Gear

Base Layers:

Mountain Equipment Crux Crew Neck

A light breathable base layer that works well during the Summer/Autumn months. Tried & Tested I continue to wear Mountain Equipment outdoor clothing due to the durability of this Base Layer.

My Score 9/10


Montane Bionic Base Layer Crew Neck

Montane is a product that I find myself searching for time & time again. Yes you will pay a little more for Montane products but as the saying goes ‘you pay for what you get’ from the fit down to the design Montane continues to impress with their across the board field in outdoor kit.

My Score 8/10


Trekmates Merino Contrast Zip Base Layer

Made from light, soft & highly breathable Smartwool the Mernio is system is both new to the Trekmates range & indeed myself. Still under test I fear I should have read recent reviews of this product as It is common in miss-shaping after a couple of washes, which is a shame as the Rab equivalent was just £1 cheaper.

My Score 6/10


Craghoppers Noselife Long Sleeve Shirt

The Noselife shirt brings a new & fresh dimension to base layering, generally used throughout the summer months or indeed, used as a layer under a lightweight jacket. I hopefully will see more of my new walking shirt through to 2013.

My Score 10/10


Fleeses:

Berghaus Fleece

One of my first outdoor products ever bought, it remains smelly yet solid in my pack as a back up should I need it on the fells.

My Score 8/10


Berghaus Fleece

As above, bought as a back-up should I ever need it.

My Score 8/10


Rab Power Stretch Zip Top

I purchased the Rab Power Stretch during the winter of 2011, as a base layer the light weight nylon fabric is warm & works well against cold & windy conditions. The fabric is stretchy & accommodating with a high neck & chest pocket. For me this type of layer would only be used during cold conditions.

The Power Stretch also boost thumb holes within the sleeve generously covers the back & palm of the hand giving you the option to leave the gloves in the pack or should conditions turn the thumb sleeve design can also act as a double layer when used with gloves.

My Score 9/10


Walking Trousers:

Montane Terra Walking Trousers

Purchased well over 18 months ago & still going strong the Montane Terra are my preferred light weight walking trousers. Most walking trousers come with a active cut high lift crotch & the Terra are no exception to this as I find this type of cut a must have in my walking wardrobe.

The trousers also come with mesh lined zip-vents along the thighs which come in handy walking during those hot summer months, adding to this are two zip pockets & one security pocket with zip.

The Montane Terra Trousers tick all the walkers boxes adding to the fact that this particular trouser is one of the best & most sought after outdoor trouser.

Although the Terra wick away sweat & are extremely quick drying the Terra pant are not waterproof, yet work well with an added over trouser during the wet weather.

My Score 10/10


Montane Terra Stretch

As above Montane never fail to impress with their carefully engineered walking trouser with all emphasis on comfort & design.

No need to fix something that isn’t broke, and that’s exactly what Montane have done here.

My Score 10/10


Rab Vapour Rise Guide Weather Proof Pant

I’ve been on the lookout for a highly breathable, fast wicking & windproof walking trouser to replace my Berghaus Deluge over trousers which I have had for some time now, the Berghaus Deluge still come highly recommended as an over trouser & never have failed me, their only failure is in the name itself, over trouser.

As a fell walker getting caught out in the odd downpour comes with the territory although do I think I’ve seen my fair share of ‘downing pack & reaching for the over trousers’ The Rab Vapour Rise put an end to this almost instantly. Although the Vapour Rise don’t claim to be fully water proof they are highly wicking & incredibly windproof, add a fleece lining, excellent breathability together with crampon patches around the hem & the classic cut articulated knees the Vapour Rise are a great all round winter walking pant.

My Score 9/10


The North Face convertible walking trouser

Purchased at the start of my walking career as a replacement for the current Crag Hoppers I had been using. Was left feeling disappointed as this trouser felt cumbersome & less free for mountain manoeuvrability, adding to the disappointed was the weight of the trousers, more a outdoor walk around town or dog walking may suit this particular trouser better than high up on the fells.

My Score 6/10


The Berghaus Deluge Waterproof Over Trouser

My Berghaus Deluge have been with me for quite some time now nestled away in the bottom of my pack. They are a fantastic over trouser but I cant help feel that the over trouser is somewhat dated now with the new fleece lined waterproof trouser thus no need to wear anything underneath.

