Back in December, Trek & Mountain was invited to visit Berghaus’ newly-refurbished and restyled headquarters in Newcastle, the reason being that 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the brand, and the 30th anniversary of its Extrem sub-brand, which it is relaunching later this year. On hand were all the Berghaus product specialists to show us around the impressive facilities from where everything to do with designing products and running the business – bar manufacturing – takes place. Also present was ambassador Leo Houlding who talked about some of his recent projects as well as the development of the new Extrem range, alongside fellow Berghaus athlete Mick Fowler.
After a look around the funkily-designed HQ that Berghaus president Richard Leedham describes as “a world-class headquarters” and which, incidentally, has lots of great touches that include climbing equipment incorporated into furniture – it was time to hear about the company’s plans for relaunching its Extrem range of products later in 2016.
TO THE EXTREM
Originally introduced in 1986, the Extrem concept was to build an range of ‘elite’ products with innovation, technical excellence and extreme adventure as their bywords. Early samples of the first Extrem products were used by Joe Simpson and Simon Yates during their epic trip to Siula Grande in 1985, and the range has since been used by leading climbers and mountaineers on over 90 major expeditions around the world, including on all 14 8,000m mountains, and to both the Arctic and Antarctic.
Continuing with the theme of involving leading athletes in the development of Extrem products, the likes of Leo Houlding, Mick Fowler and Angelika Rainer have played key roles at crucial stages of product design and development of the 2016 collection, and Berghaus say that “ground-breaking features, exceptional design and tailoring, and the best fabrics and components available, have been combined to create the most technical range of mountaineering clothing that Berghaus has ever released. ” With this in mind, it was time to meet two of the key products from the forthcoming Extrem range due in the shops in autumn 2016 – the 8000 Pro Jacket and the Ramche Down 2.0.
8000 PRO JACKET
Berghaus are touting the Extrem Pro 8000 as “the most advanced mountaineering shell jacket now available”, and it certainly looks the part. It uses Gore-Tex Pro with a combination of two face fabrics; key wear areas around the hood, shoulders, hem and lower arms have an extremely durable 70D face, while the main body features an exclusive lightweight 40D face, developed with WL Gore especially for the range. Berghaus say it is not only extremely tough, but also delivers outstanding water shedding performance, which helps maintains its light weight and breathability during extended use (i.e. it doesn’t wet-out easily).
There’s some superb details on the 8000 Pro, including the use of 13-14 stitches per inch (compared to the standard 7-8), Cohaesive cordlock adjustment system around the face, and the real piece de resistance – a magical hood that snaps from normal use to helmet-use with the aid of embedded magnets! A seam-free continuous panel around the front, sides and rear waist enhances comfort under a harness, and the jacket features bonded zip, pocket and placket construction feature throughout the jacket, along with high tensile shockcord. At the end of the event we were luckily enough to be given an 8000 Pro Jacket to take away and play with, and over the coming weeks and months we will be testing the jacket in all manner of conditions, and will bring you our thoughts on it in due course!
RAMCHE DOWN 2.0 JACKET
The other ‘hero’ product in the Extrem range that we were given a preview of was the new Ramche jacket, cunningly named the Ramche 2.0. The original Ramche impressed us with its unbelievably low weight (for the warmth it provided), and the Ramche 2.0 manages to raise the bar higher still by being even lighter, warmer and more durable. One of the criticisms of the original Ramche was that its outer was a little on the delicate side, and this has been addressed with the 2.0. Mick Fowler used a sample of the Ramche 2.0 during his successful expedition to Gave Ding, and reported back: “The Ramche 2.0 was absolutely brilliant in temperatures that dipped to around minus 30 degrees Celsius. It was also really tough compared to the previous version. At one point I got it caught in my abseil device and had to abseil a fair way with the fabric caught – but there was only superficial damage!”
Another notable feature of the Ramche 2.0 is its use of Nikwax’s PFC-free hydrophobic down, which provides water repellency during use for up to 16 hours, yet is kinder to the environment. Hydrodown now forms part of Berghaus’ own sustainability initiative MadeKind, and the down is also RDS certified to guarantee ethical sourcing, with consumers being able to use a product serial number to identify online exactly where the down in their jacket came from.
The Ramche 2.0 uses 183g of 90/10 850 fill goose Hydrodown and three zone bodymapping ensures the optimum distribution of the insulation, while offset baffles construction eliminates cold spots in the core of the body. A crucial enhancement to the down comes in the form of new Reflect aluminium mesh – which sits not on the inside of the jacket, but in the middle to give the optimum effect.
To say we were impressed with what we heard from Berghaus during our visit to Newcastle would be an understatement; the company clearly has ambition in spades and with its refurbished HQ , a strong team of product designers and its world-class athletes contributing to the development of new products, it really looks in a strong position to prosper over the coming years. In the meantime there’s a couple of anniversaries to celebrate, and of course that new Extrem range to look forward to…
The 30th anniversary Extrem range will be available from www.berghaus.com and selected specialist outdoor retailers from September 2016.