Mammut Eiswand Jacket Review

It’s part of the top-end Mammut Eiger Extreme collection, but is the Eiswand Jacket too posh for the Scottish Highlands?

I’ve used various bits of Mammut kit over the years and was pleased to get the Eiswand in for test. Mammut’s technical kit aims high with the best fabrics and a fit and design that show little concession to users that are out of shape or just walking the dog, the kit is cut slim with freedom of movement in mind. The photie at the top shows the arms very well, neat around the shoulders with some subtle gusseting to keep the hem put when you’re reaching up.

The fabric is under Polartec’s Thermal Pro banner, and is another evolution of the grid-backed fleece that’s been around for a while now under various names. It’s a good design and suits a mid layer very well for several reasons. Although, I say it’s fleece, its miles away from a traditional fleece fabric, it’s thin and light, more like a heavy baselayer fabric, gridded and sandwiched to a tougher smooth outer face. This outer face uses Polartec’s Hard Face technology which gives some wind and water resistance and added durability and it does mean it wears better over time, these grid backed fabrics age much better than regular fleece. I wear a pull-on made from an early version of this fabric two or three days a week and have done on cool days for ten years and it still looks good.

The Eiswand layers well because of the smooth outer as well, no binding on your shell so the jacket stays put. Although there’s insulation there in those little fleecy squares, it’s not too much under a shell when you’re working hard and its good on its own as your outer layer outside of really harsh conditions. It wicks and dries predictably well and wear and wash cycles haven’t didmished its powers over the past few months.
The other fabric here is Polartec’s Power Stretch, already a favourite of mine, here it makes up some detailing, the inside of the collar for some welcome softness and the binding at the cuffs and the hem where it’s stretchiness has replaced an adjustable drawcord.

All very well, but it’s no use if you sew a lovely fabric into a mail bag and call it a jacket is it?

No worries here, the spec is good. The cut is just right as you can see in the top photie, slim, trim and allowing full mobility. The collar is what collars should be like, high and cosy, but well shaped so it doesn’t compress your neck. The zip has a garage at the top, so no skin or ‘tache snagging.

The low placed hip pockets might seem unusual on a technical jacket, but here in the UK is the only place people moan about that apparently. A chest pocket for niknaks, and somewhere to warm your hands and store some gear, pockets don’t have good or bad placements, they’re just where you you like them or not.
The pockets all have mesh bags, so no hot spots underneath, and the chest pocket has a sewn-in gusset to let you overfill it a bit. The outside of the pockets are reinforced with gorilla tape and the zips are all reversed for an abrasion free outer.
The zippers all have easy to grip pulls which have reflective detailing to match all the logos on the Eiswand which are also reflective.

The cuffs are thumbloop style, something Mammut has long been doing, but these are much better than the basic lycra-bound thumb saws of old. The cuff has its Power Stretch binding which sits just behind your knuckles and the thumbholes are nicely constructed with a soft stretchy gaiter which seals up your thumb and still lets it move freely without pressure or abrasion.

The Eiswand is an interesting mix of traditional and right now. The general layout is the same as any Polartec 200 fleece you’ve ever had which makes it very usable and wearable, but the top-end fabrics and thoughtful detailing make it more usable and more wearable. At 550g for my large it’s something you’ll want to wear more than carry, but it packs pretty small if you do have to lug it.
It’s been designed for mountain use and that’s something that also comes through in the uncompromising styling, the Eiger Extreme series is bright and full of contrasting colours, it’s designed to shine out from the rockface or the snowslope. That’s something that makes me glad as you might imagine, and it’s something I can’t see being worn to the pub or walking the dog too often.

I’m glad fleeces are evolving and staying relevant, I like a fleece midlayer, from a plain pull-on to something as fully functional as the Eiswand. Softshell has its limits, fleece really doesn’t, you can work with it and make it fit into your system all year round.
You don’t have to be (Eiger) Extreme to get the most of the Eiswand, it’s not too posh for the Highlands at all, it’s perfectly at home in fact, on foot or on a mountain bike where it’s great for cold weather riding.

The Eiswand is a very nice bit of kit indeed.

