Was the Starkhorn the first Rohan Jacket?

Early Rohan jacket and Trotters 1979 Rohan catalogue

(This post was first published on Rohantime November 2012)

A couple of strange things happened during October, within a few hours of each other.

I was asked this question by a Rohan Customer  – What was the  first Rohan jacket? 

I was at the time sorting the Gift Your Gear donations.

I opened a box and on the very top there it was, the very first jacket – The Starkhorn Jacket 

The Rohan Starkhorn Jacket donated in Gift Your Gear

It proved to be the oldest garments donated. A really big thank you to who actually donated The Starkhorn to Gift Your Gear. If you do get to read this post please drop us all a line in the comments below. I would love to learn all about the history of your Starkhorn.

A little bit of Starkhorn history…

During the first 4/5 years we produced leg wear. Salopettes, then Striders (breeches) and finally Trotters and Bags (trousers).

When we had mastered trouser production we turned out attention to jackets. We wanted a jacket that would carry with it the hallmark of early Rohan, lightweight, small pack size, robust and look good. It was very import to us that the jacket could be made in a number of fabrics we had developed over the first few years.

We came up with The Starthorn. A simple sleek design. It was a single unlined jacket. That was very unusual at the time. Made in the factory in Leeds.

All Rohan Jackets can trace their lineage back to The Starkhorn.

The first fabric was a terylene cotton mix in a gabardine weave, not a million miles from Airlight. Terylene is a trademark for polyester fiber made by ICI… just like Dacron is one of Dupont’s trademarks for polyester fiber. It’s Dacron in the US and Terylene in the UK.

The shoulders were protected with a loose layer of PU nylon. Elbows protected with a self patch. The hood formed the basis of all Rohan hoods to come in the next 40+ years and often copied.

A really simple garment when it came to the market  in 1976. The opinion at the time was it would not sell because it was far to light. To cut a long story very short it did sell and went on to form the basis of the Pampas, Savannah, The Master Jacket and many more early Rohan jackets. Including one very special jacket called the Rohan Gwaihir Jacket made from Rohan Windlord fabric. Peter Habeler wore Rohan Gwaihir Jacket, in Windlord fabric, during 1st Ascent of Everest without Oxygen  in May 1978 with Reinhold Messner.

Messner & Habeler camp two. photo Leo Disckinson

By 1979 The Starkhorn had been discontinued, our energies diverted to Pampas and Savannah jackets made from Airlight fabric.

Very soon the Gift Your Gear donated Starkhorn Jacket will be on the way to join the Rohan Originals Collection in Rohan Keswick. To take its place amongst the comprehensive collection of Rohan Heritage garments. It will be in very good company.

Sarah Howcroft. Co-founder RohanRohan 40 years

Read about Rohan Heritage on Rohantime






Rohan Heritage


  1. ANDREW TITLEY says:

    Still wearing my Starkhorn regularly. New Velcro on the cuffs and the zip’s playing up a bit; is it out of guarantee? Somewhere in the cupboard there’s a pair of Striders and a pair of Nemeses, not to mention a couple of Movies. My standard winter wear on the hills is still Olfio and Hot Bags (vintage unknown). Rohan gear was never cheap, but I think I’ve had my moneysworth!

  2. strider says:

    Starkhorn – A mighty snow-clad peak that rose in the inner regions of the White Mountains. From its feet sprang the river Snowbourn, whose widening valley ran northwards through the mountains to emerge onto the plains of Rohan. The Rohirrim called that valley Harrowdale (Harrogate?) and built their courts of Edoras at its mouth, from where the lonely white peak of the Starkhorn could be seen along the straight length of the valley.

    Where did all the magic go out of outdoor clothing retailing?

    Sic transit gloria mundi.

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