Lighten the Load – Backpacking Kit Ideas

Even though it’s forecast to rain this weekend (right on cue for Glastonbury & Wimbledon), we’ve enjoyed some stunningly good weather so far this summer, and it’s set to return next week. Besides its obvious benefits; barbecues, being able to wear a T-shirt all the time etc., fine summer weather presents lovers of the great outdoors with the perfect conditions for lightweight backpacking!

Travelling light on foot is an unbeatable way to soak up beautiful landscapes as you move through them at your own pace, unburdened by weighty seasonal gear and the pressures of ‘everyday’ life. To fully achieve this Zen-like state of lightweight backpacking bliss, however, you need the right kit. As well as keeping your pack weight down, the best lightweight outdoor clothing and equipment should provide you with a base-level of personal comfort and safety, night and day. Here’s a bit of lightweight kit inspiration from Webtogs, based around the requirements lightweight backpacking with one companion…

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Brasher and Berghaus to “Tie the Knot” under Berghaus Name

Some surprising news reached us last week; Brasher, one of Britain’s most loved footwear brands, is to ‘join together’ with fellow UK Brand, Berghaus. The result of this will be that the Brasher brand will effectively cease to exist, and selected Brasher boots will be sold under the Berghaus name from Spring/Summer 2015 onwards.

Brasher boots will be sold under the Berghaus name from Spring/Summer 2015
Brasher boots will be sold under the Berghaus name from Spring/Summer 2015

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Zamberlan Norwegian Welted Boots

zamberlan-norwegian-welted-collection

The ‘Icona’ Zamberlan Norwegian Welted boot collection is a high-end line which demonstrates the immense skill and expertise that has been passed down through generations of master bootmakers at Zamberlan, Italy. One of the oldest and most highly proven methods of boot construction, Norwegian Welting is coupled with advanced modern outsole technology to produce end products that embody the Zamberlan artisan tradition of exquisitely made, reliable and comfortable walking boots.

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Rab Launch New Backpack Range

For some time now Equip outdoor group, custodians of the hugely successful Rab brand, have refrained from taking Rab into the backpack market; seemingly due to their ownership of the primarily pack-making brands Lowe Alpine and Podsacs. Their sale of Podsacs in 2013 however, confirmed that there were changes afoot to Equip’s ‘divide and rule’ approach to outdoor kit…

Utilising the ‘typically Equip’ combination of in-house design experience and renowned Rab build-quality, a brand new pack range bearing the Rab name has been released for the Summer Season of 2014. Spanning a 70-litre expedition backpack, 35 to 55-litre Alpine packs, and a range of fast and light ‘Dynamo’ styles, the new Rab pack range can’t compete with the sheer depth of styles that Lowe Alpine offers – but more than makes up for that in quality and user-appeal.

 

Rab Pack Range

 

In their respective size and activity brackets, every new Rab pack hits the nail right on the head. And don’t just take our word for it – the team at Trail Magazine describe Rab’s first foray into backpack manufacture as “accomplished from the off”. They praised the Rab Alpine Backpack range even more highly, awarding it their coveted 5-star verdict.

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After The Black Death

A week has now passed since Webtogs team members Mike and Myself (Phil) took on The Black Death Run, a 10 mile cross-country run at Combe Sydenham, West Somerset (see my previous post for details). After a busy week of adding new Summer Rab products to Webtogs, I’ve finally got time for a quick write-up. Of course, if you’re more interested in the new Rab stuff, I don’t blame you one bit –  http://www.webtogs.co.uk/rab. But more on that next week.

Thankfully Mike, Myself, my girlfriend Eilis, and friend Yuno all completed the run… sort of. I say sort of because about 3/4 of the entire field managed to get lost, the result being that the ‘finishers’ ended up running anything between 6 and 14 miles on various loops through the forest. The cause it seems, was a rather amusing one, though not particularly funny on the day…

From left to right: Yuno, Phil, Eilis, Mike. The first 2 miles of uphill would rapidly wipe those smiles off our faces
What a rag-tag group. From left to right: Yuno, Phil, Eilis, Mike. The first 2 miles of uphill would rapidly wipe those smiles off our faces.

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Trail Running Kit Picks – Lowe Alpine, Smartwool & XSocks

Having started running regularly in preparation for the upcoming Black Death Run, I’ve bought a few essential clothing items from Webtogs to equip me for the trails. Luckily I’ve had lots of chances to test them out over the past few weeks thanks to the recent (sadly now ended) sunny spell. So, here are my first trail running kit picks from Lowe Alpine, XSocks and Smartwool – expect more from myself and Mike over the coming weeks!

