Cruachan Ventile Smock tested in the Netherlands and at Cruachan

It’s been a while since my Cruachan smock arrived and I wanted to write and tell you about my experience with it so far.
The Cruachan smock arrived in a week when the weather was turning cold, and for several days it was consistently well below freezing here in the East of the Netherlands. This was great news for someone with a new Ventile smock that needed trying out! With such low temperatures it was not wet at all, but the ponds, canals and small lakes nearby froze, and a couple of outdoor ice rinks were open.
I can tell you that the Cruachan smock is warm! Fairly leisurely skating with just a shirt and the smock on, in temperatures of around -5°C was certainly warm enough. It is also windproof, so it didn’t make a lot of difference whether I was skating into the wind or not. Being breathable, there was no build up of condensation, but there are side zips and a generous zip at the neck that help keep air circulating if need be (they also help a lot with putting it on and taking it off). This is all good news if you don’t want to carry lots of extra clothing with you. For hill walking in Scotland I would take an extra layer or so for stops, but while exerting oneself, this will be warm enough with just a shirt in all but the coldest weather.
The smock is very well thought out. In addition to the handy side zips there are numerous pockets – two upper chest pockets each big enough for a compact camera or a large smart phone, wallet etc. There is a pouch mid chest that easily accommodates a folded OS map and compass, and then a very generous lower pocket that is accessed through zips on each side, so you could also use that as a hand warmer pocket (I find my self putting gloves in there when I don’t need them.
There are drawstrings at the waist and the bottom hem, to adjust fit and how you wear it. There are also drawstrings in the hood, one around the face along with a wire rim stiffener that useful in blizzard or driving rain, and another on the back of the hood to adjust the overall length in relation to your neck and head. The zip at the front can be done up to chin height and has an extra tab on the inside so that your chin is not grated by the zip. There is also a velcro baffle to go over the outside to be sure that wind is kept out. Cuffs also have velcro tabs to tighten them up as much as you like.
While the smock is described as double Ventile, the amount of extra reinforcement on the lower arms and shoulders as well as all of the pockets mean that over much of it, you have more than two layers. Getting wet will not be a problem – I have been using Ventile coats for over 20 years now, so I have every confidence in its ability to keep the water out.
This is obviously not a light garment, and there will be times in the summer when wearing it for walking would be simply too hot. However, for less active pursuits it will still find plenty of uses in the summer, and as a winter outer layer, you could take this anywhere with full confidence that it will keep you warm and dry.
Near Kilchurn Castle with Monadh Driseig and the shoulder coming down from Stob Daimh (at the east end of the Cruachan horseshoe) behind me, and Being Eunaich on the right of the picture.

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An entry to our competition: Matt Cooper hunting and farming in the Pyrenees

I’ve been looking for an all weather Ventile smock and found you guys. On visiting your blog I’ve seen that you have a competition running to win one. So here’s our story:

We are a young family, kids of 4 and 2 who, looking to lead a more ecologically sound and healthy life, 2 years ago bought a hill farm at 1000 meters in the Pyrenees. We weren’t really ready to but when we found it we had no choice, we fell in love, with views of the Mediterranean in the distance and sitting on the slopes of mt. Canigou, the mythical mountain of the Catalans, we felt like we belonged there.

For 2 years we have been starting the immense project of restoration of buildings aged from the 1500s to this century, clearing ancient pastures and terraces and turning it into a working farm again. It has largely been abandoned for the last 15 years. Already we have a poly tunnel and grow most of our own vegetables, a small flock of Cameroon sheep that we breed and butcher here on the farm and are building gites so we can share the place with guests who will hopefully come to walk and run in the hills, learn about permaculture, forestry and farming and share this amazing place. We’ve had several people say they want to get married here already so we must be doing something right!

From a desk job I have had to get right back into clothing and equipment as I work outside in the forest and building site every day. We are doing everything the proper but hard way. We are cutting all the wood for the project from our own forest and have built our own sawyard to cut the wood and provide all our own firewood for energy. So I’m out there whatever the weather!

Part of what we are doing here is trying to create a sustainable, ethically sound lifestyle. I’ve always hated the amount of plastics and waste that modern life creates. In terms of clothing I’ve always loved natural materials, merino wool for base layers, wool for warmth (my favourite Norwegian jumper that my wife calls the Christmas jumper!) and Ventile for the outer layer. I have an old west winds Antarctic smock that I have worn for years and is probably my favourite piece of clothing. All the natural fibres just seem better to me, don’t melt or tear as easily and have the ecological benefit as well.