46 thoughts on “Mammut Eiswand Jacket Review”

  1. Nice, great colour. Lets hope we see these brighter colours in the shops. Around here you only get the safe stuff apart from the local Haglofs shop where you need sun glasses when you walk through the door. It’s nice to see a trim cut too. When you’re skinny like me it can be a struggle getting a good fit. Can’t wait to try one out.

  2. ‘and it’s something I can’t see being worn to the pub or walking the dog too often.’
    Hmm, so less versatile than simple microfleece for more money.
    How does this fabric improve on powerstretch?
    Sorry, I’m in a cynical mood.

  3. The colours are great Stevie, even the black versions have the orange or blue through them in the detailing.

    Fatwalker,it’s very different from Power Stretch although it’s got the same layout of outer face and fleecy inner. The outer in much tougher although its still got stretch, more softshell feeling that Power Stretch and the inner isn’t as fleecy on the Eiswand.

    Now,the versatility is something I’ve been thinking about in a general sense recently. Outdoor kit is very expensive and the fabrics are getting increasingly light and sometime equally as fragile. Are we going to have to change our perception a little, a lot of the kit is designed for limited use for the purpose its designed for, the daily commute will destroy it. In a lot of cases we’re paying for the best possible performance and the latest thing, not durability. Durability is cheap to make.

    I’m not including the Eiswand in that, it’s tough, it’s just the colours might make it a less obvious choice for general use.
    But my point above might be a truth that no one really wants to know about. The brands don’t want to admit what they already know, a lot of kiot is fragile, and we as punters want whatever we buy to last forever.

  4. love the grid fleeces. they pack down better than the normal fleeces, not as heavy as most windfleeces or softshells. but you’ve still got some loft in it when you’re wearing it…throw a shell on to capitalise on the insulation value..
    stretchy and can be cut close to the body for better warmth..
    i’ve made grid fleeces my main go to fleeces for most trips..

  5. Fair enough, it actually sounds quite interesting.
    The main feature for me for a thinner fleece for cold weather on the hill has to be some degree of wind resistance.
    Karisma/ultrafleece and to a lesser extent powerstretch have that.
    In warmer conditions (extra layer for lunch in Summer) or for cold weather running and casual use where wind resistance is less important, microfleece does the job and is relatively cheap.
    Apart from the early days of powerstretch when the seams weren’t always stitched correctly, all the above have been pretty durable.

  6. £160 for a fleece jacket! Any chance of some reviews of equipment people who don’t receive sponsorship or have more sense than money might be tempted to use?

  7. Well Cotswold are selling some nice Mountain Hardwear microfleece pullovers for £25. I bought two of them.
    Apologies for the double post above

  8. Wayno, yes on all those points. The last grip fleece I got was a Lowe Alpine Hoody, great kit and I’ve got a Paramo pouch pocket pull-on midlayer on test which is pretty interesting too.

    Fatwalker, always loved Karisma, it was a great fabric, just needed good design to get the best from it because of the lack of stretch. I had some trousres and sallopettes in it and there were fantastic. I wonder if anyone’s still using it?

    The Gentleman Antiquarian, this is a good point. The last UK made fleece I bought was in 1996 and cost £95 which comes out at £144 in todays money. It was expensive then and is still expensive for a fleece today.
    Prices are what they are, no use being upset or annoyed by it, also I’ll never factor price into a review, who am I tell tell someone whether it’s value for money, that’s for them and their wallet to decide.
    No point in me trying to look cool and giving top end kit a bad review, the Eiswand’s a great jacket, no other way or writing it up.

    Budget kit is difficult to review for a couple of reasons. The don’t want to you to review it because they don’t need it reviewed because it sells because it’s cheap and if it does have short comings they don’t want it flagged up, especially in a group test against top end kit where it might look worse that it really is. When it comes down to it, budget kit will still work absolutely fine, it’s just missing a few refinements like really good articulation, the best fabrics etc A lot of current budget kit is better than top end kit from ten years ago, the tech trickle down effect. Good news for all.

    There are exceptions though, there’s one budget brand who keep offering me samples which I don’t take and that’s because I wouldn’t wear it. Jackets with big fat collars containing rubbish hoods, fleeces and softshells that more often that not are seen at trade counters with company logos embroidered onto them and shite ski gear.

