The web has hundreds of reviews for Fibrepile and Pertex products, so I don’t want to harp on about the merits of the system (suffice to say, as a tightfisted fellow, I saw fit to part with my hard gotten coinage in exchange for this jacket). Anyway, I’d come across Paul Hobbs of Mountain Craftsman some time ago. Paul makes all kinds of things from fleeces to tents and even repairs damaged kit. Where Mountain Craftsman stands out from so many other manufacturers though, is that he will make made-to-measure clothing that fits beautifully.
Paul’s Fibrepile product range is as extensive as you want it to be; whether you want a simple Fibrepile Gilet, or a fully spec’ed mountain jacket with a windproof Pertex outer, just tell him what you’re after and he’ll suggest some tweaks and extras you may like; you choose what you want and work can begin. Obviously if you want your jacket tailor made to fit you, you’re going to need to give Paul your various measurements and it will take some time to get the cut sorted out and put it all together, so don’t order it the weekend before you head for your Winter climbing fix.
From my first enquiry, through some discussion regarding the design (and lots of indecision by me regarding the colour), to actual delivery of the finished jacket, the whole process took around eight weeks. I am under the impression that this was much longer than usual; mostly my fault for being picky and awkward and probably a bit to do with being a beanpole and Paul having to work out what shape I am! The finished article also came to considerably less than similar products from the big name brands with a guarantee from Paul that I could return the jacket if I wasn’t happy with it for modification or refund. Super!
Straight out of the bag impressions were very good; the jacket has very clean lines, the stitching is all finished to a very high standard and the jacket looks very smart. On it went. At first, I found the armpits to be a little more ‘invasive’ than other jackets. However, I’ve never had a tailor made jacket of any sort before so it is unfair to compare them. Also, Pile and Pertex work best when worn close to the skin, if the armpit was very roomy, it would simply wet out and get cold, the snug fit however keeps all parts of the jacket in contact with your body and feeling warm, even when wet (a bit like a wetsuit, but not as… revealing).
If you’ve never worn Fibrepile before, it feels a bit like snuggling into a warm fluffy towel. In heavy rain you feel wet, but snug and cosy and the Pertex outer blocks the wind! A few experimental twists and reaches showed minimal lifting and complete freedom to wriggle however I pleased.
After several months of wearing it Winter wildcamping, climbing, biking, bushcrafting, body sliding, canoeing and shepherding (even road rolling!) I absolutely love it! I long for grim weather so I can wear it. As it was made to measure and fits so impeccably, the jacket fits perfectly under belay jackets, waterproofs, harnesses, rucksacks and buoyancy aids. Even the under arm zips which initially concerned me have proved to be really comfortable. Yes they felt weird at first, but actually, they are soft and help me feel snug, warm and after a while I don’t notice them.
Hoods have in the past always been a bit on the small side for me, even “helmet compatible” hoods have only been comfortable without a helmet, so I told Paul this and the hood is the best I’ve got! Plenty of room to snuggle into without a helmet and enough space to spare that when I do want a helmet, it goes over easily and I can still move my head freely. The hood and hem both have toggles to tighten up if its really gnarly out, these are are very tidy, easy to use and don’t flap about in wind, but are a tad fiddly though still possible if you insist on using only one hand.
As I’ve already said, there are many reviews of Pile and Pertex clothing already floating around the Interweb, it isn’t going to get another one here, but it really is the first piece of clothing I reach for, it goes on, stays on, and is the last piece to come off when I get back. No faffing with layers or repacking a rucksack. Just pure simple function.
Mountain Craftsman can source various fabrics including a range of fleece, waterproof and Nikwax Analogy fabrics to create high quality well fitted garments, with custom features to suit your needs, at very competitive prices.
Price: £120 inc postage
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