Gear Diary

What the test kit’s been doing, and where to post any unrelated comments, questions or observations.

The Kilkpatrick Hills are Spam. That probably doesn’t sound right, but I don’t mean it like that, I’m thinking in a WW2 way. When you’re besieged by circumstance or the agents of doom, you open the cupboard and break out a tin of Spam. You get fed, your energy is replaced and you live to fight another day. Cook it in different ways and you’ll never get bored.
So when I can’t get any further north as things have gone tits-up, the Kilpatricks really do have everything other mountains in Scotland have except height. This makes it a plateau of joy, and the perfect testing ground for kit.
It doesn’t cost me a penny to get there either. It was magic up there tonight.

The new TNF Heathen and Zephyrus got taken out of their wrappers and went straight outdoors, signs are good so far.

The Arc’teryx Rho Zip has been worn and washed. Now, I have tried to get on with synthetic base layers in the past, but it’s been a bit of a struggle. This top along with the Haglöfs Actives Tee shows me that times have changed. The Rho fits me perfectly, and it’s incredibly comfortable too. The performance seems to be good, but an overnighter and sleeping in it will tell me much more.
The Arc’teryx Gamma Pants have been muddied and scraped over some barbed wire fencing. Unscathed as far as I can tell.
They feel quite silky, nice against the skin. Good wind resistance in the fabric and an easy stretch as well.
The zips are very slick, I wonder as they wear if they’ll start opening themselves?

The Montane Dyno has a had a few outings now. It’s good to wear, comfortable, that hood is handy, as are the pockets. The wind resistance of the fabric, as was suspected, will define how much use it gets and when. In light winds it’s fine, but as the speed gets up and the temperature goes down I can start to feel it getting through, oddly the place I’m feeling it most is the inside of my elbows?!
But, I haven’t felt it was out of it’s depth and had to reach for extra layers yet.
It’s in the wash as we speak.

The Keen Pyrenees are very high volume, I had to put Sole insoles in there and wear some thick socks to tune the fit. But that’s a personal fit thing, in use they’re very different to the other Keens I’ve used. They’re soft, the upper is very supple and the midsole feels thinner than the Targhees which have the same outsole, so the terrain comes right through the bottom to meet you. So this makes them feel a bit like trail shoes, and I kept wanting to jog a bit on the trail and having to stop myself. The grip is better than I expected, I’m wondering if the softer flex is making a difference here?

The Teva Intundas are getting some frequent use as they’re sitting in the porch and are so damned handy for slipping on. They grip pavement and the pedals in the motor very well.

Haglöfs’  Lizard Top has now been out a lot, in a variety of weathers and over a variety of baselayers. It really is an outstanding bit of kit, I’ll get a proper review of it up shortly.
The Lynx pants have come out of hibernation. A light softshell pant, they’re pretty minimal, very stretchy and great for the better weather. I used them a lot last year, and I’ll get a proper review of these up after I’ve worn them a couple more times.

Terra Nova’s Laser 20 is my current go-to pack. It’s sitting at the door ready to go with my regular bits and pieces in it, and I’m really enjoying using it.
It’s a pre-production model so there are few minor issues on it, but the bodges I made on the bottle pockets have made them more secure and as a whole it’s a great pack. So light, but incredibly stable with its well shaped low-profile harness.

21 thoughts on “Gear Diary”

  1. It wss nice last night. That front moving in spopiled the sunset, but was still lovely to look at in it’s own right.
    Still a nip in the air too!

  2. I see you are mega keen on that lizard top then, it looks good but still too much for me, although i would use it a lot if i had one, lol. If you look at kit across the board there are loads of different options for your top half now, but the legs side doesn’t really need much attention. Still ron hills & waterproofs if you wish.

  3. I used to wear Trackster Trek’s all the time, and I see there’s a different model now, plain Trek’s.
    I graduated into Karrimor Alpiniste Pants because of the leg pocket and fly zip and then into ever more complicated stuff. I suppose I’ve come full circle in some ways, sometimes wearing things like the Kazoos which are very plain but made in hi-tec fabrics.
    Our legs are tough though, we probably pamper them too much!

  4. I was just reflecting on how much gear you have on test at the moment. On one hand, that must be a compliment. A lot of people value your reports (me included), and you obviously have credibility with the manufactureres.

    But on the other, you must feel a bit swamped at times, and that you getting more gear to test than you have trips to properly test it (e.g. the number of tents that you currently have stacked in a holding pattern!)?

    A victem of your own success?

    might be coming a victem of your own success.

  5. That’s why I’ve brought in this gear diary, the photogenic trips up north have been patchy of late one way or another, but I use the gear locally all the time and just don’t talk about it, so it’s a good way of striking a balance.
    What this will do as well is explain from a personal perspective why some of the test kit doesn’t go on the bigger trips, most likely because of a fit or pack-size issue, rather than it not showing up again after a first-look.
    It’s going to mean a lot more local stuff featuring gear, which means giving away all my favourite Kilpatricks camping spots :o)

    So aye, I’ve had some reorganising to do, but it’s important that folk who are interested in the gear that I’ve got on test know that I’m using it literally every day.
    Plus I can now keep track of what I’m doing myself…

    I did wonder about taking so much on, but apart from wanting to, I really have to. The more brands I see and the more kit I use, the wider my experience is the better my understanding gets. I hope that means that my gear stuff becomes more informed as time goes on.

