Haglöfs Barrier Vest Review

I’m always banging on about down vests as being the miracle component in your Airfix kit of outdoor joy, but in rainy, damp weather they can be vulnerable and if you do get it wet it’s not drying out again until long after you’re home. So synthetic filled kit sticks it’s hand up and waves merrily like an unsuspecting Tommy on his first day in the trenches volunteering to check what the weather’s like in No Man’s Land.

I’ve been wearing the Haglöfs Barrier Vest all winter, and apart from it being a packable bundle of instant warmth on the hill, its understated looks are great for wearing all day at work if it’s cold, as you can meet customers without looking like a mountaineer whose poor map reading skills have directed him to a boiler house instead of a summit.
It’s a simple bit of kit, full length zip, high collar and two big handwarmer pockets. It’s the detail that gives it an edge though, the armholes are lycra and seal in the heat, the same goes for the hem, the neck is cut to allow you to pull the zip right up when wearing it over other layers (sometimes it seems that it’s only Haglöfs that think of this).
The Performac fabric is soft and has a dull finish which makes a nice change from shiny Pertex, the Thermolite fill is warm and compressible, and experience has taught me that the water resistance of both fabric and fill is outstanding. Folk might baulk at the thought of buying not Primaloft, but other than a little more packed bulk there’s nothing much to mention. Like I always say, if the fit and features are right, look at the logos next if you really have to.
Sizing is slim, with room for a couple of light layers, so I’m still my regular size large, but the body isn’t the longest, I’m about on the limit for it.

In this damp weather it’s the first choice for packing (tonight I was wearing it in light rain at a rest stop on a blast round the Kilpatrick trails, it’s small enough to pack into the smallest rucksack)and teamed with the LIM Barrier Pullover it’s still winter weight insulation, so it doesn’t have to have restrictions in it’s application.

Synthetic definitely isn’t a second class citizen to Mr Down who lives in the big house up the hill, sitting in his leather chair watching reruns of Last of the Summer Wine, flicking stray feathers off of his velvet dressing gown whilst sneering at the villagers.

29 thoughts on “Haglöfs Barrier Vest Review

  1. After reading so much positive feedback about Haglöfs I’m itching to buy something but I’ve discovered Tiso is not really the best place to find it. Being painfully new around these parts I have no clue where to shop for equipment. Do you have any recommendations? Could there be a store closer to the Dumbarton area? Preferably one with a decent woman’s selection that doesn’t have me feeling and looking like the Michelin Man.

  2. I can’t help with Haglofs, but you could always try the wee shop in Helensburgh in West Princes St before you venture into that there Glasgow.I think it’s called All Blacks but I’m not 100% sure, it’s right on the lights across from the old Co op store.It’s also handy for gas etc.

  3. I like using synthetic and down together as had been mentioned on here before. My Rab Generator and PHD ultra vest work a treat together.

    Nice Buff ;o)

  4. Candice, the Tiso GOE has a few bits of Haglofs, that’s the big store with the cafe and waterfall inside it just outside the city centre, just off the M8 mototway.
    You’ll find a few familiar names from on here in the cafe in there quite regularly!
    Footprints at the Charing Cross end of Woodlands Road in the city centre, as BBF says has a good selection of Haglofs, in fact half the shop is womans fit gear, so it’s well worth a visit.
    There was a great outdoor shop in Balloch at the Lomond Shores shopping mall, but it shut down a year ago, so Glasgow is the best choice. Paisley has Summits which has some good gear and as Scotpat says the wee shop in Helensburgh has some bits and pieces (I was there last week after looking at some work in Rhu!).
    If you get stuck, give us a shout.

    BBF, yes ’tis a might Buff. I believe it’s a trend setter because I’ve had it for years :o)

  5. Hi,
    Thanks for testing this and featuring it. I have gradually become convinced by the likes of yourself and the experience of a few food stops doing up all fastenings to maximum and still getting cold, of the concept of an insulated vest to drop in the bottom of my rucksack for such stops and unexpected chills.
    My local GoOutdoors – everything else locally (F&T) has gone Sportsdirect or given in to fashion (Blacks) – has the Rab Generator vest and Paramo Torres gilet at a Haglofs’ price comparable £67. Would you rate the Haglofs above these two choices do you think?
    I tried both on and the Rab had the smile factor and confidence inspiring zips and fit, while the Paramo has more sensible pockets, isn’t shiny and, perhaps like the Haglofs, is better suited to outer use because of its material. Oddly though, the Torres’ zip, when fastened up to the neck, is a choker even on a medium for me over a t-shirt. The large was too large to get any benefit from the elasticated arm holes and waist and the zips felt a tad dodgy. Also, I normally run hot, especially in warm shop changing rooms but the Paramo didn’t seem to be insulating me very much.

