/ Scottish winter clothing

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mattrm - on 02 Nov 2009
I'm looking for some help and advice on what the best clothing system would be for scottish winter climbing, with an eye to using the same (or some of the kit) in the alps. I know there's a big difference, I just don't want to shell out lots of cash for even more kit when I go to the alps. I already have a decent waterproof jacket and a set of baselayers. Gloves are sorted (couple of cheap liners, my existing walking gloves and a pair of dachsteins). What I need is ideas for the mid layer. My vague thoughts so far are:

Base layer + buffalo (or the one from Montane) with the hard shell for when it's really grim

Base layer + fleece + softshell (really like the look of the Rab Generator stuff) and the hardshell

or???

Other questions:

Trousers or salopettes? And are there any good cheap ones? Most places seem too be charging £150 upwards. That's a daft price.

I'm a speccy wearer and don't have any prescription sunglasses - do I need some form of sunglasses? Some people recommend a pair of goggles, any cheap ones suitable for glasses?
Counc on 02 Nov 2009 - 82-32-120-90.cable.ubr04.hawk.blueyonder.co.uk
In reply to mattrm: Is this your first session..if so...i would advise cheap cheap cheap...goggles, my first trip to chamonix i bought a cheap apir of £20 goggles, the used them in Cogne, Arolla, Chamonix again and other places in the UK, they get scratched to hell...so unless you wanna flush money then i would say cheap!! But hey some people would advise cheap cat 3's.

Clothes, i love the MH Dragon, its a windproff, waterproof soft shell, its a bit pricey but snow and rock are doing last seasons for £155 on their website, replaces the need for hard shell etc. A nice big down jacket for belaying, nutrino for the win as always! Mid layer, the new ME powerstrech rocks but a little pricey at £130...or Ranton leisure are doing a good deal on some rab stuff...really good deals! And pants...look on snow and rock they have some good deals on at the moment for some good pants from last season! Gloves...get some mittens just in case IMHO....ebay always a winner.

The most important thing are boots and socks...seriously socks! WOW! oh and gators (cheap gators) if you have never worn crampons! dont care what you look like, none of us have 1000's of £'s to spend on the good stuff yet he he. For scotish stuff i also really advise a balaclava, the wind can pick up and frozen ice really hurts in the face at 40mph.

Hope i dont sound too overbearing....hope you have a good session.
almost sane on 02 Nov 2009 - 82-41-159-28.cable.ubr01.linl.blueyonder.co.uk
In reply to mattrm:

If you already have good waterproofs, the cheapest way to start is get a couple of extra fleeces, or extra thermal tops. A belay jacket is very useful, and you can get cheap jackets that will do the job (but be heavier and bulkier), like http://www.clothingattesco.com/coats+casual-jackets/F+F-Padded-jacket/invt/et920001

I strongly recommend you get eye protection. Ice crystals blown by a gale really hurt your eyes. Goggles that will fit over your specs, or specs with wrap-around lenses are really good. Trendy specs with lenses less than an inch high will not protect you enough.
Addidas do wrap-around glasses which can take prescription inserts and which allow for different outer lenses so you can use them in strong sun or in a dull whiteout.
almost sane on 02 Nov 2009 - 82-41-159-28.cable.ubr01.linl.blueyonder.co.uk
In reply to mattrm:
Counc is right about gaiters - in soft snow they make the difference between dry feet and wet feet. Cheap ones will do to get you started.

Boots should not be tight like climbing shoes. You should have enough room to wiggle your toes with your socks on.

FInal tip - I never go out in the winter without at least one person in the party having an emergency shelter. This can keep you alive if you get stuck, but fortunately I have never had to use it as such. What I have done A LOT is use the emergency shelter as a place for lunch. Getting everybody out of the wind-driven snow and hail makes for a far more comfortable lunch stop. It means you can open your bag without it filling instantly with spindrift. Emergency shelters are also great if you need to put on an extra thermal top, or change out of wet clothes if you fall in a river. Taking off your outer layer in a winter gail is grim - you lose a lot of heat and may lose your outer jacket. Of course, it is easier if you can just keep adding layers on top, like putting on a belay jacket over your shell jacket, but this isn't always feasible.
I like my emergency shelter to be spacious enough for people to move around in - for two people I would use a 4-person Terra Nova or Vango shelter for lunch time use.

