Tag Archives: Rohan

Rohan: superb service

Hats off to Rohan for their superb service. After my positive experience with my Montane Sportwool Terra T on the TGO Challenge, I had been looking for another hybrid merino/synthetic base layer. The Rohan Union T looked just the job. However, I dallied and when I searched for one today they had sold out. Disaster!

I asked on Twitter whether they were going to restock them. Their Twitter master suggested I get in contact with customer services. Within ten minutes of emailing them, they came back asking what colour. Within an hour they had located some in my size. I phoned their customer service line and ordered two, one in green and one in navy (in case they never make them again). I also got them at the sale price.

Well done to Rohan for their excellent use of social media and terrific customer service.

Disclaimer: I have no relationship with Rohan. 

Rohan Windshadow hood mod

Funny how old posts pop back into life. Back in March 2012, I did a round up of gear I’d used in the Carneddau.I mentioned the Rohan Windshadow jacket, which is an excellent wind-proof but has a poorly designed hood.

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In keeping with modern designs, the hood is lycra bound and not adjustable. This is next to useless when it’s windy as it can’t be cinched down. In the review, I mentioned that I’d modified the hood to make it adjustable. I said I was going to do a post on it, but never got round to it. At the weekend, up pops a comment by David asking for some details, so here it is.

IMG_0652I’m always constrained by my limited sewing skills. In an ideal world, you’d want an adjustable cord enclosed in a tube. However, that would entail removing the lycra and folding over the hood material and re-sewing. That’s well beyond my capabilities. So, instead, I’ve used a series of brass eyelets to control the draw cord. The larger top one was a mistake and I should have used small ones for all the holes. The picture above shows the outside of the hood.

IMG_0653The picture above shows inside the hood. Between the bottom two eyelets, I used a micro cord lock. This is quite neat as it is hidden and I can instantly tighten the hood just by pulling on the cord. The top of the cord is secured with a few stitches.

This mod isn’t going to win any awards for looks or design, but it is one way you can make a lycra bound hood adjustable. I really like the Windshadow jacket and now the hood is usable, whereas before, it was next to useless. I hope that helps you David!

Dartmoor gear feedback

I mainly used old favourites like the Scarp 1, Gossamer Gear Mariposa, Alpkit Pipedream 400 and Ecco Biom Hike Mids. All of which performed to the high standards that I expected of them.

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The only new piece of gear that I used was the Paramo Fuera Ascent jacket. At 400g, it’s heavy for a windproof, being more than twice the weight of the Montane Litespeed jacket and heavier than many waterproof jackets.

However, it does have some advantages over other windproofs. The massive venting zips, which run from the upper arm to nearly the waist are excellent for controlling body temperature. This was especially noticeable on my first full day of walking when it was sunny, but with a keen wind. By opening and closing them, it was easy to disperse the build up of fug that you can get with most windproofs.

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Part of the reason for the heavier weight is the material is a lot thicker than the Pertex used by most of the competition. Although not really tested this time around, I’ve found the Fuera more water resistant than competing jackets, which gives more flexibility in changeable weather conditions.

The sleeves are wide enough to roll up for ventilation and have Velcro adjusters so they can be cinched down if necessary, which is far superior to the elasticated cuffs normally found on windproofs. The hood is also excellent with a proper volume adjuster and a wired peak. The two chest pockets are a good size for phone, compass, hat and gloves.

The only thing I didn’t like is the usual Paramo dangly cords. It’s a shame they don’t make a version in the lighter fabric they use for the Velez Light, as the weight would probably drop to 250-300g. I also have the Fuera smock, which is lighter, but I think the Ascent is better, because of the venting zips.

Underneath the Fuera Ascent I used a Patagonia R1 fleece pullover with a Rohan Ultra Silver T or an old Berghaus Xstatic T. Although the R1 is a shade heavier than competing fleeces, I’ve found it much better at regulating body temperature. The grid inner face of the fabric seems to be responsible. The Xstatic T is no longer made, but the Rohan Ultra Silver T is still available. The Ultra is very thin and feels like silk. It wicks and evaporates sweat rapidly, so that you rarely feel damp. It also seems to resist body odours well. I was very pleased with the Ultra/R1 combination under the Fuera Ascent.

