Let me take you back to the winter of 1994, or thereabouts. I was a sprightly 27 year old and I had just qualified as a youth worker, a role that not only saw me working with 'yoofs' on council estates, but would also take me on weekend residentials with them up to the Lake District.
It was because of this latter task that I went shopping for some hardy clothing, and decided to invest in a Buffalo Mountain Shirt. I can’t remember why, or who influenced me at the time, though I suspect it was an article in a magazine.
I was sold on the Buffalo system because of how simple and easy it works. Basically it's fleece-lined with a windproof and water-resistant Pertex outer shell that’s designed as an all-in-one base-layer and outer jacket.
Across your chest there’s a huge, velcro secured, flap covered pocket that’s perfect for storing OS maps, thin gloves and snacks. Further down, the hand pockets are fleece lined, and meet in the middle, which helps keep your hands warm. Inside the pocket you'll find a strap with an adjuster to easily tighten or loosen the shirt snugly to your belly. You can also slip your rucksack waist-belt through it if you wanted to, which is a good idea when you think about it.
For ventilation the cuffs have velcro fasteners, but the best bit is that on both sides it has full length dual opening zips. To keep yourself cool you can either unzip them up from your waist or down from your armpits, a great way of keeping your perfect temperature.
Oh yeah, it also has a scooped back that’s 10cm longer than the front, so even if you’re bent over touching your toes it won’t rise up and leave you with a cold back.
During my many, many forays up mountains and through forests I wasn’t alone, not only did our professional guides wear them, but others who we would pass along our travels were too.
My Buffalo Mountain shirt has been up mountains, slept in and even submerged whilst canoeing, and has always kept me warm and dry. Except for the submerging, but it dried incredibly quickly!
Over the years, and quite pertinent to this article, it’s been incredibly useful for green-laning. During our miserable winter months when it’s cold and lashing it down with sleet or snow, it's the perfect shirt to wear whilst you're getting in and out of your 4x4. Wearing a base layer, a shirt, possibly a fleece and then a coat is far too cumbersome, instead, wearing a Buffalo is as comfortable as wearing a t-shirt during warm summer months.
These days I’m not the slim and slender 27 year old I once was, and my 42” Buffalo no longer fits. The good news is that it hasn’t been abandoned in the wardrobe for the moths to eat, nope, it still sees active service almost everyday as I've passed it down to my Dad. Yes, he’s the one modelling it, whilst wearing salmon pink shorts (he's obviously the one who I get my total disregard for fashion from).
When I gave it to him around 5 years ago the right-hand pocket zip had begun to fray a little, as you see below, and the good news is that it hasn't got any worse.
24 years later it may have lost some of its piling, but my Dad still swears by it when he's fishing on the banks of the local lodge. Hardly a taxing activity, but a great testament to the fact that it still keeps him warm, after all these years.
Would I buy another one?
In a heart beat. In fact, seeing as they also do a ladies' version in Muddy Madam's favourite colour, purple, I may have to treat her for winter, and if Dad behaves (not likely), I might get him a replacement too. I really want to get myself another, but I aim to shed a few stones before then!
Colours: Mens - Royal Blue, Olive Green, Charcoal Ladies - Purple, Olive Green, Charcoal
Price: from around £140.00