Berghaus MtnHaus

I got an invite down to Berghaus HQ to meet the folk behind the new MtnHaus gear, and having tested some recent kit and seen the press-release with some of the new models on there, they didn’t have to ask me twice.
The first highlight of the day was seeing the Angel of the North as I drove down. Never seen it before, it’s a brilliant big thing too. I arrived at their business park office block to meet Chris (to the right above, he his company handles the media for Berghaus) “late morning” as advertised, not often I manage to do that.
At first the offices are like any other, it could be the home of an insurance company, a call centre, a washing machine manufacturer, but once I clipped my badge to my jacket and headed inwards I saw the pictures on the walls, and up the staircase, years of heritage and achievement, mostly subtly but still proudly displayed.
Through the inner doors you start to see the kit, it’s lying around or hanging up, from samples for a year or more away to dogeared old timers. I felt reassured, it is a mountain company right enough.

Above you’ll see James to the left, the MtnHaus designer, then Julie who is the fabric wizard. Together they are the Batman and Robin of MtnHaus, a rogue element within the mighty Berghaus corporation, loose cannons taking potshots at mediocrity and dogwalking gear… Aye well, lets say they operate independently with the MtnHaus collection, not being constrained by season or commercial concerns, the remit is to make the best gear.
Jeez, that’s just like the old days then. The question is, does the gear deliver on the promises.

I’m demonstrating the perfect articulation on the Asgard Smock above. It’s a 280g Gore-Tex ProShell pull-on with purely function features.
Since I came back from this visit I’ve had one sent for test, so I’ll talk about it in more detail soon, and there’s a wealth of detail to talk about. The front zip’s clever drain, the mountain hood with all the adjustment, including the rear volume, accessible from the front, the fact that it’s a trim cut with amazing body movement? The Asgard could well be upping the ante when it comes to lightweight shell.

It comes in a waterproof stuffsack as Julie models below, which is a nice wee touch, especially for multi day trips. It and its name comes from the Asgard Project and Leo Houlding’s desire to whittle down a shell to the perfect balance of usability and functionality at the lightest weight.
It feels user driven, if feels tested and tweaked. I know this often takes kit into the dead-end of a specific user, but here it’s just cut the crap. More soon.

Here’s the jacket version of the Asgard, still light but maybe with more all-round appeal. Same hood, same adjustments, and you’ll notice the other MtnHaus colourway of black and red. I like the boldness of that, “This is the colour of the kit, not this season’s colour”.
Check out the zip below, the top has a garage of sorts that hides the zip-pull and a gusset. When the zip is pulled down the gusset opens and the pocket opens like a funnel, when you walk it pumps air out from around your body. Tried it, it works. It looks weatherproof in the closed position, and as it’s quite a noticeable feature on the front I think it helps edge the jacket firmly into the used-as-intended customer bracket. Folk can be funny with unusual features, it’ll be interesting to see what the reaction is.

That same venting pocket design appears on the Baffin Island softshell jacket. It’s cut from a supple Windstopper fabric and the fit is long and slim. The cuffs have stretch panels and the collar had a secret weapon, a hideaway Powerstretch hood. You can use it as a hat, face warmer or balaclava, or take it off altogether. The hood makes the outside of the collar fat when it’s stowed, not the inside, so you don’t feel it when you zip the jacket right up. I liked this a lot, the fit was perfect on me.

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, it’s a proper old-school race pack. Above is the Octans 28 and below is the 40L version. I’ve just got a 40L in for test, so I’ll do a detailed look soon.
They’re light packs, but as they’re for racing they’re not just nylon bin liners, the harness is low-profile and feels secure, there’s pockets where you want them and just enough features to get the job done.
I mostly use race-derived packs, so this already feels familiar. Orion Health, the adventure racing team whose input has helped bring this pack to life, have asked for the features they’ve used before and know that work, and along with a little fresh thinking, it’s all been molded into a Berghaus shaped chassis. I’ve got high hopes for the 40L, it’ll be going on the next overnighter.
Yeah, that’s a mini-chestpouch below.

The Yeti gaiter has had the Mtn Haus treatment. The upper is ProShell, the lower half is badass nylon and the rubber is a new finger friendly variety. So they say.
The Yeti is a good idea, and as so many of us piss and moan when the liner goes in our lightweight footwear, I hope to see the MtnHaus team come up with a version that’ll fit trail shoes and mids.

All the gear above is due is due in the shops in March 2011. I’ll have long-term tests ready for then.

Julie and I both agreed that the colourways for the wummins gear totally rocks.

The Elite Half-Zip above is just under 200g and comes in Berghaus’s own AQ 2.5 fabric. The only pocket is a little one on the arm, and look at that hood. That’s what I’m talking about.

The baselayer range is, well the length of the showroom. The fabric is Argentium (get it? There’s silver in there) in different weights, and there’s a variety of fits from slim to relaxed and all varieties from vest to long sleeve. the colours bring me joy, and as I no longer fear synthetic base layers, they’re definitely worth a look.

