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In case you missed them on our Facebook page, we thought we’d share some of the highlights this week on the facewest.co.uk blog.

No fear.


New Mammut toys in stock

edit

A great Candide Thovex spoof


Funny T bar fail

The old friend the T-bar..

Posted by Facewest.co.uk on Monday, 20 April 2015

Click the link above to watch.

And..

We’ve got a special 10% discount offer on selected camping equipment, so click here for your voucher, valid until Friday 1st May.

Head on over to our Facebook and Twitter pages for more.

40% Off Mammut Avalanche Airbags

While stocks last…

For a limited time we’ve taken a massive 40% off the RRP of all Mammut Avalanche packs available at facewest.co.uk, because it’s always snowing somewhere in the world, right!?

Take advantage of this incredible offer while you can – they won’t be around for long.

Click here to see the range

 

Mammut Pro Protection Airbag

Mammut-Pro-Protection-Airbag-35L-M1
The largest volume and most featured of the Mammut Protection range of avalanche airbags. Aimed at mountain professionals like Guides and instructors, but also those on ‘big kit’ missions. The Pro Protection 35 has a zipped back opening so you can access all your gear even with a board or skis on the front.
The Pro Protection has loads of room (35 litres) for multi day tours or someone carrying the bulk of group gear. Plenty of compartments and exterior attachment options help you keep things organised and the Thermoformed back padding keeps even heavy loads comfortable.

Full details here

 

Mammut Rocker Protection Airbag

Mammut-Rocker-Protection-Airbag-15L-Whale-Iron
The smallest of the Mammut avalanche airbag packs. At 15 litres, with a very clean design it is ideal for riding the lifts all day long and front country riding. The Rocker is roomy enough for your other safety equipment and a few bits and pieces but probably a tight fit even for day tours.
The Rocker Protection 15 uses the Mammut Protection airbag shape, which is completely removable. A great choice for general free riding as it has a figure hugging shape and ski / board carrying options. A thermoformed foam back for comfort and plenty of storage options to keep you organised.

Full details here

 

Mammut Light Removable Airbag

Mammut-Light-Removable-Airbag-30L
The pack itself is quite different from other avalanche packs in that it has a traditional strapped lid as opposed to a zipped opening. The removable airbag is located within what would normally be the lid pocket. With a feature set that includes ski and board carry as well as two ice axe loops the Light Removable is an ideal touring pack for light and fast guys as well as a superb pack for winter mountaineering, where avalanche is also a real danger.

Full details here

 

Mammut Pro Removable Airbag

Mammut-Pro-Removable-Airbag-45L
One of the largest volume airbag that we sell. If you need more kit than this bag will take then you can’t have an airbag!
Very well specced and featured for whatever style of alpinism you are doing. The Pro Removable uses the ‘wings’ style airbag that is completely removable for when there is no avalanche risk.

Full details here

 
We understand that buying an airbag is a massive purchase, so if you would like to talk to us about it then please do contact us by sending an email to sales@facewest.co.uk, or calling on 01943 870550 to speak to our specialist team. But remember, this great offer is available for a limited time only, so make sure you don’t miss out.

Pro Review – Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody

Arcteryx-SS15-Cerium-LT-Hoody

Pro Reviewer:

kevavery

Arc'teryx say: "Streamlined, lightweight down hoody filled with 850 white goose down. This backcountry specialist hoody is intended primarily as a mid layer in cool, dry conditions."

Okay, so first things first. Down jackets can be lovely things to wear, and that is one of the reasons you see so many people wearing them on the local high street! But at times I do wonder quite how practical they are for the UK market? Even Arc’teryx themselves say that the Cerium LT Hoody is primarily for cool, dry conditions, not exactly the sort of weather the UK is famous for! So, how did the Cerium LT get on? Did it cope with the damp of a British winter as well as it did with some cold, dry conditions in the French Alps? And did it cut the mustard on the street?!

kevavery-cerium
The Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody is perfect for cold, dry conditions such as this rare day on Ben Nevis.

Since the Cerium LT Hoody arrived back in late October, I’ve worn it everyday. I have used it for break duties at work, going to the pub or for a wander round town, between attempts on boulder problems, thrown it on as an outer layer on lunch stops, skied in it in the Alps, used it as a belay jacket on ice and rock climbs and taken it out mixed climbing in Scotland. A lot of different things! So for one, it’s really versatile.

As an everyday piece of insulation in cold, dry weather, it is perfect. But like all down jackets, it doesn’t like rain (despite the DWR finish)! Down loses it’s ability to insulate when wet as it can no longer loft, it clumps together and cannot trap air meaning it can no longer keep you warm.

