We popped over to see the guys at Mountain Equipment yesterday for a quick look at what's new from the brand for this spring, 2010, the kit that's appearing in the shops right now and there's some neat stuff in the pipe line too including a very ingenious lightweight sleeping bag.
On the legwear front, the new Gabbro Pant is a lightweight but tough-feeling all-round mountain trouser made in a stretchy Nylon fabric and featuring an alpine cut, articulated knees, a microfleece-lined waist and integrated belt. Nice detailing seen close up and there's also a women's version called the El Chorro and a Gabbro ¾ too. Price tag is £70.
Aimed more specifically at climbers and with a continental look is the Civetta Pant which has been updated for spring. It's made from a tough Stretchlite fabric with stretch and a DWR finish. Unlike the Gabbro it has zipped pockets and areas made from MTN Lite softshell inserts with four-way stretch for freedom of movement. Again construction and detailing look first rate, price is £75.
Crux Tee / Divinity Tank
Moving upwards, there's a new selection of baselayer tops made from coconut-based Cocona, which we really rate for its odour resistance and excellent wicking ability. They're just simple tees and tanks, but the fabric has a really nice textured finish and they should be spot on for fast-moving stuff. Sleeves are flat-locked and the tee version sells for £30.
Arrow Zip Tee
The Arrow is made from Toray Field Sensor fabric – a nylon, polyester, elastane mix – that's stretchy, feels much tougher than standard base layers, has a seam-free waist and shoulders, thumb loops and flat-locked seams. It feels sort of halfway between a baselayer and a lightweight mid-layer and should be tough thanks to its 69% Nylon element. Price is £70. The women's version gets a hood and pink trim.
Yep, just plain cotton tee shirts with a selection of designes, we like the one on the back best. They're 20 quid each
Microtherm Alpine Vest
Brand new this spring is a vest version of the Microtherm jacket that was reintroduced last year. It uses a windproof He.30.rs shell over a micro-gridded wicking liner and is cut nice and slim for active use. There's a jacket too, also with the microgrid inner, but brand new for 2010 is the women's version, the Sirocco jacket. The vest is £70 and the women's jacket £60, which sounds wrong.
The new Orion is simple soft shell made from MTN Lite fabric so it's non membrane, wind and water resistant and very breathable. The inner fabric is nicely brushed for comfort and wicking and the pockets have mesh liners so can be used for venting. Price is £80.
The new Axion Pant is a super-lightweight rain pant – waterproof trousers on this side of the M60/Atlantic – made with 2.5-layer Drilite Ultra fabric with a trim cut, short ankle zippers and an adjustable waist. It packs into its own Clip'n'Carry stuff-sack.
We've saved arguably the neatest till last. The new Gore-Tex Pro Shell Firefox is a lightweight alpine shell jacket that has a 20-denier outer face fabric to give a claimed weight of just 299 grammes, which is very, very light for a Pro Shell jacket with a helmet hood.
It has just the one chest pocket, water-resistant zips, active cut with articulated sleeves and feels very, very light, pretty close to Paclite territory, but it should be overall tougher despite the very fine face fabric. Price is a round £200.
Women's MRT Jacket
Very finally, there's a brand new women's version of the M RT – mountain rescue – jacket, which like the men's Longur MRT is red for visibility, has four pockets and pit-zips, bombproof fabric and lots and lots of reflective strips for ultimate vibility. It's been produced primarily for ME's supported rescue teams, but it's also available commercially, though you might have to ask a shop to order one in for you. The price if you do want to buy it is £320.
ll in the shops right about now. More information at www.mountain-equipment.co.uk