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Tried n’ tested: CIMALP Storm Pro, Storm 2, Drop Evolution 864 Trail Shoes

Tried n’ tested: CIMALP Storm Pro, Storm 2, Drop Evolution 864 Trail Shoes

Clock30th December 2020

Tried n’ Tested: CIMALP Storm Pro, Storm 2, Drop Evolution 864 Trail Shoes

 

Please note: This product has been tested extensively over 10 months. In the case of the trail running Ultrashell® jackets, in some brutal weathers. In the case of the Drop Evolution trail running shoes, a mix of extremely dry and incredibly wet conditions. As ever, this is to ensure the reviews go far beyond first impressions and any ‘novelty’ factors as you’ll see when you read this.

February 2020 I was asked to test some new 2020 trail running kit as part of the CimAlp Trailrunning clothing range. I’d previously reviewed the Storm Waterproof Jacket in  2018 so was keen to see what the new 2020 iteration was like. Plus test out the ligher Storm 2 trail jacket and their brand new 864 Drop Evolution trail running shoes.

CimAlp is a French brand created in 1964 by a passionate mountaineer with a strong environmental commitment – continually driving for more sustainability in their processes and sourcing. Their range now covers running, hiking, climbing and skiiing. I have always found their gear to be top quality. 

Firstly the CIMALP Storm 2 Pro H Waterproof Jacket 

Overall rating: 9.5/10 

This jacket is my go-to waterproof in severe weather*.   

* This has taken over from the previous iteration as my favoured severe weather jacket which itself had been favoured above a a high end waterproof in excess of £100 from a very highly regarded brand that I’d purchased previously. This jacket has performed superbly in torrential rain, gale force winds (sometimes both combined!), hail, snow, biting cold.

 

cimalp storm pro ultrashell jacketFit 8.5/10

The fit is excellent, leaving room for a long or short sleeved baselayer and/or t-shirt without compromising on running movement at all. I’ve found this jacket to fit well for running, hiking with extra layers and a multitude of backpacks and running vests (see pic below), plus as an outer to a down jacket when coaching track runners. The flexibility of the fit has really surprised me, even though I knew it uses 100% stretch fabric.

The internal binding on the hood ensures you are incredibly well protected from the elements while remaining comfortable and not overheating. The peak shields you without adversely affecting visibility. Fit has been great whether wearing a running beanie, a peaked hat or no hat at all. There is also a magnetic attachment for the hood – meaning when it’s down you don’t have the annoyance of a hood flapping away behind you. This was another unexpected bonus I realised when running in strong winds.

There is also an attachment tab at chest height so you if the weather warms during your activities, you can easily lower the zip without the jacket falling off your shoulders. This is a feature I’ve always enjoyed with a Salamon windshell I bought about 10 years ago and still use.

The ergonomic thumb grip on the cuffs mean your hands are always comfortable. I’ve always found this weather wearing thick winter gloves, thin liner gloves or my bare hands.

The jacket feels slightly more ‘ergonomic’ than the previous iteration, in that there isn’t as much of the unnecessary extra room around the waist as there had been on the 2018 version. This was a big positive for me, though I’d still like it to be slightly more tailored around the waist.

Performance 10/10

The Storm 2 Pro is genuinely superb. I’ve recommended to several friends if they are running or hiking in severe weathers. Through February I’d worn this on very cold and/or wet days. It’s a superb windshield as well as waterproof. Such was the level that I didn’t hesitate to take it on a Bob Graham Leg 1 and Leg 2 recce hike in August – when the weather turned to very strong winds, mist and rain during our 2 day excursion.  (See pic below taken at the top of Skiddaw.) The 20,000mm waterproof membrane, Ultrashell® Slim 3 layers and +100mph wind protection ensure I’m more protected in this than any other jacket I’ve purchased or tested in the past 9 years.

At 320g it isn’t the lightest waterproof trail running jacket on the market but this really is a high performance waterproof. And although this might sound a paradox, it doesn’t feel at all heavy when running.

With breathability of 80,000 MVP I have never overheated nor sweated excessively in this jacket. I am quite a heavy sweater when running and have never experienced any build up of condensation using this jacket. The only time I don’t take it out is when weather is decent and fell or trail running kit checks require a waterproof – so I’ll take my lightest one which I bought around 6 years ago.

cimalp storm pro ultrashell jacket skiddaw

 

 

 

Design Benefits 9.5/10

To be honest I’ve covered much of the benefits in the above points. The Ultrashell® Slim 3 layer fabric is exceptional, the ergonomic hood and cuffs deliver real benefits without adding unnecessary gimics. The chest pocket with storm flap zip is a decent size (can carry folded map and compass, plus keys no problem) and has an earphone slot which I’ve started using during some easy runs or walks. There are multiple reflective strips for safety – always good for a group head torch run. .

