There are a quite a few outdoor videos that we love, but we haven’t seen any that beat this reunion of Jeff Lowe’s pack by Josh Wharton after a small 20 years lost on the north face of the Eiger!
Jeff abandoned his backpack in 1991 when couldn’t find any anchors at the end of the rope. He left his pack behind as he went rope free on the last 50 feet to the summit ridge where he was plucked off the mountain by a helicopter. A couple of hours later one hell of a storm descended on the Eiger so he was one seriously lucky man!
Unbelievable to think he actually got it back after all these years. Mental.
Entering Zambia from the DR Congo was like entering another world. Not only were there beautiful tarmac roads which I had to cycle on the left side of the road for the first time in a year, but there was suddenly also plenty of wildlife. Congo seemed devoid of animals. Unless of course they were being served up for dinner. Zambia on the other hand was alive with the sounds of birds.
I have been amazed by the wildlife I have seen throughout Zambia, Botswana and Namibia. And I didn’t even have to go on safari to see it either. Elephants, lion, buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, crocodiles, hippos, impala, kudu, oryx, springbok, bat-eared foxes, ostriches. My camp has been visited by hyena and jackal too, but in the first case I didn’t get out my tent to see them and the second time I was out when the jackal stole my food.
My main concerns were from elephants on the roads as they don’t seem to like bikes. If I failed to see them (for big animals, they hide very well) I would be so close when they finally smelt me that they would get upset and flap their ears and raise their trunk and turn to face me. I’d pedal furiously before they thought about charging. And then there was a lioness on the road, which I thought it prudent to get a lift past!
Victoria Falls on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border is fantastic and the scenery of Botswana – the salt pans and Okavango delta – and Namibia – plenty of desert – during the rainy season with all the plant life in bloom is simply stunning. So southern Africa has been like a holiday from the challenges of travelling through central Africa. Although the last couple of weeks were tougher with the corrugated gravel roads, strong headwinds and incessant flies.
But now I’m just a few days away from the border of South Africa and only about 1,000km to Cape Town, my final destination.
We recently had Jon down from Adidas to guide us through the new Autumn Winter collection 2011. We were rather excited to have him down as this will be the first time we will stock both the Adidas clothing range as well as their footwear. You can tell just how excited I was from this video below!
There were quite a few pieces that really stood out, first the Terrex Primaloft Parka.
It looks like a great belay jacket with some about town practicality. I was particularly impressed with the adjustability of the hood. Coming in at roughly 900g it’s a solid piece and is backed up with Climaproof storm, Adidas’ own waterproof breathable fabric.
Next up was the Terrex Hybrid pant. This is a fully featured mountain trouser with a great combo of Gore Windstoppper for most of the trouser, and Climaproof for the high wear areas. You have built in gaiters, and some nice touches with rubberised elastic bands on the inside of the trousers to help grip & keep the trousers up. At £130 this is great value for such a high spec pair of pants.
This was the one that really got my attention. There has been a great deal of noise recently in respect of new technologies when it comes to waterproof, breathable fabrics. Mountain Hardwear have released their Dry-Q for later this year, Polartec have their Neo Shell and Goretex have released Active Shell. All are competing to be the lightest most breathable waterproof fabric out there.
What was immediately different for me was the feel of the Active Shell jacket. I was expecting a light jacket, but the feel was also subtly different to a hard shell being a little more flexible and not quite as noisy when moving. It also felt great next to my skin. Aside from the feel of the fabric, I really liked the permanent built in venting, the helmet compatible hood and the overall weight at just shy of 370g. I am really looking forward to this coming in so will keep you updated as soon as we get to test it in anger on the hill.
We also had a couple of women’s fleeces in some vibrant colours, Lucy tried them on and the cut got the thumbs up.
Finally we had the Terrex Windstopper soft shell jacket, featuring some cavernous pit zips and a great athletic cut, coming in just under 590g in weight. It looks like a good value shell.
All in all a collection that has got us wishing for snow, short days and long nights again – roll on Winter 2011!
Whilst up in the peak district recently, I was lucky enough to try out the Gregory Z25 rucksack for my wanders. We’ve not stocked this before, and I wanted to see how Gregory’s lightweight daypack performed, having previously used the Z65 on a wildcamp before in the Brecons, and been quietly impressed by it’s weight distribution and comfort.
Feature wise, it is pretty stacked, boasting the following;
* JetStream DTS Suspension
* Auto-Fit harness system
* Dual hydration ports and sleeve
* Top stash pocket
* Expandable front pouch
* Side and bottom compression
* Quick access waistbelt pockets
* Side mesh pockets with compression pass-through
* Dual axe/tool attachment points
* Interior organization pocket
* 210d double box ripstop and broken twill nylon fabrics
Attention to detail, build quality married with the Jet Stream suspension & the really useful kangaroo pouch made it a super practical daysack, . If you are looking for a lightweight, comfortable pack with some great features head on over to take a look at the Gregory Z25
How light can you go?……..
Over the last few years much of the development in outdoor gear has been in making performance gear lighter and lighter but there must be a limit, a stage where its taken too far and performance is sacrificed for weight. This is a hot topic around the office and I am not sure there is a right answer for everyone.
This all presents someone choosing a backpack with some difficult choices. Do they go for something with loads of features and well padded contact points or one of the new breed of super lightweight stripped down packs such as the Lowe Alpine Zepton. This dilemma faced me last year as I was planning my kit for the GR20. After much deliberating I ended up going for the Zepton as it was so light weight and although not as comfortable as others the carry was acceptable and was something I was willing to live with for the weight advantage.
The GR20 is a 12 – 14 day mountain walk over difficult terrain involving some long 8 – 10 hour days and some steep sections of scrambling. The big problem on the the GR20 is that there is little water to be found during the day at it gets really hot so you will need to set out with about 3 litres (3kg) of water. I have to admit I took some good lightweight kit but I managed to get the total weight of the pack to 7kg with out water and 10kg with water. For this sort of load the Zepton was perfectly comfortable on long days as well as feeling stable over difficult ground. I would certainly recommend this pack to anyone thinking about a long distance backpacking trip but remember the rest of your kit will need to be good if you are to get away with the low volume and lack of padding.
Everyone here at Webtogs loved the old Hedghogs so we were nervous when we heard they were changing. I set off to see the North Face range with thoughts of “If its not broken don’t fix it”. Well we should not have been worried as they have done a fantastic job updating the Hedgehog.
The new Hedgehog III is dripping with technology and oozing style. The all new Northotic footbed has been updated with Poron ReSourse for forefoot and heel cushioning giving a whole new level of comfort allowing you to move faster for longer.
The Hedgehog III inherits the proven Gore Tex XCR membrane which keeps your feet cool and dry even in the toughest conditions. Add this to the redesigned mesh upper and breathability is better than ever.
Traction and support is taken care of with the use of an injection molded TPU shank coupled with a North Face exclusive Vibram out sole.