ROLLING OUT AGAIN

coldest time of year approaching which is exciting to many. heading out for 2 weeks straight of exciting stuff training for soloing and getting onto some alpine walls up high. nothing quite like the feeling of getting it all bagged and stacked and ready for a 04:30 start.

ice climbing japan homemade energy bars

commercial stuff just doesnt cut it for trips longer than a few days. when a bar only has +/-250Kcals it means carrying too much. home made, its easy to shoehorn 400kcals into the same mass, which means carrying 1/3 less day food.

ice climbing japan expedition packing

250m of rope, olympus mons, 20kg of rack, a tent and 2 tarps: some of the ingredients for a great 2 weeks ahead

the north face verto S6K extreme: review

9 days/nights, +5c to -16c, snow/mixed, steep approaches, bivvys/tents, 1000m to 2000m

ive hesitated to claim and actual ‘review’ until now; using something sporadically, without the demands of non-stop use, doesnt mean much. in line with TMPs normal applications specifications of uninterrupted use for over a week interfacing with other gear intended for the same use (ie exped clothing and equipment), The North Face’s S6K extremes feel like they have been reasonably evaluated.

over 9 days of mixed climbing – all outside – factors rose to the surface that would be skipped in just a day or two of use. interestingly, they were used along side a pair of Scarpa Phantom6000s. after 3 seasons in La Sportiva Spantiks and Baturas most of my opinions run with those as the counterpoint.

climbing

despite being ‘large’ boots with a design closer to Olympus Mons than Baturas, the S6K Extremes climb well, never having the bulky boot feel sometimes found with Spantiks. even tho they have a larger sole area, the sole is flatter, which interfaces a crampon better after the crampon has been adjusted for it (front points moved in an increment). the soft inner makes no noticeable difference when on monos on desperate placements.

approaching

the key to a good boot is in the walking – get this wrong and you dont get to the steep stuff making how well they climb irrelevant. steep approaches, slogs thru snow, with reasonably sized packs (+/-20kg) and the S6K Extremes felt better than ok. they felt good. due to the flatter sole than a Spantik and less heel articulation than a Batura this was a surprise, and boils down to 2 elements; 1) the softer inner boot allows for better fit, 2) the outer boots lacing works – after being modified*.  the gaiters elastic top edge is tight enough even on (my) skinny calves to keep snow out – tho the gaiter itself is snug enough over the boot to not really accept bulky trouser cuffs.

sleeping

when 1/4 of the day is spent in bivvys the overnight use matters as much as climbability, and impressions are very good. again, the softer inner wins the day, having less dead air space to cool and a lot of primaloft to keep warm and dry. anecdotally, the inners breath better than the foam La Sportive inners – to the degreee there was more moisture in the sleeping bag foot. this would be a problem if the boots werent so warm. details include lacing to low down the inner that allows adequate venting and grippy soles that are safer for midnight ventures than include walking over ice. both these factors are undeveloped in other inners. also the lack of lacing hooks meant no annoying catching of laces from the other inner boot. having an exposed carbon footbed meant the outer retained less moisture to freeze, and having a slick gaiter meant less snow needed to be brushed off, both factors make a noticeable difference over several days use.

functionality

with tweaking* these boots work well, combining the better elements of other +6000m designs. they do take time to soften up, which initially makes getting them on a pain in the ass, with the zip being a notable annoyance. with use the zip gets better, but initially it catches on the straps and lace-jam. the lack of a snap at the top of  the zip means they cant be worn with the zips open (to vent) and is a significant issue.

the outer boots heel strap works well, reducing heel lift significantly by locking things down from above the ankle rather than over the bridge of the foot (which doesnt work). yet again, a softer inner boot helps this, allowing a tighter fit. the absence of hard, bulky hooks on the inner that catch on stuff and press into the shin is an advantage over the La Sportiva inners.

durability

already they are showing signs of superficial wear, that although 9 days straight (plus another week of intermittant use) is no great indicator, is worth noting. no significant issues have arisen with the structural elements, but things like reflective logos have peeled off and or faded, and the white fabric on the gaiter (as expected) shows dirt. the crampon runnels – an element of wear that has shown problems in some other boots – shows no signs of wear.

