Páramo has made name for itself as a maker of high-quality, high-practicality outdoor clothing that’s especially well suited to photography. The Páramo Halkon Traveller jacket is the latest example, with no fewer than 15 internal and external pockets and a lightweight design that makes it wearable even in warmer weather.
Very confusingly, there’s also a heavier, hooded Páramo Halcon jacket (with a ‘c’ not a ‘k’) at twice the price. It’s the lighter weight Páramo Halkon Traveller we’re reviewing here.
The Halkon Traveller comes in a range of sizes and is designed to fit men. However, Páramo also makes an extensive range of outdoor clothing tailored for women.
Since we're talking about outdoor clothing, we also have a guide to the best gloves for photographers. You might not need them right now, but it never hurts to plan ahead. Given that rain is just as likely, we've also got a guide to the best waterproof jackets for photographers, best rain covers and best photo vests. Enough already? OK, let's get going with the review.
Design and materials
The Halkon is made with Nikwax Cotton+ fabric, which is a blend of cotton and synthetic fibers. It’s not designed to be completely weatherproof, but it does offer sun and wind protection and is quick-drying.
There are no fewer than 15 pockets (though two of these are simply pen holders in larger chest pockets) and they are both internal and external. There are two gusseted chest pockets which can expand far enough to accommodate a small zoom or prime lens, two larger hip pockets with hand-warming pockets behind them, two zipped ‘map pockets’ one the chest and a small zippered pocket for memory cards in the left hand sleeve.
Inside, there are two zip-up chest pockets, and larger ‘drop’ pockets lower down where you could keep a water bottle, for example.
You’re probably not going to carry all your camera gear in the pockets, and if you wear a rucksack with a waist belt, you’d normally expect that to obstruct any front pockets. The Halkon has a neat feature to get round this. There are side zippers that let you feed a waist belt through and behind the front of the jacket, so you can still use the zipper and pockets unobstructed, even with the waist belt on. The size zippers also undo from the hip upwards to offer extra ventilation.
Practicality and comfort
The Halkon Traveller is surprisingly light. It’s unlined, which keeps the weight down to an average of just 550g (depending on the size), it has a nice, tailored fit and you can cram quite a lot of weight into the pockets without it feeling particularly heavy to wear, thanks to some effective shoulder support.
But you probably wouldn’t use it to carry all your camera gear. The hip pockets can accommodate a small mirrorless camera lens combo without the ‘pendulum’ effect you might expect as you walk, and you can get a small-mid size lens in the chest pockets. We packed our Páramo with an E-M5 III body with 14-42mm lens attached, a Lumix 35-200mm f/2.8 lens, Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 and 7-14mm f/2.8 plus wallet and iPhone in the inside pockets, and the Halkon didn’t feel at all heavy to wear.
The only issue with jackets – and it’s not the Páramo’s fault – is that ‘fat’ items like cameras and lenses never sit well in pockets. We pushed it too far with our test and the Halkon coped very well, but a camera body and an extra lens or two would be more realistic. You would probably use a separate bag for bulky camera gear, but the Halkon’s additional pockets are perfect for documents, chargers, filters (especially), speedlights and all the other photographic paraphernalia that photographers like to carry around.
The Páramo Halkon is smart enough to wear as a casual all-purpose jacket, not just for photography expeditions, and it’s light enough to keep wearing when all your other jackets have gone back into the wardrobe – and in the winter you could layer up with a sweater or a fleece underneath.
The number of pockets is amazing, and they are discreet and perfectly usable – and you have the zippered internal and external pockets for documents, wallets and other valuable items.
Páramo jackets aren’t especially cheap, but the thought, design and quality that goes into them is obvious straight away. Perhaps the most likeable thing about the Páramo Halkon is how much gear you can pack into its pockets when need to, and how neat, tailored and light it is when you don’t.