Pertex/Pile History and Products

Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Pertex/Pile History and Products

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 32 total)
  • Author
  • #1231354
    Addie Bedford
    BPL Member


    Locale: Montana

    Companion forum thread to:

    Pertex/Pile History and Products

    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    I do like the anti-fashion bit too (and that is a serious comment).


    BPL Member


    Locale: New England, USA

    Thanks so much for this history/review. Learning how gear evolved can help us understand better what's on the market today, and how we can get the most out of it.

    Diplomatic Mike


    Locale: Under a bush in Scotland

    Good report Chris. I've still got a Mountain Shirt kicking about somewhere. It's one of the first ones, when the only colour you could get was grey, with the red pile inner!
    If the conditions are right, it's a great bit of kit. For me it has to be around freezing before i can wear it. It doesn't get as much use as it used to here in Scotland. As you know our winters are becoming milder and unpredictable.

    Is the climber Murray Hamilton any relation to Hamish Hamilton, do you know? I used to have a Murray Hamilton climbing sack.

    Michael Davis


    Locale: South Florida

    Very interesting Chris.

    Is this the same technology used in Paramo's waterproof clothing using Nixwax Analogy fabric?

    nanook ofthenorth
    BPL Member


    I've been looking at Pertex/Pile garments for a while after being sold on them years ago by an old nylon/fleece windbreaker that I used for everything. But I think that for most North Americans who tend to be dealing less with rain then snow, that stretchy soft shell garments have taken over this market (albeit at the expense of pure wet weather performance). One area I have been looking at these garments for is for gloves and camp socks. I was wondering if anyone could comment on this?
    I'm looking at the socks as an alternative to the MEC hut booties (synth), and the Buffalo Mitts for rock climbing belays/bivys and as overmitts overtop my lightly insulated climbing gloves for ice climbing.
    I was wondering if anyone had any comments about the Buffalo mitts and socks available through

    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mojave Desert

    For years I've used Gore-Tex or high denier nylon windshells with Polartec pile garments. Works great if one doesn't need to count ounces/grams. Well made pile seemingly lasts forever.

    The lighter "Pertex/Pile" looks very functional and durable. Fashion-smashion!

    Howsomever, I've found the light nylon shelled Softie/Snugpak mid insulating layer, from Britian as well, is warmer per weight than 300 weight Polartec but needs a windshell or a Gore-Tex or eVent shell in the most extreme weather. My Western U.S. mountains in winter often have that extreme weather.


    Rog Tallbloke
    BPL Member


    Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!

    I prefer to have fibrepile and windproof breathable water resistant shell as seperate layers for more versatility and more rapid drying between showers in changeable weather.

    I use a cheap 7oz fibre pile gilet under my nylon trail shirt with a golite 'gamut' 12oz stretchy nylon almost waterproof shell over the top when it's windy/showery. In general my arms stay warm as long as they are wind protected and the gilet allows my pits to breathe better than a full pile jacket.

    For extra insulation in cold weather I take my montane toasty for lunchstops and campwear.

    For serious downpours I use a disposable 2oz plastic cape over everything including the pack.

    This works out lighter on the wallet too. Buffalo gear ain't cheap!

    Andy Dixon


    I have a Buffalo special 6 shirt with a Montane hood

    to provide another example of how well such gear performs consider this situation:

    a long day in the mountains in continuous wet snowfall

    i wore the special 6 shirt on such a day and was at all times toasty warm and dry – the wet snow did not penetrate & perspiration dissipated wonderfully well. As a result of my clothing i was actually able to really enjoy the walk despite the poor conditions

    i cannot think of any other type of clothing system which could produce the same results in similarly cold/wet conditions

    Chris Townsend
    BPL Member


    Locale: Cairngorms National Park

    Thanks for all your comments everybody.

    Mike, I had a grey/red original too. It's probably in the attic somewhere. I don't think the two Hamiltons are related.

    Michael, this isn't the same as the Paramo's Nikwax Analogy though there are similarities. Paramo isn't as warm but is more waterproof and fits better into a layer system. There'll be a Paramo article later in the autumn.

    Robert, stretchy soft shell is popular in Europe too, especially the Alps (much of the soft shell fabric is made by Swiss company Schoeller). In my experience Pertex/Pile garments are better for snow than stretchy soft shell. The latter however has more fashion/street appeal.

    The Buffalo Mitts are very good – warm for the weight and hard wearing.


    Great article, very interesting. I always felt that my old pile garments were the absolutely best for dealing with wet weather, but of course pretty heavy for the warmth, or at least for the loft compared to Polarguard or especially down. It never occurred to me to wear the pile without a base layer to improve wicking.

    I would love to read similar testing of PG ( or CS or Primaloft) sleeping bags and garments, with similar shell materials, to see how much it suffered in comparison to Pertex/pile. I am assuming the pile would have a wicking advantage and be faster drying, but maybe not. The weight advantage would probably be with the PG/CS/PL. But it would be great to read a test in similar wet weather conditions, where the user got quite wet.

    Tony Burnett


    Locale: OH--IO

    "I don't use Pertex/Pile unless I think it will be cold enough to wear it all day"

    So, what is "cold enough"?

    Chris Townsend
    BPL Member


    Locale: Cairngorms National Park

    As I also said in the piece "Pertex/Pile tops are too warm for me in temperatures above 40 F. The legwear is too warm if it's above freezing."

    Bill B
    BPL Member


    how cold will you go before adding another layer to a PP garment?

    Chris Townsend
    BPL Member


    Locale: Cairngorms National Park

    While moving I've been warm in a single Pertex/Pile garment in temperatures down to -10F/-23C. When stationary for more than a few minutes in temperatures below around freezing point I need another layer.

    Jeremy Cleaveland
    BPL Member


    Locale: Exploring San Juan talus

    Nice article. Wouldn't "soft shells" go back to fur coats and boiled wool jackets? Of course, Buffalo would be the first modern synthetic soft shell.

    Looking forward to your article on Paramo! Your book "Backpacker's Handbook 2nd Ed" introduced me to Paramo, so I researched and got some. It is amazing in cold weather.
    Will the article include any comparisons of Paramo to Pertex/Pile and other such alternatives?

    In normal Colorado winter conditions, I wear the Paramo Aspira Jacket on top over a light long sleeve base layer, then long underwear and Schoeller Dynamic pants on the bottom. Then I carry a Primaloft jacket and pants in the pack to put over everything. Works great in just about all Colorado winter conditions – not quite Scottish, though. Its normally blue skies and 15F….. so boring, not great for gear testing either.

    Chris Townsend
    BPL Member


    Locale: Cairngorms National Park

    Jeremy, I guess "soft shells" could go back to the first fur clothing!

    I will be comparing Paramo with alternative systems, both hard shell and soft shell. I'm pleased to hear you like it.

    Kevin Sawchuk
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    I'm still not clear on why having one layer with two components (pile/nylon) is better than having two layers with one component each. Does bonding the layers add some functionality? It certainly removes wearing options to regulate temperature. (base layer and nylon for warmer preciptiation, base layer and pile for colder drier conditions).

    Yes this system could work fine in cold and wet conditions but it seems far less versatile with no advantages over a component system.

    I'd like to see an article comparing thick lightweight pile (like the Patagonia ElCap sweater which has few bells and whistles) to "fiber" insulation such as Polargaurd. Pile is definately more bulky but it can keep you warm AND breathe well if it's cold and you're working hard. Polargaurd must be encapsulated in nylon layers of some sort which limits breathability quite a bit.

    Martin Rye
    BPL Member


    Locale: UK

    My mountain shirt is still not been used since 05. I rate it but find a base layer and wind shirt do just as well. I think I might take it, but never seem to pack it. E-bay is its most likely destination. It is to bulky and to warm most times. The UK is damp more than cold.

    Martin Pomije


    Among those who have used both, what is the comfort range of the DP System versus the Lightweight System from Buffalo?

    Martin Pomije


    How does the warmth of the Pertex/pile products from Buffalo, Montane, and Brenig compare?

    Chris Townsend
    BPL Member


    Locale: Cairngorms National Park

    Martin, the Lightweight System is much less warm than the DP system. The lining is very thin. It fits much better into a layering system. The lightweight system is similar in warmth to a medium weight base layer and a thin windshell while the DP system is similar to a thick fleece and a thin windshell. I'm not familiar with Brenig and looking at the website I can't work out what fabric the Polar clothing is made from. If it has a pile or fleece lining of similar thickness to DP then it should provide the same warmth of course.

    Diplomatic Mike


    Locale: Under a bush in Scotland

    I wish you hadn't written this article Chris, as i am now taking another look at Buffalo! Only joking.:) My credit card is getting twitchy!
    I found it too warm before (about 20 years ago) but my speed has slowed somewhat since then! I tend to stop and look around me a lot more now. Maybe it's time i had another look.
    I'm happy with my Paramo Aspira smock and Sallopettes for most Scottish winter conditions (a mix of rain, sleet, snow and sun), but a Buffalo Mountain shirt or Tecmax shirt might have a place in more settled, cold, snowy days out. How do you think one of those shirts would work with the Paramo sallopettes? Would it be better worn over or under the sallopettes?
    Or would i be better wearing the shirt with trousers/pants to increase the area of pertex open to the air for evaporation?

    Chris Townsend
    BPL Member


    Locale: Cairngorms National Park

    Hi Mike, I'm sorry about your credit card :-). I mostly wear Paramo in cold weather as it is more versatile than Buffalo. I prefer trousers to salopettes except in the coldest weather (I wore Paramo salopettes for ski leading in Norway but then it was usually well below freezing and there was much standing round and moving slowly). I think a Buffalo shirt would be best worn outside salopettes for ventilation control but I haven't tried this combination.

    Arapiles .
    BPL Member


    Locale: Melbourne

    "Is this the same technology used in Paramo's waterproof clothing using Nixwax Analogy fabric?"

    No, its not – Paramo claims to work mechanically so that you dont need to be warm/moving in order to stay dry.

    I used Paramo in the UK and it does work well in the rain but is too hot for me above 10 degrees C. I also actually find their windproofs too warm above 20 degrees C.

Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 32 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Get the Newsletter

Get our free Handbook and Receive our weekly newsletter to see what's new at Backpacking Light!

Gear Research & Discovery Tools