components

The North Faces Verto S6K Extremes are hi-tech stuff, showcasing several elements of vanguard materials. theres nothing particularly new in any of the design elements (other than how they are combined), but smart use of new materials shows results. YKKs new waterproof zips have been used, competition with the Tizips found on Scarpa and Sportiva.. aside from one incident they worked ok, but really need lubricating, especially until they soften. the SuperFabric slash patches appear to resist crampon teeth, and even better, reject snow more readily than other options (except the silver alien stuff used on Spantiks). the inner is again a focus of development, using Primaloft to insulate the upper and AeroTherm to insulate the sole, which after 9 nights of rarely cold toes is testament to how well it works.

the gaiters function as intended, tho a sacrifice of being close fitting is lack of room when zipping up and for stuff trouser cuffs inside. the (fake?) leather toe piece adds toughness where its needed as well as shedding snow that sits on the toe when walking.

positives

the things are light and warm, and better streamlined than Spantiks (there real competition). due to intentional design, over significant time they dont build up moisture. details are nice and increase function, with serious thought having gone into how a cold-conditions boot is used. interfacing with other elements of specific-use equipment they are mostly good, tho laking in ways detailed below.

problems

most glitches found with other parallel boots have been addressed in the Verto S6K Extremes, but several problems became apparent:

the YKK Water Proof Zip is problematic at first. until softened/lubricated it doesnt slide easily, and until the shell softens it catches on the lacing system. on one occasion the teeth collected ice in them (after admittedly nasty conditions) that left them peeling open. if endemic this would be unnaceptable, but warmth and sports tape solved the issue, with the zip apparently ‘self healing’. a further 4 days of use didnt see  the problem return, nor did it occur on the other boot.

the lacing system needs improvement to really work well*.

overall

the Verto S6K Extremes are a step in the right direction, and a major one at that. they climb, approach and overnight noticeably better than others in the class, but have some middling function issues that need to be (and mostly are*) debuggable. they are  noticeably light for what they are, and some problems with other such boots have been addressed to make them more livable, without compromising tech climbing function.

*lace modifications

essentially the inner and outer lacing needs to be swapped, with the lace-lock thing going on the outer. even better, thread the inners lacing to be single-strand, which makes for easier use (single handed) and greater tightening range. the plastic lever buckle on the shell is, simply, crap. its too wide for the webbing and slips and fails. replace it with a 2mm cord loop.

the north face verto S6K extremes: third impressions

3 days/2 nights. +5c to -18c. 35km w/ 2000m gain/loss. knee deep snow, easy terrain, half a day of ice and medium loads.

the north face verto s6k extreme boots review getting a better picture of these boots now – think Spantiks with integrated gaiters, tho they walk like Baturas. the main element is the Primaloft inner boot, its seriously warm but soft so it both reduces dead air and is easy to walk with – no grinding at the shins. the negative is the ankle is a bit looser as a combined flatter sole profile and softer inner allows a bit more lift. heel articulation is great, but compared with spantiks any heel lift takes getting used to. it does make for good ice climb-ability tho, but due to a large sole area crampons want setting back a rung to reduce too much protrusion.

the outers lacing i was at first dubious about, and after some modification am now happy. the design that laces only to the top oof the arch, then a ‘power band’ over the ankle works well, softening easily for walking then cranking easily for climbing. a loop of 3mm cord on the pull tabs helps a lot, as does switching the knot-less adjuster from the inner to the outer boot.

winter nights being long, sleep-ability matters, and these inners win. being softer and reducing dead air matters most at 3am when the cold creeps in from hours of inactivity. being able to massage your feet directly thru the bootie is a huge advantage. having removed the inner booties knot-less adjuster i rethreaded the laces as a single which allows for both a tighter fit and easier cranking. in a cramped tent the different coloured laces for the near identical left and right booties is a nice detail.

THE NORTH FACE VERTO S6K EXTREMES: SECOND IMPRESSIONS

these are not small boots. despite the 6000m description, they are not that. having worn both 6000m and 8000m boots, these sit somewhere between. i normally dont go on about boots, but these are such a departure (and one ive long wanted to see) they have me thinking.

parallel to the Spantik, these boots may be more of a bridge between the Batura and the Olympus mons than the Spantik is, with the Phantom 6000 falling somewhere between these and Baturas.

having worn them about and pondered them for a few days now (in the right size finally) they fill a gap in the boot canon that was waiting to happen. from the 8000m boot end comes extreme cold/high altitude details, a ‘warmth first’ design and a fundamental concept the same as Olympus Mons, Everests Phantom 8000s etc. from the 6000m end of the spectrum comes a technical climbing sole (Vibram Mulaz), streamlined performance and a very competitive weight.

