First impressions is that it is well-made and well spec'd with lots of pockets, drawstrings, wired-peak, and velcro adjusters (hood and cuffs). It has a generous, buttoned storm flap over the two-way zip. The pockets are lined in order to help keep contents dry.
The drop-liner is unusual in texture: almost like an ultrafine cloth and it is not something I am used to. It seems delicate but probably no more so than a thin PU/membrane laminate directly onto cloth. It has some stretch and give. Apparently the owner (Tim Holden) of Arktis says that these liners will take several years use/abuse from a military user. So I feel slightly more re-assured. However, if the liner ever gives up the ghost I would remove the liner and use a very light waterproof as a replacement liner (as I do with my gaberdine smocks I currently use). Even without the liner much of the value it retained in the usefulness of the main jacket so I certainly would not feel hard done by if such a thing was to hypothetically occur.
I have used this item in driving rain for several hours and although it was difficult to tell the performance of the liner because the DWR coating on the poly-cotton shell was so damn good it really did minimise water ingress onto the liner. I expect that as the DWR wears off a little then dampness through to the outer of liner would increase a tad. However - even after 6 hours of being out in the HEAVY rain (and wind) in temperatures down to 2 degrees and both static and more high energy hill-walking I remained dry and warm.
In addition to the postive comments above. I also found other postives:
- The outer is robust, reasonably but (certainly while crisp and new) not totally silent.
- I also had little issue about sitting next to a rather spitty long log fire without fear of getting holes in it. On occasion I reached, briefly over the fire to add more wood - no holes to report!
- To date quite water-tight and I have no hestation in going out in foul weather in it.
- The pockets, of which there are loads of them, are nice and dry even in the wet with good pleated closures and with buttons.
- The wired peak to the hood is a good addition and really works even in high winds. The hood is well shaped and does not feel bulky or overly block vision.
- There are plenty of adjustment points at the base, waist and head.
- I had no condensation issues at the current time and the liner seems quite breathable. Of course it will have to be tested until it fails to find out just how good it is. I would recommend regularly keeping the DWR on the outer fresh to maximise the performance of this jacket and minimise dampness passing through the outer and onto the liner. However I have no intention of refreshing the DWR for at least a year.
- I love the subdued dan cam pattern
On the negatives (yep nothing is perfect):
- I think the jacket could really have done with some handwarmer pockets. It also is around 1.5 kilos so its not for the ultralight luvvies.
- The inner drop liner IS NOT spark proof if exposed directly to flame or sparks - this is not an issue in most occasions but with very heavy rain I had the hood up and was sitting virtually ontop of the fire to get heat and a spark went towards my face and entered the hood. I have a small melt mark where it settled, unknown, on the surface of the drop liner above my brow (under the peak). However it did not 'hole' the liner. Just melted it a little - its a 1.5 mm sq melt mark - just inside the peak - so not a real issue. But I thought I would include this for completeness of reporting. I expect this was a bit of a freak occurance though.
- I have no real experience of drop-liners but I can only assume that if much water does pass through the outer and onto the outside of the liner then it might give quite an 'odd' sensation against the skin. I remember once sleeping in a bivi that was lying in running water and there was a very cooling sensation along with the perception of water running against the skin. Of course I was quite dry on the inside...but it felt like I was wet...and a little cold. I might assume that if it got VERY wet inside the drop liner without it draining away (which I am sure it would - through the low/end points of the jacket) then a similar sensation to the bivi experience might be felt and this might chill the wearer if they did not have suitable layers/insulation. I did not have a problem since I was wearing three layers underneath the jacket. Also, not having experienced this in the jacket I don't know if this assumption would be correct anyway.
- I did get seepage from the cuff. In heavy rain, when raising my arm above the horizontal water did start to trickle back up the sleeve from my hand/wrist up my arm despite closing the wrists with the velcro straps. There might have been some capillary action going on there. However I have experienced this, under heavy rain conditions, with all jackets to a greater or lesser extent.
- Finally - the drop liner goes to the VERY end of the sleeves - which is good in a way but this is a high wear point and I would have like to have seen some piping on the cuff hem like they have put on most of the other edges on the jacket.
Overall I think that this is a very well specified waterproof jacket which is fairly safe to use around the campfire. There is little/less chance of snagging or holing the membrane with sparks, thorns or abrasion due to the robust outer. It has a good camo pattern and that the outer will last for many, many years regardless of what happens to the drop liner. I have no doubt that the drop liner, curious though it is, will last for many seasons. I am sure that separating the two layers will make both easier to repair if needs be too.
For the price is it very, very good value and I would not hesitate, upon first impressions, to recommend it. Which is lucky since I am running the group-buy on them!
Please also remember that I am a bit OCD with my kit and can be more critical and picky than most.
I welcome other users views on this and I am not assuming to be right on all the things I have stated. Some might disagree with my criticisms. However it is just an initial assessment based on three days (and nights) of usage. It has been a wet few days down here in Devon and Cornwall too.
p.s. - I would like to add that I paid the same price for mine as everyone else did in the first GB: a rather modest price of £59 and ten tonnes of paracord!