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Clothing tech query

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
So, probably a really annoying question, but I'm going to ask it anyway and potentially start a fight! But I am genuinely interested in knowing the answer!

I've been skiing annually or twice annually since 2008, having been on school trips in the mid/late 1990s. I consider myself a useful skier. During the past 8 years I have been on the slopes from December to March in a range of locations and weather. I rack up the km and tend to ski at a useful pace, whilst tackling cruisy stuff to things like the Swiss Wall.

During this time I have uniquely used extremely cheap equipment. Pretty much 100% puchased from TK Maxx for very few pennies. Given the price I've tended to have a couple of jackets and trousers at anytime so that if they get wet/damaged/stolen then I have a spare pair. I reckon I've spent no more than £50 on any jacket and £40 on trousers - mainly Quicksilver but also some Trespass and No Fear trousers. Socks I think are just socks from when I was at school in the 90s! Never had to wear leggings and undertops are just a long sleeve top of any kind to stop me sweating on the jacket and T shirt over the top of that, depending on the weather.

The only time I've ever been cold is in my knuckles when my nice gloves finally perished coming down from the top of Ischgl in early Jan when it was about -15.

So why do people spend so much money on shells, or other gubbins like merino wool? (I get it if you're an instructor standing around all season teaching 5 year olds)

Educate a non believer!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
FWIW. This is the conclusion I've come to.

Buy decent Gloves, Goggles, Base Layers and Socks....know where to look and these needn't be expensive (Generally half price or less).

For skiing one or two weeks a year, Jackets from the likes of Surfanic, Tresspass and Dare 2b are perfectly fine...but it's worth looking out for Techy Bargains. I've just snagged a Scott Goretex/Thinsulate Jacket for less than 60 quid (reduced from 300).

Fleeces from the likes of Karrimor for less than 20 quid are fine.


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Wed 14-12-16 0:23; edited 1 time in total
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I bought cheap when I first started 9 years ago, all in one ski suit for £12 off Ebay (subsequently sold for £25 on eBay a few years later!) and cheap stuff mainly from mountain warehouse.
Gloves I have upgraded a couple of times, buying cheap is false economy. Still have original MW thermal base layers, but have added aldi merino to the collection. Socks are worth getting half way decent ones when they are on sale to be warm and comfy. Bought some surfanic pants and jacket in the sale a while back.

Thing is nowadays between sport pursuit, tkmaxx and Decathlon you can get some pretty decent gear for not a lot anyway.
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I've started to replace my thermals when I need to with merino. I had some old lovely Oslo thermals, but they were starting to get holey and a bit smelly too quickly. Merino apparently doesn't get smelly even if you don't wash it.

With regards to jackets, I've ditched anything with insulation as I just get too hot. It's easier to just wear more or less underneath depending on the weather. I'm heading that way with my legs too. I do look for a high waterproof rating though as getting soaked through can really mess up the enjoyment of your day.

I never spend mega bucks though*, I look for good value.

*my Hestra gloves were quite pricey.
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hammerite wrote:
I've started to replace my thermals when I need to with merino. I had some old lovely Oslo thermals, but they were starting to get holey and a bit smelly too quickly. Merino apparently doesn't get smelly even if you don't wash it.

With regards to jackets, I've ditched anything with insulation as I just get too hot. It's easier to just wear more or less underneath depending on the weather. I'm heading that way with my legs too. I do look for a high waterproof rating though as getting soaked through can really mess up the enjoyment of your day.

I never spend mega bucks though*, I look for good value.

*my Hestra gloves were quite pricey.

I agree with this all the way. Gore-Tex (cut price sale stuff) without insulation top & bottom, merino for un-smelly warmth. Finished with expensiveish Hestras. Next I need to treat myself to some posh goggles to complete the outfit Smile
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@musher, great minds... my jacket is goretex £300 rrp, £79 from TK Maxx.
New helmet this year, Smith Vantage £170 rrp, £60 from Amazon. Flash Smith IO goggles to go with the helmet £20, should have been about £100.
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You can buy the top brands at great prices on sportspursuit.com but it will still be more than £50 for a jacket and until you try good quality stuff you'll never know the difference in technology, cut, fit, usability, durability.

With decent kit; merinos, down and shell you don't buy every year, they are useful for other activities (I wear mine all the time) and you can replace on a rotation every five years or so. I've had the same mitts for twenty years and they still work perfectly. I've had a Helly Hansen thermal, i estimate 30 years, and wear it for cycling all the time and keep it in my rusksack as an extra ski layer.

