New Gear Preview Autumn 2014 - Montane
Latest in our series of autumn./winter 2014 previews from the recent ISPO outdoors trade show in Germany is a look at what's new from NE-based brand Montane including an interesting mix of two of Polartec's technologies for what should be an warm, protective, but very breathable system.
Axion Neo Alpha Jacket
Due out later this year, the Axion mixes Polartec's impressively breathable waterproof NeoShell Light fabric on the outside with the alternative Polartec Alpha insulation on the inside to produce an insulated shell jacket that's designed for use in extremely cold conditions for mountaineering and ski-touring. We're thinking Alaska, the Alps in winter and maybe a brutal Scottish winter as well.
The shell's made to the same impressive standards as the current range of Montane shell clothing - 12-13 stitch count and 3mm seam allowance - and has some neat touches. There's a modish YKK Vislon zip, removable snow skirt for ski use, internal bottle pocket to keep that fluid, erm, fluid plus (venting) 'hand-warmer' and sleeve pockets.
The hood's a full-on, helmet-compatible job with stiffened and wired visor and bonded and stitched cord channels for maximum strength. The lining throughout, is a new heavier 100-weight version of Alpha, which is slightly warmer than the existing 80g/m2 one.
You could argue that a layered system makes more sense, but if you know you're going be operating in consistently cold conditions, the one-piece garment is arguably going to be more efficient and, despite the all-in 980g weight, slightly lighter than a selection of layers. The Axion's set to retail for £360 once it's available around September 2014.
To go with the jacket, what better than the new Fast Alpine Neo Pants, a bib-style, high-waisted over-trouser made from Polartec NeoShell Stretch fabric. From a distance they look like run-of-the-mill black shell trousers, but up close, you can see there's a lot of thought gone into them.
We like the neat waist adjustment system - left - and raised waist back and front. The seat, articulated knees and instep panels are reinforced and there's a rainbow-type flap for 'ease of access in cold weather'. Finally, the adjustable lower leg includes a fully-integrated Pertex snow gaiter (see images below) which has drawcord and Velcro adjustment to allow the use of both climbing and ski boots.
Weight is a claimed 714g and the retail price will be a serious £300.
Alpha 100 Jacket
Montane's existing hybrid Alpha Guide Jacket gets new colours - very swanky - but it's joined by the new Alpha 100, which true to its name uses the heavier, warmer version of Polartec Alpha and without any hybrid panels, so it should be a fair bit warmer.
The outer fabric is Pertex Quantum Matte - light, windproof and fast drying - and there's a fully adjustable mountain hood with a wired peak and deep hand-warmer pockets. Designed to be used in cold environments where you're on the move and need good breathability to stay comfortable. Weight around 525g and a price tag of £180.
Hybrid fabric, hybrid name - Primino is a mix of merino wool and PrimaLoft yarn and is claimed to mix the best properties of merino wool and synthetics. In fact the fabric is 50% merino, 25% PrimaLoft yarn and 25% polyester - 'fast drying, huigh wicking with a soft handle' is the claim and it certainly feels pleasant to the touch.
For reference, while merino wool is soft, comfortable and has great anti-pong properties, it also dries a little slowly and can be more fragile than synthetics, all properties often improved by blending the fabric with synthetics, as with Rab's MeCo fabric.
It's 140 weight, middling thickness stuff and available in all sorts of guises including a long-sleeved zip-neck, a crew-neck tee and long johns - the first two in men's and women's specific versions. Prices: £62, £42 and £50 respectively.
New Right About Now...
All the above is due out in autumn 2014, but the big news for this spring and in the shops right about now is Montane's new range of assorted sleeping bags, plus some interesting fast and light packs including a number of race vests. See the links below for more on those.
More about the current Montane range at www.montane.co.uk.