UKC was at the massive winter gear tradeshow ISPO Munich, getting sneak previews of kit in the pipeline for autumn/winter 2013/14. Also see this news item: ISPO Outdoor Product Award Winners 2013.
What's new? General things to look out for are 'hydrophobic' AKA water resistant down, which will be everywhere next winter. Also more advanced body mapping, i.e. using different fabrics and fills in the same garment to produce optimum breathability, weight, weather resistance, etc. Check out Arc'teryx's award-winning Cerium Hoody, which is down-filled but has synthetic insulation in areas prone to getting damp or wet, and TNF's award-winning Alloy Jacket. Lowe Alpine clothing makes a return next winter. Innovative brand Salewa hit the UK. Polartec launch a new synthetic insulation. There's so much new gear that looks ideal for battling the British weather with, you might wish summer was over already...
Polartec are full of surprises recently. For many years, they quietly knitted nice fleece fabrics. Then in 2010 they launched a soft shell fabric which won awards, last year they successfully introduced a new waterproof-breathable fabric, and now they have a new synthetic insulation for us, called Alpha. Their marketing is nothing if not confident as they branch out into new fabrics. NeoShell was touted as (mentioning no names) 'five times more breathable than 'the leading waterproof-breathable'.
With similar confidence, Polartec say Alpha is 'the first ever breathable puffy' and 'it's a fabric so advanced, it takes puffy far beyond all previous boundaries.' Alpha is a lightweight insulation designed to be worn for active use. It allows air exchange and encourages movement of moisture away from the skin. You'll start seeing tops made from it in the shops from September. It was everywhere at ISPO, proving that it's sold in well. Brands that have bought into the new fabric include: Mammut, Marmot, Montane, Mountain Equipment, Rab and The North Face.
Arc'teryx fans: Arc'teryx won four gear awards at ISPO Munich. Check out their new ski jacket, ski pack, climbing bib pants and hybrid down/synthetic insulated jacket, all available next winter.
More in this UKC Gear News: ISPO Outdoor Product Award Winners.
Everything new at Berghaus for autumn/winter 2013 revolves around front man Leo Houlding's expedition to Ulvetanna (see this news item). From the pinnacle Extrem range to Everyday Outdoors, every new product was either developed to serve Leo and his team in Antarctica, or has been inspired in some way by the trip. The result is what Berghaus think is their most coherent and cutting edge range ever.
There will be plenty of hydrophobic down in Berhgaus' range next winter. To test their 'Hydrodown' products properly, Berghaus took its laboratory to Greenland, where the MtnHaus design and development team worked with Leo Houlding and his team, plus snowboard adventurer Julia Pickering to offer the necessary female insights. Using humidity and temperature data logging micro-sensors, they closely monitored the performance of prototype products in brutally cold Arctic conditions.
The Extrem range is completed next winter by the new Expedition Light 80 pack (see below), which has been over two years in development. Prototypes have really been put through their paces: the pack has already visited Sulamar, Mugu Chuli and Shiva with Mick Fowler, Kangchenjunga and Khan-Tengri with Philippe Gatta, and Mount Asgard, Autana and Greenland with Leo Houlding. Berghaus think it offers the perfect, delicate balance between technical versatility and the lightest weight possible.
The new owners of Lowe Alpine, Derbyshire-based company Equip, are re-introducing an outdoor clothing range next winter. Equip also own Podsacs and Rab amongst a few other brands. You might not have noticed that Lowe Alpine had stopped making clothing, as you can still find old stock in some shops and online. However, in a bid to turn the brand's finances around, the previous Italian owners actually dispensed with their entire clothing department, and focussed on rucksack manufacture.
The new clothing line is in keeping with what you would expect from Lowe Alpine, both in terms of price and appearance, and includes everything from waterproof shell through to fleece and base layers. Gear geeks: their top-end hard shell fabric uses the eVent membrane rebranded as 'Triplepoint AP - a familiar Lowe Alpine term for their own-brand waterproofs. To give an idea of price, a 3-layer alpine shell, the Taiga, costs £230, while a Polartec Powerstretch Zip Top is £60. Lowe Alpine were always well known for their base layers and 'Dryflo' tops make a reappearance in the range, now made using high quality odour resistant modern technologies Cocona and Microban.
