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.


  1. As you know I love the Special 6 and the mitts. I find them to be superb kit. Even when wet, they're supremely functional. I also use the tuff-bags for really wet weather. Good stuff there.

  2. You won the lotto? You've been in a gear frenzy recently! ;)

  3. Supremely Functional sums Pertex/Pile up doesn't it.

    It's slightly unseasonal although today for example if I'd been out in the canoe intending to camp out I'd have been warm enough in a t-shirt or base layer top but would have ben glad of the Extreme smock by now.

    So now I've got Gore-Tex, Paramo and Pertex/Pile, what next? a Ventile smock and a Fairisle sweater :-)

  4. I thought I'd been quite parsimonious so far but I checked my previous posts for 2011 and I'm not doing well am I :-)

    Oh well a guess that's about it, the other thing I really wanted to get a Montane Prism, I've been talking about one for ages but I tried one in Tiso (Belfast) and the fit is all wrong for me. My Flux is Medium and goes over my Paramo VAL so I figured maybe a Prism in Small would work over a baselayer, no chance even the Medium is way too short in the sleeves and the hood isn't to my liking. Really strange when you consider that the sleeves on both the Flux and Extreme, both Medium and both Montane don't ride up even slightly when my arms are outstretched yet the Prism feels short with my arms by my sides and I really like the hoods on both the Extreme and Flux although I didn't like the hood on the Montane Venture for the same reason I don't like the hood on the Prism. Tightening the drawcords pulls the shoulders up rather than tightening the hood down.

  5. The Prism fit me perfectly but right now the Rab Vapour-Rise is likely to see a lot of use, especially in the Alps. I agree about the hood though. The V-R has a much better hood. Different garments, I know, but similar uses when moving.

  6. The non-stick lid for the Trangia is probably my most used camping accessory ever. With care, particularly when stowing it will last - along with the set itself, way past your own lifetime.

  7. Hi Richard,
    Finally i have managed to read your post. When does your shop open!Ha
    Either garments would suit you and i think you did the right thing in trying before you buy.
    I use my Buffalo in the winter from time to time although it’s getting a bit tatty now.
    The hood on the Buf is crap as design goes and the Montane looks the business. So i don’t blame you for your choice.

    If you want to see a old jumper take a look at the link below. I bought this in Iceland off a local farmer and i still wear it . I bought it in June ’84.

  8. Hi Alan, I really need to get some stuff on to ebay.

    I love the jumper, My Mum knit ones for a mate and myself about 20 years ago to a similar pattern (must have a photo somewhere). They were for when we were fishing but ended up being given away, I wish I still had it.