Sunday, 27 April 2008

The cost of anoraks

'Being one or wearing one?' I hear you ask... but it probably comes to the same thing.

I can truly find no reason for the extraordinary cost of waterproof jackets for walking in Cumbria and other anorak-y pursuits. I find it hard to believe that since the invention of Gore-Tex there have really been any revolutions in the manufacture of water- and wind-proof material sufficient to justify the astronomical prices on show in Keswick's many emporia of outdoor wear. Anoraks are surely not such a niche industry that I should be paying for their entire research budget with a single purchase. So it must come down to design.

Here again though there are certain features which really should be a given - the peaked hood, for example, is clearly industry standard because once you've had one you really never want to go back to the type that lets rain run down your face. Which pretty much just leaves
  • colour - a toss up between tasteful 'landscape' colours or noisy 'rescue me' combinations - again hardly requiring vast imagination,
  • shape - so called female-fit is to be approached warily as it will either cut off your circulation or make you look like a blimp,
  • tactile qualities - OK I have to admit the apparently brushed cotton effect of my husband's astronomically expensive jacket is more pleasing than typical waterproof material, and
  • pointless gimmicks - including the ability to zip in a fleece lining (the whole point is you want to be able to add and remove layers easily, not by fighting them apart) and the curious pocket / button hole / tiny loop combination that is supposed to keep your 'entertainment system' in place - am I alone in thinking that my i-pod is primarily for the exclusion of unwanted reality and therefore of least possible relevance when out on the fells?
I suppose there is the truly anorak-y factor of how 'serious' your outdoor kit is. Paying a lot for your waterproof perhaps says that although you come from the safety of the sub/urbs, you know what you are doing in 'real' landscape and weather.

All this aside, I am pretty pleased with my new anorak, which is infinitely more tasteful than my previous green. blue & burgundy number and has nifty little reflective stripes so that I can blend into the mountain in general but still be found. More to the point, there is still nothing to beat the view from Coniston Old Man to put things in perspective - and nothing like the millionaires shortbread at the Jumping Jenny Cafe at Brantwood to enhance your look back across the lake at the peak.

Such are the activities of the low key high flyer...

1 comment:

lowkeyhighflyer said...

Andy says (though the computer wouldn't let him):

Sorry but i have to say that pockets on anoraks are
the best thing ever! I love the idea that there
might be a pocket somewhere on my waterproof that
turns into a small tent or possibly a chateau with an
extensive wine cellar in times of emergency on a fell.
And there is a certain nostalgia in wearing an anorak
for the first time after a long hot summer to find
things in the pockets that you put there last winter
and wonder why...Worthers original, receipts for
coffees to unknown coffee shops (for warming ones self
after fell walk presumably). Long may the anorak