We’re lyrical about Buffalo systems, there is no doubt about that. We take our Special 6 Shirt everywhere, as long as the weather is cold enough. It’s the perfect solution for cold, wet and wind. An I-don’t-care-piece, almost a life insurance. You put on one layer and it’s playtime. The thick SP6s has definitely proven its value, which is why we also got intrigued by the thinner Buffalo Teclite. After three years of intensive use, we believe the time is right for a little review.
Chapter one: Buffalo customised
“Still made in Sheffield” is one of the trademarks of our beloved brand, and even though the quality is unparalleled, we see the design and the details also come straight from the early eighties. Straight seams and simple (yet trustworthy) finishing. Eventually, that’s a good thing. We’ve become so bothered with clutter these days. Our Teclite is pure function, not fashion.
By standard, a Buffalo shirt is cut for the typical British posture (aka: rather short). This cut is, however, not as suitable for my typical mainland European posture. Luckily, Buffalo is one of those last brands on earth that still allow customisation of their garments. We kept it simple and just added two inches (4cm) of length to the sleeves and changed the outer material to the stronger Pertex classic. We chose a red colour, thinking we’d look super-awesome in alpine rescue red, however Buffalo Red turns out to be more like raspberry-pinkish-red. Oops! PS: in case you’d run for a custom order, we’d recommend to also have the teclite shirt made 5 inches (10cm) longer and the hood could do with 0,5 inch (1cm) extra in every direction too!
After placing the custom-order one can expect a long delivery waiting line, which, in our case, took almost 2 years. In many conditions I would be furious about that. But I have to admit our Teclite is totally worth the wait.
Chapter two: wearing comfort
The Teclite shirt is a true Buffalo. By definition, that means it’s made from Pertex and Pile.
Pertex is our favorite polyamide/nylon fabric that literally sucks moisture from the inside out and distributes it over a large area to dry quickly. By default, a Buffalo Teclite gets an outer fabric in pertex 4 (a thinner version), but in our customised piece, we have opted for pertex Classic. Pertex Classic has a higher Denier (thread thickness) and is thus almost indestructible.
The inner fabric consists of Pile, best described as prehistoric fleece. It’s there to absorb moist from your skin, and to provide a little warmth. In terms of construction it looks like a kind of tricot that has very fine hairs attached to it. A bit similar to the construction of a floor mat actually, but less dense (it still needs to breathe) and very pleasant on the skin. That last part is important, because one should wear Buffalo on the bare skin. Buffalo’s solution has become a ridiculously soft, thin fabric. Seriously, ridiculously soft. Made from Polyester, just like the thicker pile (from our SP6s) and almost all synthetic baselayers you find nowadays. But softer. Much softer. This soft inner fabric is therefore the biggest asset of our Teclite smock. Nothing, absolutely nothing we have ever worn feels as pleasant on the skin as the inside of a Teclite. Wawie!
Especially when you are wet yourself, the thin Buffalo Pile excels in its pleasantness. If I’m sure I’m going to sweat, but it’s not warm enough yet for a t-shirt, I truly prefer my teclite. Even when, technically, the teclite would be too warm. All because of that extremely pleasant material. Also after I’ve I taken a swim break or a hot water bath in Iceland, there is nothing nicer to put on than the Teclite. I absoluteley don’t need to carry a towel with me anymore. It’ss a bit of a struggle to get into the jacket (it sticks to your skin when you’re wet), but oh so delicious to dry in. Yip, this is a winning concept!
The smock design also works wonders. Ventilation along the side, frontal zipper to let warm air escape, incredibly handy pockets (a kangaroo pouch on the chest and a reach-through pocket on the belly, with a dubble layer of pile!) of which the bottom one can also serve as extra ventilation, … Once you wear a smock, you get rather attached to the design. It doesn’t look as hip and fancy as a full zipper, but the design is much more suitable for active use. After all, a zipper is a cold spot. You would rather not have that on your belly.
Instead of almost any outdoor-gear-solution, only a few brands have copied the Teclite concept from Buffalo. The Rab Vapour Rise Lite series is probably the most well-known, and there is also Marmot Driclime. That’s it for copycats. That being said: Both Rab and Marmot have a much better availablility and standard sizing/fit is a lot better for the typical European. But they are, by far, not as soft as our Teclite. As a backup/extra layer to the Teclite though, you’re in for a match made in heaven.
