In the 1970s, the UK outdoor apparel company Buffalo Systems originated a unique concept – they started to develop outdoor apparel with an inner layer of Pile and an outer layer of Pertex. Pertex is a densely woven fabric that absorbs and disperses moisture, and even more notably, it is highly windproof, yet still breathable. The inner layer of Pile keeps the wearer warm, and it wicks moisture. (To learn more about why it is so important to have moisture wicking fabrics, check out Hiking 101).
Since they are UK based, their distribution is limited in the U.S., and I just learned about them and had the chance to take along the Buffalo Ladies Active Shirt on a hiking trip to the windy, high deserts of southern Utah. The company refers to it as a “shirt”, but consider it a shell that has a built in thin lining.
- Extremely windproof! I have tested a lot of jackets, shells, and layering systems on hikes and backpacking trips… on my trip I spent a lot of hours hiking around the dry, windy red deserts of Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. I brought along my Marmot Precip shell so I could compare the Buffalo Active Shirt to my formerly favorite jacket. With the Buffalo Shirt, I only had to wear it over a thin base layer to stay warm. With the Marmot shell, I was wearing 4 layers underneath and the wind still blew right through!
- Good design. The shirt comes down quite long in the front and back, so it covered my rear. It was comfortable for hiking, and kept even more of my body warm despite the windy conditions.
- Convenient chest pocket and hardwarmer pocket. As shown in the picture, the shirt has an easy to access large pocket across the chest, great for storing my camera and a map! Additionally, instead of separate side pockets, there is one large pile-lined handwarmer pocket across the front, where I stashed my gloved hands to stay extra warm.
It is rare that I am so amazed by an article of hiking clothing, and in order to make sure I wasn’t missing something, I asked my hiking friend Donna who was along on the trip to try it out…she took off 3 layers to make sure it fit snugly (the closer the fit, the better it will do keeping you warm). She refused to take it off!
- Lacks a fashion element. The Ladies Active Shirt is intended for serious hikers and those who want the utmost functionality. That is the type of gear I look to wear in the mountains, because when the winds pick up and the temperature drops, no one cares if their apparel is stylish or matches, you just care about staying warm and dry and continuing your adventure! Buffalo System’s motto is “Function not Fashion”, so perhaps this really isn’t a negative!
- How to Buy: Available in the US through Buffalo Systems USA
- Price: $218+ shipping
- Weight: 590 grams (the new model weighs 470 grams; mine was 590 grams)
- Sizes: UK sizes 32, 34, 36, 38, 40
I sure hope Buffalo gets broader international distribution. They are targeting a very small market of serious hikers and mountaineers, and if you want to stay warm in harsh conditions, a Ladies Active Shirt is worth the investment.