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I have today bought a new outdoor jacket capable of allowing me to withstand the rain and cold that comes with the UK hills and mountains. For the first time, I was looking for a Páramo brand item to do the job. I have watched Páramo for a while as it is totally PFC (perfluorinated compounds) free and highly ethical.
What is more, it does not use a conventional membrane system to get a high hydrostatic head result. In fact, when it was launched in 1989 it was the first multi-layer waterproof garment using the principles of wicking and capillary action combined with directional fabrics. The inner layer copies the way animal fur works and pushes water out along its fibres. Although a little heavier than membrane containing gear, these multi-layer garments are renowned for higher levels of breathability and comfort. What is more, the garment does not fail after three years as do so many items such as jackets and footwear that use standard membranes, especially those involving seamed seals.
The article, the Pájaro model (those readers from Spain or Central America will recognise that the international marketing team did not do their due diligence), does require a degree of maintenance. First to remove any dirt from the outside from time to time, and second to avoid a build-up of sweat on the inside which might impact breathability. So it will get an infrequent wash and, after every four or five washes, there is an elastomer based additive which tops up the outer durable water repellence (DWR) and marginally increases strength.
This is very much the approach we need to reintroduce in the leather industry. My Pájaro jacket is backed by a company with a big investment in R&D, meaning it is leading edge technology for the contemporary world while avoiding the issues of dubious chemicals and materials. It is made to last, carries a life time guarantee, is repairable and has a prepared end of life. That end of life will be delayed if I spend a little time and money on routine care and maintenance. Exactly how we need to re-educate ourselves and the modern consumer about products made of leather.
While buying on the Internet is considered increasingly convenient I went to a shop for this this. I could check the sizing, and the weight compared to other brands and find someone to talk to who regularly uses the equipment. The discussion was useful and extended to a general overview of the sector and other equipment.
Certainly no one can ignore the huge importance of on-line buying and selling but giving up the personal touch would clearly be a mistake. Retailers with knowledge, service and an ability to add a little experience will remain a vital cog in the future.
September 10, 2018
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