If it’s good enough for an otter…

I have been living and working in the Lake District for over 17 years. I teach wilderness bushcraft and expedition skills, instructing on everything from wild foods and tracking to axemanship and woodcraft, spending well over one hundred nights a year living outdoors under canvas in the UK, and travelling overseas to lead expeditions in the colder months, from dry desert to coastal tropical, and from steaming jungles to frozen sub-Arctic environments.

Many of you will know that, despite its rugged beauty, Cumbria does not have the driest climate, so my gear needs to work. For years I struggled to find a jacket that could handle days of being soaked, being worn hard, pushing through dense woodland, hauling firewood and that wouldn’t catch sparks from the campfire. I have spent a lot of money on jackets over the years, to have been always disappointed with their performance in the woods.

Many years ago, when my old triple-point ceramic jacket gave up the ghost, I started researching and eventually stumped up the courage and the cash to buy a Páramo Halcon Jacket, as it had great reviews and looked like it ticked all my boxes, I have never looked back. Finally, I had found a jacket that kept me warm and dry, even if it got damp overnight it would dry itself out just by wearing it for ten minutes. The fabric is tough and if I do manage to tear it, I can just sew it up again and it is still waterproof. It won’t melt if a spark lands on it and it is relatively silent to move around in, so is fantastic for wildlife watching. And it breathes… even in the humid woods when the air is saturated with moisture and you are working hard. I am now a committed Páramaniac.

In today’s throw-away, instant gratification, high expectation society, I like Páramo’s old school approach, using modern fabrics and technology that need to be looked after in order to keep working incredibly effectively; just as I’m a fan of unlined leather boots and carbon steel knives, I like owning kit that needs some TLC. Boots that need to be scrubbed and waxed, knives that need to be sharpened and oiled, and jackets that need to be cleaned and proofed. “Look after your kit and your kit will look after you”. It was the Nikwax Analogy fabric using Pump Liner, which mimics the action of animal fur, which eventually convinced me to take the plunge. I thought if it’s good enough for an otter, it’s good enough for me. I’m looking forward to wearing Páramo garments in different extreme environments.

Ben McNutt, Woodsmoke, www.woodsmoke.uk.com

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