Chapter 3: Performance and Pertex-Pile as three-season system
So, we have a lovely soft jacket with a strong windproof Pertex outer in a comfortable Smock design. Why would that be so much better than anything else?
Well, first of all this combination of materials hits an ideal warmth-point. It’s really just right. Technically speaking, you get a longsleeve midweight baselayer (like Patagonia Capilene Midweight or Arc’teryx Phase AR) with a windshell on top. 12°C you-never-know-what-you’re-gonna-get weather. Nice weather? Perfect. Not so nice? Just as perfect. Teclite exactly hits the middle road and works perfectly from that point.
We have done countless tests with this jacket. From very hot in the sun (but lots of wind) to summer storms in Iceland (which feel a lot like an autumn storm in Flanders). We did all we could to find the limits of the Teclite smock and, honestly, it took a damn long time before we’ve found them. That alone should count as a proof of excellence!
Limit 1: a whole lot of rain
Pertex-pile is made to work well when it’s raining. So we went looking for those wet conditions the Teclite promises to excel in. We can proudly say we lost count of how many times team Teclite was more comfortable than team waterproof. It takes a lot of water. Especially in windy weather with short showers, Teclite is unparalleled in terms of comfort. You’ll get a little bit wet, and then you’ll dry again. The wind and your body heat dry the jacket from inside out in almost no time. When the shirt was still new, it took unbelievably long before we felt wetness coming through, Nowadays it still takes long, but not that long anymore. That might be due to the fact that we’re too lazy to treat our beloved smock with some Nikwax TX Direct Spray (never use TX Direct wash-in, that’ll ruin the functionality of the inner layer).
During summer, when it’s 18°C or more, we see no trouble with a full day of rain. It won’t really matter how wet you’ll get, Teclite will keep you comfy. But in case temperature drops some 5 degrees, you’ll meet the limits of what a Teclite can do. Pile remains warm when wet, but maybe not that warm. Of course, we’ve sought out all possible solutions for you:
- Produce more heat! While running, you’ll be more than comfortable at 5-8°C. Your body will produce plenty of heat to keep you comfortable. I remember running up Mt. Snowdon in Wales during a stormy rain day. Only when I reached the summit ridge where 100kmh winds blowed around, I got cold. (luckily I had my thick Buffalo SP6s with me). Please note that exact temperatures may not make any sense in this review. It’s all very metabolism-related. My partner-in-crime Mat always runs warmer than I do and he’d never wear Teclite in any condition above 15°C. His lower limits are also quite a bit colder than mine.
- Wear a second layer of the same. This is what Buffalo recommends by themselves. Twice the Teclite, twice the fun. This is my standard combination in Icelandic summer. Basic conditions are fine for a standalone Teclite, but in colder or wetter conditions I add another Pertex-pile layer. I use the Rab Vapour Rise Lite as second layer, because it’s a little lighter and a little cheaper (300g Rab vs 520g Buffalo counts as a significant weight difference). The combo results in a nice step warmer and more rain resistant system. It’s almost 3-season bombproof, but we have to admit that in extreme conditions, double Teclite might still not be enough.
- Put on a rain jacket. This might seem contradictionary as Pertex-pile promises to work perfectly in rainy weather, but in some really bad conditions, I have had the need to put on a true waterproof shell over my teclite. The good thing is that I can wait really long before I really need it, and that there is absolutely no need to invest in an expensive waterproof/breathable jacket. Some department stores sell acceptable waterproof jackets for a few Euros! With the waterproof layer, our Teclite won’t oversaturate any further and the Pertex-Pile system will do its trick. I stay nice and comfy, the rain that had already fallen will get stuck between the Teclite and the hardshell, and I don’t have to worry anymore. Never forget though that any rain jacket will always cause a bit of that sticky, sweltering feeling.
Limit 2: Too hot/ too cold
Well, this speaks for itself. When it’s too hot I need to put on a t-shirt. When it’s too warm I put on my Rab Vapour Rise as second layer. Or as some of my friens do: put a fleece or baselayer under the smock. Works just as well.