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Mike and Phil from Webtogs to take on The Black Death

One of the appealing-looking 'mud-chutes' on the route
One of the appealing-looking ‘mud-chutes’ on the route

A couple of weeks ago, perhaps foolishly, I decided to enter the aptly named Black Death Run: a 10-mile trail run at Combe Sydenham, West Somerset, with over 2800 ft of ascent. Foolish, because I’ve never actually participated in an organised running event before, let alone an off-road one with such intimidating vertical proportions. And foolish because as I write, it’s only just over two weeks away.

Should be a challenge!

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Marmot NanoPro: Hyper-Breathable Waterproofing For the Masses

This week at Webtogs, we’ve taken delivery of the latest new waterproofs from Marmot, featuring their new family of waterproof technologies – NanoPro. Within the NanoPro family there are two main technologies: NanoPro itself, an entry-level coated technology; and NanoPro MemBrain, a 2.5-layer laminate technology (membrane-based), aimed at the lightweight performance user. The gag with both NanoPro variants, is that they’ve both got an incredibly small pore structure, enabling a far greater number and density of pores to be packed into a single garment without a negative impact on waterproof performance. It’s a simple concept, but one which has a powerful effect on performance. And I’ve got the facts and figures from Marmot to prove it!

Marmot NanoPro: waterproof, windproof, highly durable; and of course, incredibly breathable, with Dynamic Air Permeability
Marmot NanoPro: waterproof, windproof, highly durable; and of course, incredibly breathable, with Dynamic Air Permeability

I’ve already posted an article on the NanoPro to the Gear Guru section of the Webtogs.co.uk, but in an attempt to keep it simple and easy for everyone to take in, I was forced to leave out a significant proportion of the material provided by Marmot, leaving only the essential facts (breathability and waterproof ratings, a couple of microscopic images etc.). Therefore, I’ve decided to get the full technical spec of NanoPro and NanoPro MemBrain out on the TogBlog (here), to indulge the tech geek tendencies of anyone who’s interested – or meticulous potential buyers who want to make sure they’re getting the right kit for the job! You can read the full NanoPro article on Webtogs, complete with microscopic images of NanoPro via the link below. Think of it as the slimmed-down option:

http://www.webtogs.co.uk/gear-guru/technology-guides/marmot-nanopro-technology

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Escaping the Crowds in the Western Brecon Beacons

I was lucky enough to get up to the the Brecon Beacons last weekend, where I spent Friday night through to Sunday afternoon on a backpacking trip backpacking with a good Welsh friend of mine, Mr Dan Bryan. Two others were due to join us, but sadly had to pull out; something which they’ll no doubt be gutted about when they see the photos…

View from near Llanddeusant, looking up at the 'Carmarthenshire Fans'
View from near Llanddeusant, looking up at the Carmarthenshire Fans

Dan, being a local lad, picked out a route for us which roughly followed a stretch of the Beacons Way, a 152km national walking route, generally completed over 8 days. It starts near Abergavenny in the East, and ends at the village of Bethlehem in the far West of the National Park (que ‘hilarious’ geographically-themed jokes). Our chosen segment, which neither of us had explored so far, went from the Storey Arms Outdoor Education Centre to the village of Llanddeusant, and it proved to be the most scenic, varied and all-round enjoyable walk I’ve done in years (arguably ever, though I need to give that more thought)! It’s certainly one I’d recommend to anyone with a love of fine views, varied terrain, and importantly; piece and quiet. We must have passed about 10 people on the trail over the entire weekend, 80% of them on the Sunday afternoon when walking down towards civilization. On the same weekend in the Pen y Fan massif, we would have had hundreds for company.

To find out more about the Beacons Way, head to the Brecon Beacons Park Society website for a description of the route, maps of each leg, and highlights along the way. As I’ve said, the bits we did are days 5 & 6, from the Storey Arms to LLanddeusant: www.breconbeaconsparksociety.org/national-park/the-beacons-way/the-route-2

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Montane Fireball – Product(s) of the Week

Just a quick post about a product I really like, having had the pleasure of owning it for some time now. It’s called the Montane Fireball Smock, and it is essentially a no-thrills zip-neck pull-on, constructed from Pertex Quantum, and filled with 40g Primaloft Eco insulation throughout. When I say no-frills, I mean that it’s just about as minimalist and pared back as outdoor outerwear gets, with no hand pockets, 1/2 length zip simple elasticated hems and cuffs: and yet I have found myself wearing it for almost every significant excursion I’ve made out of the house this winter!  This is quite simply because it works. (more…)

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