The Deluge are not just great at being waterproof, try them on a windy summit to keep your legs nice & toasty.

My Score 8/10


Outdoor Shorts:

Craghoppers Noselife Mens Shorts

What can I say about Craghoppers & the Noselife range, I can go so far to say that every pair of outdoor shorts I have owned over the past five years have come from this range, comfortable, light & quick drying – need the outdoor type ask for more? I think not, everything you need in a pair of shorts & more.

My Score 10/10


Lightweight & Waterproof Jackets:

The North Face (Flight Series) Lightweight jacket

The Flight Series was again one of my first purchases as an intrepid walker onto Lakelands Fells, the jacket is more sentimental more than anything as I wore it the second time I set foot on fell side sometime during April 2008. The jacket is wind & waterproof -  although I don’t think I can vouch for that now.

My Score 7/10


Regatta Mantel Waterproof Jacket

If we use the term again ‘you get what you pay for’ then this Jacket has it all for under £35. So impressed with the Jacket I scaled Scafell Pike for the first time in adverse weather conditions, needless to say the Regatta Mantel did not disappoint.

My Score 7/10


The Paramo Fuero Windproof Jacket

Bought on a whim from my local Goutdoors store I only ever wore this Jacket once while on an ascent on Skiddaw back in March 2010.

The Fuero does exactly says on the tin, its a neat little wind proof jacket that folds away nicely into a neat little bungle to carry in your pack.

My Score 8/10


The Rab Latok Alpine

Helmet compatible

The Rab Latok is still to this day one of the most versatile outdoor hiking jacket on the market, when Rab produced this they made a licence to print money it seriously is that good.

When one cant thing of what to say speaks volumes about the matter.

Made from eVent ® 3 layer storm fabric the Latok is serious about keeping the wind & more importantly the rain out. With an agile fit & storm proof zips it is no wonder I have practically worn the Latok out, but it wont be beaten. to this day I use this Jacket as my main walking jacket & layer to adjust to the weather around me which works just brilliantly.

Weight: 450g

My Score 10/10


The Montane Sabretooth Soft-Shell Jacket

Helmet Compatible

My newest addition to my walking wardrobe comes with the ever complacent Montane Brand. The Sabretooth Soft shell comes highly rated with the newest outdoor technology in the form of Polartec Power Shield, a lightweight soft shell jacket that can tackle almost anything outdoors can throw at it. Described as wind & waterproof the Sabretooth is not storm proof so care must be taken when walking when heavy burst of rain are predicted, packing my Rab Latok in cases such as these will keep me dry & warm during the duration of my walk.

My Score 9/10


Mountain Equipment Firefox Jacket

This jacket is currently waiting to be reviewed.


Gloves:

Extremities Windstoppers

My pack just wouldn’t be complete without my Windstoppers gloves, a versatile Gore lined fabric compete with silicone fingers & palms for use with your mountain gadgets & equipment. The Windstoppers offers wind & waterproof protection along with excellent breathability.

My Score 9/10


Rab Phantom Fit Windproof Glove

I purchased the Rab Phantom glove during Autumn 2013 to replace my ever trust worthy Extremities Windstoppers. They are in every way a technical glove that are windproof rather than a windproof glove that is technical too.

As useful as they are while using maps & gadgets on the mountain, getting a firm grip over wet rock whilst wearing them, unlike the Extremities, is almost suicidal, as I found out for myself out in the field.

The gel pads are useful leaving that technical touch to most things, but as stated they are not to trusted in wet, add to this during some extreme buffering experienced I found the wind had somehow pierced the weave & the chill was soon felt, something that again, the, cheaper Extremities never did, its not very often that Rab clothing have let me down but in the case of the Phantom Fit Windstoppers they have.

My Score 5/10


Mountain Equipment GTX Winter Glove

I purchased these Mountain Equipment winter gloves over two years ago & can probably count on one hand (no pun intended!) the amount of times I have actually used them. I tend to stick to my Windstoppers throughout my days on the fells. The GTX gloves offers full winter protection including breathability, cowhide palms together with a warm fleece lining & wrist loops, a must for any winter enthusiast.

