According to Berghaus, the Hydroshell series of fabrics are among the most important developments at the company in years. The British brand has been repositioning their proposition over the last few years and showing real innovation, from the use of Hydrodown, a water-repellent down, to creating an astonishingly light waterproof (the VapourLight Hyper men’s smock is around 80g). The Hydroshell range of materials is yet another development from the in-house MtnHaus design and development team.

Three types of Hydroshell have been introduced: the first is the Elite Pro three-layer fabric with a PU membrane and Polymide backer that has been used in the mountaineering Extrem range. The Elite, which I’ve been testing, is a 2.5-layer version that is lighter but not quite as durable – it’s expressly designed for hill walking and backpacking rather than mountaineering. The outer is ripstop Nylon and a PU membrane. Both the Elite and the Elite Pro have an Argentium backer that makes it more resistant to odours. And, although I’ve been sceptical of the benefits of silver-ion treatment in baselayers, it hasn’t picked up smells yet, where other jackets have done. The third Hydroshell is the ultralight Hyper used in the VapourLight jackets mentioned above.

Now we’ve got the new materials out of the way, we can look at the jacket I’ve been testing. The Light Speed Hydroshell has been in and out of my kit drawer for the past few months – walking, running and mountain biking. Waterproof materials have come on so much recently, especially ‘own brand’ ones, that over a certain price point you can’t really go wrong. That said, the Hydroshell is noticeably breathable. Also helping are ventilation zips down the side of the torso. They are easily accessed and work well without disrupting the fit of the jacket as full pit zips can do.

There are two large side pockets that are accessible above a hipbelt strap, although the bottom of the pocket is cut off. There’s also really big chest pocket on the left hand side that I particularly like – you could probably get your full lunch in there if you don’t mind squashed peanut butter sandwiches.

The light zip fastens high over the mouth and offers a good range of protection, but it may be too high for some; I don’t mind it. The volume adjuster on the hood works really well and there’s a stiffened peak, but I always prefer a wired peak. The jacket has Velcro cuff adjustments and a hem with cord adjusters. Finally, the weight is impressively lightweight (though nothing near the VapourLight Hyper) at 390g.

The very similar Light Trek Jacket at £170 has a wired peak, an additional chest pocket, and is reinforced at the shoulder and lower back. For an extra tenner I’d go with this one.

The Hydroshell range is a key example of the ever-improving performance of own brand waterproof materials – perfectly good for wet hillwalking conditions and good news for consumers, who can pick up a technical outdoor jacket without breaking the bank.

Daniel Neilson