We believe every aspect of kit should have a purpose. Our overall goal is to develop technical kit that is suitable for a range of fast and light adventures, so you can navigate environments as efficiently as possible.
Eager to understand this fast and light concept further, we chat with Montane Materials Manager Liam Steinbeck - the person tasked with figuring out which is the right fabric to work with to keep you well protected and able to maximise your performance in the great outdoors.
I am the Material Manager here at Montane. I manage all the relationships with our nominated fabric suppliers, sourcing and developing new technical performance fabrics. I nurtured a love of the outdoors from an early age and I generally love being in wild mountain environments. Given the choice, you’ll find me in the Dolomites on a Via Ferrata, in Scotland on a technical scramble, or running any distance from 5km to an ultra on various trails and hills.
How do you decide upon the right material for a new product?
From a fabric perspective, three key criteria are considered. Firstly, the end use of the briefed product - what is it meant to be? For example, is it meant to be waterproof or warm? Is it a shell layer or a mid-layer? Secondly, the environment that the product will be used in such as high alpine summer or Scottish winter mountaineering. Thirdly, the person themselves and their activity level. Are they going to be static? Or are they going to be moving very fast? These three criteria determine what the required performance attributes should be, such as weight, stretch, breathability etc, in order to maximize comfort for the intended end-use activity. Other operational factors also need to be considered such as recycled content, cost, lead times, minimum order quantities, ability to achieve colour etc…
Low weight without compromise: why do we design in this way and how is it challenging to get right?
A balance needs to be found to ensure the fabric is suitable for the desired end use. The fabric ideally needs to meet, if not exceed, the customers’ expectations in terms of durability and performance. This presents a delicate balance between fabric weight and durability, where we strive to obtain the most appropriate weight to optimize performance.
Why is exploring efficiently in the great outdoors important and how can kit impact this?
Experience is the greatest teacher. Once familiar with clothing systems, people subconsciously develop a knowledge of what is the most appropriate apparel for the environment and for their chosen activity. Lighter weight products enable people to move faster for longer without getting overly fatigued too soon, allowing them to push personal boundaries and challenge personal bests.
Fabric that moves with the body, that stretches and encourages unhindered movement contributes to the feeling of freedom and avoids body movement from being restricted by products, meaning you can reach that hand hold, you don’t need to shorten your stride and, ultimately, increases enjoyment of the outdoors.
Which item of kit are you most excited about this season and why?
The Phase Nano Waterproof Jacket is an excellent example of exceptional product design with the ideal performance fabric combination. Best in class weather protection, maximum moisture vapour transmission (breathability), super lightweight with complimentary feature set. It uses the lightest 3 layer GORE-TEX Active shell available. Currently impossible to beat on performance to weight!