My Score 9/10


Walking Shoes & Boots:



The Karrimor Bodmin mid shoe

One of my first purchases came from the leading brand of entry level boots direct from England. Back in the old days I climbed Helvellyn (why I do not know!) in this mid shoe, grip came a plenty but support it obviously failed me. Karrimor are still a leading brand to this day so don’t let my ignorance on purchasing boots put you off, I didn’t…

My Score 7/10


The Karrimor KSB Tour Event Boot

Now that’s more like it. The KSB Event boot is just what the entry level fell walker should have wrapped around ones toe unless you have a much healthier budget of course.

My Score 7/10


The Raichle All Degree Light GTX Walking Boot

My first major purchase in Hiking Boots came in the form of these lovely Raichle’s, tested & purchased from Cotswolds outdoors Liverpool. These boots saw me gain over 200 Wainwright summits until coming to a sorry watery end where upon I could take no more of the squelching. Sadly Raichle was taken over by Mammut which still to this day recreate the adversity its predecessor sadly I did not do the cross-over from Raichle to Mammut.

My Score 8/10


The Salomon Quest GTX Hiking Boot

The Salomon Quest are, and have been my preferred footwear for the fells for sometime now, so much so rather than to go out looking for what’s new on the market come the time for replacement I simply return to what I know is best.

My Score 10/10


Salomon Cosmic 4D 2 GTX Men’s Walking Boot 2012

My fourth pair of Salomon’s in wicked green look great in winter above a coating of crisp white snow, no need to wear the new additions in as they as always fit like a glove without the need to wear the boot around the house before hand.

Salomon again did not disappoint.

My Score 9/10


Salomon Cosmic 4D 2 GTX Men’s Walking Boot 2013

The Cosmic series continues well into 2013 with another new addition.

My Score 9/10


Meindl Vacuum GTX

I purchased the Meindl’s after letting go of the synthetic Salomon’s after four or so years. I’ve always been put off by leather walking boots by their weight but with advancing technology this has decreased along with Vibram soles & in the Meindl’s case a memory foam lining that gives the foot & heal that bit more cushioning & support. Along with this the Vacuums only outweigh the Salomon’s by 300g a pair which really goes to show how advanced the Meindl Vacuums really are.

I first wore the Vacuums on a 7.5 mile walk over extremely rugged & sometimes very steep ground, the Vacuums were awesome never causing me to think that I was wearing in a brand new pair of leather boots instead letting me get on with the walk. Its still early days but after more walks covering just under 50 miles & 16,000 feet over the last few weeks I still don’t have a hint of a blister…with that, the boot in these early days speaks for itself.

My Score 10/10


Walking Socks & Insoles:





I have used both Brasher & Smartwool as my main socks when traversing the fells, both offer sublime comfort cushioning, & profit of moisture wicking & shrink resistant materials.

My Score 9/10


Sorbothane

are one of the leaders when it comes down to foot cushioning, the gel cushion take out the shock from rugged descents & traverses, a must for any serious walker.

My Score 8/10


Day Packs:

The Karrimor Spike 25 Ltr

The first Daypack I bought, its been with me for almost for 6yrs ,Love the deep side pockets, great for water bottles & my Satsuma’s ,The only reason I’m not using it as much these days is the simple fact it cant hold all my gear anymore .That doesn’t mean it never served me well.

My Score 7/10


The Berghaus Twenty Four Seven Day Pack

Again another 25ltr Daypack .I bought this one for the pure reason it had a H20 installed but for some reason or another I would of rather use the Karrimor Spike at times.

My Score 7/10


The Vango Explore 65 Ltr

Ideal for Wild Camping & extremely comfortable although it is a 65Ltr Pack & when its full ,its heavy so the padded straps & back support takes the pain slightly away. I Only used this Pack for the 2 x wild camps we did (Blencathra) & (Ennerdale) It was bought in sale & if I remember rightly only cost me about £30

My Score 9/10


The Berghaus Arête 45 Ltr

My newest addition The Berghaus Arête looks great & is a really comfortable,pack seems to hug the back with no roll or pitch when coming down rocky traverses or steep ascents ,Its waterproof with a separate lined inner liner keeping everything dry ,H20 compatible & a whistle built into the actual chest strap this Pack seems to have a strap for everything inc Walking Pole & Ice Axes , the only let down personally is it doesn’t seem to have enough pockets, its just the case of putting your hand deep in until you have found what your looking for.

