PHD Factory Visit

Where do potatoes come from? “The shops” might be the answer you’d expect to that question these days. So with that in mind I gladly accepted an invitation to visit PHD’s factory in Stalybridge to see where potatoes really come from.
A rarity these days, top-end outdoor kit designed and produced in the UK. A chance to see the processes, meet the people and learn something new.

PHD stands for Peter Hutchinson Designs, and that’s Peter below with the specs and beard. Peter’s a legend, there’s a fantastic piece here that tells you his place in the history of gear, an originator and innovator, and most importantly, still thinking ahead and developing. We saw some samples of possible new models for next year (sorry, secret for now) and there’s no loss of momentum or enthusiasm at all. Peter Elliott is the fella in the short sleeves, and he’s the man I’ve been speaking to about test kit over the past few years. He pulls the levers that keeps the company rolling and is full of enthusiasm for the kit and the people of both sides of the sale, the workers and the customers.
PHD may be a relatively new company, but the depth and the heritage in the fabric it’s made from are something that no advertising budget can compete with.

The entrance above takes you into a Victorian mill. The stairs are worn into a gentle U shape from the passage of countless mill workers, the arched ceilings are supported by iron columns and the very building feels alive with the weight of the history which has soaked into it. As an engineer this stuff means something to me, it’s a tangible connection to the past. History might read like a list of kings and queens, but it’s the men and women of the past two hundred years who have filled buildings like this, have toiled and have been forgotten who are the real heroes for me.
There is an up-to-date relevance here as well, carbon footprint. Existing building re-use, samples aren’t flying backwards and forwards to China to get tweaked for production, then shipped in bulk to a distribution warehouse for redistribution to shops. PHD’s operation is very lean, there’s no unnecessary steps in there. Old school methods as a template for the future?

Margaret above is the very hub of operations on the factory floor. She’s pattern cutting (you’ll see the templates on the walls in this and other shots), after which all the bits go in a bag and are taken through to a machinist. It’s the start of quality control as well, Margaret initiates every piece that’s made and knows who it’s gone to, and if there’s a mishap somewhere down the line this is the table where it gets sorted out. It’s also the start of the story of why your PHD kit doesn’t often arrive the next day, it’s still part of a big roll of fabric when you press “Submit” on the payment page.

Talking of fabric, there’s a ton of it. The MX and Drishell are the most familiar variants, and interesting to see the reverse side of both too, seeing Drishell’s inner coating it now makes sense why it’s got water resistance, it’s a physical barrier rather than just a treatment like a DWR.
There’s some odds and ends in there too, I think the glorious teal that my Minimus jacket is made from is all gone, but I did happen upon some purple taslan Gore-Tex, which I am assured can be made into something…

Nest door is the stockroom. What’s there is all there is, the Minimus down socks are a good bet for next day delivery, there’s a few jackets, a few sleeping bags and that’s about it. The famous bi-annual sales really don’t have a pile of stock ready to go, in fact there’s just three sleeping bags ready for the next one.
When there’s a enough of a gap in orders coming in, Margaret might cut a batch of the more popular styles in a few sizes to get ahead for the start of winter, but as Peter Elliott said there’s literally thousands of size and option combinations in the range and keeping stock of all of that is impossible.

The machinists room was a hive of activity, a silent hive until the girls got used to me and Phil and the banter went back to normal. The machinists work on an individual item, the parts arrive from Margaret with a job-slip and they have a book at their workspace with all the details they need to get the piece made. It can take an entire day for one of the girls to make a bag or jacket, and that’s just the sewing.
The complexity of the construction took me by surprise. I know there’s baffles in there to keep the down in place, and aye, I can see stitching on my sleeping bags, but to see it ootsides-in and get a look at the bare bones has changed they way I’ll look at down kit forever more.
That to me below looks something that’s half way between a pile of washing and a bucket of confusion, yet with a keen eye and and deft pair of hands, a Hispar sleeping bag was growing out of a some rolls of fabric tape and some seemingly random shapes of fabric.
The fabrics really are light, the close up shot down below shows the gossamer-thin material used for the internal baffles.