On my legs, I was wearing my Mountain Equipment Ibex trousers. I think I’ve finally found the perfect soft shell trews. Everything about them works well: the fit, the pockets, the thigh vents, wind proofing, ankle zip. I really can’t fault them. Occasionally they verged on being too warm, but the thigh venting zips and mesh pockets helped keep things under control. In summary, these are great trousers for cooler conditions.

It was the second outing for my Nemo Zor self inflating sleeping mat (short version). I really like the Zor. It feels warmer to the touch than competing mats, although I still used my home made fleece cover to add a bit of luxury. On flat ground, it’s certainly very comfortable. On the last night, the ground was more uneven. While I was comfortable, I certainly noticed the difference compared with an air mat.

The Zor packs smaller than comparable mats and requires less blowing up than an air mat. It is also the lightest self inflating mattress in its class at 285g. The Zor is now my mat of choice for backpacking. I’m very happy with it.

Northern Fells trip – other gear observations

Ultra TRohan Ultra Silver T: I used this as a base layer for the three days I was walking, under a Patagonia R1 fleece. The ultra is made a fine gauge silver impregnated polyester, which feels like silk. It’s a brilliant base layer. While it feels warm to the touch, being very thin, it never feels hot. It flashes sweat away very quickly and never feels sodden, unlike thicker base layers. Perhaps because it doesn’t retain moisture, it never seems to smell. I often wear it casually under a shirt, but this is the first time I’ve used it for backpacking. I’m totally converted. It’s superb and incredibly light at 60g for the T. The only shame is the only colours available are black and blue.

Patagonia R1 Pullover: I’ve used this several times and really like it. The grid pattern of the underside of the fleece seems to regulate temperature better than conventional fleece. Underneath Paramo, for cold weather it was perfect. It dissipates sweat quickly. It has a good cut being neither too loose or too constrictive.

Paramo Vasco Jacket: this was ideal for the cold conditions I encountered. I really like the Vasco (no longer available, unfortunately). The venting is excellent with sleeve vents and a large floating vent across the shoulders. The removable hood is good as it can be discarded when using a hard shell in heavy rain. It’s a great jacket for cool weather and cut slimmer than most Paramo jackets. I wish it had slightly longer sleeves.

Ecco Biom Hike Mid boots: these are now thoroughly broken in and are fabulous. They are so flexible and comfortable. The deep tread provides a positive grip. I love them and am reluctant to use anything else.

Alpkit Pipedream 600 sleeping bag: this is the old style Pertex one. At just under 1kg, it’s a good cool weather sleeping bag. While the down is not up to Western Mountaineering standards, it’s still good. I used extra clothes on the two coldest nights (–4c, I sleep cold). The hood is not very good, but I now sleep with the hood from my PHD Minimus down jacket in preference to a sleeping bag hood anyway. Overall it’s a surprisingly good bag for the money. I’m looking forward to Rab introducing their water resistant down sleeping bag range. It might lead me to sell my old bags for a 400 and a 600 bag from Rab.

Gossamer Gear Mariposa (2012 version): I love this pack. Great carry. Sometimes I hanker after the old style drawstring closure with Y strap.

The rest of the gear was all stuff I’ve used for ages and worked well.

Disclaimer: all items have been bought with my own funds and I have no relationship with any of the manufacturers

New gear in the Carneddau

Most of the gear I took to the Carneddau was old familiar favourites. However, I hadn’t used my Exped Synmat UL 7, my Rohan Windshadow jacket or my Aquapac phone case before.

Exped Synmat UL 7

I know there are a number of Synmat UL 7 fans out there and I can confirm that this is a very comfortable and warm mat. While I like the POE mats (Ether Elite and Peak Elite AC), I’ve found them a bit cool. The Exped has significantly better insulation which fills the tubes and I think it shows in the level of insulation it gives. While it’s not as warm as the Downmat, it’s significantly better than the POE or NeoAir mats.