My Score 10/10


Berghaus 45Ltr Back Pack Rain Cover

Bought only when I finally learned my lesson that nothing is waterproof, A bargain at £12.99 inc Shipping its worth spending a bit of time on the internet searching for the best deal as some online stores were charging upwards of £18 inc Shipping. I opted for size small as my current  pack is a 45Ltr & the size is perfect, it comes with draw strings & a nip strap to ensure the perfect fit.

My Score 7/10


Lowe Alpine Crag Attack 30 Ltr

I found myself accustomed to carrying my  Berghaus Arête 45 LTR  throughout the winter months & for that matter the previous summer, this technical  pack is a great medium to heavy weight pack that even on long excursions was comfortable & accommodating, fully loaded the Berghaus Arête  would easily carry 15 kilo’s comfortably, the side straps four in each were useful for getting that taught tight pack even more comfortable to shoulder.

As It is coming spring/Summer this season I have decided to pack lighter as you can often afford to during the summer months, my problem was what could compete with the Berghaus Arête? Its easy to trawl the internet sights but nothing gives you a real sense until the product is actually in your hands & by visiting various Outdoor stores I came across the Lowe Alpine Crag Attack 30 LTR, this pack has almost Identical features to the Berghaus Arête In a padded hip belt, Lid with external zip pocket & Internal, Chest Strap With whistle, 2 x haul loops, Twin Ice & Pole fittings & last but not least Hydration compatible. It seems I have found exactly what I was looking for.

My Score 10/10


Montane Medusa 32 Ltr

Its still early days for the Montane Medusa but overall the main advantage of the Medusa has over my Lowe Alpine Crag Attack 30 is its lightness despite it being two litres larger. The Montane Medusa brings the lightweight teqnical pack into 2014 with its compact design & stylish looks.


Equipment:

Leki Makalou Walking Poles

It is true it in not uncommon to see my walking pole fastened to my pack than in the grip of my hand, in saying this I only tend to use the pole as an aid in descent or up high Rake’s & so on.

It is true also that a walker can get attached to ones walking pole & I am no exception.

My Score 10/10


Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles.

For along time & without success I have been trying to twin up my single Leki Makalou walking pole to form a pair all to no avail.

Since the beginning of 2014 I started to walk using two poles from leaving the car park to returning to it sometime later, I hadn’t really quite grasped just how much using two poles can help not just with steep descents but steep ascents too (stands to sense really) So here I am, I’ve just turned 40 & I think I maybe starting to show it.

The Black Diamond Trail Poles were this time bought as a pair, the upper grip is a narrow shaft of foam which isn’t as comfortable as the Leki Makalou but when held as a pair after a short time walking its hard to tell the difference.

A key feature to the Black Diamond Trail Poles are that they are handed with a handy L & R on each wrist loop, this is because the wrist loop drops neatly into each hand without twisting or leaving your thumbs feeling uncomfortable.

My Score 8/10


Bloc Billy Sunglasses.

I would be lost without my Billy’s during the summer and indeed during low sun in winter time too. I’m currently on my third pair now after leaving the previous two on St Sunday Crag’s summit back in 2010 and the other pair where left behind after a mammoth hike over the Scafells back in 2011. If indeed you do/did find them, enjoy them as much as I do.

My Score 10/10


Snow Goggles by Sinner

After walking through winter close to 10 years the introduction of Snow Goggles was never something that had occurred to me, it was as simple as keep your head down & walk the spin drift out. I had the opportunity to purchase a pair of Snow Go ogles from my local Gooutdoor store without wanting to pay to I settled for a pair around the £20.00 mark.

