Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Some New Kit
I've been interested in getting a Pertex/Pile smock for a while now and having looked at the options I'd narrowed it down to 3. Apart from the obvious, Buffalo Systems there was the Montane Extreme smock and the less well known APS smock from Extreme Outdoor Clothing
Initially I'd decided to go for the Extreme Clothing APS smock which is made to order but after discussing it with Keith the owner I opted for the APS smock lined with K2 fleece rather than pile. K2 fleece is virtually identical to Ultrafleece which was used way back by Mountain Equipment. I have a couple of Ultrafleece garments, a jacket and smock, it's quite a thin dense fleece so while it doesn't provide as much insulation as regular 200wt fleece it's much more wind resistant. As my intended use for the smock was canoeing Keith suggested K2 as it wouldn't be quite so warm. I did actually order the smock but although made to measure there was a slight mix up and the smaock was much too big. Returning it was no problem apart from Keith being snowed under so we agreed on a refund.
The result was that the Pertex/Pile smock search was relegated to the back burner but recently I started looking again. I decided to take the easy option of getting an off the peg smock this time but rather than order online I decided to check out Jackson Sports in Belfast. It turned out that they had both the Buffalo and Montane smocks in stock so I decided to call in and try them for size. I sought some advice on Outdoors Magic regarding which was the preferred option but in the end there was no clear cut choice so I decided to go with whatever one felt best. I needed the smock in Green which meant the Buffalo option had to be the Special 6 at £120 with an additional £30 for the hood or the Montane Extreme at £90 including hood (reduced from £110)
In the end while there were a few things I preferred about the Buffalo Spc 6, the lighter fabric and simpler design mainly the Montane Extreme fitted better, the Spc 6is longer than the Buffalo Mountain Shirt and I felt that it was too long for me.
The Montane Extreme is a slimmer fit and the arm length and body length are pretty much perfect. It opens up on each side from waist to armpit for venting but there are also 2 diagonal chest pockets with mesh backing which can be used as vents.
The hood on the Montane felt nicer than the Buffalo but the chest pocket is smaller due to the diagonal chest zips. There are some nice features on the Montane, there are 2 plastic rings sewn to the sleeves at the forearm to allow gloves/mitts to be attached and there's a D ring sewn in the chest pocket for keys/compass etc the back of the sleeves from armpit to cuff is made from a tougher fabric in black.
If I have one complaint about the Montane Extreme it's the cuffs, it had been mentioned on OM that the sleeves were narrow and while I checked that and didn't find it a problem it wasn't until after I bought it that someone mentioned not being able to roll the sleeves up, sure enough when I tried it the cuffs were too tight to comfortably roll up the sleeves. That said it wouldn't have been enough to put me off even if I'd checked it prior to purchasing.
While I was there I took the opportunity to check out the Buffalo Pertex/Pile mitts, I seen a few people recommend them for wearing under Extremities Tuff Bags but I'd also read that the fit was a bit strange. Strange is right, my Tuff Bags are size Large but I needed size XL Buffalo Mitts and even at that the fit around the thumb is jsut a little bit tighter than I'd ideally like. That said they fit nicely underneath the Tuff Bags and as I only want them as insulation I have no complaints.
Finally as I'd been using the Trangia 27K recently I decided to pick up a non stick pan, mine is just a old basic aluminium set and Multi Disc plastic strainer lid. Again both items were in stock so I went ahead and purchased them. The strainer lid serves a few functions, it makes a nice tray for preparing food and also serves to protect the non-stick coating on the frying pan when packed, you can also use it as a frisbee apparently.
Of course the benefit of visiting a shop in person is that you get to try on items prior to buying, the dowside is that it's tempting to pick up a few items that weren't actually on the shopping list. Fortunately I managed to resist and had the added benefit of a bit of discount (total cost was £133, paid £125 and got a LMF spork thrown in) but it was an opportunity to support a local independent.