One of the Cerium LT Hoody’s first outings into some real mountain conditions was a day mixed climbing on Ben Nevis. It was a pretty wild day where the freezing level was fluctuating massively and precipitation was high. In fact a friend of mine commented that I was a little cruel testing down in such conditions! I wore the Cerium over my softshell to keep me warm after the hike into the crag, so I didn’t cool down while I geared up. Soft wet snow flakes and driving wind soon penetrated the outer shell and the down lost it’s ability to loft and in turn lost it’s insulating value. So why am I telling you this? Well firstly it’s important to note what the jacket was intended for (cold and dry conditions) and that these sorts of conditions (damp and wet) do not match that intention. But it was good to try, as kit really needs to be thoroughly and properly tested if an accurate assessment of it’s suitability is to be made!

Whilst the Cerium LT did not come out particularly well on the Ben Nevis test, neither would any other down jacket. I have tested many, including some of the new expensive hydrophobic down garments and in damp/wet environments they are not going to cut the mustard as an insulator in the same way synthetic equivalents like the Atom LT Hoody would. However the Cerium LT Hoody did recover from this very well indeed. And what is apparent, is that the cold, dry conditions it was designed for, it eats for breakfast! And that goes for cold, dry UK conditions (we do get the odd day) as well as those abroad!

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The Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody was great for throwing on for short stops.

After trying the Cerium LT Hoody I have continued to wear it on a daily basis. This helps to test its durability, which is proving to be excellent, particularly for such a light (275g) and delicate feeling piece. The DWR finish to the Airetica™ (100% nylon, 34 g/m²) fabric means that a few spots of rain or flakes of snow bead off easily and it also repels dirt and stains very well. It is very wind resistant and also breathable so this helps when wearing it as a midlayer during active pursuits like skiing. As well as Scotland, I also took it to the Alps (where the weather is cold and dry more of the time) and here, it really did excel! I wore it as a midlayer whilst skiing in La Grave, and it sat perfectly under a hardshell, the trim fit and hip length working intuitively with the body and other layers, not bulky and sitting well under a harness.

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The Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody worked brilliantly as a midlayer in cold weather. I used mine layered under a hard shell when skiing as seen here in La Grave, France.

Some times during higher exertion periods,I would stuff it into the internal stuff sac (a really nice and effective feature) and it would take up no room whatsoever in my pack due to the tiny pack size. If I stopped for lunch, it would loft quickly when unpacked and my size small sample worked equally well over my shell. I used it as light belay jacket on some ice climbs too, and the stuff sac clipped barely noticeable to the rear of my harness.

One of the big positives this jacket has is it’s simplicity. A great cut, simple cuffs, high quality down and 2 zippered handwarmer pockets are all you need (all the zippers on this jacket have been high quality and glove friendly by the way). Oh, and a hood. Which brings me on to my one minor gripe. A hood that is on a jacket that is designed for climbing or mountaineering pursuits, should always in my opinion, be able to work over the top of your helmet. You should not be thinking about taking your helmet off to put your hood up as this might put you in danger! Also if you put a down hood up and then put a helmet on, then you are going to compress the down and limit it’s insulating capacity. The hood works brilliantly without a helmet by the way, but I think on jackets like this they need to work over the top of a helmet too.

Right, one final thing. I’ve been lying to you; this is not 100% a down jacket! Arc’teryx have been clever…as you would expect…and have put the down where it counts! In simple terms:

“Strategic placement of synthetic and down insulation has Coreloft™ synthetic insulation, that retains warmth when wet, placed along the hem, collar, sleeves and underarms— areas prone to contact with moisture. 850 fill European Goose down lines the core and sleeves where warmth is most needed.”

This is a very nice feature and a good idea in my opinion and does make a difference in cold and dry environments when you are moving fast and sweating or cuffs and hems are getting damp through being in contact with snow. Synthetic insulation dries quicker and doesn’t lose its ability to keep you warm when it is wet.

Performance: ★★★★
Style: ★★★★★
Value: ★★★★

So in conclusion, I love the Cerium LT Hoody in may ways and it feels truly luxurious to wear. It excels as a midlayer in the cool dry conditions for which it is designed and can be worn as a light outer layer/belay piece when you are not stopping for too long and the weather isn’t too damp. The cut, fabric and quality are superb. The downside is that it will not be suitable for damp/wet weather but then, it really is not designed for this. A helmet compatible hood would gain this a 5 star rating in my book.

Climbing Gear Reviews are an independent reviewer of climbing, skiing and mountaineering equipment. Fronted by Kevin Avery, a trainee IFMGA mountain guide and former Gear Editor at UKClimbing.com, alongside Yorkshire based MIA Dave Sarkar, they provide completely honest and 100% impartial reviews. Click here to see their page.

