Gear porn; Röjk, MSR, Klättermusen.


I like most of my gear, because I try to buy only decent gear, no cash gets ripped from my tight fist until days and weeks and months have been spent reading reviews and drooling over spec sheets. So most of the gear performs well, and I'm just way too busy writing infinitely long posts about igloos or VBLs to spend time writing about shit that just does its job well. Some gear performs amazingly well though. Some gear actually lives up to the claims of the manufacturers, and is always taken on a trip, and never gives you up/lets you down/runs around and deserts you, and you just want to get married to that gear and do dirty things to it in the shower and then have babies with that gear and grow old in a house in the country with that gear and get buried wearing that gear. Here are three pieces of that kind of gear.

Röjk Tvister
The day after I bought my first Tvister I bought my second one. And around a week later I bought the Tvister zipper. Right from the first time I tried it on I figured it was the kind of hoody I had been waiting for. It has a much lighter fabric than the popular Houdini hoodies, with a very soft interior that wicks moisture away quickly. Perfect form for my lanky build, tight fitting but very stretchy. The fabric is relatively tough, there are a few grazes from climbing falls or whatever, but considering how much I wear the blue Tvister it's still in immaculate condition. The hood is supremely versatile, sitting low around the neck like a buff when not in use, then covering the head with the face open in colder weather, or even pulled up like a balaclava, just leaving the eyes free, in eXtreme conditions.

The main strength of the Tvister is its versatility. In Winter it makes a wonderful mid-layer, if the wind is low it can even make a respectable outer layer. In the picture above I'm wearing the Röjk over a woollen base and mid layer, the tvister fabric shedding snow easily in the dry -17°C conditions. In warmer weather the Tvister alone is all you need, it keeps you comfortably cozy and protects from sun/rock-burn but the fabric is light enough that you don't get cooked.

The fabric is treated with an anti-smell chemical, which in my experience tend to suck. I have a collection of 'smell-proof' synthetic t-shirts that are exiled to my BJJ-clothes pile, damned to eternal stinkitude there for the crime of not losing the horrible stench of stale sweat after getting washed. There is a special level of disgusting reek generated by sweat and synthetic fabric, and my experience up until the Tvister was that anti-smell treatments were a useless marketing gimmick. The tvister uses 'Polygiene' (along with some Houdini and Haglöfs gear). I noticed after the first time I used it for a trip that it retained a fresh smell, so I decided to keep wearing it until I defeated the polygiene smell defence. It took almost two months of long trips, sleeping in a clammy VBL, and dozens of sweaty climbing days to get the Tvister to smell a little. That's when I got nervous, because at that point I had formed a deep, loving bond with the Tvister and I got scared that maybe the smell was there for good, even after washing, and that the Tvister might have to be burnt on a pyre. However a quick wash restored it to its smellproof glory, and even after a whole year of just abusing the shit out of it hasn't managed to taint it with a whiff. Polygiene uses silver salts to give an anti-bacterial protection, and apparently will last well beyond the lifetime of the garment.

The sizing seems a little mental, I had to buy the XL to get a decent fit, although I guess that's because the Tvister (and all Röjk gear?) is unisex. And there are no thumb-loops, I have no idea if that's good or bad, I don't have any gear with thumb-loops. Some people need thumb-loops like Germans need sausage, so those kind of people should consider themselves warned.
Finally Röjk got a glowing review when I wrote about ethical manufacture a while back. Good ethics is important, but it would be pretty useless without good products. Fortunately so far all the Röjk gear I've bought has been fantastic, but the Tvisters in particular have just been so great that I had to write about them.

Klättermusen Mithril pants.
I delay with things, a bad habit I know. The Mithril pants are the latest victim of my procrastination. I finally get around to telling the world about the perfect hiking, climbing, kayaking, skating, skiing pants, and they've been out of production for over two years. Sorry everyone! Tune in next week for my article on preparing Quagga meat and a warning about how cigarette smoke might not be as healthy for you as doctors claim.
Still, this is how you do pants, stretchy material, wind and water resistant while breathing well, dries ridiculously fast, knees are generously coated in Kevlar, and a zip that opens from the top or bottom for days you're wearing a harness. I said I wore the Tvister a lot, and it's true, but I think I have worn no single item of clothes in my life more than the Mithril pants. I liked the first pair so much I ran out and bought a second pair when I heard they were being discontinued, to be stored safely away for the day when the first pair wear totally out. Is this totally mental of me? I did it with the Tvister as well, I bought one that I wear all the time and I bought a second one that got stored away in pristine condition.

The red Tvister and red Mithril pants are locked away in a top secret warehouse alongside the ark of the covenant, while the blue Tvister and black Mithrils get worked to death like Boxer the horse in Animal farm. There ain't no justice!

