The combination of being a yoga teacher and a climber means that I spend virtually all of my time wearing comfortable ‘active-wear’ (I’ve become so spoilt that even jeans feel horribly restrictive). Happily, this also means that I’m in a good position to review Mountain Equipment’s new rock climbing range for women [nb. for a review of the men's range see here]. Over the past few months I’ve been putting several items from the new collection to the test, including the Cobra Hoody, Equinox Tee, Women’s Redline LS Tee, and the Viper Pant. As well as climbing in (VERY) variable conditions, I’ve worn the Mountain Equipment clothing whilst teaching hot-yoga, running, and doing things like going out to pretentious coffee houses.
Here’s what I thought about each of them:
Cobra Hoody RRP £65
There are usually a few things I take into consideration when spending my hard earned cash on outdoor clothing. These are, in no particular order: comfort, functionality, fit, and style. The Cobra Hoody is my favourite item from the review because it exceeded all my criteria.
The fabric (Mountain Equipment’s own synthetic DRI-release fabric) feels wonderful against the skin; very soft and comforting. Due to the stretchy and relatively lightweight nature of the material, I didn’t notice any heavy friction points whilst running or climbing. In terms of function, the high level of breathability and warmth provided by the Cobra Hoody pleasantly surprised me. Additionally, it seems to have avoided a common problem with synthetic fabrics - after a day or two of sweaty activity, synthetics usually start to smell quite badly. I have to say, though, that even after several days living in a van I’ve never noticed the Cobra Hoody smelling much at all. This might be down to the Polygiene anti-odour treatment, but it’s also possible that my climbing partner would disagree with me on this point altogether! I thought this may receive an even sterner test whilst on Hoy, as it got close to being vomited on by Fulmars on several occasions - fortunately each of them missed so this test was (thankfully) avoided.
Similarly, I have only good things to say about the fit and style of the Cobra Hoody. It is nicely fitted with a feminine shape and it’s available in a nice selection of colours. The sleeves are a great length and slide easily up the forearm whenever you want to get you hands dirty. The hood is a great size and features overlap detail around the outside edge of the hood. I love the little side pocket, which admittedly looks a bit odd when you stuff it full of keys, phone, and wallet, but it has been quite useful and it adds a bit of cute and quirky detailing to the garment. I’d happily wear this top red-pointing my hardest route; equally, I’d have no qualms about wearing it to the pub for a casual social.
N.B. All items in the review were true to size. However, if you’re used to a looser style I’d recommend trying the Cobra Hoody on before buying, as it's on the more fitted end of the scale.
Equinox Tee £35 & Women’s Redline LS Tee £45
I have grouped the Equinox Tee & Women’s Redline LS Tee under the same heading purely for simplicity. The two ‘Tees’ are made of a lighter-weight version of the DRI-release fabric that the Cobra Hoody is made of, so most of what I have to say applies to both items. Again, I really enjoyed wearing this fabric. Both tops felt soft and lightweight, so much so that it barely felt like I was wearing anything at all. It feels similar to wearing very expensive and luxurious cotton, but with all the benefits of synthetic: breathable, yet warm; quick drying, fast-wicking, and they didn’t smell bad. What’s more, the tops don’t ride-up when wearing a harness or backpack. Win!
Both Tees are slim fit, which means that they are fitted without being too body-hugging or clingy. The short sleeve Equinox Tee features a very flattering scoop neck with a little pleated detail, which I wasn’t totally sure about on first acquaintance but have come to like (I think it adds a little something special). The long sleeve Women’s Redline Tee is fairly simple in terms of design, but the contrast sleeves look good. I adore the colour of both tops (Equinox Tee = Cardinal Orange & Redline Tee = Cardinal Orange/Welsh Slate), though if bright red/orange isn’t your thing, there are other options available. Again, the versatility of the tops extends beyond the variable weather conditions, as I would happily wear either top down the local pub and not just at the crag (especially true of the Equinox Tee).
Viper Pant £75
I didn’t find the fabric to be all that stretchy, especially in comparison to, say, a good pair of leggings, which would still be my first choice for sport climbing and bouldering simply because the range of movement is unbeatable; however, where these did perform well was on more rugged and traditional terrain. For example, I used the Viper Pant whilst on the Old Man of Hoy, which involved a fair amount of shuffling around on sandy, often guano covered ledges, and this is where I would see myself using the pant again - on tough terrain where a bit of extra durability pays dividends.
In terms of the fit, and the aforementioned lack of stretchiness, problems could be avoided simply by going a size up, but the size 10 looked and felt like the right fit for me so it wouldn't necessarily be the best solution. I also found the drawstring around the waistband unnecessary and bulky, as the cord created a large knot, which was uncomfortable when wearing a harness and looked odd under a top or jumper. The elasticated draw-cord around the hem offers flash of an appealing pink colour, and still allows one to roll the legs up. The deep waistband (minus the draw-cord) is comfortable for long walks, and the relaxed style of the Pant looks good. The fabric may not be as stretchy as I’d have liked, but it is very durable and fast drying, so they would make a good choice for summer walking, scrambling, and trad climbing in rugged locations.
Mountain Equipment has delivered an excellent range of tops for the female climber – versatile, stylish, and comfortable. They offer a perfect blend of form and function, suitable for all kinds of summer climbing, and other outdoor activities. After being so impressed by the other review items, I found the Viper Pant didn't quite live up to the spiel as the perfect all-rounder and wouldn’t be my first choice for sport climbing and bouldering in, though they’re a great option for hill-walking, scrambling, or general pottering around.
Originally from Edinburgh, Penny is a yoga teacher based in Sheffield.
After discovering the film Stone Monkey at age 4, she has been climbing for almost all of her life. Although her primary focus is on sport climbing and bouldering, she has also dabbled with North American trad and has plans to brave the fulmars back here in the UK later in the year.
Penny keeps an occasional blog on her website: http://penelopeorr.weebly.com/
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