Snugpak Tomahawk Insulated Cold Weather Jacket

There are times when when you’re doing this job you’re so glad you have a certain piece of gear and the Snugpak Tomahawk Jacket is one of them, writes Mike Gormley.


It was especially timely when Snugpak sent me one of their recently introduced Tomahawk jackets to try out. We had long planned a trip to Scotland for March and knew it would be chilly at best, and could even be chilly and most likely wet, so this was a very welcome addition to the kit list. Even before we left, the Tomahawk was earning “brownie points” as a comfortable, easy-to-wear jacket.

Very happy to wear the Tomahawk on another day of indifferent cold windy weather and showers as we hiked the Quiraing (A’ Chuith-Raing) over North Skye [©JG]

However, as we entered the Western Isles and further north, the Tomahawk was never far from my reach. We traveled north in good weather but on our first ferry crossing, from Ardrossan to Brodick on the Isle of Arran, the jacket quickly proved its worth. Dragging on an exposed dock, the Tomahawk offered a warm and welcoming place. Once on the ferry and one of those who have to be on deck to take in the view, a scenario to be repeated many times during our trip, this Snugpak jacket quickly showed its true colors against the freezing wind. The Paratex Light outer shell fabric (Paratex Micro for the MultiCam option) clearly worked well to keep the wind out, and Snugpak’s Softie insulation did its job well as well.

The Tomahawk Jacket’s low-cut/scalloped lower back covers often overlooked lower regions [©JG]

It soon became very apparent with this jacket that although its performance often seemed to be very OTT, with a comfort rating down to minus 15°C and low to minus 20°C, it actually seemed to fit well into the type of clothing that you can wear more or less. at all times while remaining very comfortable. Maybe there were times when others must have thought I was a bit of a “southern blanket”, but I know I was happy with where I was! As our trip progressed further north and out into the hills, I became happier and happier to have this jacket. As soon as I got out of my Land Rover it was on.

Back in Devon after our trip to Scotland and the Tomahawk is still a good choice for a walk on the beach on a day with a crisp crisp wind [©JG]

It must be said that this jacket, even if it is not classified as waterproof, can be worn happily in the rain; something I have done many times, including during very heavy downpours. As for the cold winds, it keeps them away very well.

Front zip can be attached under the chin ~ just take a look here to see a Snugpak Impact Fleece which makes a great mid or top layer ~ also note the zipped chest and arm pockets [©JG]

Depending on the local weather, the Tomahawk could be zipped up and sometimes the hood was up as well. The hood is easy to remove and reattach, but on our trip I mostly had it in place and ready to go when needed. The hook and loop on both sides and the back zipper fastening system are neat and work well. The front zipper goes just under the chin to insulate the wearer against the elements and keep warmth where it should be…inside.

The detachable hood is snug and can be fully adjusted to allow good peripheral vision or maximum protection [©JG]

The top of the inner zipper and neck area are covered in brushed polyester, as is the inside of the main pockets, which adds significantly to overall warmth and comfort for the wearer. There are also useful pockets on the left arm, left chest and inside chest. Mind you, it would be handy if all of them had the pull tabs found on some of the zippers. Cold gloved fingers need all the help they can get when working zippers.

This is a “generously sized” jacket which adds to the comfort, which is reinforced with drawcords on either side of the hem and in particular the prominent low back scoop which does a great job of keeping the cold out of those areas so often exposed when bending over. This extension is generous enough that you can tuck it under the “back cheeks” to keep the breeze out when you sit down. The adjustable cuffs on the arms are also great for keeping the wind out.

The generous hollowed or scalloped back panel of the Snugpak Tomahawk [©MG]

Produced in five sizes, from S to XXL, the Tomahawk is available in Olive (as seen here) or MultiCam; the latter being a little more expensive due to the intellectual property rights licensing fees payable on the camouflage pattern material. As is usually the case with Snugpak insulated garments, the jacket comes with its own stuff sack, making it easier to contain when not in use. In these days of rising fuel bills, maybe it could be used around the house – that’s okay, nobody’s watching.

When not in use, the otherwise bulky Tomahawk can be stored in its own supplied storage bag. [©MG]

Finally, we met an inspiring couple while walking on a secluded beach in Skye while I was wearing my Tomahawk on a cool, windy day. John has MND and when we met we learned about the expeditions they will soon be doing in Nepal and Norway. I noticed they were looking at the jacket. Story cut short, we’ve stayed in touch and they’ll be taking their own Tomahawks with them on their expeditions. A very good choice in my opinion.

A usual visit to pay homage to the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge with snow capped Ben Nevis in the background ~ what a difference it would have made to those gnarly lads in WW2 to have had gear like we wear it now [©JG]

[ images Jean or Mike Gormley]


Editor’s Note: Mike’s “Southern softy” comment made me smile as it reminded me of my mate’s words as we strolled briskly between The Holt and Wine late on a weekend evening during this very cold period of March. He said: “I know we ‘extract the urine’ when you walk into the cozy pub wearing one of your [Snugpak] MultiCam insulated jackets, but tonight I really wish I had your foresight! How does this old adage come about? Any cup can be uncomfortable?


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