Mountain Designs’ new Pro Elite Alpine range takes outdoor gear to the extremes
Iconic Aussie outdoor brand, Mountain Designs, has released its new Pro Elite Alpine range of gear, aimed at mountaineers and arctic explorers and adventurers. It could be viewed as the pinnacle of the brand’s 40-year history of designing highly technical gear for the most challenging of environments. It is also a nice nod to the fact that Mountain Designs (founded in 1975 by the late Rick White) outfitted the first Australians to summit Mount Everest, back in 1984.
The high-tech designs of the different items in this range directly reflect the brand’s long association with high-altitude adventurers, and they also reflect the extreme environs in which they will be used. Encompassing a down suit, two down jackets (one with hood; one without), salopettes and two down sleeping bags (plus a set of down mitts, currently in production), the Pro Elite range is comprehensive and looks very impressive.
The ultimate test
The Pro Elite Alpine range has, in fact, already been tested in the toughest field, with Mountain Designs Ambassador Jennifer Willis recently aiming to be the first Aussie with Multiple Sclerosis to summit Mount Everest. Even though weather conditions put an end to Jennifer’s attempt, she did reach higher than 8000 metres (becoming the only Aussie with MS to climb to 8000m – and Everest’s South Col) and was impressed with the performance of her Pro Elite Alpine gear during her attempt.
All the gear, right here
The Pro Elite Alpine range uses a combo of a mix of fabrics and fills, such as 800 or 850 loft RDS goose down fill, PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco synthetic fill, Pertex Quantum Pro shell fabric, Repel Water fabric reinforcement and a DownTek water repellency treatment.
Pro Elite Alpine Down Suit: This suit provides full-body protection and features 850-loft RDS goose down in the top half of the suit and 700-loft down in the bottom half, a robust Pertex Quantum Pro shell, PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco synthetic fill, the DownTek water repellent treatment and Repel Water-treated fabric reinforcements. Cleverly, the synthetic fill is used around areas of the suit where down would be compressed (thus rendering its warmth qualities redundant). There is also a mix of down, too; high-loft down is found up top, while low-loft down is in the lower (legs) sections. Clever stuff. RRP $2500
Pro Elite Alpine Down Salopettes: This teams perfectly with the Pro Elite Down Parka (below) and includes all of the same tech materials (and construction) featured in the Down Suit except for using 800-loft down (rather than 700 as per the suit) in the lower (legs) area. The adjustable brace system provides a nice fit, the adjustable hem and extended zip along the leg-side seam help control ventilation and the zippered rainbow flap and fly ensure when nature calls, it’s an easy process. And, the overall weight is light, at 1170g for a Medium. RRP $1000
Pro Elite Alpine Down Parka: This hooded expedition jacket obviously shares a lot of features with the down suit, including the use of both goose-down and synthetic fill throughout, the Pertex Quantum Pro shell outer, plus the moisture managing DownTek and Repel water treatments. This parka also includes thicker material on high-wear areas, such as the shoulders (where pack straps sit), and a welcome pair of pockets that are insulated on both sides (there’s also two external zippered chest pockets and two internal chest pockets). The down is kept in place thanks to the box-wall baffle construction, while ventilation can be managed via the underarm zips, as well as the adjustable cuffs and snow-skirt (with adjustable hem) The hood is oxygen mask and helmet compatible, of course, for those high-alpine adventures, and it has separate storage and compression sacks. RRP $1300
Pro Elite Alpine Down Jacket: Although shorter in length, the Down Jacket still shares a lot of features with the Down Parka, while offering a wider breadth of capability in that it would be also ideal for high-altitude trekking and expeditions in cold climates, such as NZ’s Southern Alps in winter, the NSW/VIC back-country, etc. It includes the use of both goose-down and synthetic fill throughout, the Pertex Quantum Pro shell outer, plus the moisture managing DownTek and Repel water treatments. This jacket also has the heavier-duty material in high-wear areas, plenty of ventilation options, as per the Down Parka, and those toasty warm dual-insulated pockets, too. There’s even a storage sack and compression sack. We can’t wait to get one for review! RRP $800
Pro Elite Alpine Down sleeping bags: This two-model range of sleeping bags impresses with its high level of detail to the design, specific to the environs in which they’ll be used. The 1500 uses a mix of 850-loft RDS goose down, Pertex Quantum Pro shell and PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco synthetic fill, with a DownTek Water Repellent treatment. Total weight is 2.55kg, with a Limit warmth rating of -28 degrees Celsius. The 1000 eschews the PrimaLoft fill and is rated slightly less warm (Limit level of -20 degrees Celsius) than the 1500, while weighing 1.76kg. Both bags feature trapezoidal box wall baffle construction, while the 1500 includes a vertical baffle design zone in the torso area for optimum warmth. Both bags also feature strengthened foot area sections (for when you jump in, literally, boots ’n’ all) and the mummy shape is relatively roomy (again, to allow for fully clothed occupants). They both feature three-quarter side-zips, internal zip pockets for storage (and two mesh hand pockets), along with well-proved anti-snag YKK zips and separate sacks for storage and travel. RRP $2000 (1500); RRP $1500 (1000)
The final word on the Mountain Designs Pro Elite Alpine range
For those serious adventurers – and for those who want durable and reliable outerwear for the most challenging of environments – Mountain Designs’ Pro Elite Alpine gear is a must to check out. This new tier of high-end technical apparel also points at the potential for more MD gear to wear this badge in the future – say, in the trekking sphere – which is also very exciting.
See Mountain Designs for more information on the Pro Elite Alpine range and the brand’s complete range of gear.