Mountain Hardwear – Dry Q first look

It’s here. Our first look at the Mountain Hardwear Dri Q product and good god is it a thing of beauty. The images are rather poor having been snapped hurriedly on the old iPhone, but they hopefully give you a flavour of what is to come.

Jovian Jacket

There are three Dry Q products, and then different variants within each of those for soft shell, 2 layer fabrics and 3 layer fabrics. It’s a measure of Mountain Hardwear’s confidence that they are not making any Gore-Tex shell when Dry Q hits the market later this year – a pretty bold move. The one fabric out of the three that is garnering all the attention however is the Dry Q Elite as the competitor to Polartec’s Neo Shell, and Gore-Tex’s active shell. It’s all about the breathability baby when it comes to this fabric. Dry Q’s claim to fame is that it is an air permeable membrane, so it doesn’t just wait for you to get hot and sweaty before it starts to work. It claims to be at least a third more breathable than current fabrics and up to twice as breathable on the 2 – layer version.

We got our hands on the Jovian Jacket, first impressions were good, very light, the fabric feeling like a half way house between a hard shell and soft shell. You had the usual Mountain Hardwear attention to detail, helmet compatible hood with a single pull adjustment system, welded watertight pockets, super long pit zips, some lovely zip pulls they are debating whether to keep or not (please do guys, they are ace) and garages for the zips as well.

Sadly we didn’t get to use it in anger, but as soon as we do, you will be the first to hear about it and let you know how it performs. If it goes on the feel of the fabric though, it’s a big thumbs up from us feeling noticeably lighter and more pliable than existing materials.

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Cliff Jumping

Need a little adrenaline in your life? May I suggest you search out your nearest tall rock (one with water below it, please) and hurl yourself off it.

As someone who gets jittery on the tops of tallish buildings I’m not the first person you’d think of when imagining a cliffjumping enthusiast, but an enthusiast I most definitely am. A few years ago I was surfing in Pembrokeshire near the Blue Lagoon (which has a pretty self explanatory name) and couldn’t resist jumping from the smallest of several cliffs. It was only about seven feet high, but I found the rush of cold blue water rushing up to meet me totally addictive.

Since then I’ve cliffjumped in a few places when I’ve been surfing – by far the best was the beach by Tintagel, in Cornwall. The water is a deep turquoise green and the cove is towered over by the remains of a castle that supposedly was the birthplace of King Arthur. There’s even a waterfall when the tide is right. Here too there are various smaller rocks and larger cliffs to jump off, making it safe for beginners as well as those who are a little braver.

You can, of course, get taught to cliff jump – go coasteering and you’ll be provided with a wetsuit, attractive helmet and guide, which I’d recommend if you’re nervous. But as long as you’re careful, cliff jumping is fine done freestyle.

Take basic precautions – don’t go alone, wear a wetsuit as deep water is cold (even in summer months), never jump from a height you’re unhappy with, make sure the water below you is free from rocks and obstructions, and jump straight and tall, with your legs together and your arms by your sides. It’s perfect for getting rid of the winter blues, I promise.

The Girl Outdoors

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New Keen for Winter

We were super chuffed to get the lovely Gillian in from Keen recently, firstly because she is so cool she brings us cake to eat each visit (yum yum), but also because this time she brought in loads of lovely new Keen for us to look at for Winter 2011!

Keen have always been associated as a summer brand but we were seriously impressed by the attention to detail they have made on their Winter products this year. We’re not going to go through everything, but there are a couple of items that have really tweaked our interest. First up, the return of a favourite we have not seen for a couple of years, the Summit County. When the weather outside makes the UK look like a scene from a winter wonderland, these boots are going to keep your toes rather warm.


Summit County 


We really like the 350g of insulation just for the toes with the rest spread elsewhere, as it’s the toes that usually get the coldest. The insulation features Keen’s legendary attention to the environment, being made from charcoal and babmboo. The Summits use Keen’s Dual Climate Rubber on the soles, this is a technology where the sole of the shoes or boots harden in the cold weather to get better grip in the snow and ice, and soften when you go inside or get warmer weather for improved stickiness.


