Mammut Base Jump Advanced Pant – First Impressions

 

The Mammouth

Facewest was once again victorious with its Advent offer series, and with free shipping to France and a reward scheme discount, it made sense, especially as I am just about to enter a busy winter period of climbing, walking and assisting with a winter skills groups.

Initial Verdict [for the impatient!]

A seasoned, classic pair of mountain trousers, which excels through its combination of Schoeller softshell fabric and wide range of waist and leg measurements.

Neat detailing from the Mammut mark

Preamble

After many years of sterling service, my ‘go-to’ trousers, Rohan Uplanders, used for all-year round, mountaineering, climbing and hillwalking finally came to their demise. Their replacement is the classic Mammut Base Jump Advanced Pant in its most recent incarnation, hence the ‘Advanced’.

There are several approaches to mountain trousers, which are ultimately rather a mundane necessity, unless you opt for the high contrast, high visibility, brightly coloured, European approach. Most of us would rather not have to spend too much time, effort and cash on what is the ‘work horse’ of the outdoor wardrobe. One approach is to specialise, having a purpose-built item for each specific activity, i.e., winter and summer garments for their respective activities. Winter trousers might be thicker, warmer and have braces, for example. The second approach is the middle way – a garment that does everything pretty well, and with a bit of help, can be modified (for winter purposes mainly). For example, layering a summer pair of walking trousers with a merino baselayer.

The first method is probably more attractive, but for its cost, yet lacks the efficiency and versatility of the second approach. Since outdoor gear costs such a lot, but makes a big difference when chosen carefully and utilised properly, the ‘holy grail’ are the bits of kit that do everything, weigh little and are tough. Therefore, for that reason I chose the Base Jump Pants, feeling on balance that they go a long way towards this goal.

Waistbelt and brace loops

Fit

There is no magic formula for finding well-fitting outdoor kit, and often a good fitting item wins the day over a more technical one. And this is why I would recommend that you try the Base Jump first. This is not least so that you stand a chance of understanding the confusing and ambiguous European sizing numbers. If you look at the Mammut sizing chart under EU converter, there are three options to each waist size, so EU 48/23/98 equates to UK 32 inch waist (regular leg)/32 (short leg)/32 (long leg). At first this seems bizarre and unnecessarily complicated, but it gives a far wider range of fit than you might otherwise find with another trouser. The fit is regular, so is comfortable, without baggy material, and gives the option for layering a baselayer underneath in winter. The stretch of the schoeller fabric allows dynamic movement for climbing, or when you trip over a boulder.

Instep reinforcement

Aesthetics

Mammut have thankfully avoided the pitfall of highly contrasting reinforced areas on the Base Jump (the Montane Terra Pant is particularly bad for this). It has reinforced panels to combat abrasion and stress, but these are mercifully the same colour as the rest of the trouser, apart from the seat of the pant and instep of the bottom of the leg, which are grey, inconspicuous and not too garish. I found the leg to be slightly flared, but do not see this as a problem, and it should help with the fit of the trouser over big boots. The velcro patches can also help with cinching it down, if required. The overall look is pretty sleek, and the red detailing of the logos adds extra flair.

Velcro fastenings

Technical

The bottoms of the legs have a short zipped gusset with velcro fastening, which helps with fit over big boots, and there is the reinforced crampon patch as mentioned. I am not entirely sure how useful both of these features will be, which is partly because my previous trousers had neither. It is unlikely that you would be able to pull the trousers over boots, or even crampons, but I cannot imagine why you would want to do that, and crampon points will go through pretty much any fabric, so I will have to reserve judgement on these two features until I test the trousers in anger.

The knee areas are nicely articulated, which I have found to be helpful on other garments, so with the stretch of the fabric, this should make for good freedom of movement. The pants have three pockets, one on the thigh, which appear to tick the right boxes, but as I avoid putting anything in pockets, this does not matter overly to me. However, I am impressed that the bags of the pockets are made with mesh, which is a neat trick to allow venting when unzipped. Lastly, you can add a belt or webbing, if you like, but I will definitely be buying a pair of braces to utilise the loops for winter. To me this is a good technical feature, which will keep undergarments tucked in, draughts out, and allow thrutching and squirming when climbing.

The stand-out quality of the Base Jump Pants, though, is the fabric itself, Schoeller FTC, a softshell, which is lightweight, stretchy, breathable and fast-drying. Schoeller avoids incorporating a membrane within the fabric, which although adds windproofing, decreases the breathability of a garment. I have read much about the fabric, and seen the Base Jump reappear year on year, so am eager to see how it measures up to its reputation in reality.