Jackets are no less complicated as you can see below. Areas like pockets looks so faffy to do, and it all has to come out as a neat, symmetrical item, so the stitching all has to be perfect. I have total respect for the girls on the machines here, these are vital skills they possess and who’s picking up the torch to carry it on? The last couple of generations have all wanted to go to Uni or the street corner, if we want to succeed as a nation we have to make stuff and sell it, not sit an an office and consult about it being done elsewhere.

Tha gap between the customer and production is about as small as it can get at PHD, so when there’s an issue or feedback comes in that something’s not working, change is pretty much instant. There’s no container full of stock to sell first or next season orders to try and change without incurring penalties.
But flexibility isn’t absolute, there’s a limit to what they can do, especially at busy times. Peter Elliott remembers an instance where the girls were working flatout to fulfill orders and a high-profile enquiry came in for a downsuit for an Everest expedition which had to be done in two weeks. The order book was already fat, and full of folk that had paid money two or three weeks ago, and they had priority, so the Everest suit was a no-go. In quiet times it could have been different, but that’s the nature of business and something I totally relate to. Customers seem to think that you just sit in the house and wait for their call, and they don’t react well when you tell them that you’re on an installation and you’ll see them in three weeks.
But the can-do attitude at PHD is strong, things can be made, adjusted and altered given enough time. I was asked about expander strips for sleeping bags and the answer was “yes” if there was demand. PHD use the same zips on all their bags, so it should be possible to make your own combi-style setup or just widen your bag to accommodate the post Christmas girth increase which many of us suffer from.

Communication in the factory seems to be a strong point, there’s lots of coming and going and any issues are flagged up and dealt with. Margaret looked over a couple of items while we were there and there was no hand-wringing and umming and ahing if there was something to be fixed, it was problem-solution-execution.
Returns and repairs are dealt with too, there was an 8000m down suit getting a zip replaced for it’s next trip (it had been to the top of Everest twice already). That’s another thing, there’s pride in what happens to the kit when it leaves, there’s messages and photies sent from all over world with names we all know attached to them.

Down is a big part of the story of course (that’s some 900 at the very start of the page above, fluffy isn’t it?). That’s what’s left of a months supply below, the bales are huge, but given the nature of the uncompressed contents, not as heavy as Phil’s making it look!
PHD use three qualities, 700, 800 and 900, and although we all know that a higher number is better somehow, it wasn’t until today that we got to see exactly how.

Peter Hutchinson took us through the various down processes, which starts with sourcing. PHD’s down comes as a by-product of food production, no live plucking. Peter’s experience is what’s vital here as he flies out to meet suppliers or tests samples at the factory, always keeping an eye on the quality of shipments from his current long-term supplier and those of companies touting for business. 
The testing is all done in-house on a Lorch machine, which you’ll see above and below, currently the only one in the UK. When asked what his opinions of other brands who quote fill power based on their down suppliers figures he replied that he wasn’t interested, he just wants to know that his own stuff is as good as he can make it. I love that attitude, I see it as: “I don’t need to fight the other guy, I know who’d win…”.
The Lorch machine stirs up the down inside the clear cylinder with an air blower (which in every test we saw the samples weighed and then level out at the top of the cylinder) and then a flat plate is lowered on top of the contents. The point at which the down supports the weight of the plate gives you your fill power, the higher the plate the more loft, the better insulation, and the higher number. It’s important to remember that this is UK fill power, the US version is different, using a different machine with different parameters, US fill numbers are not as good as UK ones.
We saw a current 900 sample tested which actually gave a fillpower over 900, but Peter says it’s too difficult to get consistent results to perhaps claim 950 fill power. We saw another sample tested, this one from a new supplier claiming it was 900, it actually tested less than 800. I wonder just how many fill power figures are consistently checked out there? PHD test every new batch and there have been bales returned that didn’t come up to scratch.
It made sense to me, I know that the Minim Ultra 900 was a revelation from the first time I used it, I now I know why, clever design and top quality tested materials.

