Last Friday saw me head up to the Outdoors show at the NEC, both to look at the show and to attend the Walk reader awards as we were up for best Online Outdoors Retailer. The Walk awards have been running for a number of years now, and they are the only awards worth their salt as an outdoor retailer. As Webtogs has been on the go for just three years, we were pretty pleased to get nominated and the guys at walk had let us know we had posted in the top three.
The show itself was pretty good with a fair selection of brands and destinations all on display. I particuarly liked the bushcraft area, the presenters were excellent and the community vibe in the area was the best at the show. Having had a pootle around the show, I sat down at the back of the Cicerone walking stage to watch Simon King presenting the awards. Butterflies grew as we duly got to the best Online retailer, at which point my jaw dropped down to sea level when the Webtogs name was read out in first place!!
We never expected to do as well as we did for this our first year being nominated and we just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who voted for us. We’re super chuffed that we have won and we promise that we will carry on delivering the best online experience, the best products and the best customer service of any outdoors retailer. It means a great deal to us that we have made it on to so many peoples radar as the place to shop for outdoor gear.
So thanks again to the Ramblers and Walk magazine, all their readers and all our customers, we’re deeply humbled you all think we are the best online retailer in outdoor – Cheers!
Believe it or not, with the weather throwing down cats and dogs in the car park, our march in to spring summer has been on the go for some time now. Out of all the brands that have come in over the last couple of weeks though, our buyer Keith has really hit gold with the Spring Summer range from the lovely guys at Kuhl
Describing what a brand is like and what products are like over the internet can sometimes be a little tricky, and especially with a small brand like Kuhl, they can sometimes sneak under the radar. They are definitely worth a special mention though as everyone in the office has got excited about them and nearly everyone has bought a piece before they even went on the website. They remind me a little of Howies in terms of design although their focus is completely on stylish, practical mountain wear. That comparison is probably not completely accurate one though as Kuhl are REI’s largest selling trouser brand. We are on a mission then to let the UK know about just how damn good these guys are!
The whole range can be viewed here although we are still expecting some bits and bobs in for April. Stand out pieces for me have to be the Eiger long short and Moda Ped for women, excellent long shorts with ariculated knees that are going to be great for indoor climbing walls and light scrambling. The other pieces that really grab me are the Jeans and Pants as they are just so comfortable on. Great for walking, climbing or relaxing back at the campsite, they are light, breathable and incredibly durable.
Anyway, can’t stop to chat more, I need to go and raid the warehouse before any more dissapear in to the grubby hands of my colleagues!
One of our favourite brands over the last couple of years has been Keen, the American outdoor footwear brand. We love them so much, you can usually see at least 2 or 3 of us wearing them each day in the office and warehouse. They are also the only brand we actually back up with a special Keen comfort guarantee
Apparently though we are not the only ones to have heard how special they are, and alledgedly, those crazy Power Rangers dig them too. We finally received photographic evidence however this week…..
Goodness gracious me, there was I thinking about heading out for a bit of a wander and a scramble this weekend, when I spotted the fact that I will no longer need to go outdoors at all very soon, and can start climbing all over my telly in fact.
I’m sure that the lure of taking a totally rad route up Pixel Mountain, whilst having your eyes dried by a solid 4 hours in front of the telly will soon replace the wind in your hair, the physical challenge of climbing and the beauty inherent in the mountains we play with.
Now where’s me Wii pad.
There has been a fair amount of shaking going on at Webtogs HQ right now, so much so that it feels like we are working on the bridge of the Starship enterprise. The reason for this, is our shiny new warehouse is getting built just behind us. The diggers have been laying the concrete foundations last week and this week the steels went up behind us.
We’ll keep you posted as we progress……
Take On Africa is about my journey cycling from the UK to Cape Town. However, it’s not just about the cycling. It’s about exploring the countries I travel through – exploring the people, the wildlife, the landscapes. And what could be a better way to explore the Niger river that flows over 4000km through West Africa, than by buying a local pirogue (wooden boat) and paddling down part of it?
I chose the section between Faranah and Kouroussa in Guinea, in the upper reaches of the river. Here I would get a chance to paddle through the Haut Niger National Park and hopefully see some interesting wildlife.
I saw plenty of fascinating wildlife: warthogs, antelope, duikers, snakes, vervet monkeys, baboons, chimpanzees and lots of hippos. And that’s not to mention the hundreds of species of birds.
The river trip was less a wildlife viewing experience however, but an action-packed, exciting river challenge that saw us (me and fellow cycle tourer Lars Bengtsson) negotiating rapids and shallow waters with varying degrees of success. On more than one occasion we thought we might have to abort the trip early. But we made it relatively unscathed!
Without passing a single village on the two-week and 350km paddle, I spent each night camping out on large rocks or the banks of the river. The freedom you experience of this kind of wild camping is intoxicating.
Each evening I would first put up my tent and then set about cooking on an open fire. Dinner would then usually be devoured inside the tent in order to avoid the bothersome sand-flies and tsetse flies. Laying down to rest I would then sweat for a few hours, the rocks on which we pitched our tents still radiating heat from the daily exposure to the sun’s rays. Eventually, the temperature would cool and I would drift off to sleep to the sounds of the river – crickets, frogs, fishes splashing.
But those two amazing weeks on the Niger river are over now – It’s back on the bike for now. Although, travelling through Mali I shall continue to follow the river’s path towards the fabled city of Timbuctoo.
If you would like to read more about my journey down the Niger river, I have posted a detailed day-to-day account of the trials and tribulations experienced on my website Take On Africa.