When I'm a grown up I'm going to donate my fleeces to Finisterre. All photos: Finisterre
As we've noted before, Finisterre is a fiercely independent crew of surfers, out of Cornwall, making highly functional, and award winning, outdoor clothing with a deep ethical and ecological bent.
Of recent note is a). their new Anabatic II rain shell, made of recycled and recyclable polyester, b). their exclusive line of double ply Merino wool/organic cotton Tees, and c). their ongoing venture to bring British Bowmont sheep (pictured above), and their superfine wool back from the edge of extinction.
Assessing the Anabatic II
Finisterre make their new rain jacket from a very lightweight polyester face fabric, which is made waterproof and breathable by bonding a polyester membrane to it. Both these materials are sourced from Japan's Teijin, who recycle polyester back into its raw state from which they then craft EcoCircle fabrics and EcoStorm film.
Finisterre tell us that Teijin advise them that there is currently not enough recycled polyester yet available to make a completely100% recycled EcoCircle fabrics. But that after a useful life the Anabatic's fabric/membrane combination can be recycled yet again by Teijin.
This is in contrast to well known waterproof/breathable laminates like Gore-Tex and eVent, which are Teflon-based and are not currently recyclable. Yet C-Shell, Finisterre's own version of EcoStorm is still technically very efficient: said to withstand 10 metres (33 ft) of water pressure, whilst being able to allow moisture vapour to escape at the rate of 20,000g/m2/24 hours.
The jacket is lightweight, only 350 grams (12 oz) for men's medium, yet it manages to avoid that cheap shiny look often found in other featherweight shells by utilising a matt finish micro-ripstop. And it's 2.5 layer inner is tape sealed with invisible seam tape, giving it a classier look too.
The Anabatic jacket itself is cut and sewn in Europe (Portugal), instead of the far east and is surprisingly well crafted. I say surprisingly, because it has features you'd normally expect from a company with decades of mountaineering heritage, not a fledgling company theat grew out of surfing roots.
Features like a fully protective hood (with a malleable wire stiffened visor), that moves as your head does. The hood even fits over a bike or climbing helmet. Precision-made water-resistant zips from RiRi of Switzerland seal the front opening and pockets, which located above the point where a rucksack hipbelt or climbing harness might sit. RiRi's Aquazips differ from YKK's so-called 'watertite' zippers in that the RiRi zipper teeth actually lock together to form a weatherproof seal, and the RiRi slider does not abrade the exterior zip tape coating. All up this gives the RiRi Aquazips a much longer functional life. Which, in turn means a longer garment life.
And I love that the pockets are themselves cut from the same waterproof outer fabric. You can put wet maps and gloves inside, or stash chilled hands in the pockets, without wetting your inner garments, as happens with the usual mesh lined pockets.
I only have a few very minor quibbles with the trade sample I was sent for review, like I'd prefer to see the velcro repositioned on the sleeve cuff for a more complete seal, but such niggles in no way detract from what is otherwise a very proficiently designed and constructed rainshell. The Anabatic could take on many a dedicated hillwalking/backpacking company's rain parka and come away with its head held high.
The crew at Finisterre said this about the Anabatic II. "We are always trying to make the best outdoor gear in a package thats passion for design and fashion is also evident. We hope people will see and understand what went into this jacket."
Merging Merino with Organic Cotton
And nowhere is that passion more obvious than in their wool garments. No content with having some the finest merino wool on the market at 17.5 microns, they softened it even more by adding an outer ply of organic cotton. Both wool and cotton are traceability to their source, with the wool from non-museled merino sheep and the cotton GOTS certified organic. Their new logo of a fun loving sea otter is screened on with AZO-free dyes & inks by Oekotex certified printers.
Bringing Back Bowmont Wool
We've mentioned before how Finisterre are on a mission to rescue one what they term, the "finest wool sheep breed within Europe", know as Bowmonts, which were originally bred for both their fine wool and an ability to cope with the UK's climatic conditions. When Finisterre became involved three years ago, only 30 pure bred Bowmont sheep existed. Now there are over 50 and the day is soon approaching when Finisterre will offer product made from their fleeces. There can't be many outdoor companies who personally know the sheep that their gear is made from. Probably why Finisterre won the respect of the RSPCA, for their animal welfare ethics.
Those business and environmental ethics have been central to Finisterre's steady evolution. As Ernie Capbert, their ever enthusiastic marketing manager told us, "The last 6 months for us have been a revelation, getting our heads around all of this, testing each other etc. Such an exciting time: growing a direct business, our model, our margins, our integrity, our culture and recruitment."
See Design Director, Tom Podkolinski, give voice to this passion in a video about their Bowmont adventure.
More Finisterre Technical Apparel
• Finisterre: Making Tracks in the Green Wave
• Dropping In On Finisterre: Eco-Technical Surfwear
• Finisterre Clothing Keep On Winning Awards
• Black Sheep Finisterre Warms to Techy Merino Wool