That’s some eider down that Peter’s saving for a rainy day, incredibly expensive and essentially a different material. If you have a real eider-filled duvet on your bed I reckon it would have cost you around £17,000. Bloody warm though.

Down is amazing stuff, it’s got a life of it’s own, and an odd movement to it. It’s got air resistance and little weight to attract gravity, but when it flows it’s like an avalanche.

One thing that comes up a lot when talking about PHD is the down fill weight of the kit, and why don’t PHD quote it exactly. Well, in the fill room we found out.
There’s a big table, a set of ultra-accurate scales and a book. The book has the weights for every bag or jacket, every size, every variation and every baffle on that item. The fill weights for every item they make will be slightly different, so a quote on the website will only ever apply to one variation of a given item.
Peter’s worked out what needs to go where and that’s what they work to. On the table below are 700, 800 and 900 samples in order. The 900 is catching the light, but you really can see the difference quite plainly, from grey to pure white.
Everything is hand-stuffed, with every handful being weighed and then item is finished off ready for final inspection and storage, or more likely shipping-out.

That table above is “dispatch”, and that’s your kit getting inspected before it gets collected by the postman.
The seams are checked for stray threads, then a compressed air gun is used to blow loose down clusters away, there’s a logo printer just behind the camera (the last thing done) and a big bloke (who was off that day) to squeeze it all into a bag to ship out.

We had an opportunity to see some of the kit that I wouldn’t normally be able to get to grips with, 8000m and polar gear, some of the alpine kit as well as some lightweight gear.

I’ve always liked the look of the Hispar, and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s more fully featured that the stuff I normally use, with an internal collar and er, a zip. It’s plush when you’re in it, it’s the only word for it.
I was impressed with the fatness, but then Peter brought out the Hispar Combi which when pulled over the Hispar takes your alpine bag into the the death zone for a comfy night’s sleep.

Sat next to the Minim Ultra, the Hispar/Combi definitely cuts an imposing profile. The extra detailing on these bags was good for me to see as my experience withthe PHD stuff has been with the Minims and the like. Beautifully made pieces of kit.

Phil’s wearing the Alpine Ultra Jacket, a simple stitch-through jacket with a Drishell outer and two napoleon pockets. 330g and packs to nothing.

At the other end of the scale I’m wearing the 900-fill Hispar Jacket below. Rated to -25°C but only 700g, there are synthetic hoodies out there at that weight that let the cold in at zero degrees. It’s a high mountain jacket, Drishell outer, huge hood, huge pockets including on internal one. Made we want to fall asleep when I was wearing it.

But taking it as far as it’ll go is the Omega above. This a  -50°C (or  -55°C if you take the 900fill option) jacket for folk standing on Antarctica looking at the view/penguins/other people who are cold. It’s waterproof, with PHD’s new HS2 fabric, pockets inside and out, cut to allow the down to fully loft, a hood you could live in. I will never need this level of performance, but I want it.
The work that goes into something like this is immense, having seen the process and the methods of bringing the raw materials together to produce the finished item, it’s actually rather inspiring. I like to know that we can do stuff, that people are clever and talented. A little step sideways into a new world like we had today shines a light on just those things. Magic.

Phil’s got the Delta Belay Down Jacket on above. This is a lovely piece, Drishell in and out for throwing it on over a damp shell, multiple pockets for hands and stuff, hood, reflective strips (the likes of which have become so handy on overnighters), wide velcro for gloves hands. Rated down to -15°C , it’s 800g of badass protection.

