New Boots and…

P1050931

New boots and socks actually. But that’s not a classic Ian Dury album and so would make a rubbish title. Here are said boots on their first expedition, which took us down to The Cove…

P1050935 

For those of you interested in such matters, these are Altberg Malham Boots which I bought from Whalley Warm and Dry.

I was planning a trip and, although the Brasher Kiso boots have done me proud, and after three years of heavy use are still going strong, I was a bit dismayed at the prospect of wearing them for four consecutive days because they don’t fit all that well – they feel very narrow and in particular my toes always feel crushed in them. Most boots I’ve had over the years have felt that way, to a greater or lesser extent, and having read about Altberg boots – which come in half sizes and five width fittings – I’ve been promising myself a pair for years. Hence the trip to Whalley.

It was an interesting shopping experience. First of all, the socks I bought were left and right footed (a new one on me). Secondly, the whole thing took around an hour (and I only tried on one pair of boots). We discussed the kind of walking I intend to do. My feet were measured in several ways; it seems that its not so much that they are particularly wide, as I had always thought, but that they spread out when I stand up. Also that my feet are much wider near the toes and narrower near the heel. (Aren’t everyone’s?) In the end I bought not just boots, but also insoles which will apparently help my foot to retain a more natural shape and so prevent my toes being jammed into the end of the boots. Once boots and insoles were chosen the boots were stretched to improve the fit.

With being off work I’ve been able to wear the boots quite a lot already and first impressions are very favourable. They don’t completely eradicate the problem I have with my toes rubbing together (more of which to follow), but they do feel very comfortable even so. Obviously, time will tell and I’ll post another review when I’ve used them over a longer period of time, in a greater variety of conditions.

In the meantime, onward and upward…

P1050934

I’m Partial to Your Abracadabra.

New Boots and…

Berghaus Women’s Carrock Jacket

TBH's new coat

Those nice people at Berghaus, no doubt aware of TBH’s long-suffering status, offered to send her a coat to try. Here she is modelling said coat, a Women’s Carrock Goretex Jacket.

And peaked hood 

Due to the unusually dry weather which February and March have so far brought she hasn’t been able to test its waterproofness, but never the less she is very happy with it.

It has a plethora of pockets, two hand-warmers, an internal pocket and one in the sleeve. (What for – I can’t think why you would want that?). It also has pit-zips, velcro-fastenings on the sleeves, and a peaked hood with a volume adjuster.

TBH is particularly impressed with the hood. She also likes:

  • The fit
  • The colour
  • The fact that it doesn’t “smell like wet dog”.

Another view of that hood. 

So that I wouldn’t feel left out, Berghaus sent me a beanie hat to try. I can’t think of a lot to say about a hat. I’ve already had the chance to wear it on four very cold and blowy hill days. Perhaps the best thing I can say is that I’ve quite a collection of hats which I seem to have accumulated over the years, but the beanie has now become my first choice winter wear.

I have a sort of unofficial policy about not posting photos of myself, but fortuitously I found this unfortunately unpulchritudinous chap by the summit cairn on Swirl How and persuaded him to model the beanie hat…

My New Hat

(Forgive him pulling a bit of face, it was snowing and a very cold wind was blowing. It was a tad parky.)

TBH adds:

“The hat is also tasteful. The kids are pleased to be out with you looking less like a hobo than usual.”

Berghaus Women’s Carrock Jacket

Shoe Review – Brasher Kiso GTX from OutdoorKit

Brasher Kiso GTX

Seasoned Beating the Bounds readers (hi Mum!) will know that over recent years I’ve walked in a bewildering variety of footwear: boots, shoes and sandals; new, old and completely dilapidated; Hi-Tec, Keen and Asda. The one thing they’ve all had in common is their total inability to keep my feet dry.

Well, now, hopefully, all that has changed. The good people of Outdoorkit kindly sent me a pair of Brasher Kiso GTX to review.

Eastern Fells from near Codale Head

I’ve had Brasher boots before, and that previous experience suggested that these would be very comfortable – which they are. I’ve never had a pair of fabric boots however and I shall be interested to see how these compare, and how well they last.

I’ve worn them a few times now, but their sternest test to date came on our recent weekend trip to the Lakes. The ground was thoroughly saturated from all the rain we’d been having, and it rained, snowed and hailed. The boots dealt with it all magnificently. We descended through Blindtarn Moss in the dark and the boots (with my feet in ‘em obviously) were fully immersed in the quagmire repeatedly – I fully expected that my feet would be a least damp when we arrived back at the Hotel – but they weren’t.

