There are times when doing this job you are just so pleased to have a certain item of kit and the Snugpak Tomahawk Jacket is one of those, writes Mike Gormley.
It was particularly timely when Snugpak sent me one of their recently introduced Tomahawk jackets to try. We had long been planning a trip to Scotland for March and knew it would at best be chill, and might even be cold and quite possibly wet, so it was a most welcome addition to the kit list. Even before we left, the Tomahawk was gaining ‘brownie points’ as an easy to wear cosy jacket.
However, as we got into the Western Isles and further north the Tomahawk was never far from my reach. We travelled north in good weather but as we made our first ferry crossing, from Ardrossan to Brodick on the Isle of Arran, the jacket quickly proved its worth. Hanging around on an exposed quayside, the Tomahawk provided a welcome cosy place to be. Once on the ferry and being one of those that have to be on deck to take in the sights, a scenario to be repeated many times during our trip, this Snugpak jacket soon showed its true colours against the chilly wind. The Paratex Light outer shell fabric (Paratex Micro for the MultiCam option) was clearly working well to keep the wind out and Snugpak’s own Softie insulation was also doing its job well.
It was soon very apparent with this jacket that although its performance would often seem to be very OTT, with Comfort rating down to minus 15C and Low to minus 20C, it actually seemed to slot well into the sort of garment you can wear more of less any time and still remain very comfortable. Perhaps there were times when others must have thought I was a bit of a ‘southern softy’ but I know I was content in the place I was in! As our trip progressed further north and we got out on the hills I became ever more pleased to have this jacket. As soon as I got out of my Land Rover it was on.
It has to be said that this jacket, although not classed as waterproof, can happily be worn in the rain; something which I did on a number of occasions, including during some very heavy showers. As for the cold winds, it keeps them out very well indeed.
Dependent on the local weather the Tomahawk could be zipped up and sometimes the hood was up as well. The hood is easy to remove and refit, but on our trip I mostly had it on and ready to go as and when needed. The hook and loop at both sides and the back zip fixing system is neat and works well. The front baffled zip comes right up under your chin to seal off the wearer against the elements and keep the warm where it should be… inside.
The top inner zip baffle and neck area are covered in brushed polyester, as are the main pocket inners, which adds significantly to user warmth and general comfort. There are also useful pockets on the left arm, left chest and inner chest. Mind you, it would be handy if all of these had the pull tags found on some of the zips. Cold gloved fingers need all the help they can get when working zips.
This is a ‘generously sized’ jacket adding to the cosiness, which is enhanced by drawcords each side of the hem and especially the significant scooped lower back which does a great job keeping the cold out of those areas so often exposed when you bend over. This extension is generous enough to be able to tuck it in under the ‘back cheeks’ to keep the breeze out when sitting down. Also great at keeping the wind out are the adjustable cuffs on the arms.
Produced in five sizes, from S through to XXL, the Tomahawk is available in Olive (as here) or MultiCam; the latter being a little bit more expensive on account of the intellectual property rights licence fees payable on the camouflage pattern material. As is usually the case with Snugpak insulated garments, the jacket comes with its own stuff sack and this makes it easier to contain when not being worn. In these days of increasing fuel bills perhaps it could be used around the home – it’s okay, nobody is looking.
Finally, we met an inspirational couple while walking on a remote beach on Skye when I was wearing my Tomahawk on a chilly, breezy day. John has MND and when we met we learnt of the expeditions they will soon to be doing in Nepal and Norway. I noticed they were eyeing up the jacket. Story cut short, we kept in touch and they will be taking their own Tomahawks with them on their expeditions. A very good choice in my view.
[ images Jean or Mike Gormley]
Editor’s Footnote: Mike’s ‘southern softy’ comment made me smile as it reminded me of my mate’s words as we briskly strolled between The Holt and The Vine late one weekend evening during that really cold spell in March. He said: “I know we ‘extract the urine’ when you walk into the warm pub wearing one of your [Snugpak] MultiCam insulated jackets, but tonight I really wish I’d had your foresight!” How does that old saying go? Any mug can be uncomfortable?