Alpine Gear Review

Off to the alps this summer? Whether your sights are on the Midi Plan Traverse, the Frendo or the Walker Spur then you need to check out some of the new kit that’s around. Your sack could be lighter than ever – but it may be at a price.


Mountain Technology 12 Point Crampons £74.99 (incl. cordura bag)
Available as a Step In, Strap On or Combination crampon they are really easy to adjust with the pin being protected within the adjustment housing and look like they will be excellent out in the white stuff. The heel clip riser needs a Phillips screw driver and they could do with a release tag on the buckles, but apart from that they look like a good buy.
Anti ball plates £18.80

DMM Aiguille Crampons £79.99
DMM do it again! These crampons are the biz – but they need a tool for the heel clip riser. I know it’s only a 5 ml Allen Key but what if you forget it and you have your ‘other’ boots on? Apart from that they perform exceptionally well, are light and compact.
Anti ball plates £19.99

Black Diamond Contact Strap Crampon – 770gms (L) £69.95
Also available as a clip version at 860gms (L) £79.95
Another excellent product from BD. The front bail and adjustable rear bail (spanner and screwdriver required) on the Strap version will accommodate virtually any boot from an approach shoe to a snowboarding boot. The points are absolutely razor sharp and gave an immediate feeling of security and the flat profile reduced the risk of them balling up. Two sizes.
Anti ball plates available £19.99

Ice Tools

Mountain Technology Vertige Alpinist Ice Axe
straight shaft £89.99, bent shaft £99.99
Another great piece of kit from those guys in Glencoe. It has a modular head so you can change worn out picks or swap to a banana pick if you intend something a little bit more serious, and there are two choices of adze. It’s available as a straight or a cranked shaft but the crank seems to be so slight that I wonder if I’d want to pay the extra money. The teeth on the classic pick are great and I’m glad to see that those on the banana pick have been greatly improved but they could still go a step further. Comes with their technical leash.

Mountain Technology Vertige Xtreme 700 Ice Axe £114.99
This is a now a really good axe to be on the look out for featuring a modular head, gently curved shaft, a knuckle guard/finger rest at the spike and a new, much improved, pick. It is light in weight, very nicely balanced and performs superbly. Comes with their technical leash.

Troll Hawk Axe – 50-65cms £59.99 incl. leash
This is a great new addition from Troll, feels nicely weighted and will be a great hit for those who want an axe for walking, mountaineering, cutting steps and to occasionally get them out of the kaka. It’s a brilliant all round alpine axe that is nicely finished, has a reasonably aggressive pick with excellent sharp teeth and is technical enough to be on grade 4 terrain

Ice Screws

DMM Revolution Ice Screws £30.99 to £37.99 for 10, 13, 17 or 22cm.
Finally these screws are available but they have been well worth the wait. They have a slim vertically aligned hanger which makes them very easy to get started, with a small knobble on, which sits very nicely in the palm of the hand making them a cinch to wind in – almost as easy as the handled models. They have really aggressive sharp teeth and a super smooth finish making for effortless screwing.


Troll Alpinist Harness – 385gms £29.99
This is a brilliant harness. It’s super light with
four gear loops towards the front of the harness where you need them and one at the back. Very easy to put on with one large easy to thread buckle and two plastic buckles to keep the leg loops in place (although the webbing can then get in the way and you may want to trim them down a tad). Top notch at a superb price.


Berghaus Fury Smock – 370gms £70 S to XXL.
The Berghaus hybrid garment that wicks moisture, is windproof, light and compact. Designed to allow you to perform without the need to constantly adjust your layering it is very versatile, functional, has a nice deep chest pocket that the garment can be packed in to (with a carrying loop) and is an excellent universal piece of kit.

Berghaus Accelerator Pants – 490gms £150 XS to XXL.
These are in XCR Stretch Gore-Tex, are cut to be fairly trim and therefore light in weight and feature extra long water resistant zippers for ease of putting on with top sliders to allow for venting. They are comfortable enough to be worn against the skin and are great for ski touring although are maybe a little heavy for summer alpinism.