Out with the Buffalo
We all want to stay comfortable on tour, but I tend to look for the extremes. As I’m slightly in love with Iceland (product placement again!), I’ve been wearing nothing but Buffalo for already three full months down there. It’s in the extremes of Iceland that I got to learn the limits of my Teclite.
Three day trekking in summer. Our intention is to cross the Reykjanes peninsula from the middle, through the mountains all the way to the east of the peninsula. If we would have had a better map, this might have worked, but when our road markers disappeared (we returned afterwards to go looking for them: they were really gone), we had to move from plan A to plan F. Still a lot of fun. Anyways, we got ran over by a storm. In the morning, the sun was still shining brightly (all Teclite ventilation zippers open) but the more we climbed, the more clouds and wind arrived (all Teclite ventilation zippers closed). The windchill dropped temperatures down to 6-7°C and my girlfriend got smashed to the ground by the wind. A good time to grab that Rab Vapour rise from my backpack. Back in the comfort zone! And then the rain came. I easily took it for a few hours, until I decided to put on some rain pants (my pair of Lundhags Authentic pants cooled down a lot when wet), but the torso absolutely didn’t need more protection yet. Another hour later, when it was still storming and raining, I finally started cooling down. In my neck and left elbow (wind came from that side), the water found its way through and cooled me down. Meanwhile those two Pertex-Pile jackets had been taking at least 3-4 hours of storm and rain, which is quite impressive for two non-waterproof garments! One rain jacket later I was nice and toasty again. By the time we reached our campsite (walked 10 hours that day), the innermost layer of micropile was back to perfectly comfortable (dry? No idea), and the rest could dry in the tent’s shelter before I dived in my sleeping bag.
That same stormy day, miss AdventuresByQ accompanied me, wearing a Rab Vapour Rise Lite, added with a leaking rain jacket. Even though she didn’t have that much experiences to compare with, she noted that her Pertex-Pile dried so quickly. By the end of the day she was seriously cold, but that’s most likely more due to fatigue than anything else. After half an hour in a dry puffy and halfly in the sleeping bag, she was all fine again.. The next day though, she put on an extra fleece. Type 2 fun?
The A. Brothers –good friends of mine – were in Norway last summer and they have seen the necessary weather extremes to. One brother wears Teclite, the other one a Rab VR Lite. To top their system off, they often add a gridfleece (you know, waffled fleece, like Patagonia R1) under their Teclite.
At a certain point we got in a true storm on the mountain. Very strong gusts of wind, hail, rain,… At some points one could not see further than 5 metres. My brother wore just a Teclite and I had my Rab VR Lite. No fleece underneath. For those mixed wind/shower conditions that was fine, everything dried instantly. But for continuous rain I’d wear my gridfleece or a ligt rain jacket. Nonetheless, we survived those 20 minutes of storm without too many hassle!
Afterwards, we did put on something dry though. With our grid fleece we were good to go again.
(The A. Brothers)
My Buffalo Teclite has become my absolute favourite piece of clothing in any moderate weather: Moderate rain, moderate sun, moderately warm, moderately cold. Prefarably a bit of everything. Its extremely comfortable inner material straight to the skin and the fully windproof (*) Pertex classic on the outside, makes you feel invincible. It’s an ideal starting point and an ideal middle-of-the-road solution. Of course Teclite has its limits, but with a little experimenting the Teclite smock automatically becomes your standard choice in a system that effortly takes all 3-season extremes. For me that is: an ultralight t-shirt in my backpack, the teclite on my body, a Rab Vapour rise Lite as extra/backup layer, and the lightest cheapest rain jacket I could find for the most extreme rain.
At a retail price of €200, it’s quite some money, but in case I’d lose mine I wouldn’t think twice to buy another (hopefully I won’t have to wait 2 years again for a custom order). This piece is worth is weight in gold! Figuratively speaking of course.
(*) We checked: Pertex Classic is officially windproof up to 50 mph (80 km/h). Pertex 4 (default for Teclite) is officially windproof up to 40 mph (65 km/h). Pertex Equilibrium, as found in the Rab Vapour Rise is deliberately less windproof in order to provide more breathablity.
We also checked that a 50kg person would need to be hit by a a 45mph (72 km/h) wind gust to fall over and that it would be theoretically possible to blow that same person away at 70mph (112km/h). Yours truly weighs over 85kg (without backpack), so I shouldn’t worry too much about wind.