Review: OMM Kamleika Waterproof Jacket

OMM Kamleika

The tagline for the OMM Kamleika jacket (I mean, why would you even own a jacket without its own tagline?) is; The Jacket for the Mountain Athlete

I’m no mountain athlete, or any type of athlete for that matter, but I have been searching for the perfect waterproof jacket for around 15 years including three years at sea with many a squall and wave trying to hug me.

To me, a perfect waterproof jacket does not crackle or swush or make much of any sound at all. It shouldn’t be horrible to wear or feel horrible. It shouldn’t make me prefer to just get wet. I didn’t know that such a thing could possibly exist and perhaps it didn’t a decade ago. But it sure as hell does now.

OMM didn’t send me this either by the way. I can’t even remember how I came across it but I bought it last winter and we’ve been having a head-rush love affair ever since.

Introducing the OMM Kamleika

OMM is a brand that I hadn’t really heard much about. It stands for Original Mountain Marathon, which certainly gives the impression that they might know a thing or two about waterproof jackets that are good to wear. Nobody wants to run a mountain marathon in an uncomfortable jacket. I’m assuming.

The OMM Kamleika comes in men’s and women’s with small differences to the cut and styling. I know this sounds improbable, but they also don’t really change the colour. Yes fellow women, you read that right.

The women’s version of the Kamleika is not pink. Instead, both men’s and women’s jackets have roughly the same colours (okay, the 2020 stitching has gendered tendencies but I can live with that). They do have a purple, or they did in the 4th gen anyway, but that wasn’t your only option. This shouldn’t be revolutionary in the tail end of 2020 but let’s face it, it is.

The Kamleika is now in its 5th generation according to OMM so it’s a mainstay of their product range. I bought mine last year, and have it in black with orange stitching. There’s a new colour range now which is muted and lovely.

The colour shebang was the first thing I noticed, mainly because I’d spent ages looking for a waterproof jacket and it seemed like all of them were garish pinks and purples. Not that I have anything against the colours per se, but neither are what I’d choose as a dominant colour for half my body. You get me?

The Kamleika’s Secret Weapon (actually it’s got three)

I won’t keep you hanging, here are the three amazing attributes to the OMM Kamleika:

  1. It’s really stretchy
  2. It doesn’t swush
  3. It has thumb loops
omm kamleika jacket womens

#1 It’s Really Stretchy

Bearing in mind that this is a waterproof jacket with a hydrostatic head of 20,000, the fact it’s stretchy at all is impressive. But the level of stretch in the Kamleika borders on wizardry. No, I cannot explain it to you. I cannot explain how a stretchy fabric can possible be waterproof but it very much is. The only thing they’ll tell me is that they’ve spent decades fine tuning their proprietary fabric – which is exactly what a wizard would say.

The stretchiness feels lovely and is complemented by the soft fabric on the outside and inside. It just doesn’t feel like a waterproof jacket. Which brings me onto point two.

#2 It Doesn’t Swush

Spellcheck says ‘swush’ isn’t a word but ‘swoosh’ is too swooshy. I suppose ‘rustle’ could be appropriate but that just reminds me of hamsters getting comfortable in a hay bed. Anyway, if you’ve ever worn a waterproof jacket or worse, waterproof trousers, you know what I’m talking about. The dreaded swush. The noise that means you can’t sneak up on anybody. It makes you sound like you’re wearing the Tesco carrier bags of yore.

The OMM Kamleika makes people go misty-eyed when they arrive in my waterproofed presence (not often right now, admittedly) because it doesn’t swush. In fact, it’s basically silent as you wander along in the drizzle.

#3 It Has Thumb Loops (but not just any thumb loops)

If you don’t appreciate thumb loops, please comment below and tell me why. I’m sure there is a good reason, I just can’t think of one.

The Kamleika has thumb loops which is great because I hate a chilly wrist but get this: the thumb loops are detachable at one end. So you can undo them. There’s no pulling your sleeve down to get the loop over your probably gloved thumb, you just undo the velcro tab – génie, non?

This also means that, should you not want your thumb through the loop and instead want a tight wrist cuff, you just do it up tightly there.

While we’re in this region, the top of the cuff is a little longer than the underside, so it covers the back of your hand a little more. Bliss.

Other Rad Features on the OMM Kamleika

This is technically a running jacket I suppose, although I use it for running, cycling and hiking.

An Adjustable Hood

It has an adjustable hood which is particularly useful (and clever).

On the 4th gen version, you can operate it one handed (good for bike riding unless you’re showing off), as you just pull the cord at each side until it’s cinched and then pull it up to sit in the…slotted thing (did you know I’m a published author?) To undo one-handed, you just pull it out of the slotted thing. In my linguistic defence, I bet you can’t come up with a better word for the slotted thing picture below. If you can, let me know.

Yeah, I see you linguistic determinism.

The hood has a sturdy peak too, to stop the rain driving quite so pointedly into your face.

In the 5th gen (currently the most recent), they got so sick of being unable to name the slotted thing that they did away with it entirely and instead invented something even cooler. They created an ‘internal cradle’ that, in combination with a back-of-the-head adjuster, holds the hood in place no matter what the weather’s up to.

Taped Seams

There’s nothing not joyous about the phrase ‘taped seams’.

It’s Lightweight and Packs Small

The jacket weighs around 235g, depending on the size, which feels like nothing. It also packs down super small for when the rain goes away. The only thing that gets in the way is the peak of the hood but this can be squished easily, it just feels almost wrong to do so.

A ‘Dynamic’ Droptail

It has a droptail – the back is slightly longer than the front – which is especially nice while cycling. Its dynamic attribute is from a waist cincher, because nobody wants a gust up their midriff.

It’s Not Heinously Expensive

When I was looking for a waterproof jacket, I kept coming across ones that were £300 or more. Now, the Kamleika is a shell so it doesn’t have lots of bells and whistles on the inside and this brings the price down perhaps, but a shell is my safe space. This is because any physical activity puts you through a lot of temperature changes and, often, I’ve been wearing it in summer rain so I don’t want an insulated lining. In winter? I have a thin down jacket or a jumper underneath.

Anyway, I bought my Kamleika for £135, on sale, from Pete Bland Sports, a lovely sport shop up in the Lake District. At the time of writing, OMM actually have the 4th generation jackets (aka mine) on sale on their own website for £130. (Men’s here and Women’s here). The latest 5th gen from OMM are £190.

I’m not saying this isn’t a lot of money, but I’ve bought cheaper waterproof jackets before and mainly just chosen to get wet because they lacked anything intuitive, felt awful and didn’t make rain any more fun. The Kamleika makes everything fun – sometimes I don’t even take it off once the rain has stopped. Hell, if its windy, I’ll just wear it in the dry because it stops windchill.

What can I tell you? It’s waterproof, it’s windproof, it’s soft and stretchy and quiet, it looks damn nice and I once waded into a river wearing it to rescue a stranger’s exhausted, duck-chasing hound and carried said saturated dog all the way back to shore and even that didn’t soak through the jacket.

If you’re looking for a waterproof jacket – this is probably it.

Here’s the women’s version:

Here’s the men’s:

Have you met a jacket that sounds like it could rival the Kamleika? Please do share it the comments because when everybody is dry and comfortable outdoors, the world will be a markedly better place.

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