Posts tagged “hiking gear

Gear Review: La Sportiva Nepal Extreme

La Sportiva Nepal Extreme:

A very popular, full on mountain boot. They are rated B3, thus are fully-automatic crampon compatible, (they fit Grivel’s semi-auto G12 New-Matic very well), with an insulating footbed and Thinsulate lining. These boots are warm, very stiff, grippy and durable. They use a 3mm-thick, one-piece, good quality leather upper and a great heavy duty Vibram outsole. 

The Nepal Extreme. Note full rubber rand, lace-locker and mid-ankle flex point.

The Nepal Extreme, (slightly ‘browned’ from the Nikwax treatment). Note full rubber rand, lace-locker, front and rear crampon lugs and mid-ankle flex point.



Gear Review: Lowe Alpine Appalachian 75-95L XL

Lowe Alpine TFX Appalachian 75-95L XL:

The Appalachian is a big, two-section pack. I have the slightly older version, which has a highly variable, extendable back length, large cushioned pads in the appropriate places, and a large floating lid. Top and bottom compression straps, (the top ones fasten using a buckle), afford the ability to secure your load and lash essentials to the outside of your pack, whilst the zippered lower section allows both access to the inside of your pack, and the option to partition it where necessary.

The Appalachian 75-95 XL. Strong and pretty large.
The Appalachian 75-95 XL. Strong and pretty large.

Gear Review: Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX

Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid:

These, my 3-season boots, have been in action for around 6 months, used most days, except in excessive heat during the summer, and for all my hill-walking trips. They possess a full, rubber rand for protection and jamming into cracks when scrambling/climbing. The lacing runs all the way to the toe and carry the Vibram Mulaz sole unit with sole-mapped rubber densities and a decently grippy tread. The grip on these boots is surprising, meaning they’re actually pretty good on wet rock and they’re reasonably stiff for a lightweight boot, so they feel stable, even on uneven terrain. The latter features and slight stiffness in the sole, make this a great scrambling boot.

Excellent sole. Softer at the toe, with tread in the space between the heel and forefoot too!
Excellent sole. Softer at the toe, with tread in the space between the heel and forefoot too!

Gear Review: The North Face Plasma Thermal

The North Face Plasma Thermal jacket:

Sorry, no pictures of this one. I don’t feel it’s worth my time but could provide them if necessary.

At 810g, it’s an insulation piece for spring/autumn/winter conditions really, but uses TNF’s high-end waterproof membrane, Hyvent Alpha. It also uses 100g of Primaloft One insulation, known for it’s warmth to weight and it’s ability to insulate better than others when wet, though what ‘better’ and ‘wet’ equate to is arguable I would think, (see my short, but damning indictment of the performance of this jacket in the wet at this link).


Gear Review: Haglöfs Matrix 40

Haglöfs Matrix 40:

This is the 2010 version, (the new version looks completely different and has different features!), which I use as my daypack, it’s quite narrow but is deceptively larger than most 40L packs in terms of capacity, plus it’s certainly both comfortable and capable. It is made from high denier nylon all over, reinforced at the base, and PU-coated in the relevant places. The dual-density foam of the hipbelt and shoulder straps is firm, but comfortably snug, and the thermo-formed back panel, whilst lacking airflow channels and the other gizmos many other modern packs have, is supportive and no more sweaty than any other pack I’ve used.

Adjustable, thermoformed back panel.
Adjustable, thermoformed back panel.

Gear Review: Mountain Equipment Kongur jacket (2011)

Mountain Equipment Kongur jacket:

This heavyweight jacket, (my version now last season), has regularly been touted as bombproof, persistently being named as best waterproof jacket in many tests. I have to agree with those results, this thing has performed admirably, barring the inevitable water ingress at the cuffs and hem, (where the cuff meets your inner sleeve, and where the hem drawstring soaks up water), this jacket has kept me pretty much bone-dry, even during a 12-hour summer washout on Scafell Pike in the Lake District.

Being a 3 layer Gore-Tex Pro shell fabric, (with reinforced/higher denier face fabric panels in the relevant places, i.e. shoulders, arms and hips), this epic waterproofing and durability must inevitably come with somewhat reciprocal breathability, (it can get hot and sweaty in here when reasonably active!), however, water resistant pit zips and the double, (inner and outer), storm flaps on the main zip, mean that substantial venting is available which I find to be quite useful!

There are 4 external pockets, two being big enough to take an OS map, and one containing a plastic whistle attached to a section of cord! The double storm-flap with it’s drainage channel, is a boon when you’re active and generating masses of heat, allowing you to unzip the jacket fully whilst doing up the hook & loop fasteners, this keeps the rain and wind off/out and dumps heat and moisture at the same time.

Darker material indicates the reinforced areas. See double storm flap also.
Darker material indicates the reinforced areas. See double storm flap on main zip also.

Gear Review: Mountain Equipment Eclipse Hooded Zip Tee

Mountain Equipment Eclipse Hooded Zip Tee:

Mountain Equipment, a favourite brand of mine, have been around for some time and have been involved in many pioneering expeditions, thus they have a great deal of experience and expertise when it comes to producing functional kit. This piece is a testament to that and one that I prefer to reach for in the majority of situations in some context or another.

Take the hood/collar design for example, the zip is offset and guarded, so as to not abrade the user’s face. The collar extends to the bridge of the nose at the front and the hood extends from the top of the collar, (thus can be folded down/away if desired), and the whole thing results in a balaclava-style covering for the head and face when zipped up. Very versatile, due to the number of different ways that the hood/collar combination can be used, and though it might sound gimmicky, it actually works well and makes life somewhat easier, (like only the best tech can!).

See ninja-style hood, body-mapped fabrics and deep zip.
See balaclava-style hood, thumb-loops, green & grey grid-fleece body-mapped fabrics and deep zip.