Also, layering is way better for setting up properly on different days and as the weather changes. The fact is you never see any experts in extreme situations in cheap kit, because it doesn't work as well and could be dangerous.
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@Badbobby, most skiers start off with lower prices or dual purpose ski clothing when they first start, as they didn't know at the time if it was a one off. I know that I followed the standard C&A route back in the 80's.

As you say you haven't found any need to spend any more. But you are in effect buying medium priced items at a massive discount. Your key comment, is that you don't feel cold, if you did that would probably be the driver to upgrade, whatever that means.

I guess it also comes down to what makes you happy. Are you the same with other aspects of your life, house, kitchen, car, TV etc? If you wanted to spend £500 each on a ski jacket and pants, would you?
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For one or two weeks a year, holiday skiing, whatever keeps you warm, dry and happy is absolutely fine.

I typically ski 60 days a year. My first (to me) shockingly expensive jacket was bought in 2000 and was iirc £400 at the the time. But it was astonishingly performant in the worst of weathers, had an excellent collar (so kept my lower face protected), pockets every where I wanted and most importantly ... lasted 12 years including some sailing in Scotland and various other pursuits. So at around 50p a day, remarkably good value.

I will not go skiing on a day when it's raining everywhere but there are many days when it's snowing high up but you pass through rain layers in between...I don't enjoy skiing in the wet.

Also, while things like fleeces are more or less commodities and I ski in quite a lot of Decathlon kit - you do get exceptions. The new insulations haven't yet filtered down to that level so teh Arc'teryx Atom line of mid layers are extraordinary in keeping you at just the right temperature in a very wide range of conditions.

Down is also something that it's not worth skimping on. My coldest weather down jacket is not quite as toasty as it was but it is 13 years old... Clearly getting good stuff at enormous discounts though is a smart plan.
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Hi

I started as many did with the more bargain end of the spectrum in terms of ski clothing. Over the years I have upgraded items such as socks to Falke SK4's and base layers to Icebreaker. In terms of jackets I am North Face Hy-Vent shell orientated at the moment - like the fact that many of my fleeces are zip in compatible so very easy to layer depending on weather conditions. Keep toying with the idea of an Arcteryx shell but only if I can get one in the sales !! Did buy a Marmot Gore-Tex jacket last year - a good investment and not overly expensive - used for skiing and also hill walking in the Pennines where the rain can be quite something !!

Griggs
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I'd say; fashion, large disposable incomes, peer pressure, desire - all the usual reasons.

Oh, and in respect of technical clothing; the ability to stay out in really rubbish weather.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
At the risk of sounding "right on", my main reason for not buying extremely cheap equipment is that I try and buy at the more ethical end of the spectrum. I'd prefer it if my gear wasn't made by a 9 year old on 20p a day or nicked from a passing goose.

Naturally involves spending a bit more.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Interesting. Still not very convinced (apart from the ethical choices, which I understand)
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Merino baselayers definitely not a false economy (not that they need to be that expensive either - rewoolution, available occasionally on sportpursuit are excellent)

I personally buy more expensive gear, generally made in Europe/US from brand names because it's better quality, lasts longer and (one pair of acid-yellow gore-tex trousers aside) I use all of it year round for cycling/dog-walking/generally-being-outdoors as well as skiing. The cheap stuff simply doesn't put up with the abuse I give it.
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@Badbobby,

To be honest you are only ever going to be convinced if you try some better gear and find it works sufficiently better to be worth the extra money.

These days I only buy good quality kit but hardly ever pay full price - I am a sucker for a bargain. And to be honest I am even wondering whether I should just pay full price to get exactly what I want (rather than make compromises). The reason I say that is that the two most expensive bits of outdoor clothing I have ever bought (Arc'teryx Sidewinder jacket in 2004 at £400! Arc'teryx Theta bibs in 2005 - was in NY when £ was strong so "only" £280) have been utterly impeccable in use and still perform really well. They are superficially quite simple but in use you find that the cuts and features just work really well with nothing superfluous. For example the hood of the jacket just moves with your head in such a way that your vision is clear and it doesn't flap. The collar is high and stiffened to really shield your face but comfortable against your skin and easy to unzip/adjust with one gloved hand.

Now, for lift served skiing in anything but disgusting weather all of this is simply "nice to have" but if you do anything more adventurous then you do want clothes that you have a lot of confidence in if you get stuck out in awful conditions.

