Paramo – they don’t make ’em like this anymore

Paramo is the Marmite of the outdoors and seems to attract more love and loathing than most bits of kit. Personally, I like Paramo but it’s not perfect. I treat it as a very rain resistant soft shell. On the odd occasion it can get overwhelmed by heavy rain in strong winds, but the vast majority of the time, it does its job. It’s more comfortable than a hard shell, especially in changeable conditions. They are much more breathable and most jackets have good venting options. While the jackets are excellent, I’m not keen on the trousers. They seem to be more vulnerable to leakage, especially when the material rubs together.

Like most manufacturers, over the years, they’ve changed the styles, although much less frequently than many more fashion conscious brands. Consistency, reliability and quality have been hallmarks of Paramo over the years. They were eco friendly and socially responsible before it became trendy. They’ve also been at the vanguard of repairing their products if anything gets damaged or worn. Effectively their jackets last virtually forever.

I’ve lost count of the number of Paramo jackets I’ve had. The purpose of this post is to pay homage to the great jackets they have made but are no longer in their range. In fact, I’d say the ones I’m going to mention are better than ones in their current range.

Vasco

Vasco jacket at start of 2014 TGO Challenge

The Vasco jacket is probably my favourite. I used mine on my 2014 TGO Challenge. It was so good I bought a second when they stopped making them from the Paramo eBay outlet, just in case I lost or ruined my original. I probably shouldn’t have bothered as both are still going strong and look good. I did get Paramo to repair the velcro on the chest pocket rain flaps on my first jacket (same for my 3rd Element jacket).

Why do I like the Vasco so much? Unlike some Paramo jackets it has quite a trim but not tight cut and fits me well and has enough room underneath for a thick fleece if required. The sleeve length is perfect for me coming down to the middle of the back of my hand. I love the bite tab velcro wrist adjustment which adds a bit of structure.

Ventilation is great with arm vents, a massive venting yoke over your shoulder blades and a stud flap behind the main zip which means the zip can be open but the front stays closed. Additionally the high chest pocket zips can be left open with the velcro rain flap closed for more ventilation. They are also a decent size for storage and hand warming. There’s another useful interior chest mesh pocket, large enough for a phone.

The hood is detachable with stud attachments. It’s not quite as good as the hood on the 3rd Element but does have the advantage of packing away into the collar. The fit is good and the liner means you don’t have to wear a hat underneath. Overall it’s a really great jacket. Both my jackets are mid blue with black side panels. I think the old colours are better than most of the new ones.

3rd Element

3rd Element in the Carneddau

I suspect you either love or hate this jacket. If you’ve not come across it before, it’s a little whacky. This is the second iteration, which is better than the original. You can separate the body to wear as a gilet from the hood/shoulder/arms section. In theory you could wear the top separately but I never have, hence there are three ways you can wear it.

Like the Vasco, it’s quite a trim cut, indeed, the gilet is quite snug. The arms are a little longer than the Vasco. As I mentioned before, the hood is fixed and even better. Effectively there is a double layer of material over your shoulders making it warmer and more weatherproof.

It’s also warmer as there aren’t the same venting options as the Vasco (no arm vents or yoke vent). Nevertheless it has the same stud and front zip flap arrangement as well as the option of opening the shoulder zips which attach the top section to the gilet. The chest pockets are the same as the Vasco and can also be opened to help venting.

I really like the option of turning the 3rd Element into a gilet, which gives a lot of flexibility. I find gilets are great for cooler weather, keeping your torso warm but preventing overheating as your arms can lose heat. If it gets cold, you just pop the top on. Admittedly it’s a bit fiddly to re-engage the zippers, but you’re still well protected from rain even without doing them up.

You won’t be be surprised to know I have two! My original one is red with grey side panels. The second one is green with black side panels. The reason I got the second one was it was very cheap on the Paramo eBay website and priced to go. It might even have been the last to be sold as it had been out of production for some time. Again, I like the colours more than the current pallet.

Quito

Quito on the 2017 TGO Challenge

The Quito recently went out of production, which is a shame as it’s a great jacket. It’s lighter at 500g than the Vasco (711g) or 3rd Element (756g). The main reason it is lighter is that it has a thinner outer material. While it’s not as robust, it’s still pretty durable. That said, it’s not as hard wearing as the Vasco or 3rd Element and is showing more wear and tear despite not being as old.

