I was looking at my 35 year old and new berghaus kit and was thinking that it doesn't look as well built. Does anyone else think new kit isn't as robust as the new kit and feels more disposable and cheaply made.
Seconded. My old berghaus gortex softshell (circa 17yrs old) is still my go to big winter jacket. This thing has been dragged a mile down a tarmac road in New Zealand, has completely delaminated so it looks like a pickled camel and has been in thrown in more ditches than I care to remember yet it still does the job perfectly.
none of my new stuff in the past 5yrs has the same survival skills.
In reply to Thomas Hardbattle: all of those “household names” are just brands now sold off to big corporations maximising return on their investment by value engineering and off shoring manufacturing with various levels of integrity and lip service to the original brand ethos
Some Berghaus in made in the UK and has that original robustness (not certain which to be honest) but much of it (looking at waterproof jacket and fleece labels!) says made in China.
It's hard to blame companies for doing this because consumers rarely are prepared to pay the premium for locally made robust quality. Many of us talk about it and the good old days, but fewer are willing (or have the money) to shop without putting cheap as a big factor.
I'm sure Berghaus would love to make everything they sell themselves in Newcastle to the highest and most robust standard.
I think this is somewhat of an oversimplification. If gear doesn't last eventually customers move away from said gear, especially if it's brought to market for intense and gear-wrecking activities such as climbing and mountaineering.
I can't tell you how often I've heard the phrase 'too bad you only need one because they last a lifetime, must be bad for your business' with regards to our brand's trousers and winter jackets. Actually, this is pretty much the best mouth-to-mouth advertisement any brand could hope for - of course it's not actually true, nothing lasts a lifetime. But still.
From companies I've spoken to in the last decade this idea that made in the UK is great and made in China is rubbish, simply isn't true. Firms have found it hard to employ staff with the relevant skills in the UK, and China now has the finest manufacturing facilities in the world - including for outdoor clothing.
I'm currently reviewing a made in the UK rucksack. There's a lot to like about it beyond the fact that it's sewn in a small workshop in the UK. But to be perfectly honest, while well made, it's a pretty unrefined design compared to made in China packs I've reviewed in recent years.
I’ve got a 30 year old Berghaus Alpine Extrem jacket. An 18th birthday present, it was like a suit of armour, in both a good and a bad way. I rarely took it off when in the mountains. I’ve still got it for sentimental reasons, the seam tape had delaminated within 5 years.
While I'm sure the move towards lightweight materials and cost savings is part of this, isn't there also a bit of survivorship bias? The best made/quality kit from ages ago lasts but the crappier stuff is forgotten about.
The same thing with "solid" older housing compared to newer builds - the crap older housing was demolished.
I had plenty of old berghaus, karrimor, Scarpa gear in the early 90s it was great as I don't especially care if things were lightweight. As someone mentioned made in Newcastle I now have 2 top line Barbour jackets made by my parents next door neighbour in their factory in the North East. They are great for walking at a steady pace in cold wet weather, virtually indestructible too and not ridiculously expensive.
I'm not suggesting that from some kind of (quasi racist) China = bad standpoint, but consider the practicalities. Supposing that you oversee a factory producing something near your home and you work there daily. If some raw materials comes in that don't seem quite as good or you want to check something with stitching or whatever you can walk to goods in and check the deliveries you can walk over to the machining area and check.
If you goods are produced under license somewhere remote that you can't chat to supervisors and shop floor staff or inspect raw materials the first you might know of any issues is: best case, you discover a shipment is maybe just OK but really not the best (QC should prevent the genuinely bad), worst case the distribution to retail is already through and you get it as feedback from customers or discover it in a shop that your goods are maybe OK but not as good as they used to be
Anyhow the main argument I was making is more our fault, we (collectively) are continuing the trend to cheap/disposable and becoming cheap. We (collectively) want lots of cheap stuff not a few better quality things
As soon as something becomes a fashion brand it slowly declines in usability for its original purpose. It happened to The North Face and now Berghaus. It would seem you can't look good and have good kit.
> The bigger picture that everyone seems to be missing is that the quality of Berhaus products have been on a continual downward spiral ever since the Pentland Group took over the brand name in 1993.
