UKC

Help replacing a Buffalo?

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 Basemetal 11 Jan 2022

My wife tells me my (very) old Buffalo Mountain Shirt is finally losing too much pile in the washing machine and needs replaced.

I'm one of those that Buffalo P&P really works for, and usually wear it next to the skin as a single layer for a day's winter climbing or hillwalking. I find I don't overheat in it and I can always stay warm enough, so I'm loth to try another system altogether. The Mountain Shirt is the simple, non-extended and non crotch-strap one and so I was wondering what folk thought about the advantages or otherwise of the longer 'Special Six' or crotch strapped 'Big Face' versions? Is the crotch strap and different cut a help or a hindrance? I don't think I've felt the need of either, but I've never tried them. 

BTW, if anyone has a size 40 of any variant in decent condition gathering dust... do drop me a line

 Jack 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Basemetal:

I'm another long term buffalo user. Got my first about 30 years ago that I still use if I'm working outside in winter. On my 2nd one now and it's got a good few years in it still. I replaced like for like. Can't see how the crotch strap could be anything but uncomfortable and never felt the need for the longer version. If it ain't broke...

In reply to Basemetal:

I did have a crotch strap one a while ago, but I got a bit big bigger and a bit fatter and I haven't fitted it for a very long time. I found the crotch strap more irritating than helpful, so if I replace the shirt I'd avoid the strap myself, or get the big face and snip it off. Maybe for cycling it'd be of  help? Never tried that in one though

In reply to Basemetal:

I got the Alpkit copy at Christmas and have been pleased with it.

No crotch strap though 😉

 PaulJepson 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Basemetal:

I have quite a long torso for my height (6ft but only 32" inside leg) and have never had any issues with the standard Buffalo riding up; it seems quite long if anything and the waist strap makes the bottom part almost like a short skirt. I don't know what a longer cut or crotch-strap would add (other than a bit of discomfort? Why is it a single strap? I can't think of anything in the crotchal area I'd want to divide up the middle).

I've also never tried the others though, so can't offer any advice but you'd struggle to improve on perfection, wouldn'y you. 

In reply to Basemetal:

The Big Face Shirt (with the crotch strap) has been around since at least the early 90s, as I must have bought mine in 93 or 94. I thought it was brilliant and for serious Scottish winter climbing, the strap is great if you don't care what it looks like, like the through the crotch zip on the salopettes. If you are wearing it for hiking or cragging though I'm sure you can get away without those features. I must still have my Big Face somewhere, and it might be a 40, but I haven't used it for a long long time and it was pretty tired already back then.

At least in the old days, the Big Face and the Special 6 shirts had a slightly heavier weight of Pertex on them than the original Mountain Shirt (I have one of them still I think - from 89 or 90!) and that made them slightly tougher. 

Still made in Sheffield, although a lot more expensive now but so is everything else. Perhaps the whole system now is still the price of a good single hardshell - as it used to be? I had the Extreme Salopettes, Big Face, Belay Jacket and two hoods and back in the 90s that was 200 quid. As top end goretex and similar shells cost 500 - to 550, could you get a three piece Buffalo set up for that still?

 PaulJepson 11 Jan 2022
In reply to TobyA:

They'll charge you the price of a Buffalo for a fleece these days!

In reply to PaulJepson:

> They'll charge you the price of a Buffalo for a fleece these days!

Well the Big Face comes up on Google shopping between 185 and 232, so not really. My favourite micro fleece currently is an Alpkit one - 40 quid. Add in a top quality lightweight hooded windproof - like the Montane Litespeed, they seem to be going for 60 quid! You'll have a similar system and 100 odd quid spare. 

In reply to Basemetal:

Long term user. Onto my second. Still use and lend out the original (+loads of repair tape over rips in pertex). I find the crotch strap very useful and clip at side when not needed.. Also use the two way side zips a lot especially for strenuous walks.

