Go System Apollo Ti

Oh, I hope this good. In for test, the new Apollo Ti from Go System.

The link above is the to regular Apollo, the Ti version is much lighter at 198g, helped by the titanium construction and the absence of a piezo ignition.
A remote canister stove is the way to go in winter and the ingredients are all here in the Apollo. A wide base made of legs which fold away in a lovely fashion, and it folds small enough to fit inside my 900ml Evernew titanium pot with room for a gas, firesteel and Buff. The pot supports are big and grippy, it does feel quite secure although the feet are quite small so placement will be handles with caution. The big burner suits the 900ml pot very well and it has a preheat coil to evaporate liquid fuel, so your gas canister will work upside down too. The flexi is a decent length so the canister will be clear of the stove and shouldn’t interfere with a windshield.
The control is knurled metal and feels smooth in operation, it’s quite small but it should be okay with gloves.

The fact that it goes inside my winter pot is great news, my packsize isn’t expanding beyond that when I carry a canister-top stove, and I won’t feel that extra 100g.
I hope it’s a good performer as well, I had a bad experience last winter with the MSR Windpro so you’ll hear me scream anywhere in the UK if this fails me on a frozen high camp.
Oh, there’ll be more.

Victorinox Forester One Hand

What’s my most-used bit of outdoor kit? That’s easy, it’s a Victorinox Rucksack. It goes everywhere with me at work along with a small shifting spanner, an electrical tester screwdriver and a Petzl e+lite. It’s amazing how many jobs I go to and I can fix it with just the contents of my pocket.
So when the opportunity to test some Victorinox kit came up, I immediately looked for something along the same lines, and the new Forester One Hand was spot-on.

The tools are similar, but there’s lots of differences. The body on the Forester is a blend of different materials, grippy softer rubber at the edges and patched on the faces with a more regular hard plastic making up the faces. Should hit the floor safer and stay in a wet hand better too I hope.
The tools are all genuinely useful ones, only the corkscrew gathers a little dust with me. The saw blade is genius, mine is white with plasterboard dust, and it’s strong too, I regularly saw wood with it, notching floor or skirting boards with it. It’s not there for show, it’s a real blade, its small size means it heats up, so as long as you’re patient you’re fine.
The big locking blade on the Forester is different, it’s a one-handed affair, that big eye lets you open it in your palm with thumb and forefinger. Closing is a careful two-handed operation, the locking mechanism is a sprung leaf which you hold clear to close the blade.
The reamer and screwdrivers all work, fit the screws they’re supposed to and are tough. I’ll say it again, it’s a real tool, not something you get in your Christmas stocking that you keep in a drawer.

The Forester doensn’t have the little tweasers and tooth pick hidden in the handle that I’m used to, but I can live with that if the design has the same longevity as the Rucksack.
As I’ve got some wood burning stoves in for test (more later) this is going out to play as well as to work. I’ll be back.

Stanley Vacuum Bottle

It’s a flask surely? No, it’s a Stanley Vacuum bottle.

I did wonder about this one, I actually wanted to test Stanley’s new stainless water bottle with the leak-proof sports cap, but none were available, so with a shrug I went for this instead. I took out out on the Ben Vane trip last week and now I know why it’s not a flask.
Flasks are well insulated, when you unscrew them and look inside, the smaller ones are usually only a little wider than the neck, all that space is the vaccum er, “filled” gap. On the Stanley bottle, the vacuum gap is much less, closer to my Snow Peak twin-wall titanium mug than a regular flask. This does a few things, the overall size looks like a regular mini-flask, but the capacity is much greater at 472ml, but it will cool quicker with less of a gap to the outside world. In the freezing temperatures last Sunday I got hot cuppas four hours after filling it.
I reckon it’s a good trade off for day trips, more beverage is no hardship. And whether you believe Stanley’s 6-hour hot cuppas deadline or my own 4-hour winter test result, it’s plenty I think, any further out than that I’ll be packing the stove anyway.
A wee happy accident this one, a nice bit of kit.

