New Merrell Autumn/Winter 2014 Season Footwear

Just in time for the colder seasons Merrell have launched their latest seasonal shoes and boots collection which sees some favourites mixed in with new models but all feature a slightly darker overall colouring due to the slick and rugged oiled leather uppers the majority of them feature.  Many of the new and enhanced designs both include exclusive Merrell technical fabrics and components like their M-Select series, Air Cushion system and the versatile Remember Me Foam footbeds which have been updated for greater comfort and support or alternatively well-known brand components like GORE-TEX and Vibram soles; either way these new Merrell Autumn/Winter 2014 Season footwear collection is one here at Webtogs we’re pretty excited about.

Merrell Moab Rover Footwear

Merrell MoabLet’s start with a design that’s practically a classic: the Merrell Moab.  The versatility of this design is what makes it so successful as not only do you often have multi-purpose footwear in each one but there is a variation for every season or occasion so as well.  The models include the bestselling Moc for casual everyday wear; the low-profile shoe for summer walks and treks and the mid-height boot for tougher hikes and trails in colder weather meaning everyone can enjoy the Moab style throughout the year and now with stylish oily leather uppers.

Merrell Annex Mens Walking Shoes

Merrell Annex 63992-500-1The Merrell Annex shoes are a new design which has a modern styling with the intention of them being worn both on and off the trail yet are packed with features and technologies that make each pair quite formidable walking footwear.  Besides the standard Annex shoe there is a GORE-TEX version which gives greater waterproof protection but both models have the same supportive and comfortable midsole and footbed constructions, anti-odour treatment and the oiled leather upper construction that most of this range uses for water and abrasion resistance.

 

Merrell All Out Blaze Shoes

Merrell All OUt 63999-large1If you prefer an active outdoor sporting shoe then the Merrell All Out Blaze Shoes are perfect with a very light construction and plenty of flexibility for a more natural feel while the UniFly cushioning system makes the shoes responsive, supportive and helps to activate your muscles with every footstrike.  These will provide lasting comfort enabling you to go further for longer and even have technologies seen in the rest of the collection like M-Select FRESH, waterproof oily leather uppers and a Vibram soles too all in an athletic sport shoe design.

 

Merrell Azura Womens Walking Shoes

Merrell Azura 64010-large1The Merrell Azura shoes are a bestseller for a reason; stylish with a number of features making them ideal for all kinds of treks and trails in a lightweight construction and this season not only are they available in two different versions; a standard waterproof nubuck leather version with M-Select GRIP or one with a GORE-TEX liner for greater moisture protection and the addition of Winter Compound for snow and ice conditions but also feature the oiled leather look that makes all of these new footwear so distinctive yet obviously Merrell in design.

You may be looking for a higher and more fashionable ladies boot style but with all of the reliable technical features you would expect to find in a high-performance outdoor hiking shoe so no matter where you walk in the colder weather; around town or on a woodland trail the Merrell Dewbrook and Merrell Captiva Boots are perfect.

Also if you want something a bit more casual looking if you prefer a laid back style or just want a decent pair of shoes for everyday life that have lasting comfort and support try the Merrell Traveler Shoes, Traveler WTPF Boots or the Merrell Helixer Trainers instead.  All of these from the new Merrell Autumn/Winter 2014 Season footwear collection are available with us at Webtogs.

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Webtogs Road-Trip to the Brit-Brand Trio & Marmot!

Aptly-named snack of the week. Great value too.
Aptly-named snack of the week

I should probably start out by explaining that when I say ‘Brit brand trio’, I’m referring to Rab, Mountain Equipment and Montane. These three brands are the standard-bearers for the UK outdoor industry, and between them they account for over half of the products ranged on Webtogs.co.uk at any given time. It was these brands, along with another of our suppliers; US brand Marmot, that Webtogs MD Keith and I set out to visit last Sunday on a 5-day buying road-trip. I can report that it was epic thanks to the exciting new products on show… and the added bonus of getting to take the bike out on some awesome trails in the Lakes (Altura Trail, Whinlatter & The North Face Trail, Grizedale) and Peak District!

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Festive Montane Test! Further Faster Neo and Alpha Guide Jackets

As I posted before Christmas, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a pair of Montane test garments to try out over the festive break – the Montane Further Faster Neo Jacket (shell) and Alpha Gide Jacket (insulator). Sadly they have now been dispatched back to Montane HQ (wish I could have kept them), and I am left to report my thoughts and findings.