  6. For me it would be down to either the Rab or the Haglofs.
    The Haglofs vest is really robust (I just took mine off when I came in the door earlier), is warm, has a great water repellency, but is maybe a little bulkier than the Rab when packing.
    The Rab one is the lightest, it’s very warm for its weight too, but will suffer from use more than the Haglofs one.

    It’s a difficult one, I’m happy with my Haglofs vest, it’s done its job and is still in constant use with no issues.
    But the Rab is going to be just as good, just a little different.

    Ah, choices can be a nightmare!

  7. Thanks, and you’re right; there’s such a thing as too many good options (or is there?) and when you’re indecisive, as a lack of funds makes me, then two is sometimes one too many.
    Having looked all around I am leaning towards the Haglofs as, from what you say and the materials etc, it should last longer. I think one last trip to GoOutdoors on the way to work next week to check on the Rab again ‘should’ help me decide.
    I also found a medium generator smock for £60 (blue) and a barrier jacket (hoodless variety) for £74 just to mess with my mind a little more. I am torn between the perceived flexibility of a vest (I’m typing this in a Primark bulky, very unpackable £5 special as I think I caught a chill) and the extra warmth of a jacket. The women’s one can be had for £45 but I’m not (quite) that slim or desperate for a bargain. Do you know if the fill is the same in the basic barrier jacket and the vest?

  8. The insulation fill weight is the same in the jacket and vest. I had the jacket (my dad got it when I got test kit in!) and it’s very good, the arm articulation is brilliant.

    Ah, more choices!

  9. Oh no! Now I’m totally quandrified (N.B. contact OED).
    I do like the look of the jacket and a cold day like today would warrant arms. I had visions of layering the vest with my Litespeed and a thermal/merino layer and Mountain Hardwear Grid microfleece if necessary, which might take some rethinking for a jacket. I was inspecting a few PRoWs in North Essex this afternoon and it was cold enough after a long trip in the car that my old and slightly flattened F&T/LGT down jacket was allowed out of the wardrobe. Like you with your dad, this and/or the Primark vest will be heading to my sister for dog-walking usage when I DO make my mind up. I am, thanks to your help and tiredness, near the end of my decision-making process, and only the sight of a Montane Prism 2 for about the same money on the way here has caused a swerve.

  10. I had to try on 3 medium-sized Prisms to find one with a zip that did up smoothly (or at all), which was a bit off-putting. I had that when I tried a Scarab soft shell as well as piling on a Puma 2. I put both down to the items being in F&T’s sale a while back and maybe having been manhandled or being seconds. Have you had an issue with wear or the zips on yours?
    On the plus side, although not massively warm, is did feel instantly better than the F&T down jacket and significantly sleeker and more packable – I liked the hood, too. I even started to see about packing it into its pocket before remembering that I was in a shop and that GoOutdoors’ security were likely to wonder what I was doing and cart me off.
    Due to previous poor service (pricing errors) I have a £30 voucher burning a hole in my pocket against a 10% off voucher of a barrier hood. So now it’s £81 (with £30 off – though I could always keep the voucher for when/if the sales start) Montane Prism 2, a £90 Haglofs Barrier Hood or a £70-odd Barrier jacket.

    Is it a ridiculous question too far to ask which, with your experience you wouldn’t be without and which has been most versatile. It will have Peak District, East Anglian, Lakes and town use, though I’m going to try and bar it form my works wardrobe.

    Thanks

  11. There’s no zip related issues coming to mind, but I’ll flag it up if I notice something.

    Chose on to keep? That’s hard, having used everything on the hill, at work and just dossing around there really is no clear winner.
    The Prism 2 is versatile and tiny packing, a genuine all season bit of kit.
    The Barrier Hood is a fantastic winter shelter, but I don’t carry it on camps any more as it’s a bit bulky.
    The Barrier jacket has more appeal as a multi purpose casual/technical jacket.