Really good in combination with their heavier duty salopettes. Again use the full length leg zips for ventilation  which work even in hot weather....though companions complain about the amount of thigh exposed (though Buffalo users are obviously not concerned about appearances).

In reply to Basemetal:

The crotch strap's designed for climbers to stop the shirt riding up and stop the wind blowing up underneath it. If you're only walking and don't suffer the wind blowing up it I wouldn't bother with one. I had a tekmax shirt until it wore out and the fleece/pile inside didn't shed at all. Very warm though.

In reply to TobyA:

> the Special 6 shirts had a slightly heavier weight of Pertex on them

Pertex 6 vs Pertex 4

 Tom Valentine 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Basemetal:

When I saw the title I was going to suggest a wildebeest......

 PaulJepson 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Toerag:

Likewise if you're wearing a harness on top of it though, surely? I've never had mine ride up with axes above my head. 

 Jim Walton 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Basemetal:

I have one of the Original Montane Extreme Smocks.  They are still made (slightly updated design with a zip kangaroo pouch as opposed to the velcro one I have)  The new one also comes with a hood (I had to buy mine separately).  The crotch strap is removable and i did.

It's really great and warm.

In reply to Jim Walton:

> I have one of the Original Montane Extreme Smocks. 

I bought one to replace my tatty Buffalo Big Face, it was warm and maybe a bit better designed in some ways than the Buffalo, but at least that year they were a really weird shape - arms too short and space for a much bigger beer belly than I have, and I'm far from a skinny whippet. I never used it that much and sold it on - fortunately for a pretty good price so didn't lose too much on the mistake! I suspect from Montane stuff I've tried since, they're much better with patterns and cutting - back then they might well have been made in the UK still, now I suspect all their clothing is manufactured in Asia?

 Basemetal 11 Jan 2022
In reply to TobyA:

No, still UK made [Ah, sorry -you meant Montane, didn't you...]

I get the design premise of the crotch strap, though I'm thinking with a harness the less congested the crotch are the better (!).  I've found the roomy shoulders and good arm length have avoided any hem lift when climbing -though I guess I buckle the harness over rather than under the shirt.

Oddly the Buffalo cycling shirt has a crotch strap too, and that seems a clumsy substitute for a better cut in that application. The use of heavier weight Pertex was news to me though -I'll drop them a line to ask to them if that's still so.

I did try the Salopettes once, the ones with the wear patches, but I found I just didn't need that level of heat and the resulting double torso layer confused things so I sold them on. My legs don't feel the cold and I never wear a base layer, just Montane Terra Mission or similar and have no problem leaning on ice all day. Kiltie genes maybe?

But I do think the Buffalo works differently and, for some, better than separate fleece and waterproof (or windproof or soft-shell) on top... at least I've never been able to recreate its performance with a combination of layers.

Post edited at 16:10
 Andy Hardy 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Basemetal:

Needless Sports stock buffalo. If you are happy with the sizing just get a new one online?

 Basemetal 11 Jan 2022
In reply to captain paranoia:

All three now listed as "Pertex Quantum", formerly "Pertex Classic" = Pertex 6 acc to Needles sports.

Post edited at 16:19
 Basemetal 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Andy Hardy:

> Needless Sports stock buffalo. If you are happy with the sizing just get a new one online?

Nice typo Just checking I'm not missing something before I do.

 PaulJepson 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Basemetal:

> But I do think the Buffalo works differently and, for some, better than separate fleece and waterproof (or windproof or soft-shell) on top... at least I've never been able to recreate its performance with a combination of layers.

Pile is just really good innit. I have an old Field & Trek pile sleeping bag liner and it's so bloody warm and comfortable. 

 Basemetal 11 Jan 2022
In reply to PaulJepson:

Yup!   I was surprised to see they still do sleeping bags! Outers and inners available separately... e.g.:

http://www.buffalosystems.co.uk/products/lightweight-outer/

Re Mountain shirts, I've been finding lots of "Out of Stock" in my preferred size and colour, apparently Buffalo have a 12 week production cycle and this is the dip in supply.

