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I’ve been meaning to write these up for ages, and now seems like a good time, with winter on it’s way.

This the Rab Alliance mitt.

Rab Alliance Mitt

It’s an interesting arrangement, an eVent and leather mitt with Primaloft Gold insulation, coupled with an inner glove made from Pertex Microlight with more Primaloft Gold. The result is a strong a sturdy mitt for the harder conditions,  but a warm and light inner glove for those moments when you need extra dexterity but still need to be warm.

The feature set is good for climbing, with harness clips on the mitts,  drawcords you can cinch with your teeth and built in leashes.

The combo is a good one, the inner gloves are very warm and windproof and are adequate for walking on winter days on their own. They’re almost identical to my Montane Prism gloves in terms of material and style, but the Alliance gloves are a little warmer.

Pop the mitt on top and it’s a different beast. Grip is good, and weather resistance is awesome. They are super warm when used in combination. The mitt on it’s own is decent too, so you really get three handwear options for the price of two.


_MTP0255 _MTP0256 _MTP0257

My only concern is around longevity. The mitt is super hardwearing, it shows no signs of wear at all after a full winter and a fair bit of spring. The inner glove on the other hand (pun intended) has already worn through the Pertex in places. This is partly due to me using them to clear ice and debris when placing fiddly pro, along with general winter camp admin with them.


Oddly you can’t buy the inner glove on it’s own, so I guess I’ll have to replace with something else.

On the whole, I like them and they were first choice to go into my pack over the winter. They are fire-and-forget, you know you’ll be warm enough if you take them. Lets see if they last another winter.

My usual winter overnight pack is 40 litres and I’ve even been known to stretch to 50L to make room for more pies and whisky, but I’m supposed to be all about dropping weight and upping enjoyment, so what the dickens am I doing with a monster 65 litre pack?

Good question.

This is the Osprey Atmos AG 65.

Osprey Atmos AG 65


The Atmos (and the women-specific version, the Aura) is marketed as ‘ground breaking’ due to the new AntiGravity back system. As you know, I’m not one to truck with the marketing flannel so I had to take a look for myself.

The first impressions when I pulled it out of the box were twofold:


2) It weighs a TON.

I’m not kidding. So noticeable was the weight that I got the luggage scales out and gaped as it racked up to 2330g for my long back version. Yup, thats over 2kg just in the empty pack. Lightweight my arse. I’ve spent many years whittling down the weight and bulk to find the wonderful sweet spot of joy (which is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between hauling a load like a mule and sleeping under a polythene bag in your pants) so the prospect of  going back up the scale to a monster bag seemed counter intuitive, to the extent that I was sure I was going to hate it. It mainly reminded me of my old Karrimor Jaguar and that was a step too far back into the past. I left it in the box for some time.

Eventually the guilt kicked in and I pulled it back out, loaded a box of gear into the car and headed out. Then did it all over again and again over the course of 4 months.

Osprey Atmos AG 65

Out on the hill, the most obvious piece of interest was the harness, and in particular the hip belt. Putting it on resembles triggering a man trap. It clamps round your hips and won’t let go. So much so, that you don’t even need to put your arms through the shouder straps to keep it attached to you. Interesting.

Even more interesting was that the 2-and-a-bit kilos just vanished as soon as I put it on and cinched the belt together, the load transfer is outstanding. What felt like a ton weight coming out of the box was suddenly unnoticed on my back. I get why they call it AntiGravity.

Osprey Atmos AG 65

In terms of features, there are other elements worth checking out. There’s a split main compartment with divider, they say it’s so you can put your sleeping bag in the lower part and keep it segregated, but it’s handy for storing wet kit too. There’s a detachable lid which had a large pocket that houses the raincover. Take the cover out and the pocket is very large.  If you ditch the lid, there’s a flap cover to take it’s place.  The belt features some good-sized zip pockets, and is super-adjustable.

There’s the usual Osprey bits and bobs, like the elastics to store walking poles, stretch mesh pockets and the like. It’s hydration compatible too, with an internal sleeve. So much, so good but quite frankly it’s all about that back system.

And when it comes to hauling big loads, I’ve never worn a more comfortable pack. It’s super comfy. Load transfer is excellent and the ventilation is good. The first few jaunts were with my usual load out, somewhere between 8 and 10kg and it was great. To push it, I loaded up with multiple tents and stuff just for fun to see how it coped with 20kg and despite feeling it in my legs, it handled it very comfortably. If I really had to haul some heavy loads, this would be my go-to pack.

