Unless it’s belting down hard or it’s that persistent winter drizzle that we get sometimes, you can generally get away with wearing a softshell jacket in the UK. But if you do, you want one which cuts the cold wind down and fends off a mild rain or snow or you’ll forever be stopping to layer up as you need it.
The Cristallo Softshell from Berghaus is a winter jacket which combines Gore’s WINDSTOPPER with a fleecey inner and a water-repellent shell to keep the elements at bay.
Tested recently in snow and biting cold winds, the Cristallo has been extremely good at keeping me snug underneath. The sample jacket sent over is a roomy fit rather than the recent fashion of snugness, so it’s been teamed up with various combinations of base and mid-layers and none have ever proven uncomfortably warm or sweaty.
The jacket itself is quite heavy and thick for a softshell, which sort of helps the psychological aspect of it ‘feeling’ warm, but the enormous pit zips tell tale of the fact that should it not be cold and windy outside the Cristallo might be a little too warm. I think it should probably be seen as a winter weather jacket rather than a year-round one like lesser softshells.
The cut of the Cristallo is interesting. It’s noticeably long in the body and quite long in the sleeve too. This felt odd at first, but makes perfect sense when you’ve worn it for a while because it helps water run off past your waist and helps you keep flesh from peeping out when you bend or stretch. That said, the elasticated waist works perfectly for hoiking it up and sealing out any draughts.
The Cristallo has a large hood which seems to have been made compatible with helmets. The drawstrings do a good job of sealing out the elements and the chin piece is high and lined with soft fleece to play the velcro-effect with your beard or protect your lips. The peak is floppy, but seems to do an OK job of keeping rain out of your eyes. (caveat – we haven’t had any hard raid whilst it’s been on test)
The softshell material has a degree of stretch to it which means unencumbered movement if you’re climbing, lifting or throwing sticks. I never thought twice about any restriction in movement, which suggests that it’s not as issue. The sleeves are ended in soft elasticated cuffs to stop any drips or gusts going up your sleeves. These have thumb holes in which are useful for a little more hand warmth or when pulling on an over-jacket in very cold conditions. I like to expose my wrists when I’m getting a bit sweaty, and the cuffs don’t allow that too easily which is a personal thing but others may be interested.
I’ve used Gore’s WINDSTOPPER fabric for many years on the motorbike, where you’re subjected to constant cold blasts whilst not doing much physical activity. I don’t think I’ve ever been as cold as on a few winter rides I can remember, and I can attest to the difference that the fabric can make in helping you conserve heat. The difference it makes on the hill, particularly when you’ve been walking uphill and get to the summit, stop and cool down rapidly is impressive. It really does work very well.
Styling wise, the Cristallo is fairly simple, but effective. Large panels of material in 2 colours with a little attention to sculpting make for an attractive jacket. The contrasting zippers in acid green all zip well and seal out the elements – although they’re not waterproof zippers.
All in all the Cristallo is a nice offering. It’s warm, mostly by virtue of its complete windproofing, and it will keep light rain at bay. The fit is comfy and the look is good.
SUMMARY: The Cristallo is a winter softshell which kills off 100% of the wind and thus keeps you warm. It is water resistant and has stood up very well to snow. The long fit covers up any stretching midriff and the relaxed fit makes it flow with your body as you move. I’ve very much enjoyed wearing the Cristallo this winter.