Bridgedale X-Hale TrailBlaze

In for test is an update of something that’s already been on my feet the past few years, Bridgedale X-Hale TrailBlaze multisport socks.

When the X-Hales and the Ventums came out I thought they were a real step-up (hmm…) from Bridgedale, zoned fabrics, minimal padding, an asymmetric fit on the Ventums, everything a traditional sock isn’t in fact. They proved keepers and my sock drawer is full of new and vintage models of both styles.
The new TrailBlazes are 31% merino with a nylon/polypropylene mix making up the rest, with 1% lycra to keep the fit and shape in good order. They’re a little thicker than the other X-Hales and a good height at the ankle for wearing with mids.
These’ll be fine for lower level winter stuff, good in the new waterproof bike shoes as well I dare say.
Bridgedale tweaked their fit a good while back, and as a size 9 I had to start taking the mediums (up to 8.5) which were a nice snug fit, that way the sock wouldn’t stretch too much in use. I’ll report back on whether the new models sizing is the same and how they do in general. No surprises I hope, I hate when they mess with a good formula.

New Harvey Maps, Suilven and Southern Highlands

Harvey have a couple of new Scottish maps, the Suilven SuperWalker and the Southern Highlands British Mountain Map.

The Suilven SuperWalker map made it just in time for the recent Assynt backpack and it was interesting comparing it the official LAMM map we had, which is a mix of 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 OS mapping.
The Superwalker is a great map, very detailed and accurate, and the Suilven tag is a little misleading, it’s got most of the peaks on either side of the road from Knockan to a little past Inchnadamph. It’s good for a backpack in the area as the terrain between the peaks is full of detail, 1:25,000 can make for a busy map, but I’ve grown to like the use of colours and bold/regular contours, it’s quick to read on the move.

I was overjoyed a few months back when Harvey said they were working on the Southern Highlands British Mountain Map. It’s my home hills after all, and it came in just after last Sunday’s trip to Ben Vane. Ach.
The BMM format, the look of it, and 1:40,000 scale is spot on, easy on the eye but full of detail while still showing a big area.
It’s a good map, the best I’ve seen of these hills, the area covered includes Ben Lomond, ArrocharAlps, the Lui foursome, Glen Falloch with added areas on the back for Ben Cruachan and the Loch Earn pair of Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin. On the back is also the usual wealth of information, geological, climbing crags, usful contacts and general mountain info, and it weighs 84g, which is nothing for a waterproof map.
I like the old-school looks of the mapping, it has a touch of humanity about it which makes it feel accessible, more a novel than a text book? But don’t doubt it’s accuracy and performance as a tool, it’ll be with me on any trip within it’s margins. Magic.

And yes, that’s one of my photies on the front of the Southern Highlands map. I’m very pleased indeed to be representing the area on this map, both as an outdoor bloke and as a Macfarlane.

Gear Diary

I’m getting there with the test kit first-looks, and there’s some more bits and pieces that have come in. New brands which is always nice and some unusual items in there too.
But first, a quick look at some of the kit that got it’s first taste of winter last Sunday.

