V7

What else could there be for the last of the V week of favourite things but a V8 nearly as old as me? You know what’s the best thing about it all, I didn’t get close to covering all my favourite things this week, there’s just too many good things out there and there’s new arrivals all the time. Talking of which, on here tomorrow morning, an exclusive product launch thing, hard to explain. Anyway, it’s just in time for winter whatever it is.

That’s Loch Lomond you know, that poor lassie’s freezin’. 

Berghaus Ilam Down Jacket – First Look

I caught up with Berghaus recently and it turns out there’s lots going on. I’ll be looking at some stuff over the next wee while and first up is the new Ilam lightweight down jacket.
It came in just in time for the Bivy trip, so I’ve got a some first impressions and a quick look at the features.

The big talking point is the down fill and I’m going to quote the blurb here, now there’s a first;
Hydrophobic down offers the natural benefits of down, such as superior warmth to weight ratio, compressibility and resilience, enhanced by an innovative water resistant treatment applied directly to the down.  This down maintains more of its loft in damp conditions, takes up less water, and dries and recovers loft more quickly, leading to notably enhanced performance in damp conditions.
This all sounds good to me, and others have done similar, but I know the natural reaction has been to naysay it which is stupid without using it. My only worry is that any treatment on the down will limit its natural spring-back ability over the long term, that’s something we’ll have to just wait and see about, right now those little baffles are lofting away just fine after being compressed to death for several days. I er, forgot to unpack it when we came back…

It’s a MtnHaus design team jacket and is part of the revamped Extrem range (including nice new logo), Berghaus’ top-end tech kit collection. As such it’s got a slim cut, only the features you actually need and jazz colour schemes.
The fit is brilliant, over a base or a base and light midlayer the Ilam size large sits just right on me, close but not tight so the mini down baffles are allowed to loft and don’t get squashed flat. The baffles use a simplified version of the body mapping from the Ramche, it’s beefier sibling, you can see below the square baffles on the front and the smaller chevron-ed baffle under the arms and down the body side. It’s to maximise heat in some areas without cooking you in an active situation. As a concept it sits right with me, A light insulated jacket and a down vest have been a long term favourite for me, so going in that direction in a single jacket is fine.
It’s a light jacket, 336g for my sample large, great for packing away (if you check out the bivy trip a few posts below you’lll see the mountain man bag I’m carrying, the Ilam is in it!) and it does seem warm when you pull it on, it was cold enough at the bivy for it to be appreciated fully and its low bulk means a down vest slips over it for a winter boost.

There’s two handwarmer pockets with hidden zips which put your hands behind the down, the pullers are tiny and gloss finished, a nightmare with gloves, I’m putting some cord on there. The pockets sit at a nice height, not too low or too high and there’s another internal chest pocket as well.
The hood and cuffs are lycra bound with the hood having no extra adjustment. I’ve had hoods like this before, but Berghaus have made a better job of it. On my head at least, the hood does move with the head when the jacket’s zipped up, not all the way, but I have to be looking directly over my shoulder before I’m looking at the inside of the hood as well. Even better with a hat or a Buff as the hood clings a bit more.
The hem has a simple cordlock adjuster which runs through the nicely dropped tail, the main zip has a fleece lined garage and a stiffened storm flap to keep the draughts out and stop any snagging.

The fabric is Pertex Quantum GL which is light and silky soft. It takes the bright colours very well and it’s shiny too which gives the Ilam a wonderful retro look, but more importantly it’s a brilliant fabric, drying time and compressibility are excellent and its abrasion resistance is better than you’d expect.

It’s early days yet, but the Ilam has certainly impressed at camp and elsewhere so far. It’s pretty, but mine’s already got some dirt on it and it didn’t cry, so we’re good to go.
Wee baffles I already know are fine, lightweight down is great, add water resistance and are we threatening synthetics?

 Updates on the Ilam as we go.