This year I have done my hunting exams and now hunt with the local “chasse”. Between the deer and wild boar we hunt and our own sheep and chickens, we aim to become independent of commercial meat next year. While my old smock is still great it is blue……. so I can’t use it for hunting and also single layer, designed for the extreme dry cold of the poles, not wet temperate forests. When hunting we spend hours hiking into positions on the mountain up to 1500m, then 4 hours or more standing still in the freezing cold and all weathers. I love it but I’m often wet and cold!

Hence my need for a proper hunting and all weather smock and why I’m looking at your products. Your smocks look perfect for me. I’m also tall and often need slightly longer arm lengths so love that you can offer changes sometimes.

My ideal smock: has to be the Cruachan Double Ventile, total comfort in all weather I reckon!

I’d love to wear your kit and hopefully be an ambassador for your company. I’d be happy to blog about it. At the moment though I just can’t afford one, so thanks for reading and fingers crossed  :)

You can see more of what we are trying to do at:

Our blog blog.lataillede.com/blog
Twitter @lataillede

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An entry to our competition from Lance Echt in North Idaho using his Braemar Ventile Smock

Building an off-grid, North Idaho, homestead in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains is a never ending adventure. The weather ranges over the year from -40 to 105 Fahrenheit with accompanying rain storms and blizzards and I live and play in it all year round. I’m a frugal consumer, but I always make sure that I have the best personal kit I can afford. After lots of researching outerwear, I kept seeing the name Hilltrek pop-up. I finally bought the Braemar Ventile wind-shirt and it has been one of my most prized garments. Few people around here understand the fantastic qualities of Ventile, but I am steadily winning over converts amongst my friends and neighbors. I have my Hilltrek with me hiking up mountains in the summer, wildcrafting in the fall, as well as relying on it all winter long . When the roads are snowed over, many times snowshoeing is my only means of transportation. Whatever the adventure, my Hilltrek has never let me down. I’d love to have the new Cruachan Ventile smock- that to me looks like the ultimate protection for our extremes of weather and lifestyle up here.

Lance Echt

Watch Lance snowshoeing in North Idaho


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Tell us your stories competition -December winner

The Winner of our ‘Tell us your stories’ competition in December is Chris Redmond

My adventures are on the rivers and lochs of North East Scotland. Part of my adventures I introduce new people to paddlesports which I get a massive buzz from. Here’s me ‘out with the club’ on the River Dee – Scotland’s best, most varied canoeing river (but keep that to yourself). I don’t own a Hilltrek jacket as yet. I would love to own the newest Hilltrek Outdoor Clothing jacket – Cruachan. Why? Well whenever out paddling it seems that the worst, most extreme weather is experienced when loading and unloading boats, getting set up or checking out the river. What better jacket could I get to keep me dry, before and after getting wet!



The competition continues in January and here is how to enter:

The competition

Send us a picture and/or video wearing your Hilltrek Outdoor Clothing garment with a short story outlining your adventure. If you do not yet own a Hilltrek garment tell us which garment you would like to wear and why.

How to enter 

  • Facebook -post on our Hilltrek Outdoor Clothing Facebook page and include the hashtag #madeinscotlandusedworldwide
  • Twitter-tweet @hilltrek and include hashtag #madeinscotlandusedworldwide
  • Instagram- use hashtag #madeinscotlandusedworldwide
  • Email-send us an email with the title #madeinscotlandusedworldwide

The prize

Win one of our Hilltrek Jackets or Smocks of your choice up to the value of £400 for the best entry.

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Tell us your stories competition -November winner

The winner is our competition in November is David Ball, whose wife Alison posted the picture and story on our Facebook Page.

David wins one of our Hilltrek Jackets or Smocks of his choice up to the value of £400.


On a dreich November day, passing through Thornhill, a small town in south-west Scotland, I take a rest beside the memorial to Joseph Thomson. He was born in nearby Penpont, travelled throughout Africa on six wide-ranging expeditions, inspiring H Rider Haggard to write the adventure story King Solomon’s Mines. Four newly discovered animals were named after him, notably Thomson’s Gazelle, and a waterfall, a spectacular torrent near Nyahururu in Kenya.

