I start with the outerwear. I have average waterproof shell pants and jacket which I bought about 5 years ago. Pretty OK, but not exactly lightweight. Well, now Gore-tex has a promising thing called PACLITE® Shell which "combines extreme breathability and durable wind- and waterproofness with minimum weight and pack volume". Sounded ideal to me.
After some research I found the Berghaus Paclite pants and jacket. They seemed to have all the good features I needed. Go for it. When the package arrived, I was really impressed. Look at the picture below, compared with my old pants and jacket (on the left), the Berghaus duo (on the right) looked tiny! And still the quality feels just superb.
Looking at the hard figures, the saving in both weight and volume is really significant. The overall saved weight is about 1.5 kg, and the whole pac is almost 10 L smaller:
|Weight (g)||Pants||Jacket||Total||Volume (L)||Pants||Jacket||Total|
|Old||1045 g||940 g||1985 g||Old||6.1 L||6.3 L||12.4 L|
|New||218 g||348 g||566 g||New||0.8 L||1.6 L||2.4 L|
|Saving||-827 g||-592 g||-1419 g||Saving||-5.2 L||-4.7 L||-9.9 L|
|Saving (%)||-79%||-63%||-71%||Saving (%)||-86%||-75%||-80%|
Total saving about 70-80%! So how's the other side of the coin? Having used this outwear a few times, I haven't yet found it. This outfit feels very good in use. Of course, like any other waterproof shell, it's a bit "sweaty" in heavy use, but clearly less than my old heavier gear. The very thin structure seems to allow better breathability. But Berghaus set is still completely waterproof.
The downside of the thinness might be reduced durability. I've used the outfit just a few times, so it's too early to say anything final. So far I haven't seen any signs of weakness.
The Berghaus team have designed some clever features. Firstly, the pants and jacket both come with the lightweight and handy "stuff bags" where they pack neat and tight (pic 1 below). I attached the stuff bags with cable ties in the jacket/pants so they don't get lost. Very handy. As soon as the rain is over, you just pack the shell in their 0.8L/1.6L tiny bags.
The two features that kayakers will like are the well-designed sleeves and the hood. Sleeves (pic 2) can be tightened with velcro to avoid any water coming in when the hand occasionally is dipped in the sea while paddling. The hood (pic 3) protects from cold winds and dripping water.
Additional very clever feature are the side zips of the pants. The zip opens almost the full length (3/4) allowing very effective thermal control. There is a clever snap fastener in the middle, at knee height (pic 4), to keep the whole thing nicely together even when the zipper is fully open.