Review of Mountain Equipment Mens Rupal Jacket:

The Mountain Equipment Rupal  is a no nonsense waterproof jacket made of 75 denier 3 layer Gore-tex throughout, it comes in four colourways (two tones of blue, crimson, dark blue and two tone orange) and weighs in at 570g (20.1 oz for us dinosaurs who still remember them). It has two large chest pockets, underarm pit=zips, a two way Aquaguard front zip, a helmet compatible hood and pre-shaped sleeves. It has hem drawcords and laminated adjustable cuffs. It’s priced at £270 and available in sizes S to XXL.

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OK so that’s the manufacturers blurb dispensed with, so what’s it like and when to use it?
I have had my Rupal for a couple of years now, and have used it extensively. The 75D fabric makes it suitable for backpacking with a heavy expedition sack, so I tend to save it for those sort of occasions, using my lighter E-vent or older M.E Ogre jacket for day walks. I also use it as my working jacket when leading and teaching skills commercially. As a result the Rupal has accompanied on all my winter mountaineering in Scotland, carrying heavily laden sacks into remote locations, and on all the weekends I have been Ten Tors training Scouts on Dartmoor, where I have to carry not only all my own camping kit but additional safety equipment relating to my leader role. This kind of use tends to quickly show up weaknesses on the shoulder areas of lighter fabrics, but this 75D fabric shrugs it off and I’ve had no water ingress.
It amazes me when, working in a local gear shop, how few people think to check the hoods on jackets when trying them on. This is a serious mistake. In the case of the Rupal there are no fears: the Helmet compatible hood initially seems large and baggy, but synching in the adjusters around the face and the rear hood adjuster, a good fit is achieved, and the peak is very stiff and really excellent, with good scope for keeping your glasses dry. The face adjustment cords are channelled to avoid the ends flapping in your face and work well. When fitted properly, the hood follows the head around excellently, and you never find yourself looking at the inside of your hood.
 The pockets are well positioned and hang above any hip-belt or sit-harness. M.E advise that these pockets, although fitted with water resistant zips, are not completely waterproof, and that any electronic goods (e.g. your mobile phone) should be further protected if placed in the pockets. The pockets are large and significantly, they easily swallow a laminated O.S 1:25000 map. They are well positioned for warming hands in too if need be.
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I rarely use the pit-zips because I find it awkward to open them without removing my rucksack and probably would have the same trouble closing them, so generally I only vent the jacket between showers. I admit I sometimes get a little too sweaty in it, but often this is probably because my excellent PHD Tundra jacket is too hot for the circumstances and I should have removed it when I put on the Rupal.
I like the hem drawcords, which draw the jacket nicely in round the bum, but  the one fault I’ve had with the Rupal is the little cord ends, made of plastic on these are prone to come off allowing the cord to pull through into the hem which can only be retrieved with time and warm fingers.
A lot of the times I’ve worn this jacket have been clambering up Munro’s in winter, and this entails reaching high above the head at times. This is where the long pre-shaped arms come in. They don’t ride up and you don’t get a gap forming between sleeve and glove. I might like the sleeve openings slightly wider perhaps but they are very adequate and easily fasten with Velcro type fastenings.
The jacket is a little heavier and bulkier than Paclite, Pertex and Event offerings, but not much and it still fits into my sack with ease. Some people find it a little stiff (like being in a crisp packet is an oft used expression) but I like the bombproof feeling I get when I’m battened down inside.
The jacket is not a  M.E. Lhotse in Gore-tex Pro, with pockets everywhere, but it is £130 cheaper and  all you need. I often wish it had one interior chest pocket (I could buy the £300 Makalu but the third pocket is still external), but in the case of jackets you get what you pay for generally, and you pay £30 for a pocket. If budget is tight and you can only afford to but one jacket then this is it.
The Rupal is a great jacket, a great balance between price and features, a great jacket for day walkers wanting to step up to expeditioning and great to be in when everything outside it is crap!

Postscript: M.E also make a Rupal for women in sizes 8-16 at the same price. They have 6 different colour ways and apart from being tailored more to the female shape, they are very similar to the mens. However as women tend to be smaller and more shapely, the chest pockets may not always be as cavernous as those on the mens jackets….check before you buy. My wifes size 14 will definitely not accommodate a map.

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