Trail, January ’08

My column this month is an attempt to persuade folks that lightweight footwear is like the Yellow Pages, not just there for the nasty things in life, like a blocked drain. It’s there for the good things as well. Wait, that analogy is shite. I’ll edit it out later.
So, it’s waterproof mids, mini gaiters and the like. It’s not maybe the sexiest read, but it’s a genuine plea for folk to believe me and try it for themselves.

My manky trail shoes are pictured large in the Used and Abused section, the Crosslites versus the X-Talons. The result of the long term test wasn’t hedging my bets, they really are different but equal in many ways.
There’s a couple of other bits in there, but the most obvious is the one accompanying the nice big photie of one of my rather scuffed aluminium Kahtoola crampons on a Salomon boot.

The Kahtoolas are assassinated in the text, and I dare say there’ll be folk getting all upset about it, but you have to put it in context. It’s a left field, even abstract bit of kit and it just doesn’t fit in with any of the methods or advice that we’ve been used to hearing. They require a leap of faith and a complete change of approach to use them beyond their remit of glacier crossing assisters as seen through traditional eyes.
Of the contributers giving their opinion I’m sure I’m the only one who’s used them and can compare their performance to other crampons. I know their limitations and their application and I’m surprised the other contributers didn’t think outside the box and see that a change of footwear, technique and approach make the Kahtoolas a viable option. As a young John Conner said as he tapped the T-800 on the head, “Are we learning yet?”. But, all the points made by the contributers in the article regarding the Kahtoolas are valid, from a certain point of view. I only object to blanket dismissal, leave it up to the individual and arm them with all knowledge possible.
And you know, I’ve been in Trail for a while now, but it’s nice to know that sometimes I can still feel like I’m fighting a lightweight guerilla campaign.

It was nice to see Dave’s review of the ME Xero down bag he got in the Lakes when we did the wildcamp for the lightweight article earlier in the year.

8 thoughts on “Trail, January ’08

  1. Well you’re making a little progress. Like that in depth review of a lined mid cuts last month – in a winter issue no less!

    They could do with looking at their definition of a lightweight waterproof mind :) Surely enough sub 300g ones about nowadays to deserve their own category.

  2. Its not that Kahtoola’s are no good, they can’t advocate left field products that require some skill in a magazine where the repeatedly show us how to wild camp, etc.
    The experts seem to have a funny view on where they come from and their comments are at odds to Ian Adamson and Team Nike using them expedition adventure racing.
    I use G12s for alpine mountaineering, for UK I have Kahtoola and the G12s, boot and crampon choice is determined by route and conditions

  3. It’s the same for me; weather and route choice. I’ve had boots out this week seeing how they feel as I want to try my G12s and Airtechs again this winter.
    I know folk that have raced with Kahtoolas, even sceptics get converted.
    The piece in the mag was a reaction to reports of disaster striking users, so it was the opinions of folk “in the know”, not an editorial condemnation. I hope there’s enough information in there to help readers to make a more informend choice about using them. I point out their limitations as well, but they’re easily worked around and love bothe types of Kahtoola.

    I’d love to get into the waterproof review catagories! The old winter/ general/ lightweight/ multi activity doesn’t cut it at all :o)

  4. I don’t know the demographics of the Trail readers, but I suspect the majority would fall into the category that would use crampons maybe a couple of times a year at most.
    As such their experience would be limited and makes them liable to influence by the “experts”. Poor buggers.
    I hope your plea to try it for themselves has some success.
    Like DNF says, it’s horses for courses, if you are out often enough to justify multiple choices. I use steel Kats and Keens whenever I can, but there are times / places where they get left at home and are replaced by the “heavier/technical” stuff.
    BTW, the big daddy, R Messner himself was phenomenal/inspirational at the Dundee MFF last night. His whole ethos was in breaking away from the traditional mould. Aye, there’s nothing modern or trendy about lightweight, it’s been there for years.

  5. How many accidents have been caused by misuse of the kahtoolahs, or are the expert opinions based on assumption?

    The thing is, I don’t know what to trust in Trail, a recent rucsac review gave a rucksack a negative as it had a roll top, which the reviewer had known toleak in the past. That is irrelevant, did THIS bag leak or not? If you don’t know, then what wee you doing to test the bag??

    It’s the same with these, if the experts have used them on the recommended footwear then fair enough, otherwise it’s surely just conjecture? They should let us know their personal experience

  6. In this world of litigation, had Kahtoola’s been breaking left, right and centre, causing accidents you’d think we would hear of it. The ‘experts’ probably took a pair and set out deliberately to prove their point.
    Roll Top rucksack, got a few, neither have leaked because of the design.

  7. Maybe it just rains a lot where I go but all my rucksacks leak!

    If it rains, water gets inside. That’s what liners are for surely?

    Am I missing something? :)

    As for the Kahtoolas (I’m a big fan) In this world of litigation – I don’t think anyone would be selling them at all if they caused accidents!

  8. It’s the comfort zone, it’s tradition, it’s habit. Very difficult to get people to do something new that they’ve been told is wrong for a lifetime.
    I’m greatly afflicted by an understanding of all parties involved, so much easier to pick a side.
    This is the joy of the internet though, all the info is out there, and usually with photies to prove it isn’t all lies!

    The two roll tops I use (Gregory and Haglofs) have bombproof closures. I love roll tops, quick and simple to get at your stuff.

    Ach, gear. It’s all opinion isn’t it?
    Like I’ve said before, I’ve discovered that it’s all pretty good, it just comes down to whether you like it or not.
    That was a good thing about the tent test, it shook some long held opinions and gave me some new ideas.

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