Páramo Halcon Traveller jacket
Like it or not, birders have increasing amounts of gear to lug around in the field. Gone are the days when just binoculars, notebook and perhaps a field guide would do – typically, many of us now also carry a mobile phone, pager, compact camera and maybe a digiscoping adapter, while serious bird photographers can have any combination of lenses, extenders and other accessories. For my own line-up, a portable speaker, spare camera batteries and a memory card wallet often feature, too.
I’ve got used to finding ways of stowing all this kit, especially if I’m travelling abroad, when there is the additional problem of stringent hand baggage allowances. There’s not much you can teach me about packing judiciously for the check-in counter, and many birders will have performed similar tricks of skilfully padding and protecting precious optics and lenses to avoid damage.
However, Páramo’s Halcon Traveller jacket takes the potential for equipment stashing to new levels, with a stylish design which embraces the practice. This lightweight outer layer can contain serious amounts of gear in a way I never dreamt possible. No fewer than 12 or 14 variously sized pockets/compartments, including several approaching the poachers’ variety, offer enormous potential for stowing the likes of lenses, optics and lots more. The label on the garment claims 14 pockets, yet Páramo’s own advertising boasts 12. As far as I can see, it is indeed the latter: four poppered bellows pockets on the front, two ‘handwarming’ ones at hip level, two zipped map-sized compartments at chest height, and four internal pockets. They are positioned in such a way as to distribute weight evenly, without undue pressure on the neck.
Like many of Páramo’s jackets, the fabric is a rugged Nikwax Cotton, which is quick drying and lightweight but also breathable.
The review sample was size L, and overall the fit was good – comfortable, but roomy enough for additional layers underneath. However, the arms came up on the long side, while in body length terms I found the jacket slightly shorter than ideal. For a garment aimed at prolonged outdoor use – the company describes it as suitable for birdwatching, wildlife observation and photography, as well as walking and backpacking – a slightly longer cut would allow the wearer to sit with greater protection, and would also be more effective in the rain.
Other features include a waist drawcord for optimum fit when load carrying, adjustable cuffs with Velcro-style fastenings, and a high collar with fleecy lining. Perhaps the only thing missing is a hood, which would make it better suited to all weathers – it would be good to see future versions of this jacket offer this as a detachable option. But otherwise, a very practical garment.
Product: Páramo Halcon Traveller jacket
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
Contact: call Páramo on 01892 786444 or visit www.paramo.co.uk