Keela Clothing Partnership
A recent image taken in the Cairngorms - Mountain Hare
Working as a wildlife photographer in the Cairngorm National Park means I’m out in all types of weather. From hot sultry summer’s days (not very often!) to the brutally cold dark days in January, it’s not unusual for the wind-chill to dip below minus forty. It’s my job to capture nature at its rawest; to do this takes commitment, planning and a passion for nature. Staying warm, dry and comfortable is also an important factor of me being able to perform my job.
Hard at work - Photographing Ptarmigan wearing a Pulse Fleece & Op's Pants
I’ve owned many outdoor garments over the years but have never found any that really perform when I need them to. Last year I spent £300 on a supposedly ‘ideal jacket for outdoor enthusiasts‘only to discover one particularly nasty day whilst out on the hills, the rain poured through it. Now in normal circumstances this wouldn’t have been a problem, but on this day I had a client with me and we were a long way from the car. On the hour long walk off the hill, I became soaked to the skin and thus chilled to the bone. It was potentially a very serious situation, not only for me but also for my client whose safety and welfare was my responsibility. This was a real wakeup call; don’t believe the hype of advertising! This jacket is now only worn for walking the dogs.
This got me thinking… What was the best outdoor jacket I’ve ever owned?
In a previous life I was a ski instructor on Cairngorm, the weather was always a challenge and at lunch time the chat in the café would often be about gear, what’s good? What’s not so good? It was during one of these conversations with a ski patroller friend of mine that he recommended a brand called Keela. ‘Never heard of them’ I said, ‘where are they based?’, ‘Scotland!’ he replied. Good quality, well made outdoor clothing from a Scottish manufacturer? No way!
I searched out a stockist and purchased a black and red Munro jacket. Twelve years later and I still have that jacket and it performs as well today as it did on its first outing. Today, it may be a bit tight around my middle but that’s not a manufacturing issue, it’s an issue I have with donuts!
My trusty old Munro Jacket - Still looking good!
Little did I know that this relatively unknown (in photography circles) brand were still on the go. After searching the web I found that not only were Keela still based in Scotland, they were also developing exciting new ranges of clothing, working with a mix of tried-and-tested materials and using ultra-modern manufacturing technologies. I’ll not go into full details of ranges and garments in this blog that will follow on at a later date.
In June and September this year I went to Keela’s factory in Glenrothes to see for myself what all the excitement was about. Not only was I shown sample and prototype garments for their future ranges, I was delighted to see that they’re still manufacturing my trusty old ski jacket, the Munro! Well if it isn’t broken, why fix it!? After all, in my own and many other people’s eyes the Munro jacket is a modern classic.
I am delighted to announce that Keela and Andy Howard Nature Photography are now clothing partners. Not only will I be wearing their current range of clothing, I’ll be testing new garments as they are launched and developed, something I’m really excited about. My feed back to Keela will be very much on the suitability of the garments from a wildlife photographer’s perspective rather than their traditional mountaineering clients.
Andy on a visit to the factory meeting some of guys from Keela
Keela garments I’m currently testing.
Op’s Pants - Pulse Micro Fleece - Munro Jacket – Munro Salopettes
Test results will be posted on the soon to be launched, ‘Gear’ page of my website.
Ptarmigan - Taken whilst wearing Keela clothing!