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Ten Of The Most Expensive Bits Of Outdoor Gear

For most of us, spending the same amount of money on, say, a mountain bike as you would on a reasonably-priced car is pretty much out of the question, but what if you had a bottomless kit-buying budget? What’s the most frighteningly expensive kit out there, why does it cost so much and why would you even consider buying it?

We’re not just talking about bikes, there’s a huge amount of outdoor gear that you wouldn’t believe could cost so much but why? You can’t generalise, but often it’s down to the use of incredibly expensive top-notch materials, complex manufacturing processes and small production runs.

And while some of the kit is undeniably pricy, much of it is designed to cope with the sort of ultra-extreme conditions you could find on an 8000m plus Himalayan peak.

In this article we take a look at a range of outdoor products from incredibly expensive socks to a Swiss Army Knife with more tools on it than gadget man.

We’ve listed the products from lowest to highest price either scroll down the page to check the products out or follow the brand links below.

Lopren | Cobra | Patagonia | Scarpa | Berghaus | Wenger | Arc’teryx | PHD | Tentipi | Sanata Cruz | Bonus Extra

Lorpen Trekking and Expedition STD (socks)

Price:

£55

What is it?

The ultimate sock for the true expedition experience designed for hard shell mountaineering footwear and extended cold weather.

Who’s it aimed at?

Basically, designed for anyone looking to conquer the 8,000 metre peaks or could equally work well as a luxury sofa-bound foot warmer.

Why so expensive?

It’s packed full of technology. There are two layers of Polartec Power Stretch fabric sandwiching PrimaLoft Footwear insulation in a left and right foot anatomical shape, which is essentially one of the warmest fabric sandwiches you can fine. Tested above 8,000 meters these socks are as good as it gets.

How Would You Justify It To Yourself?

Money is temporary, toes are forever…

Brand Website: www.lorpen.co.uk.

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Cobra Ice Tool (ice axe)

Price:

£212 (for one, £414 for a pair)

What is it?

The ultimate carbon fiber tool for leashless mixed, ice and alpine climbing. A proper versatile bit of kit that works as well on the crags as it does in the Karakoram says Black Diamond.

Who’s it aimed at?

Serious ice-climbers tackling hardcore waterfall ice and top-level mountaineering routes who need the absolute best ice tool they can find with an optimum balance between light weight and perfect balance.

Why so expensive?

Although it only weighs about the same as a can of soup, every bit of this ice axe is put together with a thorough emphasis on detail. With regards to materials, we’re talking carbon fibre, co-molded rubber, chromoloy and stainless steel all rolled into one while also having a laser pick, a perfectly balanced weighting and a modular head design.

How Would You Justify It To Yourself?

Those common or garden aluminium axe shafts are just so heavy – and besides, the colour matches my eyes.

Brand Website: www.blackdiamondequipment.com

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Patagonia Encapsil Down Belay Parka (down Jacket)

Price

£600 (discontinued)

What is it?

A down jacket with a super high 1000-fill loft hydrophobic goose down filling, which means that the same weight of down lofts to a greater volume in use and therefore gives more warmth per gramme of down. The nano-tech water-repellent treatment to the down means it retains loft even when dampened by condensation or spilled tea.

Who’s it aimed at?

Okay, we’re cheating a bit here as it was only a limited edition product and therefore not on the market any more. However, when it was around, we’re guessing it mostly found favour with millionaire outdoor enthusiasts and sponsored athletes…

Why so expensive?

The jacket uses down with an insane fill power rating of 1000 – the loftingest down ever they say – thanks to special plasma-based Encapsil proofing process, which makes the down water resistant as well as increasing its warmth to weight ratio. Expensive down, expensive process…

How Would You Justify It To Yourself?

It’s a bit chilly this morning and raining as well. And the colour matches my eyes?

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Scarpa Phantom 8000 (mountain boots)

Price

£674.99

What is it?