I was a bit sceptical about how water resistant the lighter material would be but it seems to be pretty good. Perhaps the denser weave helps. It has a totally different fit to the other two jackets. Despite being a Medium like the others, it’s a baggier fit with long sleeves. I turn the ends up most of the time. It has a simpler cuff closure too with a cloth tab and velcro, not a bite tab. I prefer the bite tab but it’s not a deal breaker.

Where the Quito scores is the massive venting zips which run from the hip all the way up the body and half way down the arm. They have a two way zip which gives massive flexibility. Behind the zips at the waist there are also two hidden hand pockets. Unfortunately they don’t have internal closures so they are better as hand warmers rather than storage. There are two internal mesh chest pockets too, but you have to open the front zip to access them. Unlike the two other jackets there’s no stud stand behind the zip, so the jacket is fully open when unzipped. This is less of an issue because of the massive venting zips.

The hood can be folded away to make a collar via a velcro tab. It’s not a brilliant arrangement but simpler and lighter than folding into a hood pocket. However, the hood is excellent when worn. Mine is a very bright red, which is much better than the original or subsequent colours. My only real criticism is that the fit is a bit baggy. I was tempted to get a Small, but didn’t like the colour options. I used my Quito on my 2017 TGO Challenge and it was great. I can’t understand why they stopped making it.

Velez Adventure Light

Velez Adventure Light on the 2015 TGO Challenge

Ok. This doesn’t quite fit the post title because they still make the Velez Adventure Light. However, mine is a slightly different version which they don’t make any more as it has the bite tab cuffs rather than simple velcro tabs (like the Quito). It has a similar lightweight outer fabric to the Quito but not exactly the same. Unlike the Quito, it has a more trim fit, which I prefer.

Unlike the others, the Velez is a smock, which is not everyone’s cup of tea but I like it. It has two large torso zips to get on and off, which also provide great venting. There’s a large chest kangaroo pocket for storage (or additional venting). The neck zip also aids getting it on and off as well as yet more venting. The sleeves are just the right length and can be rolled up for cooling.

The hood folds away into the collar which stops it flapping in the wind as well as providing some structure. Like the others the hood is excellent. It’s a really comfortable smock but slightly heavier than the Quito at 560g. It’s also very weather resistant. I wore it on my 2015 TGO Challenge. On day three the weather was awful, very wet and windy. I wore the Velez all day and didn’t get wet from either rain or sweat. I was very impressed. In some ways it’s the best of the lot. Oh and it’s an attractive red and grey too.

Summary

As you can tell, I’m a Paramo fan. That said, I often carry a lightweight hard shell just in case of torrential wind driven rain. It is such a shame that these jackets have been discontinued. I’m sure the current offerings are fine, but it seems to me, the designs are not quite as good. I also think the colour options are nowhere near as attractive. Fortunately, these jackets will last forever, so I (probably) won’t be buying any more!

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5 thoughts on “Paramo – they don’t make ’em like this anymore”

  1. I have a pair of the newest version of the Cascada trousers and really like them. A much better shape and fit than the old type which were baggy and, for me, uncomfortable. I’ve not worn them in really prolonged heavy rain but for a showery or light rain day outside summer they are great.

    I also used to find Paramo trousers used to slip downwards however tight I pulled the belt! I was constantly having to hitch them up. The new Cascada trousers have attachments for Paramo braces which are brill and have solved the problem.

    PS Commenting on WordPress is a right pain. You write a comment, then get told to log in (itself a bind), then your comment has vanished and you need to re-type.

    1. Sounds like the comment process is as bad as Blogger. I’ve had no end of problems making comments on other blogs. I think all these “social” technologies degrade as developers “improve” them. WordPress has become less user friendly over the past few years. It used to be so simple 🤦‍♂️

      I found the Cascada trousers tended to leak when the material rubbed between your knees. I found my Rab Drillium eVent overtrousers to be more comfortable and less bulky. I used some OMM Halo overtrousers on Dartmoor and they seemed to work well. No sweat. Very light too at 79g

  2. Geoff still has a 3rd Element and a Quito, and wears them regularly. I sent my 3rd Element to Oxfam years ago, but I disassembled and remade my Quito into a coat for Islay…

  3. I’m also a fan but wish they’d reduce the range of jackets and incorporate more features into each. They don’t seem to talk to their customers.

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