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K-Way kits out all-female South African Everest team

Technical outdoor brand K-Way has designed down suits for the first female South African team set to climb Everest.

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South African outdoor technical brand K-Way is lending its support and expertise to four inspiring South African women who will attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain between March and April this year.

Cape Union Mart’s K-Way has designed and manufactured specialised climbing suits that will help the team face some of the most treacherous weather conditions and the harshest terrains known to humankind.

Stephen Hector, technical product developer for K-Way, directed the manufacture of the down suits. He has more than 35 years’ experience in the industry and has been pioneering K-Way designs for the past nine years.

The manufacturing team has used cutting-edge innovation, advanced knowledge, and impeccable design to create the down suits. The suits have been built to highly specialised specifications, while being tailored to the exact bodies of the mountaineers.

Lisa Gering, Alda Waddell, and Tumi Mphahlele – mountain climbers

The suits’ outer fabric is Pertex Endurance, which is highly abrasion-resistant while providing outstanding weather protection. The designers have used 850 fill-power goose down, with the average fill per suit just exceeding a kilogram, and the total suit weight averaging 2,7kg.

Care has been put into eliminating cold spots while constructing a labyrinth of 86 stabilised, hand-filled goose down chambers. From enhanced mobility to zip designs, all the way to insulated pockets, the designers of the suits left nothing to chance.

Hector says: “The gear is made to the highest quality and standard as it must perform at an optimal level to enable the adventurers to push their bodies to the limit, while remaining protected from the elements.”

Hector, who has honed his craft with down over many years, says the down used in these suits “is, in layman’s terms – the Rolls Royce of down”.
“Lower fill-power down is heavier because you need to use more, whereas we used high-end down to ensure the suits were as light as possible, yet capable of keeping the adventurers warm,” he says.

“The construction of specialised suits like these is key. The design had to ensure there are no cold spots and that each segment operates like a box – a carefully calculated box. If you put too much down into one segment, the area will attract dead air and if you put too little down, you will get a cold spot.”

But that is just one of the many considerations required to build a suit that will stand up to the ultimate test. 

“We often take equipment for granted – but with regards to climbing a high altitude mountain, you cannot take chances or shortcuts. Your equipment must be 100%, from your boots to your helmet.

“It was a huge team effort to manufacture these suits, and every single person who was involved has been invaluable. We are extremely proud to throw our full support behind this expedition.”

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