    As a final relevant point, above I mention the grip top I’ve been wearing for ten years, well when that’s in the wash I’m wearing the bottom of the range fleece pull-on I got in from Berghaus a few years back. The cut’s not that great, the own-brand fleece isn’t the best and I’ve worn in for hundreds of days and I absolutely love it.
    Price isn’t everyting, quality is, and the two don’t necessarily go together all the time.

  9. i’m willing to pay more for brands that have a reputation for being well made…
    i’ve spent too much time in badly designed kit. so when its time to replace i step up to something better, not necessarily something thats top dollar. but it wont be cheap either.
    sometimes it pays just to look at what you’re willing to pay and shop in that price range….
    the good gear is really great, its in the “don’t noitice you’re wearing it” category becuase there are few if any niggles that annoy you, it does its job properly and you just get on with your trip. then afterwards you realise it didnt annoy you with the niggles that a lot of cheaper kit does….. someone spent a decent amount of time designing it, testing at and redesigning it to get it right, they gave it to professionals to thrash and they redesigned it again before they released it. the kit is harder and more time consuming to make rather than being something that can be made at the highest volume, because its made at lower volume that drives the price up. maybe the manufacturer puts an extra premium on it, not much you can do in that case… but remember with the good kit, a lot of people have really sweated over making it right and havent settled for a half done job because time was up on a limited development project.. or they didnt test it out properly… footwear is a major one. its not worth compromising on footwear, if you do you can face major issues with your feet. and right up your body in some cases because its not designed properly to withstand the use you are going to use it for. anyone can make clothes that are designed like a tent. or stuff it up so you cant move properly in it, not everyone can make really comfortable gear that works well in the circumstances you specifically want to use it in….

  10. also, the fabric makers for the top end fabrics can charge a premium for what they make again for all of the above reasons involved with the development of the fabric.

  11. I’m still using Karisma :-). I’ve got two ME Ultrafleece mountain jackets and had Hilltrek make me a Karisma fleece pullover last year.
    The only thing that stops me getting more of it is the limited choice of colours, basically electric blue or black.
    The fabric seems to be indestructible and the numerous garments I’ve owned over the years have only ever been replaced because they no longer fitted me.

  12. Karisma’s a very repairable fabric too, I’ve sewn many a crampon puncture over the years.
    They did fluro at one point, I had fluro yellow pants with blue knes, and you thought I was bright now :o)

    I forgot about Hilltrek, another bunch beavering away doing their own thing.

  13. to prove how easy it was to make outdoor kit a mate of mine who’d bee roaming the hills for decades started his own brand and set about designing his kit…
    being hte mate that i was i bought some off him
    he thought all rainshells were tents so he made a more custom fit…
    so i got my shell and put it on, nice custom fit… i took it for a walk with a pack on,, i did the zip right up to the neck .. leaning forward with a pack on, I promptly becgan choking the collar was so tight… i couldnt squat down and put my arms forward like you would at a campsite. a hundred quid jacket became a two hundred quid jacket that i altered without seam seals in the bits that i added in… he used a loose breathable material on the inside as a third layer… when it rained it accumulated water and doubled the weight of the jacket, one day i noticed my back was all wet while wearing it in the rain, the membrane had begun to wear off from the friction with the loose inner…. so how hard can it be to design really good outdoor kit? harder than you think!

  14. Clothing design is 3-dimensional, some budget kit is made by drawing around someone lying on the floor and cutting out the shapes.
    When I was on OMM’s Lead User Group the process of going from flipboard drawing to item of kit was a long and intense journey full of revisions, arguments, samples, more samples and hopefully something near to right as was possible at the end.

    Like you say, that’s what you pay for. I know from some designers that they make some kit designs on their computer, email it to China and what comes back goes straight to the shops, no testing at all.
    99% of the kit you see on here is pre-production.

  15. you forgot that the design process is sometimes about , massive screaming matches that on occasion lead to fisticuffs…. he he he

  16. you see it in the delay between fabric companies announcing new fabrics and its a year or two before the garments come out , the outdoor companies have to evaluate the best cut and design for the fabric and test it and finalise it before they send it to production and release to the public

  17. Aye, everyone’s convinced that their opinion is the right one.

    Gore’s Active shell is a good example of evaluation, feedback and then altering the product to suit. It went from top-end race-only tops to everything they could think of once they found out they could work with it without getting jackets returned on a daily basis. It was the brands that did it too, they completely ignored Gore’s specs for using the fabric and it’s meant a really wide range of models using the fabric.

