Kit that broke, kit that didnae, and other stuff before I forget, XIII

Despite the brevity (in distance travelled if not in time taken and energy spent) of yesterday’s Arrochar Alp-ing, a few gear things are worthy of note.

The Montane Extreme smock saw its first outing since last winter. I wore it over a 190weight Smartwool merino zipneck (I had the matching ¾ leggings on too) and for the first 100 metres of ascent I thought I’d made a terrible mistake as I just couldn’t dump the heat I was building up with all the zips wide open. But once I’d settled down and climbed a little higher, the smock really came into its own. It was angry cold at the top, and evil cold when the sun went down, but even at my cuppa-stop under a rock shelf the smock maintained a good equilibrium on my body, just by zipping up when I stopped I didn’t need to don any more layers other than a beanie hat. Later on when I did have to layer-up, it was the Beghaus Extrem Down Duvet that went on, and its “over the top of your other kit” cut was perfect over the Extreme, I’ll be twinning these two over winter. I was really taken by the Extreme Smock his time, a cracking fit on me, there’s just no fannying around when you wear it and as an alternative to the shell/mid/base it works much better for me than the Paramo style solution, same venting when you need it, but more insulation when you need it too. I’ll take the better all-round comfort and usability over a slightly slower moisture management.

Recent arrival, the Petzl Charlet Snowalker, put in some good service on its first outing. I used it classic in-the-uphill-hand style for a steep descent where it sat nicely in a gloved hand and I immediately found out that the stupid sliding wrist leash is more of a hindrance than a help and is being replaced before its next outing. The point slides in easy, and the weight is great, positive feeling without effort. I used it as a brake when glissading and it’s smooth, no snatching at all, even when I rolled onto my front a couple of times to test it’s braking properly. I feel immediately at home with the Snowalker, looks good.

On my back I carried a legend, a 1995 Karrimor Alpiniste 45+10. The original Fformat wired back stiffener has been replaced by a OMM Duomat and the pack is comfier than ever, and I really do believe the harness to be the most comfortable I’ve ever used. It’s simplicity itself, but there’s huge pockets and enough attachment points to stow your gear. What I really missed were bottle pockets and hip-fin pockets, they’ve become vital for me it seems. On a really steep section I was resting on my toes and fingertips on the ground in front of me and I really wanted a drink, but taking the pack off the get to a bottle would have been folly indeed. I didn’t attach any bottle pouches or pockets so I would see if I did miss the handiness, and that’s the point proved. I’ll have a bottle somewhere when I take it out next. Oh yeah, it’s back.

The Haglöfs Gryms were issue free, I didn’t want to risk my feet on any of the new boots just yet, the Fizan poles took a pair of Pacer snow-baskets very well, and much of the other kit was as well-used and familiar, that was nice.

16 thoughts on “Kit that broke, kit that didnae, and other stuff before I forget, XIII”

  1. Hey, I enjoyed your trip report yesterday, great pictures as usual too. I thought I spotted a purple Alpiniste on your back, I went from the purple to the light blue and have had an orange one for years now, fabulous sack. I also got an OMM Villiain recently based partly on your reviews and love it, especially the zip on the side to access my water bottle and the hip pockets for my jelly babies! Also great to see a mention of the Montane Extreme and salopettes, my outfit is over 10 years old now and still going strong, fabulous stuff for a winter’s day and so cheap too! I’ve been singing its’ virtues for years but you rarely see it for some reason.

  2. I used those Fizan’s during my Munro round this year. 5 sets of tips, 2 upper, 2 mid and 1 lower section and 1300 miles later, they are like Triggers broom! Bit flimsy but LIGHT. :-)

  3. Your can’t go wrong with an Alpiniste or a Villain trumplesneaker, it’s one of those designs that was right first time and evoloution hasn’t messed with it too much.
    The Extreme is going to be a favourite this winter I think, and I love the pouch pocket, so damned handy!

    Bob, that reminds me of the old tradsman’s tale “Three new heads and five new shafts, but it’s the best hammer I’ve ever had” :o)

  4. I was using my newer (08) version Alpiniste 45+10 at the weekend, it’s a cracking rucksack vastly better than my other Alpiniste which I think came after yours, probably a late 90’s version, a horrible beast of a thing.