Snow is forecast for this week, so you may get to try stuff out soon!!!
Jasonic on 02 Nov 2009
In reply to mattrm: paramo cascada pants- no need for overtrousers but too hot for summer alps.
steev on 02 Nov 2009
In reply to mattrm:

You're likely to be too hot in the alps in the summer if you're wearing a buffalo
Jamie B - on 02 Nov 2009
In reply to mattrm:

People on these forums get obsessed up by the idea that you can prescribe a universal system that will work for any person on any day at any workload. It's just not that simple. I can just about keep myself comfortable on most days, but only because I've got a decent pool of garments to mix and match and loads of experience of what works and what doesnt.

Conclusion; buy lots of outdoor clothing. If you do other outdoor stuff year-round it will pay its way.
Kane - on 02 Nov 2009
In reply to mattrm: so you have base layers and a waterproof jacket. I'd wear base layer for the walk in, with the jacket if it's raining. Put on a fleece or softshell for climbing, again with waterproof if raining and have a belay jacket for when stopped.

I'd find a buffalo way too warm. Either go with a fleece or a light softshell.

You don't need to spend a fortune on trousers. A thick baselayer or two and a cheap pair of warterproofs will do to start. I've never used gaiters, tend to go with elasticated cuffs and tie them under my boots.

Socks, I like to keep simple and wear one pair of thick wool ones. also get a hat/balaclava and goggles.

same kit will do you for alps summer and add a pair of fleece trousers and an extra thick fleece top and you'd probably cope in winter too.

Belay jacket is the most important part in my opinion. Make sure you put it on when stopped even if you're warm.

Have fun in the hills,
Kane
Kane - on 02 Nov 2009
In reply to Jamie Bankhead: It is pretty simple. You buy what you can afford or borrow and get out there and use it.
Jim Fraser - on 02 Nov 2009
In reply to Jamie Bankhead:
> (In reply to mattrm)
>
> People on these forums get obsessed up by the idea that you can prescribe a universal system that will work for any person on any day at any workload. It's just not that simple. I can just about keep myself comfortable on most days, but only because I've got a decent pool of garments to mix and match and loads of experience of what works and what doesnt.
>
> Conclusion; buy lots of outdoor clothing. If you do other outdoor stuff year-round it will pay its way.

Total agreement.




People are all different. Conditions will keep changing. Develop an understanding of what different materials and types of garment can do for you. Use the science and do not get distracted by the marketing bullsh1t or other people's nerdy obsessions. Being old-fashioned or being the latest thing is not a valid factor.

Put that all together and go with the flow. 'Every day's a school-day!'
jonnie3430 - on 02 Nov 2009
In reply to mattrm:

Go cheap, I spent my first winter season wearing a baselayer, fleece, hardshell and a second fleece if it was a cold day. I have now refined that to baseslayer, thin fleece, hardshell and a belayjacket for stops (or belays.)
Counc on 02 Nov 2009 - 82-32-120-90.cable.ubr04.hawk.blueyonder.co.uk
In reply to Jim Fraser:
> (In reply to Jamie Bankhead)
> [...]
>
> Total agreement.
>
>
>
>
> People are all different. Conditions will keep changing. Develop an understanding of what different materials and types of garment can do for you.
>

Surly thats what this thread is doing...trying to understand by asking what works for other individuals? Or...the other option is...having a "nerdy obsessions" and delving into the science of things?...I dont get it?

Kane - on 03 Nov 2009
In reply to Jim Fraser: It's true that everyone needs to experiment and find out what works for them under what conditions but they also need a rough idea where to start.

In my opinion this means use what you've got, can borrow or can get cheap to start with and go from there. Oh and use a belay jacket, best purchase I've made.

Kane
mattrm - on 03 Nov 2009
In reply to mattrm:

I've already got the gaiters, so I'm sorted there. So yes to the goggles? can you get ones that fit over glasses? And trousers instead of salopettes?