New below is the Alpamayo Waterproof Smock. This feels like a winter smock to me, the HS2 is a supple mid-weight laminated fabric with a soft-touch inner scrim. The hood is a cracker, a good fit on my napper. The zips are RiRi’s, which are pretty much waterproof, as the teeth lock so closely together, without the need to for the rubbery strips to which we’ve all grown so accustomed. There’s a single pocket under the flap, which with the RiRizips means that you can access it without letting water inside the jacket, but also sealing the pocket up with the main stormflap.
I think this looks like a good option, especially if the fabric does its part, it’s got clean lines, just the features you need and hey, it’s orange.

PHD still use Karisma fleece, not because they’ve still got rolls of it, but because it’s in demand, especially from polar types as it works well in that arena. It’s a great fabric, it was everywhere then softshell killed it, probably just because of the lack of stretch. Good to know it’s still out there if we need it. Ah, I still remember my Extreme Ranger pants…

I won’t try to explain myself below. It was purple and I wanted to see it, that it was a Ventile jacket lined with Thinsulate and made in a woman’s size 14 mattered not. It does show the versatility of these folks though, all sorts of special orders pass through their hands.

It was quite a day. I have to say a huge thanks to Peter and Peter, Margaret and the girls for allowing me and Phil (and special thanks to Phil for taking so many of the photies too) to totally disrupt their day with our mix of daft questions and frequent outbursts at everything new we saw.
I learned a lot here, and there were so many positives to take home too. Clever people making stuff and shipping it round the world, that’s putting it at its most succinct.
I’ll never flick through the PHD website in the same way again, and when something doesn’t arrive overnight, I hope we all remember that it’s in the to-do pile and the girls will get it to as soon as they can. It’ll be worth the wait.

79 thoughts on “PHD Factory Visit

  1. Bloody brilliant, I loved reading all that :))
    I’ve been into that mill building a couple of times, but I’d have loved to be there to see everything that goes on in the inner sanctums…

  2. Glad you liked it Matt, great to be able to share this stuff.

    When I was walking up the stairs though, I had this odd feeling that I was here to fixing something and I had left my tools in the motor… I felt quite at home in there.

  3. This article is written with great admiration, effort, enthusiasm and love. There’s wisdom in there as well. Really lovely to read!
    My compliments to PTC and Phil and to everyone at PHD.

    I’d wish it was cold again …. Robert / Amsterdam, Holland.

  4. That was a fantastic read Pete ,warms the cockles to see the inner gubbins of true British craftsmanship, wish there were more like it.Thanks for a great read.

    You’d love Salts mill by me,by the way. They make Pace tv boxes there now,plus loads of shops ,art gallery etc. But as you wander through you can still smell the grease & oil from the years of graft from the looms, takes me back to when my old man used to take me to the mill where he worked.

  5. Thanks for a great write-up Pete, you’ve certainly picked up on my questions & I really envy you that visit. I’m much more encouraged to approach them on the basis of your report.
    Was anything said specifically about non-DYO wide sizing ever becoming available?
    I’d love the chance to get a super lightweight wider bag to fit me without the cost of DYO. Seems a bit unfair to be able to get a longer bag comparatively cheaply but for us wide’uns to have to go down the pricier DYO route.
    Good to hear about PHD zip-in wedges potentially being available but the extra weight is already an issue with the old zip-in R*b wedge I’m currently using in my full-zip Minim(sorry PHD!)
    I’ve looked at creating the lightest possible wide zip-free bag (i.e. a DYO based Minim Ultra) but can’t do so at reasonable price. I suspect the minimum 900 down-fill option available on DYO (200gm) is more than I’d need for that bag which, of course, bumps up the price accordingly!
    Purely as a matter of interest & comparison, have you seen the Roberts Down Equipment site, based in Poland, which I came across recently? Not sure of the quality but they seem to be operating on similar flexible lines (double sorry PHD). Anyone know of their products?
    And before anyone asks, yes I am dieting but still prefer a liitle extra room in my sleeping bag!

  6. Wonderful write up yes. Fun to see some of the things us normal folk would never think of buying :) And how they make the bits.

