At 8.8 oz (247 g) the Haglöfs LIM Ultimate Jacket shatters the Gore-Tex weight barrier. It was the lightest Gore-Tex jacket tested by 4 oz (114 g). If fact, it came within a smidge of being the lightest full-zip jacket tested, weighing only 0.2 oz (6g) more than the polyurethane-coated Montane Superfly.
At that weight you can pair the Haglöfs LIM and a highly breathable windshirt like a Marmot Chinook or Montane Aero – even a light woven soft shell like a Marmot Sirocco or Cloudveil Prospector – and still come in at a total weight less than that of many ultralight polyurethane shells by themselves. With the Haglöfs LIM and an ultralight soft shell jacket, you get what may be the ultimate in a flexible shell system – a comfortable soft shell for most conditions and a highly breathable, fully waterproof, rain shell as a backup when the heavens open up.
Why “LIM?” Less Is More.
Martin Kossler of Haglöfs’ says “It was our intention to make the lightest Gore-Tex jacket available without sacrificing function or fit.” The LIM Ultimate Jacket offers a number of functional niceties for a sub-250 g jacket. It has a roomy fit, articulated elbows, a stiffened brim on a roomy hood with front and rear adjustments, a dual toggle elastic drawcord hem, a full length #5 (6 mm) front zipper with a hem snap, and durable 2.3 oz/yd2 (78 g/m2) fabric. The only concessions to weight savings: the Haglöfs LIM has only single napoleon pocket, elastic (non-adjustable) wrist cuffs, no pit-zips and a short front hem.
The Haglöfs LIM Ultimate Jacket uses a new version of 2-layer Gore-Tex PacLite fabric called Matrix. As far as we can tell, it is sourced out of Europe and not available in US garments. At 2.3 oz (78 g/m2) it’s about 13% lighter than the 2.6 oz (88 g/m2) PacLite III used in the US. The Haglöfs LIM has a well-fitting hood equally suited for backpacking and sheltering a climbing helmet. With a short (harness-friendly) hem, the Haglöfs LIM Ultimate Jacket may find favor among backpackers or climbers looking for the lightest and most breathable rain shell.
The £170.00 (approx $305) price tag is a bit steep but you get a combination of weight, breathability, features, durability and low pack volume that is hard to find in other garments. The LIM is not distributed in the US so you’ll have to order it from a UK stockist (stockist = Brit for retailer).
- Style – Hooded Jacket
- Fabric Class – Waterproof breathable – polyurethane laminated PTFE
- Fabric Description – Gore-Tex PacLite Matrix 2.3 oz/yd2 (78 g/m2)
- Breathability Specification – Maximum Ret of 60, ISO 11092 Test
- Claimed Weight – 9.5 oz (270 g) Men’s medium
- Actual Weight – 8.8 oz (366 g) (Men’s Size M as validated on BackpackingLight.com scales)
- MSRP – £170.00 (approx $305) available from UK stockists
Graded subjectively on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest).
Ventilation Options (3.5)
The Haglöfs LIM Jacket has a full zipper, a roomy fit, a large hood with a wide range of adjustability, and a drawcord hem. The roominess and adjustability of the fit allows for a bellows and chimney ventilation if you are active. Mesh-backed torso pockets and pit zips would have made the Haglöfs LIM Ultimate Jacket the cream of the crop in lightweight ventilated rainwear.
The Haglöfs LIM’s large-volume hood has a foam stiffened brim, front aperture draw cord with dual single hand cord locks (with a unique oval shape that was easy to use with gloved hands), and a unique circular draw cord at the back of the hood (similar to a pack’s lashing bungee) that adjusts with a single cord lock. The LIM’s hood adjusts to a wide range of volumes, balancing storm protection and ventilation. The hood easily snugs down to a bare head or adjusts all the way up for added ventilation or to accommodate a full-sized climbing helmet. The LIM is certainly one of the lightest waterproof breathable jackets on the market that can accept a full-sized climbing helmet.
The water resistant, single slider, full-length front zipper provides ventilation, is backed by a storm flap for additional moisture protection, and has a “slider garage” at the top. The #5 (6 mm) zipper is larger than the #3 used most sub-250 g shells. We found it easier (smoother) to operate than many other water resistant zippers. The bottom hem opening secures with an additional snap.
The jacket has a single un-vented napoleon pocket. It’s strategically located to miss both shoulder straps and hipbelts. The pocket is suitable for a small camera, GPS unit, a map, or a couple of energy bars. Haglöfs takes a different approach to the front pocket, using a storm flap over a conventional zipper. Since some water may enter the pocket when you open and close it (or if you put wet gear inside) they added a small drain at the bottom. The conventional zipper is certainly easier to operate than a water-resistant zipper, and is a very smart choice of materials for a pocket, which one often accesses with only one hand! (2005 models will change to a #3 water resistant zipper for the pocket.) We would have preferred twin chest/handwarmer (mesh backed!) pockets above the belt line. They would have provided more storage and hand protection and increased ventilation for only a bit more weight and cost.
A unique feature of the Haglöfs LIM is the use of thumb loop openings at the wrist closure. We assume that that they are there for temporary rain and wind protection for ungloved hands. The end of the cuffs do provide reasonable protection for your hands but still leave the thumb and fingers available for things like trekking poles or handling a GPS unit. They also help the sleeves create a seal when used in combination with a pair of rain gloves or mitts.
