Posted on 2 Comments

The Dark Peak NESSH jacket put to the test

Red NESSH jacket The Wave Utah

“When I wear this jacket, I feel like I’m actually wearing a hug from Santa Claus.” – Kim from Back O’ Beyond.

We’re pleased to say that the Dark Peak NESSH jacket has been a hit with outdoors enthusiasts of all kinds since its launch. It’s been tested in mountains, deserts and every place in between by hikers, back country skiers, weekend ramblers and even adventurers camping wild in the snow in the middle of winter! We’ve been blown away by the positive reception to both the jacket and our One Sold One Given mission.

“Warmer than my Arc’teryx” – Matt Nelson @way.offgrid

Here are a few of our favourite reviews:

Back O’ Beyond (photo above) tested the jacket in some incredible landscapes in Southern Utah –

Outdoor Journal took the NESSH jacket ice skating and skiing in sub zero temperatures in Finland –

Howl Bushcraft embarked on an expedition to walk the longest line across the UK without crossing a road –

Fiona Outdoors weighed up the merits of the One Sold One Given policy in her in-depth review –

Outdoors Magic (photo below) went ski touring in Austria with the NESSH jacket as a lightweight mid layer –

When Rob from Cool of the Wild finally got out adventuring after lockdown eased, his Dark Peak down jacket came everywhere with him –

The Dark Peak NESSH jacket also came highly recommended on the list of Best Down Jackets for 2020 by Ultimate Gear Lists and featured on the list of Best Down Jackets for Men: Responsibly Sourced in 2020 by Cool of the Wild.

Check out the NESSH jacket range for men HERE

And the women’s range HERE

Posted on 2 Comments

Getting Back To Nature: How to feel at home in the outdoors

Getting back to nature can feel like a mountain of a task in today’s climates when we’re surrounded by technology and all sorts of screens. But that’s no reason to keep putting it off. There are so many benefits to getting outside and being with nature, even if it is just in your own back garden. So if you feel like you’ve lost touch with mother nature, it’s never too late to dip your toe back in the water.

On Your Doorstep

If getting out in the countryside is difficult for you, that doesn’t mean you can’t get back to nature. If you don’t have a car or means of transport, try getting back to nature by walking through one of your local parks, or even just down by the side of a river or canal. Find a nice spot to read your book for a while and as you listen to the sound of the birds and feel the blades of grass on your feet, you’ll start to feel like you’re getting back to nature already.

If you have a garden at home, this is a perfect way to get back to nature, without even going anywhere. Spend some time gardening to really get to know the nature around you, understand who lives and what grows in your own back garden. You’ll be surprised what flora and fauna will thrive just metres away from where you sleep at night.

Another really productive way to get back to nature is to grow your own food. You’ll know by now that you can grow food on the tiniest of balconies and window sills, so getting back to nature isn’t as hard as it seems. Try your hand at a herb garden to feel a little closer to nature, or if you’ve got the room in your garden, how about planting some potatoes or some carrots? You’ll feel like you’ve really got back to nature when it’s time to use them for dinner.

If you’re starting at the very beginning of your journey back to nature, go small at first by bringing a few plants into your home. You’ll soon find yourself adding to your nature collection as you find different plants and flowers that you think will look great in your living room or kitchen.

Further Afield

If it’s easy for you to get out into the countryside, woodland, moorland or to a lake, one of the best ways to start getting back to nature is by learning to identify the animals and plants around you. Why not treat yourself to a book of birds or plants so you can work to figure out what you see when you get out? Invest in a decent pair of binoculars so you can see wildlife from a distance, without scaring them off by getting too close.

Alternatively, use your camera to take beautiful photographs of the outdoor spaces you visit. If you get some really good ones you can even have them framed and hang them up in your home, taking yourself back to nature every time you look at one of them, as you remember the location and the moment you were there.

When you journey somewhere new, try taking little to no money with you. Take a picnic and perhaps a flask with you instead, so you’re not tempted to go and hide somewhere inside with a coffee. Embrace the elements, whether they’re hot or cold, and you’ll really feel like you’ve got back to nature.

Get the family involved and go on a camping trip so you can all get back to nature together. The kids will love being outdoors, exploring and discovering new things. Plus, sleeping under the stars together will give you a real sense that you have indeed made it back to nature.

Try switching off your mobile when you get outside, giving yourself only your senses to focus on; the feel of the breeze, the smell of the grass, the sound of water running. You’ll soon feel back to nature when you can recognise where you are and what’s in front of you with your eyes closed.

What Being Outdoors Can Do For You

Getting back to nature can not only improve your physical fitness, but your mental health too. Being amongst the plants and the wildlife can reduce your stress and elevate your mood as you clear your mind of the daily chores in your life and let your innate self get back to nature. Getting some fresh air every day can improve the quality of sleep you get as your body clock resets to the natural light around it.

