Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $499
Pros: Bombproof Keprotec reinforcements at shoulders, huge comfortable hand pockets, two chest pockets, fast and easy main zipper, cuff openings accommodate large gloves, softshell panels add stretch in arms, large brimed hood is comfortable when worn with and
Cons: Not as sleek looking or as comfortable as Arcteryx and Patagonia shells, second heaviest climbing shell tested, chest pockets should have zippers closeer to main zip like on Arcteryx Alpha SV and Rab Latok, top rear hood cinches can be hard to loosen with
Best Uses: Expediton mountaineering
The Millet K Pro is a heavy-duty expedition mountaineering shell designed for extended trips in remote areas. The jacket is cut wide to accommodate layers and comes fully featured with lots of pockets and an excellent hood that seals out the elements. The K Pro differs from other expedition shells in that it has reinforced shoulders and stretch panels under the arms.
At 21.8 ounces, the K Pro is heavier than other shells that provide a similar level of durability and a better fit. We prefer the Arc'teryx Alpha SV because it's lighter, feels more comfortable, and has a near perfect arrangement of features (hood, pockets, zippers, and pull cords).
Check out our complete Hardshell Jacket Review to compare all of the models tested.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Millet K Pro GTX is a highly durable expedition mountaineering hardshell. It's made of Gore-Tex Pro Shell with stretch panels underneath the arms (black in our test model). The jacket has two large and extremely comfortable high set hand pockets and two chest pockets that lie just in from the hand pockets. The K Pro's fit is typical of an expedition jacket: it's large, bulky and has tons of space for layering up underneath. It's the only shell we tested that has Schoeller Keprotec reinforced shoulders. This material is supremely durable and is found in on high wear areas of other expedition apparel (such as the inside boot area of the Arc'teryx Alpha SV Bib and Millet K Pro Bib). The jacket's massive hood has the stiffest brim of any shell tested. The adjustable cuffs are also gigantic and can easily fit over gloves of all types. All in all, this is a fully featured bombproof shell for extended climbing expeditions.
Our testers' general impression is that the K Pro is overbuilt. It adds features that may not be necessary, even for living in the Alaska wilds for a year. For example the hood works well, but does it need such a stiffly reinforced hood? Compared to other leading shells, we didn't notice that it improved our ability to see while wearing a helmet, or to shed precipitation. Similarly, the Keprotec covered shoulders will be unnecessary for anyone except big mountain guides who live with a backpack on. And, though the K Pro has stretch panels (the black areas on our test model), we found that stretch panels- though they help to make the jacket more comfortable- are less important than an ergonomic fit. The K Pro has plenty of space, but it fit is slightly less ergonomic than that of the Patagonia shells and the Arc'teryx Alpha SV, which move with you better.
The K Pro's features are generally quite good. We love the hand pockets, which are exceptionally comfortable and large. But the chest pocket zippers are placed like hand pockets- you open and close the right one with your right hand. We found that crossover chest pockets, as seen on the Arc'teryx Alpha SV and Rab Latok, are easier and faster to access. The K Pro would be significantly better with crossover pockets. And on a smaller note, the top rear hood adjustment is challenging to release with gloves on. An adjustment with more surface area, such as what's found on the Patagonia Super Pluma and Super Alpine, and Arc'teryx Alpha SV, would be easier to use.
Finally, the K Pro is the second heaviest climbing specific shell we tested. At 21.8 ounces this is a very heavy and bulky shell that burdensome when packed. Our testers universally preferred the Arc'teryx Alpha SV and Patagonia Super Alpine, both of which provide a similar level of durability while weighing less and feeling more comfortable.
Best Application and Value
The K Pro is best-suited to guides who work on big mountains or for people who live and work in remote areas with a backpack on. NOLS mountaineering instructors, for example. The shell is $100 cheaper than our top rated Arc'teryx Alpha SV, but $85 more expensive than the Rab Latok, our favorite budget expedition mountaineering shell.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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Most recent review: July 18, 2013
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