    The thing which really surprises me is how (relatively!) cheap they end up – everything about the basic operation seems to suggest really high prices but somehow it doesn’t work out like that.

    Oh and so nice to see lots of down bits which no one has felt the need to sew extra heat loss seams into!

  7. Its good to see a British company still manufacturing top quality, in demand, stuff here, will it last? hope so. A great write up and insight into how their stuffs made, liked that down tester answers a lot of questions. Also great that he doesn’t give a monkies about rivals product claims.

  8. Hey folks, thanks for the kind words there. I’m really happy that this is as interesting for some of you guys as it is for me.
    Glad I seem to have the “people” across, getting involved in the outdoor stuff has been about that as much as the kit for me.

    I’ll sort out some of the typos and spelling imminently, WordPress’s spellcheck is a worse speller than me.

    One of the points above…

    Real custom stuff can be difficult to do, fine if there a run of items, but patterning up for an individual item would very time consuming and would be a bit costly. But, catch them on a quiet week and a good mood and you never know?

    And Phil, just different that’s all.

  9. An inspiring write up, I thoroughly enjoy your articles, there’s a personality here that keeps me coming back and looking forward to your next piece. Most articles today in magazines etc are written in such an age old formula and limited word count they fail to endear me to the product.
    I’m in the market this winter for several down items and I think I’m going to find it hard to look elsewhere other than PHD.

    yourself for the write up but also PHD for having you so it was possible to share this great

  10. My apologies, the net seems to have swallowed the latter half of my post and I can’t figure out how to edit, I’ve also had a few into the bargain :)

  11. Funny, I used to live just around the corner from them in Stalybridge, I’m no more than 4-5 miles away now. This article makes me feel like popping round and shaking a few hands, brilliant stuff!

    Bought a couple of jackets from them a few years ago and one didn’t fit well at all, sent a note to them to ask if I could exchange it and got a reply from Peter himself telling me to send it back and the alternative would be in the post, superb!

    Have to admit, I’m very tempted by some of the 900 stuff, but don’t really need it… yet…

  12. They are a cutting edge design company. Unlike Mountain Equipment with 750 fill power bags. But I don’t like PHD when they don’t state the fill weight in their stock bags and the difference between a long and regular bag in fill weight. I also don’t like it when a company tests it own down. Western Mountaineering have their down independently tested and don’t have it washed and blown five times or what ever it is. PHD test their own down. So is it all it is cracked up to be?

    On the US vs UK test. a ounce or 28.43 grams grams. But PHD use 30g against RAB now who would use the US measure of 28.43. The claim 750 Uk is 850US is not accurate. Are we to believe the US firms and Rab cant source top down like PHD? I doubt it and no US firm claims a 1000 fill power – when they should be if they can get the same down as PHD. I do think PHD do make fine kit but don’t think their top bags are all that compared to some others.

  13. Now fill power claims do seem to be devolving into something of a joke. It is also of course ultimately about a few grams.

    Still I think its very simple how, at the top end, a small company making to order like PHD can source better down than RAB.

    Its about sourcing *enough* down of a given quantity to actually use in a real product. Just consider how many neutrino vests, sleeping bags etc RAB – shipping to a LOT of stores now – have to produce vs the amount of PHDs stuff using their highest fill powers.

    Its a really HUGE difference in net quantity. Down, especially not super high fill powers (tons of sorting I suppose), isn’t really something you can just mass produce in a factory :)

    Yeti are a broadly similar company also seemingly using a little bit of 900P EU stuff too. But, as with PHD, only a little!

    There’s a reason RAB did their new sleeping bags in slightly lower FP down and I doubt it was cost saving. Just mass market vs bespoke.

    Their testing machine is presumably an insurance policy vs natural variation in the down they’re supplied with. How is that not sane?

    The other thing which I do worry about with some people is shipping the down from Eastern Europe to China to fill and then back again. How can that make sense?