Had a brief look at the footwear, there’s some good looking models in there, light with grippy soles. Will we see these in the shops?

The Freeflow packs have been popular, and the endless arguments on the forums about air space backs have been a delight. Berghaus have revamped the back system, the air gap is less, bringing the load closer to your back for better stability. James genuinely tried to destroy the frame for me below and the reshaped rods just revolved and popped back into place. I was impressed by this, especially having seen the rods from another manufacturers pack be so immovable that they tore through the pack and made a start on the wearers trousers.

I was amazed to find a wee cutting and sewing room. I watched a sample being made up (this is where some of the kit was made for the Into the Void movie), and I found it all very reassuring, production quality kit made right in middle of the HQ.

Also good to see was the in-house testing lab below. Components, fabrics, materials, all get a kicking in here before they get the okay for going onto or into something we get to buy.
Just behind Chris is a (I really want to say “fish”) tank where boot liners are tested, in fact there was a pile of boots with reported burst membranes under scrutiny.

I hope MtnHaus is a success, I hope the early focus and enthusiasm shown to me carries through. There’s a couple of secret pieces in the works (I have photies, when Berghaus go public I’ll post the details) that are another little step away from the norm, it’s looking good.
Berghaus are huge, but that gives them the opportunity to do this specialist kit well if that’s what they want to do. They can get the best fabrics, best production and best prices, bundle that up with no-compromise design and we could have a winner here.

24 thoughts on “Berghaus MtnHaus”

  1. Ah. Now I can admit, openly and in public and everything, that I own some Berghaus kit. Perhaps I can do it without being pelted with rotten e-tomatos too?

    I recognise some of this stuff. Those hoods, they’ve been on Berghaus shells for a long time now, and for my money they’re about the best hood I’ve ever used. No matter what anybody says there are elements in some of their designs that you just know were put there by people who use them.

    I could see my LIM Pully giving way to one of those Asgard gettups. Will be watching with interest.

  2. oooh more gear porn. I love the fact they’ve got a lab in-house. I think that excites me more than the gear! being able to try and pull it apart. I think that in itself how serious they are. I’m in the wrong job.

  3. Journeyman Traveller, this is where Berghaus should be, mixing it up with the other folk at the front of the curve. I really hope it grows from here.

    Dave, the hoods are brilliant. The one on the Temperance is the best hood I’ve got on a jacket at the moment, the slightly faffy adjustmnet is forgiven becasue of the wonderful shape.

    Berghaus, much mistunderstood :o)

    tookiebunten, the lab and the machine shop are the things that really grabbed me.
    There’s a real mix of folk in there, from 30-year veterans to youngsters out of uni. I often have a dig at the branding concept: an investment company posing as an old and respected manufacturer, but at Berghaus the lineage is still there.

  4. Fuck… I want that Asgard Smock badly! (Just bought a LIM Ozone jacket, got it cheap, but still…) It looks really neat.

    Off topics.
    Have to vent some anger.

    Ordered a Haglöfs Goga 3S a couple of weeks ago. To my disappointment it had a faulty seam and some threads sticking out from the hood compression system – return. Imagine my joy when I got a new one today, I’m going out on a three day camp with the scouts tonight so the timing was excellent… Well, opened the package – more joy – opened the zip to start checking everything. Wait a minute… the zip is on the right side!! Every sack I’ve got is zip Left (gf:s right), disaster. I can’t change 15yrs of routine like that.
    Will have to take one of my old sacks after all…

    1. Return and get a new one.
    2. Different shop and possibly different brand.
    2.1 PHD?
    2.2 Rab?
    2.3 Others

    Suggestions? Looking for something similar, have thought about a top bag but still uncertain as I have no experience of such..

    Weeping Daniel

  5. The LIM Ozone is still killer kit, I’ve got the new version in for test and it’s heavier and less detailed. Keep yours!

    I’ve only used a synthetic Haglofs bag, the down ones are suposed to be good, that’s a bummer.
    I’d definitely return it and get the right one, especially if the fit/ weight/ warmth are what you were after.
    If they can’t supply then the there’s a world of warm waiting for you!

    The bags I’ve used most this year have been various PHD, a Golite Adrenaline 3 (short centre zip, won’t suit your usual routine) and a Rab Neutrino 200, all brilliant.
    Haven’t used a top-bag in a while, the comfort is fantastic, like sleeping in your own bed. But you can get cold spots as the bag can’t fill in the gaps when you move around.

  6. All packed now. Heading out (with the old school synthetic bag).

    Thank’s for the advice. I’ll probably show up again after the weekend when I’ve cooled down. (- degrees promised)

    Have a good weekend.

  7. Some nice looking Berghaus stuff there, and some great colours as well as the comforting classic Berghaus blue and red. I like Berghaus trousers, possibly partly because they’re my shape and they generally do different leg lengths :-)

  8. Wait up, look at that Asgard jacket, a proper hood like I haven’t seen in years, do I want one? hell yeah :-)

    p.s. I was so impressed by the hood that I didn’t notice the weight until I scrolled up to double check the name.