    I’ve learned so much over the past couple of years from all the gear stuff I’ve been invloved in, and it’s a joy and a privlege to be in this position.
    I still get as excited when new stuff arrives for test and when I get to see what’a coming out in a years time, as long as that enthusiasm is burning I’ll keep at it no matter how busy it gets!

  6. Talking of gear… thanks for the X-Bionic Wallaby that just turned up in the post! and the coffee bags – already discovered them so I don’t think I stuck my head above the parapit on that one. Much appreciated all the same. The Wallaby has a lot of hype to live up to for what looks like a fancy sweatband. Since I’m in Scotland this spring and summer it’ll get some use, as well as down here in the Flatlands – next trip after Easter for 3 weeks! :)

    And as to pampering our legs I wore shorts yesterday afternoon for a 10mile jaunt. Started bright sunshine and then the weather came in early. Kind of got a bit wild on me from about half-way round. Cotton cargo shorts got wet, but I didn’t bother putting on my over trousers – it was too great not to have trousers getting flappy/sweaty/etc. I really miss decent pockets on walking gear… if you’re not wearing a jacket with good pockets where are you going to slip your map and compass, or mobile phone so that you it on your body should Badness happen!

  7. Sorry it took so long to get the Wallaby out, everybody should be getting their stuff today or tomorrow. Living in a village without a Post Office is a real pain in the arse.

    Like the big pockets on my mountain pants, I have carried a water bottle in there on occasion!
    I can’t wear shorts though, my legs are way too Scottish.

  8. Ah yeah, the Rugged’s? I presume. Think I should have bought a size bigger when I got mine, they fitted okay but just a little slim so the pockets seemed less useful than they looked/should have been. My weight has seesaw’d a bit lately. Haven’t dared try them on, I might get depressed.

    Lighter ones might not go a miss this summer but I might only be able to afford a pair of trackies.

  9. The Ruggeds aye, I almost don’t need a rucksack with those!

    I wore them last summer and got away with it with those big vents, but it was close on a few occasions :o)

  10. Cheers for the wallaby Pete, will be giving it a try very soon. Oh and that coffees going down well as i type this. Just looked on xbionics website there’s a fair amount of stuff they do. The baselayers look good, i know a few people have given them favourable reviews but a bit of a minefield on which to choose from, lol.

  11. Aye, the range is big and the price is high!
    It is comfy though, I like wearing the long-legged trekking boxers a lot.

    Glad the Wallaby got there safe and sound!

  12. Speaking of X bionic has any body tried the sky runs on and off for biking and running and have found my feet get cold !
    Anybody else had the same problem ?

  13. My Wallaby is here too! I’ll test it at the gym tomorrow night. I can see so many uses: spin, gym, hills, out on my New Bike!! Yeeha!
    Thanks for the Wallaby. :o)

  14. No Wallaby for me :( …..

    …. but the consolation prizes arrived today – thanks :))

    Would it sound ungrateful to ask whether you washed them first?!! ;O)

  15. Ange, remember to to the devil horn sign with your fingers every time you wear it.

    Matt, I did think of warning you about that, but I thought it would be funnier if I didn’t :o)
    Untouched by human hands or anything else for that matter…

  16. Grand, I shall look forward to soiling them – so to speak!! :))

    Vaguely on the topic of gear, I had some time to kill in Oslo at the start of my recent trip – absolute gear shop heaven! At least 5 decent, large gear shops all on the same couple of streets in the city centre; more Arcteryx gathered under one roof than I’ve ever seen; likewise for Norrona, and for Haglofs in a different shop. Plus stuff for xc-ski, telemark, downhill, biking, hiking, canoeing, running, fishing, all in the same stores. Why can’t we have gear shops like that here?

    I bought a map, some ski wax and a mini bottle of dry-wash!! :)

  17. Aye, that’s “need” shopping rather than “want” shopping!

    I was talking today about the woeful shape of outdoor shopping in Fort William.
    I reckon when no-one’s looking we should swap Ft Bill’s town centre with Ambleside…

    Are your photies up somewhere Matt?

  18. There were a couple from Stirling on the trip – they lamented the loss of West Coast Outdoor Leisure, but I’m sure they also mentioned that a new independent either has opened or is opening in Fort William. Do you know anything about that?

    Photies – yes. It turned out to be quite a little adventure so I wrote it up in OM’s trip reports section last night. So if you don’t mind having the link here…?

  19. I’ll be in Ft Bill over the next few days, so I’ll report back on the shop thing.

    Link’s fine, I shall click it right noo…

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