Sherpa Dorje Zip Tee and Jannu Pant Review

by Ian Morton

Dorje top and Jannu pants
Over the last few weeks I have been wearing Sherpa’s Dorje top (a winter base-layer or mid-layer made of Polartec Power Stretch fabric), along with their new Jannu softshell trousers. I am a walker not a climber and so my reviews are based on suitability for that purpose.

I am a previously-acknowledged fan of Sherpa and have reviewed a number of items of gear for them – some kindly provided by Sherpa for testing, but mostly items I have purchased through retail, or via the Mountain Training Association deal. The reviews can be found elsewhere on the blog. I try to be honest in my appraisals regardless of how I obtained the item – but I do genuinely like the quality of their kit and the company’s ethics – they use part of their profits to help Sherpas in Nepal.

First Impressions of the Dorje top

The top is very soft and really stretchy – and so is very comfortable against the skin. The material feels similar to microfleece on the inside, but is very smooth on the outside, which helps when putting mid-layers on. It has no thumb loops unlike the Sherpa Baans top – my usual base-layer for Spring-Autumn. I guess in winter gloves would be more expected so this is perhaps understandable.

The Dorje has a good fit - not too athletic but not baggy (I am a size L 40" chest). The Dorje needs to maintain contact without being restrictive in order to wick properly of course. It has a ¼-length zip on the front for venting when needed and a raised collar for additional warmth. There is no chin guard for beard which is unusual – although the ¼-length zip is very fine-toothed – and in practice this hasn’t proved an issue. The Dorje is much thicker than the "Baans" top and when required the two tops actually make a great layering system - with an outer hardshell/softshell to complete the picture depending on the weather. There is Sherpa’s usual attention to detail by way of the “Prayer-flag” zip-pull and an “endless knot” transfer on reverse.

First impressions of the Jannu pants

The Jannu pants have a well-fitting non-elasticated waist with wide belt loops - no belt is provided. I actually prefer non-elasticated trousers so this was welcome, and I simply added a wide leather belt - job done! A very soft lining to the waistband helps with the comfort. There are three zipped pockets - two normal ones on the hips and one on the right thigh (this is not map-sized but is useful for small items). The zips appear to have some weatherproofing. The hip pocket zips open from top to bottom. The fly-zipper is “two-way” – an excellent idea and very welcome when you have lots of layers on in winter!

The trousers have 13" zips at the bottom of each leg - albeit they flare rather than fully open. This a useful touch if you are trying to put them on over boots, albeit in truth I’m not sure I would ever do this (unlike with waterproof overtrousers for instance). There is a good stretch to material – which is all one colour and type – unlike, say the more summer-weight Baato trousers. The Jannu’s are snug-fitting (but comfortable because of the stretch) at the top but the legs are not too narrow. The crotch is gusseted and the knees are articulated, giving very good mobility on rock steps etc.

They also have a DWR finish but no membrane and are quite light to wear – but the material still feels reassuringly substantial. There is a single press-stud fastening at the front. Length - regular is 33" inside leg. Waist size 36" is a good fit for me (I am 36" waist but some outdoor gear can feel too tight, others much too loose). There is, as ever, the usual Sherpa attention to detail - "endless knot" embroidery and strong pull extensions on pocket zips for gloved use.

In Use

November - Clough Head & Great Dodd - Lake District. Very cold windchill and showers.
  • Dorje: I added a midlayer and hardshell top for warmth. This proved a perfect combination –after 6 hours and 700m of ascent the mid-layer (primaloft and pertex) was soaked with perspiration - but the Dorje was bone-dry. Every bit of perspiration had been wicked into the mid-layer and nothing had leeched back. It was astonishing - I run very warm while walking and have never finished with my base-layer bone-dry like that – and kept perfectly warm throughout.
  • Jannu: No overtrousers worn to assist in gauging performance. My legs felt cold before setting off but soon warmed up once moving. No falling down at the waist to expose my lower back. They also shed water easily from splashing around the traditional Bruts Moss quagmire, albeit if rain had been continuous or heavy, overtrousers would have been essential – as expected really. Made a note to use full-length baselayer bottoms on cold days in future.
November - Blencathra - Lake District – sunny and mild. A full day in the Northern Fells.
  • Dorje: Worn as a base-layer with a simple primaloft and pertex top layer – felt almost too warm at times but was able to regulate via the ¼ zip – and again bone-dry at the end of the day.
  • Jannu: Normal base-layer bottoms worn. Excellent performance by the Jannu pants. Breathed well even when working really hard on the path beyond Scales Tarn.
December - Sheffield Pike – Lake District. Sunny but a keen windchill evidenced by the first frozen ground of winter at the summit.
  • Dorje: Worn as a mid-layer over a Sherpa Baans top and under a non-membrane softshell. Excellent performance again - never once felt damp against skin.
  • Jannu: Worn with full-length sythetic long-johns – proved a perfect combination. No need for further wind protection.
December - Mam Tor - 40/50mph winds and -8 windchill – first snows of winter.
  • Dorje: Worn on its own with a Sherpa Lithang hardshell. Toasty and bone dry again.
  • Jannu: Worn over winter-weight base-layer shorts. Worked really well – as long as I was moving!

Conclusions

The Dorje top has performed incredibly well when used as either a baselayer or a midlayer. It is however as a winter base-layer that it truly excels. I have never known a base-layer wick moisture as efficiently and have never before finished a walk (particularly in winter under several layers) without some dampness (and the resultant chill) - particularly on my back under where my rucksack sits. With the Dorje however this has not happened even once! A brilliant piece of winter kit and highly recommended.

As general hillwalking trousers for three/four season use the Jannu pants seem a great option. Even in winter (with suitable base-layering and overtrousers when required) they would be a good option. On a day where deep snow is already lying or is forecast however I suspect I would prefer the added protection of thicker membrane softshell trousers (such as the Sherpa Himal’s) or full winter salopettes. Given that these conditions are not really what the Jannu’s are designed for though that is to be expected. They are a great piece of kit and recommended.

Ian Morton
Partner – Striding Ahead LLP
www.stridingahead.co.uk