Haglöfs Col Pant
These were great, totally annonymous, and that’s a good thing. The fabric was great against my bare skin (no longjons), no hair pulling or clamminess. The range of movement is all I need, some high-lift scrambling was no problem and the inner gaiters stayed put all day, even without hooks. But they’re still going on.
I used that rear pocket all the time and didn’t miss the thigh pocket that the fuller-featured Omni’s have, or the leg vents for that matter. I like these a lot, the plain looks have grown on me too, maybe inconspicuous is good?
Berghaus Mountain AQ™2 Hardshell Gloves
These went on as we left the summit, my fingers were frozen. No joke at all, the tears were welling up as I tried to adjust the camera with burning fingertips. I pulled the AQ2’s over my liners and the warmth came back as I walked. Happier, I pulled off thr right glove to take a shot of the cloud pouring over Binnein an Fhidhleir. The glove hung from my wrist by the elastic cord. Oh, I like that.
They’re very wearable, definitely warm and pack surprisingly small, as I learned when I couldn’t find the buggers in my pack. Not the most dextrous of fingertips, the camera controls were a no-go, but for everything else from cord-locks and zips upwards, it’s workable.
Rab Infinity Down Jacket
I pulled this on at a rest stop and then again on the summit. It’s warm, have no doubt. It’s also more than a rest-stop pull-on, it was so cold we set off wearing our insulation and the Infinity works as a mountain jacket. It’s just long enough to stay inside a pack hipbelt, the pockets stay usable (I kept my hands in them quiet a lot) and the range of movement is perfect. The hood is a good fit on me, I had a beanie and a microfleece on at times and it fitted over those and a bare head. The lycra is enough the keep the hood on your head and seal the heat in.
The stitch-through construction only threw up one item for consideration, at the back of the underarm I felt a coolness when walking at an angle where the wind was hitting it dead-on when I was wearing my pack. So, given the circumstances of that I’m confident in the Infinity as winter insulation.  It’s now in the go-to rack.
Keen Delta
Out of the box in the carpark and onto my feet and the hill. I never had a single issue with rubbing, squeezing or chaffing. My feet got a little hot and tired once we were marching on the tarmac, but off-road they were issue-free.
Grip was good for the most part, I slipped on wet rock a couple of times on the way up, suddenly-letting-go moments too and on the ice I was a little unsteady so put my Hillsound Trail Crampons on. After that I was velcroed to the hill.
On mixed conditions they’ve got their weak spots, but these’ll great once the snow level dips and the cover is more consistent.
Haglöfs Juniper Hood
Lets start positive here. It’s a great fit, slim without restriction and a joy to be mobile in. The fabric is a cracker, I had blooms of condensation on the outside and a bone dry inner surface. The hood is so handy, up and down for quick temperature adjustment.
The pockets are atrocious. Too low-set to be effective handwarmers or storage compartments and too small to be effective handwarmers or storage compartments. The zips stick too as the fabric is super-stretchy and the zips are quite stiff. The bottom of the pockets are level with the bottom of the zips too, so if your packless at camp anything stowed in there can easily fall out.
I’m going to cut them out and sew up the gaps, then it’s a perfect mountain hoody.
The North Face Hybrid Base layers
Finally got cold enough weather to use this and I have been immediately impressed. I sweated all the way up and much of the way down, and many hours later there was still no offensive smell. I stayed dry as well, only my back got damp against the plain Macpac Amp back system, and even then it dried quick with the pack off. The long torso stayed tucked in, the long arms meant no exposed wrists, the neck zip vented and the soft fabric was comfortable and a joy to be in all day.
I really like this, it’ll be a constant through winter and the leggings will be joining in shortly.

Berghaus Asgard Smock

This has been a talking point already, are they lying about the weight, what corners have they cut, is it really a Berghaus logo on there. Let’s see, in for test the Berghaus Asgard Smock from the top-end tech MtnHaus range.

The inspiration and design input for the smock are well covered already, but all that means nothing when you pull it on in the shop to see what the score is, it has to stand on it’s on two velcro adjustable cuffs.
Talking of which, it’s a lightweight smock with adjustable cuffs, no wrestling to tuck your gloves or mitts in here. The finish is nice too, slightly assymetric, the tabs don’t have velcro all the way to the end you you can actually grip them.
Neatness is the way elsewhere, the hem adjustment is tucked up with a little elastic loop, although you can let it hang for easy adjustment if you want. It only cinches in the back, to keep the front clean (it’s climbing derived remember), I’ve got no problem with that.
Moving up we have a very light and soft Gore-Tex ProShell, and what few seams there are are micro-taped. The elbows are articulated and there are under-arm gussets, this means when you lift an arm, both your arms even, the hem doesn’t budge and the cuffs don’t slide up your wrists. That’s great, but just by tweaking the form it’s been achieved with low bulk, no huge area of loose fabric to make up for sloppy design as is often the case.