I'm aware that what works for one won't work for the other and I am not expecting someone to pop up with some perfect system for a day out in the hills. However I am trying to stop myself from wasting a load of money on something that's just plain crap, by getting advice and seeing what kit others use and would recommend.
galpinos on 03 Nov 2009
In reply to mattrm:

Right, Scottish winter is a funny one. When you're moving, on the walk in, climbing, moving together etc. you can get really hot but belaying can be baltic so clothing is a bit hit and miss until you work out what works for you.

The basic system is base layer, fleece, waterproof and it's a decent place to start as all these things you'd use day to day climbing anyway. As you got 2 of the three bits you're laughing.

Have you already got a fleece? If so, use that. If not, I'ma big fan of a hooded fleece. I've got a Patagonia R1 Hoody,
http://www.mountain-intelligence.co.uk/834/products/Patagonia_R1_Hoody_Red_Fire.aspx?utm_source=Froo...
which is the mutts nits but pricey. A cheaper option is the Berghaus Smoulder Hoody which I@ve heard really good things about:
http://www.google.co.uk/products?hl=en&q=Berghaus+Smoulder+hoody&cr=countryUK%7CcountryGB&am...
The only problem with a hooded fleece is you look like a tw*t is you wear it down the pub so not as versatile as a standard fleece.

Another option for a mid layer is a pertex/pile top (which is what a buffalo is). There are more options than Buffalo and Montane, Rab do the vapour-rise stuff, Marmot do Dri-clime and even Patagonia have got in on the act. This kind of layer would be great in the alps in Summer as well as provide a mid-layer for Scottish Winter.

The Rab Generator you mentioned isn't a softshell, it's a synthetic insulating layer that'd be used instead of a fleece. The Generator alpine:
http://www.rab.uk.com/clothing/primaloft/generator_alpine---148/
looks great. Might be perfect for you or might be a bit warm.

For your legs, I'd say salopettes every time or at least, high waisted trousers with braces. Without braces, I always end up with a cold spot at the bottom of my back. Horses for courses though.

Other things I'd just say, every clothing "system" is great for one person and awful for the next depending on whether you run, hot or cold and on how much you like/are willing to suffer. Andy Kirkpatrick has some good things to say on here (He's done some UKC articles eg http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=1187) and on his site Psychovertical.

2 things I'd add for Scotland, take a spare baselayer to change into after the walk in as if you've sweated a lot on getting to the crga then have to belay for a couple of hours you'll freeze. Popping a dry warm base layer on helps loads.

Get a bothy bag. If anything goes wrong I reckon these are worth their weight in gold, they're also great for eating your butties in when it's a bit miserable.

http://www.terra-nova.co.uk/Product_Type/Tents/Bivi__Bothy_Bags/Bothy_4_RED.html
galpinos on 03 Nov 2009
In reply to mattrm:

Oh, and I'm a 4 eyes to but can't cope with glasses in winter. Contact lenses all the way!
DWilliamson - on 03 Nov 2009
In reply to mattrm:

I'm a glasses wearer too. If you can use them, I really, really recommend contact lenses. So much less hassle, and you can use any goggles or sunglasses with them. Have your glasses in your pack (in a hard case!) as a backup, but contacts make things far easier in poor conditions. It doesn't need to be raining or snowing that hard to make it almost impossible to see with specs on, and they tend to steam up at the worst moments.

I can also say from experience that having your glasses knocked off while on lead is not a good thing at all. Daily disposables are the way forward - put them in in the morning, chuck them in the bin at night, forget about them inbetween.
Jim Fraser - on 03 Nov 2009
In reply to DWilliamson:
> (In reply to mattrm)
>
> I'm a glasses wearer too. If you can use them, I really, really recommend contact lenses. ... ...
>
> ... Daily disposables are the way forward - put them in in the morning, chuck them in the bin at night, forget about them inbetween.

Agreed.

Even in a case where your optician had concerns about dry eyes in normal circumstances, modern contact lenses will be fine for winter climbing. You simply cannot get a better environment for contact lens wearing than a well ventilated (!) damp cliff! Disposables for climbing days only is a cheap and easy solution that will make a fantastic difference to those hill days.
mattrm - on 03 Nov 2009
In reply to galpinos:

So as a mid-layer I could get a fleece or a synthetic jacket (ala Rab Generator) to keep me warm. I've been seriously looking at both the Patagonia R1 and the Berghaus Smoulder. I'm not a 'fashion' person at all. Don't give a toss what I look like.

