The Ardennes Softshell jacket list price is £90 according to the Berghaus website, but I found it available on-line for around £70-£75. My XL jacket weighs 615g and doesn’t pack down very small at all. It takes up as much room as my Paramo Velez jacket.
As I said, I was sent an XL, which would normally be way too small for either my 6’4″ height, my 48″ chest or my Orangutan like arms! As it turned out, it was a bit tight across the chest, just ever so slightly too short in the length and almost perfect in the arms; so I guess an XXL would have been a better overall fit. If you’re a bit shorter than me then the XL would probably be perfect.
The first thing I didn’t really like was the hi-viz zips on the jacket. They are easy to slide up and down, but they do contrast starkly with the rest of the jacket and I actually like an understated grey or black, so would have been happier with zips that blended.
The jacket is warm – probably too warm for a summer walk and the fleece-like liner makes it perfect for early spring or autumn, using the jacket above a baselayer and carrying your full waterproof jacket in your pack. It kept the wind out though and so I’d be happy to use it on colder walks in the summer, but probably kept in the car boot to see how the weather looked when I got to the start of the walk.
The other thing I didn’t initially like was the lack of an outer chest pocket. It has two side pockets as you can see from the photo, but nowhere to stash my phone (which is also my map and my GPS). It has two internal side pockets, (see photo below) but getting access to these when you have a pack on is rather difficult. Not only does the waist belt restrict their depth to almost nothing, but if I have my chest strap on I struggle to gain access to them at all. So in terms of versatility, I wasn’t overly impressed.
I was impressed with the DWR coating on the jacket though – this makes it quite water repellent and although not a full waterproof garment, it did shed the water quite well before it began to wet out and I had to switch to my coat.
On the whole I liked the jacket, but not sure it ticks enough boxes for me to carry it in my pack. The addition of a chest pocket would make a huge difference to that opinion and it then becomes a competitor to my current favourite jacket and my new benchmark for functional and versatile softshells (the Regatta Nitrus Jacket I was asked to test recently).
I will do another test once I’ve worn it a couple more times and probably once it’s been tested in autumnal weather, on a colder walk.