    280g!!! (falls off chair)

    And you’ve got one? (green with envy)

  9. I really like the look of that asgard jacket and the new pack, not to mention those shoes – lets just hope they make the shelves and the shoes come in nice big clown sizes.

  10. Yes the reaction of the shops might be fascinating :) You have to worry. They’re not really ‘in’ many of the smaller ones and, however deserving, is it really going to sell on the racks in Blacks and the like?

    At least they’re trying :)

  11. – I have a LIM Ozone and it really is great – I would go so far as to say flawless if, like me, you love that melange of dark grey and neon yellow. It’s pretty much perfect for me – there are lighter jackets but none that are completely waterproof and breathe so well for the weight. It’s easy to maintain and re-proof too.

  12. Pete – I have never considered Berghaus. I like the look of the Asgard Smock. I have of late read some good reviews on the hoods of Berghaus jackets. Could be on the wish list

  13. Kate, there’s MtnHaus softshell pants as well, a vest as well.

    R MacE, aye it does look good right enough. I’ll weigh it for the first-look so we know!

    Moggy, never thought to ask about sizing on the shoes. I wonder? Plenty orange baselayers :o)

    Martin, fingers crossed. If it’s a success, as well as us being able to get it, it sends a message back to HQ.

    Journeyman Traveller, absolutely. I really should put the wired-peak mod on mine on here!

    Mark, Berghaus had been off my radar for years, and I’m genuinely taken by some of the kit, especially the Extrem range, and now the MtnHaus kit too.

  14. This is where I can pull rank and say I was putting up the Raptor hood before even Pete… and it really is the best hood I’ve come across. It’s perfect with a helmet too, plus my Temperance is yellow.
    Sounds German… is British. I like this idea.

  15. I had yellow on in the rain today, I think I’ve missed yellow in my life.

    Smocks really do have the most varied hood qualities, I’m going to do a grouptest as some point.

  16. Must admit, I really don’t need anymore waterproofs BUT I keep looking at the RAB Demand and would love to find a reason to buy one, just not too fussed on the hood after what I’ve been using lately. I’ve been quite happy with the Proshell on the Temperance, it’s not quite as breathable as eVent IMO but there’s not a lot in it for me. Which makes that Asgaard smock with it’s hood incredibly tempting… I’ll keep an eye out for bargains I guess. Is the fit similar to The Temperance do you know because for some reason I can sneak into a medium in that, when usually I’m a large in most things?

    I think slowly yellow is becoming my favourite colour… I even owned a little yellow Fiat for seven years!

  17. Yellow was everywhere about ten years ago or thereabouts, it was the successor to purple I think. I’ve forgiven it now though.

    I’ll do a side by side on Asgard/Temperance, if I don’t, remind me!

    The Demand and the Asgard are very different. Youy can tell the Demand is racing derived and the Asgard come from mountaineering, it’s definitely not either/or if you’re looking for a smock. Choice is a bitch isn’t it :o)

  18. Good post. Some nice things. Not sure on those womens colours. I bet that purple is called a berry of some sort. Why can’t women get the normal colours like the guys?

    Also I have some base layers with silver stuff in them, I wear them to spin class because they’re more comfortable when wet than pure cotton but.. they still stink. This is not just a Berghaus thing though, all the base layers i have stink after a day. It’s just the degree of stench that differs.
    I sound like a tink, but you get the drift eh!

  19. I hear you. The Millet top I use for biking is a day-tripper only for the same reason.
    Julie is er, diminutive, in a similar style to yourself, so Berghaus have got somone fighting your corner on the inside :o)

  20. That Asgard smock looks great, hopefully it performs as well as it looks. I have always had a bit of a soft spot for Berghaus as everytime i have had a problem with there gear they have sorted it out quickly and very profesionally.

    I have to agree with you about the Berghaus hood system as i absolutely loved the hood on the axis jacket.

    Its just a pity they got a bit of a dodgy following a few years back, thanks to there Mera Peak jacket.

    Cant wait to hear your review of the Asgard Smock.

  21. I think a lot of the companies now making more technical gear with limited pieces should sell direct to us online if the shops won’t stock it as it clashes with their high st fashion line ups. It seems pointless to me even starting developing something if punters can’t get hold of it. I very rarely if ever go in shops now as i can’t be arsed driving into most town centres as the convenience of online is far more appealing to me. Berghaus have always made good kit but only bits of their overall range have ever been any good imho. Still got yetis glued on my Scarpa Vegas from years back and got a few of their powerdry baselayers before they changed the fabric and i rate them highly.

  22. Funny you should say that, Berghaus now sell the whole range direct from their website. So, if anyone wants an Asgard next March, it’s a click away.
    Looks like Berghaus are as pissed off with store buyers only stocking the dogwalking gear as we are?

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