When is a jacket more than a jacket? How about when it was your shelter from the rainstorm on day one of your first multi-day hike? What about when it kept you warm on that abnormally cold bivy last spring? Or even when it helped you stand out from the snowy background as your friends snapped shots of you launching off the kicker for your first – and failed – backflip attempt?
A jacket is more than just a jacket when it’s lined with memories. When it protects you. When it makes the difference between a good and a bad experience.
For athletes like skier Sam Anthamatten, when skiing a 50-degree slope on a 6,000-metre peak, a jacket – and gear more generally – can mean the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful mission or, more extreme still, the difference between coming back with memories or injuries.
‘All the tools and gear we bring enable us to go further even if we’re doing something we usually do. For example, I do a lot of combinations with a paraglider and my skis. I tour up one and a half hours from the top of the lift station on the Klein Matterhorn, then I fly off the summit at like 4,000 metres. Then I land somewhere on the north face of the Breithorn and I can ski a 50-degree slope in perfect conditions. I do this quite often, but even though I know it, still everything has to align. You have to trust on all this different gear.’
Sam is the epithomy of a new breed of athletes that are changing the way people are moving in the mountains. He’s bridging the gap between disciplines, combining skiing with alpine climbing and mountaineering, paragliding and touring. It’s questioning the classic idea that athletes do one sport in the mountains, rather than seeing the mountains – and all the experiences they offer – as a whole. And a versatile athlete, needs versatile gear. That’s multi-functional yet simple and, above all, reliable.
That’s why Sam’s number one jacket is his Steep Series™ Freethinker Jacket. It’s the one that’s banked the most memories, joined him on missions, expeditions and adventures on his home mountains in the Alps all the way to big, 6,000 metre peaks in Pakistan. But it’s also the one he can always rely on, no matter where he is and what he’s doing.
‘The Freethinker is the perfect lightweight jacket with minimalist features that you can rely on. This is really important when you’re at the limit. You need to know you can trust your gear. That it will really work when you need it to.’
Like when he was filming La Liste 2, Everything or Nothing, in Pakistan last spring. The margin for error on mountains like those – watch the trailer to see what we mean – is zero.
‘That was one of those once in a lifetime expeditions where conditions, the team, the gear all lined up perfectly. It was such a memorable expedition. Maybe we weren’t as successful as we wanted to be, but the descents we did there will always stand out in our minds.’
And along with those stand-out descents, captured in high definition, will be his brightly-coloured, stand-out Freethinker Jacket.