Posts tagged “outdoor gear

Gear Review: Buffalo Systems Special 6 Smock

Buffalo Systems Special 6 Shirt/Smock:

The Buffalo concept diverges from the traditional ‘layering’ clothing system that stipulates the requirement for a three-pronged attack, geared towards tackling sweating, insulation and waterproofing. The Buffalo Pile & Pertex system, (Double P/DP), is NOT waterproof, but is highly water resistant, wicking and breathable. It is designed to fit snugly and be worn next to the skin, i.e. with nothing underneath! Whilst this might sound a little crazy to some of you traditionalists, there is a well-backed up body of evidence that supports the use of this kind of attire in certain inclement conditions, and this concept has been copied and allegedly refined by some well-known brands.

New Buffalo logo on chest/map pocket.

New Buffalo logo on chest/map pocket.

I’ve recently purchased a brand new Special 6 after owning a second hand version that was around 20 years old, (estimated from pictures of the logo, the old style without the red/any text). Despite this apparent age, the smock looked brand new, with literally no flaws in the Pertex 6/Classic material whatsoever. The heavy-weight fleece/pile had suffered some age-related flattening of the pile but wasn’t too far off as lofty as it was when new, (compared against a brand new pair of the Special 6 trousers).

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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.

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Gear Review: Primus Gravity II EF & Primus LiTech Trek Kettle

Primus Gravity II EF:

The Gravity II EF is a remote canister gas-powered stove, it has a built-in piezo ignition, is pretty light at ca. 270g, and packs relatively small in it’s own waterproof case. As it sits quite low to the ground and is remote from the canister, it is therefore both stable and easy to shield from the wind. It also comes with fold-away heat and wind shields. The Gravity is quite powerful and efficient too, with an alleged boil time of around 2min 15s for 1L of water. I found that it was capable of properly heating a Wayfayrer ready meal in ca. 5 minutes at around 3/4 power, as opposed to the 8 minutes suggested by Wayfayrer.

Stove and 230g canister for scale. Note the melted ignition.
Stove and 230g canister for scale. Note the melted ignition.
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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.
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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!
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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).

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Gear Review: Exped Downmat UL 7 M & Klymit Cush

Exped DownMat UL 7:

When camping, the ground on which you will be sleeping is the biggest point of contact for your body, (unless in a hammock!). The ground then acts somewhat like a heatsink for a great deal of the heat given off by your body whilst you sleep, channeling it out of you by way of conduction. As such, if needing a sleep system capable of keeping you alive, warm and comfortable, a good insulating mat is of as much importance as a good sleeping bag. Down mats, or synthetic alternatives use the body heat that seeps down through the mat to warm air trapped in the down/synthetic filaments, thus providing you with a semi-passive, self-sustained bed of warm air to sleep on.

In this context, the Exped DownMat Ul 7 M is an excellent invention. It contains 700 fill power goose down filled baffles, (170g of down), that utilise your own body heat to warm air trapped within the down filaments, producing an R-value, (a little advice and information from REI), of 5.9, so it is well able to insulate you from the ground. Does it work? Emphatically, yes! At no point have I ever been anything less than toasty, even at temperatures of around -10C, (it’s rated down to -24C!). The down baffles are oriented length-ways, which means that you don’t roll off easily during the night!

Inflate and deflate nozzles on the Exped DownMat.
Inflate and deflate nozzles on the Exped DownMat.
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