Gear Review: Hightail Rain Anorak & Pants

NZAT Partnership

We’re really excited to introduce the latest design innovation as part of our partnership with the world-renowned New Zealand Alpine Team. Since 2013, our design team has been working alongside the team’s elite mountaineers, reinventing alpine apparel and equipment. Our Alpine Series is the culmination of this partnership – a journey that has extended from the design floor to testing and refinement on some of the world’s hardest alpine routes.

Macpac | The Hightail Anorak

Product Background

Whether you’re out reaching the world’s highest peaks, scaling the most difficult rock faces in North America, or competing in the most challenging and endurance-testing multisport events, pack weight is a huge issue. Having gear you can rely on is of the highest importance – in many cases, the right gear can even save your life. Bulky packs filled with unnecessarily heavy items can weigh you down and get in the way of you reaching your goals, so pack size and making it as light as possible is paramount.

The Hightail range is borne from a desire to scale back premium rainwear, cutting down on weight without compromising on performance. Our design team worked alongside members of the New Zealand Alpine Team to revisit the concept of technical rainwear to deliver a product that is capable of performing in harsh conditions while also being able to be packed down to a very small size.

The result? Extremely lightweight, windproof and waterproof pants and an anorak that have been tested by elite climbers and athletes who have pushed these items to their extreme limits.

Tramping in the Hightail JacketTechnical Specifications

Hightail Rain Anorak

  • Constructed with 100% Nylon Double Ripstop fabric with a thin Pertex Shield® Membrane to create an almost weightless addition to your pack.
  • Fully seam-sealed with 15mm seam tape to reduce bulk and weight.
  • Helmet-compatible hood with stiffened peak. Hood also adjusts for when you’re not wearing a helmet, with a Velcro tab at the back.
  • Off-set ½ length YKK AquaGuard® front zip with internal storm flap for comfort when zip is protecting you from the weather.
  • Large stash pocket on the front with YKK AquaGuard® zip.
  • Articulated sleeves and increased lift patterning In underarms for freedom of movement.
    Anorak can be stuffed into its own internal mesh pocket, making it the smallest and lightest waterproof jacket in our range.
  • Extremely lightweight (weighs just 170g womens size 10, and 180g mens size medium).

For full specs, you can view the Hightail Anorak in our webstore: Hightail Rain Anorak Mens, and Hightail Rain Anorak Womens.

Hightail Rain Pants

  • Made from 100% Nylon Double Ripstop fabric with a thin Pertex Shield® Membrane for an extremely pack when not in use.
  • Fully seam-sealed to keep the wind and rain out.
  • Articulated knees for freedom of movement.
  • Elasticated waist with draw cords to ensure a comfortable fit.
  • Side zips on the lower legs for ease of putting on and removing boots.
  • Pants pack into their own internal pocket.
  • Extremely lightweight (weighs just 140g womens size 10, and 150g mens size medium).

For full specs, you can view the Hightail Pants in our webstore: Hightail Rain Pants Mens, and Hightail Rain Pants Womens.

Rose Pearson (NZAT) testing Hightail Anorak Prototype

Rose Pearson from the NZAT testing out a Hightail Anorak prototype on pitch one of the Weeping Wall Central Pillar (WI5+), Rocky Mountains, Canada.

Review – Jaz Morris, member of the New Zealand Alpine Team

It’s slightly odd writing a review for something I don’t really want to use – I spend a lot of time poring over forecasts and recalibrating the trip plan or location precisely so I don’t have to get rained on. Nevertheless, like all good Kiwis who know what the weather god ‘Huey’ can send out of a blue sky, I always carry a raincoat in the bottom of my pack. All going well, that’s where it stays: a bulky ball of ‘just-in-case’ weighing around 500-800g. Double that if I take overtrousers too.

Not anymore. The 21st century is here, and with it the Macpac Hightail Anorak at 180g (Mens M), according to my kitchen scales. That’s it. The Hightail Pants weigh just 180g.

So, the weight is right. You’ve saved almost a kg. For me, that’s an instant deal-closer. But does the stuff work? Any jacket can sit in my pack, but will it actually repel rain, snow or wind? Unsurprisingly, considering the rip-stop 20,000mm hydrostatic head Pertex Shield® membrane used in the Hightail range, it does. I’ve used the jacket on horrendous days of Dunedin rain, in heavy wind, and we field-tested in in all sorts of conditions (including a proper blizzard) on the NZAT Canadian Rockies ice climbing trip in early 2015. It works – in fact, it was perfect for whipping out on one occasion when I made the strategic error of setting up a belay under a large icicle while ice climbing on the Weeping Wall. Five minutes after arriving at the belay, the sun came out, and the first drip-drip-drips started coming off the icicle and down my Macpac Equinox belay jacket. This had me grateful for the Hightail sitting just within reach. At the end of the belay it went back into the bag, didn’t weigh anything, didn’t take up much room – this is exactly the ‘just-in-case’ I have in mind. The Hightail Pants I actually used a lot more often than the jacket in Canada – I was using a thrashed old pair of softshell pants and their water resistance just wasn’t cutting it. The Hightail Pants were absolutely perfect for keeping the snow out, and they breathe better than any other overtrousers I’ve used.

For climbing trips, I can’t see myself every going back to a big heavy jacket and overtrousers. The only times will be for good old bush-bashing tramping trips where the jacket needs to resist scrub as well as rain. Of course the Hightail range isn’t quite as tough as the big heavy stuff, but for what I’ll use it for, it doesn’t need to be. The breathability and flexibility of softshells for rock, ice and mixed climbing can’t be improved, and for those rare occasions when the snow and rain is too much for the general water resistance of the Macpac Fitzroy Softshells, the Hightail Anorak and Pants are there, an imperceptible little bulge somewhere down the bottom of my pack.

Review – Vajin Armstrong, accomplished Ultra Distance Runner

The Hightail Anorak offers high end protection from an extremely lightweight shell. For someone looking to move fast and light through the mountains, the Hightail is a must-have, providing plenty of weather protection despite weighing in at only 180g (mens size M) The Pertex Shield® fabric Macpac have used is at once lightweight, breathable and waterproof – an excellent combination.

I have used the Hightail in runs of up to three hours in heavy rain, and found that it kept me dry and protected. Having a hood and being seam sealed makes it perfect to take as compulsory gear at all of New Zealand’s major outdoor events.

The Hightail’s generous sizing means that there is plenty of room for layers – or for someone like me, even the option to put it over the top of my hydration pack. The hood is well cut and is comfortable to wear for long periods, while the chest pocket is a great place to stash gloves and beanies when you start to warm up.