North Face Varius Guide Pant

I bought these to be my main winter conditions walking trousers. Previously I have been wearing snowboarding pants. I wanted to keep that feel with the new trousers. Thick, completely waterproof and rugged. In terms of keeping snow and water out, the Hyvent material works perfectly. They have full leg side zips so you can put them on or take off without having to remove footwear and plenty of pockets which is always helpful. I get a lot of use out of thigh pockets and these have two of them. There are two downfalls to these pants though. 1. The elastic suspenders are attached to the front only. This really is a pain as I find no matter how high I have them, they tend to sag during the day which causes my t-shirt to roll up and makes for uncomfortable wearing. Also my rucksack would tend to weigh down on this back sagging and make the problem even worse. If only the suspenders were attached to the back of the trousers aswell. N.F thought they were being clever with front only suspenders. No!! which leads me to the next problem. 2. With the problem of having the pants sagging at the back, you may think that a belt would be the solution. Well that would be an acceptable fix if there was any belt loops!!

Mountain Equipment Touchstone Jacket

A mid-weight technical fleece. The first thing I noticed about this fleece is that it is quite thick but very light. The second thing I noticed had to be the cuffs. They have a stretchy inner layer to them that feels great and keeps the cold out. It really does a good job keeping me warm but its one of those layers that doesn't come out with me that often. Its great to throw on in a tent or back at the car and I can imagine its a layer that works well for climbers in dry conditions. I just rarely use a mid-weight fleece. Its not good for layering so is only really usable in certain conditions. I'm not a fan of the hood. It's a bit flappy with no beak or draw cord and I feel a bit like a jedi with it up. I'm also not that happy about the length. I understand that its designed with a climbers harness in mind but it could still have done with a few inches more for extra comfort and to keep the chill out. That said though, it does have a hem cord. My advice to M.E would be to improve the hood or ditch it completely and add a little more length. Apart from that it looks great and is really warm.

Rab Baltoro Guide

It was time for me to get a new soft shell and I was torn between this or a Mountain Equipment Astron. I found this in Go Outdoors for £140 and as soon as i tried it on, I knew I was walking out of the shop with it. One of the first things I liked was the fluffy fleece lining. It's a nice quality lining that works great in the hood at keeping my head warn and has a luxury feel to it. I've recently been in some nasty winter conditions in this soft shell and the Polartec Power Shield fabric has really kept the cold and wind out. It's also very soft and stretchy. Like most soft shells it is weather resistant but i wouldn't recommend carrying this alone if you expect some heavy rain. Light rain seems fine though. It has some nice big pockets in the front, a helmet compatible hood, hem and waist draw cords and decent velcro cuffs. It does seem a little long in the arms so I do feel the need to be using the velcro cuffs. This could bee seen as a good thing though for keeping the snow out. It's a bit pricey but you really appreciate the detail and features that Rab have added here.

Mountain Equipment Ogre

No chance in getting wet in this all round mountaineers waterproof jacket. I love the fact that it is longer than most waterproof jackets and the huge front pockets are really helpful. I also really like the stealth hood and the fact that it came with a whistle attached inside one of the pockets. I've been out in some very heavy rain in this jacket and have remained completely dry. It is also very light and packs down small so really good if your into lightweight hiking. If you want an award winning waterproof then look no further.

Berghaus Extrem XCR

I bought this initially to be my basic waterproof. Its a bit more of an alpine climbers jacket though. It has a very short cut which i assume is for harness use and a large high hood for wearing a helmet. I also find this a little too warm to wear as a waterproof and the hood is uncomfortable when not being used. I do like the large chest pocket and that the materials feel very strong.

Mountain Equipment AnnaPurna

This was an ebay purchase in my final panic of whether I would need something this substantial for the Himalayas. I must say that I havent worn it that much. M.E have been making this jacket for 40 years. It has a 675+ pure down fill, shoulder padding to withstand rucksacks and a zip off hood with volume adjuster. If you are heading for the polar regions or high altitudes then this is perfect for you. I love the huge warm pockets and the feeling of being totally protected from the harsh cold. Just need a reason to where it more.

Keela Quantum

My first soft shell jacket. I first saw this jacket in the Trail Magazine gear guide a few years ago. I instantly liked the look of it but with further researching on the Keela website, I found out that it is a favourite with Mountain Rescue teams and Tactical Forces. I also saw that Keela had received The Queens Award for Enterprise Innovation for their fabric technology. 3 years later this jacket has taken a beating. I've worn it as a mid layer in the winter and as a wind stopper the rest of the year. Its kept me warm in a tent at night, dry in mild showers and i've polished rock with it whilst scrambling without any rips or abrasions. Its a very tough but light material and the AirXtream advanced fabric stopped it sticking to my body when i got a little overheated. The pit zips were very useful aswell. My only niggle with this jacket and it is only small is that the internal hood system felt a little restricting when it was stowed away and the jacket zipped up.

Berghaus Spectrum Fleece

This fleece is Interactive meaning it has attachment points so that it can be fused with an

outer jacket. Personally i think as part of a layering system this fleece is too thick. I've taken it out on a cold day in the lakes and had to remove it almost immediately. I prefer to wear a more versatile micro fleece. This has become something I would put on back at the car and not worn during physical activities. On the plus side it is very comfortable and warm.

Mountain Equipment Micro Jacket

Really soft, light weight Polartec fleece. A great mid layer or to take the nip off. I like the large zipped pockets and the loose soft collar.

Lowe Alpine Trail Hat

Warm fleece lined and waterproof. A beak to keep the rain out of your eyes and storm flaps to protect your ears from the wind and cold. Soft, comfortable and does the job.

Berghaus Neck Gaiter

Simple and effective Powerstretch Neck Gaiter. I've forgotten a few times to take it out with me and regretted it especially on those brutally windy winter days when ice is blowing up in my face. Geordie wore his on his head once in Wales after forgetting his hat and almost looked normal.