I’ve met the marketing team at Paramo. They’re very pleasant. You wouldn’t necessarily realise that they’re masters of the dark arts, but behind their smiley exteriors must lie Hogwartian hearts. It’s the only explanation I can come up with for how their Analogy system works – Witchcraft.
I’d never worn Paramo gear before, but I’d heard a lot about it and it was in my top-three brands to try out this winter. You see, Paramo are one of a couple of British brands which take the conventional wisdom of clothes layering and turn it on its head.
Instead of saying:
wicking base-layer > warm mid-layer >waterproof outer-layer
the Paramo way is:
wicking base-layer > waterproof outer-layer > waterproof warm-layer when you need it
And the claim is that each outer layer effectively sucks water off the layer beneath it and pushes it out away from your body, so that you can put this Torres Smock on over an already soaking wet jacket.
So, in the name of GearWeAre I strode off one very cold, very windy and very wet day, wearing a very lightweight Paramo jacket (reviewed separately later) and within half an hour was thoroughly cold, covered in rain and borderline miserable. It was time to put on the Torres Smock over the top of my already soaked jacket.
I’d love to say that there was a flash, a puff of smoke or the whisper of incantation on the wind, but Paramo’s magic is much more subtle than that – truly dark arts indeed. Over the course of the next 30 minutes I became very warm and toasty, comfortable and most impressively… dry.
Honestly, when I slipped the Torres Smock off I was expecting a clammy jacket underneath, but it was bone dry, and so was the inside layer of the Torres itself. It wasn’t even damp to the touch.
I was as gobsmacked as a child seeing the disappearing hankie trick for the first time.
Magical mysteries aside for a moment, the Torres Smock (smock meaning that it has a half-zip and you pull it on over your head – they do a jacket version too) is 800 grammes (not the lightest) of pure warm padding in a soft, waterproof shell. It’s like wearing a sleeping bag as soon as you put it on, as it gives an instant warmth.
It features a great, padded hood with wired peak to keep rain off your face. It’s exceptionally warm around the ears, if a little bit rustly when you’re moving.
A single zippered chest pocket is ample to shove a phone, wallet or cheese sandwich into, and my personal favourite part is the large cross-belly pocket which allows you to join hands and warm your frozen digits yourself. Initially I was concerned about keeping things in this pocket, since it’s not zippered, but during a couple of hikes, throwing balls for the dog, nothing ever fell out and it didn’t fill with rain.
There are also a couple of internal, zippered mesh pockets for stashing items, or as Paramo state drying wet clothing using your body heat!
I was caught out by a total train-related fail a few weeks ago, and forced to walk several miles in very cold conditions. I lost the feeling in my denim-clad legs, but under the Torres I was toasty warm in just a cotton T-shirt. This would be my number one choice for a cold evening’s camping or as something to slip on during a hiking rest-stop.
At £100 the Torres Smock is very keenly priced against other insulated waterproof jackets. You can easily pay more than that for a similar, albeit slightly lighter jacket from Rab, TNF or Mountain Equipment.
Paramo loaned us a bunch of clothing to test, but the Torres Smock is so warm, waterproof and handy that I’m going to buy it from them for my own use.
SUMMARY: The Torres Smock is very, very warm indeed. It’s waterproof and since it uses Paramo’s Analogy system, it also sucks water off any garment underneath it and helps dry off your mid-layers. You can buy lighter jackets, if this is something you’d just stuff at the base of your pack for a hike, but for the price, and with just enough features that you’re not left wanting for anything, the Torres is a superb deal.