V6

Brian has a thing for animals, he seems to attract them, or it that he’s attracted to them? Hard to say, but there was some wildlife on the bivy, all heading his way. We swapped the camera a few times to catch it, as happened on photies in the bigger story below, which I hope is obvious. I always forget to mention that stuff.

Heard often in the night were ptarmigan, heard and seen often were ravens, but easier to capture were the mini beasts around camp of which they were many. These big beetles were everywhere, I’m sure we both must have been intimate with one or two in the night, now I think about it, my ear has been itchy all week.

My favourite has to be the sheep below which has been dieting hard. It was wearing it’s own scalp as a hat. A phrase you don’t hear spoken outside of slasher/horror movies very often.
My camera also seems to have developed a grainy black and white mode, its the one next to my regular Intelligent Auto. I keep selecting it by accident, but I like it, the two colour shots of the sheep are rubbish so by day two of the trip I was using it on purpose. There’s a sort of a blue mode if you turn the dial the other way, but that looks rubbish.

Disnae on Ice

I always wonder of folk outside of Glasgow get my misspelling of Disney? Anyway, were at Disney on Ice last night. Holly, her two pals, the three mums, Holly’s granny and er, me.
I didn’t know quite what to expect, other than the gauntlet of merchandising on the way to our seats, but it’s a brilliant show. It’s slick, pretty well performed my most and exceptionally performed by a few. Tinkerbell was excellent and a crowd favourite, but for me Captain Hook (photie stolen from the promoters website, I wish I’d taken my camera) stole the show. Whoever was in the costume was on top form with effortless skating which gave them time and space to properly bring life to the character with lovely movement and they even managed to articulate through a full-face mask so that they seemed to be actually speaking the pre-recorded words. Just fantastic, could have watching him or her for hours. Hey, there were lots of girls with stuck-on beards playing pirates, so who’s to say.
Lots of great props, a giant crocodile, a giant Ursula from The little Mermaid, flying characters, a spaceship with skating aliens and some poor sod skating on all fours as that warthog thing from the Lion King.

A highly recommended two hours of entertainment, being a dad certainly exposes you to the unexpected. Also, our tickets were £13 each and were in a great spot, pays to search for returned kids groups etc through agencies.

It was late when we left…

We’d been planning this all week and still it was mid afternoon when we were avoiding the potholes on the northbound A82. Part of the trouble was stopping at Greggs in Dumbarton for supplies, including a free cuppa for me as my loyalty card had a full complement of stamps. Then we stopped at the Glen Coe cafe to look at the map and “plan” and then we went into the rather fine Ballachulish Visitor Centre where cuppas were again explored. By the time we slung our packs on were were so full of caffeine and dairy we didn’y know whether to have a heart attack or a sleep.

It was still bright, warm too, it was baselyer and rolled up sleeves weather. It’s a lovely wee village Ballachulish, the school has low fences and the nursery toys lie safe in their garden. Life should be like that for everyone.
We missed the cut off point and clambered over a wall and the fence on top of it. It was easy for me, but Brian has his legs, and his legs are short. We have both known this for years, but I never miss an opportunity to exploit it for comedy effect.

It’s just fields at first, but what a backdrop, Glen Coe behind, the Mamores ever more visible and a brown heather slope streaked with white scree ahead. It looked benign enough, certainly didn’t look steep, but by the time we were clinging onto tufts of foliage with both hands with sweat dripping off out noses we realised that we’d misjudged the situation. It was hellish, the highly mobile scree had been upsetting enough, but scrabbling up this hairy steepness was both exhausting and somewhat unnerving. Our fingers felt like they’d been scoured by sandpaper the heather is so abrasive, blood had been drawn, and the wide rounded top on Beinn Bhan was as welcome a sight as I’ve ever seen.