I'd been looking at the Paramo Aspira salopettes. But they're bloody expensive. And I have a feeling they might be too warm. If the Cascada ones would be ok they're much cheaper.

I've read pretty much everything on Andy K's site at least twice. I'm just having trouble converting the advice on there into 'which bit of kit to buy'.

I'll look into the contact lenses. Dunno if I'll be able to get them. I've never been a bit fan of them really. I've got a pair of glasses retainers which I wear when climbing. I'll be getting a bothy bag anyway sooner or later, but I'll be on a course, so hopefully the instructor will have one.

Quite a few people have mentioned belay jackets, any recommendations for a cheap one? Or would something like that Rab Generator alpine do as a belay jacket? I looked at the phd one, but it's again very expensive.

I'm not going till Jan (on a course) and then hopefully again in Feb, so I've still got a while yet to sort out what I'm going to buy.
TobyA on 03 Nov 2009
In reply to mattrm:

> I've been seriously looking at both the Patagonia R1

A hood would be nice but by no means necessary. A hat works well! I got the the standard (hoodless) Patagonia R1 on sale for 25 or 30 quid. It's very good in its own right.

> Quite a few people have mentioned belay jackets, any recommendations for a cheap one?

Yep - the Decathlon one if you can get to a store and they have them, or the Alpkit ZerotoHero.
galpinos on 03 Nov 2009
In reply to mattrm:
> (In reply to galpinos)
>
> So as a mid-layer I could get a fleece or a synthetic jacket (ala Rab Generator) to keep me warm. I've been seriously looking at both the Patagonia R1 and the Berghaus Smolder. I'm not a 'fashion' person at all. Don't give a toss what I look like.

Yep. I'd go with a fleece myself, as it's more versatile. Remember to try stuff on. The R1 hoody is pretty tight so with the hood up you look like a goon but it's very toasty. It also is quite long so you can tuck it into your trousers. No idea how the Smolder fits.

> I'd been looking at the Paramo Aspira salopettes. But they're bloody expensive. And I have a feeling they might be too warm. If the Cascada ones would be ok they're much cheaper.

I'd have to pass on Paramo. Never used it. I'm currently wearing Patagonia (can you see a theme arising) Backcountry Pants at the mo that I got in the sale last year. Tough and hardwearing.

> I've read pretty much everything on Andy K's site at least twice. I'm just having trouble converting the advice on there into 'which bit of kit to buy'.

Always very difficult. As someone said above, you'll end up with a variety of bits so the question won't be which to buy, but which to wear from the masses of technical clothes in the cupboard.

> I'll look into the contact lenses. Dunno if I'll be able to get them. I've never been a bit fan of them really. I've got a pair of glasses retainers which I wear when climbing.

Unless you've got funny eyes, daily disposables will be fine. They work out at £1 a pair at the more expensive end which is definitely worth it.

>I'll be getting a bothy bag anyway sooner or later, but I'll be on a course, so hopefully the instructor will have one.

Make sure you've got one buy the time you head out with mates.

> Quite a few people have mentioned belay jackets, any recommendations for a cheap one? Or would something like that Rab Generator alpine do as a belay jacket? I looked at the phd one, but it's again very expensive.

The Rab equivalent is the Rab Belay Jacket:

http://www.google.co.uk/products?hl=en&q=rab+belay+jacket&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=HTfwStqSK...

which gets mixed reviews, but generally good ones. I've got a Patagonia Puffball jacket, which is pretty lightweight as belay jackets go. Basically, it a generously cut insulated jacket (synthetic is more popular than down for this use) that you put on over your shell when not moving/belaying so bear this in mind when trying them on.

> I'm not going till Jan (on a course) and then hopefully again in Feb, so I've still got a while yet to sort out what I'm going to buy.

You'll have bought far to much stuff by the time January rolls round if you're like me. Try to get the expensive bits for Christmas!
mattrm - on 03 Nov 2009
In reply to galpinos:

> You'll have bought far to much stuff by the time January rolls round if
> you're like me. Try to get the expensive bits for Christmas!

