Regulars will know that I tend to post season previews well in advance. That’s mostly driven by the industry and their calendars and the need to plan ahead. What that means is that I tend to be talking about new upcoming winter gear in the spring, just when you’re packing away your thermals. By the time winter comes round again, you’ve forgotten what I was talking about.
I thought I’d try making things more appropriate to the time of year, hence here we have an overview of the top picks from the Haglofs Autumn/Winter 2015 range. In reality, I went to visit the almighty Gus in his dungeon of delights back in February, but with the first proper snow arriving in the highlands this week, it seems like way more appropriate timing to talk about the gear now. If you are so inclined you can even pop out to the shops and buy them too. That’s got to be better than having to take notes and wait 9 months for it to arrive don’t you think?
That said, let me know what your preference is, do you want super previews or just-in-time info?
Enough wittering, onto the gear.
First up is the ‘Mountain’ range, and we start with the hard shells. The Roc Spirit is a Gore Pro variant on the standard Roc. I’ve been using the Roc Spirit a lot this year, so I’ll do a standalone piece on that soon.
The Roc High II jacket has been updated. It’s a solid 3 layer Gore Pro jacket with some excellent features, including a new waterproof main zip and new cordstoppers from Cohaesive which are pretty clever. The Roc High has reinforced 70D sections on the sleeve, shoulder and hem to add to longevity and robustness. If you like them hardwearing, this is a good shout.
The Roc Climber pant is a 3 layer Gore Pro pair of breeks, with a 70D Polyamide face fabric, with Keprotec reinforcement on the instep and adjustable internal gaiters. The cut is S-shaped and articulated around the seat and knees to make them easy to move in. The almost-full-length side zips allow for ventilation as needed. These are really versatile and could do for winter climbing or ski-touring or indeed, both.
Into insulation, and we have the new Essens Mimic. You might recall I absolutely loved the Essens Down Jacket, this version uses Quadfusion mimic, which is a synthetic insulator designed to be very down-like but with the benefits of being better in wet conditions. There is a standard jacket and a hooded version. I’ve had one of these on trial since the spring, watch out for a writeup shortly.
Then we have the Barrier Pro III Hood, which is a revised version of the staple Barrier jacket, Pertex Quantum with QuadFusion insulation. The new version has a quilted design with the insulation mapped to where you need it most. Smart.
The Barrier Pro III Belay is a warmer version and a handy thing to have stuffed in your pack on a winter outing. It has a Pertex Quantum and Microlight outer, with QuadFusion Pro insulation, which is a step up from the standard version and has an additional backer which gives you insulation that is very warm for the weight, with great moisture transport.
The new Mojo Down Hood is a big beast, sporting 800 fillpower DWR treated down, all ethically sourced and Bluesigned. The outer is Pertex Quantum and Microlight. If you’re heading out for a winter overnighter, this will do the job.
My previous favourite, the Essens III Down Jacket has been updated, with DWR treated down and a new gradient quilting pattern to put more insulation where it should be. It comes in jacket, hood and vest forms. I love this piece, everyone should own one.
Into softshell now, and there a new Skarn Winter jacket, made from old faithful Flexable fabric which is wind resistant, breathes well and is nice and stretchy. The Hood variant is in the second shot below.
I’m a fan of softshell trousers in winter, and the matching Skarn Winter pant suits me fine. Flexable makes for a great material for breeks, the weather resistance is good but they are light and comfy.
The new Summit jacket is an interesting concept. There’s my old favourite material Powerstretch Pro again, on the back and arms, with Polartec Alpha on the torso. A fine idea, and a great midlayer that can double as a standalone jacket on fairer weather winter days.
The Serac Jacket and Hood are basically a winter version of the Triton. Powerstretch Pro is my material of choice for winter midlayers, it’s light, stretchy, comfy and warm, but not too warm to wear on the move. I haven’t tried these out, but they look right up my street.
The Sector II jacket and hood use high loft Polartec ThermalPro. Super warm for the weight, and if you go for the orange you get the benefit of looking like a shaved oran utan at the same time. Awesome.
Now we get to the ‘Rando’ range, which is targeted at SkiMo primarily, but the demands of that are weather resistance at low weight and with great moisture management, so that means that kit made to that spec also is very suitable for any fast and light mountain activity.
The Rando jacket on the left sports 3 layer Gore with 30D polyamide face fabric and a C-KNIT backer. The orange parts up top are reinforced with 40D polyamide. That gives a decent balance of weight and wear potential.
