Let’s be honest– most mountain dwellers are not independently wealthy and when it comes to gear, affordability can be just as important as functionality.
However, just because a piece of gear is affordable does not mean it lacks functionality, especially in Europe. In fact, our friends across the pond believe in providing quality gear without the premium price. And while it may not be the same quality as Arc’teryx, this gear gets the job done without requiring an extra hourly wage to pay down the credit card bill.
The Aiguille du Midi tramline is chock full of some of the most hardened skiers and mountaineers in the world and it comes as no surprise that these dirt bags want gear that works for a price they can afford. For many, that brand is Quechua. Founded just down the road from Chamonix in the French town of Sallanches, Quechua is an anomaly in the outdoor retail market in that they offer durable gear for a reasonable price.
Unofficial Gear Pick: QUECHUA X-LIGHT MEN’S DOWN JACKET – ORANGE – £29
Millet got their start by making some of the best rucksacks in the business. Nowadays, the French brand makes everything from quality climbing gear to trail running apparel and their simplistic approach to design and functionality provides utilitarian gear that is some of the best in Europe.
Unofficial Gear Pick: Trilogy 22 Backpack
Berghaus is a brand based out of the UK whose simplicity is matched only by their low prices. Although it’s not as budget as Quechua, the British based Berghaus makes some awesome jackets that won’t break the bank.
Unofficial Gear Pick: Women’s Hypersmock 2.0 Jacket
Jack Wolfskin (GER)
Although Jack Wolfskin is now American-owned, the German brand continues to make some quality outerwear. Also, the company tends to use eco-friendly, fluorocarbon-free materials in their jackets– so they got that going for them.
Unofficial Gear Pick: Glacier Valley II Softshell Jacket
After ditching a 5 year-old Helly Hansen shell this spring in lieu of the worst smelling pits in history, yours truly turned to Kilpi for an all season shell that wouldn’t break the bank. Luckily, the Finnish brand makes super functional gear at a fraction of the cost of their competitors. And although the waterproofing isn’t gore-tex, the gear is dirt bag ready for even the raddest of mountain endeavours.
Unofficial Gear Pick: Xander Ski Jacket