Dartmoor - the perfect place for a Montane test!
Dartmoor – the perfect place for a Montane test!

As always seems to be the case over Christmas, I was not able to be quite as active as I’d have liked… multiple food-based family gatherings and grandmother-courier duties getting in the way of my plans to test out the Montane pieces through the trinity of walking, cycling and climbing. I was, able to wear them day-to-dayday-to-day though, on a couple of short walks, and on one longer one on Dartmoor last Friday. I plumped for one of my old favorites, the ‘Widecombe Round’. It’s a varied, scenic route around the village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor, and even more so in the right conditions. Luckily conditions were just perfect for beautiful pictures on this occasion, so I’ve interspersed my Montane review with them to liven up any dry technical details!

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What’s the best Insulation for cold weather?

What's the best insulation for cold weather?

As the weather gets colder, we are often asked what the best way to keep warm is, so after a bit of feedback on our Facebook page, here’s our guide to the different sorts of insulation out there for your mid & outer layers.

Sadly there is no “wonder insulation” that’s going to keep you warm, be breathable, pack down small, deal with snow & rain, save you from an avalanche and make you a cup of tea in the morning. We think it’s a horses for courses approach for your insulating layers, get the right thing for the right situation. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the three main types you can choose.

 

DOWN: Natures warmth, the fluffy stuff underneath a birds feathers.

SYNTHETIC: Synthetic fibres woven together to trap air and keep you toasty.

FLEECE: Another synthetic option that’s a fabric in it’s own right (rather than fibres that you put in to a jacket)

Now we’ve sorted out what we’re going to take a look at, let’s dive in and take a quick look at the good and the bad of our contestants.

 

Down Jackets & Vests

Down Jackets & VestsGOOD STUFF: The highest Warmth to Weight ratio of all the options here, goose down is fabulous stuff for trapping air and keeping you warm. It feels seriously sexy to wear, is incredibly lightweight, and packs down smaller than any of the other options here. Great to pull on after a hard day on the mountain, or when wandering out and about.

NOT SO GOOD STUFF: If down gets wet it doesn’t work, so it’s really important to keep it dry at all times. We reckon it works best in cold, snowy climates, or where you bring along a waterproof to stop it getting damp. A little more expensive than some of the other options and maybe too hot if you are doing energetic activities.

STUFF TO LOOK OUT FOR. Without boring you, down is graded according to fill power, e.g how much space a load of down takes up by weight, the range goes from 450 through to 900 odd, the higher the number, the warmer (and lighter) the down.

Synthetic Jackets

Synthetic Insulated JacketsGOOD STUFF: Synthetic Insulation is best known with examples such as Primaloft or own brand examples like The North Face’s Heatseeker. Water resistant, it retains a lot of it’s insulating properties even if soaked through, and it’s less expensive than down.

NOT SO GOOD STUFF: It has a greater bulk and weight than down and is less breathable.

STUFF TO LOOK OUT FOR: A favourite with climbers and those who use their insulation out and about. It works best in wet environments, which apparently we get rather a lot of here in the UK!

Fleece Jackets & Vests

Fleece jackets and vestsGOOD STUFF: Fleece has amazing breathability, and is an awesome choice if you are doing blood pumping activities in the cold. Fleece is water resistant, drys quickly and is great value for money.

NOT SO GOOD STUFF: Fleece is not usually windproof so unless you have some sort of shell layer over the top, the cold wind is going to go whistling through you and take that trapped air and heat away. Relatively heavy and bulky compared to some of the other options.

STUFF TO LOOK OUT FOR: The best known fleece fabric is Polartec, but there are many other own brand examples out there too. Fleece comes in a variety of different flavours e.g. lightweight, midweight & heavyweight.

So there you have our quick guide to insulation. We reckon you need to balance your budget, activity and whether you are wearing it during the day or at journeys end. If you are a backpacker for example, weight is perhaps the most important thing to consider. If you need to get warm at camp at the end of the day, we would suggest grabbing a down vest or jacket. Down is also great if you are just taking the dog out for a quick walk. Climbing and need a belay piece? It has to be Synthetic. Running or walking out in the cold? Grab a fleece to wear underneath your windshirt or waterproof.

What’s your favourite insulation piece when the cold come round?

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