E9 have been around for a while, but due to a change in distributor are likely to become much more widely available within the coming months. As such, we thought we'd take a closer look at a few products from across the range, as well as a better look at the brand itself, which - I have subsequently learned - manufactures all of their clothing in Italy.
When I first came across E9 I must admit being more than a little cynical. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but their jazzy designs and outrageously European colour palette made me jump to the snap conclusion that that was all they were. Whilst there are indeed jazzy designs, and the outrageous colours are there if you want them, there is a lot more to E9 than meets the eye, in particular the cut (which is fantastic) and their environmental credentials (which are to be applauded).
It's quite strange reviewing things on the 'softer' side of the climbing spectrum, because ultimately there's a lot less to say about a cotton t-shirt than there is a waterproof jacket and/or a pair of climbing shoes. That said, for both cut is the key to success, and this is where E9 excel.
When you first put on any item of clothing that is designed for climbing there are two simple tests - one for legwear, the other for t-shirts, hoodies, and jackets. For legwear, it is whether or not you can raise your legs without the garment in question restricting movement. For t-shirts, hoodies and jackets it is whether or not there is excessive 'lift' around the waistline. Whilst there's clearly a lot of other factors at play (arm/leg length, width across the shoulders etc…), and these two criteria are to an extent dependent on the shape of the reviewer as well as the garment, they are nevertheless the first consideration when giving something a thumbs up or down. Well, each of the following pieces passed with flying colours.
E9 are based in the Ascoli Piceno region of Italy and the entire production takes place within just a few miles of their factory. They procure all their raw materials from an Italian supplier and cut, stitch, and print all materials themselves.
Function and Intended Use
E9 is definitely focussed more towards the bouldering and sport climbing side of the market, and that is reflected in each of the products reviewed here; however, that doesn't necessarily mean this is where you would have to use them, as the cut/freedom of movement would make each and every one of them suitable for trad too.
When it comes to durability it's often hard to comment within a space of a few months use (even if it has been particularly hard and unrelenting use), but underlying their luxurious feel each of the items reviewed has stood up to a significant amount of battering - particularly the trousers.
Squartrees Hoodie - RRP £80
The Squartrees hoodie is geared towards cooler conditions, courtesy of its luxurious fleece liner, which extends not only to the lining of the body, but also the pocket on the front (great for warming your hands) and the hood. The cut is - as you'd expect - designed with climbing in mind, so there's limited (if any) lift whilst raising your arms, and freedom of movement is par-excellence.
Were there to be a drawback, it is ultimately the flip side of its major benefit, which is that due to its fleece lining it is (unsurprisingly) quite warm, so on milder days can get quite hot. That's not really a drawback as such, and if you're after something warm for a winter's day on the Grit then look no further...
What E9 say:
The SQUARTREES is a long sleeve with hood in warm fleece fabric. Maximum comfort and mobility. Print on front insert. Patch on the back side. Adjustable hood. Regular fit. Made in Italy.
55% PL 41%CO 4%EA - Regular Fit
Neon Hoodie - RRP £75
Much like the Squartrees Hoodie, the Neon has a great cut. It's 100% organic cotton, so it can take the knocks whilst climbing, and has a nice relaxed feel.
Style is something that E9 pride themselves on. Here the inclusion of velvet in the construction is purely cosmetic, having no real benefit to your climbing other than the fact that the top you're wearing looks good. In fact, in their own marketing material they describe the Neon Hoodie as a part of their 'urban concept line', which probably rates this as the single coolest item of clothing I've ever worn…
Jokes aside, the nice thing about the Neon is that all these patterns are actually quite subtle - as is the colour (although others are available). The chunky knit toggles for the hood are a nice touch too.
What E9 say:
The NEON is a long sleeve with hood in fleece fabric. Urban concept line. Print on the front. Velvet inserts. Regular fit. Made in Italy.
100% Cotton - Regular Fit
Rondo Slim Fit Pants - RRP £75
Having come from a fell running background I live in fear of the word 'slim' in front of any legwear, but was pleasantly surprised by the Rondo, which - at least from what I can tell - aren't that slim at all! They're certainly not baggy, but you'll see from the pictures that these are not slim fit by any normal definition, and take my rather chunky legs in their stride.
One feature shared by all the E9 trousers reviewed here is the waistband construction, which consists of an elastane/stretch fabric used around the back, with a conventional sewn cotton zip and popper closure around the front. Upon first inspection I was concerned about how this was going to fit, because the fly is quite short (to the point of being useless); however, once you've actually got them on the elastane fabric around the back a) feels luxurious, and b) really makes them hug in to your upper waistline, hence there's no need for a belt. If you need a pee you just have to undo the fly and the popper (which seems like a completely ridiculous thing to have to say in a review, because if you need a pee - and you're wearing them - I think you'll figure it all out).
Once on, the fit really is fantastic, without any resistance. Construction-wise it's a 97% organic cotton/ 3% elastane combo, which gives you the best of both worlds - the durability and abrasion resistance of cotton with a little added stretch from the elastane.