For me, however, his memory is served better by considering how he travelled – with humour: (upon removing his false teeth in front of Masai women, he was declared a magician, a trick used by Haggard in his book by his character Captain Good to terrify the natives), with tact: “…finding a gentle word more potent than gunpowder”, and with some grace: “He who goes gently goes safely, he who goes safely goes far’.

see:  www.penpontheritage.co.uk/joseph-thomson/the-exploration-of-africa



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Cuillin Ventile Jacket Tested

Now that winter has arrived here in the US, I’m getting to use my Cuillin jacket as it was intended.  Unfortunately I have not been on any “adventures”, but we have just had our first cold snap here in Indianapolis and I have managed to get out for a couple of walks.  The first was at a local lake.  Most of the lake is shallow and well frozen, but one part is an old gravel quarry and so 50-60 feet deep.  This was still mainly ice free and the cold wind blowing over it was raising some frost smoke.  Despite the sun the temperature was about -15C with a stiff breeze so wind chills of around -25 to -30 C.  The jacket was superb.  With a wool base layer, light fleece and down sweater, my body was warm – my extremities on the other hand!  Trying to take pictures was painful and my hands took ages to warm up.


As Christmas gets closer my two boys are back for the holiday so we went for a walk in the woods.  Not as cold (-10 to -5 C) and with no wind meant I did not need the down sweater.  The jacket again was excellent (paired here with Fjallraven trousers, Zamberlan boots, Filson shoulder bag, Alpaca woolly hat and Optimus cook set for the all important hot chocolate).
Here are a couple of pictures and a video of the frost smoke.
John Swaffield

Frost Smoke


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Our new Cruachan Double Ventile Smock

Our new Double Ventile Smock is called the Cruachan named after the iconic mountain in Argyll in the West Coast of Scotland.








The Smock was named by Ruaraidh Petre and here is his story:

‘The new smock should be called Cruachan! The most iconic of hills in Argyll, and the highest.

For some of the clans in the area including the McIntyres (my mother’s side of the family) the name Cruachan was a rallying cry in days gone by.

Living on the shores of loch Etive, Ben Cruachan was a constant presence for me growing up; even when shrouded in its blanket of cloud, you could feel it’s bulk like a sentinel to the east.

Later as a teenager and in my twenties I would gather sheep on Cruachan’s steep sides, and I can tell you, if ever there’s a place you need a Ventile smock, it would be Cruachan.

Being so near the coast, damp air coming in from the Atlantic meets the hill, is forced upwards, condenses and falls as rain.

I’ve no proof of this, but I would think that it could rain up to 300 days a year somewhere on Cruachan!

As a name for the smock, Cruachan works well.

The word actually means hill in Gaelic, thus matching your “hill name” series, as is appropriate for the top of the range smock.

It’s not too long or difficult to pronounce, and of course it represents one of the most beautiful hills in Scotland!’

Too learn more about the Smock see Cruachan Double Ventile Smock.

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Win a Hilltrek Jacket or Smock – tell us about your adventures

From our small manufacturing base in Scotland, we export to over 30 countries worldwide.

Hilltrek Ventile and Cotton Analogy clothing helps us explore everywhere from walking in the Scottish hills to  trekking in the high mountains ofNepal.

We’d love youto share your adventures with us, wherever they may have been and in return,  you’ll have the chance to win a Hilltrek Ventile garment of your choice- not just this month but for the next three months!

The competition

Send us a picture and/or video wearing your Hilltrek Outdoor Clothing garment with a short story outlining your adventure. If you do not yet own a Hilltrek garment tell us which garment you would like to wear and why.

How to enter 

  • Facebook -post on our Hilltrek Outdoor Clothing Facebook page and include the hashtag #madeinscotlandusedworldwide
  • Twitter-tweet @hilltrek and include hashtag #madeinscotlandusedworldwide
  • Instagram- use hashtag #madeinscotlandusedworldwide
  • Email-send us an email with the title #madeinscotlandusedworldwide

The prize

Win one of our Hilltrek Jackets or Smocks of your choice up to the value of £400 for the best entry. We will award a prize for November, December and January.

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The Cuillin – Our new Double Ventile Jacket

Our new double Ventile Jacket is named the Cuillin.