 

We’d decided to bivy as one of the tops was where we wanted to be and the ridges here are too narrow for a tent, but were were burst, really, after only 500m of ascent. We scanned the ground ahead, we’d lucked out with the bivy bags, this was tent unfriendly territory with a mix of bare rock and very broken stony ground. After a few minutes we picked a spot and it was just perfect.
We could see tomorrow’s summits, right down the length of Glen Coe, the waves of peaks to the north and across to Ardgour where the sun was starting to sink. There’s something special about the mix of mountain and sea when you camp near the coast, it all seems grander somehow, our 550m campsite didn’t seem to fall short at all.

Setting up was easy we both pitched ourselves for easy cooking and we were sheltered from the light wind as we were in a little groove between rises in the tumbling rocks. Stoves burned as warm layers were pulled on and legs slipped into sleeping bags. Hot food raised our spirits and as darkness fell we found ourselves warm and content. No midges, not as cold as forecast, what could possibly go wrong? Nothing, and it didn’t.
We didn’t do a whole helluva lot, banter, a few photies and keeping warm in out bivys, sleep was the only thing that was on our agenda. There were a few meteorites, maybe stragglers from the previous shower, they burned brightly and then faded along with us.

I woke in the early hours to see a clear sky bursting with stars, an ark of white crossing from horizon to horizon right above my head. I lay there for a while, fished out my iPod and listened to music that shouldn’t fit such a serene scene but did. A cold breeze tickled at my nose and cheeks, but I was warm from toe to core and I just slipped a little deeper in to my sleeping bag where sleep claimed me once more.

Cool blues and greys were split by a band of deep orange. Morning was coming, must stay awake to see the sunrise… The clouds were tinged with orange and gold, the sun sat low beyond Rannoch, ready to start the day, an hour had passed.
“Brian, you awake?”
“Mmmmmm?”
“Stick your head out”
He’d nearly slept through a sunrise over an inversion at a 900m camp a few years back, I wasn’t taking any chances.
We both sat up, pulled on all our warm layers once again and lit the stoves as the day silently uncoiled around us. Holy shit, I’ve missed this stuff.

It was glorious. The sun rose at the end of Glen Coe and worked its way through the broken cloud so we had patches of warm light and darkness until the light lost its colour and the day was up on its feet and running at its usual pace.
We talked about our plans, our route and decided to just relax for a while and think about it. We woke up again at 1120. Bloody hell. Cuppa and packing to leave was next, we decided to go light and leave camp where it was, we’d worry about how to get back later. Brian had an empty compressed back and I had my mountain man-bag over my shoulder, I’m saying I won the style battle there.

It was windy and cold, we had our shells on, but it was bright and we had clear views. It got warmer as we left the ridge for a while to zigzag onto Sgorr Bhan and we met a couple of fellas taking a similarly unusual route to ourselves. Friendly and chatty, nice to get that, on the more popular hills you’re as likely to get some stony faced bastard as you are someone to shoot the breeze with.
It’s a lovely little top, just a pile of stones and I remember sitting here around 20 years ago. We scrambled up the NE ridge that time and caught up with a group of folks who also stopped at the little summit. I asked if anyone wanted a cuppa and they all send no, I undid my flask and poured a coffee which put a little cloud of lovely cafe aroma around the group and everbody’s face fell. I’ve rarely been to hills without a cuppa since.

 

 

Sgorr Dearg isn’t so far away but it’s little Sgorr a’ Choise to the left that drew my eye. Long ridge, little pointy summit, looks lovely and I’ve never climbed it. The list gets longer. I’ve never said how many Munro’s and Corbetts etc I’ve climbed, folk are to ready to define or be defined by these numbers and I’m not playing, and truth be told I’m not exactly sure anyway. Let’s just say hundreds, and the good news is that I’ve still got peaks to climb and places to visit, I’ve got a brilliant to-do list.
Don’t let experience be confused with enjoyment or enthusiasm. You can have climbed just one Munro and be the happiest mountaineer in the land and you can also meet completers who are misery incarnate.