Some of their stuff is still really good, though. Twelve years ago, for my 50th birthday, I was given one of those little teardrop-shaped Berghaus sacs, ideal for short local outings when you need some stuff but not lots. I often use it around town but in hill terms I mainly use it for three- or four-hour Ochil raids. In winter I'll quite often take a slightly bigger Vango sac (which has been good but is falling to bits), and in high summer I might just use a big Lowe Alpine bumbag, but mostly it's the Berghaus one that gets grabbed. Haven't kept tabs on how often I've used it, but I do know my hill totals and in those 12 years it will have been up Ben Cleuch around 500 times and round various King's Seat loops a lot too. It's still pretty much as good as new and shows no signs of being consigned to the retired kit pile.
They do what they do, and predominantly they are now an outdoor 'lifestyle' clothing manufacturer. Their retro Dean St stuff is bang-on in terms of on trend norm-core/gorp-core fashion and they do well out of it. Many of the big name outdoor brands do similar collaborations and we're not the target demographic, at all. Look at LL Bean as an example, they ditched all their outdoor athletes for lifestyle influencers because that's where the route to new revenue is.
And whilst it's not necessarily what we want in terms of stuff for the hills the mass-market products with a lower technical spec sold at massive mark-up fund the R&D for the more niche stuff we're after - all be it still not as good as yesteryear we like to think.
Cornice Long with zip in fleece (jacket length down the thighs so when it rains you don't funnel the water down onto your crotch) is still a stand out product that's hard to get equivalent elsewhere, bought my son a cornice before Christmas and it's still a good jacket.
Agree though Berghaus aren't the company they used to be.
I returned a Berghaus waterproof jacket about 5 years ago because the entire inside of the hood had delaminated. There was no delamination elsewhere, just the hood. And it was only 2 maybe 3 years old.
Berghaus eventually returned the jacket with the response- 'no fault found - normal wear and tear'.
But then, I have a Berghaus winter climbing sack I love which cost only half the price of other brands. Simple design, good materials, well made. Perfect.
A bit hit and miss.
I once bought an expensive pair of Rab goretex gaiters which ripped during first use so bought a cheap pair of Alpkit gaiters. Much better- more solid construction, nicer fit, and less than half the price.
Been very disappointed with Berghaus/Brasher Hillmaster boots, eyelet fell out of one pair on first use (got refund), and the leather split along the sole after a year of use on another pair, catastrophic failure. But their Deluge overtrousers are pretty decent.
Back in the day I had a Berghaus Delta 30 rucksack made of canvas, lasted years and took all kinds of abuse, but sweat from my back eventually rotted the base out of it.
Whether its made in China or not is not the issue. The fabrics and threads are chosen by UK based buyers. I have worked in buying and merchandising for UK retail for a good 10 years. UK manufacturing is way behind China, they are able to produce things of similar or if not superior quality to British made garments. The reduction of quality is due to 3 things, chasing margins, creating light products and finally having customers come back buying more rathern than sitting on a garment for 15 years.
> all of those “household names” are just brands now sold off to big corporations maximising return on their investment by value engineering and off shoring manufacturing with various levels of integrity and lip service to the original brand ethos
Not all of them. Patagonia, Blue Ice and to the best of my knowledge Arcteryx are single-entity companies still owned and run by the founders or their appointed heirs. There will be others. Not sure who owns Vango these days. Salewa and Wild Country (and afaik Dynastar) have a common owner but specialising in outdoors equipment.
OP: Berghaus, like Karrimor made great stuff back in the day. I had a Berghaus Cyclops Alp back in the day and it was nigh-on indestructible but modern rucksacks are lighter, better designed, light when empty and will still probably outlive me. I did make the mistake of buying a pair of Karrimor boots about 15 years ago. They lasted less than a week, I got a refund.
I still have an early 90s olive coloured Cyclops ROC, amazed it can still be alive, plastic buckles are replacements, the elastic round lid went baggy some time before the millennium, crampon holes, gear loops added to waist belt and most cut off again, weird stains on the back and name etc blacked out so a black patch. Heavy as anything but still getting occasional use
I still have an early 80s Karrimor Haston Vallot thats in reasonably good nick.
Newer Berghaus stuff tends to vary in quality. We drop in to the Berghaus outlet at Gretna when we're passing. The £60 boots are ok for dog walking, but Mrs Ridge picked up a Goretex active shell (no model name on it) that seems to be a running jacket, (only one small chest pocket and venting on the back and chest), and that's a cracking bit of kit.
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