When you carry all your supplies and kit for much more than a few days at a time, the demands placed on, and criteria for judging your gear change markedly. Lightweight and durable, starkly functional and easily repairable are the major requirements for gear used in tough conditions where flashy, fussy and fiddly items are soon exposed as a major nuisance. The best kit is generally the stuff you don't notice.
Scramble offer a collection of tough, high quality clothing and equipment that, with minor substitutions, will function in very hot and very cold conditions while providing the flexibility to deal with everything in between. In short: outdoor kit for the long haul.
The Review Shop
After rigorous testing we select and recommend only the highest rated products in each class. Unlike normal outdoor stores, if we come across an item that outperforms our current offering/recommendation, we simply substitute it. In that way we're always promoting what we regard as the best products out there in terms of weight, durability, performance and value.
The aim of Scramble is to sell where possible its complete range of recommendations via its retail partner SYSTEM. Currently, if we don't stock an item we simply link to the manufacturer's product page.
Our recommendations will likely be most relevant to those engaged in active multi-day / multi-week treks over challenging terrain where paths are occasional and re-supply opportunities scarce, i.e. people who fall somewhere between the rambling surveyors of nature on the left and the death defying force of nature on the right.
Over the years we've learnt (sometimes the hard way) that products that promise too much often deliver only a set of annoying compromises. Far better in fact to choose gear that excels in its primary role and once that base is covered to see how it can be combined with other items to offer flexibility and increase its value.
For example, in our view, a softshell's role is to protect you from rock, undergrowth and harsh wind, but not the cold. Warmth is better managed by a baselayer (while on the move) and an insulating jacket (when static). In our most recent winter test at a low of -8°C, we tested combining two lightweight softshells (Rab's polyester-based Boreas hooded Pull-on and Mountain Hardwear's tougher nylon-based Super Chockstone hoodless jacket with a combined weight of 630g) over a Helly Hansen merino baselayer, they performed superbly together: No overheating while on the move and enough protection to remain comfortable. In summer, late spring and early autumn we'd use the Rab softshell (272g); in early spring and late autumn the Mountain Hardwear softshell (358g).
Another example looking at insulation:
If you're going to be spending all your time in arctic conditions, then the PHD Zeta Belay is (according to the chap in the picture above) "perhaps the best belay jacket on the market ... close to perfect". However, most of us operate in a wide range of temperatures where the Zeta Belay would be hopeless. The combination above weighs approx. 250g more than the Zeta, but Mountain Equipment's Compressor Jacket on its own will deal with cold summer nights and milder spring and autumnal weather. When it's too cold for ME's Compressor, you replace it with the Keela Belay, and when it gets seriously sub zero you combine the two (with the Belay over the Compressor) and have as much insulation as the near perfect Zeta Belay. In terms of insulation, these two jackets will cover the range of temperatures that most of us are likely to encounter.
You can read about Scramble's testing method and rating criteria here.
- Best Ultralight Trekking Tripod
- Notes On Long Distance Footwear (2023 Update)
- Best Lightweight (Under 150g) Trekking Top (Updated)
- Special Mention: Ultralight Synthetic Insulated Jacket (Updated)
- Best Lightweight (Under 350g) Softshell Jacket
A summary of all current reviews and recommendations can be found on Scramble's catalog page.