    That’s my personal take on those three, if I had to have one it would probably be the Barrier Hood as it offers the best protection, and it fits me best.
    As long as I’m not camping…

  12. Well, the weekend came and a trip to Basildon’s Go-Outdoors resulted in the purchase of a Montane Prism. The zip issue goes away with experience of use, the hood is just the best I have ever experienced on any jacket and it is a great feeling, great fitting (on me) jacket that weighs next-to-nothing. If all Montane hoods are that good I may be leaning towards a Montane Event jacket for next spring instead of a Rab one. But if I’ve been indecisive with this then that (which waterproof) battle will be monumental and decided in large part by cash flow. I actually used the Prism 2’s hood over this cold, snowy weekend whereas I’m normally just a buff and hat man. I love the way that when I turned my head to look for traffic, it turned too and the difference it made to my comfort on a walk last night was amazing.

    On the down side, it isn’t warm enough in this cold snap with just the base layers and mid layers I have at my disposal. A heavier weight Merino base-layer and thicker fleece might change that. As it was I combined the strangest of multiple layers of bamboo,carbonised bamboo and acrylic to get comfortable and never once over-heated even when venturing into heated environments.

    Now if the money could be found then a Montane Flux looks a damned good winter stop/belay jacket with the Prism as a more versatile/all season backpack option. I nearly posted you about that as I found one cheap(ish) but thought you would think I’d totally flipped then! I also got to try on a Rab Belay which was so comfortable and warm but not within my price-range. Very shiny in bits, too!

    Cheers for all your patient help, knowledge and advice – bring on the sales and the snow!

  13. Great stuff, it’s just brilliant when you get something thatb fits righ and works well.
    I usually use a down vest with my Prism, it makes for a very versatile system and boosts its insulation for winter camps.

    I’ve used the new Flux a few times and it is good, maybe a little heavy for the warmth, whereas the Prism is light for the warmth.

    Montane versus Rab for hoods? I tested the Montane Halo last winter and this winter I’ve got the Rab equivalent (the Super Dru) on test and they’re actuyally pretty similar in design, the big difference how they do the drawcords.
    I’ve used the 2010 Rab Demand quite a lot already and the hood is great, but more on all that stuff soon!

  14. I’ll look forward to the Rab/Montane testing details in due course. I find confusion even within each makes models as they seem to try and produce a jacket for many types of overlapping usages and, of course, respond to each other and others in respect of making everything lighter. I saw the Drillium got a Best in Test from Trail but it looked very basic when I tried one on a while back. I think I preferred the only slightly less simple Latok Alpine but I’ve yet to see a Demand or a Super-Dru in the flesh and have only seen a Venture form Montane.

  15. Bit of a blast from the past, but stumbled upon this review whilst looking for reviews of the Rab Generator vest.

    I’ve currently got a rather crusty Rab Photon smock from 4 years ago or so that’s doing well.

    I fancy a vest for some quick throw on extra insulation whilst pottering about, so was tempted by the generator vest, however several sites seem to warn of the durability of the Rab vest when used with a pack.

    Is the Haglofs’ offering robust enough to be worn with a pack?

    Also, I notice that the Halgofs fill is listed as 80g/m, whereas the Generator is 100g, and that the Halgofs listed at 270g versus Rab at 290g.

    Have the specs changed? From the difference in fill weights, would it be right to assume that the Rab is significantly warmer?

    I’m not entirely sure what it is I’m really aiming for, but depending on just how durable the Haglofs is, it would be a nice factor to have.

    Ta

  16. The spec is the same these days apart from a change in the water repellancy on tha fabric I think.
    The fill isn’t quite as warm as Rab’s Primaloft, but the Barrier is tougher. The Performac fabric is great, I’ve used in a few of their insulated tops and in their windshirts as well. maybe not as breathable and light as the Pertex equivalents but hardser wearing and more water resistant I’ve found.
    If it fits, it’s a good choice, looks nicely understated too which is something unusual for me!

    PS Hello!

  17. Aye, the windshirt in the same fabric has worn really well, but if will depend on your pack strap fit and fabric as much as on the Barrier.
    Those bit long pocket zips mean you can get your hands in to get a heat when you’re wearing a pack too.

  18. The update’s got some stitched baffles and smaller pockets if I remember right? Still a great bit of kit.
    I’ve had some Barrier Pro kit on test this year, awsome kit.

    Talk of insulation means that winter’s coming :o)

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