Fairfield Horseshoe

On the second day we descended very steeply on scree, heading from Fairfield to Seat Sandal – I was glad of the grip and support the boots offered, superior I would say, to any of the trail shoes which have been my footwear of choice recently.

I shan’t be searching for technical details to regurgitate, I probably wouldn’t understand them and couldn’t swear to their veracity, besides which, if you’re interested, you’ll find them for yourselves. And I’m not in a position to compare these boots to those of any rival producers, but I can at least report that so far I’m really thrilled with them. Next test: Pennine bogs – bring ‘em on!

Some links:

http://www.outdoorkit.co.uk/ – Outdoorkit’s homepage
http://www.outdoorkit.co.uk/brand/brasher_29.html – Outdoorkit’s Brasher page
http://www.outdoorkit.co.uk/product.php?product_id=8222 -  Men’s Kiso Boot at Outdoorkit

Shoe Review – Brasher Kiso GTX from OutdoorKit

Shoe Review – Hi-Tec TT Pursuit WP from Outdoor Look*

Hi-Tec TT Pursuit WP

Back in April, the good people at Outdoor Look asked me whether I would like to review a pair of boots or shoes. It was almost as if they could read my mind: just what I needed! After perusing the options available I decided to go for shoes, and after much deliberation decided to give Hi-Tec footwear another go. (Regular readers will have endured several rants about my old leaked-like-a-sieve-and- fell-to-pieces-after-five-minutes Hi-Tec boots, so I’ll spare you anymore of that.) So I asked for a pair of TT Pursuit WP shoes.

The first time I wore them was when we climbed Pillar back at the start of May. I was slightly concerned about the fact that I’d done nothing to wear them in, but I needn’t have worried – they were really comfortable from the off.

Hi-Tec TT Pursuit WP 

Here they are, on my feet, when were sat having a brew by Robinson’s cairn. And held aloft in front of Pillar Rock….

Product Placement

Since then I’ve worn them just about every time I’ve been out.

So how have they performed?

Well – perhaps first I should just point out the limitations of this review: I can’t compare these shoes to anything similar from other manufacturers, and I have limited experience of other trail shoes. My technical knowledge of fabrics and construction techniques is non-existent. I have no idea where these shoes were made and whether their manufacture was environmentally friendly or ethically sound.

What I can tell you is that these shoes are very comfortable to wear. On the whole I am very happy with them. They aren’t really waterproof, I didn’t expect that they would be, and I think that in the future I would try to find un-lined shoes. That said, my feet have felt comfortable in them even when they’ve been wet. The grip is good and I feel confident in them on all but the slipperiest surfaces. Time will tell, but so far they have stood up well to the abuse that has been thrown at them. When contouring or descending on very steep ground I don’t feel that the heel cups give as much support as I would like, but this may be an issue with trail shoes in general rather than these particular shoes. It seems to me that they’re quite competitively priced, but you can judge that one for yourself.

With the shoes, Outdoor Look sent me a catalogue. Some of the things on offer seemed to me to be at bargain prices and I shall certainly be purchasing stuff from them in future. Ironically, it looks like they aren’t stocking Hi-Tec footwear anymore, but they do have a wide range of boots and shoes from other brands.

*Other brands and other retailers are available.

Shoe Review – Hi-Tec TT Pursuit WP from Outdoor Look*

Hi Gear Thermal Baselayer – First Look

Hi Gear Men's Thermal Baselayer Long Sleeved Top

More gear to review from Go Outdoors. This time a Hi Gear Men’s Thermal Baselayer Long Sleeved Top and Hi Gear Long John Thermal Baselayer Leggings. Both of which cost a mere £4.99 (and you can get 10% discount with a Go Outdoors discount card).

Actually in this case I can do more than a first look, having worn the top three times and the long-johns twice (much to TBH’s amusement). On one of those occasions I gave them a very stern test, as you shall see.

I already had a cheap set of thermals, bought online for much the same price and expected that these would be much the same. Mostly they are – warm, comfortable and very functional. Being 50% polyester they are very warm and seem to generate quite a quantity of liquid from somewhere. (No, no, it’s got nothing to do with me.) Being 50% cotton that moisture tends to be retained rather than wicking away. I find that this isn’t much of an issue until I stop and cool down a little – and then I can become very aware of being damp and can then get cold. Having said that, my impression is that these thermals are better in this respect than my old ones.