We met a bloke on the summit of Sgorr Dearg, he drove up that morning from down our way. Another friendly fella and we spent a while chatting which actually became vital to our mission. There were timber operations in the next coire, path diversions and temporary fencing. This was not good when you’re writing a route using the tracks. What to do…
“Brian, what do you think of that slope?”
“Ooh, doable?”
“Aye, c’mon”
We left our new pal and walked the north ridge to get another view of the slope below. Steep, pretty long, but it looked like fun and would take us past the pinnacles that lie below the summit.
We backtracked to a grassy notch and down we went.

It was indeed steep, but it was doable, and we slipped and laughed our way down it. There’s a ridge near the bottom with some small crags where we decided to take to the dry bed of a burn which was filled with scree. This wasn’t the best idea in reflection as it was like a chute filled with marbles, we clung to the rocky edges, but still surfed down the gully on scree that ran like ball bearings down a drain pipe. At one point we got stuck and I found myself standing on Brian’s back to get to the next bit. This was after his ankle took a direct hit from a rock I sent his way. Bless him.
We did pass the crag band and found a perfect scree run from there to the bottom of the coire. Funny as hell, all the way.

Do folk visit this coire? I don’t think so, but it’s a cracking place, great to camp in too, room for tents. We were winging it, there were plenty of ways out, but finding one not on scree, steep ground or involving a lot of re-ascent was the trick. Harvey maps bless them know the score, the little scraps of track they include are vital for times like this, scraps evolve and not much before the treeline a path emerges on the edge of a line of crags which took us on an almost level line to the ridge where the bivy bags were. Brilliant.
Soups, the last of the oatcakes and a sit down in the sunshine. We were absolutely contented, the climb had been fun and the descent and exploration had been a complete joy.

We lifted lighter packs for the descent, we had to carry all our water up which had been emotional, and set off to find the track which is on the map and we’d missed on the way up, sending us up that bloody heather horror. The path is there, right on the end of the ridge, and the views are wonderful as you’re right above the loch. I’m kinda glad we missed it, it made it all the better on the way down. The path curves back on itself and across the heather, right to where we started our climb 24hrs before. How the hell we missed it I’ll never know.

Being back on tarmac wasn’t so much fun, but a detour to see the old Ballachulish Station engine shed was a nice last little excursion before we headed south. The sun was setting, we were a little tired and hungry, there was only one option.
Been too long since I sat in the Real Food Cafe with a pint of coffee and dinner. I was recharged, revitalised and ready for the drive home.

Home was something special. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the reception I got from Holly who’d stayed awake to see me, or the reaction she had to her presents, a little sprig of holly and a pure white stone.

Today is the very day I first posted something on this blog five years ago. It has brought me joy recording and sharing it all over those years and there’s no better post to go up today than this one.

Here’s to all my favourite things.

Trakke

I got a tweet from a friend (thanks Johnny) with a link which made me raise both eyebrows, yes, not just one. So, one thing led to another and I was with the people from the link today.

A photie of a rucksack and a sewing machine, did I fly to China on a whim? No, I drove up the road to Glasgow to meet the guys at Trakke who make packs and courier bags in their workshop from materials sourced almost entirely locally or from the UK.

It was a mix of new and old, I see mountaineering heritage in the designs of a young business run with skill and enthusiasm in a place rich in industrial history. The Krukke pack is like a Whillans Alpiniste for the 21st Century, the same mix of then and now, the materials, the features, the simplicity, I was turning a sample over in my hands grinning from ear to ear.
The guys are making me up a test sample, in purple, and I’m going get out there and use it, pretty soon with an ice axe and crampons attached to it I hope.

I’ll visit the workshop while the pack’s being put together in a couple of weeks or so and come back with the full story about the whole thing when I’ve got the pack home.
It’s not lost on me that Karrimor, Mountain Equipment and Berghaus started this way and its a joy to see gear being made, not product, and there is a difference. More soon.

