Alpkit - the British company that has always been a bit different (in a good way) and has produced solid kit at solid prices. They've always been good 'bang for the buck' (or indeed pound) without ever being a 'value' or 'budget' range. Over time, they've built up their reputation with ever improving gear and the issues a few years back with stock shortages are now a very distant memory. This has always been a customer and user-driven company with their staff 'real' outdoors people who are just 'one of us' and communicate this in their marketing.
In recent times they've stepped up their game with both an increase in quality (such as using Primaloft in their insulated jackets) and a huge increase in the range of stock they provide. During this time their prices have gone up but I would say they are still very well priced in all they do. They're one of those companies that listen to their customers well and are small enough to implement changes quickly and well. They also keep their 'classic' ranges going while improving them.
Onto the Koulin tights which I feel are already a classic item.
OK so you may or may not wear tights as a guy. When I initially considered the Koulin tights, hideous images of A'level drama trips flashed through my head along with people mocking me for looking like a ballet dancer on the hills. There's also the slightly sensitive issue of close fitting tights and your manhood on display and the occasional wolf whistle from obviously deluded females! Having to wear them into Sainsbury's once was an experience...
|The Alpkit Koulin tights. Not in Sainsbury's...|
Out and About
But having bitten the bullet, I pulled them on (literally) for a trail run up through Grisedale, over the Eagle Crag scramble, up Nethermost Pike, to Helvellyn and back down to Patterdale via Striding Edge. Amazing run and no-one else around save for a guy with his terrified girlfriend. Wonder if that relationship is still going...
|Eagle Crag scramble. No it's a bit harder than it looks here!|
If you haven't worn trail tights then they are unbelievably freeing, light and easy. They simply flex with your legs which is liberating. The Koulin tights have just the right amount of stretch in them to move with your body. Compared to even the amazing Montane Terras, I'd liken the effect of wearing the Koulin tights to running in trail shoes compared to running in boots. On a recent trip up Great Links Tor on Dartmoor, it was so easy to climb as the tights are so flexible but also strong.
|Heading back from Great Links Tor, Dartmoor|
I'm a 30 waist (at most) and with a fairly standard, athletic kind of build. The small in the Koulin tights was a perfect fit. Getting them on requires a wee bit of tugging to get them up the legs. At the bottom of the tights on the outside of each leg there is a zip at the bottom (about 17cm in length) which can be done up, even if it doesn't feel like it. Helps get them on and off. Some people aren't fans of zips but I found they helped. They are slightly long (I have slightly short legs I guess) but this also means the tights easily sit on or above the waist.
The FeaturesThe tights are highly breathable and move moisture well and dry quickly. The stretch is excellent and it jumps back to shape after use and washing, so no worries there. There are meshy panels in a couple of non-essential places to aid breathability. A drawstring inside the tights at the front will also help.
There are two side pockets which I generally use to stash my (fairly large) smartphone on one side and a compass on the other. However, they will take more than that. At the back is a red zipped pocket which will take keys or other valuables.
The sensitive issue of your parts showing when wearing tights can be diminished by (a) not strutting around like a peacock; (b) wearing a pair of shorts over them or a long (I actually just wrote 'pong') baselayer; or (c) as I did, wearing a pair of Under Armour boxers underneath.
There is also a reflective logo and trim on the sides of the tights which is essential. They are pretty light and they seem very hard-wearing too.
|If you spot this person, seek immediate medical help or counselling...|
The Koulin Trail tights are ideal for trail running, running, hiking or even gentle scrambling. It's almost converted me away from wearing trousers when walking and certainly they're pretty good for trail running in 2 or 3 seasons. At £25 (October 2017) they're also brilliant value. Just don't tell anyone - I don't want hundreds of Alpkit gear clones out on the hills with me ;)