This is a review of Paramo clothing that I’ve owned for the past year or so. I will be specifically reviewing the men’s Cascada II trousers, the Bentu fleece, the Bentu windproof jacket and the Torres Alturo jacket. I have tested them all for hiking purposes in both the UK summer and winter.
Paramo Directional Clothing is a British company based in East Sussex, founded by Nick Brown (who also started Nikwax). I first came across their products when I saw Chris Townsend wearing some, and it really appealed to me for several reasons.
Advantages of Paramo clothing
Firstly, Paramo clothing is specifically designed for typically British humid and cool environments. Conventional waterproofs often struggle in these conditions, but Paramo clothing claims to continue to perform because it not only directs moisture vapour but also expels condensed liquid water.
Secondly, appealing to my low-cost and low-impact philosophy, Paramo claim that their clothing can be indefinitely renewed by caring for them with Nikwax products. Conventional waterproofs can eventually crack or or the seams loosen, making repair or re-waterproofing pointless.
Linked to this durability is the fact that the Paramo clothing will stand much more abuse than conventional waterproofs. If you puncture the fabric, it still won’t leak. According to the Paramo website, you could fill the garment with pins, take them out, wear the garment in the rain, and still remain dry.
The final appealing advantage is the silent fabric. Flappy, rustly and cruchy waterproofs tend to annoy me on a long walk. Paramo clothing is made from silent and flexible fabrics. This also allows easy and efficient packing, as ‘stuffing’ does not harm them. Bonus.
Breathable vs waterproof?
When I wear conventional waterproofs, I find I often overheat and then sweat because they don’t breathe very well. I’m then forever wasting time stopping to take the waterproofs off or put them on as it stops or starts raining. This is particularly annoying with trousers.
I don’t have this problem with the Paramo clothing as it breathes so well. This is because the Paramo clothing doesn’t have the usual physical barrier that prevents water getting through (or out again). Instead, Paramo works with Nikwax (unsurprising as the same person invented both). It repels water and wicks it from inside to outside the garment. This is fantastic if, like me, you sweat a lot and don’t want to keep adding or removing layers.
However, I have found the Paramo clothing is not absolutely waterproof if you’re out in heavy rain all day. You will get damp inside, so I’ve found wearing merino wool base layers underneath works well. Merino still feels warm even when it’s damp. But saying that, I would often be just as wet inside a conventional hard shell waterproof jacket or trousers (from condensation or sweat).
Overall, I much prefer the Paramo clothing for breathability. The base layers dry fairly quickly when the rain stops.
Paramo Cascada II Trousers
The Paramo Cascada II waterproof trousers (32″ waist) weigh 481g.
The Paramo Cascada II trousers are designed to be worn all day, whether it is raining or not. This removes the need to keep pulling waterproof overtrousers on or off if it starts (or stops) raining. They have generous leg ventilation (as you can see in the picture above) so you can regulate your temperature.
However, I have found that I can only use the Paramo Cascada trousers during the colder months of the year (late autumn through to early spring). They are too warm for me in the summer, even with the leg vents open.
In the right weather conditions (cool and wet), they are absolutely fantastic trousers. They are so breathable and comfortable that you can wear them next to your skin all day. These are now by far my favourite walking trousers and I will be wearing them on every out-of-summer hike.
Paramo Bentu Fleece
The Paramo Bentu fleece jacket (medium) weighs 417g.
The Bentu fleece can work alone as a high wicking, warm mid-layer, or in combination with the Bentu windproof as a waterproof system. It doesn’t feel like a traditional fleece, but it is hard-wearing, comfortable and reasonably warm.
The Bentu fleece has two zipped hand pockets, and a decent-sized chest pocket (useful for phone and gloves). The fleece is water-repellant in its own right, and I found it enough in drizzly weather. However, in proper rain, the fleece works really well with the Bentu windproof to create a waterproof system.
Paramo Bentu Windproof Jacket
The Paramo Bentu windproof jacket (medium) weighs 433g.
Paramo claim that if you wear the Bentu fleece and Bentu windproof jacket together, it is the equivalent of one of their waterproof jackets.
I’ve found this to be completely true, and the fleece and windproof jacket combination have a massive advantage over a single waterproof jacket. The two garments give you much more flexibility to adapt to the weather conditions, as either can be worn by itself.
I love this windproof jacket. The wired hood has a peak, and it can be pulled in tight around your face when it’s windy. The lining is breathable and comfortable. It has four zipped and well-placed pockets. None of them are big enough for a map in my opinion, but they are perfect for gloves, phone and snacks.
After wearing this, I can’t see myself going back to using a hard shell conventional waterproof jacket.
Paramo Torres Alturo Insulated Jacket
The Paramo Torres Alturo jacket (medium) weighs 668g.
The Paramo Torres Alturo jacket is designed as an overlayer in sustained low temperatures. It is surprisingly lightweight (as Paramo clothing goes) for how warm it is. It has synthetic insulation so it stays warm even when it’s wet through. However, the jacket is surprisingly waterproof anyway.
I found the Paramo Torres Alturo jacket perfect as an extra warm layer to put on at stops. It works brilliantly with the Bentu fleece and windproof jackets, allowing them to continue to breathe.
Paramo clothing is perfect for the drizzly UK. It breathes really well which is great if you’re likely to be working hard and sweating a lot. It doesn’t keep me 100% dry from rain, but then it doesn’t trap sweat like a conventional hard shell jacket.
When I use waterproof hard shell jackets and trousers, I’ve quickly become clammy, sweaty and often cold inside them. I waste a lot of time constantly taking them off or putting them on. I don’t have that issue with the Bentu fleece and windproof system. The combination works really well together in most temperatures, and in winter, I add the Paramo Torres Alturo jacket for extra warmth. These three layers work exceptionally well together. They all breathe really well and wearing the Torres Alturo jacket increases the overall waterproofing substantially.
Because the Paramo clothing is so breathable, you can get a bit damp wearing it. I’ve found that it’s best to wear merino wool base-layers underneath. These regulate my body temperature, transfer sweat away from my body and they stay warm even when damp.
Paramo clothing can sometimes be too warm for the summer. It’s also fairly heavy if you’re likely to be carrying it in your pack. However, the flexibility of the system means that you often don’t need to carry other layers, which offsets the additional weight.
Paramo clothing could be seen as reasonably expensive. However, when you consider that it is designed to last and can be indefinitely renewed, I consider it to be a worthwhile investment.
Overall, the Paramo clothing is my absolute favourite waterproof system. When mixed with merino wool base layers, it’s my perfect hiking clothing combination for the UK.
5-day high level wild-camping circuit of the Lake District in the snow wearing the Cascada II trousers, Bentu fleece, Bentu windproof and Torres Alturo jacket.
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