The Verto S6K Extremes dont have the rocker to the sole that the Spantik does, being like the Batura/Phantom series which is great for crampon fit, taking a tech ice crampon as well as a big peak basket style – something that Spantiks compromised on. Despite the many 8000m boots features that trickled down,  the flat sole profile and bulbous toe box didnt, if anything the streamlined profile tricked up after looking at the Verto S8K’s design with easily the most tech-friendly front end of any 8000m boot. this means that there will be a degree of heel-lift, but not as much as a super big boot – even tho on the scale of things these are BIG; a size 44.5 is significantly wider and longer than Batura and even a Spantik

inside they are all 8000m style. Phantoms, Baturas etc are basically a light ice boot covered by the integrated gaiter. even the Phatnom 6000, which is aimed to act like a 6000m boot, is  more light tech boot than big mountain boot (as no doubt is the intention). the Verto S6K Extreme not so. the inner boots is plush and generously insulated – its foremost priority is insulation over time. to move about in they are soft, with minimal dead air space. the reduced ridgitity compared to a La Sportiva inner booot takes some getting used to, and will no doubt have an impact on stability with fine footwork on sensitive ice/rock, but for a large part of what these boots are intended for (ie long approaches, life in severe conditions, mixed mountaineering) the warmth and comfort is a trade off. from what ive found so far there is ZERO of the lower leg bashing that Olympus Mons are notorious for.

fit-wise they perhaps at their most 8000m-ish. the shape of the ankle, volume of the box, support of the ankle and articulation of the whole unit is straight from 8000m. indeed they almost a scaled down Olympus Mons in every way. tho soft on the side, the greater design is ridgid and supportive, with a deeply ergonomic rear section that allows for a wide range of ankle movement downwards, but keeps things solid laterally and when on front points – something other 6000m boots have avoided in favor of maximum ankle mobility (too much in some opinions). this leads to considerable bulk, which ends up being just slightly less than a Spantik, yet they are not as ridgid – you certainly wont consider skis on these. by forgoing the light-boot interior of 6000m boots they have done away with using leather, making them more ‘carton-like’ and so doing away also with complex lacing. they are simply not soft enough to warrent a lot of it. appearing smartly, the laces stop at ankle level, then with a velcro strap to lock the heel in, assumedly this is for easy transtions between walking and climbing mode. we will se how that goes; as yet im wanting a bit more lacing to crank things about with.

with more use comes more things im intrigued by. The North Face has got these boots very light – oddly so. they are light even for a regular 6000m boot, so considering all the 8000m input its interesting to assume that disparity goes into the technology used. the new rubbers, fabrics and approach to insulation makes a neat package despite a few niggles – mostly operating ones with the gaiter and the reason i got jack of integrated gaiters a few years back (i have enough velcro, waterproof zips and fastenings already…The North Face has done well to get me back again).

do these boots change the gameboard? i think they do, reshuffling what boots are ‘meant’ to do. boots like the Batura and Phantom 6000 are very different, but both are described as ‘6000m’ boots – even tho many including myself have been above 6000m in regular single leather boots. to my mind baturas and P6000s are really 6500m boots, maybe to 7000m – which is the realm advocated for Spantiks – any yet Spantiks are regularly worn well above that. of course im aware these numbers are only arbitary labels given by manufacturers, but they still dictate the perception of the boots, which in turn affects demand. the point being that with The North Faces S6K Extremes, id say they are firmly in the advertised 7000m range of  – way beyond their ‘6K’ label. would i put my ass on the line and actually do it? gladly.

who will benefit from wearing them? people with a 7000m demand – either in altitude or cold or duration. these boots are overkill for just climbing one day stuff; too bulky with expedition details to be surgical enough for delicate ice routes, things like the relative area of the sole – being so insulated – are not as ice-specific as regular ‘6000m’ boots.

