Trail, December ’08

My column this month is “Lighter…Lighting”. It’s maybe not exactly the most inspirational stuff, but there’s some good points in there. My own joy when I was sent the Silva L4 and immediately accepeted it’s red-then low to high switching order as the right way to do it is in there, as is the fantastic performance of the Petzl Myo XP for night hiking. The e+Lite is in there too, all the models are lightweight winners.
I mention the new Alpkit Bulb as a tent light, and although it’s bulky it’s not too heavy and really handy. That’s where all the light is coming from in the tent photies from last weeks camping trip. I’m usually picking out stuff with a beam, but this was like sitting in a room (of sorts), very pleasant. It was also easy to find the tent after a pee trip in the cloudy darkness.
Alpkit sent me their Gamma headtorch for test as well, I’ll speak more of that later.
The photie with the column is of me and a Lasercomp from the Cluanie trip a few months back.

Elsewhere in the mag we’ve got a frighteningly large collection of unwieldy looking boots. I feel for the poor sods buying some of these and spending the winter on the mostly snowless Lakeland fells.
The Lightweight Boots group test from GT is the way to go, but you’ll always suffer from a time lag as new models are old models by the time you’ve trashed them. The new Salomon Fastpackers and Montrail Hardrock MIds would have trounced most of the models in there.
I voted for Ullapool in the alternative outdoor capital feature as it’s got a great shop in Northwest Outdoors and all the other facilities you need to make it a great base. There’s also a huge campsite where we met some German bikers a few years back, one of whom had his mate in the sidecar, with a machine gun mount on it. And he threw camo netting over it at night. I don’t want to know.

It looks like a good issue, I’ll peruse further at lunch through the week.

5 thoughts on “Trail, December ’08

  1. I reckon Petzl are actually living on past glories, while Princeton Tec and Black Diamond make the better products these days! Petzl don’t seem to be paying proper attention to developing trends in battery technology and usage.

    (Not had my hands on anything from Silva… )

  2. I completely agree Matt. I have moved to a Princeton Tec Apex after several issues with both Petzl and BD i.e. lack of waterproofing, faulty circuit boards, dreadful buttons (at least with gloves on), incompatibility with lithium batteries etc. The Apex might not be the smallest headlamp on offer but it keeps pumping out a searchlight beam via the 3W LED in everything from monsoon to blizzard, yet still lights the way to the tent from the pub with the four small LEDs. I did look at Silva but the lack of smaller LEDs on the brighter models and the very uncomfortable head and battery units pushed me to the Apex.

  3. I left the Tikka XP out as I was trying to space out the models I was covering from small to large, it’s still a fantastic torch.

    It’s a good point about folk catching up with Petzl, particulary Black Diamond I think. It’s all cyclical though, which is good for us. Somebody makes a big step forward and the rest have to do something about it or get left behind.
    The Petzl/Lithium thing is arse covering. There was one failure out of a thousand tests and they said no to lithium batteries just in case.

    Silva are a bit clunky, the plastic mouldings aren’t as fine as everybody else’s (even Alpkit). The L4 is a great bit of kit, it kills the Petzl equivalents stone dead. But the L1 I’ve got on test has those scalp gouging battery boxes. The remote battery box makes the L1 a much better bit of kit (I’ve got a night hike thing starring that very item coming up at some point).

  4. More-On, I too took the plunge for an Apex last winter, and I’m thoroughly impressed with it. If I ever have to keep on skiing into the night to reach the next hut I know it’ll do the business! :)

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