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Outdoor Gear Coach

Welcome; Outdoor Gear Coach is unique in that it is totally independent of advertising and has a six-person team with the widest and deepest understanding of garments anywhere. 

Here is almost everything you need to know about layering to keep you dry and stay warm in every climate and terrain, whether you walk, run, ride, rock climb, mountaineer, ski/alpine or Nordic, or backpack. 


Many different clothing layering systems exist today;

  • Fashion ( artistic, creative and status-related)

  • GORP ( using outdoor clothing as trend/fashion rather than function).

  • Workwear, military,

  • OUTDOOR GEAR COACH focuses on outdoor clothing in the modern era of the great outdoor textile brands: Gore-tex ®, Sympatex ©, Pertex ©, Polartec ®, and Primaloft ©.

  • The 40,000-year-old origins of layering and the amazing skills of the original peoples and our research into Mallory's 1924 layers give a very useful perspective, so please read on.

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Outdoor Gear Coach is THE expert on garment layering for all outdoor activities.

The outdoor gear coach team is experienced in: 

  • Garment design.

  • Garment Manufacturing. (as a former licensee of Gore-tex, Polartec, Sympatex, & Primaloft in different periods)  

  • Outdoor retail staff training 

  • Testing and reviewing garments for magazines

  • Textile types and functions

  • Textile and outdoor garment history. 

  • Book authors: 

  • Participants over 7 continents of long-distance backpacking, hiking, camping, hill running, mountain marathons, climbing, mountaineering, the 14x 8,000m summits, road cycling and mountain biking, Nordic and Alpine ski and ski touring, and dog sledding.

Many different clothing layering systems exist today; Fashion ( artistic, creative and status-related)GORP ( using outdoor clothing as trend/fashion rather than function). Workwear, military, Outdoor clothing is the focus of OUTDOOR GEAR COACH. Our focus includes layering for all outdoor activities: running, rock, riding, skiing, climbing, walking, and mountaineering. This is all in the modern era of the great outdoor textile brands: Gore-tex ®, Sympatex ©, Pertex ©, Polartec ®, and Primaloft ©. However, understanding the origins of layering and the amazing skills of original peoples is very useful, so please read on.


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Mike Parsons has over 40 years of hands on gear making experience in the outdoor equipment trade. From pattern making, cutting, sewing, textile testing, lean manufacture, product design and management and online selling operations,. He has wide-ranging mountain sport skills; snow, ice, rock, mountaineering, ski-nordic, skate, tele, alpine, mountain biking,horse riding. Competed in 45 Mountain Marathons. Mountain activity on all 7 continents including the ascent of 18 virgin summits. Follow the link to see recent activity

He was formerly MD of Karrimor International and founder of OMM Ltd, a specialist in lightweight outdoor gear. Mike Parsons is now an independent innovation coach and, since Mary Rose’s retirement in 2013, they have been establishing OutdoorGearCoach.

Mike Parsons


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Mary Rose, a keen mountain walker and recently amateur dry stone waller, has 35 years of experience as an academic historian and innovation specialist at Lancaster University Management School (LUMS), where she is now an Emerita Professor.  She and Mike Parsons have been collaborating since 2000, beginning with their prize-winning book Invisible on Everest: Innovation and the Gear Makers (2003), followed by the replication of the Mallory 1924 Everest Clothing on behalf of Mountain Heritage Trust, 2005.  Mike Parsons was made an Honorary Fellow in the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development in LUMS in 2003 and Innovator in Residence 2010-13. Together they taught highly successful innovation courses and ran the annual Innovation for Extremes Conference for the outdoor industry for 10 years.

Mary Rose


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Chris Townsend is the author of over 20 books, mostly illustrated with his photographs, and has co-authored and contributed to several more. Chris has also written and illustrated hundreds of articles for magazines, websites and newspapers. Since 1991 Chris has been Equipment Editor of TGO magazine, contributing monthly features on gear and techniques as well as occasional pieces on his walks and other outdoor topics. He also writes for other magazines and gives illustrated talks.

Chris was awarded the Outdoor Writers' Guild Award for Excellence for The Backpacker's Handbook in 1993 and again in 1996, 1997 and 2008 for the features Snow Place Like Home, on building snow shelters, Below the Face of the Earth, on the Grand Canyon, and The Man Who Walked Through Time, about Colin Fletcher, all of which appeared in TGO magazine.

Chris Townsend

Content Editor

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Chuck Kukla works with development teams to address complex design challenges that emanate from the relationships of technology, people, systems and organisations.

As a researcher and collaborator at MIT, Chuck developed and applied ethnographic and historical research to understand and model tasks in several areas—air traffic control, emergency medicine, disaster relief, control room operations, and the use of products in the outdoors.

Chuck is a chemical engineer by training, an avid mountaineer and instructor in the Northeast USA and is currently employed as a sales trainer by REI, one of the leading retailers of outdoor gear in the USA).

Chuck Kukla

US Editor

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Alan Hinkes is one of Britain's leading climbers and mountaineers and is our high-altitude editor. He is the only Briton to have climbed all fourteen 8000m peaks vividly outlined and illustrated in his book 8000m Climbing the World's Highest Mountains. Alan works as an outdoor equipment technical consultant, writes for magazines such as Trail and lectures on his exploits. He is an accomplished cameraman (filming 11 documentaries), photographer, motivational speaker, environmentalist and Qualified IFMG mountain guide.

Alan Hinkes OBE

High Altitude Advisor 

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Stuart Smith has been actively involved and continues to enjoy outdoor pursuits for over 25 years. This began through cycling, mountain bike racing, and touring abroad. He has competed in 2-day mountain marathons; various fell races and LDWA events from 20-100 miles. He is active in climbing, cycling, running, hill walking in UK, France, Canada, Poland, Austria, Thailand, Peru, Indian Himalayas, Patagonia, Greenland, Mongolia, Japan and Nepal  He has a range of professional qualifications, including International Mountain Leader, Summer Mountain Leader, Winter Mountain Leader, SPA, Expedition Mountain Bike Leader, Kayak/canoe.  He is a full member and current Northern Regional Representative of the British Association of International Mountain Leaders, and Institute for Outdoor Learning. He is a Leading Practitioner with the Institute of Outdoor Learning, a D of E Gold Assessor, a member of the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team, a member of the Long Distance Walkers Association and a life member of the Fell Runners Association.

Stuart Smith

International Mountain Leader

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Marian Parsons is an ex-teacher and English graduate from Liverpool. A very keen crag rat in her youth, member of the CC and Alpine Club, now living in Lake District and loves mountaineering both winter and summer; Munroist, many Alpine seasons and expeditions further afield, including first ascents in Russia. She is married to Mike Parsons, hence inspired to share his passion for the inner workings of our outdoor gear.

Marian Parsons

Advisor and Copy Editor

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