OK, so the one we have on review was given as a limited edition gift to celebrate Sprayway’s 40th birthday this year, and it’s in a heritage colourway that is, to say the least, eye-catching. In fact, I’ve taken to wearing it on dawn dog-walks as some kind of wake up call to dozey drivers, such is the vibrance of the green and blue. The consumer versions of this jacket, however, will be more muted and suited to the conservative British market.
First things first. If I covered up the badges on this jacket and stuck it on you, I’d wager that you wouldn’t guess it was Sprayway. They’re not a brand which is known for their technical active hill-wear, but yet their new ranges are knocking hard on the door of sister brand Mountain Equipment in terms of quality and function. The Grendel is a serious piece of kit. (Women’s version will be called the Vela)
It is sold as a windproof jacket, and uses mostly Gore Windstopper fabric, with panels of stretchy softshell in the sides and underarm to aid ventilation and movement. But the thing about Windstopper is that it’s actually pretty much the same stuff as the original Gore-Tex membrane, so the Grendel does a very admirable job of keeping showers at bay. Sure, you’ll get wet in prolonged drizzle or hard rain, but for the last two weeks’ of British ‘Springtime’ I’ve worn the Grendel non-stop, rain and shine, and it’s never let me down, or left me soaked.
The Windstopper is built over a layer of synthetic insulation which is enough for me to feel comfy with it over a Tee-shirt in around 8C temperatures when moving. The side panels let in a little wind, so harsh conditions can rob you of a warmth, but I’d certainly wear this as a hill piece with a proper waterproof stashed away for anything a bit naughty weather-wise.
The fit is slim and technical, with no activity being limited by the Grendel. I’ve done everything from chop wood to throw balls to climb rocks and never felt like it was anything more than a second skin. Albeit a green and blue one…
The hood is effective against wind and a little rain, and it’s insulated to keep your ears warm. I’ve tested this on a very windy hilltop and it’s really snug. Potentially at the expense of perfect hearing, but it was only me and the dog so not a problem. It also has a simple velcro lash strap to keep it from batting you in the head when it’s windy.
The Grendel has two big, deep hand pockets with chunky (pink!) zippers. These are simply a lovely place to stick your hands.
And there’s an OS-sized chest pocket for bits and bobs.
Perhaps the party piece for the Grendel is that the inner pocket on the left breast (which is massive) doubles as a stuff sack, so it can be folded in on itself in to a nice, subtle black bag.
The waist of the Grendel can be cinched closed with double elastic pullcords, and the wrists are simple lycra-like numbers which keep out the worst of the wind, but let a little through their own fabric.
This is a jacket where no corners appear to have been cut. You get the custom zipper pulls, the top-end fabrics, the neat touches like a zipper chin-guard (my beard thanks you Sprayway)… there’s nothing missing. It’s just a really nice, really comfortable, really British-weather jacket.
Price: £150 (when released)
More: Sprayway (when released)