Allowing yourself the time to get back to nature, be that alone or with family or friends, alleviates the pressures of work and home life, as you concentrate on only being with each other in a beautiful and serene space, rather than the load of washing you’ve got to do when you get home, or the paperwork you need to file when you get into work in the morning.

You may also find that encouraging yourself and others to get back to nature will also naturally encourage your conservation habits. As you get back to nature, you may find you begin to care more about the environment and those within it. As more and more people begin caring about the environment, more effort will be made to conserve it in all its glory, for generations to enjoy for years to come.

Getting back to nature can be as extravagant or as simple as you make it. There’s no pressure to travel miles away to the top of a mountain. Start small with a few plants in your indoor space and as you get closer and closer back to nature, you’ll find you want to take bigger steps to explore all mother nature has to offer. When it’s time to get outdoors and get exploring, our NESSH Jacket will make sure you’re kept warm, dry and comfortable when you’re out in the elements. Take a look at our website to find out more about our story and how our jackets can help you to get back to nature.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Longest Line Attempt

In October 2019 Robin Heath and Jamie Dakota embarked on an ambitious challenge to walk the longest straight line possible in the UK without crossing a road. The route was 71km long and would take them over varied and difficult terrain in some of the most remote parts of the Scottish Highlands. They would have to cross several Munros, large rivers, valleys, streams, cliffs, ravines and bogs and ascend 5000m in total over 4 days, all the while carrying with them everything they needed to camp in the wild. Their intention was to highlight the need for sensible route choice, planning and decision making in the wilds of Scotland and to raise money for mountain based charities, most notably Scottish mountain rescue. The pair had originally intended to make the attempt just the two of them, but the expedition piqued the interest of Peter Forrester who came along as cameraman, and Max Barnes, Howl Bushcraft apprentice, who would be an extra pair of hands to help Peter carry equipment and set up tents.

The team set out on the expedition in classic, brutal Scottish conditions: gale force winds, torrential rain, sleet, and intermittent poor visibility. It turned out that this weather would not let up at all for the duration of the challenge. Unfortunately, a combination of recent illness, horrible conditions, a terrifying slip and near death experience on a cliff edge proved too much for cameraman Peter, and a few hours into day one he would have to take an escape route out with Max. On the way out they also happened across a lost mountaineer, seemingly heading in the exact opposite direction to what he thought, and brought him down to safety too. Robin and Jamie continued on for two more days (re-joined by Max at the end of day one). The conditions never once let up, waterproofs leaked, boots and feet were permanently soaked from crossing waist-deep rivers, every small stream had become a raging torrent, the peat bogs they crossed had become almost impassable and the cliffs they had to ascend/descend had become dangerously wet and slippery. After two long days of hiking and covering 52km they were suffering. Robin had sores on his feet and legs that were bleeding profusely. Jamie had sprained his knee and damaged ligaments. Even Max who had missed much of the first day and was good 10 years younger than the rest was exhausted to the point of desperation. The three eventually made it to the Corrour Bothy in the Lairig Ghru and had a decision to make: either carry on into even more difficult and remote terrain with the risk of having to call out the very rescue teams they were trying to raise money for, or make the sensible choice of taking the 16km escape route out. With Jamie’s injury he had no choice but to call it a day, and although Max and Robin had the potential to continue, the prospect of another 2 days of being battered by nature defeated them. They decided to end together as a team.

As an outdoorsman who has been mountaineering since childhood, Robin had heard countless stories of people pushing on due to ‘Summit Fever’ and their obsessive need to complete their challenge, many of which had ended in disaster. In this case the teams’ summit was their end point, which they were desperate to reach. But if Jamie’s knee were to truly fail him on a river crossing or abseil, or just in a remote area without phone signal, then a seemingly minor injury could have been fatal. Robin had no doubt in his mind that they made the right decision to quit, and even though it felt like failure he believes the group succeeded in what they had originally set out to do: to highlight the importance of making sensible decisions in the mountains.

Words: Robin Heath

“Thanks to Dark Peak for supporting us by supplying amazing down jackets. They truly were one of the few comforts we had and the only thing that managed to provide warmth! It takes an exceptional jacket to withstand those conditions and I think we would have needed to escape much sooner without them. I will never head up another mountain without it.”

Posted on 4 Comments

Down Fill Power; Which one should you choose?

Down Fill Power

There are all sorts of options out there when choosing a down jacket, such as the insulation type, the style and the Down Fill Power, not to mention the colour! There are advantages and disadvantages to both down and synthetic insulation, but if you’ve decided that down is for you, there are several different Down Fill Power grades to get familiar with and choose from.