Arc’teryx Cerium LT Features:

  • 850 fill power (EU) European goose down
  • Coreloft synthetic insulation
  • Down Composite Mapping
  • DWR finish (Durable Water Repellent)
  • Insulated Storm Hood
  • Front zip with chin guard and wind flap
  • Elastic cuffs
  • Two hand pockets with zippers
  • Includes stuff sack

Full Arc’teryx Cerium LT description here.

The Cerium LT is also available for women. View it here.

Pro Review – Rab VR Lite Alpine Jacket

Rab-SS15-VR-Lite-Alpine-Jacket-M1

Pro Reviewer:

RicPotter

Ric is a North Wales based Guide who has a small guiding company called RPM Guiding. Ric teaches rock climbing and mountaineering in summer, and works as a backcountry ski and splitboard guide in winter.

Click to see more about Ric.

“This really does warrant the tag of “versatile”. This is the item that I have worn everyday on the hill since I got it – apart from when it was in the wash…I must need another one!!
It’s very light and packable when it’s in the bag, but warm when it’s on. Amazingly it also breathes very well so you remain comfortable in a very broad range of conditions and temperatures. In the last 6 months I have used the VR jacket for UK rock climbing, mountain walking in all weather, UK winter mountaineering, January icefall climbing in the Alps, Alpine ski touring and splitboarding in windy, cold and also hot conditions. I use it as a mid or outer layer, combined with a thermal T base, and shell outer in the bag. It is a fantastic piece of kit with a comfortable yet snug fit, good hood, and sensible pockets. Furthermore it’s so easy to wash and dries really fast.”

Rab MeCo 120 Tee Features

  • Pertex Equilibrium outer fabric
  • Wicking Micro-Pile drop liner fabric
  • Adjustable under-helmet hood with wired peak and clip roll down closure
  • 2-way YKK front zip with internal storm flap and chin guard
  • 2 zipped Napoleon chest pockets
  • Zipped internal pocket
  • Hem drawcord
  • Velcro adjust on cuffs

Colour: Rust or Twilight
Weight: 330g

Full Rab VR Lite Alpine Jacket description here.

Oliver’s Haute Route – Guest blog

 

The following article is written by Oliver Chipperfield, who, in March 2015 completed a traverse of the Haute Route. We thought we would share Oliver’s advice and experience with the community, and hope that it may help people with planning their own expedition.

“The trip had been a long time in gestation, so I had plenty of time to think – and probably over think – about it, and a lot of hard work went into planning and getting ready for it. I wanted to write something that would help anyone else planning this sort of trip.”

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The Haute Route is a ski mountaineering traverse. The distinction is important, because it involves a lot of mountaineering skills as it is fundamentally about crossing a mountain range, and getting to the top of the accessible peaks whilst doing it. Simply put, the difference between ski touring and mountaineering is a rope. And we used one a lot…

When I set about planning my trip, I decided that the trips I had enjoyed most were the ones I did with friends, so I wanted to put my own team together. As I am in my mid 50s this wasn’t especially easy, as you need mates who you want to do this with and vice-versa. Then they have to have the time, money, permission, skills and also be prepared to achieve fitness. If you are lucky enough to find a group of willing mates, then that is the way I would always go. In the end we settled on 3 of us plus a guide, largely because there were only 3 of us who were prepared to do it. There were others, but once they saw the fitness required their enthusiasm withered. 3 turned out to be a perfectly good number – it means you have enough for emergencies, but you can be slick and fast as a small group. The faffing in the big groups had to be seen to be believed. The only downside is it is more expensive, but with the Swiss Franc the way it is now that was almost a side issue – though remember this isn’t a cheap trip in anyone’s books. There are of course plenty of commercially organised groups who are absolutely fine if you can’t put a trip together yourself.

I like planning my own trips, so I contracted an Italian guide who I had ski toured with in Alagna a few years before. The guide is a crucial part of the trip, not just because you are in his (or her) hands, but also because the group chemistry is really important – just the same as the organised group vs friends part. The guide will set the tone, style, approach and the pace of the trip. I wanted an IFMGA status guide as a pre-requisite. If you hire a guide directly they will do all the accommodation, transfers and so on. You will pay around 300 Euros a day, plus all their expenses – which are at reduced rates for the huts and lifts.

