Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, Northern India. Escaping to the cool of the mountains was essential after the 40 degree heat of the deserts of Rajasthan. Up here the bright sun is tempered with the breeze blowing off the snow covered mountains of Tibet, visible in the distance but over 80 miles away.
Trying to plan for the unexpected, when limited to 25kg of weight in your pack, can be daunting. Warm clothes usually take up lots of space and weigh you down. Wet weather clothes often won’t pack down tight and can stay wet for days after use. Not to mention breakages. When you are doing all sort of activities from brush-cutting in the Australian Outback, crossing the sering deserts of Jaisalmer on a camel, bungee jumping off the bridges of New Zealand or hiking through the jungles of the Thai/Burma border, you need clothes that can stand up to abuse and yet still be smart enough to wear in a top Singapore Restaurant.
Thankfully, we spent the time and effort to research our choices. I knew that we would need clothes that were going to be welcome anywhere, with subtle branding that hinted only at the unspoken quality in the build and materials. After almost a year of constant travel only the Rohan clothes show little or no sign of wear and tear. My Rohan “Cross Border” trousers look as good today as they did on day one. Which is a lot more than I can say for my others from a competitor; those have needed stitching more than three times. Other great buys include the “Cloud Base” Rohan jacket that not only dries extremely quickly, but is ultra light and packs down into itself. I was able to take it into the Jaisalmer desert just in case; a freak storm hit the sands that night and I was the only dry camper. Also, when not in use, it doubled as a brilliant pillow cushion. By far my favourite item is my “Travel Linen” shirt which is very soft and as tough as nails. I wore it trekking in the Thai jungles and yet it was also smart enough to wear in a top Mumbai restaurant without raising an eyebrow.
Our Rohan clothes have performed unwaveringly, they have been washed in everything from New Zealand’s industrial machines to the hand-wash Dhobi Ghats of Mumbai and yet retain their original colours and shapes. Francesca points out that we have sent many items back to England over the months, but we both still have all our Rohan clothes. Also, that her choices retain a feminine look for the evening and yet are every bit as tough as the men’s items. Being able to throw off the “backpacker” label is vital to fitting in with the locals everywhere from the high-class wine tastings of Australia to the street vendors of Laos.
Today in Shimla, we are both eying up those snow covered Himalayan peaks in the distance and planning our next trek. I know we will be going to Rohan for our kit no matter where the next adventure takes us.
By James Bell
James and Francesca are a married couple who quit the London life to travel around the world. They are writing about their adventures at www.outsidecontext.com