The Haglöfs LIM Ultimate Jacket offers a roomy fit that is comfortable when worn over only a base layer, but still has enough volume to layer over a fleece jacket or even a light synthetic filled jacket. The hood is large enough for a full sized climbing helmet but can be adjusted down to a low volume for maximum storm protection – even over a bare head.
The jacket is cut a bit short – great for climbing since it doesn’t interfere with a harness or pack waistbelt. The hem comes down to just below the belt front. It is cut lower in the back and provides complete protection for the butt. Another inch or two of hem length in the front and rear would have offered significantly more rain protection for lightweight backpackers who often leave rain pants at home.
The Haglöfs LIM Ultimate Jacket offers excellent articulation in the hood, shoulders, and elbows. The “hands up” sleeve articulation, pre-bent elbows and long sleeve length resulted in no wrist exposure or rising of the hem when reaching overhead (alleviating our concerns about the short hem riding too high). The LIM’s generously sized hood provides excellent head-turning mobility while wearing a pack. While wearing a fleece jacket and a base layer underneath the shell, there was no binding in the shoulders when crossing arms across the chest. The jacket even worked well layered over a light synthetic fill garment (e.g. Patagonia Puffball).
Graded subjectively on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest).
Storm Resistance (5.0)
The Haglöfs LIM Ultimate Jacket kept us nice and dry in heavy rain. The front zipper is the only place for potential leakage. The water resistant front zipper, which is backed by a very small storm flap, successfully kept heavy rain out, but we haven’t yet evaluated the performance of the system over time (we have been finding that long term performance of some waterproof zippers results in “aging” of the zipper that leads to leakage).
The deep hood with its generous brim and excellent adjustability provided good face protection from driving rain. The arms are very long and have plenty of room to withdraw hands into the sleeves to keep them dry. In addition, we liked the thumb loops at the wrist cuffs for providing some protection to ungloved hands while leaving fingers clear to manipulate gear.
The single napoleon pocket uses a storm flap over a standard (non-water resistant) zipper. The pocket is backed by PacLite Matrix fabric. We found that very little rain manages to get into the pocket, but Haglöfs provides a drain vent at the bottom in case it does.
Our only complaint is that for backpackers leaving rain pants at home, the hem is a bit too short in front. The jacket’s hem is longer in the rear, and while not providing extensive coverage it comes just below the butt and will be adequate for most backpackers.
With all zippers and vents closed, the Haglöfs LIM Ultimate Jacket was among the more breathable jackets our reviewers have tested. This is mostly due to the high breathability of the PacLite Matrix fabric used in the body. The only jackets that breathed better were eVENT based jackets at almost twice the weight of the Haglöfs LIM.
We hiked uphill at a brisk pace while wearing a pack for an hour at 40 °F (4 °C). By the end of the hike, our base layer was mostly damp (even wet in a few places), but it remained drier than tests performed while wearing other sub-300 g jackets made with polyurethane-based waterproof-breathable technologies. At moderate exertion levels, hiking with a 20 lb pack on level ground at 3 mph at 40 °F (4 °C), we stayed comfortable, with moisture only building up underneath the pack and its shoulder straps.
The Haglöfs LIM Ultimate Jacket performed well in high aerobic activity. We hiked uphill with a pack on for an hour at 40 °F (5 °C). We were breathing hard for much of the hike. At the end, our base layer was damp, but drier than with other sub-300 g polyurethane WP/B jackets we’ve tested. We did feel the lack of ventilation from meshed backed pockets or pit-zips. As mentioned earlier, the roominess of the fit and large hood allows for some bellows and chimney ventilation if you are active. At moderate exertion levels, hiking with a 20 lb pack on level ground at 3 mph at 35 °F (3 °C), we stayed comfortable, with minimal moisture buildup.
Although PacLite Matrix is not the most durable fabric available, it certainly has one of the higest durability:weight ratios of any waterproof-breathable fabric on the market. The Haglöfs LIM is tougher than most jackets we’ve tested in the sub-250 g (most of which use fabrics between 1.3 and 1.6 oz/yd2). The Haglöfs LIM held up fine when we subjected it to scraping against occasional rocks, bushwacking, and other normal abuses of backpacking. Our only concern: exposed Lycra-hemmed sleeves, which we expect to fray and wear as the jacket ages. A hem rolled over elastic might prove more durable.
The £170.00 (approx $305) price tag is a bit steep but you get a combination of weight, breathability, features, durability and packability that cannot be found in another garment. As mentioned earlier, paired with a light wind shirt of soft shell the Haglöfs LIM Ultimate jacket may provide the cornerstone of one of the most functional ultralight shell systems available.
Recommendations for Improvement
Given the weight of the Haglöfs LIM Ultimate Jacket, it’s hard to find many faults. It has a reasonable feature set, good breathability, and is surprisingly tough. As with any un-vented garment you will overheat and begin accumulating moisture in your clothing system at higher exertion levels.
If we had everything we wanted, we’d love to see dual, mesh-backed, torso pockets and pit-zips to increase ventilation on the LIM. We think Haglöfs could do this and still bring the jacket in under 10 oz (285 g).