5.16.2009

Lighten the Load


Lightweight and Ultralightweight gear is hard to come by in the Netherlands. Strange that in a land without mountains, traditional, full-on mountaineering gear is so dominant in gear shops. You'd imagine that lightweight philosophy would take hold easily in this part of the world: the hill-fit are hard to find, long car/train/plane journeys are required to get to the hills, crossover gear is more suitable for use between trips and when you make just a handful of trips a year durability isn't top priority. Whilst light isn't right for everybody I'm prepared to bet that it's right for most poeple in this part of the world. So why do the gear shops insist on peddling heavy-weight kit? Why do I see people walking through the tulip fields wearing crampon compatible boots every spring?

Most of my majour purchases in the last couple of years have been made overseas. Some of this has been motivated by advantageous exchange rates, first the dollar and later the pound, but the main reason has been to acquire excellent kit developed and manufactured by small, inovative companies that understand the requirement (my requirement) for no-frills functionality in a lightweight package. I'm more frequently asked to pass on details of suppliers. Manufacturers I've used are already listed. I've added some new links to the small, independent retailers who've done so much to make light and ultralight gear avalable in the UK (long may they flourish!). The list isn't exaustive. It simply reflects the companies I've used and that are familiar to me. I'll continue to update both gear and retailers lists as and when I discover new ones.

2 comments:

  1. Even living in the UK (scotland) I find that I buy most of my gear online from the same small innovative manufacturers or the small independant shops for the same reasons.

    If you go into any of the big retailers (Tiso's, Cotswold's, Ellis Brigham's etc) you mostly find heavy, over engineered kit that's pretty outdated when compared to offerings by specialist companies.

    You do find some of it coming through though from the like's of Haglofs, OMM, Various footwear brands and the like.

    I even picked up a cracking pair of Arc'teryx power-stretch gloves in EB's on the way to Skye...

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  2. Yeah, suppose its a wider problem than just NL. There doesn,t even seem to be a minority movment in NL though.If the mainstream manufacturers were getting it right I supose there would be no room for the cottage industry thats developed such a head of steam. Interesting though. Ten years or so ago I used to browse through the Golite stuff on the web and think it was radical and not suitable for our climate (yes I even bought into that old chestnut). Now I see that EB's stock golite rucksacks! Lightweight has come a long way. One niggling concern though, It seams to me that compromises are being made. Golite is getting mainstream and their gear seams to be getting heavier. The Jam 2 'sack has increased in weight very significantly since its introduction, its now around 800g which is not that impressive for a frameless 50l pack. Are compromises being made to try to sell volumes? Are big retailers imposing their will?

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