The new Cuillin Jacket

Jon Swaffield won the competition to name the jacket.
He explains why he chose the name:
‘Quite apart from the place of honour the Cuillins of Skye hold within the pantheon of Scottish Mountains, because it would remind me of perhaps the most sublime moment I have spent in the mountains anywhere.
-The summer of 1977 was that “carefree” year in the lower sixth between O Levels and A levels and I was determined to get as much out of the long holiday as I could.  Luck was with me as I strung together a list of trips.  First a week’s freshwater biology fieldtrip in Shropshire, then train to Cultybraggan army camp for a week of running up and down hills with the school CCF.  Next a few days in Montrose with friend who had recently moved back to Scotland, before we had a week’s cruising with The Ocean Youth Club on their Scottish boat Taikoo (Oban – South Uist – Stornaway – Skye – Plockton). This would be followed by a couple of weeks camping on Skye with friends who would drive up from home.  Finally I would swing through Edinburgh on the way south to crash with my brother whilst taking in some of the festival fringe.
The weather that summer was glorious.  Apart from a shower whilst in Montrose it had been dry the entire time with cloudless skies and magnificent sunsets.  Sailing had been a dream: crystal clear water, blue and aquamarine, birds, moonlit passages, being late and left on the dock in Portree after drinking too much Guinness with my friend’s brothers and having to beg a ride from a local out to the yacht anchored out in the bay, watching the Perseid meteor shower, the memorable moments go on and on.  The OYC crew change-over had been at Plockton when we had gone out for the afternoon with elements of both crews to welcome HMS Britannia.  It was the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and she was sailing round the country, dropping into Loch Carron to take a look at the massive oil rig being built.  Taikoo left early Sunday morning and I had a couple of days until my friends were due.  By this time I was completely out of funds so I spent a hungry night sleeping in a hollow in the woods being eaten by midges before finding a shed with a few bales of hay for the next even hungrier night.  Late the next afternoon, my friends arrived and, after pledging my unborn children, they graciously fed me.
The next day we had headed across to Skye, camping on the east coast up near Staffin.  We spend the next few days visiting the “sights” before one morning we headed off to Glen Brittle.  Two of us were keen to scramble up a Cuillin, whilst the other two were intent on following some girls they had spied to a pottery in the hopes of making their better acquaintance.  As we headed south the rocky crags and ridges of the Cuillins rose above the moor until as we rounded the major bend in the road near the Fairy Pools, they were revealed in all their glory in the brilliant, bright sun.  We stopped. Nick and I got out and left Wibby and Murve to pursue the girls.  The mountains were magnificent: a seemingly endless ridge consisting almost entirely of rock.  No rounded grass or heather covered humps here.
Never having been to the Cuillins before, nor indeed having a map, route finding consisted of “lets head straight up the nearest hill”.  The nearest hill was Sgurr Thuilm (3,159’), an outlier from the main ridge but equal in elevation.  Before we could ascend the heights however we had to cross Glen Brittle itself so we stepped off the road onto the moor and scampered down to the river.  This proved to be quite deep cut, flowing between and over short rock walls forming a cascade of waterfalls and deep pools that already in the cool morning looked inviting.  Scrambling and jumping across we pulled up onto the southern bank and started heading south east, aiming to head up the southern slopes of the mountain as it curved away from its northern cliffs.  Once on the mountain proper, the going was steep but easy and we gained height.  Suddenly we saw the eagle.  Gliding on wide spread wings, and only yards out from the cliffs, it appeared only 10 or fifteen feet below us  As it came round you could see the glint in its eye, whilst its golden nape blazed.  It cocked its head as it saw us, then calmly, gently, tilted its wings and headed off across the valley.  It lasted only seconds, but in that time burned its way into the memory like runes carved in adamantine stone.  We watched the eagle until it was a speck in the sky, then less than a speck.  I can’t remember whether we said anything at the time, words would have only spoiled the moment, but we turned back to the climb.
In memory I seem to have floated up to the peak – I can remember no effort or sweat – and upon arrival the feeling of unreality only intensified.  The light was bright, hot but not over-heating, revealing every detail of the amazing rock architecture spread before us.  Peaks, buttresses, ridges, gully’s.  Miles of naked rock to trap the eye and fill the mind with possibilities.  From north-east to south-west the ridge ran before curving round to the south-east,leaving the eyes to continue on to the island dotted sea.  A timeless vista of mountain sea and sky that makes the west coast of Scotland unforgettable.
There was no wind and the silence profound.  Time slowed until the “now” became eternal. A breathless pause in the helter-skelter of life, refilling the well of contentment to be dipped into in times of stress to come.
How long we sat there I do not know.  One thing only was discordant – a bright diamond speck visible on the main ridge.  Suddenly time and sound came crashing in as we heard the wine of an engine starting, and the diamond was revealed as light reflecting from a helicopter’s window.  The rotors sped up and we saw a black dot rise into the air and grow as it flew towards us.  We had been spotted.  The helicopter flew up and started to circle the peak.  Inside we could see the passengers taking pictures.  After it had circled for 5 minutes, like the eagle it banked and headed off across the valley.  Unlike the eagle we were glad to see it go and snuggled back into the silence like a warm blanket on a cold night.
But the spell had been broken so we started to head down.  Now we felt the heat radiating up from the rock and developed a thirst.  By the time we struggled back to the road we were hot and dusty.  Murve and Wibby were waiting for us – but said nothing of their failure with the girls.  Glowing with heat we suggested a swim in the river.  As we had crossed back we felt the water, warmed by the sun of the rocks to a temperature almost bathlike.  We grabbed towels and headed back.  If you have read any of Bill Tilman’s mountaineering books, you will know of his memorable swims.  This was one of mine.  The water was warm near the top, but icy if you dove down into the deep pools where the trout were hiding.  The rock walls providing stances to jump from and the small falls, cascades to pummeled your back.  Perfect.  Unfortunately nothing perfect in life comes without payment. It was August.  We were on Skye.  We were in Glen Brittle. It was evening.  It was windless and we were not only next to, but actually in the river.   On my first camping trip to Scotland I can remember lying in my tent listening to the hum of countless midges outside.  Now we heard not a hum but a throb.  Midges were so dense in the air that a breath filled your mouth and caught in your throat.  As you looked down at your torso it was literally black with thousands of the devils.  I wonder how many people driving along the road that evening saw four naked guys streaking across the moor.  As we build up a few yards lead on the ravenous hordes following, we would stop to pull on a sock, then as the swarm caught up, start sprinting again before attempting the second sock or maybe underpants fifty yards further on.  Later that evening, sipping some pints I knew that this had been a day to remember.  All that summer had been building experience onto of experience, culminating in a timeless moment of sublime bliss amongst the most spectacular mountains in Britain’
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Customer review of Askival Cotton Analogy Jacket

