If you've ever wondered what sort of clothing enables mountaineers to stay comfortable above 8,000 metres, specialist brand PHD has given an insight with its new product. The Expedition Double Suit is aimed at climbers heading for the world's highest peaks, and uses an innovative design that splits a conventional down suit in two. The PHD Double Suit is made to cope with temperatures as low as -50C.
PHD's founder Peter Hutchinson made the first ever one-piece down suit, which was worn by Don Whillans on Everest in 1971. Since then, improvements have been made to these essential pieces of kit, but the Stalybridge-based company claims its new suits mark the biggest innovation in down suit design for 45 years. The company said, "We've split the traditional single down suit into two, one on top of the other, both extremely light. The one-piece inner suit is for the climb up to 7,000 metres where overheating is a common problem; the two-piece outer is a quick overfit to bring the combined double suit up to full summit performance at 8,000+m."
The Expedition Double Suit comes in two versions: one rated at -35C and one at -50C. PHD says the double suits tip the scales at less than traditional one-piece down suits: 1,300g and 1,440g respectively. Among the PHD features on the suits are white fabric used on the inner garment to reduce solar gain; heat-pad pockets at the wrists; a harness tie-in slot; lanyard clip loops; a flared storm baffle and easy-access insulated camera pocket.
The Expedition Double Suit also has easy toilet access while wearing both layers; inside pockets to hold four 500ml drink bottles and a design of over-baffle that protects water drips from the user's oxygen mask freezing on the drip. Ben Kane, who used the suit on his expedition to 8,163m (26,782ft) Manaslu, said it was on the cutting edge of design for high altitude gear. "It allows you to utilise the insulation you're carrying lower down, climb through greater temperature ranges and be more comfortable and adaptable."
The -35C version will set you back £1,014 and the -50C £1,199.