The three biggest trends in apparel for F16 that I can see are: more Polartec Alpha in everything, mid/outer layer ultra-breathable pieces, and every variation of down you can imagine, from eco-recycled hydro-phobic flourocarbon-free fills to ultra-high-loft non-treated stuff. So here we go, in alphabetical order:
Adidas Terrex Radical Hoodie is similar to the Ndosphere but uses Polartec Alpha instead for a lighter-weight jacket more suited to active use. Typical nice touches include a large elastic waist band for draft protection, stuff-it pocket, and nice stretchy cuffs.
Arc’teryx enters the active-insulation market with their Proton AR Hoody. It uses Coreloft Continuous for breathable insulation, with a light Fortius Air 40 outer. Typical Arc’teryx athletic fit with a helmet-friendly hood. There will also be a Proton LT in Hoody and Jacket versions.
BD’s First Light Hoody is their version of the active-insulated mid/outer layer. It uses 60g/m Primaloft Silver Active with a Schoeller outer fabric with Nanosphere technology which is supposed to repel dirt and water better than other coatings. As per the others, a helmet-friendly hood and the usual pockets round out the main features.
Bergans of Norway’s Middagstind Jacket uses two blends of wool, a technical quilted version, as well as more typical spun Merino, to create a more durable and breathable mid-layer. It looks and feels amazing, and the outer face feels much tougher than typical wool layers.
Big Agnes is revamping their whole insulated jacket lineup with improved fit and patterning while continuing to use DownTek treated down and Pinneco Core insulation. We really liked their Dunkley Belay Parka a couple seasons ago, and I’m looking forward to trying out the new pieces.
Cotopaxi keeps expanding their lineup. For such a young, small company, they’re cranking out some cool gear. The Fuego Down jacket uses 800-fill goose down with Polartec Alpha panels for breathable under-arm functionality. I suspect we’re going to start seeing Alpha everywhere next OR.
Fjallraven’s Keb Eco-Shell Jacket is the only three-layer waterproof shell I know of that uses recycled polyester for the shell, and a flourocarbon-free DWR treatment. Great cut and climber-friendly features, as well. The two chest pockets are cavernous!
Mammut continues to work closely with Gore, and have developed an even more weather-resistant version of Windstopper. Seen here in the Ultimate Alpine SO Hooded Jacket, this new fabric is supposed to be more breathable than before, and somehow lighter as well. Very cool. (The blue sleeves are from the mid-layer underneath, we were confused about this, apparently the mannequin was cold?)
Montane’s Hi-Q Luxe Pro Pull-On is one of the coolest, most interesting designs I’ve seen in a long time. Apparently, Montane let brand ambassador Andy Kirkpatrick design whatever he wanted and this is what came out… It’s a 3/4-zip pullover with Primaloft Gold Luxe insulation wrapped in a unique Pertex Quantum shell with stretchy Polartec fleece everywhere else.
Outdoor Research will also introduce the Perch Belay Parka, which should be one of the warmest synthetic jackets out there thanks to 200g/m Primaloft Gold in the upper body and sleeves, and 160g/m Primaloft Gold in lower body and sleeves. There’s also a Pertex Endurance shell constructed with a unique finish to make it more abrasion-resistant.
Two outside chest pockets, two hand pockets and two internal pockets provide ample storage space. The Perch stuffs into a unique interior back pocket, which itself uses reinforced fabrics for increased abrasion resistance when packed up.
The Razoredge Hooded Jacket, also from Outdoor Research, uses a lightweight Ventia softshell outer with Primaloft Silver Active to create yet another contender in the active mid/outer layer category. I like the fit, the hem is nice and long, and it feels very stretchy.
Patagonia has taken their H2No shell fabric and wrapped it around their FullRange insulation to create the Stratch Nano Storm Jacket. Climbing jacket, belay parka, cold-weather mid-layer? I suspect this piece will do it all.
RAB managed to convince fabric partner Polartec to let them use Alpha insulation without an interior fabric… the result is the Alpha Direct Jacket. It uses 125g/m Alpha for supreme warmth, which when combined with the Pertex Microlight outer, should prove to be a very warm but breathable combination. My immediate concern? I wish it was 60 or 80 weight Alpha — I’m not convinced this type of jacket needs the increased warmth, but more breathability is always welcome.