V5

Collectability and rarity ruins everything. As I said to the folks in the shop when I had one of my old guitars in for a little bit of work last month “When I bought this it was second hand, now it’s vintage”. 20 years ago I threw myself into a drum kit wearing it (it sounded great), I might think twice about that now, or at least calculate how many mortgage payments I could make selling it before deciding if the amusement was worth it.
Below is a ’58 Flying V, super rare, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and leaning on a tree in my garden. Or not, it was £140 on ebay.
It’s an Epiphone reissue made in China to an average-to-reasonable standard, and as such is an “official” version of the ’58 V as original manufacturer Gibson is Epiphone’s parent company.

It’s been customised quite a bit, all the black plastic I had from another long broken V and it fitted just nice with a little trimming. The big V shaped tailpiece was in the wrong place so I moved it and routed the body underneath so the strings could still reach the ferrules at the back (the strings anchor on the back of the body), the truss rod cover is now the proper tw0-hole version and there’s a tacky plastic silver Gibson logo on the headstock, just like the original.
It probably looks more like the ’83 Heritage Reissue Gibson made when they first tried to make accurate reproductions of their classics, but what the hell, it’s a flying V in a tuxedo, what’s not to like?

It’s cheap, it’s a fake, so why bother? Because it’s a joy to play, that’s why. It hangs in perfect balance with the front strap button moved to the back, the neck is chunky but comfortable and the original pickups which I had been ready to ditch sound great, medium to hot output with a warm fuzziness and fat bottom that I’m sure most folk will hate. I’ve found myself taking this into the studio ahead of far “better” guitars for months now. It just makes me glad.

Price, brand, cache, age and origin, none of it really matters. If you like it you like it and don’t let anyone tell you can’t have fun because their thing has more zeros on its price tag.
And you know that’s not just guitars I’m talking about.

V4

Joycee is adjusting to her new life as a sole trader, that is, no wages and your time is your own. It means that we get to hang out during the day when we work together on some stuff as I’m her technical advisor and she’s been a welcome extra set of hands on some of my contracts. It’s all good. By the way, although I’m helping with technical and engineering aspects of her projects with that fancy title, when she’s not looking, in my mind I’m actually working for UNIT and I’m actually the scientific advisor. She looks at me funny when I reply to a summons with “What is it now Brigadier?”

Also we get opportunities for cuppas, both in cafes and sitting in the motor which as anyone who has spent time with me will know immediately becomes a stakeout scenario where passers-by are suspects with back-stories and every opening door sets alarm bells ringing and engines revving.
Last week we happened on one cafe in the city centre down a back street near such wonderful shops as Strungout Guitars, Record Fayre and Mr Benn. It’s decor was red and black, the cakes were huge, and I mean that, like tractor tyres covered on icing and fruit. In the back the cakemaster beats these monsters into reality and the occupants of the eclectic furniture selection hoover them all up. A delightful place, reasonably priced and home to all, students, old ladies in hunting pairs, mums with kids and layabouts like ourselves.
It’s called Once Upon a Tart. And, that’s where the trouble begins.

I can’t remember the name, it’s dead unusual, but still I have nothing to hold the words for some reason. I keep bringing it up in conversation “We had these cakes, you wouldn’t believe this, it’s called… er…” It’s really annoying, not once have I successfully recalled the name of the place when enthusing about its wares. I look like a cake deprived/depraved stupid or like I’ve had my batteries pulled out. Not good.
So, I endeavoured to create a mental picture of the name, something to conjure up the words instantly with just a single thought to restore my friend’s and family’s confidence in my mental faculties. It’s tried and tested system, I sighed with relief, it’s a minor thing really, but still frustrating.

Went to see my folks and got to chatting over a cuppa. “Oh, wait till I tell you this, you should go with Jimmy or come with us, the cakes will knock you flat, it’s decorated like something out of a fairy tale…”
“Oh” says Mother “What’s it called?”
I snapped into mental sprint mode, I retrieved the file, scanned it for the image and confidently issued the answer with a smile…
“It’s called Woke up with a Hooker

 

Haglöfs 2012 Kit Review #4 – Gram Comp 25

478g isn’t much for a 25litre adventure-ready pack, six months of use is bound to show if anything’s missing I’d think?