and dont worry, photos coming soon

THE NORTH FACE S6K EXTREME: FIRST IMPRESSIONS

well they sent me the wrong size. out by 1 increment, partly because i gave the option based on my sizing in other brands. but no huge loss as im bound to other stuff for the week it will take to get the right ones sent out. anyway, impressions from the living room:

The North Face have pushed cold climbing boots another stage of evolution. they dont always have a good record with footwear, but this time its working out.

having worn 8000m boots and 6000m boots, these seem more like little 8000mers rather than beefed out 6000mers. the feel of a Batura/Phantom 6000 is there – they are still in the same category afterall – but the trickle down from 8000m boots is very apparent.

the S6k Extremes have a softer inner boot and more integrity in the outer. softer than the foam inner scarpa is using and much softer than la sportivas spantik/olympus mons, they feel a lot like the inner from a Millet Everest. these feel like independant insulated boots and less like part of the structure than other options. how this will translate is yet to be seen in the cold, but less dead air space due to rigidity springs to mind. 200g/m2 of Primaloft is not to be sniffed at – thats a serious belay jacket level of insulation and far better than the thinsulate some boots are insulated with. the outer boot too is well insulated, especially the tongue which feels significantly plusher than the competition. hopefully this will compress well and not lead to a mushy feeling boot. experiments mixing with a stiffer la sportiva inner will be interesting.

the north face S6K extreme double inner boot primaloft

the outer boot feels to have far more integrity than a Phantom 6000 but not nearly a Spantik. it wont make them ski-able, but it should answer those who feel integrated-gaiter boots are too lacking in structure. this is part of the trickle down from 8000mers, and perhaps nowhere more apparent than the exposed carbon fibre foot bed that eliminates all those nasty foot bed issues that occur over prolonged use as the boot is affected by  moisture.

the north face S6K extreme double boot carbon foot bed

where this boot really shines (and takes most from the 8000m designs) is in the gaiter. having lost interest in integrated gaiters over the last few years, this wins me back. compared to the Batura and Phantom, the S6K simply feels tougher, warmer and more a part of the boots function than a simple gaiter to keep out snow. the S6K‘s gaiter is a triumvate of slash-proof ballistic stuff, alien Hydro-seal weather resistant white stuff and SuperFabric – the same stuff used in high wear areas on some gloves and knee sections. the whole lot stretches, and by comparison the competition feels thin and unsophisticated, almost a superficial add-on. like an Olympus mons, the S6K‘s gaiter feels to be a significant part of the boots warmth.

the north face S6K extreme boot gaiter summit series Super Fabric

the rubber element feels sophisticated and new, with a transitional fabric betwen it and the gaiter that bridges the flex of the gaiter with the durability of the rand. it looks at first to be vinyl-ish, but im seriously hoping it performs much better than the vinyl ive had on boots before. the rand itself is precisely cut and well formed, like a rock shoe and a big step up from most winter boots. in some ways its formed like the rand of a Spantik, with minimal seams. the sole is the standard winter multi-layered affair from vibram common to most 6000m boots, tho somewhere in the middle is some stuff called Aerogel thats meant to help with insulation.

details i like – again from 8000m territory – are a large hand loop for yanking the boot on, simple lacing and a generous cuff on the gaiter. The North Face are not treating these as an inch up from regular boots, stripped down for weekend ice cragging – these are given the same attention as other genuine expedition boots. i dont like the stock laces simply because they dont feel like other mountain boot laces, but $5 will change that. the waterprroof zip isnt as easy as a Phantom 6000 but is easier than some others like the Boreal Siula.

im excited about wearing these things. i like the direction-of-flow TNF has instituted thats half stripped down 8000mer and half refined 6000m boot. it really feels like a minimal amount has been copied, and that as much as can be has been developed. the Spantiks willl still be the boot of choice when altitude plays a serious factor – theres still a big gap between the two – but for all the lower-end-of-the-spectrum stuff where Spantiks were almost overkill, and Baturas not enough (ie multi-day trips with tech alpine in real cold but not body choking altitude) im hoping these fill the void. plenty of that coming up oover the next few months, but for another week its back in the box.