Berghaus Yukon £40 S to XXL or 8 to 16.
Available as a hood, half zip, full zip
or gilet this is a very light minimalist microfleece garment that is comfy, light, compact and at a great price.

Mammut Ultimate Jacket 490gms £120 XS to XXL.
A superb, light windproof fleece that features enormously long ventilation zips, zipped napoleon pocket and thumb openings on the cuffs. A really nice piece of kit. Available in any colour as long as it’s black.

Mountain Hardwear Tempest SL Jacket 410gms £120 S to XL or 8 to 16.
This is a brilliant, light, hooded top with hip pockets and pit zips that packs away into its own Napoleon pocket. It’s got a very wicky lining and the nylon ripstop outer features their Conduit membrane and a DWR finish. The material is actually waterproof but the seams aren’t taped so it’s rated as highly water resistant. The garment can be worn against the skin, as an outer or as part of a layering system. It’s a tad expensive but worth the money for its versatility.

Sprayway Paclite Jacket 500gms £200 S to XL.
This is an excellent lightweight and functional Gore-tex jacket for those times when you need the benefits of a waterproof without the excess weight and bulk that usually comes with this degree of breathability. It’s got big cuffs to get over your gloves, water resistant zippers on the deep chest pockets, a huge map pocket and a great hood. Definitely one to be on the lookout for.

Patagonia Puffball £70 XS to XXL.
For instant warmth this is an over-the-head sleeveless body warmer with a collar that packs into its own Napoleon pocket and is the business. Ideal as a belay or bivvy jacket. The zipper opens up instead of down so everything immediately falls out of the pocket and it would benefit from a loop for you to hang it from a krab – but apart from that it’s a good bit of kit.

Patagonia Integral Jacket £100 S to XL.
A very nice bit of kit that is a base layer and a shell all in one. It’s light, breathable, windproof and quick drying. The double zipped pockets provide excellent ventilation but would benefit from slightly shorter zippers to stop pocket contents falling out.

Patagonia R1 Pullover £65 S to XL
A thermal top that is packed with features and is light in weight but warm. It’s got a deep front zip which is slightly offset to prevent chinny zip rash, stretch panels at the side and cuff, a chest pocket and a high/low grid pattern on the inside which allows for increased airflow and breathability (but also makes your skin look like a waffle when you take it off). Very trendy – everyone is wearing them out in the alps this year.

Patagonia R2 Jacket £85 XS to L (Ladies cut available).
This is a really nice fleece with very stylish looks and a great cut. It’s very warm for its weight and almost looks too nice to use in anger – but at least you’ll look the part in the boulevards.

Patagonia Dragonfly Pullover 85gms!! £120 XS to XL
An amazingly light hooded windproof that packs down to the size of two choccy bars and weighs in at only 85gms (that’s three bags of crisps)! It isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing jacket to look at but it is functional and that’s what counts. The hood rolls down into a neck collar and the whole thing packs in to its own pocket but it doesn’t have an attachment loop which it would benefit from. If you have the money then go for it.

Mountain Hardwear Epic Jacket 317gms £90 S to XL or 8 to 16.
This is exceptionally light for a waterproof jacket and packs down to not a lot. It’s got a great hood, the chest pockets double as vents but the laminated pocket on the outside is not deep enough and the small things that you can fit in there will fall out every time you open it up. Apart from that we found it to be an excellent functional garment with no unnecessary frills.

Mammut Champ Pants £120 Available in 26 different sizes!
With a Cordura outer fabric and Coolmax inner these pants are rugged, durable and very wicky. They have an excellent cut with a pre-shaped reinforced knee and feature three zip pockets and zipped ankle fastenings. They look typically mainland European but the sooner we catch up the better. They are quite stretchy so they don’t impede movement but you’ll need braces if you intend loading the pockets up.