I inflated it with the Exped shrink bag pump sack and schnozzel, which I found to be a real boon. It’s extremely easy, taking four to five sacks of air. It also prevents moisture accumulating in the mat, which has been a visible issue in the POE mats (probably also the NeoAir, except you can’t see it). Both the flat inflation and deflation valves worked fine. I think flat valves might be a bit awkward for inflation by mouth, another good reason for the pump sack.

Sleeping was very comfortable, up to Downmat standards and better than the POE mats and NeoAir. There was no problem with deflation in the night (unlike the NeoAir). The oblong shape is quite dominant in the tent. This is not really a problem in the Scarp or the OookWorks Duomid nest, but could be a consideration in a narrower tent.

The material is pleasantly warm to the touch. It is a little bit slippery, so pitching on a slope might be an issue. The oblong shape means securing a pillow with some shockcord works well (unlike the POE mats). The material seems quite delicate, so I’d be careful about guarding it from sharp objects. There is a repair kit included. For packing, it folds down to a surprisingly small size. Weight is 450g.

I liked the shrink bag pump sack, which doubles as a good sized dry bag. I had an Alpkit Pipedream 600 sleeping bag, sleeping mat, air pillow and cover in the shrink bag. By kneeling on it and opening the deflation/inflation valve, it could be crushed down into quite a small package. When deflated, the sack is still quite malleable, so putting it into the bottom of the rucksack is easy. All in all I really liked the Synmat and the shrink bag.

Rohan Windshadow jacket

Weighing 222g, the Windshadow jacket is a bit heavier than many windshirts/jackets. However, it has two significant features in its favour. Joy of joys, it has velcro adjustable cuffs. The ability to have the cuffs cinched tight or loose for ventilation significantly enhances the usability of a windshirt, in my view and makes it more comfortable over a wider range of conditions.

The second feature I like is the material. In contrast to slippery Pertex, the Windshadow uses a a matt material which is slightly stretchy and more air permeable. It’s very difficult to describe, but it feels nice against the skin. It is slightly less windproof than competitors, which may seem like a disadvantage. However, it seems to be less sweaty that the Montane windshirts I’ve used.

In terms of features, it has two zipped, waist level, mesh backed pockets. Not ideal for access on the move, but can be left open for some additional ventilation. There are two chest pockets. The external one opens to a mesh backing and can be used for ventilation. The internal mesh chest pocket doubles as a stuff sack for the jacket. The full length front zip has a draught baffle.

The hood folds away into the collar. It is elasticated and next to useless. I was going to cut it off, but I have modded it with some cord and eyelets so it is now reasonably effective. If it had a drawcord as standard it would be perfect. I’ll do a post on the mod at a later date.

I used the Windshadow in conjunction with a Mountain Hardwear MicroChill fleece (proofed with Nikwax Polar Proof). I really liked the combination. In many ways, it is better than a Paramo jacket as the combination is much more flexible and comfortable. With the MicroChill fleece (240g), it is also lighter at 462g. I also wore the Windshadow over a t-shirt (Rohan Cool Silver) and it was very comfortable.

I think I’m going to take this on the TGOC as it scores in terms of weight, flexibilty and comfort over a Paramo jacket. Although it wasn’t tested with rain, the DWR seems to be very effective if you put it under a tap. It’s a shame the hood design is so poor as it’s nearly an excellent jacket.

Aquapac

I didn’t take a photo of this but you can see it at the Aquapac website. Until now I’ve used a small clear Ortlieb bag. On balance I think I prefer the Aquapac bag. It seems to have better conductivity for the touch screen of my iPhone. The fit is a little tight as I use a rubber protector for the phone. The roll top is very secure although it could do with being marginally taller so rolling it down is not so tight. Being bright orange was a comfort in being able to locate the phone lying on the ground. Overall, I really liked this and it will be my waterproof phone case from now on.

Disclaimer: all gear mentioned was purchased by me. None of it was donated by manufacturers.