Chris Townsend examines the some of hillwalking’s most useful garments. On test the Patagonia Ultralight Down Vest Gilet

This is a lovely garment that’s soft, comfortable and warm to wear. It also really is ultralight and packs into a tiny bundle – a mini stuffsack is provided but it will go into one of the pockets too. There’s a baffle behind the zip, a warm high collar and warm roomy pockets. The channels holding the down are in different widths, which Patagonia says ‘stabilises insulation and allows the use of less down’, as well as providing ‘an elegant, low-profile silhouette’! I don’t know about the latter but the garment does have a distinctive look. Patagonia says it has a ‘slim fit’ but it’s actually roomier than the ‘regular fit’ of the Mammut Broad Peak and I can wear it over a light insulated jacket. The price is on the high side but the weight is extremely low – less than many base layers – and the down is ethically sourced from geese that have not been live-plucked or force-fed. It’s called traceable down, which means a third-party has traced and verified the down from the farm through every process to the finished garment.

Reviewed in February 2015 Issue