Well suited to a life of adventure

The Lowdown

Extraordinary stories and technical knowhow

Well suited to a life of adventure

21 Jun 2019
We’ve been told a lot of stories recently about successes on Everest, with a very pleasing thread running through them about these adventurous folks using our Double Suit – as you’d imagine, when people contact us, they talk about the gear we make.

Alex Pancoe: “Your suit did great. From the Lhotse face in hot temps to the summit.”
Photo – Roman Tschupp

Is it OK if we just, um…?

Of course, if we tell these stories then it could seem rather like we’re blowing our own trumpet, and it’s probably very British of us to be so concerned about that…but, well, we are, so that’s the way it is. So before we commence tootling our merry tune, if it’s OK, we’ll take a minute to explain!

PHD has its deepest roots in Peter Hutchinson’s climbing shop, where he’d natter with people and make the gear they needed, then natter again when they came back. And broadly speaking, that’s still the way we do things – we love to chat about what you’re doing, and then all the info you give us can be fed back into product development. So obviously we’re excited when people show us their photos and tell us their stories, and we want to talk about it!

But it’s more than that. Peter had some innovative, visionary ideas and, unfortunately, he passed away last year. To hear these stories of his innovations being so successful is, for us, very heartening.

So, what have they said?

Well, for example, Roland Thomas was climbing Everest on behalf on DHL on the occasion of their half-centenary, raising funds for the Direct Relief medical charity, and had this to say about his double suit:

“Although with a wind chill factor the temperature was about minus 40°C, I confess to not feeling cold at any time during my 17 hour summit push. Even in the notorious queue back down the Hillary Step, I did not once feel cold. I give credit to my PHD Double Down Suit for this. Then on the descent to C4 it was a Godsend to be able to remove the down jacket and be way more comfortable than the majority of other climbers on the mountain. In fact, the one-piece base down layer was so effective that I only had to wear the outer down layer on summit day.”


That’s bang-on, and we couldn’t be happier. That’s why the suit was designed – to safely allow climbers to adjust their layering – but it was always possible that people would be reluctant to take a new approach to kit for such a serious mountain, so that’s a wonderful vindication of Peter’s vision. Of course we tested it extensively before making it available, so we knew it worked…but the idea is that everyone who uses the gear is part of the ongoing testing. Yes, it was Roland who actually climbed Everest, but it’s still great news for us!

Every one is different, because everyone is different

Phei Sunn Sim

Making everything to order (another unusual approach that Peter took and that we’re continuing) meant we were able to offer the windsuits ordered by the team of Sherpas in yellow and red: DHL’s colours! That’s a pretty niche benefit though: the real advantage to being able customise is to make sure that the gear fits properly.

Singapore’s Phei Sunn Sim, who finds most gear too big, told us “Just wanted to say that I love my customised PHD gear…the Double Down Suit kept me very toasty on summit push! Thanks!” and rather closer to home (for us in the UK anyway), Rowena Lewthwaite, another lady of slight build, said “I absolutely loved your double suit on Everest and I would recommend it to all my climbing friends especially as it can be made to fit smaller people.”

Whatever you think we need to know

James Strohfeld, still not exactly ‘flaunting’ his inner suit…but then you don’t really flaunt when you’re that high up

Like we said, the info gets fed back into product development: we pay attention to whatever you want to point out. When James Strohfeldt climbed the North Ridge of Everest recently, his decades of mountaineering experience meant he was able to pay attention to numerous aspects of the suit’s design and how they interacted with climbing techniques, and give us really detailed feedback: ideas about the hood and the accessory loops, and suggestions about fabric. Some things may be personal issues, some may be general ideas that would work for everyone, but all of it gets stirred into the mix…

One thing that draws comment but won’t be changing, by the way, is the white inner suit: it’s there to reflect radiant heat, so it’s actually very important. To begin with it wasn’t exactly to James’s taste, but “By the end of the trip, I was positively flaunting it, I was so pleased with it. Great suit. I look forward to my next chance to use it.”

At the end of the day, all these stories are yours

So, of course we love to hear about how our gear’s doing, and of course we love to see Pete’s ideas working so well out there. But this only happens because you all put in the effort in the mountains – otherwise there’d be no stories to tell us. So, congratulations and huge thanks to James Strohfeldt, Phei Sunn Sim, Roland Thomas, Kirsty Watson, Rowena Lewthwaite, to Roman Tschupp and Alex Pancoe, to Daniel Wehrly and Thomas Becker, to Sophie Hilaire…and to many more of you who’ve taken our suits out into the world (but they’re the ones who’ve been in touch recently).

Just wanted to say that I love my customised PHD gear … the Double Down Suit kept me very toasty on summit push! Thanks!
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Gear mentioned in this post
An expedition double suit made of 2 layers: a one-piece Inner Down Suit & a...
An expedition double suit made of 2 layers: a one-piece Inner Down Suit & a...
A high-altitude oversuit to cover expedition clothing and totally block the fierce...
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