Snugpak ML6 Softie Smock
What Snugpak say:
Developed by Snugpak® with input from professional navigators, mountain leaders, climbing instructors, meteorological staff, and military personnel. The new functional Snugpak® Mountain Leader Smock has been created to support the individual when exposed to cold weather, including Lowland and Hill Walking, mountain walking, scrambling, rock climbing or completing that Scottish Winter Ascent. The Snugpak® Mountain Leader (ML) Softie® Smock has been created for you in a diverse range of environments, terrain and weather.
The Snugpak® ML Softie® Smock is ideal for both mountain and lowland ventures, all year round, from hill-walking in Dartmoor and the Peak District, to summer Alpine in Snowdonia and Scottish Winter on Ben Nevis, where the main environmental considerations are wind and cold weather:
Summer Alpine Mountain Walking
The Snugpak® ML Softie® Smock is a tri-layer garment and uses both Paratex Micro as a face fabric, and an internal Softie® Premier fill, encapsulated with a Paratex Light lining. Designed to provide excellent thermal protection against the cold, as well as high protection against wind, the ML Softie® Smock is available in a variety of Softie® weights, for the following temperature ranges:
ML3 (Softie® 3) 0℃ to -5℃
ML6 (Softie® 6) -5℃ to -10℃
ML9 (Softie® 9) -10℃ to -15℃
The ML Softie® Smock is lighter than normal expedition style jackets, and uses water resistant YKK zips, making it ideal for when size and weight need to be kept to an absolute minimum. It is ideally worn with a variety of base layers, such as the Snugpak 2nd Skinz Coolmax base layer, to move moisture away from the skin, keeping you dry and regulating core temperature. The quick drying, Paratex Micro 100% nylon material has a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish. Water repellency can be maintained with a cool tumble dry after washing and periodic re-treatment with suitable after care products, such as Nikwax and Grangers.
The ML Softie® Smock will keep you dry in a short, light shower, giving you time to find a safe place to stop and put on more effective (hardshell) waterproof layers, if required. The ML Softie® Smock can also be worn under waterproof [PTFE] membrane hard shells in severe weather, still allowing easy access to your essential equipment. In dry, colder conditions, the cut of the Softie Smock enables you to layer effectively with additional thinner insulation, or warmer layers worn underneath so that core temperature can be effectively managed.
The ML Softie® Smock allows essential equipment to be carried centrally, with easy access when wearing a day sack, expedition pack or climbing harness, and maintains its core functionality with other essential outdoor equipment. To compliment the ML Softie Smock®, it can be worn with the Sleeka Softie® Salopettes for complete thermal insulation in extremes of temperature.
APALS® (All Purpose Adhesive Light Strips)
Each jacket is supplied with one APALS®
Can be seen up to 1 mile
Runtime 200+ hours
Waterproof, Dustproof & shockproof
Out on review:
I've used Snugpak for a number of years now, I was first introduced to them on my Duke of Edinburgh Gold expeditions with Exped Wales using the Scorpion tents and have always been very impressed with the quality and price of the equipment.
I have been really pleased with the comfort, warmth and practicality of the ML smock. Plenty of pockets, a large fleece lined pocket to keep your hands warm, chest pocket for carrying maps, compass, GPS or on the Snowdoniatogfest2017 weekend photographic filters, wireless remote, lens wipes and cloths.
This jacket was a life saver over the weekend to say the least and kept me very warm and dry in Storm Brian. The first day of use on the Friday was extremely windy with light showers but wearing this with a Snugpak Impact fleece below kept me toasty and dry, no issues at all. Minus my hands but the thumb loops helped to cover my hands and tucking them inside the main fleece pocket helped them warm up very quickly. From here on for most of the weekend I swapped to wearing my SealSkinz waterproof gloves as I was using a tripod a lot of the time or scrambling over wet slate and rocks.
Saturday was the worst conditions for photography or just being out in general. Huge shame but it didn't stop us from going out. Myself and Shaun Mills started the day off by climbing up a small hill at Capel Curig to 'see' the view down Ogwen valley and down to Snowdon Massif. We a fast moving front and thick cloud you couldn't see 30 meters in front of you and added with a strong driving rain that came in, it was a dash for cover and shield cameras and ourselves from the condition.
However despite the weather using the ML smock plus a rain jacket over the top kept me again incredibly dry and warm! Even with a 60mph gust and rain falling pretty much horizontally and into your face and lens. I could not feel the effects of Storm Brian, now we weren't high up but a good 350-400 meters on the side of a exposed hill side you still had to wrapped up or you'd quickly run into problems.
So much rain had come down in Ogwen valley that the path we walked up became a small stream, the ground underneath us quickly became a muddy bog and Ogwen valley as a whole became a large river.
Waterfalls and streams appeared out of nowhere, its scary but magically at the same time.
Following our soggy walk on the boggy hill we made a trip over to the coast, hoping for some larger waves and dramatic views from the storm. Unfortunately it wasn't like that at all just more high winds and rain. As you can see the general trend for the day was wind and rain making it difficult to get anywhere.
As I have previously mentioned the ML Softie is incredibly warm, the ML6 is rated suitable down to -10 so ideal for winter mountaineering and hiking. Summer maybe not the lighter weight smocks Snugpak would cover this season.