    RAB do avoid doing that for their sleeping bags of course. But then not their clothing.

  14. Everybody can source 900 down Martin, but the only other brand I’ve talked to that are using it are Yeti. Reasons for this from other brands I’ve asked are “Well, ah, you know…” with eyes raised to the sky.
    I’ve also been told that the fill method for one UK brand is measured by the handful…

    Since I tested a bunch of sleeping bags for Trail a while back and found all the info on the tags to be a work of fiction I am now deeply suspicious of anything a sleeping bag manufacturer says, fill weights on bags are frankly, bullshit, if they’re within 20% we’re doing well.
    I’m taking the new Rab bags out of that envelope though, the new designs are as well monitored as the PHD kit seems to be.

    In-house testing is vital for anything, I never fit anything that I haven’t tested myself. The day I start believing a manufacturers QC label I’ll hang up my stilsons. But for down, if you’re testing each batch as it comes in you’re doing yourself a favour, you’ll spot issues and your suppliers will know you’re watching them.
    To take that a little further, I’ve spent a little over 25 years visting UK factories producing everything from whisky to trucks to sunglasses to rope to Irn Bru to electronics to… and every single one of them had in-house testing of both raw materials and finished product. It’s part of a good manufacturing process, simple as that. You control your own destiny.

    Talking of Western Mountaineering, we should be seeing them on here soon :o)

  15. The Valandre stuff looks cool. However, it looks like the the down might be sourced from live plucking “harvested right before the traditional migration time, when it is fresh, clean and at its plumpest”. I wonder?

    Down supply is a minefield, you shoild see the double talk and fudging that goes on in the trade.

  16. If its live plucked they deserve to be closed down. Western Mountaineering are good but the weights are not as low as they claim. Still my Summerlite bag is the biz. I cant fault it. Best three season bag I have used. So good I am clearing out my old bags – they don’t get used now the Summerlite arrived.

  17. Getting a bag that’s just-right is so difficult. I’m fine in winter, but I always chop and change in the warmer months.
    Western Mountaineering only has a small presence in the UK, so not alot of test samples. I think I’m getting a bag that the three obvious reviewers have already been in…

  18. Well I did only really mean it as a generic defense of small down companies vs mass market :) Must be a reason that they exist, as you don’t really see it anywhere else.

    Super high fill powers ‘only’ save a few grams anyhow, so not something to obsess over until you’ve cracked down on zips and stuff. Probably not at all for a lot of things.

    Being in NW England its not such a tricky decision for me. Actually if I was in France I’d be after triple zero not Valandre, just because they offer free custom sleeve lengths. I think that should be made standard by everyone ;)

    Suspect PHD get mentioned a lot because of the sales which really do make them something of a budget option as well as a lightweight one.

  19. The TripleZero stuff looks nice doesn’t it?

    Fillpower is about increments rather that leaps right enough, a few grams saved and a few degrees added to the rating.
    I can’t feel a hundred grams difference in my pack, but I can feel a little extra warmth, it’s the one area where I’ll happily be obssessive :o)

    My biggest nightmare would be starting with sleeping bags again, with all the info out there, most of it conflicing, how the hell would you chose your first down bag?

  20. Excellent post, Pete.

    It’s nice to see a really comprehensive report on a world-class Brit manufacturing company – there’s not many left, sadly. Everything you’ve said about PHD show the passion and commitment to quality that the company has. As another poster said, it amazes me that such high quality products are not more expensive.

    I have a couple of pieces of PHD kit picked up in the last sale – a Minimus down jacket and a winter down bag with a drishell outer. The down jacket was a revelation – packs to nothing but fantastically warm for its weight. I have yet to try out the bag in anger – roll on winter!

    • Cheers Jake

      It was the manufacturing process that pulled me in, the gear was a different thing, it’s always nice see folk making things.

      Another vote for winter hurrying along over here.