Now: the Stern Test. Purely in the interests of science you understand, I immersed the long-johns in the kind of boggy hollow endemic to the Pennine moors. Whilst wearing them. In order to do that I first had to break the ice which covered, some might even say concealed, said bog. Did the thermals keep me warm? Well no: to say that would be to claim too much. I didn’t really feel warm again until I’d spent several hours indoors in numerous layers of warm and dry clothes. But, the performance of the soaking long-johns really surprised me – my legs felt warm and comfortable to a much greater extent than, in the circumstances, I thought they had any right to do.

So – a big thumbs up from me. At the price – excellent value for money.

Go Outdoors range of thermal baselayers can be found here.

Hi Gear Long John Thermal Baselayer Leggings

Hi Gear Thermal Baselayer – First Look

The North Face Men’s Resolve Waterproof Jacket – First Look

North Face Men's Resolve Waterproof Jacket

I don’t really read gear reviews*. I find them, well (whisper it) a bit, well boring. Sorry.

I have however noticed that the retailer Go Outdoors has been showering, nay – carpet-bombing – fellow outdoor bloggers with largesse; to whit free, gratis and for nothing gear, and wondered when my time would come. (I know, a tad hypocritical to be sniffy about gear fetishists but jealous of the free gear – I put it down to capricious old human nature.)

Well – that time, my time, is here. Go Outdoors have very kindly sent me a coat to look at. Handy that because I have two cagoules already – both of which leak like the proverbial sieve.

The garment in question is a North Face Men’s Resolve Waterproof Jacket, which I notice, since they sent me it, has been discounted to a mere fifty quid less a penny.

One of the anoraks this will hopefully replace is also by North Face, and although it leaks now (after fairly heavy use), when I first bought it I was very happy with it. In fact, I rather hoped that the Resolve would be the same jacket. It’s not – it’s quite different.

Which begs the question – what is the Resolve like?

Well – it has two sleeves, a hood (not-wired), a zip down the front, various poppers and bits of velcro too. Elasticated wrist-thingies (way too big for my girly wrists). And….um, it’s black. Oh – it’s coated with hy-vent. Whatever that is. It probably isn’t a coat for winter mountain walking, but I think (hope?) it will be ideal for popping into my rucksack for my extended commutes when the evenings draw out and the forecast isn’t for anything too threatening.

I haven’t worn it in anger yet. Perhaps I’ll have more to say when I have.

*This is a whopping great lie. I’m quite fascinated by the evolving technology of tents/tarps/shelters. But that’s it. Oh – and stove’s too obviously, if there’s a video of the stove in action with real flames and a kettle boiling. Apart from that I’m immune to the charms of gear porn. Well, no I’m not, it’s just….sometimes it can seem that the gear is more important than the walking itself. I’ve been reading…

PC111078

…”…And Far Away”  by Garry Hogg. An interesting account of three walks undertaken towards the end of WWII. Along Offa’s Dyke, before it was a National Trail, from Skipton to Wooler in anticipation of the Pennine Way, and from Lulworth Cove to the Cotswolds (more about this last at some point I think). That’s him on the left. And here he is again…

PC111077

He has a great deal to say about gear – maps (of which he approves most heartily), his walking stick (for which he feels a great affection) and volumes of poetry (difficult to decide which one to take with you apparently). About his pear-shaped rucksack, his tweed suit, his shoes, hat, or even the ubiquitous pipe he has nothing to say. If it rained he looked for a barn to shelter in. Or knocked on a door. Or gritted his teeth and got wet. In the Pennines he carried (and almost certainly wore. A lot.) a waterproof cycle cape.

Would he have swapped his stick for pacer poles, his tweeds for a soft-shell, his shoes for performance footwear, his beloved maps for GPS, his cycle-cape for the latest technical fabrics?

Well, maybe he would. But…he still savoured his walking without any of those comforts. I’m not suggesting that we should do without, just that we should never lose sight of what the gear is all for: to enhance our enjoyment of being in the outdoors. So, erm…Go Outdoors!

(Oops – didn’t see the cheesy ending coming – sorry.)

P.S. – of the three links I was sent to insert in this post, one inexplicably, was for Hi-Tec stuff at Go Outdoors. It doesn’t make sense, but there I’ve done it – you don’t want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Or bite the hand that feeds you.

P.P.S. I have some Hi-Tec Boots. With new ion-mask waterproof technology. Very comfortable. Very leaky, almost from the off. After one year’s use: falling to pieces. Just thought you might like to know that.

More about the Resolve when it has been tried and tested.

The North Face Men’s Resolve Waterproof Jacket – First Look