It’s all very well being fashion conscious, but when you’re stuck outdoors and the weather has turned you need gear that’s going to perform and keep you comfortable and alive. The Paramo Torres Core and Sleeves combo falls into the latter category, with ‘only its mother loves it’ looks, but a stonking set of credentials.
I was given the Torres set some months ago with assurances by Paramo’s marketing team that they would rock my world. They didn’t. They got home and were placed on a pile where I occasionally looked at them, furrowed my brow and found other things to test. They just confused me; scared me even. I couldn’t get my head around them. After an embarrassingly long period of avoiding them altogether I finally plucked up both the courage and the facial hair to don the ensemble and head off for a walk in crappy, blustery and damp weather, and I’m very glad I did.
You see, I’m still deeply in love with my Paramo Torres Smock – which is the warmest piece of gear I own and my choice for late night campfire singsongs – and the Torres Core and Sleeves seem just as warm immediately that you put them on. It’s like being wrapped in a snuggly blanket of heat, but with the advantage of being lighter and easier to pack down than the smock. They have a different, thinner outer fabric than the smock which is a very fine ripstop material much more stylistically like Rab or North Face insulating jackets than Paramo’s traditional heavier outer fabric.
Beneath the outer layer lies a bed of Paramo’s synthetic Analogy Insulator, which keeps you warm, wicks any sweat away from your base layers and performs extremely well when wet. Paramo don’t sell the Torres as ‘Waterproof’, but in my practical tests this combo has stood up to very heavy rain indeed without me feeling damp underneath.
The Gilet (bodywarmer) part of the set works absolutely brilliantly on cold, crisp mornings when you’d be a bit too warm if you wore a full midlayer, but a bit too cold in just a baselayer. In combination with a long-sleeved top, its full length zip and short shoulder-only sleeves mean you get plenty of venting if you need it, but plenty of warmth too.
The Torres Core has two zippered hand pockets which are also instantly warm, and a third inside pocket which will save your phone or map from a rainstorm.
The Core has a built-in hood which is big enough for a helmet, but unlike the Smock doesn’t have a wired peak to keep rain from your eyes. It does have some adjustable bungee cords to fine-tune the fit, and does a good job of sealing out wind when needed.
And so we get to the Sleeves, which are actually sold on their own and Paramo assures me are quite a popular product. I’ll be totally honest and say that I don’t have a need for them without the Core, but I can appreciate that some people do. Paramo market them as ideal for photographers and people who need to keep their arms and hands warm and responsive when they don’t need a full-on insulated jacket. What’s neat is that they can be put on over any jacket, and even over a pack since they’d just sit on top of the straps.
But back to the Core and Sleeves as a combination…
At £140 the combination costs exactly the same as the Torres Jacket on its own, but it offers those who need it a fairly unique adaptability, and extends the wearable period of what is a very warm jacket by at least a season into late spring and early autumn, when the temperature has dipped but doesn’t require the full jacket. The combination also offers those of you with unique requirements to heat either your core or your arms a solution that other jackets don’t.
SUMMARY: It’s a bit bonkers. It’s not to everyone’s taste. But, there’s no denying that the Torres Core and Sleeve combo is a brilliantly performing insulator and an innovative idea. More adaptable than a plain jacket for no extra cost, I can see this combo developing a small cult following. It’s rainproof and works well when wet. It’s grown on me a lot and I can’t find fault.