‘Taiss’ is a word that means ‘steep’ in Friulian, the traditional mountain language of the Swiss-Italian Alps. It’s the name that Mammut has given to its all-round mountaineering range, which sits just below the Swiss brand’s pinnacle Eiger Extreme collection. However, Taiss products are all still focused on providing lightweight technical performance in classic rocky, glaciated Alpine terrain. As such, the Taiss HS (hard shell) is a technical waterproof jacket, suitable for all-weather hiking, hillwalking, scrambling, climbing, mountaineering and alpinism.
This is a well-designed jacket that balances the key qualities the typical outdoor user wants in a waterproof shell: reliable protection, decent durability, high breathability and a comfortable fit. It’s also reasonably lightweight and packable, and kitted out with a full range of technical features. For the Taiss HS, Mammut has used its in-house DRYtechnology Pro fabric (which has a Hydrostatic Head of 27,000mm) rather than an alternative waterproof-breathable membrane such as Gore-Tex. It’s a slightly stretchy fabric, and on paper stacks up well against more expensive Gore-Tex rivals.
So, is the Mammut Taiss good enough to join the ranks of the best waterproof jackets currently on the market? I took it into the mountains to put it to the test.
The Mammut Taiss Hard Shell Jacket: Specifications
- RRP: €375 (EUR)/ £325 (UK)
- Weight: 420g/23.3oz
- Hydrostatic Head: 27,000mm
- Materials used: 3L Mammut DRYtechnology Pro (100% 30D nylon face), PFC-free DWR finish
- Sizes: Men’s S-XXL, Women’s XS-XL
The Mammut Taiss Hard Shell Jacket: Design and features
Like a lot of Mammut kit, this shell has a fairly trim, streamlined cut that is typical of climbing-focused apparel. It sits just below the hips but has plenty of length in the arms to provide full coverage even when reaching up for holds. Pre-shaped sleeves ensure good articulation, while a slight drop trail adds a bit of rear protection. There is also dual hem adjustment with embedded low-profile Cohaesive stoppers and split drawcords, to ensure there are no loops to snag whilst climbing or scrambling.
Contoured cuffs extend across the back of the hands and chunky Velcro tabs ensure a secure, weatherproof seal. Extensive laminated underarm pit zips with two-way zippers give versatile ventilation. The hood is an unusual and innovative single-pull design: cinching in the drawcord at the back of the head simultaneously brings in the volume and tightens the fit around the face, which is a neat and clever bit of design. It will fit over a climbing helmet, but works well with a bare head or beanie too. A high collar zips right up to the nose, and a stiffened brim offers good resistance to wind whilst also deflecting rain and spindrift.
The main zip is a chunky YKK Aquaguard component with two-way zippers, a soft chin guard and a small internal storm flap. Inside the jacket there’s a side-entry zipped security pocket, though sadly no dump pockets for stashing gloves or a flask. You do get two deep external Napoleon-style chest pockets though, also fitted with water-resistant laminated zippers.
The Mammut Taiss Hard Shell Jacket: Performance and comfort
In terms of construction, the jacket uses Mammut’s own DRY Technology Pro fabric. It’s a three-layer waterproof-breathable fabric that sandwiches a PU-based membrane between a tricot backer and a 30-denier nylon face. It strikes a good balance between weight, comfort, breathability and durability – we’d say it’s ideal for three-season use, though there are heavier shells that feel a bit tougher for full-on winter conditions. When it comes to weight, the Taiss HS tips the scales at 420g in a men’s medium. That’s a competitive weight for a technical mountain shell with this many features.
The fabric has some stretch, which ensures good levels of comfort and mobility. Although it’s a bit swishy, it’s also nowhere near as loud or crinkly as stiffer Gore-Tex Pro shells. If that’s a bugbear of yours, you’ll appreciate this jacket’s softer and more pliable feel. It’s worth noting that it’s also finished with a PFC-free Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment, which is a slight plus in eco terms.
When it comes to performance, this jacket proved to be a reliable barrier from wind, rain and even sleet. Like almost all hard shells, it does start to feel a bit fuggy inside when really working hard, but those extended pit zips do a good job of helping to cool you down fast. It’s a versatile shell that can be used throughout spring, summer, autumn and even into winter – though personally, for very cold and challenging mountain days, we’d pick something a bit tougher. That’s because the 30D fabric lacks some stiffness to deflect wind and precipitation, so you do feel like you’re getting a bit battered in the really rough stuff. On the other hand, for milder days, or even times when you’re carrying your shell in a pack rather than wearing it, you’ll appreciate thid jacket’s relatively low weight and good packability – a shortcoming with heavier and bulkier rivals.
The Mammut Taiss Hard Shell Jacket: overall verdict
Boasting solid performance and first-class comfort, there’s lots to like about the Mammut Taiss HS. It’s a well-designed technical shell that stands up well against other rivals, many of which cost considerably more without offering significant gains in performance, fit or features. In fact, this shell’s excellent hood, trim fit and pleasantly stretchy fabric make it much nicer to wear for extended periods than many stiff, unforgiving Gore-Tex Pro alternatives. Hillwalkers might bemoan the lack of hand pockets, but the use of crossover chest pockets makes a lot of sense given the Taiss’s alpine focus, keeping storage well clear or a climbing harness or rucksack hip belt. Streamlining such extras also keeps the weight down, so the Taiss beats a lot of rivals in this regard too. Its only real shortcomings are revealed in full winter conditions, when you might want a slightly thicker, tougher shell for added protection and durability.