“PHD (Peter Hutchinson Designs) was launched in August 1998. Short on history, but long on experience and enthusiasm. We share one simple aim in this small team, to make the best gear we know how.
This is a personal business, and as is necessary with such dedicated gear, everything is designed and manufactured in PHD's own factory in Stalybridge (UK) - though this is perhaps more than a little unfair to the 'sharp-end designers' whose hardships in improbable places help us to keep evaluating and improving. The manufacturing team here have unparalleled experience in making specialist software and their knowledge is a vital factor that underpins our 'can-do' philosophy.
Let's put in a word for realism here. PHD's products are the 'best', just like everyone else's! It's impossible, isn't it, and embarrassing: who can shout the loudest? Let us take a less lofty position and say the products keep moving on, a process we hope will continue. The more you learn about gear the more you realise that perfection is a distant and not over-useful objective, the attainment of it precluded by the complex and conflicting demands of our mountain activities. 'Intelligent adaptation' is probably a better description of what we strive for. And though we are making the best dedicated solutions to mountain weather that we know, the most we can hope for is not state-of-the-art, just state-of-the-day.”
These were Peter Hutchinson's original words about PHD and they are as true now as they were then. The essence of the business has not changed and after 52 years designing and making expedition software Peter Hutchinson is still very much involved.
We are still small, still specialising in extreme warmth and extreme lightness, still designing and making everything in Stalybridge UK, still insistent on verifying our own quality standards. The original team is still working at what we do best and as keen as ever to develop new ideas.
The main difference is that Peter Elliott joined us four years ago and has taken over the daily demands of the business as Managing Director. Peter has been a climber for over 30 years and is currently a member of his local Mountain Rescue Team. He loves PHD, the people, the ethos, the gear we make and the people we make it for. He participates fully in new gear developments and keeps pushing for more personal testing in the mountains.
Peter Elliott came in at an interesting time. PHD is as unusual as ever (unique is the buzz word). We remain a totally UK operation, we only deal directly with our customers and we do not advertise.
The way we operate is difficult, make no mistake.
- We use computers: but the first samples are designed and made by hand, the computer work follows.
- We get the performance figures for our main materials from our suppliers (down, fabrics, zips etc), then we test them again. Why? Because there is no supply chain for PHD products, no buffers: we stand directly behind everything we make.
- We make for customers, to customer order, not for stock. So all the challenges of making this unique gear face us afresh every day. We are focusing on your order, not filling shelves.
This way of working brings its own reward. We enjoy the most direct link possible between manufacturer and user, the link provided by the piece of gear we take pride in making. It started that way, making special items for expeditions. We still do that, but every item that goes through the PHD factory is just as important to us. The words 'we make the best gear we know how' apply to it all.
“The quality and diversity of good mountaineering equipment is staggering these days, but when it comes to pure specialist equipment for modern alpine style objectives PHD leads the way not only in the UK, but in the world. PHD gear is state of the art, both in design and thinking, with everything built on three decades of hands on experience, a time line of equipment that has been used on most of the greatest mountain challenges of our time.”
“At four foot eleven inches tall and size 10 I have always struggled to purchase gear for mountaineering that has not been too large or cumbersome. PHD’s down gear, especially tailored to my needs, made a significant contribution to my recent successes on Makalu and Lhotse.”
Adele Pennington, the first British woman to climb five 8000m peaks.
“The best custom-made down gear in the UK comes from PHD.”
Sir Ranulph Fiennes