Reinforcement on the seat of the pant

Verdict

In the same way as the Rab Baseline Hoodie, the Mammut Base Jump combines an excellent technical fabric with just the right number of technical features, so as not to make it unwieldy or irrelevant. I have a feeling that this pair of trousers will more than live up to my old Rohan Uplanders.

Live for the Day, but Live to Fight Another One too

Two years ago today climber and mountaineer, Will Wilkinson, died in an avalanche on Ben Nevis. This is the second year I have chosen to mark the occasion, and I explained my reasons for doing so last year.

Sometimes this time of year becomes bogged down with self-reflection and analysis. I found a fellow-blogger’s take on it refreshing: ‘No analysis. No predictions. No resolutions.’ McAlisterium

However, as a father with a small family set to increase, I increasingly find myself reflecting on the consequences of danger and risk on the mountain. Also, as it is more difficult to find time to get out with more responsibility, but when I do, I really savour it. Surprisingly enough, I also find myself missing my little family fairly quickly! This is nothing new, but a healthy way to approach mountain activities.

Live for the day, but live to fight another one too.

When I was writing a recent post about Remembrance Day, I came across an article in The Guardian. An interview of children left fatherless by the First World War. One young boy, now an old man, was thrust forward to become the head of the household after his father was killed, but it left him emotionally scarred. Standing at his father’s grave in 2007, he said:

‘I’m an old man, I am supposed to be tough. I thought I was hard, but I’m not. He’s my dad. I miss him. I missed him as a boy and I miss him as an old man. It is very important that I have come back. I feel closer now than I have ever been. That time he carried me to bed was the last time and this is the next time.’

This is more a note to myself than anything. Have fun, enjoy the wide, open spaces, especially when they are wild, and your time has been hard fought. Also, stay safe and remember the ones who you leave behind. Little girls and boys need their fathers.

 

Will Wilkinson’s Tales from the Hills

Scottish avalanche victim named

Last year’s post

McAlisterium post

Guardian article

Lessons Learned in the Atlas

One of the highlights of my recent trip to the High Atlas was the chance to learn new skills, put into practice old ones and in general continue to grow in experience as a mountaineer.

On ice in a borrowed pair of Grivel G14s

1. Always fit borrowed crampons beforehand

I had brought my Grivel G10s, but the temptation to climb was too strong, so I ended up borrowing a pair of G12s. I only acted on the nagging reminder to test them the morning of the first day, when I realised that the metal adjustment bar was too short. What ensued was a 30minute delay of grunting, grimacing and fiddling, ultimately ending with me wearing G14s for the remainder of the week. Crampon fitting is a ever-present minefield, waiting to catch the unwary, and I vowed never to be caught out again in future. Lesson: be very careful if you borrow crampons!

It might look clever or practical to do this, but inevitably you will end up losing it - probably when you most need it

2. Secure your kit to yourself

More than once did I pay the penalty for failing to keep tabs on kit: sunglasses which I knocked off head unwittingly when removing my hat; another day I stuffed my hat down my top, later believing it to be lost – in fact it had worked its way round the back of my top. The results in both cases were unnecessary and tiring ascents to search for the items. In the second case, totally wasted, as the hat was still on me! The principal is the same for most small items of kit, especially gloves. Gloves that have a lanyard which attaches to your wrist will save much anxiety, or worse, should you drop them. Lesson: never put things on the ground in winter or in a place where they will get lost.

Hand over hand on easier terrain for swift progress

3. Old school ropework saves time and effort

Many times James and I resorted to the humble body belay and braced stance, especially on snow slopes and when we had to move fast on the climb of Tête d’Ouanoums. In the right place and with the correct judgement, a simple technique such as the body belay, belovedly learned by all MLs, saves time and effort, which can be wasted by pitching sections as climbs. Note that I mentioned judgement above, which is especially true for choosing anchors and when to deploy the ropework in the first place. Lesson: a through working knowledge of the basics is the foundation of a mountaineer’s repertoire.

I was pretty proud of this until I got bombarded by snow and ice...

4. Choose a sheltered belay

This will be pretty obvious for seasoned winter climbers, but I learned the hard way. Wanting to practise an ice screw belay, I chose a stance directly below the fall line of the pitch above. As such, I spent the 20 or 30 minutes dodging falling ice and nevé. A fairly sizeable chunk hit me on my head, making me even more thankful for a helmet in winter. It would have been much better to have built the belay out right and out of harm’s way. Added to this is the sheer value of presence of mind, even when tired, to consider the second leading through. The resulting ropework will prevent the compounding of any falling snow and ice with, for example, a cramped breaking hand and tangles. Lesson: be smart and keep the belay out of harm’s way.

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