Not surprisingly, most of the guides are Chamonix-based and usually French. Whilst the Haute Route is in France and Switzerland, it does go almost along the Italian border, and the great Italian ski areas of Cervinia, Champoluc, Gressoney and Alagna are very close. This means that the Italian guides from the area know it just as well as anyone else, and our guides – Davide and Stephano (we loosely combined with another group who also had an Italian guide – so we had the benefit of 2 guides for the price of 1) were superb. Incredibly professional, relaxed (once we had got our kick turns up to standard), and impressive mountaineers with fitness levels that were staggering.

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We decided to do the Classic ski Route – Argentières, Champex, Prafleuri, Dix, Vignettes and Zermatt. Our plans had to change because of atrocious weather on the first 2 days, which forced us to restart in Arolla, but which we extended at the end to include extra night in the Rifugio di Guida Cervina and onto the Breithorn and Schwartzhorn. We completed approximately the same distance up and down as the classic route, so felt perfectly entitled to buy the T-shirt at the end!

I learnt a lot despite having done plenty of off-piste skiing and touring. One of my fears had been basic winter mountaineering skills, or rather my lack of them, so last winter I spent a week on a winter mountain skills course in Spain to give me a base knowledge and extra confidence which was invaluable. We learnt how to use transceivers and carry out searches, how to use crampons and ice axes, basic rope work including crevasse rescue techniques, setting up snow and ice belays, and snow pack analysis. As a skier I was astonished, embarrassed actually, at how little of this I knew and I cannot recommend doing something like this enough.

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The skill I consider most important for such an expedition is the uphill kick turn. Suffice to say we weren’t up to scratch, and after a rather shambolic cross of the Argentières glacier (the weather was atrocious, and all the loose snow had been blown away), and an even more hopeless climb off the glacier, our guide made us spend all afternoon practicing on a steep ice slope – in 120km/hr winds! I can’t say we were perfect after that, but we were proficient. It wasn’t that long before we were very slick. In fact the weather, mostly very strong winds, rising to 140km/hr on our second day, meant that we had to learn and carry out kick turns and transitions from skis to crampons and back again, in very testing conditions. However, that is the time you really need to be able to do them. It is easy in the sun on a gentle slope – it is hell cowering behind a boulder with the threat of everything being blown into the next valley. The other skill is learning to skin efficiently and repetitively for several hours. Rhythm, pace, slick turns and getting the right inclination, as zig-zag traverses are much more energy efficient than going too steep. You also need to make sure you don’t lift the ski as this is energy sapping. Sounds easy? It isn’t. As for ability, I think you need to be a good skier. The powder slopes are the easy bits, the ice and crust are the hard bits. Sometimes you find yourself skiing on a slope where a fall could be very serious, so the ability to be total control at all times is vital.

setup

Moving onto equipment. At the moment there is still some hesitation about pin fit Dynafit style bindings over more traditional bindings like Diamir. I would just say that anyone ski mountaineering on old school bindings and skis must be mad. Modern touring carbon skis, Dynafit bindings and compatible boots are so light that we estimated they save you 10 minutes an hour over older traditional touring set ups. You will have to get compatible boots but if you become hooked, which you will, you will never regret it. Get pin binding compatible boots! The bindings themselves are pretty easy to get the hang of, and we never had a problem – apart from when one got caught by the wind and blew away, so leashes are very important, and not just for if you fall in a crevasse or deep snow. We all favoured adjustable ski poles, especially when you need to strap them on your pack.

uphill

As to the other hardware – you have to carry a shovel, probe, transceiver, crampons, ski crampons and skins. I particularly liked my Grivel Haute Route axe, BCA B1 tour shovel and probe system, the Black Diamond Couloir harness, the Camp 350 crampons – all as light as possible, but very functional.

Clothing – the “kit List” seemed to absorb an inordinate amount of mental energy and wallet stretching, but it is vital to get it right, otherwise you will have a very uncomfortable week. The number 1 rule: light is right. What I mean by this is having the ability to recognise that if you don’t need something, don’t take it. Having said that, I might add another: no-one has ever been too cold. You really don’t need that much, and although I found having a spare base layer to change into was a godsend for a full week, there were others who were less fussy (and much more smelly).
The general consensus was:

