Down in history: PHD’s 2019

The Lowdown

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Down in history: PHD’s 2019

10 Dec 2019
You know, it’s been a pretty busy year! New sleeping bags, new clothing…and yes, OK, we make sleeping bags and clothing so that shouldn’t be all that surprising.

The thing is though, because we’re our own shop, we don’t have to make sure we’ve got a new collection together for the retailers’ new-season ranges, which means we can launch our new ideas whenever we like…or not, if we want to keep testing and tweaking them for longer.

So, let’s have a nosey at what new things have made an appearance this last year.

M.Degree° K Bags

It's difficult to show off just how light it is with a picture: it looks like a sleeping bag. Here though it's showing off the optional waterproof foot cover, which is not an everyday thing…

Back in the spring, we brought out this most PHD of PHD ideas. The original PHD Minimus took a sleeping bag and radically lightened it; for the M.Degree° K we took the Minimus and lightened that. PHDPHD: PHD to the power of PHD!

A range of four bags rated to 10°C, 4°C, -3°C and -9°C, with an Overbag available to boost them by 20°, they’re racing bags through and through but are already gaining a following among lightweight backpackers. Each one is in seven denier ‘7X’ fabric and filled with 1000 fillpower down; these lightest of materials are then put together in the lightest, warmest way. The top is box-walled for maximum down loft, but as your bodyweight compresses the down beneath you, the base can be stitch-through: the fabric ‘walls’ can be removed, and with them the weight.

Semi-Rectangular Bags

A Greenlandic ("Bluelandic" doesn’t have the same ring to it) with a Minim for comparison.

This is both the same approach and the opposite, depending on how you look at it! This July saw us throw our PHD-ness at a very different type of bag: we took something that’s not inherently lightweight, and lightened it.

Our Greenlandic bags are roomy, comfort-focused bags for those who don’t like the feel of a snug fit, those who sleep on their sides, or those who just want the wriggle-room. It’s unusual to find a broad-toed lightweight bag: it seems to make sense to capitalize on lightweight materials with lightweight designs.

Well, up to a point. If you think about it though (and we did), it’s heavy things that need to be made lighter! The demand for wider bags may be quite niche, but niche is our…niche. Wide and luxurious, small and packable.

Wafer Ultima K Tops

Warm down to zero, packs down to nothing.

Back to more familiar territory: when the M. Degree° K bags debuted in May, they were joined by clothing which took the same approach.

In this case, we started with the Wafer K clothing, and pruned away whatever weight we could. The result was the Wafer Ultima K Pullover and Vest. Where the Wafer K Jacket is 190g, the Ultima Pullover is just as warm but 155g. That 35g may not sound like a lot, but it’s an 18% saving. Imagine you’re running a multi-stage desert ultra…and now your kit is 18% lighter! That would feel like a lot, wouldn’t it?

Troms Jacket

The Troms Ventile and down jacket.

The Troms landed in March, as part of our Ventile® Outwear collection – Ventile® being a very different sort of fabric from what you’ll find above. Its fine (in both senses of the word) cotton fibres swell when damp, tightening the cloth and rendering it waterproof. It’s not as light as modern synthetics, but its combination of breathability, durability, weatherproofing, soft handle and lack of ‘rustle’ means it has a very strong following, from polar explorers to foul-weather commuters.

The Troms has the styling cues of a climbers’ jacket, is shelled in Ventile® and filled with 900 fillpower down for warmth down to -10°C. The idea was to make a jacket that’s great for the winter day-to-day, but which is still no slouch in the mountains.

Minimus K Tops

Still very much a Minimus. Even more Minimus than ever, in fact…

Well, OK, the Minimus is hardly a new name for PHD: the Minimus Jacket, Vest and Pullover have been around for decades. But not like this they haven’t!

The Minimus began as a shockingly lightweight down jacket, which really changed the whole concept of packable insulation. It’s still shockingly lightweight – it’s actually even lighter now – but things have evolved. In July, the new versions of our Minimus K tops arrived: more featured, general purpose all-rounders given the PHD treatment: gathered sides for a snugger fit, slimmer baffles for a less bulky feel (and look), and the addition of an insulated chest pocket – we’re all carrying electronics these days, and batteries don’t like the cold.

Absolute, shave-away-the-grams minimalism is still available in the shape of our Ultra K, but the Minimus K is hardly a heavyweight: it’s comfortably below 300g.

So, we’ve taken the absolute heart of what PHD has always been about and refreshed it, updated it, made it better.

Fancy seeing what we’ve got planned for 2020…?

Because we’re our own shop, we don’t have to make sure we’ve got a new collection together for the retailers’ new-season ranges, which means we can launch our new ideas whenever we like.
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Gear mentioned in this post
Superlight -9°C bag. Featuring our lightest fabrics & highest lofting down with...
A Ventile® & Down Jacket for winter lows of -10°C in the outdoors & on...
Our lightest and best ever Minimus down vest: just as warm as ever, but more...
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