Discontinued classics?

You have to wonder at the motivations of companies sometimes. I know that designers occasionally get something out there with a bit of patter and a big smile, or catch the boss on a good day and it gets on the shelves and sits there until the end of season sale comes around.

That’s the stuff I want, the kit the marketing guys and bean counters didn’t manage to intercept, the gear that was ahead of it’s time. The things the designers liked and that don’t appeal to the dog walking fraternity.

Another thing is change for changes sake. It sold well, so let’s change it so that we can sell them another one next year. If only they would just stop at a colour change and let the pattern cutters enjoy their tea break. 

So we have the Montane Air Jacket. Genius eVent waterproof, 360g, slim fit, long body that never ever rides up. good hood. But, it was shiny and only had one pocket. “I’m not buying that, where’s the features…”. Canned. Looking at what’s out there now, it would probably sell.

My favourite microfleece was the Haglöfs Triton, hooded, different weights of fabrics, big venting chest pockets, slightly disappointing hood. They updated it to the Gemini, tweaked cut, much better hood and daft low pockets that don’t vent. Where’s the scissors and sewing kit…”Ah! arise my beautiful Haglöfs Frankenstein! The hood of the Gemini and the body of a Triton! The legs of a Scotsman below we can improve on later…”.

I actually love them both and wear them all the time, but still…

I’ve spoken often of my joy at discovering Montrail Namches. I wore them solidly all through last year and they are my favourite footwear. Ever. When Columbia bought Montrail in ’06 we waited to see what would happen to the range, and of course the quality. Well, we may now know the answer.

Imagine that the full range of Montrail is a neatly stacked wall of cardboard boxes in an alleyway, one box for each model, be it rock shoes, flip flops, boots, trail running shoes and the rest. The stack fills the alley from side to side and goes quite high indeed. Kojak enters the alley, tail out, red light and siren on, in his brown Buick and drives straight through the boxes. they scatter and fly all ways, some are crushed and some are left standing, some stay on the bonnet of the Buick and one even attches itself to the red light. He spins out of the alley, takes a hard left and continues after the perp. Columbia come over and lift the boxes that fell off the car as it exited the alley and say “Right, we’ll keep these ones in the range”.

It looks like if you didn’t get Namches, or several other models, you’re not going to. The range has been decimated (focused in trade speak?). I hope I’m proved wrong and it’s a proper design and production transition time, the all-new Helium boot looks interesting. As an independant Montrail were alive, constantly trying new and sometimes whacky ideas and it’s such a shame to see another name absorbed and ruined.

5 thoughts on “Discontinued classics?

  1. Again a nice piece of imaginitive and visual writing,love the kojak bit!

    Yeah,its a shame to see truly excellent and innovative brands being decimated before they get a chance to really shine.
    It makes me sad when I think back to brands that I used to buy because of their quality and invention are reduced to mere shadows of their former brilliance…Karrimor being a perfect example.It was their products that first caught my imagination when I was a kid venturing out into the wilderness for the first time,a brand to look up to and a name to conjure with.These days the products carrying the famous logo seem to be creations that look a bit like outdoor gear, often found in cut-price sports outlets usually in the bargain section…all the glitter,but none of the gold…whatever happened to the alpiniste?

  2. Karrimor was what I always aspired to own and use. It was always ahead of it’s time and the quality was great.
    After the second of it’s takeovers in 2000-ish they really dropped the ball and the Alpiniste sack ended up as an overcomplicated 2kg horror.

    And it’s not just pining for the good old days, because lot of new stuff is fantastic and we all love it.

    If only all the companies that made good stuff didn’t have to make a profit…

  3. Bugger.

    I’ve just rediscovered how good Montrail are over the last year. I should have gone for the Namches but decided on the Stratos simply because Outside Hathersage (good old Mike P) had them in stock.

    The eVent failed in them on day one(dry sock at the top, in the gaiter, soaking feet) but I stuck with them as I never expect waterproof lining to last anyhow and the model I have uses a harder grip in the centre of the sole which I prefer to the soft stuff that the marketing people apparently inisited on in the later model (but I digress…).

    I mailed Simon over at Beta to ask about getting some Namches before xmas – no reply. Maybe this is why…

    As I said, bugger.

  4. The sole you describe must be the same one that’s on the Namches. A harder centre with a softer compound edge. It works so well.

    The Cirrus they’ve made to replace the Stratos might be good?

    I feel for Beta. The took on Montrail when it was a Bright Young Thing, now they’re left with lucky bag that they bought from the ice cream van. Might be something good, might just be several packets of damp Swizzles. Time will tell.

  5. It’s a really good sole – beats the Vibram Octogrip I used to quite like hands down.

    The Cirrus does look good, looks like they’ve taken the feedback that they were getting re. using hooks at the top of the laces instead of eyelets. If they had the same old sole unit and no lining they’d be close to perfect :)

    But the Namches? sigh…

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