Páramo’s ethos is to create high-performing waterproofs without wearers having to sacrifice environmental and ethical principles. It’s a bold philosophy and Páramo are making great steps to achieve it. A case in point is the Alta III jacket, an extremely warm, waterproof and breathable jacket with superb ethical and environmental credentials.
All Paramo products are guaranteed Fair Trade by the World Fair Trade Organisation, and the brand’s long-term partnership with the Miquelina Foundation in Colombia – where the garments are made – provides employment for vulnerable women and practical support for their families. The fabrics used are environmentally sound, too. Firstly, unlike most other outdoor brands, Nikwax – the waterproof fabric used in Páramo’s garments – has never used PFCs because of the high risk of exposure to the consumer and environment. Secondly, Páramo products are made to last and can be easily repaired and re-waterproofed, removing the need to buy a new jacket every few years. And finally, the Páramo Recycling Scheme means you can return your jacket to Páramo once you’re done with it, to be either reused or recycled, and in exchange you’ll receive a discount on new Páramo products.
So, what about performance? The first thing you’ll notice about the Alta III jacket is its softness, from the cosy, meshed inner fabric to the almost indulgent outer. It doesn’t feel like it should be waterproof but, thanks to the Nikwax Analogy Waterproof fabric, it is. In Páramo’s lab, the jacket resisted more than four hours of heavy rain, five times the intensity of normal heavy rain in the UK. On review, it lived up to this, performing strongly in substantial downpours. The jacket is warm, too – the warmest on test – which is no surprise given that it weighs 805g (men’s medium). But one of the most impressive things about the Alta III is its ability to be warm, waterproof and breathable. In fact, Páramo and Nikwax have gone one step further by creating a jacket that is, as they put it, ‘directional’, meaning it moves both water vapour and liquid water away from your body, thus avoiding water build-up in your clothing system.
There are lots of other features that make this jacket a great option for winter walking and backpacking. The adjustable hood with firm, wired peak offers good visibility and can be tighten securely over your head, and the adjustable cuffs provide enough wiggle room to wear thick gloves inside the jacket. There are six pockets in total: two waist-high pockets for warming your hands; two external chest pockets – one with hook and loop closure and D-ring attachment, and one for OS maps; and two internal zipped chest pockets – one large and one small – for safe stowing of maps and valuables. The central front zip, with inner storm flap and buttons, is easily fastened and pulled up, even when wearing gloves.
The fit of the jacket is quite generous, allowing for freedom of movement and under-layering. It’s also quite a long jacket, designed to protect your upper legs and backside from wind and rain. If there was one downside to the Alta III, it would be its bulk – it’s pack-down size is a little larger than most other jackets on review – but for the sake of guaranteeing warmth and waterproofing on a winter adventure, it’s a sacrifice worth making.
Alta III jacket specifications
- Weight: 805g (men’s medium).
- Material: Nikwax Analogy fabric system, providing unrivalled waterproof protection and moisture management.
- Maker’s waterproof rating: tested in the Leeds University Rainroom to resist at least four hours of heavy rain, which is approximately five times the intensity of normal heavy rain in the UK.
- Breathability: Directionality in fabric means “the ability of the fabric or the fabric system to move liquid water to where you want it”. Fantastic ventilation and temperature regulation from long upper arm vents.
- Hood: Fully adjustable hood guarantees vision in all conditions and can be stowed away when not in use.
- Pockets: Six practical pockets: Two waist-high hand-warming pockets; two external chest pockets (one with hook and loop closure and D-ring attachment, and one for OS maps); two internal zipped chest pockets – one large and one small – for safe stowing of maps and valuables.
- Sustainability: PFC-free water repellent finish. Produced in Colombia by MIQUELINA, a member of the World Fair Trade Organization. Guaranteed Fair Trade. Fully recyclable through Páramo.
Available in a range of colours for women and men. The women’s version of the Alta III jacket varies in cut, colour and weight (702g, women’s medium). It has one less chest pocket than the men’s version, though the rest of the jacket shares the same features.
Páramo Velez jacket
This slim-fitting jacket is soft but durable, and the close-fitting hood is extremely effective. Paramo will make repairs, which should extend the life of the jacket, and a recycling scheme is available once repair is impossible.