Do you wish away the chill of winter and impatiently wait for Spring to return so that you can resume your favourite outdoor activities? This year, embrace the cold and savour even the most bone-chilling winter days. Cape Union Mart’s range of winter gear and apparel will have you excited about winter and eager to gear up and get out. When there’s great gear, there’s no such thing as bad weather.
The Cape Union Mart and K-Way Annual Gear Day Exhibition took place in Cape Town on Wednesday, 26 March. The exhibition featured those international outdoor brands that are ONLY available at Cape Union Mart, including their in-house brand K-Way. The latest and greatest products and innovations were on display. There was a whole lot more to touch, feel and try on.
Brands exclusive to Cape Union Mart include Applecore, Blackfire, CapeUnion, Deuter, EcoSouLife, Kaliber, Keen, Klymit, Kuhl, Midland, Outdoor Research, Source, Storm, Sunski, Travelon and UST. These brands, which are only available in South Africa at Cape Union Mart stores, present shoppers with an extensive range of products from razor-sharp knives to lighting, backpacks, sleeping bags and hydration systems as well as footwear, two-way radios, computer accessories, technical apparel and clothing.
Pride of place at the exhibition went to Cape Union Mart’s in-house brand, K-Way. K-Way gear is locally designed, 70% of the products are produced locally and K-Way technologies are tested on three of the Seven Summits, Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Everest and Mt Elbrus.
“For us, the highlight of winter is the foul weather. It can get very cold almost countrywide and in some regions it can be both cold-and-wet,” says K-Way Marketing Manager, Nick Bennett.
“This year our winter focus is on technical, performance-tested products with a strong emphasis on down. Our customers are going to love our K-Way down jackets, body warmers and sleeping bags.”
Down garments have never been prominent in South Africa because even in winter the big, puffy, down jackets are just too warm, even for towns with regular sub-zero conditions like Sutherland.
“We didn’t see a lot of potential in down garments a few years ago,” says Ryan Weideman, Senior technical buyer of outdoor clothing for K-Way.
“But, technologies have advanced and now we’re able to produce lightweight down jackets and body warmers with thinner, down-filled channels. These channels are only about five-centimetres wide versus the traditional 11-centimetrechannels. That’s why these insulated products are warm, but not too hot for our climate.”
In store, customers face the challenge of choosing between K-Way’s down and their padded, synthetic-fill products.
“Our attention this season is on down, purely because of its technical credibility and what we’re able to do with it,” explains Weideman. “Both fills have their own benefits and negatives.”
Down products are 20% to 30% lighter than those with a synthetic fill, they compress better and recover faster following compression.
“Down will automatically start lofting when it is free to loft,” says Weideman. He adds that the thermal properties of down, a natural fibre, exceed any synthetic fills and all down products have a water-repellent face fabric.
Weideman recommends that down products are stored open – not compressed – and that every season they’re washed with down-specific products to ensure maximum lofting for maximum insulation and also to maintain and restore the water-resistant finish of the fabric.
“Depending on how much you use your products and how well you take care of them, you can get a good 10 years from them,” he suggests.
“When you buy down, you’re purchasing technical, performance-tested gear, not clothing.”
Both Bennett and Weideman highlight the new K-Way Drake (men) and Swan (women) thin-channel, down jackets as this season’s must-haves. Super lightweight, these practical and fashionable jackets compress into their own pockets.
Bennett also points out K-Way’s Antares (men) and Atlas (women) 3-in-1 travel jackets as anywhere, any-weather jackets. Each windproof and waterproof jacket has a zip-in, removable fleece for additional warmth, an adjustable-and-removable hood and engineered arm articulation (at the elbow point).
Winter hibernation really is for squirrels and bears. Ice, snow, wind, cold and rain are poor outdoor activity deterrents when you’ve got gear that insulates and protects. This year, banish bad weather and embrace winter with Cape Union Mart and K-Way.
Products will be available in store from the middle of April.