Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Welcome to Westcomb

It's been a long, tiring and slightly shitty day trying to make final changes to my PhD thesis. Not only can I no longer see the wood for the trees, I've lost sight that any carbon-based botanical life forms were involved to begin with. I'm going dizzy staring at words I once wrote, not really sure whether they make sense on either a micro or macro level anymore. Oh well. If it's OK - it passes, and if the worst comes to worst, I fail. No one dies. I don't get blown up. Could be worse. So chin up and all that. Crack on.

Anyway, mid-afternoon the postman came and I got a parcel, and these things can cheer you up. It was some Westcomb kit for me to test for UKC, from the chaps at Beyond Hope, Westcomb's UK distributors. Westcomb are a young, small Canadian firm made up as I understand it of some folk who used to work as designers at Arc'teryx. They are new to the UK market this winter, so obviously are looking for some reviews in the outdoor media as part of becoming a better known brand.

I'm trying out a Spectre LT Hoody - a lightweight eVent shell jacket, and a pair of Recon Pants (I really have to try and get over my childish delight at North American trousers being called pants - for Brits, doing some 'recon' in your pants is an image with huge comic potential). The Recon Pants are softshell trousers made out of fancy Schoeller Dynamic material. Indeed it's so fancy it has "Nanosphere technology" - which just sounds da' bomb and I'm sure will fascinate and impress all my friends.

My first impression: are these Canadian dudes goths? I got a black jacket, where even the logo is black. Black on black - all very "tactical". The trousers are also dark grey that at a distance looks, well, black. This isn't fair, because looking on the Westcomb website, other colours including bright ones are available, but Beyond Hope sent me what is the most popular in the UK market. So, it must be that my fellow Brit climbers are goths. Or perhaps it's just this season that the ninja-look is going to be in.

On a more serious note, the Arc'teryx heritage is clearly visible: great silhouettes, great cutting creating a sculptured fit, very careful and close stitching, clever bonding technology, no loose threads, no raggedy edges. Real attention to detail stuff. I'm excited to try an eVent jacket and see if it lives up to its rep for great breathability. I've never been a huge fan of Goretex due to my well proven capacity to sweat at a considerably higher volume than the transmission capability of Goretex, even though it has improved over the years.

Note the "made in Canada" label - not something you see too often in apparel these days. As a subscriber to the Economist, I swallow my weekly neo-liberal-hegemony pill regularly enough to really believe that "Made in Canada/Wales/Finland" doesn't necessarily guarantee anything is better than something with a "Made in Vietnam/China/Bangladesh" in it. But clearly for Westcomb living next to their production line is a big part of the growing reputation for quality. We shall see. The forecast for the end of week is for sleet and wind. Just the ticket.


Zzzzzz said...

Now all you need are fingerless gloves....


John said...

So what did you end up thinking of your Westcomb kit? Cheers, John

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Hi John, quite a long time ago now but the reviews (both positive) are at:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=2538 Soft shell trousers.

http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=2285 eVent Jacket.

I subsequently used the trousers every day on ski touring trip and decided that actually that is what they are perfect for. The baggy trousers ends go over my telemark boots really well.