Mid-July saw the huge OutDoor trade show descend upon the town of Friedrichshafen in Germany. This is the event of the year for European climbing companies, and there are literally hundreds of brands showing off their shiny new stuff.
One of the UKC/UKH team's favourite jobs every year is checking out what the clothing manufacturers have come up with to keep us warm, dry and looking cool. There's always something interesting among the hundreds of soft shells and waterproofs on show. This report covers some of the latest developments. We have also published reports from OutDoor 2013 on climbing hardwear, packs and ropes. More to follow next week.
Haglofs a new LIM initiative which stands for 'Less is More'. The idea behind this is to make a more simple range that functions better. We looked at two jackets in the LIM range - the latest version of the down Essens Jacket and a similar model in synthetic, the Barrier Pro Hood.
New to TNF's Summit Series for Spring 2014 is the Foehn Jacket, a well-built mountaineer's waterproof shell in Gore Tex Active, a three-layer, two-way-stretch 15D nylon fabric that's exclusive to the brand for the next two years. This has all you'd expect from a climbing jacket - helmet compatible hood with a laminated brim and hidden cord locks; mesh-lined harness-friendly pockets that double as ventilating pit zips; hidden hem cords; and non-abrasive cuff tabs. The Foehn comes in both men's and women's fit, and at an average weight of 390g it's reasonably light for what you get. There's nothing groubndbreaking here, but it's tough and functional.
We liked these close-fitting soft shell trousers, which look like they'd be equally at home on a summer alpine climb or a UK hillwalk. They come in a highly breathable nylon/elastane woven fabric that gives a good four-way stretch and, say TNF, resists abrasion. Add articulated knees, an 'anatomical' lumbar cut and a very low-profile under-harness fit around the waist and you've got excellent do-it-all mountain legwear.
In spring 2013 Berghaus launched its VapourLight range aimed at ultra runners and indeed anyone who's been bitten by the light-and-fast bug. If you're counting every gram then some of the additions to the range for 2014 are worth a look, most notably the VapourLight Hypertherm mid-layer jacket (see video below) and its natural twin the VapourLight Hyper Smock.This latter started life as a humble windproof, Berghaus tell us, but the fortuitous addition of fully taped seams made it something a bit more special. At an almost-levitating weight of 110g (size L) it's billed as the world's lightest waterproof jacket. There's a deep smock-style front zip, simple elasticated sleeve cuffs, a small zipped pocket on one sleeve and a drawstring hood - and that's your lot. You don't get much for your money, but then £120 isn't a lot to pay for a waterproof jacket these days, and in any case the Hyper Smock's impressive minimalism is its real selling point. The jacket packs into an 8.5x12cm stuff sack that you'd barely notice hanging from your harness or slipped into a running pack. Gimme gimme.
Mammut's top-of-the-range Ultimate Alpine Hoody is a well thought-out and feature rich mountain soft shell, due winter 2013/14. This Gore Windstopper 3-layer jacket has flat seams for a smooth exterior finish, a longer cut to prevent the hem lifting when climbing and a generous roomy fit for maximum freedom of movement. Drawstring adjusters are internal so they don't snag, and the non-stick velcro on the wrist tabs won't catch on ropes or underlayers either. There's a helmet-friendly hood with three points of adjustment, and a high tight-sealing collar to keep weather at bay. Plenty of two-way zips and pockets too, including a multimedia pocket outlet (who really listens to their Ipod on the move? Ski dudes?). Given all this the weight is unsurprisingly a fairly hefty 800g (average), while the £260 price tag is pretty weighty too. But you do get lots of soft shell for your money, and it's clearly built to last.
One thing that caught our attention on the Nikwax stand was their new Cotton Proofing technology. Bring on those waterproof T-shirts and jeans!
Clive Allen talks you through the Caldera jacket and Lowe Alpines re-entrance into the clothing market later this year.
Travis Gaylord and Ueli Steck talk you through the modifications to the Quasar that Ueli requested that lead to the new Quasar Hybrid jacket.
Leah Crane talks about the new Nano Pro technology from Marmot with a pretty cool demo.
Liam Lonsdale talks about the lightweight Essence jacket that incorporates the new Nano Pro tech shown above.
Erik Tjerneld talks about Tierra's top end alpine climbing jacket.
Erik Tjerneld talks about the Ace pants, originally developed for ice climbing but equally at home on the hills.
Richard Bailey talks about Mountain Equipment's top end alpine climbing jacket.
Richard Bailey talks about the lightweight Micron jacket. A great just in case jacket for the hills.
Adidas are really making waves in the outdoor sector - and here we look at some of their new climbing specific products. Not technical gear here, but just 'everyday' shorts and Tshirts.
James Blay shows us the all new Wild Country clothing range. It is looking pretty smart! UKC staff are looking forward to this hitting the shops, and not long after, hitting the grit!
Kenton Cool is on good form as ever and here he takes us through three of his favurite pieces from the current Sherpa product range.
Chris Lines shows us the reversibe Hyper Therm jacket - this thing looks light! We want!
Chris Jakeman is always the true professional and here he shows us the very smart looking Fast Alpine Neo - this jacket looks the biz for all those alpine heros out there.
Mark McCarthy is on hand to give us the low down on this excellent looking piece from The North Face, but what does DNP stand for?
Chris Jakeman is back again to show us these extremely light gloves from Montane - an excellent piece to chuck in the sack - just in case!