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Cimalp Vinson Review

cimalp vinson
  • Wind and snow protection
  • Breathability
  • Waterproofing
  • Weight and dimensions
  • Wearability and freedom of movement
  • Design and functionality
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A mountaineering hardshell designed to be scrambled, rubbed and used in the most demanding conditions, preferably in winter or high altitude. Textured fabric with 3-layer membrane, Kevlar reinforcements and comfortable fit. A few details that can be improved on hood and adjustments, but definitely an interesting product for the price as well.


  • Waterproof/breathability ratio
  • Comfortable fit
  • Protection on the throat


  • Encumbrance
  • Hood impractical with helmet

The Cimalp Vinson jacket is for the French company the most protective hardshell in their range. The Ultrashell membrane offers from what is advertised unique features with high parameters of breathability and waterproofness, at the expense of weight and dimensions.

testing the cimalp vinson shell on a ski tour

Technical features of the Cimalp Vinson

  • Ultrashell® 3-Layer Stretch 3D membrane – 180grm – waterproof 20,000mm – breathability 80,000g/m2/24h
  • Kevlar reinforcements on shoulders
  • Heat-sealed waterproof seams and zippers
  • Aeration zippers on armpits
  • YKK double-slider and reflective zippers
  • 3 outside and 1 inside pocket
  • Hood with double adjustment and hard visor (helmet compatible)
  • Waist adjustment
  • Air intake on chin closure
  • Padded and adjustable Velcro cuffs
  • Bluesign label and EcoSign Teflon water repellent treatment (PFC FREE DWR)
  • Weight: 690 g (size M)
  • Country of manufacture: China
  • Manufacturer link
ultrashell membrane

Test mode

I tested the Cimalp Vinson jacket during the month of January on some ski mountaineering trips and on icefalls.

On some occasions the weather was extremely harsh (down to -20°), on others milder such as while climbing some icefalls, with wet and dripping ice.

I intentionally used the jacket when climbing with skins so as to better assess breathability.

testing the hardshell on icefalls

Cimalp Vinson on-site test

First impression

The first impression of the Cimalp Vinson is that of a very robust hardshell, where the materials used are immediately apparent. The Kevlar inserts, the 3-layer construction and the weight of the fabric make this one of the heaviest hardshells I have tested in the mountains.

In addition to the robustness, you can also feel the elasticity of the fabric and notice the ergonomic and detailed design.

testing the waterproofness

Ultrashell membrane

Ultrashell is a Cimalp patent and is a membrane that aims to combine the waterproofness of a hard shell with the breathability of a soft shell.

I was able to test the waterproofing in a wet, dripping icefall and had no seepage whatsoever. The waterproofing seemed comparable to other three-layer shells with embossed membranes.

As for breathability, I decided to wear the shell while climbing with skins on a very cold winter day, and I must admit that the Cimalp Vinson impressed me positively. The feeling of ventilation is noticeable, especially when compared to many 3L shells on the market, although calling it extremely breathable is perhaps a bit much.

The two underarm zips also contribute to the breathability.

However, the waterproof/breathable ratio is excellent and is definitely one of the strengths of this jacket.

the fabric inside the jacket
Detail of the inside fabric


The Cimalp Vinson hood is definitely one of my least favorite elements of this shell. The fitting is not right especially with helmet use. The hood only reaches halfway and does not fully cover the head. For coverage, the hard visor helps to some extent, but still the fit did not completely convince me.

The side elastics of the hood are also difficult to set and come apart easily. The back elastic band, on the other hand, is more effective.

the hood of the jacket

Zippers and pockets

The zippers on the Cimalp Vinson are all waterproof heat-sealed. As is often the case with this type of zipper, sliding can be a bit stiff. The main zipper can be opened on either side, making it easier to use the harness and belay to the belly with safety devices.

the front pocket

Pockets are also numerous and well designed, all with waterproof zippers. In addition to the two classic ones on the hips we also find one on the chest (opening from the other to the bottom) and one inside.

the inside pocket
Inside pocket
hand pocket of the cimalp vinson


The cuffs of the Cimalp Vinson have fabric to cover the palm, and the Velcro is extremely snug and solid. These details allow for increased thermal insulation at the sleeve level as well.

detail of the cuff

Kevlar reinforcements

On the shoulders of the Cimalp Vinson are extremely strong Kevlar reinforcements. These make the shell perfect for mixed climbing, where you often get stuck with your body in narrow channels, or for resting your spades on the shoulders without fear of damage.

Kevlar reinforcements
Kevlar reinforcements

Weight and dimensions of the Cimalp Vinson

A sore point with this shell is the bulk, where you pay the price for a fabric that is structured (180gr/m) and designed to be durable. If you are looking for a very compressible and super-light shell, the Cimalp Vinson is not the best choice.

dimension of cimalp vinson


The Cimalp Vinson has a regular fit, perhaps slightly baggy at the waist and sleeves, and the fabric is slightly stretchy. These two details provide excellent freedom of movement and the ability to wear a down jacket under the shell.

testing the cimalp vinson on icefall

The slightly more generous cut at the waist makes the shell comfortable even with a harness. The elastic waist also allows for further adjustment of the fit of the lower part.

Also positive is the rating of the chin closure, which reaches almost to below the nose. The collar is also embellished with a vent, to facilitate breathing. These two details are very much appreciated in windy weather or when skiing downhill, when it can be very useful to have more protectability.

chin closure
Chin vent
Chin vent

Recommended for

The Cimalp Vinson is a jacket suitable for mountain activities where protection is needed in terms of waterproofing and usage resistance. It is a rugged shell that can be abused without too much trouble, so it is perfect for all winter mountaineering, ice climbing or high altitude activities.

Good breathability for a 3L shell makes this jacket perfect for medium-intensity aerobic activities, such as approaches or ski mountaineering use.

By contrast, it is not a lightweight or particularly compressible shell, so I do not recommend it for climbers obsessed with speed and lightness.

Finally, the value for money is interesting.

Price: € 249.90

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