Below is the only detail on the front, the zips. The main zip and the pocket zip are welded together, with a huge stiffened flap behind them. The premise being that any water gets inside it’ll run down and get captured in a little pocket at the bottom where it’ll then drip out of the holes you can see in the photies below, rather than soak into your other layers. The pocket is stretch mesh, so it would catch some of the moisture, but to be honest I’ve not had a lot of problems with these zips over the years, but I’ll be watching it anyway. The pocket is a decent size for wee bits and pieces, the stretch will allow stuffing to a degree, and it’s bonded on there on the inside, no stitching.

The hood is a proper hood, it’ll fit a helmet and  the bare head within it. The peak is wired and lightly stiffened, bg for good protection too. Although it has a big volume, this won’t be a tight-fit on a helmet, it cinches down well and will be great over a beanie or a Buff in a blizzard, and that cinching is done in a different way.
You’ll see in the photies above red and white drawcords coming out of the neck, the white pulls in the face aperture, the red does volume around the back of your head. No more reaching around and fumbling for an adjuster, just look down and pick a colour. They do take a bit of pulling as there’s a lot of bungee in there to stretch, but it works well. Both cords go through the same cord lock at eye level inside the hood, so slackening-off is done together to keep it simple.
Last up is the ProShell stuffsack with an adjuster and two belt/harness loops to keep it handy when your packless.

I’ll cut to the chase here, 290g for a size large. And I can’t see a single compromise to get the weight down, the arms are long, the body’s long, sure it’s a slim fit but it has to be for the users it’s aimed at. It’s designed to be pushed, and to let you move however you want. This is exactly where Berghaus should be, at the front.
We’ll be seeing lots of this over winter.

Hi-Tec Altitude IV WPi NT

Not often the packaging gets top billing is it? But it’s part of the story of the new Altitude IV WPi NT from Hi-Tec.

Hi-Tec are holding hands with the National Trust and they’ve brought out a range of boots for the family, kids, mens and wummins, all made to the same spec. That spec is concentrating on it’s environmental credentials which starts with the packaging. Recycled, recyclable material and if you look bvelow a fold out handle that actually feels tough enough to use to carry the boots home. 

The boots themselves are cut from leather which has reduced chrome content tanning (I covered this a while back in my ’09 innov_ex write-up, leather is a huge waste problem) which is the way forward if product quality can be maintained and the glues are water based.
The sole has 15% recycled rubber content, and you know, it doesn’t really matter what that content is as it won’t affect grip, but reduces the volume of new rubber used. Good call.
Recycled EVA is used in the sock liner and the midsole EVA is using an injection process which they say is making less waste. Also hidden in there is a recycled steel shank (yes, there are still steel shanks out there). As all the scrap I strip out at work eventually gets shipped to the far east for processing, I’m saying the shanks in these are made from something I hacksawed in times past.
The upper has the now familiar Ion Mask treatment, which does work very well, but as usual Hi-Tec cut the the baffles at the sides of the tongue way too low, so water will pour in if you dip into a burn or a bog above the fourth eyelet. It’s the single area that their boots trip up and I wish they would fix it.

I really like that fact that they took the kids boots as seriously as the adults, and I think the styling is probably about right for the market these are aimed at.
The sole tread pattern looks like a good one, the ankle cuff is low and very soft, the tongue is well padded, so these should be no hassle to wear.
£85 gets you a pair, I’ll get them dirty and report back.

Haglöfs Ozone

When Haglöfs LIM Ozone came out it was the lightest Gore-Tex ProShell jacket out there, even with a full zip, proper hood and two chest pockets. But the LIM Ozone had quirks, holes stamped in pocket lining for ventilation where folk expect mesh, printed shoulder reinforcement, the wacky colourway, so of course, like all good kit it disappeared quite quickly. However, the design is back in this UK-only Ozone I’ll be testing over the winter. It’s not on Haglöfs’ website, but you’ll find it in the UK stores.