Summit County sole 


Next up are the Gypsum’s, some rather impressive shoes and boots that are designed as winter Targhee replacements. The main difference is that the sides of the soles are not rounded, giving a larger surface area for grip and more oomph when digging in to mud, snow or ice. You also have a moulded heel cup which gives a more positive action gripping the back of your foot. Below you can see men’s and women’s versions of the mid boots.


Gypsum men's 



Gypsum women's 


The Gypsum’s also feature the Keen Zorb Strobel, an addition to the footbed that gives an extra spring, the zorb referring to the yellow bouncy patch you see below, and the strobel to the type of stitching you see around it.


Keen Zorb Strudel 


Keen have also addressed some of the feedback that their shoes can run a little hot, and you now have ventilation holes that run up through the tongue, that pump out the hot air from the bottom of the boot.

If the Gypsum isn’t winter orientated enough for you though, then the Revels definitely will be. Starting at the bottom, they have a sole with a unique patent pending on them. What Keen have done is to mould their soles on the treads you find on snow tyres to give fantastic grip in snow, slush and mud. They have also nabbed their own technology that they use for their waterproof sandals, with razor siping added to the tread on the bottom, this gives improved grip by displacing water.


Men's Revel 


Revel Front 


Women's Revel 


If this wasn’t enough technology, they then went and re-designed the mid sole unit with a new footbed called the Trapelator. Ignore the fact it sounds like an 80’s action movie hero, The Trapelator gives you a serious blast of warmth in your feet with some cool use of technology. You have a reflective heat shield that faces down to the ground bouncing the cold away, a honeycomb loft layer to trap air, insulate and a wool felt layer for comfort and to build up instant warmth as soon as you put the boots on.


The Trapelator


So far we have just looked at the Trailhead offerings from Keen, but Lucy also made me take photos of the Clara as well……. can’t really think of much to say on it except that Lucy loves the look of them!


Clara High boot 

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Coming Soon to Webtogs!

We have been developing some funky stuff recently on the Website, and we have been remiss in telling you just what is going on that’s new at Our resident geek, Coda, has just made live a new coming soon section. Here you can see all the gear that we have coming in to us even before we actually receive it! It will let you have a look at some of the new tents, sleeping bags and clothing coming in and also check out the stats, data, photos and rough dates of when they are due in.

To check out all the new gear heading our way, simply click on the coming soon link that you can access from the home page at the bottom of our left hand navigation menu, everything that is not yet in is listed before you with a shiny blue “coming soon” icon at the top. You can also sign up with your email so we’ll tell you when they have come in through the Warehouse door. Simply click on the product that you fancy, and click the unmissable “Email me when in stock button” – we’ll keep you posted.

Coming soon

You will also see these items if you search specifically on the site – although you won’t see any coming soon items when you navigate through the main navigation menu.

We hope you like this, and get as excited as we are about all the shiny new gear we have coming up!

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How to survive a bear attack

This is essential knowledge for the outdoorsy type as you never know when you could come across a Grizzly up a mountain. Unfortunately, opinions seem to vary on what to do when there’s a big bear snarling in front of you, quite possibly because some do not live explain their failed methods to pacify their fuzzy attacker. At least after our handy guide you’ll have lots of options to consider.

1. Watch the Backpacker Magazine’s guide to Black Bears and Grizzlies video guide. The best bit is when they tell you not to run away. Yeah right.

2. Adventurer Steve Young is about to embark on a walk to the North Pole, and recommends that you “take a big gun” to shoot polar bears, as their paws are about five times as big as your hands and you probably can’t run away very fast on ice.

