In the beginning of 2021, we received the Sherpa Makalu jacket for testing, and since then I’ve been regularly wearing it for hiking, everyday use and even cycling. The Makalu jacket is a robust shell layer which is designed for outdoor activities in the toughest weather conditions. It is made of Sherpa’s own 3-layer Himaltec fabric with a membrane. The Himaltec material is not as known as Gore-Tex and other big players in the industry, but from experience I knew that Sherpa Adventure Gear does make top-notch products. Therefore, I couldn’t wait to test their waterproof material and of course the jacket. For the last two months I’ve been wearing the Makalu jacket daily, investigating the materials, weather protection, fit and functionality. Below is what I learned about it.
Sherpa Adventure Gear Makalu Jacket is suitable for:
- Ice Climbing
- Everyday Use
The Sherpa Makalu jacket is made of 3-layer laminate which consists of a face fabric, membrane and lining. When I unwrapped the jacket, I was pleasantly surprised by the softness of the material. I immediately noticed that the jacket fells more like a softshell jacket than a traditional hardshell, which is indeed a good thing. The material is also surprisingly stretchy for a hardshell jacket. Now, the Makalu is a 3-layer jacket and weighs 17 oz. (500 grams), which makes it somewhat heavier than lightweight 2.5-layer rain jackets such as my Montane Minimus jacket. Nevertheless, it was clear straightaway that the Makalu jacket is much more robust, sturdy and durable than such jackets. While it might be heavier, the robust material also makes the jacket suitable for a broader range of activities and increases its lifespan. During my initial investigation I also found other parts of the jacket such as zippers and drawcords to be very high in quality. Now, it was time to test the jacket outside on hiking trails and see if the material could live up to my expectations.
Weather Protection and Breathability
To properly test the jacket, I took several hikes in heavy rain and very windy conditions. The jacket always efficiently blocked strong winds and I also wasn’t disappointed with the waterproofness. The DWR treatment on the jacket is incredibly good and it always took very long time before the outer layer of the jacket started getting wet. Like every rain jacket, the Makalu jacket also leaks eventually, but I was impressed how much rain and time it took for it to happen. The membrane and the DWR treatment indeed live up to my expectations. In terms of breathability the jacket also performed great. Of course, it doesn’t provide the same breathability as a softshell jacket, but it’s for sure the most breathable hardshell I have ever tried.
According to Sherpa the jacket has a MVTR of 20.000 g/m2/24h and a hydrostatic head of 20.000 mm. If you are not familiar with these metrics do read my post about them here. I have tested rainwear with the same MVTR and hydrostatic head before, and I can say that the Sherpa jacket provides similar, if not better, breathability and rain protection. All in all, I was very satisfied with both the breathability and the weather protection.
Functionality and Features
The Sherpa Makalu jacket really impressed me with its storage options. It has two zippered hand pockets, a zippered chest pockets and two inner pockets. One inner pocket is zippered and the other is a stash pocket for bulkier items. I really like that the outer pockets are big and thus it’s not a problem to use them for gloves and similar items. All outer pockets have robust waterproof zippers with pull loops for easy handling when you are wearing gloves.
I was also impressed with the hood. The hood provides a really good fit because it’s adjustable from three directions. The drawcords for adjusting the hood are located on either side of the hood opening (i.e. on the front side of the collar) and on the back of the hood. These drawcords allow you to adjust the hood perfectly. Each drawcord is equipped with a pull loop, so you can easily pull it even when you are wearing gloves. Another good thing about the hood is that it has a brim which additionally protects your face against the rain. The hood is also helmet-compatible.
The Makalu jacket has a high collar, which comes all the way up to the nose when the jacket is zipped all the way up. It also has a drawcord at the bottom hem and the cuffs on the sleeves are adjustable with Velcro. Furthermore, the jacket also has pit zips which provide extra ventilation. The pit zips don’t have waterproof zippers but during the testing period I haven’t noticed any leaks in this more shielded area. Overall, I was impressed with the functionality and features of the jacket.
Fit and Sizing
I got the jacket in size M, based on the size guide on Sherpa’s website. The jacket fits me well in length, but it does feel a bit too tight in the shoulders if I wear extra insulation layers under it. My chest diameter is 98 cm (38.5 in.) and I’m 180 cm tall (5 ft. 11 in.). I’m wondering whether it would be better if I got the jacket is size L or would size L be too long for me. In general, it does seem that the jacket is designed for people with a more straight up-and-down torso. I would really love just a couple centimeters more of space in the shoulders so I could also wear it over my CimAlp Primaloft insulated jacket in winter. Right now, a mid-weight fleece jacket is all I can get under it in a comfortable way.