There are some differences to it’s predecessor, the Gore-Tex ProShell fabric is a little tougher, so no need for the shoulder reinforcements, but we’re still coming in at 450g for a size large. The pockets don’t have the hypalon pegboard lining this time, just plain fabric.
The hood this time around is the same 3-point adjustable one you’ll find on the Spitz, and it’s a belter. I’ve used this on a couple of other jackets and it’s a winter marvel, rock solid whatever the weather’s doing.
The zips are all water-resistant (and nicely colour contrasting), with a big flap behind the main zip which has a little micro fleece patch on the inside at the top anda popper at the bottom to secure and keep pressure off the zip. There’s velcro cuffs, wide cuffs too for good venting, and an inner stretch mesh pocket on the left side.
It’s clean, simple, the layout is the essence of a classic winter shell: two chest pockets-badass hood.
I got on very well with the LIM Ozone indeed, and I’ll be expecting no less performance from its bright orange offspring.

Berghaus Mountain AQ™2 Hardshell Gloves

Berghaus don’t seem to have these on their website, but they are out there for this winter, the new Mountain AQ2 Hardshell Gloves.

The AQ is the waterproof lining, Berghaus’s own membrane. I’ve used half a dozen different membranes in gloves and general breathability isn’t the issue as much as construction and longevity. I’ve had a loose liner that pulled outside-in every time I took the glove off and another that was so heavily glued that it was no better than clingfilm, and bike gloves that started leaking after one ride. The good news here is that the inners are attached to the outers at the fingertips, so I’ve got high hopes for a frustration free time.
Inside is lined with a nice velour-y microfleece, and the back of the hand and fingers are lined with synthetic insulation, so warmth without loss of dexterity is the plan.
The wrist is elasticated and the cuff a work of mini-genius. There’s a pull-on loop and a very neat cord adjustment, the red bungee is easy to see and had a plastic tag for grip, the cordlock is bound to a little leather tag and is dead easy to use with the other glove on. Add the  elastic loops for putting around your wrist and the hang-loops on the middle finger and you’re sorted.
The thumb has nose-wipe material and although the spec says leather palm, it feels and looks like a textured synthetic to me, nice feel and stretch whatever though.
The ergonomics are okay, nice rolled fingertips, no resistance to movement or noticable seams, and the fit is fine over a pair of thin liners.

They look like a nice pair of winter shells, the actual form of the construction is more boxy than your £100+ models, but the functionality looks great, they’ll stuff into a pocket and hopefully these will be wrapped around an ice axe shortly.

Edelrid Kiro Ti

Saw the Edelrid Kiro Ti at KORS earlier in the year and I’m pleased to have one in for test.
You know me, faff-free performance is a fun-friendly prerogative, and with Markill’s DNA running through it the Kiro Tis fits the bill.
Light, folds up small, but folds out big to support a wide pot base. The control is long enough to keep fingertips away from the flame, and the valve runs smooth. The machining and the finishing are neat, I like when lightweight still manages to feel sturdy. The legs fold in and out smoothly, when heat’s been applied a few times I hope to find the same result.
I like the cool green anodising on the control, looks different, which with so many stoves out there assembled from the similar parts is a good move.
It comes with a wee stuffsack and it’s heading straight into a fistfight with a whole stack of models of similar specs and varying prices.
More on this after the next trip.

Chocolate Fish 70 Mile Bush Socks

Chocolate Fish sent me some samples from the 70 Mile Bush range of socks to trial as they were looking to bring them into the UK. They’re Kiwi-made from Kiwi merino and the versions I’ve got here cover a good cross section of weights and ideal use. They’re now in the UK, so here’s some thoughts on them so far.