  • Soft-shell touring pants (with really light shell in the pack) or proper Gore-Tex or similar technical unlined shell ski trousers. I used both, because I shredded my technical Gore-Tex with my crampons falling in a hole so switched over on day 2. touring pants run cooler, but aren’t as weatherproof in really bad weather.
  • Top and bottom baselayer – because of their different capabilities I mixed synthetic and merino.
  • Mid layer – lightweight softshell and/or microfleece.
  • Gore-Tex technical shell – 4/6 of us wore Mountain equipment Ogre or Lhotse jackets.
  • Down jacket – I bought a Rab Microlight which was my star purchase of the trip. What no-one ever told me was just how cold the dormitories were at night. I slept in mine and probably wore it most of the time in the huts. Though I never needed it outside, even when it was very cold.
  • Gloves – we used ropes a lot so leather-palmed ski gloves were essential, and a pair of wind-stopper gloves, which I used more than the ski gloves. There is a lot of fiddling about with leashes, bindings, skins, crampons etc. so you need to able to do that with gloves on. A very thin liner glove is very handy if you need to take your gloves off when it is very cold. Waterproofing is also surprisingly important as using hands in the snow was wetter than I was expecting at that altitude. Other than that, a neck gaitor, sun cap and warm hat made up the rest of our attire.

 

The final word on equipment – the pack. You will be wearing it all day, everyday for a week. You will skin, abseil, climb ladders and do miles of powder skiing with it on. We all used mountaineering style packs from the Lowe Alpine range with around a 35 – 40 litre capacity and were very happy with them. I’d say go no bigger than that, if you cant fit it all in you are taking too much. One of my co-mountaineers also took a spare base layer like me and fitted everything into a 26L backpack, but he was quite small…

In the run up to the trip we did debate bringing ABS packs and decided not to in the end. As it got closer our wives all became more informed about ABS, and a string of helpful and informative emails started coming our way on the subject of avalanches/death on the Haute Route. In the event we stood by our decision not to use it as they can be quite heavy. If you are obsessing about shaving off 100g here and there and you then whack on another 2.5kg you are missing the point. We had very low avalanche risk at the time, but also the guides will work a route to avoid risk, so I don’t think avalungs and ABS packs are 100% necessary. I should point out, however, that both myself and our guides would always wear an avalanche pack when ski touring, as the lifesaving capability is definitely worth the weight!

Crevasses are a bigger risk, and carrying the right climbing hardware, and knowing what to do with it is much more important. We did debate top loaders versus clam shell packs, and in retrospect I can see the advantage of having something more compartmentalised like the Ortovox Haute Route. The ski carry is important, and we all agreed A-frame over diagonal, as much because of the ease of doing it and that it keeps the skis closer to the body. In terms of skiing I found no issue with the mountaineering style – what makes the difference is the weight, so go light. And that includes the base pack weight.

The only other thing that no-one explained properly was food and drink. You will need at least 1 litre, probably 1.5 or 2 litres of water a day. Food was oddly not so important. We thought we would get packed lunches, but these either didn’t materialise or looked inedible, so in the end we existed on a couple of energy bars a day – “Clif” and “Go” bars were our food of choice, interspersed with jelly babies, dried fruit and nuts. I would definitely just take that in future, and it is easy to carry enough for the week – we took far too much. A thermos flask is a bit of a Marmite choice – for me, a complete waste of time but others loved them.

To the uninitiated the huts take bit of getting used to. They are commercially run by a Guardian and team who take a tenancy from the respective national Alpine club. The system is regimented, and designed to minimise noise, mess and kit around the hut. They are pretty full immediately once they open in March, so booking is essential, and all of them are pretty similar – you leave hardware outside, boots in the boot room, you find a cubby hole for your pack, and you take your hut essentials in a small bag (Exped type stuff bag is perfect) into the dining room where you’ll spend your waking hours. The dormitories are freezing, but perfectly comfortable once snug under the duvet in your liner bag. I am a full strength snorer, so was probably rather unpopular – in case you get someone like me, get the best earplugs you can find, and take spares. 10pm at 3,300m; don’t find out at that they don’t work. I swear by Flents soft foam ones with an NRR of 33 to stop myself waking myself up! There is no running water, so wet wipes are vital, but the loos have by and large been modernised to something that, given the circumstances, is pretty acceptable to a 21st century citizen. There are charging facilities, but the Swiss have a special plug which isn’t the same as the normal Northern European one. A huge upside is there isn’t wi-fi, and the mobile signal if often non existent – marvelous! Take a lightweight (both in grams and in subject matter) book, some cards and an iPhone. If I was going again I might take my mini iPad instead of a book. We were always so exhausted that we went to bed by 9, and were up every day at 5.

huts

Hut food is fine – soup, stew/rice, pudding. All those mouthwatering images of rosti and eggs are usually the lunchtime menu which ends at 3pm. We never got to our huts in time, so be prepared for wall to wall soup and stew – and, if really unlucky, Angel Delight! It generally depends on when the helicopter last arrived. We did have salad on occasions which was almost like getting Michelin star food…

One of the aspects of hut life is needing to be super organised so you will constantly be packing and unpacking. Practice this beforehand as you’ll likely be doing it in the dark and in the mornings – so you learn fast to pack in the right order.

baskets

The problem everyone suffers from is painful feet. Ski boots, however well fitted, will hurt at some point. We all got blisters, and I have always found that heat is a major factor. Despite the guide telling me not to, I found the my old army discipline of foot checking really paid off and I am convinced it saved me from much worse blisters. It almost goes without saying you must have your own boots and they must be professionally fitted. During the week before I did the route I took 3 trips to the shop at the end of each day to get them tweaked, and despite being super comfortable one day, they were painful the next, and fine the day after that!

