I’m getting there with the test kit first-looks, and there’s some more bits and pieces that have come in. New brands which is always nice and some unusual items in there too.
But first, a quick look at some of the kit that got it’s first taste of winter last Sunday.
Haglöfs Col Pant
These were great, totally annonymous, and that’s a good thing. The fabric was great against my bare skin (no longjons), no hair pulling or clamminess. The range of movement is all I need, some high-lift scrambling was no problem and the inner gaiters stayed put all day, even without hooks. But they’re still going on.
I used that rear pocket all the time and didn’t miss the thigh pocket that the fuller-featured Omni’s have, or the leg vents for that matter. I like these a lot, the plain looks have grown on me too, maybe inconspicuous is good?
Berghaus Mountain AQ™2 Hardshell Gloves
These went on as we left the summit, my fingers were frozen. No joke at all, the tears were welling up as I tried to adjust the camera with burning fingertips. I pulled the AQ2’s over my liners and the warmth came back as I walked. Happier, I pulled off thr right glove to take a shot of the cloud pouring over Binnein an Fhidhleir. The glove hung from my wrist by the elastic cord. Oh, I like that.
They’re very wearable, definitely warm and pack surprisingly small, as I learned when I couldn’t find the buggers in my pack. Not the most dextrous of fingertips, the camera controls were a no-go, but for everything else from cord-locks and zips upwards, it’s workable.
Rab Infinity Down Jacket
I pulled this on at a rest stop and then again on the summit. It’s warm, have no doubt. It’s also more than a rest-stop pull-on, it was so cold we set off wearing our insulation and the Infinity works as a mountain jacket. It’s just long enough to stay inside a pack hipbelt, the pockets stay usable (I kept my hands in them quiet a lot) and the range of movement is perfect. The hood is a good fit on me, I had a beanie and a microfleece on at times and it fitted over those and a bare head. The lycra is enough the keep the hood on your head and seal the heat in.
The stitch-through construction only threw up one item for consideration, at the back of the underarm I felt a coolness when walking at an angle where the wind was hitting it dead-on when I was wearing my pack. So, given the circumstances of that I’m confident in the Infinity as winter insulation. It’s now in the go-to rack.
Out of the box in the carpark and onto my feet and the hill. I never had a single issue with rubbing, squeezing or chaffing. My feet got a little hot and tired once we were marching on the tarmac, but off-road they were issue-free.
Grip was good for the most part, I slipped on wet rock a couple of times on the way up, suddenly-letting-go moments too and on the ice I was a little unsteady so put my Hillsound Trail Crampons on. After that I was velcroed to the hill.
On mixed conditions they’ve got their weak spots, but these’ll great once the snow level dips and the cover is more consistent.
Haglöfs Juniper Hood
Lets start positive here. It’s a great fit, slim without restriction and a joy to be mobile in. The fabric is a cracker, I had blooms of condensation on the outside and a bone dry inner surface. The hood is so handy, up and down for quick temperature adjustment.
The pockets are atrocious. Too low-set to be effective handwarmers or storage compartments and too small to be effective handwarmers or storage compartments. The zips stick too as the fabric is super-stretchy and the zips are quite stiff. The bottom of the pockets are level with the bottom of the zips too, so if your packless at camp anything stowed in there can easily fall out.
I’m going to cut them out and sew up the gaps, then it’s a perfect mountain hoody.
The North Face Hybrid Base layers
Finally got cold enough weather to use this and I have been immediately impressed. I sweated all the way up and much of the way down, and many hours later there was still no offensive smell. I stayed dry as well, only my back got damp against the plain Macpac Amp back system, and even then it dried quick with the pack off. The long torso stayed tucked in, the long arms meant no exposed wrists, the neck zip vented and the soft fabric was comfortable and a joy to be in all day.
I really like this, it’ll be a constant through winter and the leggings will be joining in shortly.