Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Shopping from the UK: Ventile Jackets




Each Spring, I start taking measurements for a custom order Hilltrek ventile cycling jacket. But by mid-April, the choice of features (single or double ventile?), sizing crises, my austerity matrix (see below) and fear of overseas shipping costs stop me from placing my final order. I always console myself by imagining that I will one day visit Hilltrek on some larky Archival Clothing business trip and purchase my a made-to-measure jacket in person.

For those who don't know, Ventile is a miracle, heritage fabric that repels water like waxed cotton but vents like a synthetic. Barbour used to sell a ventile "Endurance" jacket and Hebden Cord offered ventile breeks. But Hilltrek now seems to be the main, remaining purveyor of ventile outdoor clothing in the US or UK.

My idealized version of the Hilltrek cycling jacket would be a short waisted jacket in single layer ventile. It goes without saying that I love the Hilltrek jacket's two-way zipper, zip-up map pocket and overall, sleek fit.

Archivist John A. just sent me some detail shots of his own new ventile jacket which activated my Hilltrek made-to-order form filling frenzy a month early.

*Austerity matrix (working version): Will item still be available in three years? If yes--delay purchase. Will I wear item more than 3x a week? If yes--move forward with purchase. Could I wait three weeks before placing my order? If yes--cancel order. Does item cost more than $300--if yes, delay purchase. Unless the answer to three of the four questions is no (or is it the reverse?), I postpone my purchase (typically leading to a complete erasure of the consumer impulse and subsequent regret that the item is no longer available for sale--or company has subsequently gone out of business). I think a point total would help better sort out the system.

An item that would not pass review through my austerity matrix but deserves visual representation:

Hilltrek Ventile Poncho


8 comments:

Mens designer clothing said...

Really love the last jacket featured on the blog. nice post

plainwater said...

Why must you tempt me.

vaughn said...

Damn you LL. Another brand that I must own. Do you have any idea how many Barbours, Filson, etc. hang in my closet? And I live in Texas for god sake, land of 100% humidy and summers that last well into November...

Lesli Larson said...

Vaughn--

I need you to order up one of those ventile ponchos and write up a guest review for the blog. And I certainly commiserate regarding archival surplus... You should see my rucksack storage closet and garment rack. In theory, I need never purchase another bag or jacket again in my life.

Colin said...

L,
Also Westwinds in the UK, now owned by Snugpak, makes Ventile jakcets, etc. I own the Antarctic smock and it is finished with great attention to detail and craftsmanship. Highly recommended.

HG said...

You need to remember that Ventile made it's name from polar and mountain expeditions where it doesn't rain. I too lusted after a Ventile for years and finally bought one (Survival Aids double layered ventile). It was useless - in the sense that when it rained, I got wet. The Ventile soaks up the rain, and it soaks through to your tee-shirt. When you take it off you are wet through. Not only that - it weighs about 6lb more when wet than dry.

There are much better waterproof materials out there.

andy said...

Love my ventile gear, It has it's drawbacks but doesn't feel like your going out into nature totally sealed away from it in some sweaty plastic bubble. occasionally you get a little damp but It's worth it for the breathability (which is total)and the natural feel of the fabric. Works superbly with wool.

Peter Lewis said...

I am really surprised at how much these stunning Barbour Ventile Endurance jackets are making secondhand.

I purchased mine many years ago,when I saw a glossy magazine article,and saw one for sale in a shop in Brecon.

All I can remember is that it was very expensive,but as with all Barbour equipment is is beautifully made.

Mine has been worn maybe three or four times,and is like new.

Was it a rash purchase,knowing it is worth close on what I paid for it over twenty years ago is very satisfying, but in a way I am afraid to wear it because its very heavy and I am afraid it will be stolen.

I must try it on again, and see how it looks after 15 yrs in my wardrobe.