Marmot showed us three new products that they think will be popular next winter. First there's the award winning Isotherm Hoody (£180), see this UKC Gear News: ISPO Outdoor Product Award Winners and the image below. Then there's the Nabu Jacket, £260 (see below). Designed for year round mountain use, it combines Polartec's NeoShell fabric with a stretchy outer face fabric and internal wicking backer. They think this combination offers the best blend of comfort and protection regardless of the weather. The jacket features a helmet compatible hood, Marmot's 'Angel wing' arm movement, an inside pocket and three external pockets.
Also look out for the new Thermo Jacket (£85) and Hoody (£100). Both are made from Polartec's Power Dry High Efficiency fleece to help keep your skin dry and your body warm. The fabric also includes Elastane Stretch to allow the user maximum movement without the fabric pulling away from your skin. This allows the jacket to be used as either a base layer in very cold climates or as part of a layering system.
British brand Mountain Equipment is over 50 years old. Their gear used to have quite a 'traditional' appearance, but it's rapidly become more and more modern in design over the past few years. One of the first two brands in Europe to work with Gore Fabrics back in the day (the other was Berghaus), now ME are the fastest growing technical hard shell brand in Europe.
For winter 2013, there will be a new range of hard shells featuring the newly updated Gore-Tex Pro fabric as well as some Polartec NeoShell models. The jackets are well specced - right down to the 'pocket drains' that allow any little moisture that gets into your pockets to drip out. They've also worked with a Swiss pattern expert on the fit of their jackets, so that they fit more people better. ME claim these are now the best fitting jackets available.
To give you an idea of two of the models in the range, the Tupilak Ultra is a top end Gore-Tex Pro piece, which will retail at £470. It has an ultra-minimalist design and is intended as an exceptionally protective climbers' jacket with 80 dernier reinforcements, a 40 dernier main body and 100% waterproof YKK AquaSeal zips offering what ME think is an ideal balance of weight versus toughness. Meanwhile the highly-specced but more affordable Lhotse Jacket, which still features Gore-Tex Pro fabric and has a full helmet-compatible hood, will retail at £300.
Also check out this interview with Richard Talbot, ME's Product Manager about their new Down Codex website: The Questionable Ethics Of Down Production.
Montane's range for next winter demonstrates their usual attention to detail: special ratcheting jacket cuffs for extra security, flat 'penny' shaped cordlocks on hem-lines to provide low profile adjustability under a harness or rucksack, a stitch count of 12 compared to the industry average of 8 offering more durability, tiny 3mm seam allowance reducing bulk, fine Pertex snow skirts and a multitude of other subtle features.
Look out for the Alpha Guide Jacket. Designed for climbing, the torso is made from the new breathable Polartec Alpha insulation encased in Pertex Microlight Stretch, which has high wind resistance and stretch. Meanwhile the arms, hood and shoulders are Mt Thermo X Stretch fleece for a snug and stretchy fit.
Chris Jakeman describes the Minimus Smock below:
In other news, The North Face have been working with Primaloft to create an exclusive synthetic insulation, Thermoball 3D, which apparently has similar properties to 600 fill goose down. Check it out below.
Patagonia have redesigned the popular Das Parka belay jacket and Nano Puff synthetic insulated midlayer. The Nano is now slimmer and longer - better for a climber's traditional shape and also keeping you warmer when you lift your arms. The women's version now has the same brick pattern as the men's rather than the original diamond quilting pattern. What else? Their merino is now fittingly actually sourced from Patagonia in a joint venture with The Nature Conservancy and Ovis XXI.
Things are going well at Sherpa Adventure Gear - the brand now employ 300 machinists and 500 knitters in Nepal. From winter 2013 there will be 12 new products in the range designed with the help of sherpas and their sponsored climbers, including Neil Gresham and Kenton Cool.
Sherpa Adventure Gear will be adding some jackets made from eVent waterproof-breathable fabric to the range next winter. Kenton Cool describes the Kangri Alpine range from Sherpa Adventure Gear below, and the new Lakparita Jacket in particular.
Rab range will expand even more next winter. There will be lots more synthetic insuation - Rab are introducing a variety of Polartec Alpha jackets and tops known collectively as 'the Strata range'. What else? Good news for women who feel the cold: there will be a women's version of the popular Rab Generator Alpine Jacket from Winter 2013. There will also be more Polartec NeoShell: look out for the Nexus and Wasatch Jacket and Pants sets.
All Rab down jackets will have hydrophobic down in them from Winter 2013, see the photo below. Rab have chosen to use Nikwax to treat the down. It's added to the down at the processing and cleaning stage in the factory, it is fluorocarbon free, and doesn't affect the price of the jackets.