Now, my girlfriend also received the Makalu jacket (see images below), and she wore it on several hikes so far. She has a different experience with the fit than me. According to her, the women’s Makalu jacket is much roomier in the chest and shoulder area but a bit narrow at the bottom hem, around the hips. Apart from that, the men’s and women’s model seem to be identical.
Washing and Drying
The jacket is machine washable at 30° C but you should steer clear of aggressive detergents. It also shouldn’t be tumble dried. Now, I’m not a big fan of washing rainwear in the washing machine because none of my rain jackets provided the same weather protection afterwards, although I re-waterproofed them with DWR. Therefore, I’m planning to simply (and gently) wash the jacket in the sink when the time comes.
The Sherpa Makalu jacket is a robust hardshell jacket that feels and wears more like a softshell jacket. I’m impressed by the material which is stretchy but provides great protection against the wind and the rain. The jacket also provides very good breathability and is pleasant to wear even during strenuous activities. The five pockets provide more than enough storage space and the adjustable hood fits perfectly. The only thing that bothered me about this jacket is that it’s quite narrow over the shoulders. Nevertheless, if you have a more straight and less V-shaped torso, I believe the jacket will fit you perfectly.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.
We field tested this product. The rating shows its overall performance.About Rating
- Weather protection
- Ajustable hood with good fit
- Many pockets
- A bit narrow over the shoulders
Thank you for your detailed review on the Sherpa jacket. I came across it today in an outdoor shop, and was instantly hooked – great design, nice feeling about it regarding the texture and cloth. The price, of course, is more of a challenge than other brands and types, which makes me wonder if I should go for it.
Still, I have a feeling your positive review was kind of what I hoped to hear! 🙂
Bye and best wishes
PS The L size might fit better – it did for me at least 🙂
I’m happy to hear that the review was useful. Yeah, it’s quite an expensive jacket but to be fair 3-layer rain jackets (Gore-Tex or similar) from other brands are not much cheaper, if at all. It seems Sherpa is a bit pricier than Outdoor Research, Marmot etc. but cheaper than Arcteryx. I kind of regret not getting the jacket in size L. Nevertheless, now I’m very motivated not to gain weight 🙂
I own an Outdoor Research Skyward II jacket. I run very hot.. and require the venting and value it’s breathability over waterproofness to be comfortable and dry. However I do find the Ascentshell material to be quite heavy and stiff feeling. How would you compare the Makalu jacket to how I’ve described the Skyward II? I happen to love the look and style of the Makalu, but would be disappointed if it was a heavy jacket. Can’t find any real specs even on their website.
Thanks very much!
The material of the Makalu jacket is very similar to softshell material and thus the jacket doesn’t fill stiff. The jacket is, however, a bit heavier. It weighs 500 grams. I’m not sure how heavy the Skyward II jacket is but now you can compare the weight of the two jackets.
Thanks for the review.
I just bought mine and I was wondering if you’ve used this jacket in winter for skiing or snowboarding. I’m not entirely sure if the jacket is going to be warm enough (or breathable enough as well) for winter sports. Thanks in advance.
Hi Matias, I would say that you would need a very warm base layer or even a midlayer underneath the Makalu to keep warm enough as it offers very little insulation on its own. I’m quite sure that it is breathable enough for winter sports, but it only makes sense to buy it for protection against rain, wind and sleet snow. I could imagine that you would primarily be skiing/snowboarding in crisp dry weather? Best, Laura
Hey Laura, thanks for the reply!
I’ve been using this jacket for snowboarding and so far it’s been performing great with a solid base layer and midlayer underneath, as you pointed out. I’ve been using it on days with -20,-15C temps and had no problems. It works great as protection to wind, wet snow, snow and rain which is very common here in BC. The only thing I’m noticing is that the jacket is not handling very well the wear and tear so I figure that it will be pretty worn out by the end of the season. I might buy another one just for hiking and camping though! Cheers and happy New Year!
Hi Matias, thanks for the update! We’re happy to hear that the jacket is working out for snowboarding as well. The Makalu jacket seems very durable to us, but I could imagine that snowboarding would entail a lot more wear and tear than regular hiking or mountaineering, although perhaps less than climbing. I do hope that the jacket will continue to serve you well in some way also beyond this winter. Happy new year to you too! Best regards, Laura