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Technical outdoor brand K-Way designs down suits for first all-female, all South African team up Everest

African outdoor technical brand K-Way is thrilled to lend its support
and expertise to four inspiring South African women who will attempt to
summit the world’s highest mountain between March and April this year.
Cape Union Mart’s K-Way, a leader in the production of premium, technical
and specialised garments, has designed and manufactured bespoke climbing
suits that will enable the team to face some of the most treacherous weather
conditions and the harshest terrains known to humankind.
Technical Product Developer for K-Way, Stephen Hector, who has directed the
manufacture of the down suits, has more than 35 years’ experience in the
industry and has been pioneering K-Way designs for over nine years.
Hector says he is honoured to be part of the team that has worked tirelessly
to help protect the brave adventurers on their expedition and help make the
dreams of these four amazing women come true. “I am also excited about this
golden opportunity to take the K-Way brand to the top of the world and
showcase what South Africans can achieve,” he says.

The manufacturing team has used cutting-edge innovation, advanced knowledge
and impeccable design to create the down suits. The suits have been built to
highly specialised specifications, while being tailored to the exact bodies
of the mountaineers.

The suits’ outer fabric is Pertex Endurance, which is highly abrasion
resistant while providing outstanding weather protection. The designers have
used 850 fill-power goose down, with the average fill per suit just
exceeding a kilogram, with the total suit weight averaging 2,7kg.

Care has been put into eliminating cold spots while constructing a labyrinth
of 86 stabilised, hand-filled goose down chambers. From enhanced mobility,
to innovative zip designs, all the way to insulated pockets, the designers
of the suits left nothing to chance.

Hector says, “The gear is made to the highest quality and standard as it
must perform at an optimal level to enable the adventurers to push their
bodies to the limit, while remaining protected from the elements.”

Hector, who has honed his craft with down over many years, says the down
used in these suits “is, in layman’s terms – the Rolls Royce of down”.

He explains: “Lower fill-power down is heavier because you need to use more,
whereas we used high-end down to ensure the suits were as light as possible,
yet capable of keeping the adventurers warm.

“The construction of specialised suits like these is key. The design had to
ensure there are no cold spots and that each segment operates like a box – a
carefully calculated box. If you put too much down into one segment, the
area will attract dead air and if you put too little down, you will get a
cold spot.”

But that is just one of the many considerations required to build a suit
that will stand up to the ultimate test. The zips, for example, were another
important consideration.” The last thing the climbers need is a failing zip
at the wrong time, many thousands of metres above sea level. We looked at
every possible way to make the suits as practical and comfortable as

“Understanding how tough this expedition truly is, has played a massive role
in the design of the suits. Comfort is paramount, so we put so much effort
into making sure the measurements for each of the suits, for each climber,
are absolutely perfect.”

“We often take equipment for granted – but with regards to climbing a high
altitude mountain, you cannot take chances or shortcuts. Your equipment must
be 100%, from your boots to your helmet,” says Hector.

“It was a huge team effort to manufacture these suits, and every single
person who was involved has been invaluable. We are extremely proud to throw
our full support behind this expedition,” he says.

For more information, full biographies of the climbers and suit
specifications, please see the additional information sheets.

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