When undertaking “normal” activity, that is in essence what we would describe as everyday life, our instinct is usually to travel as lightly as possible. Generally speaking heavy clothing will make us slower, more tired and less agile. This is why most sports involve some form of “kit” which is appropriate to the activity in question. At the light end we swim wearing one solitary item of clothing and play field sports often wearing shorts and a short sleeved shirt.
Climbing however, in its various forms, is not a normal sport in the sense that the objective is to complete an assignment successfully whilst remaining safe at all times. It is seldom a race, and even when time is a factor it is never placed ahead of safety. Making the wrong choices could result in serious trouble and, in extreme instances, even death. Being properly equipped is not a choice, it is an obligation.
One company manufacturing various items of climbing gear is Outdoor Research, which describes itself as “an outdoor gear company focused on creating functional solutions for human powered adventure”.
“Functional solutions” in this instance refers to heavy duty balaclavas, gaiters, fleece beanies, cold weather suits and ski gloves. The challenge is to employ modern materials and designs in making products which are as light as is possible without compromising on their ability to successfully discharge their role. For instance balaclavas worn when climbing are not merely the light woollen items protecting the ears that we see some children wearing to school on cold days, but rather a carefully constructed solution involving maximum face coverage and neck gaiter with warm synthetic material for ultimate protection even in sometimes perilous conditions.
Keep a Warm Head
Retaining warmth to the head is one of the most important factors in adventure sports, and as well as being small and light headwear is so easy to adjust, add or discard according to circumstances and to individual preference.
Similarly gloves for climbing need to be so much more than a simple means of keeping the fingers warm. Instead they strike a calculated balance between insulation and dexterity, with ample nylon lining and a waterproof insert.
Outdoor Research’s ultimate warmth-giver is a one-piece, all in one winter Saturn suit that is often worn underneath more standard outdoor gear for climbing. Made from nylon and Lycra it is highly breathable in spite of its heavy appearance, and is ambitiously guaranteed by the manufacturer to last forever.
Article brought to you by David, a keen rock climbing enthusiast.