Product Review- Oktang GORE-TEX® Pro Shell Bib Pant

24 02 2014

Berghaus’s Techy Bit:

  • Durable and breathable Men’s Oktang GORE-TEX® Pro Bib Pant – offering a considered design and cut for all EXTREM™ mountaineering activities.
  • The 4-way stretch bib offers excellent comfort and protection against spindrift whilst giving an additional layer to provide warmth.
  • Full side zips allows ease-of-use while wearing crampons or skis
  • SuperFabric® reinforcement patch delivers the ultimate in crampon protection.
  • Weight (approx.): 704g

Oktang Bib Waterproof Trousers

Our Thoughts:

I am going to start this review where I should finish it, but I am going to let you know now that I think the trousers are absolutely fantastic! I have never had a pair of bibbed waterproofs before, but for winter mountaineering I am a convert.

The softshell bib offers an extra layer or warmth, probably equivalent to a thin micro fleece to your core, so you have to take this in to consideration when layering up at the start of the day. There are a couple of pockets high on the bib which are useful for a phone or compass if you wanted to store them somewhere other than in your jacket. The trousers do have pockets in the conventional place but I never found myself using them.

The trousers almost feel like softshell, they have a very soft feel to them. They barely rustle when walking and are just so comfortable to wear. Whilst testing them I found myself stopping and saying ‘these trousers are just so comfortable!’ (Clive Bontoft can vouch for that!) They seem durable enough and certainly show no signs of wear so far, time will tell.

I have a few pairs of salopettes, all with slightly different braces. These were the first pair I’ve had with velcro. Although a little aprehensive at first thinking it would be more likely to ping off then the others, I found they were spot on. Having a pair of bibbed waterproofs with a decent brace on come into their own when wearing a harness loaded with gear. Usually as your harness starts to slip a little it drags your trousers down with it, exposing the small of your back to the elements, but that simply can’t happen with these trousers, ideal! Below Central Gully, Great End

The trousers have a 2 way YKK Aquaguard  Vislon zip up the side right to the hip. I generally wear them from the car with a pair of leggings underneath, but I’d imagine there would be zero hassle putting them on over crampons (or Ski’s). The 2 way zip of course offers you the opportunity to go to the toilet without having to take off the braces.

One of my favorite features of the trousers has to be the reinforced kicker patch on the inside of the legs. The amount of times I have put my crampons through my trousers just above the novelty sized protector patch, it is great to see Berghaus  have put on a decent level of protection so clumsy clowns like myself don’t destroy a great pair of trousers in one kick. On the inside of the trouser you will also find a removable snow gaiter.

These trousers use the new generation Gore-Tex Pro. My feelings about it’s performance are the same as how I felt about it on the Ulvetanna. I hate having wet legs, but I loathe having warm legs even more. Not once whilst wearing these trousers did my legs feel like they were overheating. Besides, if you do run warm then you have a whole legs worth of zip to vent off if needed. I suppose, most importantly for a set of waterproofs, it might be worth mentioning they have always kept me dry.

Price wise the Oktang Bib retails at £300. This may seem pretty expensive for a pair of waterproof trousers, but if you do a quick Google search on some of the other big brands on the market such as Rab, ME, TNF, and Haglofs you will see that £250-£400 is the going rate for a decent set.

So to round it up, the Oktang Bib is a fab set of waterproofs trousers for those who want supreme comfort and protection, whether you are a walker or climber.

These trousers were tested on a variety of winter climbs and walks in the Lake District and Scotland.

Climbing at Brown Cove Crags

All photos taken by Clive Bontoft.





Product Review- Berghaus Ulvetanna Gore-Tex Pro Jacket

24 02 2014

Berghaus’s Techy Bit:

  • Developed with Berghaus athlete Leo Houlding for his expedition to Ulvetanna in Antarctica, the Men’s Ulvetanna GORE-TEX®Pro Jacket
  • Incorporating a unique, multi-adjustable hood that can be drawn tight for protection against the harshest conditions and allowing you to battle forward through the elements.
  • Uncompromised durability and breathability is achieved through utilising two grades of new generation GORE-TEX® Pro fabric
  • Streamlined 3D vents will keep you cool through times of high exertion.
  • Weight (approx.): 650g

Berghaus Ulvetnna

Our Thoughts:

When I got asked by Berghaus to select a jacket to test for them my eyes were immediately drawn towards the Ulvetanna, mostly because it was a bit different to a lot of other jackets I have worn in the past.