Looking at the old bank account I strongly doubt it. I think I'll just get a good fleece and waterproof salopettes. See how much I enjoy it and then see what I want to buy after that.

> Yep - the Decathlon one if you can get to a store and they have them, or
> the Alpkit ZerotoHero.

Cool, I'll have a look at them. If the Decathlon one is the £50 one then it's very tempting, that's really cheap.
Counc on 04 Nov 2009 - 82-32-120-90.cable.ubr04.hawk.blueyonder.co.uk
If you are not going until jan...why not wait for the sales? I know last year i bought some good kit half price...ie Rab Nutrino DOwn jacket for £105 from (dont laugh) Go Outdoors.....and it gives you more time to do research etc....
TobyA on 04 Nov 2009
In reply to mattrm:
> If the Decathlon one is the £50 one then it's very tempting, that's really cheap.

I bought one for a mate last Xmas time in Merry Hill Decathlon as it was on sale for 26 quid! He has been using it ice climbing since and says it works really well.
mattrm - on 04 Nov 2009
In reply to Counc:

I'm going in the first weekend of Jan, so it all needs to be bought before then. I will probably buy extra kit ready for the rest of the season if I really enjoy it in the sales. Also I know that my local climbing shop will be holding a sale before xmas and I'm kinda waiting for that to see if I can get any bargains there.
martinph78 on 04 Nov 2009
In reply to mattrm: I'll be heading out on a solo "expedition" in Scotland on the 1st January (if all goes to plan).

I have built my kit up over the years, mostly on a budget.

If you do want salopettes get yourself to TK Max and check out their ski wear. Theres some decent stuff, Trespass gear is pretty god and GREAT value.

I wear glasses, keep them on with a strap when climbing and have some cheap goggles for blizzards. There's nothing special about goggles for glasses, they just have a slight cut out in the foam for the arms and are a little bit deeper. Get some double glazed/vented ones though to save steaming up.

I'm all for layers, gives you many options for different sports and weathers.

Alpkit do a good value down jacket, SWMBO has one, paid £60 for it and loves it.

It's not a fashion parade. One thing I would recommend as well, food and fitness. These can make the difference between being cold or comfortable regardless of what you are wearing. Snack lots, I like boiled sweets in my pocket, and we mix hot chocolate and sugar for the evening brew as a treat, gets the body generating loads of heat just before lights out!

Enjoy
mattrm - on 05 Nov 2009
In reply to mattrm:

I'm going to leave the Belay/down jacket till next time I go. But I think a Rab Generator Alpine and a PHD Belay Jacket are going to be the choices for that sort of thing.

I checked out TK Maxx, never been there before, most of the stuff there is either crap or good stuff, which is either XL or S. Bit like my experiences in sales, you always find that the stuff that fits goes in an instant. Salopettes wise I'm looking at the Paramo Aspira salopettes and the PHD Alpamayo (sp?) salopettes. They're both the same price and both look really good.

I've already started my training for winter. I'm adding a few gym sessions and a swimming session into my current mix of running and climbing. I'll hopefully get out into the hills for a few long walks. Foodwise I always have a snickers bar and a pack of haribo in the pack somewhere. Usually some trail mix as well. Cheese and Marmite sarnies for lunch stops.
Mr Lopez - on 05 Nov 2009
In reply to mattrm:
> (In reply to mattrm)
>
> So yes to the goggles? can you get ones that fit over glasses?

There are goggles made by Julbo and other manufacturers that are designed to fit over glasses, the design is called OTG (Have a look here http://www.needlesports.com/acatalog/Mail_Order_Glacier_Glasses_57.html )
captain paranoia - on 05 Nov 2009
In reply to Martin1978:

> If you do want salopettes get yourself to TK Max and check out their ski wear. Theres some decent stuff, Trespass gear is pretty god and GREAT value.

I wouldn't recommend ski salopettes for walking and climbing; most of the insulated ones are too bulky and heavy, and pretty restrictive to walk in.

That said, I'd certainly take a look in TK Maxx; I spotted some Gore Soft Shell salopettes (uninsulated) the other day for £30...

As for the 'mix and match' layers, a five-layers system, with pieces chosen to suit conditions and activities, will generally cope with most things:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=377801&v=1#x5471096

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