VERTO S6K & S8K ALPINE DOUBLE BOOTS FROM THE NORTH FACE

everyones getting in on the high alpine boots these days, with The North Face entering the fray with their Verto S6K Extremes

the north face alpine double boots verto S6K extreme

they are not the lightest double with integrated gaiter, being a few grams heavier than the scarpa 6000s, but part if thats down to using Olympus Mons-type slash-resistant fabric on the inner side (can be seen extending around the front a bit).

north face verto s6k extreme inside

after playing about with them they seem to work well so far, tho the real test will of course be when its really cold. nice to find is the way the lacing systems have been sort of reversed from the scarpas, with the gimmicky pull-tab laces on the inner where its less in the way, with a nice simple normal lace/velcro style on the outer.

 

north face verto s6k extreme inner boot

an element worth noting is that the inner boot is insulated with Primaloft and feels very much intended to function as a bootie on its own to wear about a basecamp. the sole, toe rand and toughened outer facing make these feel more durable than both the la sportiva and scarpa offerings, butt again, it will take a season or two to find out.

north face s8k boot

the 8000m-rated Verto S8K big sister is even more interesting, in many ways the next step on from the Olympus Mons. where the S6K has taken leaves from the 8000m style of boot, the S8K has absorbed elments of the precision of 6000m boots, in this case coming lighter than the Scarpa 8000s. again insulated by Primaloft with the same inner boot, the overall bulk compared to Scarpa 800s and Olympus mons is noticeably more streamlined, with a truer climbing toe box and closer overall fit.

north face verto s8k boot inside

inside is an inner boot the same design as the S6K uses but with double the insulation (400g/m primaloft instead of 200g/m), making them interchangable and a smart, seamless boot system for expeditions where the S6K can be used for acclimitizing efforts and the S8K switched in for the high stuff. other boot ranges have worked for this so far, but good to see it done specifically finally, with a system that packs down significantly smaller and lighter than other contenders.

when and if these boots will hit the international market is as yet undetermined – so far only an un-gaitered S6K is outsie Japan, tho being made in conjunction with a european boot specialist they may be hovering about in Chamonix, having been in the trade shows for a while now.

IT’S NOT CAPILENE!

quite a bit of feedback, even from those at the heart of the process, has been confused about the new Polartec High Efficiency fabrics, stating ‘it’s just Capilene’.

well, its not.

Capilene (and whatever other companies were calling it; grid, waffle etc) was a big deal when it emerged, making next-to-skin layers lighter and more efficient, whic then made everything on top of it more functional too. the reduced contact area combined with a more wicking textile and then spread oer a larger evaporation area was one of the biggest elements of progress in outdoor clothing for quite a while – even if it went barely noticed.

polartec high efficiency

 capilene

 side by side: High Efficiency (left), Capilene (right)

the new generation of High Efficiency takes all that further. what Capilene did H.E. does better, wicking faster due to a greater contact area-to-evaporation area ration, retaining more body heat in its more aerated structure, dumping that heat faster due to this same structure and ending up a lot lighter (in some cases 25%) – which all means it works even better under the layers over it, and if those layers are designed to go over it youre looking at advances that are a big leap even on just what was available a season ago.

polartec and capilene

this is not just a simple matter of Polartec coming up with a minor variation and flogging it as a big deal. the intentional development and release of multiple fabrics designed to go together is something only Polartec has the wherewithal to do, taking them from being ‘the fleece people’ to being ‘the system people’. and not only that, the fabrics available function along new parameters, ones mostly unobtainable until very recently when the technology caught up.

when would you want this stuff around you?

any time what you are wearing impacts how you perform in demanding conditions. hanging out at the mall little of this matters, but at 7000m in the Pamir or dropping quickly into a remote valley it does; you carry less weight, you need to fiddle about less with what you have on, you have a greater range of conditions you can function in and adapt to and you expend less energy maintaining your optimum condition.

you want this stuff around you if you want your other layers to work well, especially if you are expecting very little to work very hard by cutting weight and/or using it all across a broad spectrum of conditions. this has made up a big part of the Gear Testing Project where gear and clothing has to do just as well when slogging up steep snow to sleeping on frozen rock, from the windy ridges and peaks to the shady gullies and stifling train rides.

within a system of fabrics, tho Neoshell gets the attention and Alpha gets the enigma, its the High Efficiency variants that set the baseline. by upping the function of the prime factor (ie, the process of heat and moisture coming from your body) Polartec can be very specific with what else is in the system. obviously it has its marketing advantages, but the real winner is the person going hard when conditions are grim because they can expand their trust in a series of fabrics they know is meant to work in their favour.

