Sadly, it does look as if we’re seeing the end of the Paramo Third Element jacket which was a perfect piece of kit for UK backpackers and hill walkers.
I can remember the first time I played with one, at the Outdoors Show. I described it as very Heath Robinson, which it was. This was the jacket where you could remove the sleeves and the hood, stripping the jacket down into a gilet.
I found the Third Element to be the perfect jacket for the cooler months and an ideal companion for the TGO Challenge. I wasn’t the only Challenger using one of these â€” there were quite a few of us happily stumbling around in one. I found that this jacket really did allow me to go without a mid layer. In warm civilisation I’d take off the arms and hood and be quite comfy without being cold. In full on weather the jacket performed as well as you would expect any Paramo jacket to.
It really was quite versatile. This year May in Scotland was quite warm but the Third Element in gilet form was always comfortable, that Analogy fabric making light work of moving sweat away from the body. The only quibble I had with mine was that I could only find one in red â€” this jacket was not always easy to get hold of from day one. I’d have much preferred a black jacket and some of my colleagues did manage to hunt one down.
Colin Ibbotson modelling a Â ‘stripped down’ Third Element (Yes for those of you with eager eyes Colin’s jacket is a weird shade of Brown)
The last time I discussed this with Paramo â€” maybe earlier this year at the Outdoors Show, or was it the year before â€” they told me that they were having difficulty in selling it. People just had no idea how to use it. I’m reminding myself that I promised to write something for their magazine, about how this fitted perfectly into a lightweight gear set. I never got round to it; so maybe it’s my fault!
Perhaps, the problem with the Third Element was that there just aren’t that many of us about. Sometimes I think that 80% of regular backpackers in the UK know each other, if not in person then through the internet. Maybe there just aren’t that many of us!
Anyhow, I’m sad to see this go. But then this was the second incarnation of this jacket, so maybe one day we’ll see it again. Mine is probably good for a few years yet â€” but what will I do when it is time to replace it! Go back to layers I suppose.
Anyhow, if you see one of these things lying around in a Paramo store, snap it up quickly.
It may have been a slightly weird design and it may have seemed counter intuitive to some people. But the Third Element jacket; I salute you!