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Ridgeline Torrent

Use&Review copy Norfolk_Oct2012_LowRes Badge Ridgeline logo

The Ridgeline range of clothing originates in New Zealand, originally developed for the hunting market, as they are designed to be fully weatherproof and silent. At the end of summer 2012, I was given  Ridgeline Torrent Jacket and trousers to trial and I have spent much of the winter in them!!

 

I had not heard of this range of clothing, so checked out their website on the Internet after receiving this kit to trial. The Ridgeline philosophy is 'that comfortable, durable performance outdoor clothing should be affordable. With grass roots in the rugged New Zealand Mountains, Ridgeline has developed a specialist range of fabrics to suit just about any challenge your environment can throw at you. With the characteristic Ridgeline 'Big Four'- Warmth, Comfort, Durability & Functionality, combined with superior designs and its own 'Hide & Seek' Buffalo Camo, Ridgeline is a market leader and the choice of many hunting and outdoor enthusiasts alike.'

 

I spend as much time as I can outside and I need outdoor gear that performs well in all sorts of conditions, kit that washes well and that keeps me warm, as really feel the cold! My initial reactions to the Torrent coat were good. I have the 'small'size, which is a bit on the big side for me, but the drawstring in the waist meant I could shape it a bit more to my shape. The women's range is very limited in the UK, which is a shame, as I could have done with a size smaller.

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The coat felt substantial, but not too heavy and I really liked its brushed-feel exterior that looked as if it would cope well with brambles and tree climbing without the risk of tear or tagging. The colour was great. I am not a fan of camouflage gear and I get fed up with women's ranges being in pastel colours. This was perfect for me. There are a range of other good design features of this jacket:

Two layer Tricot Quiettex laminated shell, which is water proof and windproof, but breathable.

Quietex

All seams are sealed to ensure they are fully waterproof and windproof.

A range of zipped and velcro pockets inside the jacket. In fact, so many, I often could not find which pocket I had placed something!

Underarm zippers to allow ventilation. These can be useful when you are climbing or walking hard, yet don't want to lose all your heat by removing the coat.

Velcroed clipped cuffs, so you can get a snug fit around the wrist... and keep gloves tucked it!

Removeable hood with adjustment ties to get a good fit for your head without the hood tipping over your face

Chest pockets which I love as they are fleece lined and and more comfortable to use than lower pockets. They also kept my hands warm as they are

close to the

body.

Exterior pockets with studs and zips and side / top entrance

Seam sealed Quiet-TexTM fabric which is 100% waterproof, windproof and abrasion resistant

An elasticized waist with belt loops for an all size comfort fit

Mesh lining

An internal flap pocket

One third length side zips for easy on/off over boots

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I have worn this jacket all winter and it has been through the washing machine twice as well. Just remember not to use fabric conditioner as this can affect the waterproof element of the coat.

 

A good length, particularly at the back also means you can sit on it, as I had to on these rather sharp mussels! The hard-wearing nature of the material meant I have not had to worry about catching or snagging it. I also have a Paramo jacket, which I love, but I won't wear it anywhere near brambles as it is easily snagged. The Ridgeline seems strong enough to cope with all I have presented it with.

 

 

 

I have been thrilled with all aspects of this jacket and I have worn it in all sorts of conditions. These photos (courtesy of Pete Walkden) were taken on a photography trip to Norfolk where, once again, it performed brilliantly in cold and rather windy conditions, keeping me both warm and dry.

I have never been a fan of waterproof trousers... pretty unflattering and hot and clammy usually. The Torrent ones are a different matter altogether. I was worried that these (being a men's small) would be way too big, but they must come up pretty small. With an adjustable waist, these fitted me perfectly. So much more comfortable than any waterproof trousers I have worn before, I can wear these without another pair of trousers underneath. When it has been really cold, I have worn them with leggings and they are brilliant! Warm, comfortable and washable, they are perfect for all sorts of conditions. I really put them to the test on a very cold, wet and muddy day working on my new school Wildlearning area. When we all returned to the staffroom after several hours outside in awful conditions, I removed my Ridgeline coat and trousers and was perfectly clean and dry underneath... the same could not be said about the rest of the crew!

Muddy

Elasticated waist with adjustable cord

All seams are sealed to ensure they are fully waterproof and windproof.

Internal and external pockets

Zips at bottom to allow easy on & off over walking boots

Two layer Tricot Quiettex laminated shell, which is water proof and windproof, but breathable.

Mesh lined, which makes them comfortable and warm to wear

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I can recommend these items without a shadow of a doubt. So far, they have kept me warm and dry and have coped extremely well with my ventures through mud, brambles, up trees and on cold windy Norfolk coasts. A great bit of outdoor clothing for anyone looking for durable, comfortable, functional and great looking gear.

Image: Pete Walkden

Image: Pete Walkden

Image: Pete Walkden

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Ridgeline Monsoon II

Appearance:

 

Compared to most jackets aimed at this niche, it's very well styled and has prompted positive comments from everyone I have spoken to about it, when wearing it. The colour is fine for blending into the countryside without resorting to camouflaging (which I don't like as it makes you look daft anywhere but a nature reserve) and the fabric used is very soft to touch and pretty quiet, which is important when approaching wildlife.

 

Comfort:

 

My main gripe for the jacket is probably down to my own lack of physical flexibility, as I find getting in and out of it rather tricky! There's probably a technique to it and it may loosen up a bit over time, but I think it'd be a struggle to put on or take off the jacket out in the field, without putting everything down first.

 

Once on though, it fits well, has draw-strings to prevent the cold from getting in, and I particularly like the sleeve design, with the inner elasticated cuffs to keep you warm in windy conditions.

 

Practicality:

 

It's a long jacket, so not only keeps the top half of you warm and dry, but also reaches down your legs some way too, and the back of it seems to be designed to allow you to sit on the fabric, adding a bit more protection perhaps on a wet day without the need to be wearing waterproof trousers. The hood is also huge and peaked, and I found it was perfect for shielding my face from the breeze on the beach in Norfolk, when photographing waders - a cross-wind can really hurt my eyes and affect my sight by drying the contact lenses.

 

The fabric is sturdy and with the water-proof lining, obviously sorted for the elements. I've not tested it yet in torrential rain (but then I don't generally go out for photography in such conditions) but I've not got wet when wearing it yet. The material doesn't look like it'd snag easily either, which is a problem for a lot of the cagoule-styled coats. It does pick up bits of fluff though, so probably best to avoid wild flower meadows later in the summer!

 

The downside of having a big jacket made of such a fabric is that it's not something that can easily be folded up into a small space, and packed into a bag.

 

In terms of pockets, it's about right. There are two large chest pockets and the waist ones are lined, and were so warm when wandering around in the snow recently. I like the fact that it's not overloaded with pockets too, unlike some jackets which seem to be striving for a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for providing more pockets that you could possibly ever need, at the expense of the look and feel of the jacket.

 

Verdict:

 

For a jacket, suitable for wildlife watching, for the colder, wetter months of the year (January - December in the UK!) it's a great choice; warm, well styled, practical and durable.

 

Guest Reviewer Pete Walkden (as this jacket was too big for me!!!)