Marmot Cortina Guide Pants £89.99 XS to XXL.
Made from Schoeller fabric they have the look and feel of my old school trousers. In use, however, they are great – being light, comfortable, very quick drying and extremely durable. They are elasticated at the waist and have a popper fastening and a superfluous Velcro strip but, at the price, they could really do with an integral belt which would improve them no end. Nice wide flat seems at the back so they don’t rub under the rucksack. They have zippers on all three pockets, which is cool, but the third pocket would be far better on the backside rather than the thigh.

Marmot Vapour Top Tank £29.99 Crew T-Shirt £32.50 S/Sleeve Zip £37.50 L/Sleeve Zip £44.99
A smelly helly that doesn’t smell! These tops wick really efficiently, have a deep front zipper for venting and feature an antibacterial treatment so they don’t get overwhelmed by your sweat. Brushed on the inside this feels really soft against the skin and with the flat seams and no labels is really comfortable in use. They can be washed and revitalised quite effectively just in cold water. Get one.

Thaw Wicka 3/4 Sleeve Tee £35
Thaw are a new company to the outdoor clothing world and make items specifically for women. Ladies, for the alps this summer check out their very stylish coolmax top with mid length arms – also available as a zipped Tee at £39.95. Not only do these look great but weigh in at hardly anything and do an excellent job of keeping you dry and comfortable. Lads, if you are stuck for ideas for the fast approaching anniversary or birthday then look no further.

Thaw Dura Pants £59.95 Sizes 6 to18.
These are a very hardwearing but light and quick drying pair of pants that won’t make your arse look saggy – unless it already is. The Cordura has an Intera treatment that wicks away any moisture and it will keep you dry and warm in the cold, and cool when it is hot. Not the most flattering of garments but they are durable and functional.

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La Sportiva Trango Ice 1500gms £189.99 Sizes 37 to 47
La Sportiva do it again with their next generation of Trango boots. They are extremely light, insulated, feature an abrasion resistant Keprotec upper and are a really clean looking boot. The ankle features an elasticated cuff to keep the snow out and to stop those laces getting caught up in your crampons. There was excellent feedback and response due to the positive fit and stiff sole. They would be a better boot if they had a lace locking system at the top of the tongue (a la Nepal Top and Makalu), which would allow a snug fit for the walk in and then you could crank them a little tighter around the heel for your route. Apart from that they are superb. (Big Stone)


Petzl Elios Class (two sizes) and Elios Top (three sizes) 330gms (size 2). £29 and £39 respectively
The latest addition to the Petzl range of helmets featuring an easy to adjust cradle. The polystyrene insert makes them a little warm and they are not the most comfortable helmet ever but, maybe that was just our heads. Apart from that a light helmet at a very affordable price. No excuses. (Lyon Equipment).

Simond Bumper Helmet 350gms £49.99 with optional attachable visor at £24.99 One size fits all.
A very light and extremely comfortable addition to the disposable range of polystyrene helmets. It’s quite a chunky helmet and won’t fit comfortably under all jacket hoods, has a couple of unsightly bolts sticking out of the side (for the visor attachment) but in use you’ll hardly remember that you’ve got it on. The headlamp loops could do with a more pronounced ledge but it has a great fit and good volume adjustment. (Mountain Works).


Outdoor Designs Ultraflex gloves £70 S to XL
These are not the warmest gloves around but they are great for those times when you need dexterity. They have a Gore-Tex insert, box construction at the finger tips, spongy padding along the fingers and knuckles and super grippy palms (you can use them to sign your PDQ slip when you pay for them ’cos you ain’t gonna pay cash). I would change the wrist loop for elastic straight away since we managed to rip the cord loops off when removing the gloves. (Equip Outdoor Technologies Ltd).