Down jackets tend to use either goose or duck plumage, which are both known for their exceptional warmth, but when it comes to Down Fill Power, what does this mean and which one is right for you?

What is down?

Down can be found in between the birds’ skin and their outer, waterproof feathers. The down is exactly what geese and ducks use to keep them warm and to help them to float on the water, and is unmatched in its ability to insulate. This is because air is one of the best insulators out there, and down clusters capture air within them. So with a down jacket on, air is warmed by your own body heat, and then trapped next to you within the down, which is why you’re kept so warm.

The one thing to bear in mind when on the quest for a down jacket is that the down does in fact come from an animal, so it’s important to make sure that whichever Down Fill Power you choose, make sure the down is certified by the Responsible Down Standard.

Down Fill Power

What does Down Fill Power mean?

Down Fill Power is the rating system used to assess the quality of goose and duck down. Ranging from 300 – 900+, the number can usually be found on the sleeve, tag or label on the item. The number is representative of the volume in cubic inches of a single ounce of down when the down is fully lofted, so essentially, Down Fill Power is how much space an ounce of the down takes up.

The higher the number of the Down Fill Power, the more space one ounce takes up, resulting in more air being trapped and the jacket being warmer. However, this doesn’t always mean that the higher the Down Fill Power, the warmer the jacket; that depends on the weight and quantity of down.

For example, a jacket with a low amount of 800 Down Fill Power may not be as warm as a jacket with a high amount of 500 Down Fill Power, but the warmer jacket will weigh a lot more, making it unsuitable for some activities such as hiking, climbing or skiing. The lower fill power will also be a lot less compressible as there’s less air in the down to squash.

Down is formed in clusters, and the maximum loft is achieved when the down clusters are fully expanded, as this is when they take up the most space. Larger clusters come from older birds, and because they are larger, they can trap more air, giving them greater insulating power. So higher the Down Fill Power, the larger the clusters tend to be, and the longer the jacket will retain its loft.

High quality down is considered to have at least 550 Down Fill Power. There’s no equivalent test for synthetic insulation, so you can’t use the Down Fill Power rating system for those kinds of jackets, making it difficult to compare the two in terms of warmth to weight ratio.

Synthetic Insulation vs Down Fill

Synthetic Insulation and Down Fill each have their own advantages. A synthetic jacket is better in wet weather but doesn’t always keep you as warm, whereas a down jacket is arguably the best material to keep warm, but won’t perform too well in the rain. Here at Dark Peak, we offer both synthetic and down NESSH jackets, so you can choose the one that fits your lifestyle best. Our synthetic jackets are both vegan and allergy-friendly, sporting 3M Featherless FL700 insulation; a synthetic insulation that gives industry-leading warmth to weight as well as incredible compressibility. Our down jackets use 850 Down Fill Power goose down, putting it right at the top end of the scale in down quality. What’s more, we only ever use Responsibly Sourced goose down, making for an ethical jacket, as well as an incredibly warm and lightweight one.

Down Fill Power

Which one should you choose?

A high Down Fill Power jacket will be lighter and more compressible than a lower Down Fill Power jacket of the same warmth, so if you’re after a down jacket to keep you warm whilst you’re out hiking or climbing, a high Down Fill Power is right for you.

The right Down Fill Power for you depends on the main activity you’ll be using your jacket for, and how warm and compressible you need it to be. If you’re a keen hiker or climber, high Down Fill Power is the right choice for you, and our NESSH Jacket boasts a very high 850 Down Fill Power, which will keep you toasty warm when you’re out in the elements. Take a look at our product page to find out more about our high quality, high Down Fill Power NESSH Jacket.

Posted on Leave a comment

Down Jacket Care; How To Safely And Effectively Clean Your Pride And Joy

Down Jacket

How to wash a down jacket is one of the biggest questions that outdoor clothing owners face. You’ve invested in a down jacket, so to preserve its quality, it’s worth investing your time into keeping it looking and functioning at its best.

Many hikers, cyclists, adventurers and climbers believe it isn’t possible to clean a down jacket, for risk of ruining it or being left with a down jacket that’s not as insulating as it once was.

The truth is that it is totally possible to wash a down jacket, you just need to make sure that it’s done properly, using the right equipment and detergent to avoid the panic of thinking you’ve ruined your prized possession. With a bit of time and care, this guide will have your down jacket looking good, feeling warm and will actually extend its usable life.

