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Nikwax has launched a reformulated version of its Polar Proof product to revolutionise the fleece market.
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The Best 100 Climbs in Britain. Jul 2013
In a recent article there was a proposal of the 100 best climbs in Britain, only 7 of which were in the Lake District!So in... [ full story ]
In this 'What's Available' announcement we look at seven different pairs of cragging pants, from jeans (yes jeans!) through to... [ full story ]
Powerstretch Half Zip Fleece: £60.00
Powerstretch Half Zip Fleece
Pure luxury is what this fleece is to me! Made from a super soft Polartec Power Stretch fleece, this is one of the most comfortable, warm fleece tops I've ever worn, and a bit like the Dri Clime jacket, I find it very hard to take off! The stretchy fabric and good female cut gives a snug fit but not too tight. For its weight this fleece is extremely warm and a good height of collar gives extra warmth around the neck which has been much appreciated on these cold April days. As with other Marmot garments I've worn, the sleeve length is good (not too short as I find on other brands of female specific clothes). The thumb loops are there to act as a nose wipe which certainly came in handy when I was running, but more so I'm a great lover of thumb loops for the extra warmth they give over the hand on cold days (great when rock climbing), and also they prevent the sleeve from riding up when you're putting an outer layer on. Yes, I was very happy to see the thumb loop incorporated in this top, it reminded me of my favourite Helly Hanson pullover I had back in the 80's with thumb loops! Other features include a front zip for reasonable ventilation. Performance wise the fleece is quick drying and wicked well when I wore it biking and running.
Powerstretch Half Zip Fleece
There's not much more to say about this pullover, its simple design, wonderfully comfortable and every outdoor activist should own one!
Women's Bliss Capri Pant: £34.00
These tight-fitting, rather sexy three-quarter length pant aren't the type of leg wear I normally wear. I'd normally go for a looser fitting garment, particularly for climbing, however after a few weeks of wearing the Bliss pant I've become blissfully happy with them! They have been designed with cragging, hiking, yoga and gym users in mind but really are ideal for most activities. I've worn them for climbing, running and biking and they are perfect for those activities also. The design is simple, a comfortable elastic waistband, flat lock seams and a flattering cut. The fabric is 92% Supplex nylon so is pretty durable, dried quickly and the 8% elastane gives a good stretch for a really comfortable feel. When I wore them on more aerobic activities, they performed well and didn't become sweaty or clingy. For climbing the waist was high enough to wear with a harness and for running, the discreet key pocket on the rear was very useful. I'd have no problem in recommending this pant as they are very practical, comfortable and look great on. The only problem I can see with them (apart from the cheesy name) is that after wearing a few times on rock the side seam has started to fur up a bit.
Women's Bliss Capri Pant
Women's WW Capri: £35.00
I must say I don't really think I can review this pant fairly because this really isn't my type of garment, however it is a hugely popular seller so I'll try to be sympathetic. This three quarter length pant has been designed as a “multi-activity” Capri for “backpacking, hiking and urban” use. That makes my testing a little redundant as I wore it for more technical applications. Made from 65% organic cotton (good for the environment but not the hardest wearing fabric or the fastest drying fabric around) and 35% UpCycle Polyester (harder wearing and better at wicking), I can see this pant being ideal for travelling and casual wear. However, I liked the idea that it was for multi activity and so wore them bouldering where I quickly found my movement restricted by the cut over the knees. With roped climbing I also found the waist was too low to wear comfortably with a harness. I didn't wear these hipster-style Capri with a heavy pack but I'd be concerned that their low hip, which albeit looks good, wouldn't be too comfortable with a heavy pack resting on the low waistline. The good points to this pant is the comfortable fabric and fashionable styling (split rear leg with tiebacks is a nice touch).
Women's WW Capri
Personally I thought these pants had a boyish American styling, weren't that multi-activity but were a good choice for travel wear or low key hiking (with a smaller pack).
Lost River Sports Tank
I tested three of Marmot's sport tops, the Women's Fantasia Sport Top (£20.00), the Lost River Sports Tank (£22.00) and the Women's Vogue Tank (£27.00). Starting with the Lost River, I wore this as both an outer layer for climbing and running, and as a base layer for other aerobic activities. The top is made from a very soft, comfortable stretchy Nylon Supplex which feels very nice against the skin. It's also fast drying and wicks well, making it ideal for fast moving sports. The built in sport bra gave excellent support and I had no problems with wearing it for running. It's a good top, simple design, functions well, has a nice feminine cut and styling and I received several compliments on the lovely shade of blue on the one I received for testing (Bluesky). For climbing it's flattering and as a base layer it was warm and gave good support. The Vogue Tank is another sport top with built in bra support. The main difference between this and the Lost River is that the styling with this top is a little OTT (over the top) with its strappy feminine look – hence the name Vogue Tank! The straps on the Lost River are simpler and as such a little stronger which I felt gave marginally better support when I was running and climbing. Really both tops function in much the same way, it's just a matter of taste as to which styling and colour you prefer. And finally, the Fantasia Sport Top is a less technical top made from a cotton/elastane mix so not as good at wicking, or as fast drying as the other two so is better worn as an outer layer. This top as the other two, has a very comfortable, soft feel. It's less strappy than the other designs, with a racer-back and offers excellent support with a built in bra. I had the plain black version for testing without the graphic but other available colours such as coral or sage come with an attractive graphic.
Women's Vogue Tank
So basically all three garments are attractive to look at, functional and comfortable – I'd recommend any of the three.
Women's Lifestyle Tops and Pants
UKC Articles and Gear Reviews by Jo George: