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Old Saturday 9th February 2008, 08:16   #1
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Paramo clothing

I have just been talking to someone who attended a Ten Tors team managers training session run by the army.
He informs me that the army are discouraging the wearing of Paramo jackets as they have concerns about the the manner in which they are waterproofed.
Apperently the way they work is to absorb some moisture which the army have concerns about with regard to hypothermia in extreme conditions.
Although this may not concern most birders it may be something that those of us that endure more extreme conditions should be aware of.
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Old Saturday 9th February 2008, 17:11   #2
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Paramo clothing, like a lot of other "soft shell", is not waterproof. It delays the transport of the water through the material so that it "balanced" by the drying force of your body heat. (Although I'm sure the spods at Paramo would word it in a lot more pseudo scientific terms). This works well if you are walking, climbing or otherwise exerting yourself. It produces a warm breathable coat. The problem occurs if you stop walking, due to being lost, incapacitated or what ever. Sitting in the rain your coat will simply become saturated and lead to chilling and hypothermia. The same can happen if you spend many hours out in pouring rain, ordinary folk would just seek the shelter of the pub but if you are in an event such as the Ten Tors it is not possible.

I know lots of people who swear by Paramo, Buffalo and other such concepts on the hill but will always carry a proper cag or bivvy bag to waterproof themselves if they become static.

I don't think it is a problem for most birders however.
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Old Saturday 9th February 2008, 19:01   #3
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For over 25 years I have worked as a lineman building, maintaining and repairing overhead power lines. This often means working in extreme weather in exposed places. Last autumn i got hold of some Paramo waterproofs and they are without doubt the best I`ve ever had and touchwood have kept me bone dry all winter which is more than i can say for any of the gear i`ve used before. Barbour suits seemed pretty good at keeping the rain out but as the heaviest rain here in the south-west is during incoming Atlantic depressions it is usually very mild then and the heavy barbours just make you sweat buckets. If the problem with Paramo gear comes when you are inactive i`d better not stand around drinking to much tea. I would certainly recommend them to anyone however, just get up and do a jig every 30 minutes on a seawatch !
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Old Saturday 9th February 2008, 21:49   #4
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As I understand it, it doesn't have anything to do with activity levels.
The liner fabric is treated with a water repellent (Nikwax), and as a result of its structure the water is pushed towards the outside face by the reverse of capillary attraction. Provided the water repellency is in good condition, and there isn't any pressure that will overcome the natural movement of water to the outside, the inside remains dry. The pertex face fabric is there to stop wind doing the pushing, and also to take any impact pressure from driving rain.

I suspect the army don't use it because they can't rely on it always being properly maintained by washing/reproofing, and once the repellency of the liner is gone it would no longer be weatherproof. Plenty of mountain rescue team personnel do use it, but they are in control of washing and proofing, and have the incentive to do it.
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Old Sunday 10th February 2008, 07:37   #5
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Having a rather large collection of Paromo clothing I find it lacking in maintaining warmth when standing for long periods,when birding.For walking it is fine,but if you are for example seawatching in a strong force wind,it does not hold a candle to a good duvet coat,or a Barbour with a thermal vest and good fleece under it.But that is just my own personal experience with it.

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Old Wednesday 12th March 2008, 16:37   #6
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I don't really understand this thread. We bought Paramo Pajaro jackets principally because they did appear to shed water better than the alternative (CI) which appeared to work by absorbing water and swelling the fibres thus getting heavier when wet. Even CI sales person seemed to agree that for our particular use Paramo might be better. (We have a small mobile home - pajaro can be shaken dry and does not need to dry out overnight.)
I do agree that when standing still in paramo gear one never feels cosy but neither actually cold.
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Old Wednesday 12th March 2008, 17:07   #7
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Paramo Alto jackets......Excellent for walking in the wet, but rubbish for supporting your camera/binos on your shoulder( not around your neck) as I do. They slip off due to the smoothness of the outer shell. Don't wear it for birding now reverted back to my Berghaus.

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Old Wednesday 12th March 2008, 19:50   #8
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A lot of UK birders do seem to see the choice as exclusivly between Paramo and Country Innovations when there is a whole world of clothing out there.
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Old Wednesday 12th March 2008, 19:57   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mono View Post
I know lots of people who swear by Paramo, Buffalo and other such concepts
Just to be clear, Paramo and Buffalo have completely different approaches.

Buffalo gear is clearly sold as not being waterproof, and is all about heat retention regardless of wetting.

Paramo are very much about staying dry.

Quote:
"balanced" by the drying force of your body heat.
Yep, that's how Buffalo and Montane pertex/pile kit works, but it isn't Paramo's approach - that's properly described above by Andrew.

Excellent description here of what Buffalo kit is about - I've been using it myself for about 12 years and agree with every word of this review.
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Old Thursday 13th March 2008, 11:06   #10
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Keith

My point was NOT that Paramo works the same way as Buffs, my point was that it is not, despite what they say, waterproof! A traditional hardshell cag stops (or tries to stop) water entering the garment and hence getting through to the user. Softshell garments, Paramo, Buffalo and a host of others, including the traditional tweed jacket, do not seek to stop water entering the garment but they use a variety of different techniques to stop that water reaching the user. In Paramo this method is rapped up in lots long words and sciency sounding concepts (and relies on regular treatment with proprietary chemicals).

All the soft shell concepts, including Paramo's, rely on a temperature gradient across the fabric. This is fine if you are slogging up a mountain but if you have to stop and you cool down you are at risk of becoming wet and all the dangers that brings. Which was the point of the person who started this thread.

I too use a soft shell (Patagonia Mix Master) when on the hill but will carry a hard shell cag (or bivy bag) in case I get delayed in the rain.
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Old Thursday 13th March 2008, 21:44   #11
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Is Paramo waterproof? It depends what you mean by waterproof.

In one sense it is waterproof as you can stand around in a thunderstorm and remain dry. It does NOT depend on a thermal gradient to work, and works in a purely mechanical fashion.
In another sense, it's not waterproof, as if you sit in a puddle whilst wearing Paramo trousers, the water will come straight through and you will get a wet bum.

Buffalo stuff works in a similar way to Paramo, by capillary attraction of the water to the outside of the fibre pile. Some plain un-shelled fibre pile jackets used to do a fairly decent job of waterproofing this way, like the old thick Tog-24 jacket I got caught in a thunderstorm in some time in the late 70s. There was just a bit of seepage at the seams where the stitching destroyed the structure of the pile.
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Old Sunday 16th March 2008, 13:32   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mono View Post
My point was NOT that Paramo works the same way as Buffs, my point was that it is not, despite what they say, waterproof!
Well to be fair, when you wrote:

Quote:
I know lots of people who swear by Paramo, Buffalo and other such concepts on the hill
it surely looked like you were suggesting they used the same approach - or why even mention Buffalo at all? You linked them together in a discussion about waterproofing technologies - it's not really surprising that I drew the conclusion I did.

Buffalo make no claims whatsoever to being waterproof where their pertex/pile kit is concerned (and that's what people generally mean when they talk about Buffalo), so they're just not relevant in any way to the discussion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buffalo
None of the Buffalo products are intended to be waterproof, they are proofed to repel water as stated above, but they will all keep the wearer warm even when the garment is wet, as long as the wearer keeps active or if stationary just exercise every 10 minutes to keep their body temperature from dropping.
From this page.
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Old Thursday 22nd May 2008, 11:09   #13
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Páramo (Nikwax Fabrics)

Hi folks, sorry for the delay in getting a response to this thread.

Is Páramo waterproof? I see one response as well it depends as to what you call waterproof?

There are really two approaches, one which puts a physical barrier between you and the weather (i.e Gore, Event etc etc) and complies with a whole bunch of lab tests which effectively measures the hydrostatic head of the fabric i.e how much water can the fabric withstand in a vertical column before it fails (leaks).

One opinion is that although this does indeed keep you dry from the outside there can be a problem of getting wet from the inside from perspiration. The better ones breathe but they do rely on a temperature differential i.e your body heat being warmer than the outside, keeping the water as a vapour and the vapour being able to pass between the fibres and membrane to the outside (breathe).

So whats the difference with Páramo? Firstly we use the Nikwax Directional textiles and don't use membranes or coatings. This is not to say they are bad but to say that we prefer a different approach.

Some of significant points of difference are - no tape seams, extremely breathable but the key one is this directional thing.

The fabric system does not rely on body heat. It breathes very well but importantly will actually move (pump) liquid water (sweat) away from you towards the outside. It's performance can be renewed pretty much indefinitely, no tape seams to come away, if punctured it still works, if ripped it can be easily mended and the polyesters we use are whilst very soft and quiet are very strong. Their performance after repeated exposure to high UV is incredible.

The whole Ten Tors thing is interesting. Whilst someone in the military obviously hasn’t got their heads around it, DRG (Dartmoor Rescue Group) who cover the event and Dartmoor 365 days a year and when the moor is having it’s greatest weather sense of humour failures use Páramo - all four sections (although not everyone in the team as it’s personal choice). The military’s Joint services adventure training centres who teach the mountaineering instructors in all weathers also use it, some of them pretty much live in it.

One of the main reasons they do is exactly what is being described above. When you stop exerting yourself you cool (some people more rapidly than other depending on your metabolism and sometimes gender). If a garment is very breathable then as it’s breathing then some heat will be lost. If you are wet inside then this heat will be lost even quicker. A good deal of us find that on balance we stay more comfortable (dryer and warmer) for longer using Páramo – It’s not for everyone? A an ex Infantry squaddie of 9 years, a trained mountain leader, someone who lives on the edge of Dartmoor and is a landscape photographer who stands about for hours waiting for light (I love pre and post storm weather lighting) It works for me?

Whilst our breathability and directionality are fantastic when you are active, then as with most systems if you stop for longer periods of time you will need to add insulation to reduce heat loss. We call in overlayering as you shouln’t have to take something off to put something on – I hope that reads ok? For most people you have to add a fair amount of insulation for this to be effective for longer periods.

So then the numbers – instead of the hydrostatic head test we use the Leeds university rain room test which we believe is a better representation of what outdoor folk do.

Rain Room Testing

The Rain Room at Leeds University Textile Department (UK) was specially built and donated by Nikwax to enable the assessment of outdoor fabrics and garment designs.The process of testing a
garment is as follows:

Mannequins are clothed in fleece cotton tracksuits and balaclavas. These are absorbent but do not wick easily. This aids the detection of water movement. Páramo test garments are then placed over the top. The clothed mannequin is positioned under the shower tester with one arm pointing forward and the other slightly downward to mimic a walking position.
The mannequin and clothing revolve 6 times per minute,for up to 4 hours. Heavy rain is simulated; with a range of drop diameters and an intensity of 28–32mm per hour. This is approximately 10 times the intensity of normal heavy rain in the UK.

The lining used in Páramo Directional Waterproofs is called ‘Analogy Pump Liner’ – this is a Directional liner that transfers liquid water from one face to the other.

Min. Static water transfer face to face – 300 gms per hour.
Max water content after 30 mins static draining – 20%

The outer fabric used in Páramo Directional Waterproofs is called ‘Windproof by Nikwax’ Outer Windproof fabric with durable water repellency

Min. tear strength – 20 Newtons
Max. air permeability 2.5 cubic feet per min.
Spray rating: 100

These 2 fabrics combined = Páramo Directional Waterproof. Therefore, whole garment rain resistance

Minimum 4 hour resistance to 3cm of rain per hour. Sample garments tested independently at Leeds University Textile Department Rain Room

I'm sorry if this is all a bit late in the day but I'd be very happy to discuss this if anyone is still interested?

Cheers
Rob (Skippy1)
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Old Thursday 22nd May 2008, 16:04   #14
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A very comprehensive explanation.
Thankyou.
I had`nt imagined that this thread would generate so much interest.
I did ask around at this years event,but nobody seemed to have any more information on what was said at the training session.
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Old Thursday 22nd May 2008, 16:40   #15
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Originally Posted by Skippy1 View Post
Mannequins are clothed in fleece cotton tracksuits and balaclavas. These are absorbent but do not wick easily. This aids the detection of water movement. Páramo test garments are then placed over the top. The clothed mannequin is positioned under the shower tester with one arm pointing forward and the other slightly downward to mimic a walking position.
The mannequin and clothing revolve 6 times per minute,for up to 4 hours. Heavy rain is simulated; with a range of drop diameters and an intensity of 28–32mm per hour. This is approximately 10 times the intensity of normal heavy rain in the UK.


