The Hilltrek Blog

An entry to our competition: Matt Cooper hunting and farming in the Pyrenees

Posted by Matt Cooper on 5th Apr 2017

I’ve been looking for an all weather Ventile smock and found you guys. On visiting your blog I’ve seen that you have a competition running to win one. So here’s our story:

We are a young family, kids of 4 and 2 who, looking to lead a more ecologically sound and healthy life, 2 years ago bought a hill farm at 1000 meters in the Pyrenees. We weren’t really ready to but when we found it we had no choice, we fell in love, with views of the Mediterranean in the distance and sitting on the slopes of mt. Canigou, the mythical mountain of the Catalans, we felt like we belonged there.

Already we have a poly tunnel and grow most of our own vegetables...

For 2 years we have been starting the immense project of restoration of buildings aged from the 1500s to this century, clearing ancient pastures and terraces and turning it into a working farm again. It has largely been abandoned for the last 15 years. Already we have a poly tunnel and grow most of our own vegetables, a small flock of Cameroon sheep that we breed and butcher here on the farm and are building gites so we can share the place with guests who will hopefully come to walk and run in the hills, learn about permaculture, forestry and farming and share this amazing place. We’ve had several people say they want to get married here already so we must be doing something right!

From a desk job I have had to get right back into clothing and equipment as I work outside in the forest and building site every day. We are doing everything the proper but hard way. We are cutting all the wood for the project from our own forest and have built our own sawyard to cut the wood and provide all our own firewood for energy. So I’m out there whatever the weather!

In terms of clothing I’ve always loved natural materials...

Part of what we are doing here is trying to create a sustainable, ethically sound lifestyle. I’ve always hated the amount of plastics and waste that modern life creates. In terms of clothing I’ve always loved natural materials, merino wool for base layers, wool for warmth (my favourite Norwegian jumper that my wife calls the Christmas jumper!) and Ventile for the outer layer. I have an old west winds Antarctic smock that I have worn for years and is probably my favourite piece of clothing. All the natural fibres just seem better to me, don’t melt or tear as easily and have the ecological benefit as well.

This year I have done my hunting exams and now hunt with the local “chasse”. Between the deer and wild boar we hunt and our own sheep and chickens, we aim to become independent of commercial meat next year. While my old smock is still great it is blue……. so I can’t use it for hunting and also single layer, designed for the extreme dry cold of the poles, not wet temperate forests. When hunting we spend hours hiking into positions on the mountain up to 1500m, then 4 hours or more standing still in the freezing cold and all weathers. I love it but I’m often wet and cold!

Hence my need for a proper hunting and all weather smock and why I’m looking at your products. Your smocks look perfect for me. I’m also tall and often need slightly longer arm lengths so love that you can offer changes sometimes.

My ideal smock: has to be the Cruachan Double Ventile, total comfort in all weather I reckon!

I’d love to wear your kit and hopefully be an ambassador for your company. I’d be happy to blog about it. At the moment though I just can’t afford one, so thanks for reading and fingers crossed :-)

You can see more of what we are trying to do at:

Our blog:

Twitter @lataillede

Hilltrek Outdoor Clothing