Finally – Fitness. This really focuses everyone, and yes you do need to be fit. From January I ran 5km three times a week, went to the gym for more cardio and weights twice a week and tried to go on a decent bike ride each week. I also walked whenever and wherever I could, and I was absolutely fine on that. What made a big difference was to be able to spend a few days skiing beforehand to get altitude acclimatised, and use those skiing thigh muscles that really hurt on long descents. This gave me a big advantage over my friends who came straight out.

tops

We had an amazing experience in the high alps. It was without a doubt the best and most challenging thing I have done. I am 54, and was able to deal with it just as well as people 1/2 my age. If this inspires you to do – go and do it – the Haute Route is a challenge. Ski holidays will never be the same…

Oliver Chipperfield

Pro Review – Arc’teryx Beta LT Jacket

Arcteryx-SS15-Beta-LT-Jacket

Pro Reviewer:

kevavery

“For me the makings of a good hardshell jacket, is if I barely notice I’m wearing it. So, with the revised Beta LT Jacket, have Arc’teryx achieved just that?”

Performance: ★★★★★
Style: ★★★★★
Value: ★★★★★

In short, yes, the Beta LT Jacket is such a piece. Lightweight, durable and flexible with a full coverage helmet-friendly hood, it features all the things you need, without any of the superfluous clutter of many other modern hardshells.

I’ve never been a huge fan of hardshells as I generally find even the best to be sweaty, overfeatured and bulky so it’s been nice to find out that the Beta LT is quite the opposite. I’ve used it for about 3 months now in a variety of conditions and for a variety of activities and it’s quickly become my “go to” shell for all of these things. I’ve used it mountaineering in the Alps on windy, snowy days; I’ve used it in heavy downpours whilst fell running in the Lake District and I’ve used it mixed climbing in the most challenging of weathers on Ben Nevis. In all of these activities it has proved its worth.

kevavery-betalt

So why do I like it so much? Well, as mentioned earlier, the beauty of this jacket is its lightweight and simplicity.

The Beta series of garments from Arc’teryx are designed for all round use and from the activities I listed earlier, the LT clearly cuts the mustard here. LT stands for lightweight and at 355g for a 3 layer Gore Tex Pro Shell jacket, few can dispute the fact this jacket is light. It feels light when it’s on too, adding to that “don’t know you’re wearing it” sensation. Yes, there are lighter jackets out there but remember, lightweight is always going to have a trade off in terms of durability, or lack of. And in terms of this, the Beta LT is holding up nicely. I mean, it’s been scuffed on granite chimneys and taken shouldered ice tools on mixed routes, with not so much as a mark.

The “supple yet durable N40p-X face fabric” adds to this durability. It is a softer fabric than I’ve witnessed on a lot of hardshells so seems to have less of the annoying rustle factor. This means it is nicer to wear. It is not stretchy, nor a softshell but the cut of the jacket is so good that it moves with you and doesn’t restrict you.

Arc’teryx market the jacket as being “Trim fit, with e3D patterning, Hip Length” and I can confirm that it fits within all these parameters. The length is great, fitting nicely under a harness without riding up. The trim fit layers perfectly over a baselayer and light midlayer such as the Cerium LT Hoody or equivalent Coreloft piece, but there would be little room for anything else. As this is more of a ‘fast and light’ style product, then it isn’t the shell to go for if you want something you can layer lots of insulation layers underneath, although there is nothing stopping you up-sizing I suppose, though I can guarantee there are other products with a different cut that fulfill this need more readily.

The e3D patterning provides a tailored fit and means that the jacket does not ride up whilst climbing. The sleeve length is perfect and has great articulation. The velcro cinch cuffs are simple and low profile and the work well under or over gloves.