 PaulJepson 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Basemetal:

God you'd look like a right weirdo in that thing. 

In reply to PaulJepson:

Own one and they are weird. Not that warm either.

On my 3rd Buffalo top having owned the Mountain Shirt, Big Face but the best is the Special 6. I do, to coin a phrase, appreciate the extra length. If only...

One of my dislikes about the Montane Extreme was the sizing. Small was too small and medium was too big. Buffalo increments of 2" facilitates a good fit. I used Needlesports and would recommend them as individual shirt sizes can vary. I tried a 38" top which seemed larger than a 40". Quality control may have improved now.

In reply to Basemetal:

I sold my Buffalo 4S inner and outer bags about a decade ago. It had literally gone round the world with me and been my only sleeping bag(s) for well over a decade. But I really don't regret getting a down bag. I had my most miserable night ever in that Buffalo bag. Take it from bitter experience that a buffalo mountain shirt, salopettes, belay jacket and 4s inner and outer bags will not keep you warm at -27. But it was a teachable moment and didn't actually kill me...

In reply to Basemetal:

I used to use my big face shirt for winter MTB in the peak - crotch strap great for that.

the Ron Hill and Big Face shirt combo is surely a U.K. classic

In reply to Toerag:

> The crotch strap's designed for climbers to stop the shirt riding up and stop the wind blowing up underneath it. If you're only walking and don't suffer the wind blowing up it I wouldn't bother with one. I had a tekmax shirt until it wore out and the fleece/pile inside didn't shed at all. Very warm though.

Understood... But I found the harness stopped that from happening, maybe though because of the longer shape front and back on the Big Face rather than the actual strap thing itself. So I'm still not convinced about the strap. Maybe if you were free soloing big faces, then maybe you'd be glad of the strap, I can only speculate on that one though

 mk one 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Basemetal:

Another Montane user, just seemed more robust when i first looked at them many years ago, not sure how the modern versions compare. I still have my original Extreme smock, the one with the wear patches and crotch strap, which i find useful in deep snow and helps a bit in strong winds, though a draw cord hem would be better. Also still have the heavy duty version, the 8 smock i think its called, but way too warm for moving in, and like all P+P too cold to be stood about in so doesnt really get used. My go to top for most days at the moment, unless it is very cold, is the original Rab Vapour Rise smock, great piece of kit, only has about 100 weight fleece liner so more suitable for longer harder days.

Post edited at 21:55
 Basemetal 11 Jan 2022
In reply to mk one:

thanks for that. I haven't tried a Montane Extreme, but I've been so lucky with the fit of my Buffalo and we've been a 'thermal match' for each other I'd be happy to replace like with like . One worry is that my next Buffalo won't be the same, even in fit, and perhaps that the performance of thick new pile might be too much -I think my outgoing one is about 25 years old and it suits me fine as is  now (until this latest terminal disintegration of the pile lining).

I do have a Rab Vapour Rise Lite (Alpine, I think it became) that I sometimes pull on over my Buffalo (as in my profile pic) in the worst weather, but I find the VR on its own too warm for summer and not warm or weatherproof enough for winter -I also haven't been impressed by the Pertex Equilibrium of the VR, which doesn't seem very tough. The VR smocks might be better.

From all the input so far, I'm inclined to go for another hoodless Mountain Shirt as I know the length works for me and I don't need the faff of either the extra material front and rear or the crotch strap. I do have the hood from my old one but it's never been that great and I rarely use it.  I must admit I wish the colour choice was better from Buffalo, with purple now only in the women's shirt and the rust colours only for the Active range. 

