1966 – 1970
In 1966, outdoor wear as we know it didn’t really exist. Then Berghaus came along.
It all began when climbers and mountaineers Peter Lockey and Gordon Davison from the North East of England, frustrated by what they saw as a lack of decent outdoor gear, decided to import and sell their own.
Their specialist outdoor store in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK, went by the name of the LD Mountain Centre and quickly gained a reputation for selling the very best in high-performance outdoor products from the likes of Atomic Skis, Marker Bindings and Nordica Ski.
So successful was the LD Mountain Centre that Lockey and Davison soon began to design, test and make their own gear for sale in the shop. This high-quality, innovative clothing range, inspired by what climbers actually wanted and needed, was called Berghaus. And so began the Berghaus brand.
Berghaus was the first UK retailer to import and stock the legendary SCARPA walking boots.
Did you know?
The name Berghaus is a literal translation of the German for ‘mountain centre’
1971 – 1975 Revoluntionary Rucksacks
Rucksacks were once bulky, uncomfortable pieces of equipment that hindered, not enhanced the climbing experience. Berghaus soon changed that.
As experienced climbers, Berghaus founders Lockey and Davison knew there was a market for rucksacks that helped distribute load more effectively. And so, from the new Berghaus factory in Washington, UK, they set about manufacturing them.
The first Berghaus rucksacks, which included the Berg 172 and Berg 272 models, had external frames and basic single compartments. These more traditional sacs were followed two years later in 1972 by the truly revolutionaryCyclops rucksack – arguably the world’s first rucksack with an internal frame.
The Cyclops’ internal frame and extra padding made for a much more comfortable and climber-friendlyrucksack, and helped it become one of the most popular rucksacks of all time.
Did you know?
Rucksack takes its name from the German for back (‘ruck’) and pack (‘sack’)
1976 -1980 GORE-TEX® and Gaiters
GORE-TEX® and Yeti® Gaiters set the benchmark for innovative outdoor performance wear. Trust Berghaus to bring them to you first.
The late 70’s saw continued innovation in outdoor clothing technology. Naturally, Berghaus was at the very forefront of this. Not least in 1977 with the introduction of the new waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX® fabric into some of its products, the first European brand to do so.
This was followed in 1979 by the development of the unique Yeti® Gaiter, universally recognised as offering the highest level of foot and leg protection available. In fact, it’s still regarded today as being one of the most significant developments in outdoor clothing.
Meanwhile, Berghaus continued to make inroads into Europe by exporting selected products to countries along the famous alpine Haute Route.
Other notable achievements
Sir Chris Bonington, soon to become the face of Berghaus, and Doug Scott overcome broken legs and smashed ribs to scale the formidable Ogre in 1977 – a climb that the pair will never forget. It would take 24 years and 25 failed attempts before anyone reached the summit of The Ogre again.
Did you know?
The Yeti® Gaiters distinctive rubber rands were initially made from old tractor inner tubes – making it the first trulyrecycled outdoor performance product.
1981 – 1985 An Established Brand
The world of outdoor wear was changing. And Berghaus was leading the way.
The early 1980s saw Berghaus supplying product to expeditions around the world and introducing a new concept in outdoor wear. The Gemini – a forerunner of the InterActive system in use today – was the first time a walking jacket had been designed with a zip-in fleece, changing the way people thought about outdoor clothing.
It was also around this time that the original A.B. (Adjustable Back) Carrying System and Occipital Cavity technology were introduced, and the Dart rucsac made its first appearance. All innovations that helped cement Berghaus’ reputation as a leader not just in rucksacks, but in outdoor performance products as a whole.
It was in the early 1980’s that one of the world’s greatest adventurers, Sir Chris Bonington, ‘officially’ wore Berghaus. And in 1985, wearing Berghaus, he climbed Everest for the first time. It was also around this time thatAlan Hinkes – who would go on to become the UK’s most successful extreme altitude mountaineer – began working with the company.
1986 – 1990 Innovation Explosion
Exploring new territories and developing a clothing range that helped climbers do the same, Berghaus continued to lead where others followed in the late 80’s.
Already trusted by the most serious of mountaineers, Berghaus created a range specifically for the more extreme adventurer. The appropriately named Extrem range was launched in 1986 and included the Trango Jacket,which became an almost instant classic.
Another innovation, the Attak sole unit, was introduced the following year and exported around the world. Meanwhile, Berghaus’ reputation as a global brand was further enhanced with the receipt of the Queen’s Award for Export in 1988 and the Northern Business Award for Exporter of the Year.
Closer to home, Berghaus, one of the first companies to develop outdoor gear specifically for women, began working closely with leading female climbers, mountaineers and adventurers to create performance gear that met the needs of women. This included the hugely popular Lady Pulsar Rucksack.
In 1990, Berghaus, in collaboration with W.L. Gore Associates, launched GORE-TEX® Dry Socks footwear lining, helping put an end to damp feet and creating a product that endures to this day.
1991 – 1995 A New Home
Evocative advertising and new ownership defined Berghaus in the early 90’s.
A new decade and Berghaus continued to innovate, not least in their advertising. The adventurous, product-led ads included the now iconic ‘cut-in-half man’ ad of 1993, which told the story of Berghaus’ layering systems.