  18. well active shell is three layer so that helps its robustness…. not super expensive either so people are more likely to use it as a go to jacket…. and hte reviews have been all good so people want to get their hands on it… people going lightweight dont expect their kit to last forever so they’ll jsut accept what happens to it when they thrash it…

  19. a lot of the time i’d put gear returns down to useless shop staff not helping customers enough and letting them buy whatever they want or just trying to sell the latest piece of expensive kit so they can make more, even though its inappropriate for what they want to do….
    the range of gear being sold now is so vast and often only excels in certain conditions and fails abysmally in others, look at people using softshells as raincoat. htey bought it because they liked the look of it or the novelty and no one in the shop asked them what they wanted to use it for… its easier than ever now to select the wrong bit of kit, you just about need a qualification to understand the different gear and what it’s designed for, get it right and you’ll benefit a lot from it, get it wrong and at best you could suffer, at worse you better have your will sorted and tidy up the loose ends in your life before you head out to the hills…. chain stores are the worst for hiring anybody who will work there for peanuts. all they re good for is filling the shelves , taking payments and talking bollocks to the customers about technology they have little clue about…. i was away from hill walking for years and when i came back i didnt understand the uses for the new technology and paid for it through the nose and with a criplingly heavy pack, luckily it wasnt a safety issue that was the problem… i was dumb enough to believe what i was told in the shop, the market hype or just fork over money before doing my homework. how many retailers adequately inform their customers? REI in the states have a brilliant learning centre online to give you a rundown of the different gear but few others have anything like it as they fleece the punters.

  20. There’s a lot of that stuff goes on. Folk being sold Scarpa Manta’s to walk up Ben Lomond in summer is one that sticks in my mind.
    A mate of mine regularly gets into trouble in a branch of a big UK chain for selling customers what they need, giving advice that puts them off major purchases and generally being what he’s supposed to be.
    I think he deserves a medal.

    I suppose it’s like any purchase, the more research you do the better you’ll do, just likewhat I went through getting a new phone. You just can’t rely on getting the best advice in a shop these days. Good shop staff with relevant experience and honesty are worth their weight in gold.

  21. unfortunately I assume outdoor shop workers are idiots by default. i don’t believe anything they tell me unless it’s something I already knew. ther is the odd one i know well enough to know they arent completely full of it…
    beats me how you can work in an industry and take minimal interest in whats going on in it,,
    shops should have at least one staffer they pay a decent wage to who knows something and they can try and pass the knowledge on.

  22. Years back before the big outdoor chain stores the shops were independants run by outdoor folk and it was a dufferent shopping experience.

    These days the big outdoor shops aren’t opened by enthusiasm and sited where the rent is cheap, they’re placed where head office thinks they can make money and staffed by whoever interviews well, I’ve seen the adverts “knowledge and experience of outdoor sports an advatage but not necesary”.

    It’s not just the chains either, one successful and respected online store established a few years ago was founded by a bunch of IT guys who flipped a coin between two differnt types of store and it came down with outdoors face up. Even an independant isn’t a guaranteed source of old-school knowledge these days.

  23. also the chain stores make more generic designs. ones that will sell the most and arent too expensive to make, if you’ve seen kathmandu, some of their gear like packs are quite crude, they dont bother with external pockets. their clothes use some of the best fabrics but the cut doesnt compare to the really good brands. they arent one stop shops. kathmandu is as mucha shop for backpackers and campers more than it is for mountain walkers, they just copy what the leading companies are doing and water it down to make more money… you cant fully kit yourself out at some of the chains , yet they are wiping out the independant retailers who have the best experience and are a one stop shop. to cut overheads the chains manufacture in massiive bursts in asia, ship teh gear at the same time, and get it out the door, on sale, then their prices go back up so in between sales their logistics are negligible and they flog the gear at rip off prices to cover their costs until the next sale… that mentality has taken over some good brands and sen them turn to the “dark side” of marketing… gear made for standard build people.. if you’re extra tall or short, good luck in finding gear that fits… kathmandu make gear for people built like the average person down under, relatively tall, average to larger build… i’m 5 11 avergage build and i can fit into their small kit… outdoor chain stores are no different to any other store. then tney change the colours every year to hook people who want to follow the fashion and replace their gear, which is good for anyone not fashion conscious who wants a deal…

  24. Mallory and Irvine made it most of the way up Everest in wool, tweed and ventile. The Rev A.E. Robertson completed the Munros in tweed, hobnailed boots and the late 19th century equivalent of this…

    Not much in the way of drop tails, active fit or stretch zones for those boys.

