Sprayway have been making outdoor garments since 1974 in Manchester. They are currently based in Hyde, Cheshire and although they have their own pedigree and unique identity they have close links with Mountain Equipment and Ron Hill. We met the marketing team at the Llanberis Film Festival earlier in the year and they came across as keen and passionate about all things outdoors. We were a little hesitant to begin with about the products that Sprayway could offer our readers, but a browse through the catalogue soon dispelled our fears. There was plenty of kit under the Sprayway banner that climbers and mountaineers could use from softshell jackets through to family tents (for that all important Euro road trip).
We opted to test the Crux jacket as we felt this satisfied the CGRUK criteria of a garment that would be useful for a variety of mountain activities; hence the Mountain Gear Review category. The crux jacket has been in the Sprayway range for over 10 years and has been a tried and tested piece so it was good to put it through its paces.
The jacket is marketed as a durable all day fleece suitable for all mountain conditions. The main body material is Gore Windstopper Fleece, this has been tried and tested for many years now and has proved it’s pedigree as a tough, all weather fleece material. The whole jacket has a tough, durable look to it with Taslan reinforcement in high wear areas such as: shoulders, elbows, forearms and waist; all areas where rucksack wear can damage a fleece very quickly. The Windstopper fleece is a three layer fabric combining a lightweight fleece, bonded to a breathable Gortex membrane and substantial screed lining that helps wicks sweat though the membrane. The concept is very straight forward, the lining disperses the sweat through the membrane and the fleece wicks it further along it’s fibres to evaporate. Taslan is a Du Pont textile that is a very durable nylon used in a variety of outdoor materials.
The jacket performed well in almost all the activities I tested it in, it only let me down during technical rock climbing when I found it a little bulky, this was more down to the cut than the material. Talking of the cut, I was sent a Medium, I’m usually a 38-40” chest and I found the jacket generous in size, the arm lengths were regular and the overall length long, this posed a problem under a harness if you were using climbing hardware, but on a glacier it would be fine. The length did prove a bonus in cold windy conditions where it offered a little extra protection. I mainly used the fleece for hiking in the mountains and scrambling and had no problems using it. There is often a trade off when using Windstopper, the membrane does a fantastic job of fending off the wind and keeping you warm, but can feel quite clammy when you’re working hard like walking uphill; this was exacerbated when wearing a rucksack. Most sensible people though (not reviewers of course who have to suffer for their art) would be taking the jacket off in those situations. Ventilation was also aided by a powerstretch insert under the armpits, this also was good for the rise and there was very little lift of the jacket when wearing a harness, it was a good substitute for pit zips and made for great manoeuvrability.
The sleeves had plenty of Taslan reinforcement on the elbows and forearms and were closed using a Velcro tab made form Hypalon, the cuff was easy to close by a clever use of cutting the fleece away and just having Taslan, this meant the cuff didn’t feel bulky around the wrist, great when wearing gloves. There was stitched Windstopper logo on the sleeve and Sprayway logos on the chest and back of the neck.
There were 4 pockets, 2 large handwarmer pockets that had a waist drawcord adjuster hidden inside them, they were big enough to fit a laminated OS map in them plus more. There was a zipped Napoleon at the chest, easily big enough to fit a compass, GPS, mobile phone or energy bars. There was also a Velcro tabbed inside pocket, which was as big as the outer Napoleon pocket but strangely it was located on the same side which would mean it could become quite bulky if you were storing several items. All pockets opened to mesh which further enhanced the venting options.
So, in conclusion a good technical fleece that is going to perform well for most mountain conditions. Ideal for cold windy days, where you are going to put it on and keep it on all day. It’s stylish enough to wear down the pub and would great for all walking activities. It’s a little generous with the cut and too bulky for technical rock climbing but would be fine for mountaineering and long mountain routes. A well made and durable item of clothing that will last you a long time.