The Taihape Mountain’s (in the packaging) are big and badass, these are for lining your winter boots, or wearing inside your wellies while you’re making a snowman or fishing. Like the other models they have old-school home-made looks, but the finish is fine, the toes have low profile seams and they’re a good length to match my ¾ length merino leggings. Very well padded, so good for inside rigger and steel toe-capped boots too, but that’s for when they get a little worn out, that padding will be repelling crampon straps first.
The Taihape Fell’s (at the right) are what you’d call a traditional hillwalking sock, still thick, but not like the Taihape’s loft insulation style. The same good toe is here, good length, good padding. These have had the most use so far, a nice GI outdoor sock.
The Taihape Trail is the sock with the black toes and heels, it’s thinner, it made a good summer sock and has been around Assynt most recently. It’s also a good sock for the daily sock drawer, these have been in my Vans and Converse as much anything.

The look like proper outdoor socks from better days don’t they? But the construction is up to date, the materials are a sensible mix of merino for comfort and performance ,with nylon and lycra to give a reliable fit and hopefully better durability.
The fit is well sculpted, the heel shaping is good, and I’ve had neither bagginess around the ankles or a cuff digging into my calves. They’ve all been washed a few times now and are still looking good.

Looking at the weather forecast, we’ll have more on the Taihape Mountains soon.

The North Face Kishtwar Jacket

Softshell doesn’t seem to be a sticking point or a controversial subject these days, I think that’s largely due to the better fabrics the jackets are been sewn or welded out of. The fit and technicality are as specialist as you’d ever need in the top end stuff, so when TNF said test it as I was trying a Kishtwar sample on for size, I just thought “winter mountain jacket” rather than Oh, softshell… This is a good approach I think.

Talking of fabric, what we have here is Polartec Powershield Pro, and I already know this a million miles away from the rubble sack plastic membranes in windproof fleeces of old, having used it last winter. This variety feels tough, the outer face has a texture that for some reason is exactly what I’d imagine a shark to feel like. I realise that’s absolutely no help at all, but think of a smoothly upholstered killing machine and you’re on your way.
There’s a nice bit of stretch in there too, the cut is great for mobility (it’s a Summit Series piece) so the stretch isn’t covering up for lack of ergonomics, it’s allowing a closer fit and this makes a size medium a perfect slim fit over a base layer on me.
The inner face is a nice velour affair, and as I’ve discovered this does hoover up any moisture you produce. and with the mesh-lined chest pockets opened as vents it’s pretty usable in warmer weather.
But it’s home is winter, it does feel heavy duty, both with the fabric and the spec. The hood is badass, adjustable at the front and rear, close fitting and has a great shaped peak. It’s laminated, not wired so it’ll layer under a shell okay. There’s a huge wind baffle behind the front zip, those chest pockets are huge too and have the hem drawcord ends inside for sneaky adjustment and no dangling ends outside. There’s a single napoleon pocket too for wee bits and pieces.

There’s some lovely detailing, the inside is very well finished, the seams are flat despite the thickness of the doubled fabric, and capped with stretch tape where they’ll get the most abrasion (the front zip) or be most annoying (at the neck). The chin area is lined with microfleece, and with those nice green zips even the grey colour appeals to me.

I like the look of this so far, it’s been repelling light rain and been very user friendly. I’ll need to get it on some proper mountains days to be sure though.

Haglöfs Col Pant

There’s been a lot of Haglöfs pants on these pages, I reckon it’s where the brand has been consistently strong the past few years. So when the new Col’s arrived for test I unwrapped them with high expectations and my heart sank as looked them over. the looked just like a pair of softshell bowling-club trousers. Where was my navy blazer…

I picked them back up a week or so ago when I was leaving to help Jimmy with the boat and then try to climb above the cloud inversion in the Kilpatricks.
The fit was fine, just as expected, the wide flat waistband felt good when I slipped a belt through the lightweight webbing loops. As I bent and stretched the Flexable fabric moved with me and the knee articulation kept the ankle cuffs down and the waistband up at the back. The inner gaiters on the ankle cuffs gripped my boots well, and didn’t slip all day, although I’ll still be sewing a hook on there to clip onto my laces.
As I climbed the hill I stuck my Buff into the back pocket after wiping my brow as I broke through the cloud into the sun. The rear pocket is low, it’s nearer the outside than rear pockets usually are and it’s set a little lower. The rear pocket is genius, there’s a first for me.
As the day went on the Col’s grew on me, not literally, the fabric has a nice brushed inner surface to prevent that, and it also kept me dry despite their windproofness in the warm air.