And "nice to have" may be enough depending on how tight money is. After all loads of people drive SUVs or BMWs when a Ford Focus would be completely adequate.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Shells because getting too hot is more common than getting to cold (plus I use them all year for hiking etc too).

Merino (actually merino hybrid) because I don't have to wash it much, and it works well when doing things like hiking uphill (and I use it year round for hiking/kayaking etc too). FWIW I did used to just wear cotton t-shirts under a shell, and while it worked merino-hybrid layers simply work better and keep me drier and more comfortable.

Good quality because I'd rather buy good once and have top performance for 6 seasons than buy a cheap new jacket each season and get mediocre performance all the time. Environmentally this is pretty important, when you look at the resources consumed to make a jacket.

Depends what you're doing though. If you stick to the pistes (i.e. are at most 2 mins from a hut serving hot chocolate at all times) and don't ski when you get that warm snow/almost rain sort of weather that seeps through all clothes apart from Goretex when sitting on a lift (and don't do other sports where you can re-use kit all year), then there's little point in buying better kit.
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jma wrote:
I personally buy more expensive gear, generally made in Europe/US from brand names because it's better quality


Which brands are these then?
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hammerite wrote:
I've started to replace my thermals when I need to with merino. I had some old lovely Oslo thermals, but they were starting to get holey and a bit smelly too quickly. Merino apparently doesn't get smelly even if you don't wash it.

With regards to jackets, I've ditched anything with insulation as I just get too hot. It's easier to just wear more or less underneath depending on the weather. I'm heading that way with my legs too. I do look for a high waterproof rating though as getting soaked through can really mess up the enjoyment of your day.

I never spend mega bucks though*, I look for good value.

*my Hestra gloves were quite pricey.


Basically the same for me. Bought merino wool base layers in sales. Ditched insulated jacket and pants for shell versions, not expensive but with decent waterproof ratings. Cant live without my Hestra mitts.
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I like to wear a decent base layer top because I'm a large, sweaty individual and a cotton shirt would quickly get wet, cold and uncomfortable. I've got expensive salopettes because someone on the EoSB was selling them at a decent price and I'd ripped my old set. I've spent £100 on a jacket because...
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Interesting. I can see the hiking uphill issue re getting too hot and can also see how going off back country and getting lost and cold can both require specialist expensive clothing.

My jackets tend to last as long as it takes to cover them in candle wax in some bizarre pub accident or have them stolen like in Mayrhofen...!
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@Badbobby You came on with a provocative stance, have been inundated with lots of versions of the same argument and you don't want to buy it. The reality is that the cheap kit probably suits what you need it for, but for many of us it doesn't and we'd prefer to be warm/cool/dry depending on the weather. Until you take the plunge you'll never know but most of us have done what you're doing and prefer what we now do.
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i got o"neill ski trousers from tk maxx for £60, on the internet they were £150, i guess it depends if your a brand snob or not, i think there are a lot of good companies out there that make reasonably priced and very good skiwear, tog24 being one, my mate only wears dare2be, and he goes off on mountaineering expeditions. i appreciate some snobs wont look at anything under £200 for a pair of gloves, but i bet £100 of that is just paying for a fancy label.
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skribble wrote:
@Badbobby You came on with a provocative stance, have been inundated with lots of versions of the same argument and you don't want to buy it. The reality is that the cheap kit probably suits what you need it for, but for many of us it doesn't and we'd prefer to be warm/cool/dry depending on the weather. Until you take the plunge you'll never know but most of us have done what you're doing and prefer what we now do.


Ouch. Brand snobs never like being questioned Wink late edit: I haven't called anyone a snob. Must have touched a nerve.

And I wasn't provocative, merely starting a forceful debate.

The analogy is fair with cars though. But then I use good value older cars rather than new ones, so I use the same logic for ski clothes.

As I said, I can see the benefit if you're an off pister but just seems snobbery on piste. IMVHO


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Wed 14-12-16 20:34; edited 1 time in total
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Quote:

As I said, I can see the benefit if you're an off pister but just seems snobbery on piste. IMVHO


Not necessarily, not everyone is familiar with the lesser known brands, so buying a well known brand may be considered the risk averse option for someone that is looking to save money by not replacing their gear regularly.

The lesser known brand may of course be superior in reality, but the person buying may not be aware of that and simply opts for a well known and perceived to be reliable brand.

