Wednesday, 15 January 2014

2014 new stuff from Montane. Pretty exciting actually!

I remember seeing a press release about the new Montane gear quite a while back - probably last August. Not entirely useful at that point as none of the gear was actually due in shops for another 6-8 months.

Now, however, it is only a month away, if that, and I had a quick peek at the product catalogue the other day, just to remind myself about the rather cool stuff that they are bringing out. No idea if I'll end up buying any of it, but it is great that there is such choice and thoughtfulness in British outdoor design at the moment.

I won't go into too much eye aching detail, but rather just an overview of stuff I'm pretty excited to see.

The first thing that caught my eye (mainly because it is the first thing in the catalogue) was the sleeping bags. As the majority of you will know, not a normal thing for Montane to be into, but this is their first foray into the world of sleep comfort, and it appears to be an intelligent and well thought out one - if not a little on the expensive side. Which- unless you are Alpkit, it seems, is a bit of an unavoidable issue.
The most obvious and interesting design solution in the Montane bags is the cut away area around the feet, creating a foot shaped space at the end of the bag. No dead space for cold air to accumulate, and a very distinctive look to the bags. No idea if the idea will actually work in practical use, but it seems like a bit of a stroke of genius which has been waiting to happen for a while.
You've got to admit - it looks really good. 
Other nifty ideas include internal pockets, glo-in-the-dark zips, and slightly sticky bobbles on the underside so that you don't side down your thermarest.
Time will tell, and with a choice of 6 different bags, 5 of them goosedown, one using primaloft, all of them utilising some kind of pertex as the outer, and ranging from ridiculously lightweight, through waterproof, and up to proper insulative sleeping heaven, a good few people should be buying these for a vast range of conditions. Also, the fact they already won a few prizes at the Outdoor Awards last year, would indicate these bags are going to be hot property.

Something else that I'm quite taken with is the larger extension to the Montane Pack range. I blabbed on about the ultrapacks in a post last week, but I'm actually a little more interested in the 70 litre Grand Tour pack. Mainly from a Mountain Rescue perspective. My current bag weighs about 3kg+ just on its own, and then with all my kit in, and a radio, and then a 12kg firstaid kit with oxygen bottle in it, can get a little wearing, especially over 8 hours or so, getting sodden, even heavier, and then being involved in a stretcher carry as well.
The Grand tour, as well as being lighter, should be pretty robust, has a decent number of pockets for stashing food for on the go, bags of space for carrying extra kit, and seems to do everything you'd need it to do. Could well be one to watch. Can't find a picture of it anywhere though.

The clothing range is ever widening, but I'm most interested in the lighter weight running end of the spectrum, I see that the Spektr smock has now been dropped, which I was fully expecting it to be, but it has been replaced by another lightweight smock, with a pocket, and with an offset zip. I'd be tempted by this, if only it had a decent hood volumiser! Yes, I know I have a small head, but a hood that blows around is pointless, even on the lightest of shell layers, and is a complete dealbreaker.
Polartec's neoshell, a hyperbreathable shell, perhaps even more so than event has been used on a couple of jackets, and the one that I'd love to try out is the Further Faster jacket. It looks solid, dependable, not quite as light as other jackets, but a decent shell.
Montane continue with their love affair with pertex, with the rest of the lightweight shells being made of various grades of the crazy light material. Always good, but when it comes to the crunch, I'd rather be wearing something made of eVent.
Also- the concern about the FRA waterproof regulations mean that we have no idea if Pertex is actually going to be allowed as a "waterproof" - no matter how waterproof it is. However, if you're not worried about rules and regs, some of the lighter weight options look really really good.

Prism gloves. The answer?!
In the Insulation range, the ridiculously lightweight Fireball smock is still in pride of place, as is the Fireball Jacket, but it is the Prism jacket and Vest both look great again this year. The Prism concept, which is played out in the sleeping bag section, as well as in the gloves is a pertex microlight skin with varying layers of Primaloft Eco being used around the body for different levels of insulation. This jacket is apparently used by MR teams up and down the country, but unfortunately not ours- we do, however, have the ever wonderful Mountain Equipment Fitzroy as the alternative.

I'm slightly disappointed there isn't a Prism Mitt alternative to the Prism glove. As a convert to mitts, it would have been great to have the concept taken that little bit further. However, the Extreme mitt is still in the mix, which is fab. And who knows, the Prism Gloves might actually be the glove that actually works!

No- I'm not sponsored by Montane, I just happened to get my hands on a catalogue, and thought I'd get some thoughts out there. I can't wait to see those sleeping bags and jackets!

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