They look so damned dull, but in reality they’re actually a very good bit of kit. I’ve used the Omni pants for a few years, but they’re proper fully-featured winter pants and I’d feel a bit conspicuous wearing them on snowless ground as much as anything. The Col’s take the same fabric and make a regular pant from it, these will work in most weather outside of summer and will be great with longjons underneath in winter, so for me they’re bridging a gap in some ways, but they’re also a great do-it-all cool weather mountain pant. These and a pair of shorts and your all set for a year in the UK mountains. 

I’m glad I was wrong, they still look dull though, or should I say non-technical? Which lots of folk will love. The tech features like the inner gaiters hide away and these will look fine at the country park as well as a snowy summit.
The fabric is brilliant, I know this from experience, it laughs at wind, abrasion and water, so I’ll be wearing these until it’s so wintry up there that I feel the need for pants with braces.
One niggle though, there’s only a single popper above the zip fly. Haglöfs have usually had a double popper or a single button closure in my experience which is more failure proof. Tut tut.
Whatever, these’ll be a familiar sight from now on.

Haglöfs Corker XS, by HLY*

Haglöfs made me a rucksack for my 3rd birthday, they said it’s called the Corker XS, but it’s got a big H on it, and a reflective snowflake with an H on it, I think they meant that it’s the Holly XS.
It’s got a Fruit Shoot pocket, a bungee for stowing blankie and opens with a zip at the side. It’s 5L and I can get stack of stuff in there, and there’s a big handle on the top so dad can catch me. The same semi-hard shell construction and fabrics from the big boys and girls packs are here too.
The harness is proper spec, as well formed as the big version, including a chest strap with a buckle that will snap open under a lot of pressure, that is dad grabbing the pack when I’m running away, so I stop without getting strangled, which is always nice.
The best thing is, it looks just like Dora the Explorer’s. This one’s mine, and you can’t have it. get your own in March next year.
Okay Boops.

Brasher Kanaga GTX

The foray into the wonderful world of testing boots continues with the Brasher Kanaga’s. They’re a B1 rated winter boot, but they look anything but. The styling is that fell-walking thing, like old Meindl Burma’s or something. Now, I’m not being nasty here, lots of winter boots are all disco-y with their colours and their shiny silver, so we need some badass but traditional and approachable models out there to keep the balance.

The outsole is a cracker, a Vibram Foura. Deep, square edged lugs to bite deep, the heel is a square edged block for sinking into snow on descent. There’s a full rand to save the nubuck upper from the worst of abrasion from the neve too.
They’re chunky, they feel robust, but with a bit of flex on both the sole and the upper. I’ll see how much that ankle cuff eases off. It’s well padded, a nice leather lining on the cuff, so my ankles should be okay until they soften up.
There’s a Gore-Tex lining, smooth running eyelets for the laces and the tongue is well formed and padded for taking the compression from crampons straps.

Boots are moving on which is good. I’ve learned that there’s models out there that don’t upset my flexible feet sensibilities, hopefully these’ll join the fun.
More later.

Mountain House

These were meant for testing by the group the Assynt trip, but they the arrived too late, so I get to eat them all. I’ve only eaten the Lasagna from Mountain House, and that was by accident at first. A happy one at that.
There is much said about nutritional values in outdoor food, I think for just a few days of backpacking taste comes first. So, will I be happy with breakfast, lunch and dinner from these guys? We’ll see, all new flavours to me, so I’m out of my comfort zone.