Designed to function in extreme cold and at very low oxygen levels, down-filled suits have become standard for high-altitude mountaineering.
However, over the course of a long day, mountaineers can face enormous temperature changes from factors—such as wind speed and cloud cover—completely beyond their control.
Heat-exhaustion and fatigue from dehydration often cause more of a problem than the cold, and a climber’s harness can make things worse, preventing the removal of a single suit.
The PHD Expedition Double Suit solves these very real issues. It is a more versatile and much lighter system than single suits, with more comfort and ease of movement.
The Inner suit can be ‘lived in’ from the lower camps to the summit, while the 2-piece Outer suit is easy to put on for the summit push or whenever conditions require it.
Innovative features like heat-pad pockets at the wrists, a harness tie-in slot, lanyard clip loops and the flared storm baffle all add greater functionality and performance to the system.
The first of its kind in the world, the PHD Expedition Double Suit is a whole new approach to down clothing for high-altitude mountaineering.
Two versions of this suit are available:
- This Warmer version with a typical operating temperature of: -50°C (-58°F) and recommended for no-oxygen ascents on 8000m peaks
- A Standard version with a typical operating temperature of: -35°C (-31°F)
This suit is now also available in custom sizes. Specify Body Width, Body Length, Arm Length and Leg Length independently to order a made-to-measure suit. This tailor-made service can cope with sizes from XXXS to XXXL and is ideal if standard, ready-to-wear patterns are not a good fit for you. Please note: If you order a custom-sized version of this suit it will take longer (approximately 45 days) to be manufactured ready for dispatch. Custom-sized versions of this suit are not returnable and customer loyalty discount cannot be applied.
The Starting Point
Our founder, Peter Hutchinson, made the first ever one-piece Down Suit (for Don Whillans on Everest) in 1971. Since then the design has been recognised as the best kit for the highest peaks and copied world-wide. Improvements have been made, but there has been no radical change until the new PHD Double Suit in 2017.
The sparks that set us thinking about the new Double Suit go back some way. Feedback from Himalayan expeditions ever since the 1990’s raised a number of points which allowed us to improve our high altitude gear. Two questions kept coming back:
- Could we cut down the weight and bulk of our extreme sleeping bags?
- Down suits gave excellent protection, but they were often too hot on the way up to the high camps: could we make them more wearable across a wide range of conditions?
We kept making our suits and sleeping bags lighter and lighter without fully answering either problem, until we decided it was time to think things out from scratch. Only at that stage did we start to realise that these questions were linked.
Sleeping Light: The Easy Bit
Sleeping bags for the high Himalayas have to cope with extreme cold. That’s a definite. But keeping down clothing on at night inside the bag means a much lighter bag can deliver all the warmth needed. It had often been done on an ad hoc basis, so we simply designed the best combinations to work in the most effective way and made it possible to plan expedition night gear in a new way.
After tests at altitude, that came out as our award-winning Sleep Systems in 2016. First question answered.
Daytime: The Hard Bit
How could we make a suit warm enough for the summit that didn’t fry the user on the lower slopes?
A traditional Down Suit has great advantages in protection and simplicity, but once you’ve put it on, you’re in there for the day, maybe the week. The range of temperatures you pass through on a big mountain are enormous. No question you’ll need the suit on your summit push, but on the way up in places like the Western Cwm on Everest you may overheat beyond the point where any ventilation system can cope.
Then we hit on the idea of splitting the traditional single down suit into two. One on top of the other, both extremely light.
The one-piece inner suit for the climb up to 7000 metres where overheating seemed to be a common problem. The two-piece outer a quick overfit to bring the combined double suit up to full summit performance at 8000+ metres.
We had to solve a number of design difficulties and our first tests of the double suits on both sides of Everest were stopped short by the avalanches of 2015. Since then success on two separate 8000m peaks in 2016 confirmed that this really is the way to go. Surprisingly the double suit is lighter and simpler to use than a single and offers a whole new versatility of temperature control, both day and night.