Chris Townsend reviews Berghaus’s warm and lightweight Fleece with a built-in balaclava.
Fleece jackets have been around for over 30 years, during which time they’ve become staples of casual as well as outdoor wear, so a new design doesn’t seem likely. Berghaus has managed it though with the Extrem 7000 Hoody.
At a glance this is a fairly standard zipped fleece jacket with a hood – nice-looking but much like many others. However hidden in the collar is a curved piece of stretchy fleece that creates a built-in balaclava. If not needed it can be left at the back of the collar, where it is barely noticeable, but if you want more protection you can pull it over your head to form a thick warm layer around the neck or you can even pull it up to cover your mouth and nose. It works well and adds greatly to the versatility and warmth of the jacket.
Other features are extra-long sleeves with thumb loops and zipped mesh lined pockets that sit just above a hipbelt. The jacket is made from two types of Polartec fleece: thicker Power Grid on the body, neck and upper arms and thinner Power Stretch on the hood, lower arms and around the hem. This way the warmer fleece is where it’s needed most but weight and bulk is saved by not using it for the whole garment. Power Grid, which consists of a grid of small pillars of fleece with narrow channels of thin material between them, is very warm for the weight. Both fabrics are very stretchy so the Extrem 7000 moves with you and is comfortable to wear. The fabrics wick really fast as well, but they don’t provide complete protection from the wind. As such, the jacket is very much a midlayer for wearing under a shell garment.
The Large size weighs 398g which is light for the warmth provided. The last is more akin to a heavier 200 weight fleece than a thin microfleece.
Berghaus says the Extrem 7000 is for year-round use. For me it’s a three-season garment. I’d find it too warm in summer. I’ve found it excellent as a midlayer on frosty days. The hood/balaclava means a hat, scarf or neck warmer isn’t needed.
The Extrem 7000 is available in men’s XS-XL and women’s 8-16 sizes for £120.