Terra Nova Extremities Ice Gauntlets £64.95
Gore-Tex lined with an abrasion resistant palm. An excellent piece of kit with a removable liner making them extremely versatile.
Terra Nova Extremities Ice Gloves £64.95
As above but fixed lining and shorter Velcro cuff (which snagged with some, but not all, ice axe leashes).
Terra Nova Extremities Couloir Gloves £49.95
A really nice pair of Porelle lined gloves with a leather palm and excellent dexterity. They are warm, durable and exceptionally good value.


Berghaus Extrem Slipstream (37L). 695gms complete – 545gms stripped! £55
Wow. This is an ultralight sack which, despite its incredibly low weight, has a lot of features including wand pockets, 2L hydration bladder pocket, chest strap, four compression straps, hip belt retainer and haul loops. The back is only very slightly padded so you need to pack carefully to avoid any discomfort. Possibly the lightest sack available for the size and durability. Even comes with its own mesh stuff sac or can be packed into the lid pocket!

Osprey Ceres 38 S/M/L – 35/38/41L 1500gms £80
This is another great sack from the Osprey range that carries really well. The mass of straps and buckles that comprises their ‘Straightjacket’ compression system comes in to its own when you want to climb with a partially filled sac on as it keeps the remaining load tight and stable against your back. The flap of extra material around the draw closure will not stop the sack filling up with spindrift in our Scottish conditions so it’s not as versatile as some of the other sacks, the buckles on the ski straps close the wrong way and the shoulder straps absorb water. Apart from that it’s bombproof, it’s got a hydration pocket, shovel pocket, extra webbing on the outside and certainly deserves some attention.

Mammut Granit Guide Roller 30/40L – 1450/1550gms £99
Another fantastic sack. This one features a roll top, similar in design to dry bags, which makes it very versatile for loading up to the gunnels and is great for sticking your legs in on your bivvy. It has a poor top pocket, superfluous ice axe sleeves and it would be better with just one wide elastic webbing rather than two narrow ones but it does feature a really handy guide book sized pocket at the top of the back, a removable hip belt and feels absolutely indestructible. It is a super sack to be on the lookout for.

Head Torches

Petzl Tikka 70gms (incl batteries) £24.99
The LED that set the standard for others to follow and it’s still going strong. It weighs less than a square battery and fits in your pocket. The headset can also be fitted onto the zoom headband if you want a totally reliable and versatile lighting system. The Zipka (64gms incl batteries) – £29.99 – features a Dyneema spring loaded headband which doesn’t dig into your head as you might expect when you see it. If you’ve got long hair then you need to be careful taking it off and it can move around a tad on your helmet. (Lyon Equipment)


MSR Titanium Pan Set £69.99 274gms
When every gram counts and you are considering whether to take six wires or five, and the small gas cartridge instead of the medium, then there’s no alternative to a titanium cookset – it’s 45% lighter than steel, stronger than aluminium, corrosion resistant and won’t give you Alzheimer’s. The Titan is an ultralight cookset for those times when speed and weight are paramount. It comes with two pots (0.7 and 1 litre), a lid-cum-frying pan, their LiteLifter pot gripper and the whole lot packs in to itself. For extra weight saving you could even leave one of the pots behind. All major credit cards accepted. (First Ascent)

MSR Pocket Rocket £29.99 86gms
Again, if weight is the issue then this is the stove for you. It requires no priming, pressurizing or maintenance, is super light and super fast and features a neat little adjuster for flame control. As with any stove that sits on top of a gas canister it can be a little unstable and some degree of care is required. Also with the small diameter head if you turn it up fully you can burn the food at the bottom of the pan before the rest has had time to start cooking. Having said that you can boil a litre of water in under three minutes which is well impressive. It even features a tri-sectional windshield for the flame. Brilliant. (First Ascent)

Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 tent £350 3.74Kg.
Used in Nepal for two months this is a fantastic tent. It’s got locking pole tips and a clip system (rather than sleeves) that makes it easy enough for one person to erect and gives great ventilation. There are internal pockets galore, windows, and plenty of room for two (four Sherpas shared one at Island Peak High Camp!). It’s got an easy tensioning system that gives it a really bombproof feel. I’d prefer to have the mozzy net on the outside of the inner tent door which would make it a more versatile venting system but apart from that it’s a great piece of kit.