Haglöfs Gram Comp 25 is part of a new range of multisport packs that came out for summer this year designed for adventure racers and mountain marathoners. There’s a more regular. slightly beefier built Gram 25 and several smaller packs with zipped access. The Gram Comp 25 has the classic lines and a layout that will be familiar as it’s one of many evolutions of the original KIMMSac that got the basics right all those years ago. Race packs make great lightweight general use packs as long as they’re not too basic, there’s a sweet spot of weight versus functionality in there.
My sample is a preproduction model but I’ve had it beside a regular shop version and it’s just the same as far as I can see, so let’s talk features, for they are many.

The basics are a single main compartment and a single-buckle lid. There’s a proper harness, various storage options and good detailing. The back system is basic with lightly padded mesh at the contact points and nothing inside. A hydration bladder or a sitmat slipped into the hydration sleeve works fine if you need padding, even a stove windshield and map worked for me. Otherwise, you’ll need careful packing to keep sharp and annoying edges and corners away from your back.
The hip fins have a similar ligh padding and mesh and  are big giving a good stable contact point which hold the pack well empty or full. They also mold nicely to you and are low profile when the pockets are empty.
The shoulder straps have thicker foam inside which has holes cut for ventilation and flexibility and lycra edging binding. There’s a yoke-style attachment which brings the pack in close and means it sits low at the top as well, so it clears a bike helmet no problem.

Storage is good. The front panel has a bungee web on it with a little loop to catch the plastic hook on the end, which as you might see above, I broke as it’s hanging from the loop all by itself. It’s an easy fix, I just forgot to do it. And, hey, maybe I won’t bother. I added a couple of ice axe/pole attachments as I was using it last winter and they were fine with my lightweight axes, no sign of stitching being strained.
The side bottle pockets are big and I find them an easy reach as the pack sits quite low. Their bungee drawcords are a wee touch of genius, you pull the cord end to tighten them and pull the little hypalon tab to slacken. Simple and easy.
The hip fins have good sized mesh pockets with a little stretch and gusseting to give them some empty volume. There’s also a velcro closured expansion flap (at the left side below), which, while it allows extra volume, it wants to pull the zip open when the velcro is detached ad the pocket’s stuffed and it seems a bit of a faff anyway, I’d just have something very stretchy in there instead.

The shot above shows the low sitting position. It looks empty as I’ve got my fleece and crampons on, but there is all my safety gear, a down jacket, pot/stove and the like in there.
But, with everything else in there, axe attached etc the pack doesn’t slip down any, the fabric is very light but the pack has a good structure and doesn’t deform. It all makes it very usable, and indeed comfortable.

Above is the entrance to the hydration sleeve which has various attachment points for bladders. There’s also the little zipped pocket you can see which hangs loose and is dead handy for wallet and car keys or medical kit. You can see the reinforced drawcord entry point on the main closure too, a sensible detail.
Below shows the exit points for the hydration tube and the elastic loops for the tube down the straps as well. To the right is the lid pocket. This is small and closes with a velcro patch and it needs to be bigger and not close with a velcro patch. The mesh has next to no stretch, so try and cram stuff in there and the velcro either won’t catch or pop open on the move. Stretchier mesh and a bigger velcro patch might fix it, but it does need a fix so it’s more usable.

The waistbelt is narrow webbing with a reverse pull adjustment which works very well. It’s stable and very comfortable and easier to adjust than a regular centre buckle.
Below shows the chest strap which has both a whistle buckle and an elastic section for comfort and enough slack for you to do blow your house down deep breaths. The chest strap’s on there with regular webbing  as well, no sliders or fancy stuff.
The bottle pocket is brilliant, very stable and the velcro tabs allow for enough adjustment to insert big bottles and I mostly use a Nathan bottle with the straw in it which means I can drink straight out of the bottle without removing it. It sits well away from my face as well as you’ll see below. The weight of a full bottle hasn’t caused me any issues on foot at all, but it doesn’t work on the bike as you’d expect, the bottle sits just fine in the side pocket instead.
Also in there is a Gram Pouch which is a separate accessory (you can get the bottle pocket separately too), it’s 20g and handy for your glasses. There’s a bigger pouch available as well. Extra accessible storage is always a good move, I like chest pouches, and small strap-mounted pouches like these don’t sweat up the front of your torso.

