Keen newbie tramper Chris Daniels tests new-season Kathmandu gear on the North Island's highest mountain

Kathmandu's XT gear is the high-end stuff, tested in the field by some top outdoors people. The range now includes down jackets, rainwear, tents, packs, sleeping bags and mountaineering boots.

This year the company has released its first branded boot, the XT Fitzgerald ngx, which it says has taken 1000 days to develop.

It's designed here in New Zealand but made in Italy and is described as a 'three season' mountaineering boot.

It's leather with a Vibram sole, a full rubber rand (that's the toe cap) and offers protection against rock abrasion and wear. It's crampon compatible and has a carbon-fibre midsole that offers a light, stable platform with an even flex. Tested by this non-expert user on the slopes of Ruapehu, it was stable and helped me stay upright while scrambling across rocks in gale-force winds.


Price: advertised for Summit Club members at $559.

The new XT Alopex GORE-TEX jacket is another top jacket that Kathmandu is proud of. Fully waterproof but very light, the company describes it as suitable for the serious athlete - whether you're back-country skiing or trying an alpine ascent. Price: advertised for Summit Club members at $719.

The XT Alziro thermals are impressive, too - they're polypropylene on the inside but merino on the outside - warm but still moisture wicking, breathable and super quick-drying. Top and longjohn both $103 for Summit Club members.