Osprey Atmos

Osprey Atmos

There are some downsides, the weight of the pack itself being the most glaring, that back system comfort comes at a cost in grams. The rain cover is an utter waste of time in the Scottish mountains, it flaps like a sail in the wind and basically works as a rain gatherer to help swish water around the base of your pack. If you lose the cover (and you should) then the lid becomes a questionable item too, you don’t really need the large pocket when you have 65 litres to work with, so it can go and just use the top flap cover instead.

My advice, go for the 50 litre version and strip it down. If you do, you’ll get one of the most comfortable carries available, the back system really does live up to the marketing which is a rare and wonderful thing.  Bothymongers will love it, loads of room for whisky and no sore shoulders when you get there.

If you are a hauler of loads, the Atmos comes highly recommended.

Osprey Atmos




  • September 27, 2015 - 6:01 pm

    James - Hi M. Nice review. On a different note, I was wandering if your a cold sleeper?,as I’m the same height and build as you..
    What bag do you use?, I have a marmot never summer. Seems to do the trick but damn heavy once compressed.

  • September 27, 2015 - 7:42 pm

    MT - I used to sleep warm, until about 3 years ago and I’ve started having to go up the ratings. Must be old age. In summer, I just grab whatever the lightest bag I have is at the time, for Spring and Autumn I find the Mammut Sphere Spring works well as a balance between weight and warmth. It’s rated to zero. Used it last night in fact and was far too hot in it. When it gets colder I’m quite partial to the Thermarest Altair.


Here’s something else that got a serious try out over the winter and spring and I’m only getting round to writing up now. That could be because I like to thoroughly test before committing my opinions here, or it could be because I procrastinate a lot. Probably both.

Time for some serious insulation, this the Jöttnar Fjörm.

Jottnar Fjorm

So far, Jöttnar have really impressed me with their approach. They’re a company with a small range of kit, focusing on providing the best quality of gear that’s specifically designed for mountaineers. There’s no high street stuff here, only technical wear for serious mountain goers. The range is slowly expanding and every piece has been clearly thought through; not by a committee of designers with goatees and lattes, but by people who actually use the kit in real mountains. That gets my vote.

The Fjörm is a technical insulation piece. One of the great joys of Scotland is that sometimes it can be cold and dry, and sometimes it can be cold and wet. Down jackets have always been great in proper cold, but once you bring moisture into the mix, it’s not so good and synthetics start to win the battle for warmth when wet. The Fjörm is a hybrid of both down and synthetic. It’s a 20 denier nylon outer shell, filled with 850 fill-power Downtek hydrophobic down, but in addition there are sections of synthetic, particularly in the areas most likely to get wet like the hem and cuffs. Pretty much ideal for a Scottish winter then.

Jottnar Fjorm

Other features include a helmet friendly hood, with stiffened peak, big handwarmer pockets, an internal pocket that will take a 1 litre bottle, a two-way main zip with glove friendly zip pulls and one-handed hem cording. My handheld scales are broken, but by juggling on the kitchen scales it seems my large weighs in at just over 600g.

Jottnar Fjorm

Jottnar Fjorm Jottnar Fjorm

I’ve used it as a belay jacket, a winter camp jacket and a standing about in the snow chatting to people jacket. It’s excelled in all roles. It packs down small, it’s very warm for the weight and the outer shell sheds snow nicely. The two way zip is handy when you’re wearing a harness. It layers nicely over the top of bulky midlayers and yet the fit is still good and not too roomy. I’ve even thrown it on top of wet hard shells and it’s coped fine.When it gets nasty, you can batten down the hatches and hide away in the deep hood.

I haven’t found any significant downsides. I guess the price will be the one that’s mentioned most in the feedback I’ll get. You can’t have the best materials, design and construction and not expect to pay for it, but we’ve had that chat before so I’ll not labour the point.

I’ve grown very fond of this jacket, it’s like a safe haven on the wildest days. There’s some internal warmth to be had too from the joyous green colour which always makes me smile when I pull it out of my pack on a dreich day. The Fjörm reeks of quality and is almost like someone has made a bespoke design to suit my personal needs.

I’ve had a synthetic jacket on test from Rab for the same amount of time, and when it comes to the real cold weather, the Fjörm outperforms it for less than half the weight. Once it gets soggy and you’re stood belaying in sleety drizzle, then the synthetic wins out, it’s hydrophobic down but it can’t work miracles. Having said that, if it’s that wet you’re gonna be too hot in the Fjörm anyway.

When it gets proper cold, the Fjörm is unbeatable.

Highly recommended.

Jottnar Fjorm