Rob (Skippy1)
Would it still be waterproof with 30-40lb of rucksack on the mannequin?
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Old Thursday 22nd May 2008, 16:49   #16
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Would it still be waterproof with 30-40lb of rucksack on the mannequin?
Would anything??
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Old Friday 23rd May 2008, 08:10   #17
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Alll of the 'waterproof' garments that we have that are designed for ruck sack use and are upperbody have two layers of the pump lining accross the shoulder yolk and the ones designed for heavier ruck sacks also have foam inserts (removeable) that go down the back either side of the spine.

In all the years that I've used Páramo (12+) I've never had water ingresss (leaks) caused by a ruck sack and as an ex squaddie I do over subscribe to the if you haven't got it you can't use it so carry everything approach - especially when out doing photography. I recently weighed my camera ruck sack (Lowe pro Photo trekkker plus attached day sack) for a flight and it came in at a shocking 21kg's. That was without warm kit, food and water. I spend a lot of time on Dartmoor, N.Wales and the Lakes in crap weather, probably don't wash and proof my kit as often as I should and other than driving rain comming into a hood can't remember getting wet.

An important thing to remember is that the lining (especially when there are two layers) will keep on working irrelivant of your body heat, the external conditions etc etc. The problem that ruck sacks cause is they pretty much stop breathability as they are big lumps of Nylon (ususlaly with some kind of PU coating somewhere) and foam crushing down on shoulder blades. The point of having two layers of lining is extra comfort and an added ability to pump out any moisture that may collect due to the shoulder straps

barontan2418 comented, does anything? To a point because of the above I'd kind of agree. The benifit of the lining is it will deal with your moisture. It's not the holy grail and the system isn't perfect but it does work for me and a fair few others.

One very important point I'd also like to get accross is that whilst the Leeds rain room test gives us something independent and some great numbers, nothing goes there until it has has extensive real time and real conditions (including ruck sacks) field testing by our team that is based in the UK lake District. Greg and and bunch of people may put a garment through anything up to 2 years mountain field testing before it even goes to Leeds. Garments are then often pulled from production stock and thrashed by gear testers and staff and their loving (well they have to be to put up with what we ask them) families and friends. - The bit I really love!
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Old Friday 23rd May 2008, 13:31   #18
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I've got Páramo gear and find it excellent - except that my Alta jacket is bright yellow/black and not only attracts "Look out a wasp" comments but is slightly too visible to our feathered friends! Luckily I've the green windproof and green fleece (who's name escapes me!) - teamed up with the Alta trousers I've been out in rain, wind, sun and blizzards (and hung around in those conditions)

Agree that the jackets are a touch slippery!
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Old Friday 23rd May 2008, 16:33   #19
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All of the 'waterproof' garments that we have that are designed for ruck sack use and are upperbody have two layers of the pump lining across the shoulder yolk and the ones designed for heavier ruck sacks also have foam inserts (removable) that go down the back either side of the spine.
OK, thanks for the detailed response, I will definitely bear it in mind when next in the market for a jacket.
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Old Friday 30th May 2008, 00:50   #20
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The other day it was raining when I went to work so I grabbed the first coat as I shot out - my Paramo. When it came to going home it was a torrential downpour of the sort last experienced by Mr & Mrs Noah and their pets! The 100yds walk to the car was hell and by the time I got there my trousers were wet from the water running off the coat.

I threw the coat on the laptop rucsack and drove home, within 10 minutes it was dry to the touch (unlike me) so I can't really say too much against it and wear it in preference to my Berghaus now when I'm out walking as it is so comfy to wear.

Not quite as scientific as the textile lab test but I was impressed
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Old Saturday 1st November 2008, 18:52   #21
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I have just been talking to someone who attended a Ten Tors team managers training session run by the army.
He informs me that the army are discouraging the wearing of Paramo jackets as they have concerns about the the manner in which they are waterproofed.
Apperently the way they work is to absorb some moisture which the army have concerns about with regard to hypothermia in extreme conditions.
Although this may not concern most birders it may be something that those of us that endure more extreme conditions should be aware of.