It was only did I encounter fierce winds & spin drift during December 2014 while on Helvellyn did I realise just how well my new Snow Goggles helped me as winds approached 65mph across the summit tops, it was here did I realise that my £20.00 purchase was possibly the best £20.00 Id spent on gear for a long time as the protection they offer is second to none as viability is increased along with morale as the worst thing you can encounter during a snow storm is the fact that not just has visibility decreased but so has morale, Snow goggles help eradicate both.

A great winter purchase 10/10


Suunto Core All Black.

Currently waiting to be reviewed.


Grivel Monte Rosa New Classic Crampon.

Imperative for safe climbs over the hard ice the Grivel Crampon is the leader amongst expeditions the world over.

My Score 8/10


Grivel Mont Blanc S.A

The Nepal S.A. is a non-technical ice axe ideal for trekking, classic snow climbs,. The carbon-steel head features a classically inclined pick with teeth along half its length. The body and pick are hot, drop forged in one piece, then the stamped shovel is welded to it. The Ergal shaft surpasses UIAA norms for strength and durability. It is coated with red, epoxy-based paint. S.A. Shaft.

My Score 10/10


Camelbak 2ltr Hydration System

The 2ltr Camalbak hydration bladder pack is possibly the best hydration pack on the market, expect to pay £20 plus, yes they are expensive but you don get great value & a life long warranty, described as indestructible I have had mine going on two years without a problem from the bladder itself although I have replaced the bite valve once & added a stop valve to stop leakage due to when my pack is full there is quite alot of pressure that builds behind the bite-valve, adding a stop valve will stop any untoward leakage 100%

One more thing I would like to add about the delivery tube is that during the winter months the bite-valve can freeze creating an ice cube effect within the valve, try blowing back after use to stop this or even manufacture your own insulation around the tube with a thin layer of either felt or foam tubing, trust me it works.

My Score 9/10


Cameras:

Sony Cyber Shot DSC H1 Digital Camera

A good all round Digital Camera ,I bought this used from a friend at work & its let me down only a few times, ie: freezing in the cold & me getting it wet, but other than that its been great camera , The carry pouch & strap also has a the loop which is where I generally clip it (so if you see a walker walking with his trousers round his ankles you’ll properly find its me!) I do struggle carrying a camera over my shoulder or around the neck with the constant tap, tap, tap to the chest ,so I find it better to loop it through the belt adjust to my right side out the way of leg movement & just wait until my trousers fall down under the weight.


Panasonic Lumix DMC – FZ38 Digital Camera

My newest edition Digital Camera, as technology has moved on considerably in the last 5 years or so, & with the Cyber Shot having a limited 12x zoom I was on the look out for something with a little more powerful zoom & accessories & that’s basically what you get with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38. I love my technology & gadgets as much as the next bloke & yeah I’m also one of those guys who never reads the instructions! trial by error is the only way! the thing is with me is I love to take the pictures, but as for everything else this camera can do my knowledge is pretty basic ,shutter speeds ect ect,however I am going to be doing some research on filters to adapt because there’s nothing worse than dull grey skies & with Lakeland that is what you get a lot of the time, so if I can introduce different aspects of light in some shots that will keep Paul a happy boy!The camera also records in HD playback & comes with a USB cable for downloading straight to your computer, In the box is pretty basic, you do get the obvious camera straps & a charger for the Panasonic adapted battery pack, no camera bag memory card ect which unlike the Cyber Shot which had another additional external memory card (only obtained from Sony outlets) the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 runs on SanDisk slot type obtained almost everywhere (in my case my local Asda 4Gb £9.99)

Don’t let the internet fool you,..Price checker sites & the usual big online stores didn’t come up to scratch while trying to find the best deal .Its always worth  a try checking the big  High street stores which in my case came in the form of Jessop’s in Preston.


Nikon D3200

I’ve owned the Nikon D3200 now for a couple of months, the one thing that tempted me to the D3200 after reading reviews was just how many times the word ‘robust’ was mentioned in the same sentence as the D3200.

The Nikon D3200 is a huge step up for me in terms of what a camera can do & how much I know how to do it, so much so I took a few photography lessons from a friend who taught me the basics & how the camera & its many functions work.

The camera (besides myself) is still under review as at this stage I still haven’t figured its many programs but, I slowly but surely & I am getting there.


