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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Jack Wolfskin, Salomon and more New Brands at Webtogs


We always aim to bring you the best outdoor gear from all the best manufacturers and brands and at the best prices which is why recently here at Webtogs a number of well-known and diverse names have been added to our roster.  It’s always exciting to have the privilege of being approved for stocking products of brands new to us; even more so when we have a number of different types in one go.

 

Jack Wolfskin

Jack Wolfskin are a name well known amongst experienced outdoor enthusiasts having over three decades worth of experience in making high quality outdoor clothing such as jackets, tops, pants, headwear and shorts; plus footwear, rucksacks and handy accessories like water bottles, walking socks and more.  The extensive range of Jack Wolfskin outdoor gear covers every kind of activity from a simple short walk to braving a mountain trail as their aim has always been to get everyone out and exploring the wilderness whatever their ability or favoured type trail by being as comfortable as possible and you can find their premium products with us at Webtogs.

Also now at Webtogs are the bestselling footwear brand Salomon who since 1947 have specialised in durable technical hiking boots, shoes and sandals for hikers, climbers, trail runners and everyone who likes to take a walk outside.  The Salomon designs are stylish fairly distinct as shown in their popular 4D GTX boots collection and the entire range features the pinnacle of footwear technology such as Vibram outsoles, OrthoLite footbeds and GORE-TEX lining and constructions so that they can take on the terrain and climate conditions so you stay comfortable and supported.

We’ve also acquired brands that produce accessories and equipment that make adventures in the wilderness much easier such as Pure Hydration and Water To Go who produce canteens and water bottles designed to allow you to drink more safely plus BioLite who make compact and highly effective stoves that merely require small amounts of biomass to ignite a contained fire that will cook and charge electronic devices.  Other brands include Extremities with their range of gloves, socks and headwear that work to keep your appendages and head warm and dry without losing any flexibility at all and Buff who have quite simply created the most versatile range of garments around that can be used as everything from a balaclava, to a neck scarf and even a wrist band.

So please take a look at the great new brands and products we have for even more options for making any journey into the outdoors much more comfortable and enjoyable so you can focus on the trail ahead.

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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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Take Note World: Rab is Awesome

Last weekend whilst discussing work with my friend Alex, I was surprised to hear that he had never heard of the brand Rab. This was very surprising to me, because of the 50+ brands we sell at Webtogs, Rab ranks second only to The North Face in terms of sales – and even then it’s a close-run thing. It’s also very much the ‘it’ brand in the market at the moment, with a rapidly expanding fan-base and amazing sell-through, not to mention the fact that it’s been around as a flag bearer of the British outdoor kit industry since the 1980s. (more…)

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Scarp Charmoz GTX Review

Charmoz GTX – Scarpa
I was fortunate enough to spend my alpine summer with a pair of Scarpa Charmoz GTX Mountaineering Boots to try out and pass my humble opinion on, and I have to say it was an experience I’d be only too happy to repeat. Aimed squarely at the mixed ground climber the boots take a B2 rated crampon, working particularly well with the Grivel Air Tech for mixed routes up to Grade 5. The midsole provides good support whilst the ¾ shank gives just enough flex to keep the approach comfortable. The Charmoz uses the recently introduced FT last, giving a good, precise, feel both when scrambling and climbing and the Vibram Mulaz sole with its plastic inserts for better traction on snow.

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Where the Charmoz really excels is on true mixed ground, with constant switches between snow, rock and ice proving no problem. When you’ve got a snow slope followed by a rocky scramble then an ice pitch or two you need something that gives support, grip and traction reliably throughout, and inspires confidence. The waterproof breathable Gore-Tex membrane somehow managed to keep my feet dry even when post holing to knee deep on the ascent of Mont Blanc. Long hard walking on rocky paths felt comfortable which I attributed to the ¾-length shanks, and when it came to steeper icy routes it was simple to fit a pair of Newmatic crampons. The rigid soles and flexible uppers gave excellent support and the shape and fit gave all the precision needed for grade 5 ice and hard mixed climbing. I believe if you want one boot that does it all – or at least Alpine summer or Scottish winter, then look no further. When the mountain terrain changes every few hundred feet, take it all on with the versatile Charmoz GTX Mountaineering Boots.

Nick Parks – Mountain Guide

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Science, Religion and the Outdoors

It’s long been recognised that the wilderness, especially mountain wilderness, has a spiritual quality that humans need. John Muir expressed it perfectly when he said “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul.” and it’s interesting to see the use of the term “pray” in this famous quote.

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CREDIT: “John Muir, full-length portrait, facing right, seated on rock with lake and trees in background.” c1902. The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920, Library of Congress.

When I first heard the line I just dismissed the term “pray” as coming from the steotypical religious mix of Scottish heritage and American tradition and substituted it with “think” in my mind, but experience slowly changed this view. It’s no coincidence that we bestow religious terminology to the finest mountain wilderness, and how early descriptions were full of the sense of awe and wonder usually reserved for religious sights. For millenia people have held nature in awe, from early beginings when deity was bestowed on nature itself to the use of natural amphitheatres in the Peak District used for banned religious meetings.