The Phantom 8000 was designed for use in the high Himalayas – hence the name – but works well for any technical and intensely cold expedition, from Mt. McKinley to the Polar Regions. It’s an insulated double boot complete with integral gaiter which at 2400g (gulp) is actually extremely light for a boot of this kind.

Who’s it aimed at?

Mountaineers tackling 8000m plus peaks who need serious protection from extreme cold, but still need the precision to manage hard, technical climbing.

Why so expensive?

Thanks to its compact design, asymmetric construction, combination of advanced materials, and rigorous attention to its construction, it insulates against even the lowest temperatures. At the same time it’s capable of high performance on the most technical faces. All this means loads of money being pumped into its design and componentry.

How Would You Justify It To Yourself?

Blimey, conditions on Snowdon could be fierce this winter…

Brand Website: www.scarpa.co.uk

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Berghaus Men’s Ulvetanna Hydrodown Suit

Price

£850

What is it?

Full one-piece down suit stuffed with 700g of 850 fill power water resistant Hydrodown. Developed with Berghaus athlete Leo Houlding and field tested in the glacial wilderness of Greenland, the Men’s Ulvetanna Hydrodown Suit offers the ultimate protection against the harshest environments on the planet. Designed for the sort of serious high-altitude mountaineering where ultimate insulation matters.

Who’s it aimed at?

A sort of sleeping bag on legs for serious athletes on expedition in the coldest places on earth.

Why so expensive?

High quality down is increasing in price exponentially and there’s 700g of it in this puppy. Add in the extensive research costs, the complicated body-mapping baffle designs and the small production runs – we’d be surprised if Berghaus sold more than a 100 or so of these per year – and it should probably be even more expensive than it is.

How Would You Justify It To Yourself?

I reckon it’ll save on heating bills over the next five years.

Brand Website: www.berghaus.com

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Wenger Giant Knife (pocket knife)

Price

£1,336

What is it?

A handheld knife that’s designed to fit the contours of the human hand perfectly which creates a firmer grip and makes every knife safer and more precise. We think it might just be a glorified marketing gimmick but, wow, how many hours of fun could this present to a well-behaved outdoors enthusiast.

Who’s it aimed at?

We’re not too sure who would be daft enough to spend well-over a thousand pounds on something that’s essentially an unusable novelty creation. The short answer would probably be along the lines of ‘because it’s there and I can afford it’. You’ll need big pockets too…

Why so expensive?

Well, it’s the largest ‘pocket’ knife in the world. It has 87 implements with 141 Functions, it’s 8.75″ long and yet only weighs 1kg as it uses some of the highest quality Swiss stainless steel out there.

How Would You Justify It To Yourself?

There are some things that are simply unjustifiable and this, we reckon, is one of them.

Brand Website: www.wengerna.com

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Arc’teryx Veilance Patrol IS Coat Men’s

Price

£1,400

What is it?

Veillance is the Canadian company’s fashionista microbrand, so this is an urban waterproof coat with fashion credentials, but produced to the exacting standards of Arc’teryx outdoor clothing using top-notch technical fabrics. Below the swank styling, the Patrol is a three-quarter length, waterproof Gore-Tex hooded coat with a removable mid-layer lining.

Who’s it aimed at?

Millionaire outdoor fashionistas who want a coat that won’t look out of place on the King’s Road, but with the sort of weather protection you’d get from a full-on outdoors jacket.

Why so expensive?

It’s a different market, darling. Small production runs, exquisite cut and manufacture and a clientele which is used to paying top dollar means that Veillance is reassuringly expensive to buy.

How Would You Justify It To Yourself?

Obviously it’ll save wear on your real technical outdoor kit as you won’t be dragging it out for those weekend winter shopping missions to Faberge and the like.

Brand Website: www.veilance.arcteryx.com

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PHD Hispar 1200 Down Sleeping Bag: K Series

Price

£1,667.59

What is it?

A sleeping bag hand-made using PHD’s incredibly high fill power 1000 down that boasts the ultimate warmth to weight ratio, the Hispar 1200K is rated down to a ridiculous -58˚C yet weighs just 1560g. Because each one is effectively made to order, you can specify all sorts of additional options like extra length and girth, different fabrics and a full-length zip

Who’s it aimed at?