  • * Ultrashell® Slim 3 layers 160 g/m²
  • * Breathable, waterproof membrane up to 20,000mm of water
  • * Real breathability of 80,000 MVP (80’00g/m²/24h
  • * 1 chest pocket with storm flap zip and slot for earphones
  • * Cuffs with ergonomic thumb loops
  • * Ergonomic hood with inner binding and attachment magnet to prevent flapping
  • * Attachment tab for better ventilation and wearing jacket more open
  • * Multiple reflective marks for extra safety at night
  • * 320g in size M
  • * 50 UPF protection
  • * Bluesign® for CIMALP’s commitment to preserving natural resources and reducing environmental impact

 

With a RRP of £219.00 this is a high performance jacket. It is often sold cheaper via CIMALP (e.g. £149.00 at time of publishing). On that basis I’d have no hesitation whatsoever recommending it for running or hiking in conditions such as heavy rain, snow, strong winds. I’m 100% confident this jacket will last a very long time. My previous Storm Waterproof Jacket has now been donated to charity. 

 

 

Secondly the CIMALP Storm 2 Waterproof Jacket 

Overall rating: 7.5/10 

Lightweight and designed for all kinds of trail running and ultras, this jacket has been tested (by someone else!) at UTMB®. I’ve tested it on many trail runs through every season in 2020.

cimalp storm 2 ultrashell jacketFit 8/10

A very good fit with room for anything from a thin t-shirt to baselayer and t-shirt. The 100% stretch fabric ensures effective running movement at all times. Excellent fit with a running vest (have used Camelbak and Montane)  The ergonomic hood with inner binding is excellent and protects extremely well without hindering your visibility. It has performed really well when simply pulling it over my head, or wearing over a running beanie.

The attachment tab at chest level means you can easily unzip this jacket if you find you’re getting a bit warm during a run – or if the rain has suddenly stopped. It’s a case of attach the tab, hood and zip down and carry on.

The only suggested improvement I’d make for the fit is to make it slightly more tailored. There seems to always be a case of it sticking out slightly at the stomach (no it’s not my body shape lol).

 

Performance 7/10

I could well be being slightly harsh here and this really does demonstrate how personal variations and preferences matter when deciding the best kit for you.

The waterproofing if excellent in very heavy rain – with the 10,000mm waterproof membrane and UltraShell® slim 2.5 layers is incredibly effective and has proven so time and time again.

At 220g in size M it feels really lightweight while running, so again, performs really well.  So why the performance rating of 7/10 then?  I don’t know whether it’s the weathers I’ve tended to wear this in (e.g. quite warm but very wet) but I’ve occasionally found that I have a build up of condensation around the elbow in both arms. To the point that I’ve let this ‘water’ out during a run. This despite the breathability of 12,500g/m²/24h. I’ve never felt like I’m remotely overheating while wearing it, it’s just the sweat build up. But as said above and on previous occasions, I can sweat excessively while running due to the long-term impact of Lyme Disease.  So it’s quite likely this wouldn’t happen to you.

cimalp storm 2 ultrashell jacket waterproofing

Waterproofing excellent

 

 

 

Design Benefits 8.5/10

It’s very evident CimAlp is steeped in Alpine history and the jacket is built to perform as above. The Ultrashell®Slim fabric works brilliantly and the ergonomic thumb loops are ideal on their own or inside/outside gloves. I don’t run with music but did find the earphones hole really useful when hiking or marshalling. There are multiple reflective markings which were really effective during head torch runs. Chest pocket was sufficiently roomy and does allow the jacket to be folded up into a tiny pack.

  • * Ultrashell® Slim 2.5 layer technology
  • * Breathable, waterproof membrane up to 10,000mm of water
  • * Real breathability of 12,500g/m²/24h
  • * 1 chest pocket with storm flap zip and earphone slot
  • * Cuffs with ergonomic thumb loops
  • * Ergonomic hood with inner binding to follow the movements of your face
  • * Attachment tab for better ventilation during runs.
  • * Reflective strips for extra safety
  • * Lightweight at 220g (size M)
  • * UPF protection of 50+
  • * Bluesign® for CIMALP’s commitment to preserving natural resources and reducing environmental impact.