3. Bill Bryson says that “All the books tell you that if the grizzly (bear) comes for you, on no account should you run. This is the sort of advice you get from someone who is sitting at a keyboard when he gives it. Take it from me, if you are in an open space with no weapons and a grizzly comes for you, run. You may as well. If nothing else, it will give you something to do with the last seven seconds of your life”. As for the difference between Grizzlies and Black Bears, Bryson reckons that “A grizzly may chew on a limp form for a minute or two but generally will lose interest and shuffle off. With black bears, however, playing dead is futile, since they will continue chewing on you until you are considerably past caring. It is also foolish to climb a tree because black bears are adroit climbers and…you will simply end up fighting the bear in a tree,”

4. The Art of Manliness website differentiates between species.
Grizzly Attack: Carry bear pepper spray. Don’t run. When you run, the bear thinks you’re prey and will continue chasing you, so stand your ground. And don’t think you can out run a bear. Bears are fast. They can reach speeds of 30 mph. Unless you’re an Olympic sprinter, don’t bother running. Drop to the ground in the fetal position and cover the back of your neck with your hands. If you don’t have pepper spray or the bear continues to charge even after the spray, this is your next best defense. Hit the ground immediately and curl into the fetal position. Play dead. Grizzlies will stop attacking when they feel there’s no longer a threat. If they think you’re dead, they won’t think you’re threatening. Once the bear is done tossing you around and leaves, continue to play dead. Grizzlies are known for waiting around to see if their victim will get back up.

Black Bear Attack: Carry bear pepper spray. As with the grizzly bear, bear pepper spray should be your first line of defense in a bear attack. Stand your ground and make lots of noise. Black bears often bluff when attacking. If you show them you mean business, they may just lose interest. Don’t climb a tree. Black bears are excellent climbers. Climbing up a tree won’t help you out here. Fight back. If the black bear actually attacks, fight back. Use anything and everything as a weapon- rocks, sticks, fists, and your teeth. Aim your blows on the bears face- particularly the eyes and snout. When a black bear sees that their victim is willing to fight to the death, they’ll usually just give up.

The Art of Manliness has a handy disclaimer at the end saying that the website “does not encourage people to go out and find a bear to practice these skills with. Practising on your significant other will not do either,”

The Girl Outdoors

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Four years is too long a time to not share a path with the ones you love.

I’ve done something I haven’t done for several years this week. I walked in the hills with my wife. Doesn’t sound like much does it, but when you factor in that our eldest is now 3, thats nearly 4 years since we have been for a decent walk together, and by that I mean something over 2 miles without blackmailing / cajoling / carrying a tiny guy along as well. It’s been such a long time, it felt a little strange to start off with, but the silence soon lost it’s edge and became the comfortable companionship I had missed. I’m not sure what it is, but hill walking and car journeys always seem to be the easiest places to talk to people. The quality of conversation that you get on the path or the front seat of a long trip, seem to be head and shoulders above the conversations we normally try and fit in to our busy lives. Not having anywhere to go except the journey, the lack of internet, demands of work and everyday life result in communication that is to be cherished.

towards Strines resevoir

The plan wasn’t always for a wander, we woke up at Cath’s folks house and decided when looking at the heavy hoar frost that it would be a stunning day for a wander. Persuading Grandma and Grandpa was done first thing, and the boys didn’t even turn round as we bolted out the door. We needed a gentle, swift wander as we didn’t want to leave the boys all day, so we headed on over to Cutthroat bridge, just up from Ladybower reservoir to park up. We were heading off to a bit of the Peaks I had not been too before, up to Strines reservoir, before heading across to an old favourite, blackhole moor and down to Derwent edge.

salt cellar

derwent edge

It’s been a while since I have been in the hills with Cath, so Monday was a bit of a dreamy day, my memories now I am back at the PC is of the chuckle of many grouse, trying to break through ice sheets whilst giggling, the silent movement of mist and cloud across the heather, and the beauty & majesty of Peak district gritstone. We’ve just been looking at some of the photos we have taken, and it’s lovely to share a smile and memories we have had together again of the hills. Time to plan some more dates, it’s been too long.

in to the mist


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