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


South 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 new K-WAY gear

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.

Tumi with the new K-Way brand

“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 possible.”

“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.

K-Way has been tried and tested on some of the world’s highest peaks, from Everest to Aconcagua. With years of experience in producing highly technical gear, designed and created for performance – K-Way strives to continuously innovate within their technical and everyday adventure apparel.