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The “WaterTight™ Vislon front zip” works smoothly and seals out the elements effectively, relinquishing the need for a bulky storm flap. All zippers have glove friendly tabs and run very smoothly. The Beta LT features a simple, 2 chest pocket design, both closing neatly via water tight zippers into zipper garages to help keep things dry. I don’t think a jacket needs more pockets than this and in terms of an alpine climbing shell, I think one pocket would actually be enough, although this may not be in keeping with the all round mantra of the Beta garments. The Beta LT also features one small internal pocket, which is a nice feature and one I like to use for my car key, something I always like to keep on my person these days after hearing about a friend of mine who kept his in his pack and dropped the pack from his bivi spot on a winter ascent of the Frendo Spur in Chamonix!

The final thing that makes this jacket so good as far as I’m concerned is the hood. It is so well designed and easy to adjust. It fits perfectly over a helmet and doesn’t feel like it’s compressing your neck when you put it up. It also works well without as the drawcord adjusters cinch it down and reduce the volume effectively. I can never understand why manufacturers would produce jackets for climbing or mountaineering without a helmet-friendly hood, but I have seen many. Thankfully this is not one of them.

So, to conclude: The Beta LT jacket is a superb lightweight 3 layer hardshell. It is so versatile, simple and comfortable I now use it for all mountain activities, from running to mixed climbing. My current favourite shell and a full five star garment!

Climbing Gear Reviews are an independent reviewer of climbing, skiing and mountaineering equipment. Fronted by Kevin Avery, a trainee IFMGA mountain guide and former Gear Editor at UKClimbing.com, alongside Yorkshire based MIA Dave Sarkar, they provide completely honest and 100% impartial reviews. Click here to see their page.

Arc’teryx Beta LT Features:

  • N40p-X Gore-Tex Pro fabric
  • WaterTight front zip
  • Helmet compatible and adjustable hood
  • Adjustable hem and cuffs
  • Two hand pockets
  • Internal zipped pocket

Full Arc’teryx Beta LT description here.

The Beta LT is also available for women. View it here.

Fancy 10% Off New Mammut Equipment?

mammut-ss15

As a special introductory offer we’re giving you a voucher which entitles you to a further 10% off everything in the Mammut Spring/Summer 2015 range!

Save an extra 10% on brand new top of the range harnesses, ropes, chalk bags, sleeping bags, clothing and more from Mammut.

This offer expires 1pm, Friday 17th April.

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Pro Review – Rab MeCo 120 Tee

Rab-SS15-MeCo-120-Tee-M1

Pro Reviewer:

RicPotter

Ric is a North Wales based Guide who has a small guiding company called RPM Guiding. Ric teaches rock climbing and mountaineering in summer, and works as a backcountry ski and splitboard guide in winter.

Click to see more about Ric.

“Rab have done a great job of making a base layer that is warm and comfortable and has the best properties of a wool garment, yet it is also quick drying.
In my job as an Alpine guide it’s quite common to wear the same base layer for a few days – this can be a problem! The old fashioned polyester-type base layers would really pong after just a day, so they were always a bit anti-social for extended tours, but then along came the merino wool garments which seemed to sort the problem. However, one disadvantage has always been the slow drying nature of wool and inability to really wick away moisture from the skin quickly enough. After a sweaty ascent the last thing you need is a wet base layer for the remaining part of the day. The MeCo Tee ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’ and combines the best qualities of merino with wick-ability, giving an all round comfortable base that dries quickly and doesn’t smell. I have used mine for all mountain activities from gentle hill walking to alpine mountaineering and ski touring and no complaints from my clients yet!”

Rab MeCo 120 Tee Features

  • Lightweight MeCo fabric
  • Flat lock low bulk seams
  • Reflective branding
  • Slim fit

Colour: Redwood or Mineral
Weight: 130g

Full Rab MeCo 120 Tee description here.

Pro Review – Arc’teryx Alpha Comp Pant

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Pro Reviewer:

Andy Perkins is the Equipment and Partnerships Officer for the British Mountain Guides and is based in Chamonix. His work ranges from classic summer alpinism through to ski touring in Arctic Norway. He’s been a guide for 12 years and before that spent another 12 years in the UK outdoor trade working for Troll with a PH.D. in textiles. So he knows his kit as well as his mountains. You can find out more about him at www.andypmountainguide.com

“It never ceases to amaze me how hard it is to find a good pair of trousers for ski touring. You’d think that with the explosion in ski touring over the last few years that there would be loads of choice, but even with all the shops of Chamonix just down the road, it’s desperate trying to find something that fits the bill.

Let’s be clear – the bill for me means:

  • 1. Not too baggy – I’m a 50 something year old mountain guide, not a teenage terrain park thrasher. I want to be able to see my feet, not trip over my crampons, and at 5 foot 7 I look like Coco the Clown in the current trend of baggy is beautiful.
  • 2. Any colour except black. It can get pretty warm skinning uphill on spring days, and a lighter colour reflects the sun.
  • 3. Ventilation zips for those spring skinning sessions.
  • 4. Waist high pants to stay cool, not bib/salopette height.
  • 5. A thigh patch pocket.