    I climbed my first winter Munro with what I had to hand – a thermal vest, a Shetland fair isle jumper and fleecy tracky bottoms, supplemented by an oilskin and boots, gaiters crampons, etc borrowed from an outdoors centre.

    Was I warm? Definitely. Was I comfortable? Yes… well… until the blizzard started and I had to put on the oilskin. Then I got rather clammy. But you get my drift. Replace the oilskin with a modern basic spec waterproof with reasonable breathability and I would have been set. Replace the thermal vest with a cheap merino base layer – even better. Replace the oilskin with paramo and I could lose the base layer altogether

    The fair isle jumper (or gansie to give it its proper name) was designed to help keep fishermen tolerably warm while hauling handlines in wee open boats forty miles out to sea. So – they are very warm (even when wet), breathable, don’t smell, and keep a bit of wind out. Usually (and ideally) mine was worn next to the skin as a comfy and warm base layer/mid layer combo (I reckon it would be perfect under paramo in winter). Not that I knew any of that at the time.

    Mine was also very fetching in various shades of dark purple (quite trendy, back in the day!). I should probably dig it out and market it as the next best thing…

    My point? Compared to what you actually need to get up a hill safely and in comfort, most outdoor clothing is overspecced, over featured and over priced. Or to put it another way, 98% of the outdoor clothing out there is perfectly good 98% of the time*

    *Totally unsubstantiated, of course, and completely open to question, but lets not let that get in the way of a pithy line!

  25. Actually – on reflection . The fair isle gansie might be a bit warm under paramo. But it might work rather nicely under eVent or goretex in cool conditions.

    A proper one…ahem… costs a fortune though

  26. fair enough, hte best kit to go hill walking in is the kit that you can get hold of!
    question is what drives the market?
    i remember the old woolen singlets. non merino coarse wool they were pretty warm. and very hard wearing, along came polypropylene and then you couldnt get one for love nor money… were they really not selling or did the retailers decide they just werent going to sell them anymore….
    retailers dont really give you the option. then merino becomes fashionable and some shops have half their display turned over to it… you can go do a shop for industrial clothing and kit yourself out for a song and it will do the job in the outdoors. but outdoor shops prefer to stock more expensive kit, lightweight gear that gram for gram costs a fortune… you struggle to find dedicated outdoor shops willing to stock a lot of cheap kit. but looking at where the shops are located they are after making serious money from people who have money to burn…. I started walking in woolen bushirts, PVC storm gear, stuff you couldnt find in outdoor shops now.. except maybe hunting shops with some heavy wool gear or army surplus shops… but amongst teh mainstream outdoor shops they have limited your options towards what THEY want you to buy, you see people rave about this or that garment being so light, but in New zealand you can be doing a lot of bashing through thick bush , a lot of that gear is useless if thats your game, you have to go to hunting shops to get your walking gear,, great if you like green, camo or fluoro orange…. but even in NZ the main tramping shops are aping northern hemisphere shops with lightweight expensive kit, it puts people off being really adventurous and walking off trail, they don’t want to wreck their expensive kit….

  27. Excellent comments guys, thanks.

    You can indeed climb hills in any clothes, as I’m sure we have all done. Expensive gear and fancy shops can give hillwalking an air of exclusivity which it absolutely should not have, it’s the most all-inclusive activity, all you need to do is walk.

    I didn’t get into techy gear until the 90’s, for 20 years ex-army kit or Peter Storm nylon was fine for me.
    Am I bettre off for it? Yes and no, there’s an element of innocence (for want of a better expression) that you lose when you get into gear and the past few years has seen me simplfy myself and I’ve enjoyed my time in the hills much more that I did in the years previously.

