When we first stumbled upon the outdoor apparel company Páramo, the name was intriguing. I knew it had a meaning and definition, and some quick searching yielded that some ecologists describe the páramo broadly as “all high, tropical, montane vegetation above the continuous timberline” or even more simply “the páramo is the ecosystem of the regions above the continuous forest line, yet below the permanent snowline”. This makes complete sense for a company who is providing gear for those who love to get up into the cool mountain air.
As you can see below in the “More About” section, “Páramo combines ingenious, rigorously field-tested designs with innovative textile systems which are specified and tested by Nikwax. Páramo is a specialist in the use of directionality. Páramo clothing directs condensation, sweat and rain to where you need it to be, which is usually away from you.” So what is Nikwax? And how does it compare to other waterproofing staples such as, say, Gore-Tex?
I’m not a professional or a scholar in this matter, but as someone who has tried out both on occasion, I would offer some comparisons.
- As far as I can tell, Páramo Nikwax is designed to be water-repellant and wick water away from the inside out (hence their use of the word “directionality”), while Gore-Tex prevents water from getting through in the first place.
- I found that these Páramo Nikwax is much softer than I remember Gore-Tex materials being and lacks that rustling sound that sometimes accompanies the others.
- I found that the Páramo Nikwax items felt heavier than the counterparts. The Ostro Fleece is super soft but felt like it would keep you pretty warm – which can be great when hiking in milder temperatures, but may not give you the best comfort if using for running. While the windproof jacket also felt just a tad heavier than others, the difference was negligible and definitely wasn’t uncomfortable. I think only super-minimalist runners would feel any significant difference in jacket weight.
- That being said, both Páramo items were surprisingly breathable. This makes sense, as the directionality and pulling of moisture out demands air flow, while Gore-Tex items rely on the creation of a watertight barrier. Hence, I would imagine that a snag, tear, or rip would be easier to mend.
The Ostro Fleece
While this could top could be used in cold weather running, I think it solidly has a place in any hiker or backpacker’s wardrobe. It’s super comfortable with an athletic fit (consider sizing up if you are against a tighter fit) and a curved hem in the back. There are five pockets in the top – 1 on the chest, two on the side and two inside – which makes storage of small hiking items (fuel, snacks, knives, etc) a cinch.
My favorite features are the “ninja” hood and the off-center zipper. The hood fits really close to your head, so heat will be kept in and the elements out. It could also fit under a helmet, so if you are a rock climber or snowboarder, it could be used as a nice mild-temperature top. The off-center zip is unique and allows for a simple and comfortable covering of the mouth.
It is super multi-functional as well, and could be worn as a standalone item on cool Spring or Fall days or as a baselayer. The crazy part is that it has the same level of waterproofing as the jackets, so no need to worry about adding another layer just because. However, if you are going to pair it up, this piece is actually designed to be combined with the Ostro Windproof Jacket.
The Ostro Windproof Jacket
Though I mentioned earlier that a quick test initially made me think this felt a tad heavier, I wasn’t so sure after running in it. Seriously, this will suit everyone just fine. Much like it’s ideally paired counterpart, the Ostro Fleece, it also has many similar features that go hand in hand. The hood should also work in helmets and has some minor support so that you get a small “cap bill”. I didn’t find the hood the most attractive thing I’ve seen, but seeing as it’s usage would be in cold temperatures and precipitation, looks would be the last thing on my list of importance.
It also has a scooped tail with a drawcord to keep things tight on the torso. Speaking of adjustments, the hood also has two adjusters to keep your “viewing hole” as large or small as you wish, without impairing vision. The hood can also be easily stowed if head covering isn’t your thing, or the elements don’t call for it.
While there are no external pockets (I like pockets, but I know I am probably in the minority with this), there are two larger ones on the inside, as well as a smaller one where it can be folded up and stored when it’s services are no longer needed during a run. There are actually two zippers on the outside that look like pockets, but are actually used for ventilation purposes, but also provide access to the internal pockets at the same time.
Using these in a few chillier runs, I found that it stacked up as good or better, than most other jackets I have worn. It’s really comfortable (no restriction in the arms or torso) and seems to have some better breathability characteristics than others as well (I have some really poorly made ones from my past). It also has some great reflective properties – from the neon yellow coloring, to stripes on the hood, arms, and shoulders.
More about Páramo:
Páramo delivers optimal comfort for outdoor people. We combine intelligent and functional garment design with high performance directional fabric systems which actively manage and move liquid water.
Páramo’s goal is to produce clothing that keeps you comfortable in the harshest conditions, and allows you to reach the wildest places safely. Páramo aims for functional excellence whilst having minimum impact upon the environment. Páramo combines ingenious, rigorously field-tested designs with innovative textile systems which are specified and tested by Nikwax. Páramo is a specialist in the use of directionality. Páramo clothing directs condensation, sweat and rain to where you need it to be, which is usually away from you.
*”More About” information taken from the company’s website. We like to let their own stories speak for themselves, because we review companies that have real personality and passion about what they do.
Thank you to Páramo for providing us with samples. Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.