Layering has always been central to Berghaus’ approach, and they could be said to have pioneered the idea of‘layering systems’ – products designed to work in synch with other items of clothing to give optimum protection and comfort . As ever, where Berghaus led other outdoor companies followed and ‘layering systems’ are now a part of every outdoor brand’s offer.
1993 saw another significant development in Berghaus’ history. Pentland Group PLC, already home to leading sports brands Speedo and Ellesse, acquired Berghaus, making it one of the best-resourced outdoor performance companies in the world.
The early 90s also saw Berghaus turn its attention to footwear, launching its very first footwear collection. The collection included the Storm boot; at the time, considered to be the definitive three season fabric hiking boot.
And rucksacks weren’t forgotten either – the FGA adjustable Rucksack System was developed in 1993.
In 1995, Berghaus adapted its Extrem range to ensure that all features, such as zips and toggles, could beadjusted with one gloved hand . A simple innovation but an important one, particularly when you’re 3000ft up.
Did you know?
One of the first advertisements to feature the then fledging sport of mountain biking was a Berghaus ad from the early 1990s.
1996 – 2000 Simply Brilliant
Simple design and another award-winning rucksack. It could only be Berghaus.
As a new century approached Berghaus remained as future-focused as ever. The introduction of the Berghaus Simplex concept in 1997 was an example of forward thinking at its very best.
The idea was that by minimising the layers of fabric in a garment and getting rid of any unnecessary styling, you achieve a more breathable, lightweight product perfect for more energetic activities. And it worked.
1999 saw the introduction of the lightest, most packable outerwear available – GORE-TEX® Paclite®. The highly waterproof, windproof and breathable range of clothing became an instant hit.
The Nitro rucksack, introduced in 1998, with its ultra-modern styling, and unique Limpet carrying and compression system was unlike any other rucsac that came before it. And it wasn’t just within the outdoor community that it caused a stir. The Design Council of Great Britain was so impressed with the Nitro’s groundbreaking design that it awarded it the Millennium Product Award .
Alex Huber completes the first ever climb of the North America wall on El Capitan and names it El Nino. Shortly afterwards, the 18 year old Leo Houlding – who would later become a key part of the Berghaus team – makes the second ascent.
2001 – 2005 A New Century
Intelligent waterproof technology and another award for a very 21st century brand.
Appropriately for a company that brought you the very first GORE-TEX® product, Berghaus did it again with the launch of GORE-TEX® Summit II XCR® in 2001– an exceptionally tough yet ultra-breathable waterproof fabric that proved to be hugely successful.
This was followed by the launch of Extrem Light – an integrated, lightweight range of clothing, footwear and rucksacks, designed to help people go faster, further and in more comfort.
And in a similar vein, the Berghaus Adventure Travel range was launched in 2004 with the aim of creating a travel range that combined high-performance technology with laid-back comfort. Featuring intelligent fabric technology such as Dri Release™ odour prevention and Healthguard™ protection, Adventure Travel was travel wear at its most innovative – and quintessentially Berghaus.
2005 saw the launch of the world’s most innovative back system to date. Naturally, it came from Berghaus.Bioflex®, designed to work with the body’s natural movements, not only stole the show at all major UK and international shows that year but also received the ISPO award for innovation.
Did you know?
In 2005 Alan Hinkes completes Challenge 8000 by climbing all 14 of the world’s 8000m peaks – the only Briton to have done so.
2006 – Present Four Decades Of Innovation
More than 40 years at the forefront of outdoor performance wear and Berghaus are still innovating.
With a team of over 20 extraordinary athletes on board including the world famous climber and adventurer Leo Houlding, top mountainner Mick Fowler and multi-skilled husband and wife team Philippe and Anna Gatta, Berghaus continue to blaze a trail in the outdoor world.
The launch of three flagship stores – one in Gateshead, UK, another in London’s Covent Garden and most recently Broadmead, Bristol – help confirm Berghaus’ status as an iconic brand. While an adrenaline packed 60-second cinema commercial in 2008, devised by and featuring athletes Leo Houlding and Anniken Binz shows Berghaus to be as innovative when it comes to advertising as they are performance wear.
In 2006 Berghaus received royal recognition – the Queen’s Award for innovation in the design and technical development of outdoor products.
However, Berghaus’ focus remains firmly on creating the very best outdoor products for outdoor enthusiasts across the world. Some things never change.
2009 saw Berghaus athlete Leo Houlding take on one of his toughest challenges yet– the epic ascent of Mount Asgard on Baffin Island with fellow Berghaus athletes Sean Leary, Jason Pickles and award-winning filmmaker Alastair Lee. Not content with one epic adventure, Leo also climbed Mount Huashan that same year. One of China’s most sacred mountains, it took Leo just one day to scale Mount Huashan – cementing his position as one of the greatest climbers in the world.
In 2012 Leo Houlding and his close knit team of climbers, fixers, and filmmaker Alastair Lee, took on an ambitious journey to achieve a first ascent of the east face of Cerro Autana (1400m), one of the Amazon’s most remote and sacred mountains.
Their expedition has been made into a film which tells the story of the team’s magnificent ascent. Autana – first ascent in the lost world is out September 2012. You can watch the breath-taking preview here.