The main body of the pack is a silky smooth nylon. It’s in good nick so far, it’s just absorbed a bit of dirt which is fine by me. It is very light, but it is also very functional despite a couple of niggles, mainly the lid pocket.
In saying that, it’s still been my first choice pack for almost anything I’ve done since it came in for test, I just store more stuff inside the main compartment instead of the lid pocket and basically, the Gram is just so damned comfy. 
Haglöfs have got this one almost spot on at the first attempt, it’s a brilliant pack to use, and I will continue to do so gladly. A tweak or two and it could be perfect. I said at the start there’s a sweet spot of weight versus functionality, the Gram’s got one foot over the line there I think.

V3

All my favourite stuff this week. It’s the US music paper advert for Sabbath’s Vol4 album (40 years old today), hence the Warner Bros logo rather than the Vertigo one.

It’s such an iconic image, even though it’s actually a bit strange. Ozzy had no upper jaw, it’s lower jaw then nose. It doesn’t even look like Ozzy if I’m honest, but what the hell, I love it.
I have so many t-shirts with this on it that when we were out the other day Joycee asked me “Have you got your pyjamas on?” To which my reply was “No, this is one of my daytime Vol4 shirts…” She went back about her business shaking her head.

…and then tomorrow’s dreams, become reality to me….

V2

Aye, that Roman Numeral is going to bloody handy this week. A week of V ahead. Plus a bivi on Beinn a Bheithir, Berghaus, Haglöfs, TNF, Paramo and more and to finish it all up in seven days, I’ll have an exclusive on something new from UK down gear heroes PHD.
Hey, there’s snow on the Ben, I’m back in the hills and there’s a waffle in the toaster just asking to get Nutella spread on it. 
Alright.

V

It seems like the proper way to start the week, I’ve now been putting these pages up for five years. While it’s never been an outdoor blog, it’s just my blog, the pages have always been full of outdoor stuff and all the other things that bring me joy. The view below from my bivi bag yesterday morning was nothing but joy, as was the company I was in, the music I listened to, the food I ate and the girls I came home to.
Is five years a lot for a blog? No idea, but I’m not anywhere near done talking pish and taking photies, so I’ll be here for a wee while yet.
And, thank you.

Ecstasy of Gold

Holly demands to hear this when we’re in the motor and this live version is awesome. Play it loud whilst standing up.
Been a quiet week on here I see, but not in reality. I’m taking notes and I’ll catch up next week.

Norlin’s Nightmare

A Gibson magazine supplement cover from the early 70’s. This is the world I want to live in.
Live in again I should say, just not be five years old.
Actually I liked being five in the early 70’s, Dave Edmonds’ I Hear You Knockin’ was my favourite song and the telly was great, so if I can just visit now and again that would be fine thanks.

Patent Applied For

I’m setting the alarm earlier and earlier , the plan being that if Holly’s ready to go at half eight we can walk to school. Today after driving there somewhat hurriedly I got her to the back of her class line in the playground just as they were filing in the door at five past nine.
It’s a lovely walk there and back, we pass chestnut trees so we can collect chessies sometime soon, we can go by the canal or the river as mood or weather dictates, but it’s beginning to look like we’ll have to either have get dressed the night before and sleep on the couch or just don’t go to bed at all if we want to get out and the apparently unassailable heights of 0830.

Haglöfs 2012 Winter Kit Review #3 – Endo II Pull

What’s Haglöfs own description of the new Endo II Pull? “Anorak version of our popular Endo jacket“. Anyone that actually calls an anorak and anorak is okay in my book.

