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If you're looking for a simple and effective hiking jacket that won't cost the world, then the Salomon La Cote Stretch 2.5L Jacket on test may just fit the bill.
Best for...
Hikers and hillwalkers looking for a light, stylish, waterproof layer without pretensions
Overall Score
A simple, stylish and versatile jacket destined to have wide appeal
Side zips are a bit fiddly if wearing with pack with a hip belt

As Paulo Coelho once said, 'it's the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.' Whilst we're fully aware that the infamous Brazilian novelist was unlikely to be musing about the pros and cons of outdoor apparel when he made this statement, his observation can and does extend into the world of gear design and technology.

So many jackets on the market these days come with features and tech that will only ever be appreciated by elite mountain athletes. More often than not, regular outdoor enthusiasts and weekend warriors find themselves shelling out inordinate amounts of cash for products designed to take the best of the best to their limits in most extreme environments. Whilst it may be pretty cool that your £800 jacket has been designed to function at 8,000m, it would seem to be a tad excessive if you only ever go hiking in the Lakes, hillwalking in Scotland or trekking in the Alps.

That's why it is refreshing to come across the Salomon La Cote Stretch 2.5L Jacket - a light, stylish, well thought out women's hiking jacket that has managed to resist the lure of the over-engineer. With just the right amount of bells and whistles, the La Cote 2.5's purpose is to hike in a range of terrain and weather conditions and it has been built to that brief.

At 288g, the La Cote is both light and easily packable (simply roll it into it's own hood) so it won't swallow up excessive space in your pack. As a 2.5L waterproof jacket, it provides an effective barrier against the elements but without the same rigidity associated with a traditional hardshell thanks to the super stretchy fabric. Uber comfortable and soft next to skin, the La Cote Stretch 2.5L feels great as soon as you put it on and delivers maximum freedom of movement out on the hill.

In terms of breathability, we'd give it a 3 out of 5 which will be fine for most hillwalkers venturing into cool, rainy terrain but it may be a touch clammy if you plan on using it as a running jacket or heading to the jungle for a rainforest trek.

Features-wise, the La Cote Stretch 2.5L Jacket is fit for purpose and no more. The hood is adjustable but not helmet compatible (which is just fine because we're going for a hillwalk, not up the North Face of the Eiger - remember?). The main zip is water repellant and it comes with 2 zipped hand pockets on the front of the jacket, but slightly frustratingly, there's no internal pocket.

If things get a little warm within, there are side zippers for increased airflow but we found them to be a tricky to operate when wearing a pack with a hip belt.

All in all, the La Cote Stretch 2.5L Jacket is a great jacket that knows its limits and the needs of its market. We look forward to taking it on lots of memorable but not necessarily super technical adventures this summer.

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