  21. Great post.I’ve bought a fair bit of PhD gear over the last few years and it’s realy nice to get a peek of where it started out. Makes me look differently at what are already some of my favourite bits of kit. I like the scale of the company and intimacy of the process. I can now completely forgive them for screwing up my last delivery which got to me too late and via NZ (guess the big fella threw a sicky then too?). Your write up has me thinking I won’t be able to bring myself to buy down kit from anywhere else. Already feeling a bit of a dirty cheater for having bought bags from a competitor. Off to scrub my visa card and mouse finger clean.

  22. I think it’s that human element, the folks just working away, that I responded to most, I probably felt at home?!
    That must have come out in the post then, as that’s what we’re talking about most.
    Maybe there is a little human contact missing, a little understanding too, the gap between the punter and the producer is usually so big, it’s often Them and Us. Whether the kit’s made at home or abroad, it’s all people doing a job the same us and we should all give each other the same consideration.
    Read any number of posts from whining stupids on an outdoor forum and you’d think that making a purchase makes the manufacturer their bitch/slave/punchbag.

  23. Great post – I found very informative – I have 2 PHD products (well one is my son’s – but I keep nicking it off him).

    They are the Minimus down jacket and the vest. Just great products to carry and wear and they are British manufactured as well !!

    Your post gave me a good insight into how PHD products are manufactured.
    Keep them coming !


  24. Ange, you’re a wummin, I’ll bet you were cold? :o)

    Got the same items Mark, I get on well with them.
    I think the minimal PHD design does worry some folk, you definitely have to tune into it.

    Should have some all-new kit to see from them early next year too.

  25. I’m not revealing anything. You’ll need to wait for the write-up!!
    Oh and the tent blew away in the wind, i lost it…

    ..Just kidding :o) I’ll write about it all tomorrow night.

  26. Great write-up, ptc* :-) Certainly agree with you about the care and attention of the staff to all customers, whether they’re a big ‘name’ or a casual hiker who just gets cold at night and needs advice on a bag to keep her warm! I think my Hispar sleeping bag is my absolute favourite piece of kit!

  27. Ange, I’m not sure that tent blwoing away would be a bad thing…

    It’s that direct contact that makes the difference Kate.

    I don’t want folk to think I’m giving the impression of a flawless operation here, they’re as liable to making howlers as the rest of us :o)

  28. Great write-up, must be one of the best interviews/factory visits I’ve read. Especially as my next must-have-kit is a sleeping bag. I’ve naturally been aiming in on a Haglöfs Goga 3s, but now I’m not 100% sure anymore…

  29. The only Haglofs bags I’ve used are the LIM synthetics, so no help here I’m afraid!

    Oddly, the first thing I homed into on the sale page were the Karisma fleece mitts?!

  30. I was wearing my Minimus vest to work today ovcer a t-shirt. A wee bit extra warmth on an autumnal morning but freedom of movement to throw toolboxes into the back of the motor.
    I like them both, the jacket is good on it’s own, I even used it on winter camps last year, the vest’s a good all-rounder and works well over other insulated tops.
    They are definitely minimalist though, so as long as you’re expecting that and not something six inches thick like a pillow you’ll be fine.

  31. If I wanted a wearable pillow I’d get the Hispar jacket and some down trousers (why use a sleeping bag then :D )

    Last winter I found my rab vapor rise comfortable with no activity at around -2 (which was the typical day time temp round here) with only a tshirt on underneath. Not sure how low a temp the VR can cope with though. Sounds like the vest would be the best compliment to give the VR a temp boost without restricting movment.

  32. The 500 should be a good winter bag for most times, for higher up the hill or the coldest camps I’d want warmer, but that’s just me. I’ve abandonded clothes as part of my sleep system and want baselayers and warmth in the snow these days!
    I like Drishell, it will deflect a spill, like when you empty your cup of coffee on it… and it keeps the dampness off when your tiny tent gets a bit moist and you’re wiping condensation off the walls abd floor onto the bag.
    But, lighter and smaller packing without it?

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