 

With a RRP of £169.90 and often sold cheaper (e.g. £119.00) this is very good value for money indeed. I’d recommend for strong winds, heavy or light rain, even snow if you don’t want a more heavy duty jacket like the Storm 2 Pro above. 

Storm 2 jacket packed into chest pocket

 

 

Finally the 864 Drop Evolution Trail Running Shoes

Overall rating: 8.5/10 

Excellent all-round trail running shoe.  This absolutely proves the benefits of a proper test over a period of time, rather than one based on some initial impressions. Read below to find out why.

 

CIMAlp-drop-evolution-864Fit 9/10

These have a wide toe box fit which is perfect for my wide feet. The lacing works very well so you can adjust to as free or tight a fit as you’d like – the lacing tucks away into the a small cover in the tongue too.

I tend to prefer a low drop shoe and experimented with the progressive drop inner soles and found all to be a comfortable fit.

The fit around the heel is really robust and supportive, helped by the stabilizer. These shoes instantly felt durable and well-made.

 

Performance 8/10

Overall I’ve been really impressed with these. More and more, the longer I’ve been using them. At first I was using them on incredibly dry trail runs during the beginning of lockdown when the weather was unusually hot and dry. While the shoes are cushioned it’s not soft so in the first 2-3 weeks these shoes felt too hard underfoot. I was also using the 4mm inner sole drop. However, as I’ve worn them more, I’ve found these shoes to be an excellent all-round trail running shoe in all but the muddiest of conditions.

CIMALP have pioneered a progressive inner sole drop of 8mm, 6mm, 4mm which I believe is a world first. This is designed to help runners transition to a lower drop in a more gradual manner that reduces injury risk. I happen to prefer a lower drop of anything from 6mm to zero for trail running shoes which is why I was keen to test these.

The unexpected beauty of this innovation is that you can alternate the drop (and internal cushioning/support) according to the run you’re doing. So on short runs on soft ground I will use the 4mm sole. On longer runs (15km upwards) on drier trails I’ll use the 6mm – or 8mm if it’s really dry and compact trails. This is why I rate them such a good all-round shoe. It’s not because they’re okay at everything without excelling at one thing. It’s because of the level of flexibility offered to you.

The vibram sole and lugs are far more grippy than I thought they would be. I found them to perform really well in the wettest Keswick Lakeland Trails on record this Autumn. (The pic below doesn’t do justice to how wet it was underfoot.) The mesh upper offers excellent ventilation in heat while also draining really well when wet.

jeff on keswick lakeland trails

Pic Jumpy James @jumpyjames

 

I’ve now done over 300km in these shoes and based on the very limited wear to date would expect to get about 1000km out of them before needing to replace. That to me is excellent value. Below are photos of them out of the box compared to at 300km – and after a load of mud had dried on the outer. You can see there is very limited wear of the sole and only the slightest hint of fraying near my little toe on both shoes.

 

CIMAlp-drop-evolution-864CIMAlp-drop-evolution-864 after 300km

CIMAlp-drop-evolution-864 soleCIMAlp-drop-evolution-864 after 300km sole

CIMAlp-drop-evolution-864CIMAlp-drop-evolution-864 after 300km upper

Design Benefits 8/10

The progressive drop inner sole is a really positive and practical innovation. An excellent shoe that is surprisingly versatile for a whole range of trails, from wet mountain trails to dry lowland woodland trails. For long and very short distance. I’d like the actual sole to be slightly more cushioned but that’s a personal preference and is easily adapted by using the 6mm or 8mm inner sole. I’m not quite sure of the need for the pull on the outside.

  • * 964 progressive drop inner sole
  • * Vibram outsole
  • * Mesh upper for excellent ventilation and drainage
  • * Seamless upper construction
  • * Reflective markings for greater visibility and safety
  • * UPF 50+
  • * 295g without soles / 325g in drop 8 (size 42 – I have size 45)
  • * Reinforcement at toe for extra durability and stone guard
  • * Lycra slipper tongue with storage for laces
  • * Extra lace eyelets for more ankle stability if needed

 

With a RRP of £169.00 (£84.95 offer at time of writing) I’d suggest these are an excellent buy. Trail Running magazine gave them a 9/10 overall and when you consider I’m expecting to get 1000km out of these shoes and use them for trail running and the occasional longish race, that’s excellent value. 

 

Find out more about CIMALP here.

 

Hope you found these reviews helpful 🙂  Best of wishes for 2021 and enjoy your running! 

Jeff

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