The Rando Barrier jacket in the centre has a Pertex Quantum outer, with Pontetorto Tecnostretch fleece and Quadfusion+ insulation. It’s a tasty piece and if you fancied the Barrier jacket in the mountain range, you might want to check this one out too.
The Rando Stretch Hood is also Pontetorto Tecnostretch, so you get wind-resistance in a light and warm midlayer.
Now you might be thinking that the next piece looks like someone has skinned an alien womble and hung it up as a warning to others. These slices of awesomeness are the Pow Hood and the women’s version, the appropriately named Epic Hood. This is the not only the most eye catching midlayer you’ll see for a while, it’s also pretty darn smart. There’s the high loft ThermalPro across the chest and shoulders, with Pontetorto Tecnostretch around the lower torso, back and arms. There’s a half zip, snug hood and thumbloops too. These make me happy. They also comes in black for the terminally dull.
Enough about plank-people, let’s move onto the ‘Trekking’ range, which speaks for itself. From the Pro options, we have the Rugged Fjell jacket, which is a softshell using Climatic fabric. Like the name suggests, it’s rugged and relatively heavy. I really like Climatic, it feels like a decent shield against the winter wind. If you want understated sturdiness, then this is for you.
Talking of Climatic fabric, here’s a photo of the Rugged Mountain Pants. They’ve not changed, I just really like them. What do you mean you haven’t got any yet?
Next up is the standard issue Barrier Hood. The Mountain version is a bit more technical but if you’re looking for simple insulation, this is a fine start. I see loads of these on my commute, mainly because they are a cost effective way to get the job done. Pertex outer and Quadfusion insulation. The Barrier Light is on the blue chap on the left, which is a lighter and more packable version. Look lower down and you’ll see the Barrier Pant and the Barrier Knee Pant (or shorts to use the more common term)
I’ve been using the Barrier Pant as a camp insulation piece and really like them. They are also super handy for pulling on over muddy breeks for a quick drive home when you’ve been out and about. The shorts are probably best suited for winter biking over the top of tights.
The women’s Barrier range includes a skirt. I have no idea if that’s a good thing or not, but I like the colour. Women get the Barrier WS Hood, which uses Gore Windstopper fabric.
The Bivvy II Down Jacket and Hood is suitably named for a piece of overnighter insulation, it has a Pertex Eco outer and has 700 fill power down. There’s articulation in the arms to avoid compression and it packs well too. In the lower shot you can see the women’s Parka version.
The Tribe Top and Hood are Pontetorto Tecnostretch, so a stretchy fleece. I really like the microgrid backer on the Pontetorto stuff, it gives excellent warmth-to-weight ratio. Seams are offset and flatlocked. It can be worn as a heavy baselayer or as a midlayer.
Womens versions are lower down, in way better colours.
The Swook is a knitted style fleece which isn’t particularly technical but looks pretty cool in the pub and is warm. Kirsty has been wearing one of these for a while and highly rates it. I’ll see if I can talk her into writing it up.
The Pile Hood is high loft Polartec fleece and harkens back to the days when we old skool Aberdeen guys discovered that pile jackets originally made for offshore workers were also ideal for cold and wet climbing days.
It wouldn’t be a complete review without a checked shirt or two. The Astral shirt is polyester flannel, so it’s surprisingly suitable for outdoor activities despite looking like pub wear.
The Mid Fjell II Insulated is well worth highlighting, it’s Climatic with Quadfusion+ insulation. A fine combo and very suitable when you’re planning on standing about on cold days. Shame they don’t do them in long leg length.
Actives baselayers are Merino with a wee bit of Elastane for stretch. Seams are flatlocked and offset. I fancy a pair of the long johns.
Saving the best for last, we’ll finish with the LIM stuff. Less is More is really proving to be inspired, it’s almost like the range has been designed with me in mind. I’ve already reviewed the LIM Essens and the Power Dry Hood, in there you’ll also see the LIM Proof jacket, which is a very light shell, coming in around 230g for a large. The women’s range is the lower shot, and shows the LIM III jacket which is in Paclite.
To finish up, a quick word on footwear. The new Rocker approach shoe is a tidy wee number, with asymmetric lacing to help with precision and a sole unit that promises improved grip in the wet due to embedded rice husks. Yes, you read that right. I reckon this looks like a very good scrambling shoe. We shall see.
So there you go, that’s a quick rundown of the standouts of what is now proving to be an extensive range of gear. I’ll be following up with the reviews of the specific pieces I mentioned shortly, once I get my breath back.