RAB’s Asylum Jacket is designed with the cooler-weather rock climber in mind. It uses 650-fill duck down for value-oriented warmth and packs it into a Pertex Classic outer for reliable and tough but inexpensive weather protection.
Two massive inside drop pockets will easily fit rock shoes to keep them warm, while dual outer hand pockets will keep your digits from freezing. I think the Asylum will be a perfect fit for anyone who doesn’t need a high-end belay parka but spends cold days at the rock crag. (I think this might be most climbers?!)
The standout piece of apparel from OR Winter 2016 has to be RAB’s Zero G jacket. It uses incredibly hard to harvest 1000-fill goose down encased in a superlight Pertex Quantum shell to create a stupidly-warm jacket that weighs all of 310 grams. Within a few seconds of putting on the Zero G you can feel the down trapping and reflecting heat; it’s pretty amazing. It won’t cost a fortune, either, with an MSRP of $500 USD.
Falling into the “I’m really not sure” category is this down-filled button-up short-sleeve shirt from Sierra Designs. I honestly can’t think of a use for this, but I’m curious to try it and see if I’m wrong — what are your thoughts on this?
Ternua is a Spanish company that is starting to make inroads into the North American market. The Ladakh 300 Jacket’s claim to fame is that its the first one to use water-repellant 100% eco-friendly recycled down. In a world where down is getting ever more expensive, it’s great to see someone going in a new direction. 800-fill power and a Pertex Endurance shell keep it competitive with others in the category.
…and now on to gloves! Again, keeping it alphabetical for the sake of simplicity (and because I can’t decide which ones are cooler!)
Extremities is a UK-based company that has been making gloves since the 90’s or so. They also make hats and gaiters and such, but their gloves are what caught my eye. There’s a very thorough range of gloves from your basic fleece liner to Gore-Tex gauntlets. Every glove I tried impressed with fit and attention to details. Shown above is the Glacier Glove GTX which looks ideal for cooler-weather ice climbing.
La Sportiva continues to expand its product lineup with the introduction of four glove models. Above is the Skimo Glove, obviously enough designed for skiing but I think it would work very well for general mountaineering and less-technical climbing as well (the palm is rather well padded). Beautiful fit and finish on these, with Polartec Alpha for insulation, a merino wool liner for next-to-skin comfort and a leather-reinforced palm.
Of somewhat more interest to the climbing crowd is the Syborg Glove. Though, again, designed for skimo racing, I think this would be a great easy-drytooling glove (they have too much stretch for figure-4’s and overly horizontal stuff) as well as a solid approach / all-around lightweight glove. As with the Skimo, the fit is fantastic.
Finally the Tech Glove, actually designed for climbing, looks, fits and feels absolutely superb. The insulation is again Polartec Alpha, with a merino liner and a mostly synthetic palm. The cuff cinches down tightly and the fingers are pre-curved for wrapping around tools. I don’t think they’re waterproof, but the shell feels like it’ll hold up to a fair bit of snow and wet ice.
Up next is Outdoor Research’s redesigned Alti glove. OR have come up with a whole new patterning method to make gloves fit better dubbed 3DFit Technology, and they’re using it on three of their new gloves designed specifically for climbers. The Alti is the heaviest-weight of the three, with double the Primaloft HiLoft insulation as the previous version. The liner is additionally insulated with Primaloft Active and is designed to be used as a stand-alone glove.
The Lodestar gloves get a redesign and gain ‘Sensor’ tech for use with touchscreens. Warm, breathable and weather-resistant Polartec Power Shield HiLoft remains as the main fabric, with goat skin leather covering the palm and fingers. Fit feels to have been much improved over the current iteration of the Lodestar, and I can’t wait to try these out.
The Project glove is a thin, dextrous glove with a Gore-Tex Grip liner and promises to be warm, dextrous and waterproof for all our ice climbing needs. Pittards Oiltac leather palms and bonded Primaloft insulation ensure a no-slip grip, and a low-profile neoprene cuff seals out drafts and errant snow. These look awesome!
RAB have their own version of the dextrous-yet-waterproof climbing glove, the new Talon. An eVent liner keeps your hands dry, Primaloft Gold insulation adds warmth and Pittards Armortan leather secures the grip. Like other RAB gloves, these feel superb and should prove ideal for all sorts of cold-and-wet climbing.