FLIPPING THE FLUX 2/4: 1 + 1 = 3. THE TETON Bros MOUNTAIN PROJECT SYSTEM

PART 2

teton bros mountain project warmshell coolshell meta-system

‘Meta-systems defy the usual base-mid-shell-insulation paradigm, and the TMP skunkhouse team jettisoned those notions very fast. At R&D level meta-systems throw up interesting design projects that are not all simply reveling in the amazing textiles that have blown all definitions of how layering can work.

With offerings from Pertex, Polartec and Primaloft all flowing into each other, what was once a shell or insulation can now fit any number of roles.’

COMING SOON…..

 

WARM SHELL/COOL SHELL:PERTEX DV

Everyone raves about Neoshell and whatever comes out of Gore these days, but meanwhile another revolution has been quietly going on over at Pertex.

pertex teton mountain project proto

the cool-shell revolution: Teton Bros Mountain Project is producing game-changing designs in the latest Pertex fabrics

While Neoshell is the best yet of the full shell idea – coming at it from the bottom of the equation rather than the top to integrate with changes in the greater climbing mentality – it is more an interpretation of existing demands rather than anything new: valuable but no textile does everything.

Pertex DV does the rest.

For decades Pertex has been around as a shell fabric that relies on its weave, chemistry and DWR for weather repellency (and down repellency if youre thinking that way too).

Recently they have combined with the eVent membrane to produce DV

From there it has exploded, and with it new definitions for ‘shells’. Where the ‘hard-’, ‘soft-’, ‘wind-’ & ‘rain-’ shell concepts have become tired and lacking to keep up with the evolutions in climbing, the new terms of ‘warm-shell’ and ‘cool-shell’ describe things better, and for those involved with the FEEDBACK PROJECT they will get to see just how this functions.

After expanding beyond the sole Montane interface the latest DV variants cover a part of the spectrum not really addressed elsewhere. If you need to form a microclimate that demands a degree of heat retention (‘warm shell’) for the outer layer, choose Neoshell. If a ‘cool shell’ outer layer that releases moisture and protects without overheating is the demand, DV nails it spectacularly.

Stretch

This stuff stre-e-e-e-tches. Even the heavier versions have a 4-way mechanical stretch that makes it a pleasure to wear. Some variants don’t, which suits certain garments well and raises ideas for hybridizing.

Soft touch

Some versions have very appealing ‘peach-fuzz’ inner side that works well as a next-to-skin. Whilst not the same as Powerdry, its infinitely nicer than other shells at the same weight and aids in maintaining the feel-dry aspect of moisture control.

Low weight

The DV range comes in incredibly light, usually around half the lighter versions of Neoshell.

+20k breathability/+30k waterproofing

That’s pretty much the range of testing for most shells. DV is notable for not being extended to just meet these numbers, but easily meeting the standard – where it actually breathes/proofs to is not defined because the tests don’t go there.

Regarding breathability, it will always be a battle there as its open to so many more variables than waterproofness, the major one being garment design.

The true benefit in DV is its capacity to simplify the other garments you wear under it by integrating well with any base or mid layer: where a ‘full’ shell is too warm but the only thing with the proofness, thus pushing condensation levels, DV drops the equation back to the green zone.

Likewise by being fine against the skin, DV does away with needing extra-heating thin bases for wicking control.

Multiple textures

At the R&D level DV is a pleasure due to the inner and facing textures it can come in. from slick and shiny to dull and graphite-like, with from smooth to fuzzy inside.

This matters not just as an aesthetic matter, but for integrating with systems, allowing how one garment moves against another and where in the system it sits.

Warm shell vs cool shell

Be clear tho – DV doesn’t compete with Neoshell in every application. Neoshell is still the better choice for warmer ‘softshell-ish’ garments where a bit of insulation and toughness is a high priority. Don’t going replacing your Neoshell salopettes with DV ones if you plan on shuffling up chimneys.

Likewise if you want a standalone winter outer, Neoshell does in a single layer what DV would do over a microfleece/Powerstretch/Powerdry base.

Also, you wouldn’t shell-in down or Primaloft with Neoshell. Attempts at similar with Gore were always dubious – too heavy, didn’t release moisture well enough, didn’t really fit 99% of conditions that well. But this changes now with Pertex being the experts in containing down and other insulations.