My new Hilltrek Askival Cotton Analogy jacket was delivered on the morning of 13 June 2015. I chose to have the jacket with some modifications – Karisma fleece lining for the handwarmer pockets and L19 Ventile. I also needed a slightly longer version than the standard sizing. Cotton analogy is basically a Ventile shell with a Paramo directional ‘pump’ liner. I won’t go into the background to these fabrics because so much has been written about them elsewhere. I had done a fair amount of research into suppliers and concluded that Hilltrek of Aboyne, Scotland, seemed to provide the jacket and customer service I was looking for. I bought this new addition to my outdoor gear with a view to it coming in to its own in deep winter conditions – low temperatures, wind, snow and ice. However, the first test was to be in summer – luckily it was raining quite hard when the postman delivered it, so it was out of the packaging and onto my back pretty much straight away! My walking companion was Charlie – a very energetic Scottish Deerhound who had no qualms about the weather as he is already kitted out with his own 100% weatherproof coat.

Charlie and I walked for 2 hours along Curbar and Froggat Edges, Derbyshire, in continuous rain and a temperature of 14C. The rain was not a problem at all. The Ventile shell all but laughed at it. The velcro adjustable cuffs kept the wind and rain out without me having to suffer from ‘soggy wrist’. The hood gives good protection and has a storm peak which can easily be folded back if you want it out of the way. From what I’d read, wearing Ventile in 14C could prove to be uncomfortable from a condensation point of view. I can honestly say that this was not an issue. I had a short but fairly steep, brisk walk up from the road to the top of Curbar edge (Charlie doesn’t hang about!). The walk thereafter was moderately energetic and I had the hood up for most of the way. The combination of breathable Ventile and Paramo liner kept the inside of the jacket uncannily free from the dreaded condensation. Under the jacket I was wearing a Paramo Cambia base layer, so this particular combination of fabrics seems to work fine for me. I had read a lot about Ventile clothing being too heavy but I have to say I didn’t really notice the extra weight of the jacket and as I mentioned earlier, this purchase was really intended for completely different weather conditions. It is a testament to the versatility of the fabric that, for me at least, it remained perfectly comfortablein a warm, June downpour in Derbyshire.

As far as quality and appearances go, this jacket is first class and the workmanship is superb. These jackets do not come in the latest dayglow colours and designs of some manufacturers but they have a classic, timeless appearance that gives them an unmistakable style all of their own. That, and the toughness and versatility of the fabrics used, I’d put money on my HilltrekAskival still going strong in a couple of decades.

posted by admin in Customer feedback,Reviews and have No Comments