Not too much to ask, you’d think? And yet I’ve just been unable to find anything to replace my current pair of Patagonia pants, now 5 years old, repaired twice and looking a bit tired. Until now.

Enter the Arc’teryx Alpha Comp.

I’ve got to admit I was sceptical when the team at Arc’teryx UK suggested I try them. They’re not in the ski range, so would they fit over my ski boots? And there are no zips on the legs, so wouldn’t they be too hot? And they’re not even Gore-tex throughout, so would they be warm enough to cope with wind and snow? After a solid month of use in Italy and Austria, coping with off piste and touring, some sunshine and some really shocking Cairngorm style snow and wind, here are the answers:

The fit is awesome: slim and professional-looking but with excellent freedom of movement too. With the calf gussets open, they fit over my Dynafit Mercury touring boots. With the zips closed, calf volume is reduced so there’s no chance of tripping on crampons, and I look smart for dinner in the hut as well!

The colour is perfect – the grey fabric reflects enough sun but doesn’t look too dirty either after a month without washing (the clothes – not me).

Now: there are no ventilation zips on the Alpha Comp. Would this be a problem? I normally wear two thermal layers, one base and one mid, under my shells, unless it’s super hot in which case it’s just a base layer. I’ve not overheated at all despite skinning up in some pretty warm temperatures. Is it due to the Gore Fabric Technology ( a combo of Pro Shell on the key areas like thighs and seat, and soft shell on the calves and crotch ), the minimal seam allowances or something else? Who cares? It works for me. And weighs less too.

Is this mix of Pro Shell and soft shell warm enough? In active mode when skiing or skinning, there’s no doubt the answer is yes. The only time I got cold was sitting still in heavy wet snow and strong winds for 20 minutes while my team did a crevasse rescue exercise with me as the casualty. And that was on the Pro Shell section of the garment. So I think I would have been cold in any garment. It would be interesting to test the Alpha Comp in Scottish conditions – I reckon they might well work in snow and wind. A heavy West Coast monsoon downpour? That might be too much to ask, but everything has its limits. I certainly noticed they’re not as warm as a full Pro Shell pant in cold windy weather, but for me they work well enough.

The height of the waist is perfect, with the small metal belt buckle easy to operate with gloves on if you need to.

And finally the patch pocket is the right size in the right place. Big enough to keep my mobile in and keeps it nicely away from my transceiver and yet still accessible if required.

So, in summary, my search for the perfect ski touring pant is over. Have a great season everyone!”

Arc’teryx Alpha Comp Pant Features

  • Gore 3 layer fabric
  • Fortius stretch softshell
  • Low profile belt with metal hook
  • Zipped thigh pocket
  • Three position gusset
  • Keprotec instep protecion
  • Hem adjuster
  • Colour: Anvil Grey
    Weight: 420g

    Full Alpha Comp Pant description here

    Pro Review – Rab Microlight Alpine

    Rab-SS15-Microlight-AlpineRab-SS15-Microlight-Alpine-M2

    Pro Reviewer:

    RicPotter

    Ric is a North Wales based Guide who has a small guiding company called RPM Guiding. Ric teaches rock climbing and mountaineering in summer, and works as a backcountry ski and splitboard guide in winter.

    Click to see more about Ric.

    “This lightweight down jacket from Rab has been in my bag all winter and has been part of my system of keeping comfortable in cold and semi-cold conditions.
    I would normally change between carrying a full on down jacket for ice climbing or when temperatures are really low, then switch to something lighter later in the winter or on mild days. With the Microlight Alpine jacket I have not needed to do this as it is small and packs into the chest pocket to stow in the bag at all times, and for the remarkable weight and packability it delivers a lot of warmth. I use one size up so that it can be pulled over the top of my mid layers and shell jacket, but I have found it is also comfortable under the shell. Beware sharp objects though – as lightweight means that if it even glimpses a sharp ice axe there will be feathers all over the mountain!”

    Rab Microlight Alpine Features

    • Pertex Microlight 30D outer fabric
    • 750 fill power (US) European hydrophobic goose down
    • Mini stitch through baffles
    • Down filled hood with wire peak
    • YKK front zip with an internal insulated baffle and chin guard
    • 100% ripstop nylon inner
    • Lycra bound cuffs and a hem drawcord
    • Zipped chest pocket which doubles as a stuff sac

    Colour: Camo or Electric
    Weight: 445g

    Full Rab Microlight Alpine description here.