I reviewed the jacket version a while back here and the anorak version is very similar. At 304g for my pre-production size large it shaves off 18g from the jacket and the construction is a little different.
Pull-ons are good, I like the clean front and lack of faff. Sure you’ve got to move yourself around slightly more to take it on and off, but if you’re using that excuse to buy a full zip then I think your next stop should be the physio. Or couch.
Mind you, the Endo is slim fit and with it being a pull-on, if you’re not already Endo shaped, you’re going to be articulating mild frustration in the manner of a middle aged wifie on all fours trying to fish out a gobstopper that’s rolled under the couch, ie “Humph!”
Once it’s on it’s a joy though, there’s completely free movement and no excess fabric or features, it’s minimalism done right. I’ve sang the praises of Gore-Tex’s Active Shell before and it’s as good as ever here, married to a design that is kinda what the fabric was originally intended for. We’re seeing it creep into ever more mainstream jackets which will be interesting to see what happens if punters are expecting regular durability from a lightweight performance fabric.

The Endo Pull’s feature are what makes it so usable. I’ve had the Endo in high winds, snow and rain and it was no less protective than a jacket weighing more than twice as much. The hood, while still light, has face drawcords, external crown adjustment and a stiffened peak. It’s a mountain hood, shields your eyes and you can tuck your chin in when it’s zipped right up.

The same genius cuffs carry over from the jacket version, softshell palms and thumbloops. Cool weather protection of justice. The same non-membrane softshell fabric makes up the external zipped pocket, which being stretchy can take a good load of bits and pieces and of course avoids a sweaty patch on your baselayers by not hindering the breathability with a double layer of shell fabric.
That carries on through the Endo, even more so than on the jacket, lots of fabric and not so many seams making this as breathable all over as possible. I know they tried the same trick with the Oz and Ozo, but it’s better here. A little extra weight makes this a better smock.

A lot of what I’ve got to say would just be repeating the jacket review and what I’ve found since has just reinforced my opinions on the Endo design. I know fit affects my opinion here, the cut of the Endo Pull is spot-on for me, slim with just enough room for an equally slim midlayer under it. This makes all your fabrics work well and it’s been a remarkably dry experience sweating up wintry slopes in the Endo.
I know there’s always a doubt about how much use the Active Shell will take. My original Endo Jacket has been hammered, I had in on last week and there’s areas of the inner scrim have been worn away, it’s as soft as a 1970’s Black Sabbath tour shirt you just bought on ebay, but it’s still breathing and not letting the water in. Haglöfs use the polyamide outer fabric that others are now starting to use, maybe these thing do make a difference?

I loved the jacket and the Pull has everything the jacket has except half a zip. In use the Pull sits neater at the front without the zip, might be a height thing, but all smocks sit neater I think.
It’s fit and forget when you wear it, it’s pack and forget when you don’t. It really is one of those rare bits of kit where I wouldn’t change a single thing. Well, maybe they they could do some other colours…

0204

We’d actually got to bed early, but that was tempting fate, taunting the gods, putting karma on the barbecue.
There was a crash and a screech and clatter. A man was shouting, a crowd was roaring at his back, we both propped ourselves up on our elbows letting cool air into the duvet which woke us up even more. More clattering, more shouting and roaring but the voice was a little easier to understand, assisted the alarming loudness …Andy Murray…crrr…ssshhhhhh…crowd roars…winner…Bang! The van driver slammed the door behind him cutting the volume to nearly nothing.
It was 0204. As nice as it was for a Scotsman to win big in the colonies, I don’t think that Morton’s Bakery should fit PA systems to their delivery vans to broadcast live sports to an audience which is uninvited, uninterested and sleeping.
I’m shortly going to down to the shop to order one of those rolls with bacon slung inside it, does that make a collaborator in antisocial behavior? I can live with it, I’ve seen worse.