    Getting so much gear sent in doesn’t impact on this by the way, its separate and don’t go out to test stuff, I just take it with me so gear’s never a focus.

    Mallory and Irvine used the best kit they could find as did Hunt’s expedition in ’53, Fairy Down and lightweight insulated boots, that along with strict fluid consumption is what helped propel them to the top.
    Both expeditions would not down have cried with joy to have been able to use the kit I just saw Conrad Anker play with.

    Aye, we’re probably overdressed on lower hills, but would I got back to my wooly jumper? If I had to it would be no problem, and world economics mean that might happen. I’ll enjoy the synthetic luxury while I can.

    Also, no point in reviewing kit saying you don’t need it. 99% of stuff in all the shops we don’t need, the human characteristic of “want” is the fuel for economic fire and indeed, damnation.

  28. my gear is a mish mash, some new, some not so new, a bit of it old but replace it as it needs to be replaced.
    i’m not so sentimental i wonn’t replace tried and tested gear. i’m not going to tote around old heavy gear if i can have something thats new and lighter and or more comfortable… we’re fortunate if we can afford to buy it and i won’t pass up the opportunity, people have designed it for us to use. as someone said to me when they saw someone wearing a very old uncomfortable mountain mule pack “that’s not being kind to your body” older kit i use more for day walks, newer lighter kit for the longer multi day trips, makes sense since weight is a bigger issue on multi days and the older kit still works so i’ll keep using it on the shorter trips.. admitedly i’ve been spoilt now, i can afford the latest gear so i buy it and no point in my mind going back now i have it, i can see the advantage in it in a lot of the trips i do so i keep using it

  29. It’s easy to think that you’re just being marketed at when you see the prices and racks of new season kit, but in the real mountain kit, at design level I’ve seen there’s real enthusiasm, a desire to make the best, the most functional, the lightest. It’s definitely not just a corporate conspiracy all the time.

    One brand that suffers from its general popularity in the UK is one of the most proactive in this way and pretty much everyone in the organisation is annoyingly fit and skinny becasue they’re active in mountain sports.

    Gear’s a tool, better tools make our lives easier. I had to buy a new battery drill this week, I couldn’t stretch to the best one, but I got the best one I could and even then it came down to two similarly priced models and I got the one with the longer battery charging time because it felt better in my hand.
    Just like a rucksack, waterproof, stove, sleeping bag…

  30. Great point about Mallory and Hunt having the best equipment available at the time.

    Interestingly (and perhaps ironically) Hillary and Tenzing both wore Everest jumpers from Adie and Sons in Shetland (Hillary was frequently photographed in his).

    The Adie Everest was a lighter, warmer and more ‘high tech’ version of my fair isle gansie (it used a special yarn spun from wool sheared from one particular part of a shetland sheep). So Adie’s were the PhD mountain software of the time!

    Adie’s stopped trading in 1966, but you can still buy a ‘tribute’ garment:

    it is also £84 so you could get two for the price of an Eiswand!

    Jings – I think I might actually go ‘back to the future’ and order one.

  31. the chain stores can still over markup gear, so when they have sales it looks like they are giving a good discount when in reality the sale price is the real price

  32. The outdoor shops will sell shetland jumpers if they think there is a market for it and they can make money selling them . Now they’re not infallible but I suspect they know more than we do about the gear that that their typical customer asks for.
    And their typical customer is unlikely to be the people who frequent forums such as this.
    For instance I know Petesy loves bright colours but look at the sales and it is frequently the bright orange colour that is going cheap at the end of the day (Patagonia sales are a good indicator of this).
    If you take it that probably three quarters of shop sales are probably to people who do low level walking or want a warm fleece for winter and many of the remaining customers are inherently conservative then stocking too much high end / radical/ colourful stuff is a sure way to go bankrupt.
    Paramo for example,took many years to build an acceptance of their gear and to become an accepted brand. And it wasn’t a conspiracy by Goretex, just customers reluctance to spend a lot of money on something uknown or that they didn’t understand

  33. colours change from year to year to try and get people to change gear just to buy whatever colour is in, I did a survey on a walking forum and a reasonable no of people would buy the latest colour that was in fashion.. so the fashion industry have to try all sorts of colours. it will go full circles pastels were in for years then strong dark colours. then bright colours. i’m waiting for pin stripes polka dots, tartan… i buy colours on the bright side but not the brightest colours for safety especially shells. you know what its like trying to find someone in a dull colour in a white out, and it can be the same in thick bush which i’m often walking in in New zealand.