So thanks for all the replies folks

 mk one 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Basemetal:

I find the Vapour Rise suits my heat output a bit more, though like you say, it feels less of a robust outer, though tbh i have had no issues with it yet on rock or in winter, though i do also find it less water resistant but if its getting that bad i tend to go for my gortex with either top.

 didntcomelast 12 Jan 2022
In reply to Jim Walton: I can go one up from that, I have a Montane Extreme smock which was made for an Arctic expedition but not taken. It’s got the crotch strap but also a lighter pile lined fitted hood which has a triple Velcro front closure and leaves a small goggles size slot for when the snow is coming in sideways.  It’s also got reinforced shoulders and elbows and reflective trim front and back. Bought in the days when the factory used to have sale days of samples, seconds and other test garments. Benefit of being local to Ashington. 

 LastBoyScout 12 Jan 2022
In reply to Tom Valentine:

> When I saw the title I was going to suggest a wildebeest......

I was going to suggest a Bison...

In reply to LastBoyScout:

Birmingham joke.

What's the difference between a Buffalo and a Bison?

You can't wash your hands in a Buffalo.

In reply to Basemetal:

I bought my first buffalo jacket off Hamish in the pub. It was one of the prototypes which was two tone grey with a red pile lining. Rab was trying to persuade Hamish to adopt a wider range of colours, but never did. That one lasted me 25 years and got replaced with a mountain shirt about 12 years ago. At 5’11” I don’t need a longer version. I did have some salopette prototypes which lasted even longer. Sadly finally gave up the ghost.

 Basemetal 13 Jan 2022
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

That's interesting Paul. I had a nice email back from Buffalo yesterday saying they can entertain custom orders as 'specials' (and they liked my idea of a Big Face in the Cycling colour) but they were flat out just now and would be concentrating on the core range until about April, then a special order would have a 10-12 week lead once the order was confirmed.  

Since that's effectively 6 months away, and I've decided I don't need the BF features, I've just ordered about the only Royal blue 42 Mountain shirt left in the country.

Good to hear of a UK company working flat out and selling everything they can produce

In reply to Basemetal:

It’s a genius design. The zips catching on fabric and all the flappy bits of Velcro are a bit crap but it’s easy to forgive because it’s fundamentally great. Before Buffalo, Hamish designed the Force 10 tent I think. I seem to remember there was one in his garden on long term UV and weather testing

In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

I only really have the zip issue on the chest pocket - much better when Velcro - has this been improved in more recent versions?

 Basemetal 13 Jan 2022
In reply to Dr.S at work:

My Mountain Shirt was just velcro on the kangaroo pocket, I didn't know it had changed... 

 Basemetal 12:49 Sat

New Mountain Shirt arrived and it looks good. I was interested to see the design tweaks from my old one (circa1995).

1. The Pertex is a softer, slightly more flexible fabric. Will have its factory DWR on it so can't really compare properly yet. Certainly in the same ball park and I've no reason to think it'll be any less robust. I've taken umpteen bike tumbles on gravel in Pertex Quantum (Rab Generator or Montane Featherlight) and have never even marked it.

2. Wow -soft pile! Compared to the thinner and and coarser layer I had left, it feels... plush. Not a change, just "new" I suppose. Be interesting to find out the thermal difference it makes.

3. Zipped kangaroo pocket right enough.  Opens from the left, fortunately I'm right handed. I'd had to replace the velcro on my old one and the zips are fine and won't ice over so on balance probably a good move.

4. New flaps over the long side vent zips - I had to check my old one to confirm these weren't there before. I didn't feel any need for these, and on opening and closing I did manage to catch the fabric in the zip already. There's also another velcro tab to hold the flap closed. Nice pull tab on the upper zip pullers.

5 Sleeve length, cut and collar all seem as they were, which is a relief. I could maybe have got away with a 40 (from a previous 44) but the useful table of sizes Buffalo publish indicated the sleeve length was the same for 42 & 44 and shorter in 40. With the waist strap I can cinch it in the little I need (and I know the 44 worked for me anyway).

It's quite a cheery looking deep royal blue so I'm a happy bunny overall. Thanks for nursing me through the trauma of replacement!


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