Today is a guest post from Chas who writes the Oneupmanship blog. He lives in the UK, likes to hike/ramble and does a fair bit of cycling on his very cool vintage racer. More importantly, Chas is a big collector of vintage outerwear. You should definitely check out his expansive collection on his flickr page.
I thought it would be interesting to get his perspective on why he appreciates vintage outerwear so much before we head into a week of the new and technologically advanced gear coming from Outdoor Retailer.
I'm surrounded by countryside, with superb scenery only a quick jaunt away-the Peak District, Colne Valley and the Lake District after a short train ride. I'm a bit of connoisseur of real ale and seeking out great traditional pubs to drink it in. This is more often than not coupled with a good old hike, regardless of the time of year.
I view the likes of Bonington and Hillary, and all the really 'old school' explorers like Captain Scott and Shackleton as true 'icons', people who pushed the boundaries of both survival and dare I say it, 'style'. Let's be honest- their exploits were more than admirable. But come on, they all looked great didn't they? Personally the chances of me scaling a mountain any time soon I'd say are slim. Maybe one day, but I will beg, steal and borrow 'their' clothes to mix and match in the meantime.
I live in Stockport, a few minutes away from Manchester, a city famous for it's rain. And believe me, it rains a lot up here, and the rain cares not a jot about the seasons. We have to adapt to the weather. That is why I like a cagoule. The cagoule is a good all year rounder, over a shirt and pullover/cardigan in the colder months and ready to throw on in the supposedly warmer months.
My favorite style of cagoule would be the simple nylon or cotton smocks, preferably vintage. This is the thing- technology has come on leaps and bounds over the years, but the garment has to look good first and foremost.
I like Peter Storm cagoules from the eighties. I would not even consider wearing their current clothing though. I'm all for heritage and these old cagoules look good, do what they say they do on the tags and, if it matters, they were manufactured in Great Britain or Ireland.
These carry the bold statement that they are '100% waterproof' and usually have a rating such as 2.1. I'd say unless you were caught in a monsoon, these do exactly what they say, and that's from experience, without any water proofing or any of that. These cagoules are over thirty years old.
Another label I like is Berghaus, once again the vintage pieces. Berghaus released a heritage range this autumn consisting of nice jackets that were re-issues of the old models. The jackets retailed for over £300 which in the current climate, is probably fair, although they seemed a tad excessive to me. Especially when the originals (which are always better for varying reasons) are attainable for considerably cheaper.
Put to the test in drizzle, the vintage Berghaus jackets hold up well and are very reliable coats. They have the capacity to incorporate a purpose built fleece, and are backed on goretex membrane with taped seams. Most will carry a 'map' pocket and have large wired hoods.
Barbour is a label which won't need an introduction or any spiel. Barbour is famous throughout the globe, and by Royal Appointment, it has to be right up there when you consider protection from foul weather. A Waxed Thornproof or sylkoil jacket – Beaufort, Bedale, Nethercott, Durham, etc. will last you a lifetime and pretty much resist everything you throw at it. They get better with age too. Functionality is their key and whilst they are contending with the fashionable markets and expensive import and Japanese markets currently, the classic ranges are still produced each season with little tinkering or alterations, which can only be a good thing.
Being a fan of functional foul weather gear has led to a whole new discovery for me. Via various blogs and websites, I've spent many hours tracking down what were pretty much unheard of (to me) labels from America. The history and heritage of old American brands and workwear is huge. The amount of passion and excitement I read on the blogs is crazy- it's a whole different ball game. I've built up a small but decent collection of these old 'new' brands such as personal faves Recreational Equipment Inc, Sierra Designs, LL Bean, Powderhorn and of course Woolrich. There's Filson, Eddie Bauer and so many others too.
Everyone, and I mean everyone from top end technical labels to the high street fashion garbage are currently doing this style of coat- the four pocket parka, with toggled drawstring and plaid lining. The US based jackets I own are once again all 'vintage' ones. I'm walking about in seventies wool lined, two tone 60-40 parkas made in places like Maine and Wyoming.