I can truly find no reason for the extraordinary cost of waterproof jackets for walking in Cumbria and other anorak-y pursuits. I find it hard to believe that since the invention of Gore-Tex there have really been any revolutions in the manufacture of water- and wind-proof material sufficient to justify the astronomical prices on show in Keswick's many emporia of outdoor wear. Anoraks are surely not such a niche industry that I should be paying for their entire research budget with a single purchase. So it must come down to design.
Here again though there are certain features which really should be a given - the peaked hood, for example, is clearly industry standard because once you've had one you really never want to go back to the type that lets rain run down your face. Which pretty much just leaves
- colour - a toss up between tasteful 'landscape' colours or noisy 'rescue me' combinations - again hardly requiring vast imagination,
- shape - so called female-fit is to be approached warily as it will either cut off your circulation or make you look like a blimp,
- tactile qualities - OK I have to admit the apparently brushed cotton effect of my husband's astronomically expensive jacket is more pleasing than typical waterproof material, and
- pointless gimmicks - including the ability to zip in a fleece lining (the whole point is you want to be able to add and remove layers easily, not by fighting them apart) and the curious pocket / button hole / tiny loop combination that is supposed to keep your 'entertainment system' in place - am I alone in thinking that my i-pod is primarily for the exclusion of unwanted reality and therefore of least possible relevance when out on the fells?
All this aside, I am pretty pleased with my new anorak, which is infinitely more tasteful than my previous green. blue & burgundy number and has nifty little reflective stripes so that I can blend into the mountain in general but still be found. More to the point, there is still nothing to beat the view from Coniston Old Man to put things in perspective - and nothing like the millionaires shortbread at the Jumping Jenny Cafe at Brantwood to enhance your look back across the lake at the peak.
Such are the activities of the low key high flyer...