Normally I wait a while before doing a review but sometimes a piece of gear is just so usable that it screams out for some praise. My wife, Bridgette, can always tell how good a new bit of kit is by how hard she has to fight to get it washed. The Talus has been worn near constantly since it’s arrival, the only breaks being enforced laundry.
The timing of the arrival of the Talus was fortuitous. A poor weather forecast had meant a planned late start with adventurers Nicola Hardy and James Forrest. As such, I was at home when the post arrived with the new Talus jacket. Sensing a potential photo opportunity if the forecast was correct and things brightened up later in the day, I packed the Talus.
As things turned out, the day could hardly have been better. Nic and james were on a mission to climb all the Munros over the summer and I’d been guiding them on the Cuillin section of their challenge. As the most technical Munro involving both climbing and an abseil, the Inaccessible Pinnacle was always going to be a challenge. With a total cloud inversion, things could hardly have been better and despite the bright sun, things were pretty chilly and I was only too glad of the Talus to put on.
Keela market the Talus as “The perfect mid or outer layer. It combines 60gsm Primaloft Gold insulation on the body for warmth with side panels for increased ease of movement. Great in cold environments, as it's water resistant and windproof.”
The real test for the Talus came when I was guiding Andy Rennie and Mike Davies along the Cuillin Ridge. Given the time of year with short daylight hours and the chances of less than optimal weather, and Andy’s age of 70, we opted for two rather than the more usual three days. The forecast was pretty good being largely dry and bright but more worrying were the possibility of high winds and the associated low temperatures.
Usually I just take a one season sleeping bag but this time knew an insulated jacket would be needed to provide enough warmth to sleep during the long hours of darkness. It was a bit of a gamble taking the largely untested Talus, but a gamble that paid off. Suffice to say, the Talus proved worthy and was worn almost constantly for three days and two nights.
The Talus was warm enough in my one season down sleeping bag to keep me snug and with the high winds and associated wind chill factor it was worn most of the days. The Flylite fabric seems tough and well able to stand up to harsh use, even the very abrasive Cuillin gabbro. Being wind and water resistant means it can be worn as an outer garment and there seems to be some sort of DWR coating since rain beads up on the exterior. When it rained harder and as the temperatures dropped and we experienced sleat and snow then I wore a goretex hardshell over the top.
It’s tough, sheds water and is wind resistant but the Talus’ main selling point is it’s insulation. The industry top standard Primoloft Gold is used in 60gsm form on the body and hood. Stretchy panels under the arm pits and down the sides of the jacket allow for freedom of movement and are also, I suspect, more breathable. This makes for a very user friendly design.
The Talus is sized and allows the user to wear a number of layers underneath thus extending the temperatures it can be used in. It packs down reasonably small and like all synthetic insulation, still works if it does gets wet so ideal for the UK climate.
It’s a simple design and works well. There are two zipped handwarmer pockets which were great whilst up high for the two nights’ bivi; warm hands whilst waiting for the stove to boil water. An external chest pocket is useful for a phone etc and there’s also a zipped internal pocket. Elasticated wrists are simple and snug without being restrictive.
The Talus proved it’s metal on the 3 day traverse and was even worn for the celebratory meal and drinks at the Seumas’ Bar.
Next up. Bridgette and I were away for a four day photo workshop recce trip to Lewis and Harris and the Talus got a lot of wear. It was ideal for this sort of activity often in high winds with sea spray or light drizzle but pretty much always very cold. The Flylite fabric worked really well in these conditions and only really harsh conditions necessitated wearing a hardshell.
The jacket has been worn for various recent photo missions up high in the Cuillin, a personal favourite being an early morning shot of Pinnacle Ridge on Sgurr nan Gillean. Walking up in the dark, the only light being my headtorch, I was in place for sunrise and praying that the clouds would clear as forecast. Miraculously, the light did come good but it was a long, cold wait in the high winds. I was certainly glad of the Talus that morning and although my hands were cold from wearing thin gloves so as to be able to use the camera, by body and head were toasty warm.
The Talus has fast become a firm favourite and is now packed in my kit not just as a warm layer but with winter closing in fast, it’s added security should there be an accident or someone gets benighted. For £139.95 it seems excellent value for money. A lot of jacket, well designed and seemingly robust, although the long term jury is obviously still out on that.
The Talus gets a big thumbs up from me, maybe less so from Bridgette who is constantly trying to wrestle it from me to wash. I like the blue but it’s also available in a more subdued grey and blue and, I believe, there is also a female version which Bridgette is seriously interested in.
The Talus is nigh on perfect for what I need, it just all that is asked, has a simple design. What more could you ask for? Well, if I was being really picky, I’d like to see large mesh internal pockets like on some belay jackets. These would be useful for storing larger items such as mittens or photo gear.
NB The Keela Scuffer trousers are still being worn and surviving the tough test ground of the Cuillin. Like the Talus, they were worn continuously for the 3 day ridge traverse.
A big thanks to all at Keela for making such useful kit and allowing me a chance to put some of it to the test.
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