Alex Hibbert is not an adventurer. He’s also not an explorer. He’s not a big fan of these words. He’s just passionate about being out in the cold. He’s skied further on an unsupported Arctic journey than anyone in history. He skis, writes, speaks and creates visuals.
We’ve worked with Alex for over a decade. He’s used our mountain tents, cutlery, drybags and our first ever down jacket. We’re even more proud that he comes to us to make his custom sledge covers for his expeditions.
This season, Alex and James attempted an Alaskan North Slope crossing. There was no world record for it. Nothing for the media to get their teeth stuck into. That wasn’t the point. It was about being in the cold and enjoying it.
Alex and his teammate James were out in record breaking low temperatures. They were expecting 20 below. That’s very, very cold. But they were experiencing -40°C. That’s very, very, very cold. At this temperature, your sledge stops gliding, meaning you travel at 0.5mph instead of 2mph.
When Alaskans start complaining about the weather, you know something’s up. Stuff that doesn’t normally break started breaking. Fabrics behave differently. Nylon works normally at -30°C. At -40°C, it goes stiff. And at -45°C, it starts glassing and ripping. It was a tough trip with a series of unfortunate events. Alex and James made the difficult decision to cut it short.
In the lead up to his trip, Alex knew he needed a sledge cover that was as tough as nails. As light as possible. And at a minimum, something that wouldn’t rip or let snow in.
Alex has been working with Gemma, our in our UK factory since 2018. She made the original pattern which can then be adjusted to fit Alex’s different sledges. She helps him by designing and sewing completely custom sledge covers that he took on his latest adventure.
The cover is made with a heavy-duty nylon fabric and nylon thread. Alex could ask for his preferences, like a small pocket sewn onto side on front end for stowing items throughout the day. He also drew on his own experience. He’s found that sledge covers always wear in the corners, so he asked our factory team to reinforce them. The whole process only took half a day!
The polar industry is small. There’s not that much gear available. People in the industry have always been borrowing and modifying kit from sister industries, like mountaineering. Luckily, Alex is technically minded. This need for custom gear has led Alex to make a custom sledge mould. He can adapt the shape depending on where he’s taking it.
If you’ve got a custom sledge, you need a custom sledge cover. That’s why he’s been working with Gemma to make something that works for him. He told us he came to Alpkit because we still feel family-run. Three of our co-founders are still sat in the office, within arm’s reach (just about!) of our other teams.
“We’re people with similar ideas, making decent gear together. Your ethos clearly still runs through. I knew you’d listen to what I needed”. Alex even had lunch with our factory team when he came up!
If you’ve got an adventure and have a big idea for bespoke kit you can’t find anywhere else, then get in touch. Contact with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can have a chat to see if we can help design exactly what you need.