We were delighted when the good folks at Dark Peak Gear invited us to try out the brand new, lightweight, insulated NESSH jacket. So where better to head, accompanied by our trusty springer spaniel, Fern, than amongst the gritstone and heather of the Dark Peak itself?
In our part of the world, you may be called "nesh" if you put the central heating on in your home months before the icy blasts of winter roll in (August, say), or if you are prone to wearing an extra layer, "just to keep the cold off". But with the NESSH jacket, you might be able to avoid doing either, as it is claimed to be "the warmest jacket ever." In fact, it will keep two people warm. We will discover why.
Dark Peak is a new brand based in Sheffield. Their first, lightweight jacket is being launched in 2019 after a successful crowdfunding campaign and here it is; the NESSH jacket.
The jacket uses 850 Fill Power, responsibly sourced goose down within its 10D ripstop nylon shell fabric. This is towards the top end of the typical scale for down clothing, which ranges from 550FP to 900FP. The benefit of higher Fill Power down is that it traps more insulating air pockets than lower quality down, providing more warmth.
Dark Peak have used down that is compliant with the Responsible Down Standard, to ensure that the down comes from animals which have not been subjected to any unnecessary harm. Whats more, if down just isn't your thing, there is an alternative version filled with 3M featherless synthetic insulation that mimics the insulating properties of down.
First impressions when you pick up the jacket is that they really do mean lightweight. This is super lightweight. The official weight is 340g. The version I tried was the XL, which I measured at 370g. For comparison, the Rab Microlight weighs 455g. Small gains can make a big difference when you consider that the jacket packs down into its own pocket, to be easily fitted in to your backpack.
This type of jacket is best used as a mid layer and they tend to be water resistant, rather than waterproof. They would keep you dry in a shower and would be quick to dry afterwards, particularly the synthetic version, but you would need a waterproof outer shell in prolonged wet conditions. The NESSH does provide great resistance to wind and water though.
Dark Peak's proprietary 10D Ripstop nylon shell is strong and light and should be resistant to tears. On our test, brushes with jagged outcrops of gritstone didn't damage the jacket at all and the buffeting February winds on the exposed landscape of the Roaches didn't have any impact. Unusually, the outer fabric also appears inside the jacket to provide further protection from the elements.
There are lots of clever little details in the design of the jacket, to aid comfort, such as the built in wrist gaiters which loop around your thumbs and help to keep your hands warm. They can be tucked away inside the elasticated cuff if not needed.
The insulated hood includes an elastic cord adjuster at the back, and there is also a cord adjuster for the hem. The cut of the jacket is slightly longer at the back which is good for climbs or scrambles. There are no shortage of pockets either, with two zipped hand warmer pockets on the outside, as well as 2 large inner pockets, ideal for gloves and a smaller, zipped, chest phone pocket on the inside too, which easily fits my iPhone X with plenty of room to spare.
Another interesting design feature is the Verti-Stretch vertical side baffles which expand or contract according to your physique, improving comfort for the wearer, especially for various degrees of layering underneath.
The YKK zip on the front of the jacket does take some getting used to. It is designed so that you can unzip the jacket from the top or the bottom so if you are wearing a climbing harness, the zip can be adjusted to fit. It also means that the bottom of the jacket might unzip slightly when sitting down, which isn't a problem. However, it does make it slightly fiddly to fasten. The two parts of the zip have to be particularly close together in order for the zip to connect properly, so there can be a slight element of frustration until you get the hang of it. It's a worthwhile side effect of the added versatility of the two way zip though.
I've previously owned both synthetic and down jackets and can appreciate the advantages of both. Due to its better performance in wet weather, many people prefer the versatility of the synthetic insulation which will still keep you warm when it is damp, unlike down which becomes cold. But in dry conditions the down insulation is warmer, lighter and generally longer lasting. Dark Peak have provided a viable and compelling alternative, whichever you prefer.
As well as the choice of down or synthetic insulation, there are a range of options for women and men, across 5 different colours, each with a different inner lining colour, as well as versions with or without hoods.
So we've established that the NESSH is versatile, comfortable, super light and warm. But did we say it could keep two people warm? That's because Dark Peak have decided to adopt a One Sold, One Given model.
One Sold, One Given means that, for every NESSH jacket that they sell, Dark Peak will donate another jacket to person affected by homelessness, in the country you live in. This is a fantastic project which involves working with charities to develop and distribute a suitable jacket, designed to be as hard wearing and warm as possible; long cut with a deep hood, synthetic insulation and a tough shell.
So the NESSH really can keep two people warm.
A coat with class leading credentials, comfort and, most importantly, a conscience.
We think Dark Peak Gear are on to a winner with the NESSH jacket and we can't wait to see what other projects they come up with in the future. Keep checking our blog, as we'll post a long-term update later in the year.
Find out more at www.darkpeakgear.com.
Fern thoroughly enjoyed her testing of the NESSH jacket too. She likes to be involved.