GEAR By Vincent Colliard
Being unsupported for weeks gives me that deep feeling of connection with the environment. But what type of gear shall I take on icy missions?
Before each expedition, the discussion about what type clothing to wear always comes to the table. Down versus fiber, lightweight versus the comfort, minimalist versus extra functionality… And it goes on.
It is OK to make mistakes on a few days trip and not choose the right gear. However, on a longer journey or on a demanding expedition, the room for mistakes is extremely reduced. Suddenly, the decision of choosing the right equipment becomes crucial as it can turn an enjoyable journey into a nightmare. Without gear, we actually become weak on the long run. Quickly, our desire to explore decreases and the warmth of a house kicks in.
So here is a list of products that I always consider taking.
My bib from trollveggen and knickers from lyngen
On every expedition I undertake, I actually never leave without the trollveggen Gore Tex Pro Bib. It is to me the ultimate pant with various key features. Good fit for the cold, not too baggy, not too slim, heavy membrane and water-resistant zippers, chest pockets for keeping the essentials warm/well protected. This is where I have my PLB for the whole length of the expedition. I also enjoy the zipper for the toilet, both back and front. In cold and stormy weather, it is a pain to go to the toilet. So better have a quick system whereas little skin as possible is out in the wild!
After traversing the wet zone and reaching the plateau, the climate becomes colder and the wind has no obstacle to slow down. Polar exploration is on! The Lyngen Down Knickers is never too far in my sled. With both sides zippers, I can keep my ski boots on and in a second the short is on. It is no hassle and that would provide extra warmth at the end of the day when the body temperature goes down. Amazing piece to avoid polar thigh!!
trollveggen Gore-Tex Pro Jacket
This is our pinnacle of mountaineering performance made with extremely durable 70D recycled nylon Gore-Tex Pro fabric. This iconic jacket is historic, dating back to Europe’s first Gore-Tex® jacket in 1977. Today, it’s still a legend within mountaineering due to continuous user-driven product development. With the new generation, we’ve redesigned the construction, decreasing the number of parts and seams to provide a more ergonomic fit and allow more efficient movement
Ace down950 Jacket
This premium ACE jacket is the tougher sibling of the classic trollveggen down and is the warmest and most durable down jacket for mountaineering.
Engineered for adventurers aiming for rugged walls and high peaks, this down jacket is made with durable PU coated Vectran outer fabric; it’s windproof, highly water resistant and has both horizontal and vertical liquid crystal polyester fibers to prevent further tear damage if an accident occurs.
Primaloft100 Zip Hood
Introducing the revolutionizing, recycled PrimaLoft Gold Aerogel insulation, the jacket offers an outstanding warmth-to-weight ratio. Aerogel is known as the world’s lightest solid, and with the PrimaLoft Gold Aerogel, they’ve managed to utilize its great insulation properties into outdoor gear.
3/4 Powerstretch Pro Fullzip Longs
Highly thermal and stretchy mid-layer tights ideal for ski touring adventures.
/29 Highloft Gloves
No big deal to dry that guy out in the tent! In combination with the Lyngen Dri1 gloves, I am able to use them on a big range of temperatures. Perfect companion for days in the middle of a crevasse field working at different paces.
Exploring places like Alaska, Patagonia or the Arctic Ocean, where the rate of the moisture is very high, means fiber and heavy membrane. I was part of an expedition where I spent 83 days on a small 23-footer catamaran. On this trip, I felt that I was very close to the elements. The first month, the weather was fairly good. July. The next couple of months were tough with some rain and melted snow. It became too hard to dry my gear! The moisture started to accumulate. Most of my outer layers were wet. It stayed wet for the last month! It was tough! However, I don’t even want to imagine the state of my jackets if I had taken down products and lightweight membranes. At this point, we are talking about important moments where it is a matter of staying warm, getting some rest and moving forward.
Another moment where I thought “Geezzzzz! Glad I took a fiber jacket” was in wild Patagonia on the Southern icecap. This piece of ice is located pretty close to the Pacific Ocean. All the strong low pressures turning around Antarctica frequently travel North and hit the icecap. Sometimes on the ice, it rains. I was actually thinking to bring a poncho for skiing down there! At the end of a hard day, I was only thinking about being inside of the tent. I would end up stressed and cold to the bone if I would have brought down.
Vincent Colliard is a French explorer, Norrøna ambassador and sustainability advocate. As part of the Ice Legacy Project (in partnership with Børge Ousland), Vincent regularly finds himself in some of the most extreme but memorable environments. For this reason, he chooses to repair his products instead of replacing them. This not only helps on the sustainability front but also allows him to access those moments of nostalgia every time he suits up.