Inside Alpkit - What's New For 2015 (Pt.2)
In the second part of our look of what's new in the rapidly expanding Alpkit kit cupboard for 2015, we've got scoop looks at some new clothing including a full-on synthetic belay jacket, the return of the mats, new headtorches, poles and more. We've already covered the updated sleeping bag, bike and bivi line-up in our first report from sunny Nottingham.
Return of the Mats
Alpkit's range of sleeping was a brand staple, but has been off the radar for a while after the original factory closed down. The good news is that the mats are back for 2015 with the range pretty much the same as before. There's everything from the 7.5cm thick luxury Dozer model (£60) - watch out for the couple-friendly 'Double Dozer' which is in the pipeline…. - through to the ultra-lightweight, 375g Numo (£35) , an inflatable two-season mat that's ideal for summer backpacking.
The former's our number one car/mild camping call, while the latter is a great, affordable lightweight option. Those two are both on pre-order at the moment, but you can also opt for a Dirtbag, aka, 'the heaviest, most comfortable mat' you'd consider actually carrying and the Airo a decently light all-rounder.
Ohiro Belay Jacket - £99
Alpkit's Filo down jacket has been reinforced with the Filoment micro-baffled down and the Synoment synthetic lightweights, but just in time for summer is a new arrival, the 0Hiro, a full synthetic 'belay jacket' that's currently on introductory offer, normally it'll be £120, but hey, it's summer...
The jacket uses the same 80g/m2 insulation as the brand's new synthetic sleeping bags and features a big, phat, helmet hood, neat thumb-loop cuffs and great big stash-friendly pockets inside and out. After trying one for size, we'd say it's quite snug fitting for a belay jacket, so you may need to go up a size if that's what you're intending to use it for.
At a claimed 535g it's not overly weighty and the outer fabric should be windproof and have some water resistance too. Not sure we'd be wearing one in the UK in June but if you're off somewhere cool or just planning ahead, it looks interesting.
Synoment's Going Strong
Also a relative newcomer is the Filoment micro-baffled down jacket and gilet range. We saw the protos last year, but there's now a full range of men's and women's jackets and vests. They're light all right, the men's jacket is 280g and the vest 260g with a fill of 650+ 90/10 duck down and lightweight 20 denier polyester shell fabric.
Currently the gilet is selling for £59 and the jacket for £79 - a saving of £20 on both. We found the sizing on the gilet a little problematic - to get a reasonably snug fit on the lower torso we had to go for a small size, but then the chest fit was a tad snug. Anyway, we have one for review and we'll tell you how we get on shortly.
Joining the Filoment is the Synoment Jacket in men's and women's versions for £70. Not as light as its down sibling at around 320g for a men's medium, it uses a single layer of synthetic 80gm2 fill - doubled in the 0Hiro - which should adapt well to UK summer conditions… yep, cold and wet.
Also in overdrive this year is Alpkit's headtorch range. There are more of 'em in the pipeline and they're even brighter than before. The new Arc Headtorch (£32.50) puts out a decent 190 lumens along with red lights and side lights for when you need a little less illumination. It also has stepless dimming and an SOS setting too.
Its USP however is a quick-change battery compartment. The two AA cells are housed in a fast-loading, click-in cassette that you can swap over in seconds with a little practice - see the video for elucidation…
And if 190 lumens isn't enough for you, there's the new Prism 550 coming soon, an aluminium-bodied headtorch kicking out a serious 550 lumens in a waterproof, IPX7-rated package. It weighs just 153g and is seriously compact. The downside is that it runs on two 2 x 3V CR123A lithium batteries,so even with five brightness settings, burn tine is going to be somewhat limited.
It'll sell, once available, for £39 and have a smaller sidekick, the 130-lumen Prism 100, which is lighter and smaller, but not as bright. Why? An emergency torch with a real punch when needed we guess.
New Merino Baselayers
Also new on the clothes front are the Kepler men's and women's merino wool baselayers available in short and long-sleeved gender-specific versions and as men's Long Johns. They use 100% genuine mulesing-free merino wool produced with flat locked seams in a limited range of colours.
Tees are £29, long-sleeved tops £39, boxers £18 and the leggings £27. Cheap merino isn't exactly new, but with the Alpkit range you have the reassurance of knowing that it's been sourced from wool produced by sheep who haven't been subjected to the controversial mulesing procedure often used in Australia in particular.
We hold our hands up and admit we don't know much about wetsuits at all and Alpkit, up to a point, is in a similar boat. What we can tell you is that these ones are designed in conjunction with the Outdoor Swimming Society specifically to be used for wild and adventure swimming and are, apparently, pretty hot stuff and up to half the price of comparable suits.
Details include zoned thicknesses for optimum performance, abrasion-resistant areas on, for example, the knees and under-arm stretch for better mobility. 'It's a learning process for us', admits Apkit's Col Stocker and initially they're available in a limited range of sizes.
They're called Lotic - we don't know why - and come in men's and women's versions for £135. So there you go, if you want a wetsuit for adventure swimming from Alpkit, there it is.
DryDock Weatherproof Duffles
A pretty good match for the wetsuits, the DryDock 50 and 100 duffles are weatherproof classic duffles complete with padded shoulder straps. They're made from a tough waterproof 1680d Oxford fabric with welded seams for water tightness.
The main zip is a beefy weather-resistant rather than water-proof YKK Aquaguard time, so the bag as a whole isn't completely waterproof though it should be fine for most showers and soakings within reason. The 100 load-hauling monster retails for £70 while the 50 - small enough to pass as hand-luggage on BA flights apparently - sells for £55. Looks good and again we have one in for a look shortly, so watch this space.
Carbonlite Ultra Trekking Poles Are Back
Finally, another rave from beyond the grave with the return of the original 136g carbon fibre trekking pole. We remember them from way back in 2005 when they were the brand's first ever product and not much has changed. They're simple, three-section, telescopic lightweight poles made from carbon fibre with a tungsten tip and EVA handles.
Lighter than lots of much more expensive poles, in our historical experience, they just do the job and come complete with trekking baskets and rubber tips. Priced at £25 for one or £45 for a pair. Properly light and not insanely expensive, which is nice.
With Alpkit's torrent of new products showing no sign of abating any time soon, your best bet is to head over to www.alpkit.com for a browse through the ever-expanding range.