down to being someone who runs hot. Such waterproof systems can sometimes be less breathable in nature and therefore managing moisture from within can be tricky. So far so good though and no dramas with the Apalone, the moisture in the air beading on the outer and the vents managing my body heat.
We progressed onto steeper ground and now in scrambling territory, the jacket taking all the scuffs and scrapes the mountain could through at it. As we gained height the temperature plummeted and a brisk wind picked up, closing off the vents and zips helped keep the harsh weather out and we continued up onto Pen yr Ole Wen (978m).
There was no hanging about as we continued along the high ridge towards Carnedd Dafydd (1044m). The weather deteriorated, with stronger winds coming in from the east, freezing cold spray in the air and deep snow underfoot to contend with – some consolidated and some deep and treacherous, all adding to the difficulty of our outing. The Apalone did a sterling job at keeping the wet weather out and regulating temperature inside, this jacket has a slightly longer tail than some modern jackets, not long enough to cover your backside when sitting down but long enough to keep the rain off until absolutely having to put on shell bottoms.
We pushed onwards to Carnedd Llewelyn (1064), now with deep snow, harsh winds and icy sleet to battle with, the hood came up to keep the elements off my head and neck. The hood is particularly good on the Apalone, a helmet compatible and fully adjustable system that doesn’t feel oversized when loose, it features a stiffened peak and easy to use components for operation with gloved hands. As we topped out and up to the cairn we stopped, added warm layers and waterproof bottoms, and filled up on hot tea and sugary snacks…. it’s the small things that help with morale, especially on a day like today!
As AM turned to PM the weather got progressively worse, the weatherman lied! With visibility now greatly reduced it was time to take a bearing and navigate down into the valley and towards Ffynnon Reservoir. Instead of sunny spells it was now very dark and wet as we followed the trail back to the A5 and along to our car. We felt a sense of achievement but were also glad to be off the mountains and heading towards a much more hospitable and warmer environment. I took off the Apalone, gave it a good shake to rid the beads of water that covered its exterior and packed into my pack, pleased with how it had performed on what had turned out to be a real mountain epic!
Ferox Apalone Hardshell Jacket Verdict
All in all Ferox’s Apalone is a great system that works extremely well in harsh environments. The fit reminds me of a military smock, fitted and articulated but with ample room for additional warm layers, and with a decent tail. It has fully waterproof zips across the whole jacket, some neat smaller pockets on the arms that can take a compass or small GPS, and an internal pocket that will house even the biggest of smart phones.
The Apalone also features an inbuilt RECCO Reflector, a system that helps rescue professionals (worldwide) find you in event of an avalanche, perfect for alpine use or skiing. The chest pockets are well positioned and sit unobstructed above backpack straps, harness or webbing and will fit a folded-up OS Map no problem.
I’ve been quite open about my issues with some GTX jackets in past reviews due to running particularly hot, a problem felt by few but which can be dangerous in mountain environments, as when one sweats in cold environments wind chill can be a stone cold killer…I was however very impressed with the Porrelle membrane, it managed to keep me dry and protected from the outside and within, the fine nylon inner mesh doing a grand job at managing my perspiration. Even though this shell is notably robust and abrasion proof, it still has a soft and none wrinkly finish to it, it tips the scales at 680g (medium) which is a good 100g heavier than a Goretex or eVent equivalent, but lighter than a Paramo system, pretty much what you would expect from a particularly hard wearing, hardcore shell such as this.
This jacket isn’t cheap at £400, but if you take into consideration the fact that the upmost care and attention has been used to pick the best possible fabrics, components and manufacturing techniques then you start to realise its worth….it’s also been military tested so if its good enough for our armed forces, it’s good enough for me (and the rest of the mountain loving community). The Apalone comes in black and Olive Green.
The Ferox Apalone Hardshell Jacket is priced at £400 RRP (at time of publishing)
As a start up company and having successfully sold out of their first batch of Apalone jackets, Ferox are currently preselling their next jacket batch on Kickstarter at a 25% discount, due to ship to buyers in January when they will become available on the website again.
Ferox Apalone Hardshell Jacket features and specifications:
- Waterproof, windproof, highly breathable, 3 layer, 70 denier Nylon
- Abrasion resistant, durable, waterproof 350 denier DuraFil reinforced arms
- Porelle Membrane throughout for breathable waterproofness
- DWR (Durable Water Repellant) Coating
- Chin guard with brushed microsuede for added comfort
- Pit zips allow rapid cooling and access to layers underneath
- Internal breast pocket the fits most mobile phones with YKK Vislon zip
- Two harness-compatible chest pockets
- Laminated Brim
- Adjustable hood drawcords
- Triple-stitched YKK Hypalon cuffs for increased durability
- RECCO Reflector hidden inside brim
- 685g (Medium)
- Hydrostatic Head
- Greater than 20,000mm
- Greater than 25,000g/m²/24