Others may have a far greater knowledge and realise they can get bargains, but its not necessarily snobbery that causes people to spend more initially, they may have the exact opposite intent and be concerned about spending more in the long run by going cheaper now!
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Calling everyone who disagrees brand snobs is getting a bit provocative i must say.
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@essex,Ha! This is the most middle class forum ever, I must say! I could argue that crying and calling me provactivr for suggesting people might have wasted their hard earned cash is the truth hurting. I'm very much interested, which is why I started the topic.

@vjmehra, very good points. Why people buy a poverty spec 3 series instead of, say a skoda Octavia, moreso a golf which is pretty much the same car.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And its a topic worth discussion. Some are more budget minded than others i guess. I tend to buy expensive brand name gear and a lot of it, but you can do what you like, doesn't make either of us better. If you stay warm/cool dry and happy then good on yah.
I will admit to prominemtly positioning my Armani ski jacket label at lunch now and then so i guess brand snob fits, but that's part of my ski trip fun with my hard earned money.
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Wear what you like - it's not actually a huge deal. People who spend a lot of time outdoors or like skiing storm days or serious sub zero may have different requirements. Even though stuff like Norrona and Arc't is good kit there is a certain amount of halo effect which makes it in part an aspirational buy. Equally brands like North Face can have stuff which should properly be regarded as fashion wear rather than technical, while e.g. Dare2be's high end stuff , which you rarely have to pay full price for, can be pretty decent if not as long term durable as the flagship brands.

Anyway if it isn't opulently embroidered Bogner probably you haven't really made it in life wink
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@Dave of the Marmottes,

Something dirty inside does make me want to buy Bogner plus some fighter pilot helmet/goggles efffort!
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Ah yes i forgot about Bogner stuff, looks damn ugly to my eyes.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I rate stuff like Mountain Equipment's jackets and Trangoworld pants as top quality for really harsh conditions such as ice climbing and skiing in storms etc. But for general skiing the last few years I've worn top of the range softshell jackets from Dare2B and they have proved very reliable and much more breathable than a hard shell, even in some pretty tough conditions such as ski touring at night in 80km winds.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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I have to admit to being one of these naughty people who sees nice stuff in a shop like Ellis Brigham, my eyes water at the price, so try it on (without needing help from a member of staff so as not to waste people's time), then try to see if I can get the item cheaper elsewhere. If I can't I don't bother buying it or just keep an eye out long term for a bargain, like I did with the Smith helmet. I have to say the Smith helmet was the most comfortable helmet I've tried on for a long time - so not snobbery at all.

A load of my other kit comes from TK Maxx which is just really pot luck of stumbling across something that is good quality and cheap. You have to sift through some crap though and be aware of stuff with a decent name that's looks to have been specially made for the cheaper TK Maxx price point, so,possibly isn't the quality of their other kit.
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On the Tk Maxx subject, this and last years kit has been garbage.
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I got an Icebreaker top in TK Maxx for about £30 last year. I wouldn't dream of paying £60-70 for a t-shirt, but at that price I thought I'd take a punt and see what everybody else on here was raving about wink

I was so impressed I've just got another from SnowInn for £35.

It sometimes pays to be outsized.
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Badbobby wrote:
On the Tk Maxx subject, this and last years kit has been garbage.

They had quite a bit of North Face down here a month or so ago. Some of that looked OK, but I must agree that it hasn't been a very impressive display so far this season.
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Quote:

Given the price I've tended to have a couple of jackets and trousers at anytime so that if they get wet/damaged/stolen then I have a spare pair. I reckon I've spent no more than £50 on any jacket and £40 on trousers

Whereas over that time I have skied quite a bit more than that (probably about 200 days) and only had one jacket and one pair of trousers over that time, but spent more than £100. Having experienced heavy rain while skiing I now confess that I am a goretex fan. As to underclothes (baselayers) etc. I have found almost any material with the exception of cotton fine.

As to not wearing expensive ski speciific clothing I have learnt to respect French school girls wearing jeans with gaitors.
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@Scarpa,
Quote:

ski touring at night in 80km winds.


There must be a good story there - please tell
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Badbobby wrote:
Educate a non believer!
Have you ever skied in the rain? Have you ever skied when it's been close to +20 degrees? Bog standard kit does fine in bog standard weather. But when the weather gets a bit extreme, such as very wet, very warm, very cold, etc then decent kit makes a difference, perhaps between stopping or carrying on.
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Very much a case of what works for you, and what you can afford. Happiness is finding that balance.
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Found a good quote:

“It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When
you pay too much, you lose a little money - that's all. When you pay
too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you
bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The
common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a
lot - it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well
to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will
have enough to pay for something better.”
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