Himalayan expeditions and polar explorers who not only need high levels of warmth, but with minimal weight and bulk. It may be expensive, but when the thermometer starts to fall, it could be the best 1600 quid you’ve ever spent.

Why so expensive?

Top quality down seems to be increasing in price exponentially, which means that PHD’s K-series 1000 fill-power stuff is properly pricy and there’s a whopping 1200g of it in this bag. Add in complicated box-wall baffled construction from top-spec lightweight fabrics which could take almost three days for one of PHD’s Manchester-based machinists to complete and you could argue that the Hispar 1200 is actually a bit of a bargain particularly given that PHD is the only outfit out there using this level of down for expedition kit.

How Would You Justify It To Yourself?

You sleep a little on the cold side.

Brand Website: www.phdesigns.co.uk

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Tentipi Zirkon CP 15 (communal tent)

Price

£2,100

What is it?

An enormous 15-person Nordic teepee made from a super heavy duty cotton and polyester canvas fabric that manages to stay cool in summer, but also allows you to install a fire-box or even a proper wood-burning stove and chimney to keep you warm in winter.

Who’s it aimed at?

Anyone looking for a big, spacious and somewhat cool-looking communal tent. We’ve seen them used a festivals, for glamping and we’ve even borrowed one ourselves as a base camp tent at a 24-hour mountain bike race.

Why so expensive?

It’s simply massive, 6m wide and 3.6m high, i.e. a shed load of material is used to put together each one. It’s made from highly breathable and really strong cotton/polyester fabric that’s tightly woven fabric and has high class impregnation, giving it a high water repellency. And it’s Scandinavian too. Look after it properly and it should last for years.

How Would You Justify It To Yourself?

You have lots of friends. And a big family. And yes, you really do need a large Scandinavia wood-burning stove in your tent this winter.

Brand Website: www.tentipi.com

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Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon C 650b Trail Bike

Price

£8,613

What is it?

The Santa Cruz Bronson is a state-of-the-art, carbon fibre-framed full suspension mountain bike that, in this build, comes complete with top-notch Enve carbon wheels that would set you back more than £2000 on their own. It’s burly enough to cope with seriously gnarly terrain and downhill lunacy, but light and precise enough to hold its own on climbs and nadgery stuff too. It’s the bike that Danny MacAskill used on his recent Skye video mission to ride the Cuillin Ridge.

Who’s it aimed at?

Riders on the World Enduro Series, which is the hardest event these bikes could be put through, are very fond of this bike, but equally there are plenty of normal weekend warrior types out there who simply want the best bike they can afford.

Why so expensive?

To be fair, we pimped up the spec to the max with the best suspension options, components and those carbon Enve wheels and you could land a base-spec bike for ‘just’ £3600, but you’re paying for top-level components and design plus one of the best suspension systems out there.

How Would You Justify It To Yourself?

You’re going riding with Steve Peat / Danny MacAskill / your very quick mates and you really do need all the help you can get.

Brand Website: www.santacruzbicycles.com

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Bonus Extra: Mountain Hardwear Space Station

Price

$5,000 (US)

What is it?

Mountain Hardwear’s 15-person base camp dome tent designed to withstand brutal conditions. It’ll accommodate 20 people standing and makes and ideal hub or dining tent for expedition use. You wouldn’t want to carry it far though, it weighs a hefty 31.5kg and has 15 poles and three entrances.

Who’s it aimed at?

Major mountain expeditions pure and simple – ‘ an ideal dining hall or communications centre’ says MHW.

Why so expensive?

Not only is it colossal, but it’s designed to withstand serious weather in high mountain areas, which means expensive heavy duty fabrics, top-notch DAC alloy poles and serious construction quality. And we’re guessing that production runs are small as well.

How Would You Justify It To Yourself?

You’re looking for somewhere to live for a couple of months while your house is completely renovated. Or maybe you just run an expedition company.

Brand Website: www.mountainhardwear.eu

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