There are three nice, deep pockets - two on the front, one on the back, and an elastic brush holder than I can say with some degree of certainty that I'm never, ever going to use (not least because it'd surely be a hazard whilst spotting, and an annoyance whilst climbing). They also have an elastic drawcord around the bottom of the leg, which being someone that turns up my trousers whilst climbing I didn't actually use.
Whilst it's hard to tell about a product's durability from a few months use, the Rondo Slim do feel like they're going to be at the lighter end of the spectrum as far as wear is concerned. There's signs showing on the seat which would - from previous experience - suggest that they are, at some point, going to go through, but so far that hasn't happened. Whilst only time will tell, I am not convinced that durability is one of their key selling points, and realistically you'd be buying them because they are light/comfortable (and durability infrequently comes hand-in-hand with these attributes).
Nb. as a word of warning, the colour on all the Rondo Slim and 3Angolo Pants both ran when giving them their first few washes. Whilst this didn't effect the colour of the garments in question, it did turn my daughters towel a fetching shade of yellow (in the case of the 3Angolo Pants). I've contacted Mountain Boot Company - the UK Distributor - who haven't heard any other reports of this happening, so it could be because they were samples, as opposed to production models. Either way, it's probably worth washing with similar colours as opposed to your six month old daughter's favourite towel...
What E9 say:
The RONDO SLIM is an urban climbing trousers in satin of cotton. Pockets in contrast printed fabric. Embroidery on the back. Adjustable waist and leg bottom. Brush holders on both sides. Good comfort slim fit. Made in Italy.
97%CO 3%EA - Slim fit
3Angolo Pants - RRP £80
The 3Angolo are a lighter weight organic cotton pant, which is more suitable for those cooler days throughout the summer months. Whilst they'd be alright on a warmer winter day, you'd realistically be better off with either the Rondo or the Fuoco19, which have a heavier and warmer feel.
When it comes to the fit, the 3Angolo share the same waistband as the Rondo Slim, and also have a similar fit, with excellent freedom of movement. Once again, like the Rondo they have two pockets on the front and one on the back, with a brush holder on each side, and an elastic drawcord around the base of the leg.
What E9 say:
The 3ANGOLO is an urban climbing trousers in stretch gabardine. The inside pockets is in contrast printed fabric. Embroidery on the back. Brush holders on both sides. Adjustable leg bottom and waist. Regular fit. Made in Italy.
96%CO 4%EA - Regular Fit
Fuoco19 Pants - RRP £85
The Fuoco19 are a curious looking pant, with an almost denim appearance upon first glance, but in fact they have a much softer feel than jeans courtesy of their construction consisting of 98% cotton and 2% elastane.
The cut is a little looser than the Rondo Slim and the 3Angolo, but not too baggy. The waistband is also different to the other two in the range, being a lot slimmer, but still retaining the elastane so that they don't drop down.
What E9 say:
The FUOCO19 is an urban climbing trousers in stretch gabardine. Inside belt with E9 elastic ribbon. Belt loop. Embroidery on the back pocket. Modern cut and maximum comfort. Regular fit. Made in Italy.
98%CO 2%EA - Regular fit
OneMove T - RRP £30
The OneMove T features E9's regular fit, which is loose and relaxed (again, without being baggy). It features 95% cotton with 5% elastane, so it's got a bit of stretch and has a nice soft feel. Due to its use of natural fibres it doesn't pick up odours like polypropylene/synthetic fibres tend to, plus it has a much nicer feel against the skin. On the front there's a small logo/badge, while on the back there's a larger logo. Nice t-shirt... and there's not much more to say!
What E9 say:
The ONEMOVE2C is a t-shirt made of bielastic cotton fabric. Urban concept line. Print on the heart side and on the back. Regular fit. Made in Italy.
95% Cotton, 5% Elastane - Regular Fit
Brso - RRP £65
The Brso bag made a good first impression, when - on its maiden voyage outdoors - I proceeded to reverse over it in my car. It survived. Maybe this should become part of my regular review process?
At 43 litres, the Brso is a good size both for bouldering, sport, and even trad climbing, and features a full-length/central zip down its centre. Over the years I've had a range of packs, from the traditional top opening/lid style, to those without a lid, more akin to a haul bag than a backpack, and finally on towards those that open out more like a briefcase. Whilst each style has its pros and cons, the latter is very well suited to the likes of bouldering and sport climbing, where it's nice to have everything openly available. However, the downside of the central zip (compared to the briefcase style closure) is that it isn't quite as accessible, but - and this is the good part - this is more than made up for by the fact that you can grab the two handles, pick it up, and transport it much easier.
When it comes to other features the Brso has a single pocket on the outer, plus a simple webbing waist belt for when you're carrying heavier loads longer distances.
It's worth mentioning that the Brso, and all of E9s accessories, are actually manufactured in China, so maybe the 100% Italian claim should be more like 99% Italian. Still, it's rare to find a pack that isn't made in China, so maybe this shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.
What E9 say:
The BRSO' is a urban&climbing backpack, suitable also as a hand bag. Climbing concept line.
- For more info on the full range see e9planet.com