Outdoor clothing designer Julie Greengrass takes a look at the new and interesting stuff from the recent ISPO trade show for OM.
Every year the outdoors industry converges on Münich for the annual ISPO show, a monumentally huge exhibition where brands you may or may not have heard of show off their new kit due out later that in the year.
This year, we despatched crack outdoors clothing designer Julie Greengrass on an OM mission to snuffle out the brightest and the best of the new stuff along with some of the brands which you may not have heard of. As ex head of design at both Montane and Sprayway, Julie knows her waterproof and breathable onions better than most.
To kick things off, here's a look at three brands you probably won't have heard of. You can find more in-depth coverage on her personal blog over at greengrassdesignstudio.wordpress.com/category/ispo/.
Brands You Might Not Have Heard Of - Ashmei
Ashmei is a young British brand specilaising in running kit, that picked up a show award for New Sportswear Brand. They are relatively new to the running market, and in a nutshell they make men’s and women’s very sharp looking, uncompromisingly high quality, high performance, technical running kit with phenomenal attention to detail.
Ashmei clothing has clean and simple styling with an identifiable signature in the form of a single stripe that is instantly spotable, in addition they only use four colours: red, black, white and grey. ”High vis yellow was an option but when it rains the skies usually turn dark and high visibility yellow does not show up in the dark. [We found that] high contrast and reflective were the two most important factors when running in low light and you can’t get more contrasting than black against white reflectivity.”
So what’s different about Ashmei? A lot of it is to do with the material choice. The men’s Ultimate Rain Jacket - RIGHT - could have been made from any of the fantastical breathable waterproof fabrics on the market, but after extensive testing there wasn’t a fabric that could cope with the amount of moisture and vapour created during a run.
They went back to the start and worked out what was important for a runner and developed their own bespoke fabric with a micro weave structure using micro fibres. What they created was a highly breathable fabric with it’s own special permanent water repellency treatment that could keep the rain showers out long enough for your run (about an hour), yet kept you dry from the inside by moving moisture vapour far quicker than any laminated or coated waterproof ever could.
By making this fabric more rainproof, it would compromise breathability which is no different to what is already available and from research they found that for most runners one hours protection would be enough.
Other products include Merino wool running tights, shorts, and a selection of merino wool vests, jerseys and sweatshirts for men and the same for women but with a skort/3/4length merino tights and socks, beanie and gloves for both. For more information and if you dare trust yourself to look without wanting to buy everything in their collection visit www.ashmei.com.
Brands You Might Not Have Heard Of - MHM Packs
MHM stands for Mile High Mountaineering and was founded by a bunch of young guys from Colorado with a passion for the outdoors and little enthusiasm to work a white collar job. They have a good collection of packs suited to backpacking and climbing to day hikes and Urbaneering.
And they're refershingly innovative. At first glance the 34-litre Salute day-pack looks unremarkable, but under the skin it's quite remarkable thanks to the Snake Loader System, a snaking zip that wraps around the pack in an S-shape to allow you to open the pack up virtually flat, ideal if you need to keep things off of the ground such as a rope. With three zip sliders you can also access any part of the pack you need without opening it up fully, ideal for long days out where the pack is full and the thing that you want is at the bottom of the pack.
Other packs in the range are equally innovative. The larger 55-litre Divide Pack has two full length zips down each side of the pack for comprehensive access, a lid that converts to a small day-pack and an integrated dry-bag for storing your soaked kit away from the dry stuff. More at www.mhmgear.com.
Brands You Might Not Have Heard Of - Sweet Protection
Finally, meet Sweet Protection, a ski/snowboard brand based in the wilds of Norway amongst the mountains. In the winter they focus on ski and snowboard clothing and protection and cross over into Whitewater Kayaking and Mountain Biking in the summer.
Despite their fun exterior they are very serious about their products which are some of the most technical I’ve seen. Their talented designers are constantly challenged to develop new solutions to problems and from that some fantastic innovation has been born.
The most impressive piece is their top of the range 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro Crusader Jacket. It’s highly specified for the most extreme conditions and includes some unique features. Firstly the helmet-compatible hood’s drawcord system is neat and concealed and easy to operate with gloves with an easy to find drawcord to pull the hood in and a button to release.
There's an innovative back ventilation system that allows the wearer to remotely open and close a zipped vent at the centre back of the jacket using a system of drawcords. The gusseted lower pockets look sharp with some die-cutting and bonding an give plenty of space for stuffing not only your hands but gloves, hats, food etc too. There are two enormous chest pockets and a napoleon pocket that also houses the remote system for the rear vent.
There’s also wrist gaiters, ergonomically cut cuffs to give the back of your hands the best protection, a laminated audio pocket inside, a key/card/pass pocket, shoulder and sleeves are reinforced with more durable fabric and a powder skirt. All of this doesn’t come cheap at £549 but for what you get that price isn’t really surprising.
Check out the full show and tell video for a comprehensive rundown of the Crusader.
More abut the brand at www.sweetprotection.com.