Due to the low temperatures the smock can handle it is a little big, a few people who saw me in it described it as a duvet! Nothing wrong with this and they were very jealous they didn’t have one because it was very cold and more recently with the fog and icy mornings but be prepared for a big jacket to arrive.
Its easy to squash down however so if you are carrying a larger 40L pack you can pack it tightly inside of a dry bag for example to help save space.
However it is great to just keep on as it is water resistant in showers, use of YKK zips helps protect your pockets and belongs stored inside and it is also quick drying. I found in Wales when I was caught in light showers or generally being lazy in putting my heavier weight jacket on I knew I could get away with it with the ML Softie on and just simply patting it down when I got somewhere dry did the trick.
I will certainly be continuing to use this jacket on expeditions, training and on windy days. The level of protection it offers is staggering. As I described about the hillside or coast, 60mph gusts at a bone chilling 5 degrees in the wind and the jacket just shrugged it off and kept me extremely comfortable, like a walk in the park really.
When it wasn’t raining the use of fleeces and thinner layers below the smock helped to keep me comfortable whilst hiking and roaming around the hills with the other photographers and when it did warm up in the sun, I could take off a layer and simply keep this on top and was comfortable but a touch on the warm side.
However the speed the conditions changed was hard to keep up with - Bitter cold winds and attempting to rain, moments later no wind, no rain and the sun shining in your face. You could easily end up like a yoyo putting clothing on and off. Fortunately I didn’t have that issue.
The jacket is retailed at £195, you may think this is expensive but for what this jacket gives in harsh environments you quickly see where the costs and quality goes. The Softie filling, waterproofing, windproof and general quality makes it a viable option for all but certainly professional navigators and mountain leaders.
You can quickly see the inspiration and input from mountain leaders, climbers and military personnel. Between them all they live and breathe the outdoors and with this smock you can see why it is a popular choice for those mountaineering and navigating the hills.
Even the addition of the APALS light strips shows the thoughts and needs where this jacket will be used often - Emergency needs or low visibility and forever changing weather on the mountains. With multiple patches to attach the light to you are not limited as to which side you are most visible which is needed if you are leading a group.
I didn’t test the light out in my review so I can mention how strong or long it will last but Snugpak claim it will be seen up to 1 mile and last for 200+ miles.
It is worth noting that the Velcro straps on the arm sometimes catch when you put take your bag on and off. I’ve had no issues with tears etc but one to keep an eye on and just being careful.
Overall I have been thoroughly impressed with the Softie ML6, although at times I might look like a walking duvet. I’m a very warm and comfy duvet at that and it makes other people jealous in the cold conditions so call it what you like.
The all round perform and usage of the jacket is great from it being waterproof, wind proof and a multitude of pockets to help you out in easy and convenient points makes it a popular option for the outdoors and difficult areas and terrain.
My favourite aspects of the jacket were the deep front pocket you get plus the fleece lined hand pockets to the side. One for keeping your hands warm and dry, the other great for storing items of use; I know this will become very handy when navigation training comes in with DofE so I can keep a compass and map to hand at all times rather than faffing with the lid of my rucksack.
A great jacket for any adventure leader, mountaineer, climber or navigator in the hills, the smock is certainly an item you won’t regret spending extra on.
ML6 Softie Smock extended winter review:
2017 and winter has had one big theme about it, not the weather. The number of down jackets about, they have become the latest trend in fashion but these jackets are old school in the outdoors have been the go to jacket for winter for many years.
With the ML6 being a technical jacket and with the ability to cope with lower temperatures I thought it would be handy for readers to see how well Snugpaks exclusive Softie material really copes and whether the smock really is worth its cost.
As you will have read previously it coped extremely well and I stayed very warm and dry in the height of Storm Brian in Snowdonia as reviews go the ML6 excelled in the environment and you could clearly see the level of experience put into the smock from Mountain Leaders and others alike.
During this time in Wales however it wasn’t cold, cold not like what we have just witnessed in December with areas of Scotland reaching -15 and even in the South of the UK reaching -8 on some mornings! With these temperatures and the added rain and snow we’ve had a good cold winter so far and we have more to come yet and boy am I glad I have this smock!
The ML6 is said to cope down to temperatures of -10 and it does this extremely well in fact every time it has snowed or been that cold I would only wear this smock with just a casual shirt underneath or if I was going further a field for expedition and navigation training with our DofE teams I would use the Snugpak Impact Fleece.
These two together are a great combination in this cold weather and will keep you the wearer very warm indeed. The ML6 has proven to be even better suited for this weather with the windproof material used and shower proof so when caught on the top of a exposed hill in wind or during snow showers the smock keeps you dry and warm whilst you carry on.
I’ve previously commented on the pockets from Wales but the chest pocket is very helpful in this period as you can store gloves or a hat with ease and have them to hand very quickly when needed.
To further reinforce my comments from Wales and my experience with the smock here, using it during these colder months has really shown how great this smock is and the level of expertise brought in from Mountain Leaders, Climbers and professionals alike.
It’s a superb smock and one that will continue to get great use for many years into the future.
Transparency Notice: Please note that I am a Snugpak brand ambassador and receive the products for free to review from Snugpak. The review is no guarantee of endorsement. I receive no monetary gain from Snugpak from the reviews.