Concepts for hybrid Neoshell/DV are well on their way and raise the bar for shell layers significantly.

Where DV does standalone well is either side of Neoshell – in very damp/humid conditions over the lightest baselayer going, or in very dry conditions where it is the wonder shell in your pack.

For high out put endeavors in the cold where you are mostly wearing un-membraned layers, DV is ideal for throwing over top without much sudden moisture build up inside. As stated before, if getting heat away from your body matters (to minimize condensation, in warmer conditions) DV fits the niche.

STREAMLINING WINTER

Winter days are short and every minute counts, especially on multiday trips where minutes add up to become hours and every drop of moisture builds up to make you colder as the nights go on. Theres things you can do to drop the weight of your gear and increase your endurance and strength, but if the equation is done right it should all result in greater efficiency.

things get done better and safer the more you are in a zone of stability. that means being as rested, well fed and ahead of the curve as you can. a day near the road doesnt demand much of this, but each day away shifts the equation of what matters and the ratio of weight-to-energy starts to change.

So heres a  few things that save minutes here and there and go a long way to streamlining the sorts of chain events that may become risks if unchecked. Oddly, much of it revolves around getting or discarding all sorts of bags.

 

①     Don’t stuff your sleeping bag and tent into those tiny little sacks

It’s a waste of time and space. Squeeze as much air out and just ram it into your pack, forcing into the nooks and corners. Efficiency includes things like getting out of the tent in the morning so just shove it in.

If getting things wet is a problem use a silnylon dry sack for the main pack contents, shoving the tent into the pack first and then the dry sack on top.

②     Use a rope bag

Take a tip from the caving, rescue and canyoneering scene. Coiling ropes is slow, tiring and wets your gloves – get a light stuff sack with a clip loop and learn how to pack a rope properly (biner thru the chin strap of your helmet or sternum strap on your pack and zip it in)

Tie the rope to the sack and you’ve just streamlined all your rappels as well, and if you tie it a meter or two before the end may just keep you alive. If things are really windy, go SAS style and feed the rope from the bag slung from your leg loop.

The time saved will be worth the extra 10gms.

③     Use thin bags for food

Pre-pack food like granola, couscous, pasta and maybe even coffee into ultra thin plastic bags then just put the bag in your mug and pour water into that. Serious gram junkies can re-use the one bag.

Saves washing, which saves water, fuel, time, messing about and potentially spilling stuff.

④     Carry a 20cm x 20cm square of foam for a snow spade

A dozen uses (stove base, snow scraper, sit mat etc) its #1 as a spade for putting snow into a snow bag, saving wet gloves.

⑤     Use a daisy chain as a screw bandolier

Something the French do. Don’t bother with screw holsters or fancy chest rigs, a regular aid daisy chain holds screws well and has multiple functions. A bit hard to get the screws into, but easy to remove, so better suited to single pitch stuff or where you have time to re-rack.

Clip round yourself with a biner, can even keep it in its regular function if pressed.

⑥     Put your hanging stove on a long hang cord with a munter

Hanging stoves don’t need to hang out of reach. Attach a length of 4mm run thru a munter on a biner on the ceiling for adjustability. Often just off the floor is a good level to hang at.

Also, a clip loop on the hanging kit gives a place to keep spoons (see point #10)

⑦     Get a baselayer with pockets

Headtorches, batteries, lighters and gloves all live better next to your skin. God only knows why, but few baselayers have real pockets, so maybe buying a midlayer a few sizes small will have to do.

Wet things like gloves are best NOT kept in your shells pockets, where they not only dry slower but also compromise breathability by clogging the under surface of the shell fabric.

⑧     Carry a fondue fork with your v-threader

Half f a v-thread is the threading (the other half is the drilling) and half of that is just getting the damned cord well placed in the hole. Carrying a spoke to set it well goes a long way to making things faster. The best ones are made from fondue forks.

⑨     Mesh bag for at night

Everything you don’t want freezing soon becomes a night time puzzle as you fish for it around your sleeping bag in the darkness (keep your headtorch around your wrist). A mesh bag keeps things together and findable.

⑩     Put a clip loop on your cup and spoon

Every big waller knows this. And not just to prevent losing it, but so you can hang it while your pour and not knock it over.