What you’ll need:

  • Front loading washing machine (or large tub if hand washing)
  • Down jacket specific washing detergent
  • Dryer
  • 2 or 3 clean tennis balls or dryer balls

Expected time: 2 – 3 hours

Down Jacket

Down Jacket Washing and Drying Method:

1. Pre-Wash Preparation

Before you wash your down jacket, it’s a good idea to remove any loose dirt with a brush. Make sure you do up any zips or velcro, close any flaps and ensure there’s nothing in the pockets. Down jackets can tear against rough or sharp objects and surfaces, so don’t give them any excuse to.

Turn your jacket inside out, and if it’s really dirty, you can even soak it for an hour in warm (not hot) water, before sticking it in the washing machine. This will help to ease off any excess dirt, just try to squeeze out some of the water before you put it in the washing machine, but make sure not to wring the jacket out as this is likely to damage it.

2.a. Machine Washing

It’s important to note that you should only use a front loading washing machine for this step. If you don’t have access to one, we recommend hand washing instead (2.b). Do not use a top loading agitator washing machine, as this can damage the jacket.

The first thing you need to do when you wash your down jacket in a washing machine is clean out the detergent section of any leftover suds or powders. Then if you can, run a hot wash without anything inside the drum. This is to ensure that there’s no residue left in the machine that can damage the delicate plumes in your jacket.

Set the machine to a cool, gentle wash at around 30°C (some machines refer to this as the Wool Cycle). We recommend using a down jacket specific detergent, these are designed not to damage the water-resistant coating or the down itself. If you can get hold of NIKWAX Down Wash Direct, this is a great detergent to use.

Follow the instructions on the down jacket detergent, regarding the amount of detergent to use, and set the cycle going.

Once the machine has finished its cycle, run an additional rinse cycle to make sure all the detergent residue in the down has been washed away, and place the machine on a low speed or a gentle, delicate spin cycle to remove any excess moisture. After that, it’s time to start the drying process (3).

2.b. Hand Washing (skip this step if you followed 2.a)

Machine washing your down jacket will yield the best results, however, if you don’t have access to a front loading washing machine or if you’re not very trusting of your washing machine and you’d rather wash your beloved down jacket by hand, you can do so by placing the jacket in a large tub, or even the bath.

First, fill the tub with warm (not hot) water and leave your jacket to soak for about 30 to 60 minutes. Then, using the same down jacket friendly detergent, gently hand wash the jacket to remove dirt and stains. Finally, rinse the jacket well under cold water, making sure to remove any excess detergent, and then carefully squeeze out any excess water (making sure not to twist or wring it) before you start the drying process.

3. The Drying Process

Once your down jacket has been thoroughly cleaned, carefully lift it from the washing machine or tub, making sure not to twist or wring it en route to the dryer. Don’t be alarmed that it looks like a soggy mess, this will improve as the jacket begins to dry. Before popping it into the dryer, squeeze any excess moisture gently from the jacket, again without twisting or wringing the fabric.

Tumble dry the jacket on a low heat (some dryers call this a Wool or Delicates drying cycle) and before you close the door, throw in two or three clean tennis balls or dryer balls. These help to re-loft the down as it dries and stop it from clumping together. Do not try and speed up the drying process by using a high heat setting as this is likely to damage your jacket.

Take your down jacket out of the dryer approximately every 15 minutes to fluff the jacket by hand, as you would a pillow or a cushion. This might sound quite lengthy, but it will result in returning your puffy jacket to its best. Depending on the amount of down in your jacket, it can take up to 2 hours for it to dry completely, so make sure you’ve got a good book and a cuppa to hand. Once the jacket is mostly dry, you can begin to give it a little shake to reposition the down to any areas that feel a little empty, returning it to the dryer again for another 15 minutes or so. Once it’s completely dry, your down jacket should be as good as new and ready for your next adventure together.

Down Jacket

Things to bear in mind:

  • Don’t wash your down jacket in a top loading washing machine. The centre agitator is likely to damage it.
  • Don’t worry if your jacket smells a little straight after you’ve washed it – this should have disappeared once it’s totally dry.
  • The thing to bear in mind when you need to wash a down jacket is to do it as sparingly as possible, but as frequently as necessary, or in other words, about once or twice a year.
  • If the outer fabric on your down jacket is old, weak, damaged or deteriorated, we recommend hand washing instead of using a machine.
  • If you’ve got a synthetic insulation jacket, the cleaning process is much the same, except you don’t need to be as rigorous with the drying process, as the synthetic material doesn’t clump or absorb water in the same way natural down does.

Follow this simple guide to keep your down jacket in the best condition possible. It is commonly believed that washing a down jacket will damage it, but in fact, keeping it dirty and unkempt is likely to be more damaging. It’s good to take the time to care for your down jacket to ensure it has a long and functional life, keeping you warm. Take a look at our NESSH Down Jacket to explore the features it has to offer and to get to know our story.

Down Jacket