Mapping:

Ordnance Survey Explorer Folded Series

I cut my teeth with my collection of OS maps during the early days of my fell walking career, there is many a photograph of me with my trusted OL4 ect,ect – folded neatly within my trouser thigh pocket.

In most cases the explorer series come in 1:25 scale which offers much more ground detail than the sketchier 1:50 of which most G.P.S’s are programed including my own. My collection of maps are like photographs of my family, some are so sacred from those special first walks, some are so cut up they are held together with Selotape, battered by the wind & rain from walks gone by, never leave for the mountains without one.


Memory Map


GPS:

Garmin E-trex H

Gives excellent value for money at only costing around £80 the Etrex H is the GPS on a shoe string ,I got this from my local Gooutdoors & was even given a demo by one of the staff in the shop at no time spared from a fellow walker, then given a hearty hand shake & wished a Happy Christmas ,now that’s what I call service. I know my experience is not always what you get from stores like these & I have read some true I wouldn’t say horror stories but plain ignorance from staff alike but to be true full my local GOD has always come up scratch & I’m quite happy with that given its a Hugh multi outlet .

About the Etrex H, like I said it is the cheapest GPS on the market & only come with a LCD screen which in its self does look pretty basic but it does the job! It can store up to 500 waypoints/markers which personally is more than enough as I’ve only used at most 15/20 & that’s keeping the markers within a half mile radius, Its waterproof although there’s dropping in lets say a puddle or snow & then there’s dropping in a lake I wouldn’t want to find out! 17 hours battery life having only used it twice using 2x ordinary AA rechargeable batteries on lets say a 4 hour walk the batteries coped well in freezing conditions too,The only couple of gripes I do have do have so far is I don’t yet have the data cable which makes for tedious finger pushing inputting the marker points which can take roughly about half an hour to input say 15 waypoints & with the buttons all feeling like new & so stiff your thumb & fingers do tend to go numb ! but other than that the best £80 I’ve spent in a long time.


The Garmin Oregon Day 450

The Garmin Oregon 450 wasn’t on ‘my to buy list’ as I was looking at its younger & cheaper brother The Dakota 20 (Full UK 1:50 Mapping) Having penny pinched my way through the last few months Id finally put enough away to go to my local  http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/ & swap my hard earned cash for a new little walking buddy.

My local G.O.D Comes highly recommended as said in previous reviews, yeah sometimes you might pay over the odds but not necessarily on all occasions, I’m as tight as the next tight wad when it comes to bargains, I too will trawl the websites looking for the cheapest bargain but in this case Garmin seemed have nailed the market (my thoughts anyway) in the fact every where I looked I came up with the same price, I’m pretty lucky in the fact that my local G.O.D has a Mountain Team Rescue member (Bolton Mountain Rescue)  His product knowledge was second to none talking me through the interface (it really is idiot proof!) There’s one On/Of button on the side of the unit & after that basically its all touch screen,now I’m not the biggest fan of anything touch screen especially mobile phones, the touch pad on the Dakota  isn’t over sensitive,from my first ‘play’ the touch pad needs a firm tap with the finger & isn’t going to end you up looking at tidal times while your traversing Britain’s highest.

The Dakota 450 packs a bit more in weight than my Garmin Etrex H (192.7g) as apposed to the Etrex H (150g) but what is handy is it comes with a Carabineer thumb clip which like my Etrex H I attached to my chest strap on my pack, battery life comes in roughly between 16/18 hours depending on back lights & alike which is more than adequate time for what I need, using x2 AA rechargeable batteries the Dakota actually recognises which type of battery it is running on to get the most out of it.

It really is early days yet for a full review, but I’m sure I’m going to enjoy this little gadget while out on the fells, The words used by the G..O.D Rescue Team Member were, of course always take your map but from now on I cant see it coming out your pack very often, keep posted for more reviews on this product.


 

The Stylist Pen

I would be lost without my stylist pen neatly tucked into my shoulder strap on my pack. I use the stylist pen to wipe & operate the touch screen on my Garmin Oregon GPS. Having lost numerous on the fells now I’m usually found in the local Game store stocking up on spares.