This is almost like a buy-one-get-one-free top from Paramo, by virtue of their reversible Parameta S fabric which behaves differently depending on which way around you wear it.
Designed to be worn next to the skin, the Mountain Vent Pull-On is a simple smock with a furry, velvet face on one side and a smooth face on the other.
The furry, velvet face acts like a micro-fleece, trapping a layer of warm air against your body and keeping you warm and insulated. But it also acts as a wicking layer, sucking any sweat from your body and pumping it outwards to the smooth face from where it can evaporate. Keeping you dry means that you won’t lose as much energy to evaporation when the going gets cold.
Reversing the top leaves you with the smooth side to your skin, which completely changes the way that the top works. It will now hold any moisture against your skin which, when the weather is warm, will help you cool down. And with the furry side on the outside, it no longer traps that layer of insulating air against you, which again helps keep things cool.
When first testing the Mountain Vent Pull-On, I was using it incorrectly… or perhaps naively. I had a chat with Paramo at the recent London Outdoor Show and said that I couldn’t feel much of a difference between the orientations, but was shown how the fabric works best and have now had an opportunity to wear it against my skin. I must now admit my mistake and say that I’m quite impressed. I’ve been wearing the Pull-On against my skin (previously I had a base-layer underneath) and it’s much more obvious how reversing it can change the way it behaves. On a cold morning hike, starting the walk with fleece inwards as I warmed up, and then swapping it around when the sweat kicked in seemed to help regulate my temperature quite well.
Styling wise, the Mountain Vent Pull-On is simple. It has poppers on the wrist cuffs, which looks quite basic, until you realise that it works perfectly when the top is reversed. And aside from the main half-zip which is nice and long for better breezes, it also features two zippered vents at the front of the arms to allow a refreshing armpit breeze through. These require a bit of getting used to, since they’re against your skin in a sensitive area (biceps). At first they got right on my norks, but after a while I forgot about them.
If you’re wearing it smooth-side out, it has a chest pocket which is big enough for a phone or wallet. This is more difficult to get to when it’s reversed though.
It isn’t particularly long in cut, but does have a scooped tail for a little protection when you bend over. The fit is moderately snug, but with more than enough room for raising arms and dancing badly.
Paramo sell the Mountain Vent Pull-On as ideal to wear as a base-layer under their Analogy (active moisture wicking) jackets. Certainly, under one of their Velez Smocks (review coming soon) it was a nice combination for winter hiking with easily adjustable temperatures.
SUMMARY: The Mountain Vent Pull-On is a very adaptable alternative to base and mid-layers for winter, where the temperature can vary between -5 and 10C in a day. Partnered with a close-fitting jacket it is very warm, and worn on its own can be great when the going gets sweaty. Minor annoyance is the location of the arm zips. Note that the world will see your nipples when you reverse it, because it has to be worn next to skin.