The Ulvetanna would fall into the category of  ‘heavyweight’ mountaineering jacket, although at 650g compared to the Rab Latok at 730g it could almost be regarded as lightweight! The feel and sound of the jacket would also give the impression of a much heavier jacket, but in the hands it doesn’t feel all that weighty. The jacket does sound ‘crunchy’, but I think once out on that crag getting battered by spindrift it adds a certain level of security, knowing that you are inside your fortress. Berghuas have utlisied tougher fabrics on the outside of the arms, shoulders, hood and hips to make the jacket more durable. With the vision that it would mostly be winter climbers wearing this jacket it also has a longer cut in order to provide further protection to the kidneys. I have never had a jacket this long before, and I was a bit apprehensive about it when I first tried it on. In all honesty, I began to love the longer cut. As Berghaus intended, it does offer loads more protection when climbing, but it is also quite nice when walking to have more protection from the rain and wind over the rear. It is also worth noting that there is plenty of volume within the jacket to layer up with an insulation layer without making the jacket seem too baggy without one on. Ulvetanna on Striding Edge

The main zip on the jacket curves to finish just off the center of the jacket. This is to make room for the X-Vent. I know years ago Berghaus did this on one of their jackets, but then it disappeared again. This was another feature I’ve never had on a jacket, but I do know how annoying it is to have your collar up and be steaming up your goggles or soaking the inside of the jacket. The X-Vent got a really good test when we were walking in to tackle Striding Edge in February. As we rounded the hill we were hit by strong winds transporting a lot of spindrift. I got my goggles on, got the hood up and pulled the zip to the top. We walked into the wind and I was in my own little cocoon. The high collar was fantastic and although there was some moisture building up on the inside of the vent, it would have been much worse without it- plus the goggles didn’t steam up. I ended wearing the jacket like this for the best part of the hour and at no point did it feel claustrophobic or irritating.

This brings me nicely onto the hood of the jacket. The hood is helmet compatible and has a stiffened peak which is very effective. With a helmet on the hood is great, but without it is probably the least desirable feature on the jacket, at first anyway. There is such a large amount of volume in the hood that it is hard to get it small enough to just fit a head. After a lot of playing around with the hood I did manage to get it small enough to operate without a helmet, the trick seemed to be in using the adjusters at the side instead of the back. I guess once again Berghaus envisaged the end user to probably be wearing a helmet most of the time whilst in the jacket, but there is no escaping the fact that the weather can be rubbish when walking in or out of the climb! The adjusters on the hood, although maybe a bit limiting, are nice and easy to use, especially with big  gloves.

Berguas UlvetannaMoving on to the pockets of the jacket. The jacket hosts 2 internal compartments which would be useful for keeping a phone or camera out of the elements, 2 chest pockets, and then a small pass pocket on the arm. The two front pockets are a little frustrating as they are tall and narrow. Ideal for carrying a camera, energy bars or a compass, but not much else. If you wanted to store your gloves in these pockets you would have to put one in each pocket. You will see from the pictures the jacket actually has 4 zips on the front of the jacket, but you may have also noticed that nothing has been said so far about underarm venting zips. The 2 outer zips are actually vents and not pockets, but when the vents are not in use they can easily be used as a pocket.  The vents are really effective, and as intended provide great core ventilation. The placement of the zips is also superb, and they are far easier to use than any underarm vent. My biggest gripe with this combination of pockets and vents is that there isn’t really anywhere to put anything. You can’t really use the vents as a pocket and a vent at the same time because you risk losing the items or getting them covered in snow or rain. You could put the bits inside the jacket and utilise the snowskirt to stop them from falling out the bottom, but then your putting stuff against the body that you are trying to cool down. A positive to draw is that the pockets are all nicely raised with large toggles for ease of use with a harness and gloves.

All this talk of venting naturally brings me onto the breathability of the jacket. The jacket uses two grades of the new generation Gore-Tex Pro, which is meant to be up to 28% more breathable than it’s predecessor. I must say I was really impressed! What with the jacket having such thick face fabrics to make it durable  I was expecting it to be quite a warm jacket to wear when walking, but it is anything but. To date, it is probably the most comfortable jacket I have ever worn in terms of climate control, superb. Matt Le Voi in the Ulvetanna

The cuffs on the jacket are absolutely bomber and never showed any signs of coming undone. They also provide enough room to allow the entire sleeve to come over gauntlet style climbing gloves. The removable snowskirt is a nice feature which adds to that ‘fortress’ feel whilst out in bad weather. The hem of the jacket also has an adjuster, which is nicely concealed out of the way so it’s not getting in the way of your climbing kit.

To conclude, it is obvious Berghaus had an intended end user for this jacket, and for the most part I think they have nailed it. If you are a winter mountaineer and you want 100% protection and durability, and want to feel comfortable whilst doing it all then you will like this jacket very much. Although it can be used just for walking, I feel think the voluminous hood would get a little frustrating. The biggest downside of the jacket would be the lack of pocket space, but if you are a fan of great vents and don’t really load up your pockets anyway then once again, this jacket is for you!

This jacket was tested on a variety of winter climbs and scrambles in both the Lake District and Scotland. 

Views from the summit of HelvellynAll above photos taken by Clive Bontoft.

George testing his Ulvetanna in Scotland

George Lloyd in the alternative colour option