Having just returned from a 5-week high-altitude expedition to the Indian Himalayas, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on some new gear purchases. Some of these items I’ve had in my gear closet for a while and some items were bought especially for the exped – either way, everything here has had some intensive use.
In no particular order…
Swedish brand Röjk have been in existence since 2010 and first grabbed my attention with the funky poses they arranged their clothes into for their product shots: it always seemed like they had captured their jumpers, leggings or socks mid-dance at a silent disco. Sadly they no longer seem to take quite the same approach, but they seemed like a brand worth watching and last year I purchased a hoody, The Monk. So where is brand and hoody aimed? Is it a casual piece of outdoor apparel or is it aimed at being a solidly dependable mid-layer? Here’s what they have to say:
This versatile and popular hoodie has won many a fan with its unique look and blend of materials. Brushed polyester on the inside makes it soft and comfortable against the skin, while wool and silk in the outer fabric add warmth, freshness and great style. The large belly pocket keeps your belongings in place with zippers on both sides, while hiding another, smaller pocket for your card case or phone.
The Buffalo Active Lite Shirt comes from one of the main proponents of the DP, pertext-and-pile, clothing system. Based in Shefield, UK their clothing is based around a Pertex outer layer over a pile inner layer and has a well-regarded status. This clothing system requires a different mind-set when compared to a membrane shell-based clothing system – most notably, none of their garments contain a water-proof membrane and as a result you run the risk of getting ‘wet’, but I won’t be discussing this aspect of their clothing. This is what Buffalo say about the smock:
A milder weather alternative to the Mountain Shirt, when less insulation but maximum wicking is required. PForm shell fabric with its technical unique weave gives a highly breathable and windproof performance making this garment ideal for low level hill walking and trekking, climbing, mountain biking, running and general outdoor activities. This garment works most efficiently when worn next to the skin.
Extreme Outdoor Clothing is a small mail-order company (UPDATE: now ceased trading, hence I guess this is now a historical article…) based in the UK specialising in Pertex/Pile and fleece garments. In some ways you would be forgiven for thinking that this company even existed, indeed I would be surprised if anyone outside the UK had even heard of them. Their website is antiquated and you might not even recognise it in a list of search results, but nonetheless they have an almost revered status amongst certain parts of the British outdoor community. This review features their APS (Advanced Pile System) Smock and is easily one of my most used-and-abused pieces of clothing. Lets begin by seeing what they have to say:
APS Smock. Advanced Pile System (APS) combines a quality fibrepile K2 Fleece and a highly windproof shower-resistant microfibre shell. Designed to keep you warm in the harshest of weather conditions, even complete immersion in water. Because we use a quality pile, it makes APS one of the warmest technical garments available, and is ideal for canoeing, boatwork and winter moutaineering. Supplied to Fire Brigade Emergency Rescue Teams. Features: Zipped tunnel hand warmer pocket, large front map pocket, K2 Fleece lined forearms and hem, long side zips with wind flap protectors, Taslan reinforced forearms, adjustable collar and low scooped rear hem. Velcro adjustable cuffs.
The Hestra Fält Guide Gloves come from an established glove making company based in Sweden. The only products they make are gloves, and so as you might expect they have a rather large array of products to choose from. A significant portion are orientated towards the skiing markets, everything from downhill racing to cross-country, but they also make models aimed at the Mountaineering and Outdoor sectors. Of these last two, the Fält Guide Glove falls under the Outdoor heading and, perhaps because of its association with Lars Fält, is billed as its top model. As usual, we’ll start with what Hestra have to say about their product:
This model is named after one of Sweden’s leading survival experts, Lars Fält, who was also involved in the development of the glove. A durable glove made entirely of leather with removable wool terry cloth/wool pile liner. Can also be combined with other liners. With the right care, it can remain a favorite for many years. OUTER MATERIAL: Impregnated cowhide and impregnated Army Leather goatskin on the palm. LINING: Removable liner with wool terrycloth on the palm and wool pile on the top of the hand. FEATURES: Eyelet with carabiner. External seams. Securing point for handcuffs.
The Fjällräven Karl (men’s version)/Karla (women’s version) are probably one of the more basic models offered amongst their 46 varieties of trouser on sale at time of writing. The Karls themselves come in 5 different varieties, including a zip-off style and lined winter variant. For the purposes of this review, however, we are looking at the basic Karla (women’s) version. This is what Fjällräven have to say:
Karl is an outdoor trousers series that can be used anywhere, such as while hiking in the mountains or at your summer cabin. This model is made of durable G-1000® Silent fabric and has a brushed finish. The trousers have a low waist and regular fit. Pre-shaped knees and raw length. Two side pockets, two back pockets, one large leg pocket for maps and one smaller pocket for multi tools. Raw length at the leg ends allows you to adjust the length of the legs exactly as you wish.
The Norrøna Dovre pants, or the Dovre heavy-duty hybrid pants to give them their full title, fall within Norrøna’s
limited select Dovre range aimed squarely at ‘mountain hunting’. These trousers are identical to the ones found in Norrøna’s Svalbard (‘essential outdoor gear’) line, but in an outdoor green rather than other colours. UPDATE [May 2016]: Although the Dovre line still exists, these trousers are no longer being made. The new Svalbard version can be found here. For the purposes of this review, the trousers are identical except in colour and name. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, here is what Norrøna have to say about them:
Durable all-terrain utility pants for all-purpose hunting. Breathable and tough woven polyamide 275 g/sqm fabric in these pants built for top tours, camping and hikes in the rough. Key to comfort is the soft ‘no-cling’ fabric, full thigh venting and flex™3 waterproof stretch in articulated knees and seat. Reinforced inside ankle panels. Fits suspenders.
Klättermusen’s ‘Gere’ trousers (or “pants” for you Americans) are part of their range of ‘soft-shell’ trousers. Named after one of Odin’s two wolves, the trousers are not quite your typical soft-shell material (think fabric with liberal applications of DWR) but rather they look and feel much closer to cotton. UPDATE [May 2016]: Klättermusen have released a version 2 of these trousers. Looks like they have improved belt loops and slightly re-designed pockets. This is what Klättermusen have to say:
As comfortable as a pair of extremely soft stretch jeans, but they last 5 times as long, dry 5 times as fast and are 10 times as windproof. The fabric is woven from a unique yarn that combines many desirable qualities. It is extremely hard-wearing, stretchy, soft and wind resistant. These properties make the most comfortable and most hard-wearing pair of trousers ever. Over the last five years we have tried to develop a heavy-duty stretch cloth that combines good wind resistance with a soft texture, but it wasn’t possible until we found this particular yarn. The shrinkage process that provides the stretch also closes all the gaps in the cloth, providing good windproofing without too much rigidity. Intended for all outdoor adventure activities. Perfect for hiking, trekking and climbing.
…but enough of the marketing talk, what do I think…