  5. Aye, the very last versions they made were monsters.
    I feel for the current Karrimor, there’s some nice design in there, good fabrics, but what feels like a lack of preproduction testing on the packs, the 2 X-Lites I got sent are “nearly” models.
    I’ll get the 45 litre out again this winter I think, a comfy bugger.

  6. Isn’t the Extreme Smock great? I think mine’s my favourite bit of gear that I’ve ever owned. I throw a down vest over mine at stops, this works well, as you found. I know what you mean about the heat being tough to shed, even with all the vents open. I’d sooner have the option of being too hot, though :) I looked at the Resolute Smock, but decided that this Extreme will see another Winter, it appears to be bombproof.

  7. I think if the side zips extended round the armpits it would be better, but I doubt that would work with the neat fit, and the arm articulation is not something we want to mess with.
    The Resolute hood is great, it’s tempting isn’t it?

  8. Tempting it is. I’m always wary of getting the Extreme wet through, I throw a light shell over it. The Resolute’s hood, better water resistance and looks will see me give in next Winter.

    Agreed on the pit zips. That’s the area that boils on me. I wonder if it could be done, maybe studded? Have you tried it with no base, just on against skin? I have a few times, it works well, but I just feel better with a layer.

  9. My venture into pertex/pile (about 13 years ago) was an ExtremeOutdoors smock – the double-ended side zips extended from the hem right up under the armpits and back down to the elbows. Boy, could you open that up and get a breeze through!

    Interesting that you prefer this p/p to the Paramo system, and Neil’s comment above. It was a bad winter experience with p/p getting wet through that saw me moving on to try Paramo – that was 10 or 11 years ago and I’m still using it (including my original Paramo purchases)

  10. Neil, the Epic fabric’s good, but only to a point. Water still gets through, especially under pressure. So don’t frret about still using the Extreme for now :o)
    I’ve tried it with synthetic, merino and just a vest but not completey bare underneath, it just feels a little odd, I’m sure I’d sand my nipples flat one a long day… I will try it though.

    The wet-through thing was on my mind Matt, and the weathyer was supposed to be on the change so carried an Ozo with me. I feel a bit more confident with it now, but it’s going nowhere near a rainy day.
    I think the Paramo compariosn will be down to personal factors. In Paramo I’ve more time being too hot or too cold than I have in the Extreme, oddly I feel more clammy in Paramo too. It’s one of those things that there’s no wrong or right, it’s just what suits your personal mechanics I think.

  11. Glad to see ya feelin’ better chap – bit of winter will cure the cold usually.

    Back from the shops meself, just replaced my Exped pillow as I’d sold the old one in Iran to a climber – they just can’t buy stuff like that and he offered me enough dollars to replace it, I hope he’s getting some use out of it.

    Purchased some B3 boots as well… now that was a mission. In there for hours as didn’t want to make a mistake as they are not the cheapest of things. In the end it came down to fit. Wanted the La Sportivas, liked the Scarpas but came home with the Asolos, the only pair that actually fitted my heel properly and that mattered the most in my book. ‘Tough as old boots’ except they are shiny and new, I just hope they are right for me and until I’m halfway up a hill, I’m not going to know.

    I have a Brenig P&P Smock I picked up secondhand, it’s way too hot and designed for the Artic but it was only fifty quid so it had to be purchased – very well made and in the UK as well.

    Have a good weekend people – I’m off raving in Birmingham… wine, women and debauchery!

  12. I still use a Karrimor Hot Earth (40L) from the mid nineties. It is the most comfortable sack that I own. Regarding PP, I never got on with Buffalo Special 6 shirt or the Montane Extreme Smock. I always felt cold draughts through the ventilation zips even when closed and prefer something longer when it’s very cold.
    Yet I love my Patagonia Infurno jacket so much that I bought a second one when they were going for half price in Tiso’s a couple of years ago.

  13. The Hot series was another box of classics. I nearly took my Hot Ice out on Wednesday, I think it’ll make an appearance soon.
    Buying spare of favourites is a good policy, good things are always discontinued!

  14. That wasn’t you who outbid me for a crackin-lookin orange Alpiniste 45+10 on Ebay today?It ended up going for £64!!!!
    BANDIT.The search continues…

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