  34. The purples that I was so pleased see the past couple of seasons have met with a mixed response, one step to far for a lot of blokes maybe?

    I’m writing a bunch of gear stuff for Trail just now and these comments are very much on my mind as I’m doing 2013 stuff as well as an advice piece on what to use and why.

    It’s looking like new user-specific kit is produced for a purpose, it doesn’t sell that well and its either dropped or revised to give it a broader appeall.

    I think this just means that the market for technical outdoor gear is small and the market for all-round outdoor gear is big and what floats the brands.
    I’ve been wearing (review soon) a new Montane Ice Guide Jacket for the past few weeks and it’s one of those things that looks good with jeans because it’s black and subtlely styled and works brilliantly on a hill because of the fit, fabric and features.
    Not often I see something that gets it done so well in both directions, the way to go maybe?

  35. I think that’s right, multi-use and appeal to the generic user as well as the technical user.
    I think most outdoor shops have to get the right mix. A mix of technical high end stuff with a rump of more mainstream. i also think that’s why the colour choice can be poor with the techy stuff as they’re only going to stock a limited range and will pick the safer colours.
    In this country men only seem to wear bright colours in the sunshine. The next time we have a heatwave the parks will be full of people in purple shorts and orange t-shirts.
    Though the girls are doing their bit in the running market as every second female runner seems to be wearing bright pink this year.

  36. the north face are a classic example of a company makin gear for a broad range of people… a reasonable portion of the population have their gear, they have gear with wide appeal, more basic cheaper designs that most people can fit into (in america at least), and then you’ve got their high end gear , anything with “summit series” on it you know has been made to top spec for serious outdoors people.
    i suppose its hard for the companies who dont want to compromise and just make gear for serious outdoors people and weekend warriors, they arent going to sell nearly as much gear, it’s not going to fit all the hard core dog walkers and shoppers an sport spectators.. not everyone is going to be able to afford it… the fidlier the design and the less they sell the more it costs them to make each garment. and they are competing with other companies…
    but they can still do it, I live in NZ, I”d never heard of a lot of the european brands until i got online, the serious outdoors walkers and climbers on an auusie forum sing the praises of british gear over american or even continental gear. not sure how much of them are expat britsh… but word does get out and they end up with a dedicated following. if they can stll make a mix of colours between the loud and subtle to keep more people happy then all good…. I’ve just bought a montane super-fly xt based on the aussies having never had my hands on montane gear before. so the serious brands can still have some reach. its definitely the best designed jacket i’ve owned since i started mountain walking 25 years ago,, it’s not trendily short or over light, no shortage of pockets, great adjustments all round, great mix of fabrics, its cut so you can move easily and yet its not a tent… but of course there are other brands making gear just as good and there are people like me making the effort to find that gear, thank heaven for the internet or I”d still be oblivious to brands like that…

  37. purple shorts and orange t-shirts – I know someone who could manage that…

    Montane seems like such a familiar, almost cozt brand in the UK, it’s east to forget just how good they can be.

    By the way, if I was giving awards to this place, this comment thread would win the discussion of the year no problem.
    Also, you’d be amazed who’s been reading it.

  38. i can think of a few people who should be reading this thread
    i’ve just come off the kepler track in nz, 400mm of rain in a day, 60mph winds sub zero wind chill. one day is spent walking on an exposed ridge at 4000ft, numerous people ended up panicking to the point they abandoned their packs so they could move when they feared they wouldnt get to shelter fast enough before hypothermia kicked in while carrying their packs, they could have done with decent kit…. not sure how it happened, whether one person dropped their pack and the rest just copied them in a mindless panic…

  39. Madness. It’s the crowd mentallity isn’t it? Same way riots start, someone does something crazy and then other folk think it’s the right thing to do

  40. next time I’m walking in front of a large group, I”ll strip all my clothes off and sing I”ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts…..

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