We’re having our house refurbished at the moment, which means that in order to avoid the clouds of acrid dust being developed by various tradesmen called Terry and Bob, we have to go out and find things to do no matter what the weather. Yesterday found us walking up Holmbury Hill, which is a beautiful part of Surrey where you can see for miles when it’s sunny. Unfortunately it wasn’t sunny, and in fact it was absolutely heaving down with rain that seemed to be coming upwards as well as the more traditional downwards.
I was wearing the Paramo Velez Adventure Smock, which I’ve had on test for the last month now but not really been able to give the full gamut of conditions to before yesterday. It has previously proven a good match for strong winds and chilly mornings when layered up with a fleece, but rain was an untested entity.
I’m pleased to say that it coped as well as I’ve come to expect from Paramo’s Analogy fabrics. It shed water like a duck’s undercarriage, and the various elastic bungees which can be tightened at neck, face and waist kept out every last drop and gust of wind.
The Velez smock is styled with a single large pocket across your belly, which can make you look as if you’re pregnant with a peculiarly-shaped baby, but is actually a very comfortable way of carrying everything from keys to maps to lunch. It doesn’t get in the way of backpack straps or waistbags, and is cavernous enough for a good hike’s essentials.
The Velez smock is also styled with a peculiar double zip arrangement either side of your belly which doubles as ventilation – that works excellently when you get hot – and as access to two internal zippered hand-warming pockets. Once you’ve found these pockets, which isn’t the easiest thing with cold and wet hands, they work extraordinarily well at both drying and warming your digits. I did have concerns that rain would funnel down my arms and into the pocket, but this proved unfounded because the Analogy materials soak up and pump out any moisture so even a cotton T-shirt underneath the Smock doesn’t show those tell-tale signs of leaking.
The hood on the Velez Adventure Smock is fixed, with a comfortable fit and wired peak that worked perfectly against the wind and rain. It has two toggles that are easy to use to cinch things down, but I found the location of these minorly irritating since they knock against my face too easily. The hood can be poppered down if you don’t like it being open all the time.
The main zipper on the smock is long enough that getting it over your head is easy. It’s also long enough that when you get hot it’s a very effective vent.
Weighing in at 720g, the smock feels reassuringly weighty. It’s got two layers of fabric and although the outer shell is very soft and lightweight it has a certain ruggedness and longevity feeling about it. I’d not be scared to go scrambling in this jacket.
Cost wise, it’s typical Paramo and comes in at £200 rrp. Compared to a high-spec membrane jacket this is about the right ballpark. What you’re paying for with Paramo is breathability, rainproofing and a lifetime warranty from a British company.
SUMMARY: Spec-wise I can’t fault the Velez Adventure Smock. It’s stood up to some nasty weather without missing a beat and kept me dry and warm. Hiking up hills it has never felt too hot or sweaty. I don’t get on with the mouth-level hood toggles, and I find the hand-warmer pockets a little annoying to find when it’s very cold, but otherwise like this jacket a lot.