Q&A with Greg Care Páramo’s designer
Greg Care has been designing for Páramo since its inception, coming up with radical solutions to age-old ‘on the hill’ challenges. He lives in the Lakes, fell-walking and scrambling there and beyond, climbs and mountaineers regularly all over the globe, ski tours every winter and enjoys kayaking too.
Q: How did you get involved with Páramo?
A: I was working in the outdoors teaching and guiding when I first met Nick Brown, now MD of Páramo. We both had an interest in outdoor clothing. Outdoor professionals need the best kit available to fulfil their responsibilities to the individuals in their care and my dissatisfaction with the waterproof systems available had led me to design and make my own gear. Nick also had radical ideas. Initially I was sceptical about using synthetic fabrics combined with waterproofing treatments to replicate the versatility of animal fur. But when I first put the theory to the test using rudimentary ‘fur fabric’ garments, my comfort levels at work soared, especially in the rain. The benefits were obvious – no barriers to water movement away from the body, renewability of the waterproofing, no membranes or laminates to break down or taped seams to peel away. The result was Páramo Directional Waterproofs... and more comfort!
Q: What sets Páramo apart from the competition in your opinion?
A: Wearability, recovery and long life. Not long after making some early prototype garments I spent a very wet February day on Aonach Mor with the SARDA dog handlers. It was a snow shelter training session. The snow was wet and it poured hard all day. They were wearing the very best gear available on the market at the time. I soon looked wet in my prototypes and there were plenty of laughs at my expense... However, when we got down to the valley in the evening my outer layer was wet but inside I was bone dry, while they were all wet through to the skin. They had to change into dry clothes, I just sat and had a brew. I knew right then that I was onto a good thing. There are big advantages to wearing one set of clothing which is able to move moisture away from you constantly – whether it’s perspiration from hard work or from the elements. It’s also unique – and hearteningly economical – to be able to restore the waterproofing year after year in a washing machine with Nikwax.
Q: What do you aim for in your designs? What are your guiding principles when coming up with and refining designs for Páramo?
A: I spend as much time as I can on the hill at home and abroad. Constant field testing is my mantra. Sadly the weather is not always bad enough to really test the new ideas and protos but I just have to put up with the good days! I’m striving for a totally functional outfit for each activity. Ideas spring from doing the activity, discovering the problems, imagining potential solutions. Back in my workshop I can check my observations against the feedback we get from outdoor professionals. I can also delve into how bodies function to understand how our clothing can complement the physiological mechanisms of temperature control. I am then pretty obsessive cutting and machining until I have something to take out and test – sometimes in weird combinations and colours of fabrics...
Q: Which piece of kit would you recommend to someone starting out?
A: Anything in Analogy... jacket, smock, trousers, salopettes. It will be a different experience to more conventional waterproofs. You can wear Analogy comfortably in the wet AND in the dry. It will spend more time on your body and less in your pack. Less time will be wasted adding and removing layers, giving more time to enjoy the adventure. What’s more, the kit comes with a lifetime guarantee and will put up with the worst you throw at it.
Q: What’s your favourite place in the world?
A: The Scottish Highlands in winter can’t be beaten for me.
Q: What would you not leave home without?
A: The new Torres Sleeves. Summer or winter. I guarantee that this piece will not only amuse your friends but also give you an extra – often essential – bit of comfort in the most extreme circumstances. To me it represents what Páramo is about – innovation, greater comfort, real functionality... and controversy!
Q: Why overlayering?
A: It outperforms mid-layer insulation in every way. Traditional thinking has always been that insulating garments, especially with duvet construction, need to be kept dry and thus aren’t suitable for UK outer wear, but Nikwax Insulator composition and construction turns that on its head. On test, any Torres product adds as much waterproofing as it does insulation. Overlayering is the practical solution to keeping warm whether you have a chosen or an enforced stop – no need to remove a shell outer to add another layer, no need to reduce your mobility with a survival bag or similar, and no need to have to mollycoddle a down garment.
Q: Where do you see Páramo in 5 years?
A: The future looks good... We have expanded our design team in order to improve our range for women. We have interesting new fabrics to explore. We have some really good ideas in process at the moment – I am particularly excited by a potential solution for summer legwear, how to stay cool but not get wet legs... In short, there’s a lot more to come...
Website : www.paramo.co.uk