Ajungilak Kompakt Spring 1120/1170gms for 180/195 cm zip £90
An excellent synthetic bag that gives extreme comfort and warmth for its weight and volume. Using their MLT Performance nylon ripstop for the outer and their softer, breathable and lighter MLT Comfort for the inner this bag is really comfortable but also robust enough to stand the test on bivvy ledges. It comes with a compression sack and is a superb price for what you are getting.

Camp Formica Bag 850gms £54.99!
This bag has nothing to do with 1970’s kitchen surfaces – Formica is Italian for ‘ant’. It utilises two layers of PrimaLoft – a synthetic microfibre that was developed for the US army to rival the performance of Down without losing its thermal properties if it gets wet – and features nylon ripstop for the inner and outer and is a little coarse against the skin. It could do with a double zipper, which should be longer and heavier duty, but apart from that the price tag makes this a very attractive option. (Allcord.)

Rab Quantum Sleeping bag range.
A range of four ultralight bags that weigh in from 400 to 950gms for +2 to -12 from £120 to £280
They have a 750+ fillpower down for the warmth and an ultralight Pertex Quantum fabric for the weight saving. The Q200 is minimalistic in every way having no neck baffle or zipper whilst the Q400 and Q600 are also available with the Rab Endurance outer for an extra £15. Also available is the Top Bag which, as the name implies, is only filled on top and should be used in conjunction with a sleeping mat of some sort. These bags give a lot of warmth for their weight and the Q200 that was tested packs down to a 7” by 6” tube if you really go for it.

Bits and Pieces

Suunto Observer from £219.95 for Stainless steel to £319.95 for all Titanium.
The latest in wrist top computers that are sleek and stylish. They have an easy to read display, an excellent backlight and you can use them with your gloves on. The features include altimeter with alarm, logbook with 3,800 measurements, barometer with four day memory, electronic compass, automatic battery stand-by and all the time features that you would expect when you’re forking out over 200 quid. But at least you’ll look the part.

Simond Aerofrein Via Ferrata Kit £69.99
When you are looking at a potential fall factor of six or seven then a properly designed via ferrata kit is a must rather than just a couple of good old slings and krabs. This kit has a hefty price tag but that’s mostly attributed to the ace autolocking krabs (£25 each!) but they are the easiest ones of the lot to use. Slippage is provided through a nifty holed plate and the excess cord comes in a little pouch so it won’t get hung up or in the way. (Mountain Works)

Beal Iceline – 8.1mm 42gms/m £85
It’s been around for a while and if you haven’t got one then you are carrying excess weight.
Dry treated and available as a 50 or 60 (£100) metre rope these have excellent handling and won’t take up much room in your sack. Be careful to use a belay plate designed for skinny rope ’cos they can be a bit slick. (Lyon Equipment)

Petzl Reverso 81gms £14.99
Another that has been around for quite a few months but are you aware of just how versatile it is? It’s got two settings for belaying and abseiling so you can take into account factors such as your partner’s weight, rope diameter and rope properties such as stiffness and handling etc. You can set it up on a direct belay and use it in auto locking mode to bring up one or two seconds (magic plate style) and you can, in extremis, use it as part of a rope ascending system. For its weight it’s probably the most versatile belay device that there is. I love it. (Lyon Equipment)

Leatherman Pulse £69.95
This is the latest in the Leatherman range and is a new and improved version of the popular PST II. It’s got locking tools (which means that the tool won’t open up and snap shut on your finger when you are trying to give it max with the screwdriver), an improved rounded handle for comfort and grip and the scissors are better than ever. It also features a larger attachment loop for your accessory cord and comes in its own leather pouch. A nice bit of kit. (Whitby)