Snugpak Westwinds Ventile Antarctic Smock and Ventile Overtrousers
- By John Fenna
- 1 Comments
- Last updated: 26/01/2017
After an absence of some time, Snugpak have brought back Westwinds Ventile clothing to their range. Only available direct from the Snugpak website, the Westwinds clothing is made to order and features one of the classic performance fabrics – Ventile – an incredibly tightly woven 100% pure long staple cotton that is a true weather-beater.
Originally developed during WWII for immersion suits to give pilots on the Arctic convoys a fair chance of survival when they ditched their aircraft in the freezing water, Ventile is made from very fine, long staple cotton spun into a superior yarn which is doubled for extra strength and woven incredibly tight. This gives a fabric that is wind- and weather-proof, that ‘breathes’ naturally and which cannot clog or delaminate like some man-made fabrics, is very tough and durable and is virtually silent in wear.
Once Ventile becomes slightly damp, the fibres swell slightly, stopping any water penetrating the weave so a single layer of Ventile gives good everyday protection, while double layers of Ventile provide superior weather resistance in the most testing of conditions.
Pin pricks and minor damage (once sewn up) do not seem to affect Ventile’s performance, while I do not believe the breathability of Ventile can be equalled by a synthetic fabric. An extra water-proofing treatment to the cotton gives superb initial rain-shedding performance. The only drawbacks with Ventile are that when it does get damp, the swelling of the fibres means it get slightly stiff and, in very humid conditions or if you are sweating excessively, some condensation may occur, or you may find sweat does not wick away.
It is not surprising that some immersion suits are still made from Ventile even in these days of high-tech synthetic materials, or that Arctic/Antarctic explorers still prefer Ventile for their performance clothing; I have long been a believer in the fabric. When I was at college studying clothing-design, my final collection of outdoor clothing was 100% Ventile, and Ventile feels better the more you wear it!
The Antarctic Smock was originally designed for the Antarctic Survey personnel and is of a single layer of Ventile which makes the smock proof against wind, snow and light rain. In continual heavy rain there may be a little water penetration at the seams and some minor ‘damp’ penetration.
The smock is incredibly quiet and non-restrictive to wear and if it is worn over a good layer or two of wool, you develop a warm and dry ‘micro- climate’ inside the smock.
To keep the weather at bay, the Antarctic Smock has many useful features, including a big hood with a deep wired peak and a front webbing crotch strap with a fully adjustable quick-release buckle at the front. When not in use, the crotch strap velcros neatly out of the way.
To adjust the fit of the smock there is an elasticated waist drawcord with twin locking adjusters.
There are two expanding and generously sized angled chest pockets and two lower bellowsed pockets, all with generous Velcro fastening on the envelope-style fold-over top secure closures. These pockets provide loads of easy-access, safe, storage space.
Weighing only around 925gm (size XL), the smock is easy to wear with great freedom of movement (aided by underarm gussets), is very quiet in use and is a real weather-beater in both summer and winter, and packs down to a little under 11 x 21cm.
Available in Black, Navy Blue or Olive in sizes S-XXL, the Snugpak Westwinds Ventile Antarctic Smock is very well-made (although the review sample was missing the cord lock on the hood volume adjuster) and costs around £195.95.
The Snugpak Westwinds Ventile Overtrousers are made from two layers of Ventile which are only joined at the hems and waist to give protection against heavy rain for even prolonged periods. The cut of the overtrousers is non-restrictive and there are 35cm long coil zips with twin ‘drip strips’ at the bottom of each leg to enable them to be easily put on and taken off without removing your boots.
The overtrousers have an elasticated waist and an elasticated drawcord with locking adjusters.
As the overtrousers pack away to about 10 x 20cm and weigh around 800g, they are easy to pack away when not being worn, but are also light and comfortable to wear when needed. Available in Black, Navy Blue and Olive in sizes S-XXL, the Overtrousers cost around £99.95.
I much prefer wearing Ventile fabric to even the best modern synthetics, not only from an ecological viewpoint, but find that in all but the wettest and foulest weather, Ventile ends up proving more comfortable! Quiet, tough, breathable in the extreme, well-made and usable year-round, the Snugpak Westwinds Ventile Antarctic Smock and Ventile Overtrousers are great British outdoor clothing with a great British pedigree.
About the only thing I would change is the Overtrouser drawcord, which I feel is a bit lightweight, and all the drawcords are a bit over long. However, trimming them to length is easy and this is therefore not much of an issue!
NAME: Snugpak Westwinds Smock
PRICE: Around £195.95
NAME: Snugpak Westwinds Overtrousers
CONTACT:01535 654479 www.snugpak.co.uk