Years of use have yielded a few spark-holes, thin spots and rips. The pants thought it was time for retirement, but the supremely wonderful people at Klättermusen were kind enough to send me a strip of the cool Schoeller kevlar fabric used on the knees to patch them up, so it looks like the backup pants will have another few years storage to enjoy.
As versatile as benzene, they go climbing (the stretchiness and kevlar knees are great there), kayaking (drying quick as hell) and hiking (although the plastic fabric doesn't like sparking fires). They get used under shell pants as a mid-layer in winter Nordic-skating trips, where the thickly padded knees are great for cushioning falls on the frozen lake surface, or in sweltering Summer heat.

If I could change anything about these pants I would add a second zipped pocket on the left side (there is one unzipped pocket on each side, and one large zipped pocket on the right leg), and oh yeah, I guess I would also start making them again. The closest thing to the Mithrils these days seem to be the Mountain equipment's Liskamm pants. They get rave reviews from users, but I can't really vouch for them personally. The Liskamm's are made in Hungary, have Kevlar knees, reinforcements at the cuffs and a nanosphere coating which should make them easier to keep clean and more hard-wearing than the Mithrils, a little pricey though.

MSR Packtowl.
The MSR Packtowl came out of the packaging looking like a piece of blue fibreboard, stiff and rough and about as appealing to rub all over your body as a vegan's toilet brush. The instructions made it clear that the more it got used, the softer it would become, and after a full year of heavy use it's now as soft and comforting as a bag of kittens. I bought the XL, which is absolutely massive, but my Hitchiker's guide to the galaxy-esque love of towels outmatches my urge to be more ultralight.

A towel though, it's a square of fabric that many hikers don't even bother with, how amazing can it be? Pretty amazing actually. For a start my previous synthetic towels tended to get stinky and dirty after a few days use, which kind of went away after a rinse in a stream or lake. The MSR gets totally rejuvenated after a soak and squeeze. The towel thirstily soaks up litres of water when it gets dipped, but it can be wrung out to a nearly totally dry state with just a few twists. It also has a handy little buttoned loop to allow it to be securely hung up for drying.

That's it, there's not much more to it. It just does what a towel is supposed to do, but most hiking towels have a hard time doing that. Very soft, very absorbent, easily cleaned, easily dried, packs down small, extremely rip resistant, and the XL can be used as a tarp in an emergency. My last hiking towel also clung to every piece of moss or grass it touched like velcro, it had some strange microfibre surface that felt quite uncomfortable, especially on the rough skin on my hands. The MSR is much more pleasant to handle and doesn't stick to dirt in the same way. The fabric is made in Germany and the towel is 'assembled' in Ireland. We Irish can just about manage to cut a roll of fabric into squares and put them into boxes.

Was this not so hardcore gear porn? I think most people (myself included) prefer to read about the cooler, flashier gear that has lots of specs and capabilities or whatever, like headlamps or quickdraws or watches or at least some kind of breathable waterproof shell jacket or something. I just find that the gear that really makes me happy is usually the really simple gear that doesn't have so many knobs on, but just focuses on doing what it does extremely well.

9 comments:

  1. The Tvister is something I've had my eye on for a while. But what the hell is the stormtrooper mask, and is it any good? :)

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  2. The googles are by Extrem, they make really expensive custom skis and briefly dabbled in goggles/clothes before going back to just skis.

    The balaclava/mouthpiece is the Cold Avenger by Talus outdoors. It is very good, I bought it for those really, *really* cold days cross country skiing or skating, and for use with downhill skiing. I ended up using it quite often, when sleeping in a bivybag it keeps the chill off my face and prevents a lot of moisture from condensing on my quilt.

    A bit pricey, and the sizing options are shit, and it causes goggles/glasses to fog up, but it's still worth it's weight in gold when the weather gets really frosty. Even on just average cold days, it's a lot more pleasant for your face than going without it, if you can put up with the funny looks you get from people in your local supermarket.

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  3. A fine overview of 2 pieces of gear I lust for, and 1 piece I love already. Smashing stuff. the mask certainly has wow factor also

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  4. Mikael Hultgren11.2.12

    Ahh those pants of mithril, they were a clear inspiration for my purchase of the pants of gandalv(copyright infringement not included in the price) which has served me well as climbing pants, sturdy knees, pockets galore and the ability to convert them to knee length at a moments notice.

    http://instagr.am/p/G3cHp5q-Ki/

    A lovely view of them after having gone thru a good rinse since they were turning whitish from all the chalk.

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  5. Steffen13.2.12

    499 sek is quite good. i hope addnature.com is not a hoax.

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  6. No hoax, they're actually just around the corner from me, and are one of the best outdoor stores in Sweden. And 499 is an insanely good price for the Tvister!

    Maybe there's room for one more in the gear stash...

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  7. Peter13.2.12

    Oscar from Rojk even recommended addnature so I guess it's not a hoax

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  8. Stefan Winterbauer14.2.12

    Unfortunately You can't buy Röjk-Wear anywhere in Germany. So I just bought two Tvisters (one for me, one for my wife) at addnature.com. The 280 sek extra for shipping to Germany are hopefully worth it! I just couldn't resist this price-tag!

    Great blog, by the way!

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  9. Thanks for the compliment! I hope you like the Tvisters as much as I do :)

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