The OMM Phantom Hoody is a recent edition to their range, released in the autumn of 2014. As with the Nordisk Telemark 2, I first encountered the Phantom Hoody whilst working at the 2014 OMM in the Cheviot Hills, and as soon as I’d seen it and given it the obligatory test wear, I knew that my water-proof jacket collection would be expanding.
For those of you familiar with the OMM range, the Phantom Hoody is made from their Kamleika material, and to my mind, is the logical progression of the Kamleika series. It feels that the OMM have really considered the requirements of their competitors, and have created a lighter, even further stripped down version of the Kamleika Race Smock.
If you like to get nice and nerdy about your kit (and I certainly do), the Phantom Hoody is given a weight of 220g for size large, compared to the 230g for a large Kamleika Race Smock. Not much of a weight saving there, but the removal of the zip seems to really reduce the pack-size, allowing the Hoody to be rolled up incredibly tightly into its own hood without the problem of a zip getting in the way.
Hoho! I hear you cry; surely for the sake of 10g, it’s worth having a zip to be able to vent?
But I’m not convinced.
If you’re anything like me, you only put on your shell when the weather is absolutely foul, especially during high-intensity activities (such as Mountain Marathons). In these situations, a zip just isn’t that useful; what’s the point of putting a shell layer on if you’re then going to let all the rain piss in through a massive hole at the top? About as useful as a chocolate teapot really!
All the above is just posturing though; if you’d asked me 3 years ago, when I was fresh faced, and only just moved back up from London after working in Covent Garden, I’d have said “take the extra 10 grams, it gives you the option to vent”, but no more. The reason for this is simple: pure, hard-won experience.
My Phantom Hoody got its first use in anger at the 2015 OMM. Conditions on the Saturday morning were horrific, although probably just normal by OMM standards. So to stave off, or mitigate the rain, wind and seeping cold, the Phantom Hoody was on from minute one. On the start line, it was a little chilly. We had to get moving more quickly than we would have liked, in order to stop ourselves from seizing up, and this is where the Phantom Hoody started to shine.
I run warm, all the time, which means I’m usually that nut-case jogging past in just a pair of skimpy shorts in the middle of the winter. Keeps me at the right temperature you see. What was interesting about the Phantom Hoody, was that it also kept me at the correct temperature. There was an initial period, of about 5 to 10 minutes where the “micro-climate” inside the Hoody had to build up, but once that was established I was comfortable from then on. So much so in fact, that the Hoody remained on until way after the rain had stopped, until the sun suddenly burst out from behind the clouds, and my body immediately screamed “T-SHIRT TIME!”
The point I’m really trying to get across here, is that although the zip has been removed, you really didn’t need it anyway, and the Phantom Hoody provides that no-fuss garment to throw on over whatever you’re wearing at the time to keep out the weather.
I feel that I should give a quick overview of the fiddly details here, to bulk out description and help with decision making. Aside from the lovely 4-way stretch Kamleika material used, the features really have been kept to a minimum.
The hood is nice and snug, and with a medium-high collar it’s possible to cinch down the hood around your head and neck, keeping pretty much everything out. This is achieved by adjusting two elasticated cords either side of the hood, and one at the back to reduce volume which is nifty, and more importantly, means the hood stays put, even in foul weather. There is one more adjustable cord around the bottom of the Hoody, and again, it allows a nice tight seal to be created, keeping out the nasties.
The arms are a little longer than normal for a jacket, and this is because there are thumb-loops in the sleeves, allowing you to protect the back of your hands, should you so desire; very handy (hahaha). Interestingly, I also found the sleeves fairly easy to roll up to the elbow, and whilst my fore-arms aren’t quite what they used to be, it does indicate that very few people should have an issue with this aspect. As a side note, rolling up my sleeves allowed plenty of venting to keep me happy throughout the first part of the race.
There is one final feature; a Velcro tab which can be used to stow the hood away if not in use. I didn’t really feel the need to utilise this if truth be told, but it does double up, with a bit of thought, as an excellent retainer to keep the hoody all wrapped up inside itself when not in use.
Overall, I have to rate the Phantom Hoody very highly. I’ve run in some pretty awful weather, in a selection of waterproof garments, and have to say that I was by far the most comfortable in the Phantom. Other garments also include those made with Gore-Tex Active Shell, which I just found to be too hot and sweaty. I also like smocks, there’s very little to go wrong with them, and OMM have managed to take the smock concept all the way to its end point, without rendering it dysfunctional. An excellent waterproof for excellent running, I’d be surprised if I didn’t re-invest when (if) this one wears out.
One final note, and I’ll let you get off. It has to be mentioned that the Kamleika fabric isn’t as tough as some alternative waterproof garments. I know many people who swear by their Kamleika jackets for every activity under the sun, but if it was me, I would use something a little tougher for trekking, or other activities which require a heavy bag. The Phantom feels like a piece created with a job in mind, but it does that job fantastically well. Once again, thank you OMM.
Post by Johan
Edit (23/04/17): I should have added this a while back, so for that I apologise. Whilst using the Phantom Hoodie in warmer conditions – i.e. not wearing a fleece as an intermediate layer, but with the hoodie in direct skin/t-shirt contact – the build up of sweat inside appeared to draw water through the fabric from the outside. Unfortunately this left me cold and soaked through. I have to admit to not being a materials scientist, so I’m not sure if that’s an exactly accurate description of what happens, but it fits with my experience.
However, please understand that this only seems to happen when working hard, with the fabric directly next to the skin. When used on cooler races with an intermediate layer, I’ve not had any problems. If you also run cooler, it seems highly likely that you’ll experience no problems. As a double check, I’m off to stand in the shower with my hoodie on; I expect I’ll stay dry :).