I ran into NW Alpine more or less by chance. Playing around on google while looking for new brands. Everybody knows the big players these days. Nevertheless I needed a baselayer salopette, NW Alpine offers one and so the story unfolded.
NW Alpine claims to make (and I quote their website nwalpine.com here):
„We believe in:
1. Making clothes for climbing that are simple, functional, light, with the highest quality fabrics we can find.
2. Providing the best customer service to get you what you need so you can get out into hills and succeed on your next project.
3. Supporting domestic manufacturing.“
They were really friendly and helpful with sizing advice. After getting the parcel from customs I was quite excited to see what the fabric was like and if the garment was matching my (high) expectations. Being 186cm and weighing in at about 70kg I took a Medium sized salopette. The length works out just fine, but on the thighs it is a little bit on the tight side. Having a road cycling background this happens to me way too often, I experienced the same problems with Dynafit clothing and Millet pants. So nothing NW Alpine would have to worry about (plus I wanted the salopette to be close fitting).
One of the first things I look at with anything being worn on the shoulders are the seams. NW Alpine uses flatlock seams not interfering with backpacks at all. Overall the seams are of a very high quality! You can feel that a lot of work has been put into the piece.
I have been testing the salopette with various shirts underneath it. From a simple functional shirt to a Patagonia Expedition weight shirt. By choosing the shirt under the salopette carefully one can significantly influence warmth and breathability.
As outlined in the product description, NW Alpine wants the salopette to be clean in design, therefore they did not add a pocket or „superfluous zippers“. Point taken. Plus: pockets on the layer you wear as first or second layer would not be that clever, would they? The zippers nevertheless tend to wander around a little. After having a Clif bar too much I even opened them with my belly… This can be adjusted when pulling them into a higher position. Problem solved.
A problem not yet solved is the salopette’s cut in the neck. The cloth tends to stick out a little as you can see in the picture below. So whenever the shirt worn under it is not covering the neck, cold can enter.
Something that works great – both with mountaineering boots and ski boots – is the cut of the legs. They are not messing around with the boots and simply end at the perfect length. I used to roll up my old underwear, but there is no need to do so with the NW Alpine piece.
I am really passionate about outdoor equipment. This might be one of the reasons I started this blog so I can write about gear all the time. After doing some testing I consider this as some sort of reverse engineering. Product designers come up with an idea and after producing it, users start to wonder: Why is this zipper here and not over there? Why is there no pocket?
Outdoor clothing performs well when you do not recognize it (I think Haglöfs had an ad campaign going like that). Not too warm, too cold, no scratching, not hindering movements, all kind of things can go wrong.
With the NW Alpine Baselayer Salopette you can put an end to these worries. Comfortable to the max, light, WARM and still not hindering movement while climbing.
Overall, this is a brand I’d love to see entering the european market!