Buffalo Systems Special 6 Shirt/Smock:
The Buffalo concept diverges from the traditional ‘layering’ clothing system that stipulates the requirement for a three-pronged attack, geared towards tackling sweating, insulation and waterproofing. The Buffalo Pile & Pertex system, (Double P/DP), is NOT waterproof, but is highly water resistant, wicking and breathable. It is designed to fit snugly and be worn next to the skin, i.e. with nothing underneath! Whilst this might sound a little crazy to some of you traditionalists, there is a well-backed up body of evidence that supports the use of this kind of attire in certain inclement conditions, and this concept has been copied and allegedly refined by some well-known brands.
I’ve recently purchased a brand new Special 6 after owning a second hand version that was around 20 years old, (estimated from pictures of the logo, the old style without the red/any text). Despite this apparent age, the smock looked brand new, with literally no flaws in the Pertex 6/Classic material whatsoever. The heavy-weight fleece/pile had suffered some age-related flattening of the pile but wasn’t too far off as lofty as it was when new, (compared against a brand new pair of the Special 6 trousers).
La Sportiva Nepal Extreme:
A very popular, full on mountain boot. They are rated B3, thus are fully-automatic crampon compatible, (they fit Grivel’s semi-auto G12 New-Matic very well), with an insulating footbed and Thinsulate lining. These boots are warm, very stiff, grippy and durable. They use a 3mm-thick, one-piece, good quality leather upper and a great heavy duty Vibram outsole.
The North Face Plasma Thermal jacket:
Sorry, no pictures of this one. I don’t feel it’s worth my time but could provide them if necessary.
At 810g, it’s an insulation piece for spring/autumn/winter conditions really, but uses TNF’s high-end waterproof membrane, Hyvent Alpha. It also uses 100g of Primaloft One insulation, known for it’s warmth to weight and it’s ability to insulate better than others when wet, though what ‘better’ and ‘wet’ equate to is arguable I would think, (see my short, but damning indictment of the performance of this jacket in the wet at this link).
Exped DownMat UL 7:
When camping, the ground on which you will be sleeping is the biggest point of contact for your body, (unless in a hammock!). The ground then acts somewhat like a heatsink for a great deal of the heat given off by your body whilst you sleep, channeling it out of you by way of conduction. As such, if needing a sleep system capable of keeping you alive, warm and comfortable, a good insulating mat is of as much importance as a good sleeping bag. Down mats, or synthetic alternatives use the body heat that seeps down through the mat to warm air trapped in the down/synthetic filaments, thus providing you with a semi-passive, self-sustained bed of warm air to sleep on.
In this context, the Exped DownMat Ul 7 M is an excellent invention. It contains 700 fill power goose down filled baffles, (170g of down), that utilise your own body heat to warm air trapped within the down filaments, producing an R-value, (a little advice and information from REI), of 5.9, so it is well able to insulate you from the ground. Does it work? Emphatically, yes! At no point have I ever been anything less than toasty, even at temperatures of around -10C, (it’s rated down to -24C!). The down baffles are oriented length-ways, which means that you don’t roll off easily during the night!
- Inflate and deflate nozzles on the Exped DownMat.
The Kangri from up & coming brand Alpkit, is a 3.527 kg, dual-porched, 2-man, geodesic mountain tent, and as with other Alpkit products, the tent is as highly specced as possible whilst keeping the price affordable.
- The sturdy Kangri, in bright red.
Mountain Equipment Snowline -17C:
Not to be confused with the new, super light version, (Snowline SL), this bag is pretty awesome. The bag’s water resistant outer is made from ME’s proprietary sleeping bag fabric, Drilite Loft. This is capable of keeping spills and mild leaks away from the vetted, 750g, 93% Hungarian goose down which has a fill power of 750 cubic inches. The inner lining is super soft against the skin, double baffles on either side of the zip serve to prevent heat loss, and a drawcord pulls everything tight around your head, neck & shoulders, making the Snowline a very comfortable place to be!
n.b. Fill power is a measure of the down’s ‘loft’. It relates to it’s ability to trap air within its 3D structure, thus the higher the value, the more air is trappable in the down, and the more air is trapped the more it can be warmed by your body heat, thus contributing to the bags overall warmth.
Mountain Equipment Kongur jacket:
This heavyweight jacket, (my version now last season), has regularly been touted as bombproof, persistently being named as best waterproof jacket in many tests. I have to agree with those results, this thing has performed admirably, barring the inevitable water ingress at the cuffs and hem, (where the cuff meets your inner sleeve, and where the hem drawstring soaks up water), this jacket has kept me pretty much bone-dry, even during a 12-hour summer washout on Scafell Pike in the Lake District.
Being a 3 layer Gore-Tex Pro shell fabric, (with reinforced/higher denier face fabric panels in the relevant places, i.e. shoulders, arms and hips), this epic waterproofing and durability must inevitably come with somewhat reciprocal breathability, (it can get hot and sweaty in here when reasonably active!), however, water resistant pit zips and the double, (inner and outer), storm flaps on the main zip, mean that substantial venting is available which I find to be quite useful!
There are 4 external pockets, two being big enough to take an OS map, and one containing a plastic whistle attached to a section of cord! The double storm-flap with it’s drainage channel, is a boon when you’re active and generating masses of heat, allowing you to unzip the jacket fully whilst doing up the hook & loop fasteners, this keeps the rain and wind off/out and dumps heat and moisture at the same time.
- Darker material indicates the reinforced areas. See double storm flap on main zip also.