Old Favourite: Rab Vapour-Rise Jacket

, October 12, 2014

Rab are an established British-based brand that until recently did all their manufacturing in Sheffield, England. Rab concentrated historically upon manufacturing high-quality down and Pertex clothing and sleeping bags. Following the retirement of its founder Rab Carrington (one of Britain’s best alpinists of the last 30 years) the brand has expanded its product range into mountaineering-focused hardshells and softwear. This review examines the Vapour Rise Jacket, one of their classic products that has been in their range for almost fifteen years. Constructed of a wind- and water-resistant pertex equilibrium shell, with a soft thin microfibre liner it is an effective softshell piece with exceptional breathability for mountain sports.

Rab Neutrino SL

, November 5, 2012

Rab actually make two topbags, the first is called the Module and does without the hood. The second is the Neutrino SL, made slightly warmer by extra filling and a trapezoidal construction

Gore Bike Wear Contest Short

, September 1, 2012

The Gore Bike Wear Contest Shorts are the cheapest cycling shorts Gore make and can often be found discounted as they are a long standing product that stays in their range year on year. Compared with lycra shorts from other manufacturers who make less-expensive sub-£20 shorts that look similar, the Gore stand out. However, the Contest shorts are a basic, yet quality product that epitomises what I love about Gore Bike Wear kit.

Highlander Mountain Marathon 2012

, April 20, 2012

This report is posted on behalf of Lawrence Friell who with his partner Charlie Sproson won the Score Class at the Highlander Mountain Marathon 2012. It provides not only an insight into what it is like to run a mountain marathon at a competitive level, but Lawrence also tells us why he loves this classic event and he appeals to other outdoor enthusiasts to save it from disappearing off the Scottish race calendar:

Old Favourites: Chariots of Fire

, March 26, 2012

This review concerns Chariot ‘child transportation system’ trailers and as I’ve now owned all three models in their ‘Sport’ range (in ascending order of expense!) over the space of six years I’m not going to limit myself to one model – this entire range is worth a mention. Chariot (part of the Thule group) design and assemble all their products in Calgary, Canada and make extensive use of recycled materials in their products. They also have a sister brand of cheaper children’s trailers entirely made in the Far-East called Croozer. Chariot runs two ranges of trailers: the first is the ‘Touring’ range designed with an emphasis upon urban cycling, the second is the ‘Sport’ range designed for flexibility so you don’t have to buy many different carriers for separate outdoor sports.

New Balance 749

, February 7, 2012

The New Balance 749 has a discreet label inside the shoe which says ‘Made in the UK’. In these days of austerity, with all the naysayers decrying the ability of British manufacturing, if I was New Balance I would be shouting this fact from the rooftops.

Garmont Dragontail MNT

, December 3, 2011

Garmont’s Dragontail MNT is part of their ‘Mountain’ range of footwear and as such is aimed at mountaineers, climbers and boulderers to use as an approach shoe to the crag. With an outer constructed of 1.8mm suede like many mountaineering boots, and a tough rand going around the toe box and heel, the Dragontail MNT is quite a substantial shoe when compared to the average ‘trail’ shoe. Also the outer Vibram Mulsaz sole tread unit is shared by many popular, climbing focused boots such as the popular La Sportiva Trango S Evo, giving a good blend of walking traction and climbing/scrambling grip.

Old Favourite & Vintage Classic: Lowe Alpine Powerstretch Balaclava

, December 2, 2011

The Lowe Alpine Powerstretch Balaclava is a garment that, like the baselayer I reviewed in the last blog, is a humble but mighty tool. Now that Lowe Alpine have discontinued their line of accessories to focus on backpacks, this little number could be a lasting relic from the brand’s tactical armoury. I however am unconcerned by how it looks as I’m a fully signed up member of the balaclava fan club. In my opinion balaclavas are one the most under-rated and overlooked pieces of outdoor equipment that everyone should own.

Terra Nova Laser 20 Elite

, September 3, 2011

For many the weight of the Terra Nova Laser 20 Elite pack may seem like a miracle at 210 grams if it were not for its EVEN lighter brethren the Laser Ultra 20 which weighs 111 grams. Let’s get this into perspective by stating that a standard sized Mars bar is 58 grams, so both of these packs are highly specialist featherweight bits of kit!

Suunto T6d GPS Watch

, August 20, 2011

The Suunto T6d is described by the manufacturer as a ‘sports laboratory on your wrist’ and it’s an apt description for a watch that is compatible with a variety of … Read more

Offroad Across Scotland by Bike: A Practical Guide

, July 29, 2011

I like taking part in some sort of big challenge event about three times a year, and as Jack and I had previously hiked across Scotland, from Kyle of Lochalsh to Beauly, an idea developed between us to complete a similar X-Scotland journey – but this time riding off-road on mountain bikes. The standard route for such a crossing is well established and several companies such as Wilderness Scotland offer supported and guided 7-day trips that follow a route well described, outlined and mapped in Phil McKane’s book ‘Scotland: The Wild Trails’. While our team followed sections of this route we also included the infamous ‘Sligachan Loop’ on Skye as a warm-up day and added a series of other departures to whet our particular interests in exploration and extreme challenge!

Vivo Barefoot Neo

, July 25, 2011

Vivio Barefoot and its parent company Terra Plana offer a range of ‘barefoot’ shoes that cover everything from smart office wear to serious athletic shoes. Barefoot footwear bases itself on the idea that the closest experience between the sole of the foot and the ground is the best, supported by Vivo’s guide to barefoot running that takes you from your first bambi-like steps in barefoot shoes to gazelle-like bounding. I’ve been testing the Neo, Vivio’s designated cross-training shoe.

Old Favourite: Helly Hansen Lifa Stripe Crew

, July 3, 2011

I’m moving towards the core with this review, away from the shell garments discussed in the earlier ‘old favourites’ blogs. The Helly Hansen Lifa Stripe Crew is my favourite baselayer and in twenty years of running, mountaineering, climbing and cycling I’ve tried many alternatives, but none do everything a baselayer needs to do as well as the humble Lifa.

Old Favourite: Montane Slipstream GL Jacket

, May 25, 2011

The Montane Slipstream GL Jacket shares a common thread with the first ‘old favourite’ review in that this too is a pertex garment. As you may have gathered in the previous blog I’m quite a fan of this brilliant windproof material. Essentially the Slipstream jacket is an ultra-light, single-layer windshirt made with the very lightest pertex available: Pertex Quantum Gossamer-Light. Montane, like Rab, are a British company which designs in the UK but manufacturers abroad. They have an established reputation with outdoor professionals and their products are deservingly popular with mountain rescue teams, the emergency services and the military. Montane specialises in windshells, softshells, hard-shells and pertex and pile garments.