Sorry to belatedly resurrect a thread; just scanning through this part of the forum....but I laughed when I read the above.

First hand knowledge with 'as at now' currency; the Army or, more accurately, the Services actually issue Paramo waterproofs (both Jackets and trousers) to students at all Joint Services Mountain Training Centres.

That's not to say all staff or users love Paramo; but it is current JSMTC student issue

So much for rumours :)


Paramo is fine when you're not leaning or kneeling on anything (water comes through at pressure points). Stay vertical and it'll do all you need; kneel, go prone or crawl and you're stuffed :)

...which is why I'm scanning this forum -anyone know of jackets being made in eVent -in green?

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Old Tuesday 11th November 2008, 15:24   #22
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Contradicting vehemently my earlier post about Paramo being excellent in the wet, here is an update to my prevous experiences:-
Sorry to continue with a belated addition to this "Paramo excellence" thread, but my tale is :-
After wearing my Alto jacket and Cascada trousers in the Lakes walking, shortened to 4hrs due to heavy rain. I first noticed a wetness down the front inside the trousers at the point where the jacket overlapped. This began running down my legs and consequently filling my boots.! The next area to "fail" was where the rucsack waistband fitted ( I was carrying a new Berghaus 70 litre sac with approx. 10kgs)and with my "wicking" base layer doing its "job" within 1 hour I was wet to the armpits....admittedly I was never cold but that was no consolation for the discomfort I felt...soaked to the skin from the armpits to my toes. When we got back and I sat on wooden chair in the cafe for coffee I "squellshed". Not painful only to the pride after being humbled into eating humble pie after singing off about my new waterproofs.
When I contacted Paramo and asked how this could happen and explaining I had walked longer carrying much more weight wearing my Berghaus Kag and overtrousers with no water penetration, the answers I was given were laughable.......
1.. contamination from other clothing when hung on a hanger in the wardrobe
2.. rucsack too tight
3.. lack of treatment ( the garments were only 3mths old)
So my conclusions are anyone who swears by these garments has:-
1... never walked in the rain..( I did the GR20 carrying 25kgs wearing my Berghaus gear, with some of the worst wind and rain I've had and never once was I wet. Also I don't know how I could have "treated" the Paramo garments had I had them then, we were walking for 13 days !)
2... never worn a rucsack
3... stored their garments in isolation
Trying to be fair...Paramo asked me to return the garments. They then laundered, reproofed and returned them to me along with a sample freebee of their Nikwax reinvigorator and refroofer.........so kind..!!
In conclusion the garments are now gathering contamination in the "wardrobe in the loft" and I'm back to my trusted Berghaus.

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Old Sunday 16th November 2008, 21:55   #23
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So my conclusions are anyone who swears by these garments has:-
1... never walked in the rain..( I did the GR20 carrying 25kgs wearing my Berghaus gear, with some of the worst wind and rain I've had and never once was I wet. Also I don't know how I could have "treated" the Paramo garments had I had them then, we were walking for 13 days !)
2... never worn a rucsack
3... stored their garments in isolation
That is a bit demeaning and patronsing to those who are perefectly happy with their Paramo garments. Whilst I don't doubt your experience with the clothing they are exactly that - your experience ! Others experience may be more positive and you can't assume that if it is then they must be 'dudes'.
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Old Monday 17th November 2008, 11:06   #24
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Oh, Ohh, I sense ruffled feathers of a Paramo defender. Pity you couldn't see the objectivity of "my experience" in the comparison with my Berghaus. It's there to balance and help those not suffering from "Myopia Subjectiva".
Finally, if demeanor and patronage is to your taste try this... In the world of the blind the one eyed man is King..!
Regards Joe xx
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Old Monday 17th November 2008, 19:21   #25
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Joe, Im Sorry your Paramo gear has let you down. I happen to like my Paramo and I have walked in heavy rain, had a ruck sack on my back and stored it with other jackets. Ive had no problems which is more than can be said about the berghaus boots I was walking in. The gortex liner broke down aftre 14 months so I had to put up with wet toes until I replaced them. However, I do like my berghaus fleece and my berghaus base garment. Gareth
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