I’ve been using this for: Over two years
Where?: Scottish winters, Nepal Expeditions, Alpine winter
If you suffer from the dreaded cold back syndrome then this thermal one piece might solve your problems… With a heavy harness dragging at your trousers, and reaching above your head to climb pulling your jacket up – your layers separate under your waterproofs and you get a nice cold gap around your lower back…
That used to really annoy me, having to adjust my harness and layers at the belays and it always seemed to make me fairly cold. So I started to hunt around for a thermal system that I had used caving once, but it had to have a few features;
- I didn’t want arms on mine, just a vest on the upper part.
- I wanted to use it on big alpine routes and whilst on expedition, so I needed to be able to “use the bathroom” without having to take everything off.
- A figure hugging design, rather than bulky fleece so it could go under my normal mountain kit.
Having had a good look around the Outdoor Research modal seemed to fit the bill. Rab also make a nice version, but without the crucial “Bombay zips” which would mean having to take the thermals off when you need to go…
I would describe it as a medium to heavy weight thermal thickness. In Scotland during the winter I tend to wear it underneath a softshell layer, or under the waterproofs. I.e. two layers maximum or it gets too hot normally. The zips around the back work fine, and the front zip is two way, allowing you to vent the front or for the men to be able to use the fly.
It really feels like your sealed in, no chance of snow down the back of your trousers (is there anything worse?) and I like the fact you’ve got an extra, non-restrictive gilet layer on your torso.
Not so good bits:
It really is a bit of clothing that you’d need to try on, and preferably with your normal mountain trousers to test the fit as it might not work for everyone. It’s less stretchy than a standard pair of thermals and you’ll want a good snug fit.
It’s a shame the zips around the back don’t have an extra one or two, it would allow you to vent your legs during the walk-in through your other trousers which would be handy sometimes.
I managed to leave this at home on an exped to China last summer. Gutted. You get some funny looks if you wear this on it’s own (especially at the pub) but it works extremely well on the hill. It’s hard to get hold of in the UK, but it’s worth the hunt. Highly recommended.
I couldn’t find anyone to model for me…