The utterly bombproof Extreme Smock featured as part of a ‘Pertex/Pile’ retrospective in The Great Outdoors Magazine recently. In the seasonal spirit of retrospection, we take a look at how this pivotal piece of technical outerwear came to prominence, why it still has its place in the modern outdoorsman’s wardrobe, and what the future holds in store for this simple yet effective technology:

The combination of thick, heavy pile insulation under a breathable Pertex weather-resistant shell membrane first came about in the 80’s. They were warm, windproof, fast-wicking and quick-drying, and became popular quickly.

Whilst outdoor clothing technology has changed ALOT in the preceding 30 years, these venerable old battleships still quite rightly command space in the discerning outdoors persons’ pack. We have 3 experts explain why:

Montane Athlete Simon Yearsley on the first ascent of Free Range (VII,7), Ben Nevis


Before testing, reviewer Chris Townsend hadn’t worn Pertex/pile for many years, and had forgotten how good they can be.

“In anything but the heaviest rain a Pertex/pile smock can be all you need in cold weather. If you decide you need a waterproof as well, a light summer one will be adequate.”


“The Extreme Smock has the most features of the smocks reviewed even though it’s not the heaviest or the most expensive…”


Malcolm Bass (right) and fellow Montane Athlete Simon Yearsley (left) in their Extreme Smocks


An early adopter of this at-the-time revolutionary technology, Malcolm continues to use the pile/pertex technology when appropriate. A Scottish Winter Climber of great pedegree, he appreciates the robust simplicity and dependability of the system in an unpredictable and dangerous environment.

malcolm bass | montane

Sometimes the Scottish hills in winter can feel like the uttermost ends of the earth. Late afternoon (4.00pm !) in December and Simon and I are high on the cliffs of Lochnagar. One pitch left to climb up to the wind-scoured plateau. Snow, grey rock, black heather, and a darkening grey sky; the world looks cold and monochrome. But we are warm inside our bright red Extreme smocks. The warmth of our blood held in by deep pile. The wind and spindrift held out by tough Pertex. Faith, trust and hope in each other, in our experience, and in this kit that has served us so well for so many years.

Montane Athlete Malcolm Bass on the first ascent of Tail End Charlie (VI, 7), Ben Eighe


Liam Steinbeck has worked for some of the biggest names in the outdoor industry for the best part of 15 years. He is Montane’s Material Manager.


His appreciation of this system stems from its simplicity, which belies the clever scientific principles which keep it relevant to this day.

Liam Steinbeck, Montane Materials Manager

Pertex and pile, while something of a ‘classic’ combination, is still very relevant. One of the reasons this garment form is around for over 20 years, is that in harsh conditions it reliably performs to exceptional levels. A true survivor. Here at Montane we have developed the combo to expand the range offered by this system, in doing so offering greater specialisation or versatility.

The original Extreme Smock’s fabric rationale can be described thusly:

The outer fabric Pertex® Quantum (previously known as Classic), uses plain weave nylon with a 40 denier warp yarn and a 70 denier weft. Providing exceptional abrasion resistance and strength. This dense and tightly woven structure is finished on the back side with a special calendering process to reduce the spaces between the yarns, increasing the wind resistance and water repellency of the fabric. A DWR allows for light drizzle and snow to shed easily. If that wasn’t enough, the elbows are reinforced with POLARDRI® Mini-Rip a coated nylon rip stop woven fabric, for added durability and water resistance in higher wear areas

The DRYACTIV 3000 high pile lining is where the magic really happens, the fibres trap air, one of the best known insulators keeping the user warm, this warmth is protected by the windproof Pertex Quantum outer. The long and short fibres provide a next to skin surface structure that keeps the fabric raised from the skin, this ensures the user feels dry and comfortable. The other advantage of this pile construction is that liquid water is physically transported via capillary action to the outside of the garment. Without any membranes or coatings breathability is maximised.

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