Not so my winter coat. My Aspira Jacket – circa 2007 and a honeymoon present, so I better hope that I don’t get THAT year wrong. This is red and proud to be red. As a winter coat, visibility isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and I only have a preference for black for trousers generally. Coats and base layers, especially base layers I like colourful, and running means that you can legitimately wear fluoro yellow.
I digress. The Paramo Aspira Jacket, also available as a smock, is Paramo’s premier winter jacket. Designed for outdoor enthusiasts who love to get out there all year round, it’s suitable for winter walking and climbing thanks to the huge hood that accommodates a helmet with ease. The only thing it isn’t recommended for is summer use as it can be rather warm in use – perfectly suited to use the rest of the year and not just winter use.
The jacket is generously sized to incorporate a mid layer or two, and vented to help cool you down slightly. There’s only pit zips, so this is limited compared to other offerings by Paramo that have longer side zips, but the front zip can be opened if you get rather warm.
There’s a multitude of pockets, including one cavernous front pocket to the left that comfortably takes an OS map and other bits and pieces. I’ve found that the pocket can somehow attract sweat, so be careful of storing your phone in there. On the right is a smaller, velcroed pocket with a lanyard point designed for a compass or similar and two further smaller pockets either side that I think I’ve only ever used when trying to open the pit zips. Finally there’s a secure pocket inside that’s probably the best one to keep valuables, but I’d still use a drybag to be safe.
Being paramo, and made from their Analogy fabric, you’re not buying a jacket as much as investing in one as they’re so easily re-proofed that mine is as good as new after nearly five years’ serious use. I expect it to last that long again and will probably only swap it for a newer model when it becomes dog eared or I look like one of those people in neon 90s colour jackets do today. In fact, it’s let me down only once, and that was because the proofer was out of date. After all that use, the only real sign of wear is where the pack has rubbed against the cords inside the jacket and left a black mark. It isn’t ideal, and I’d like to get the jacket perfectly clean, but it’s still as effective on the mountain as it ever was so a bit of grubbiness I can live with.
If you’re serious about your walking and get out in all weathers, all year round then this jacket is as good as any. Of course, you may ask if it’s as effective as traditional shells such as Gore-Tex. It’s certainly kept me dry, and as it channels moisture away from your body, you don’t get overly sweaty – though I’ve had sweat oddly drip from my cuffs at one point, which while it was strange only goes to prove that it does a good job of moving that sweat away. If you’ve got wet hair then I’ve found that the hood can help wick most of it away – leaving it towel dry.
TL;DR – Serious four season jacket for the serious mountaineer, so the only question remaining is what the hell am I doing with one?