There is something spiritual in nature, and like religion an introduction to wilderness can change lives in the same way as a religious epiphany – read Andy Cave’s book Learning to Breathe to see just what a difference it can make. Like a religion experiencing the outdoors is a personal experience, but one that can benefit at times from being shared with others, and there’s no-one more enthusiastic than a new convert. The great outdoors draws us at weekends, replacing for many the traditional Sunday church attendance as our feel good factor and inspiration, and when we find the perfect mountain view we even refer to it as a cathedral.

Alpenglo on Longs Peak, Colorado_Small

Almost un-noticed, science has entered the spiritual world of the outdoors, but rather than destroying the religious analogies it merely reinforced them. The key to religion, no matter which religion, is surely faith – and that’s precisely what science tries to grow in us. Take a look in at any piece of outdoor kit nowadays and examine the label – you’ll be confronted with more science and technical terminology than the average A level student, but what does it really mean? Take some of the most popular fabrics used for outdoor clothing: There’s Pertex Endurance, Pertex Quantum, Pertex Shield, Pertex MicroLight and Pertex Classic for a start………..now Classic is obviously an original form but how much should you read into the others? Pertex Shield you’d expect to be some sort of shield so probably good for abrasion resistance, and Pertex MicroLight seems pretty self explanatory. Pertex Endurance doesn’t seem too difficult to work out where its strength lies but Pertex Quantum??? Is it some weird option based on advanced physics? The only way, of course, of finding out is to check out the labels and tags that adorn every product, and that’s where faith comes in.

Goretex_schema-en_Small

Read a garment tag, skipping the washing instructions, and you’ll find wonderful descriptions of how oilophobic membranes with XYZ ions and silicone dioxide beads combine with silver fabrics and microfilament yarns to produce ……what, really? something you can wear and not something you expect to find in a government laboratory? Seriously now, how many peopple really follow all the scientific or pseudo-scientific geekspeak? You’re expected to put your faith in it just because it’s got a paragraph or three of jargon behind it that makes it look like it’s come straight from NASA. Personally I’m not bothered if it says it an intelligent, semi-permeable micropore membrane with hydrophyllic and hydrophobic lares laminated together – I want to know if it’s going to keep me dry when it rains, and shift perspiration when I get warm…end of! Faith may be defined by a belief in something you can’t see, but surely that doesn’t mean in something you can’t understand either? That’s why I’ve been happy this week to go through all the outdoor clothing on the site, noting their core technology and coming up with a real world description of what they are and what they do. Don’t let the science baffle you or demand a faith it may or may not deserve, save that for the wilderness itself and the faith that it will always be there when we need its spiritual qualities.

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First steps in the Alps – An introduction by Mountain Guide Nick Parks. Part 2

Glacier Travel
Glacier travel is not something that is possible to replicate easily in the UK and as many alpine excursions involve tackling glaciers, understanding the dangers of crevasses and falling ice cliffs and how to minimize the risk is essential. Crevasse rescue skills and prussiking can be simulated to a degree on rocky crags but there is no substitute for practicing on a glacier itself and this is highly recommended at the beginning of your first alpine visit.
Top tip: Understand the hazards and get to grips with all these new skills by undertaking an alpine course with a qualified mountain guide http://www.mountaintracks.co.uk/summer/introduction/alpine_101

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Weather and clothing

Alpine weather is often extreme and can change very rapidly; in summer you can have snowfalls, dramatic thunderstorms and sweltering temperatures all in the same day even at moderate heights. This means you have to be well equipped to cope with all eventualities not only with the skills but also with the right kit. In recent years there have been significant advances in outdoor clothing technology and my recommended solution to coping with Alpine weather is to use a layering system.

Starry skies as you leave the hut often belie the afternoon realities of alpine climbing, take climbing Mont Blanc du Tacul for instance. Absorbed in the colossal North facing glacial approach you don’t see the thunderheads rolling in from Italy until it’s too late. The early start means you may have to cope with a bone chilling wind, your efforts in the mid-morning sun have you sweating and then bang you have to try to out-race the showers. So lightweight layering is the only way to cope with the absurdity of it all.

It’s a three-hour uphill grind to the summit so you need effective base layers to evaporate your sweat the whole way. When the wind kicks up your Wind Jacket’s hanging mesh liner adds warmth and facilitates wicking, while its shell blocks wind and sheds moisture. The entire time, light, hard-working Simple Guide Pants breathe, protect, and dry in a snap. When the afternoon storm hits you find shelter, that’s when the down jacket becomes a reassuring heater. If afternoon showers catch you a back-up hard shell stashed in your rucksack keeps you dry.

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Summary

Certainly for climbers it is a jump up in lots of ways and there’s a learning curve everyone must follow. A sense of urgency is vital and at all times you must remain alert and aware of the potential pitfalls. For most of us alpine trips have a tendency to throw up the odd hiccup, mercifully not too serious, and dealing with hardships; caught out in a storm; benighted high up; sun burn; dehydration and exhaustion are weirdly in retrospect all part of why we do it. Remember the Alps are daunting and rightly so but they are awesome too and worth taking those steps for.

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Nick Parks is a leading British Ski and Mountain Guide who has been guiding parties for 25 years in mountain ranges across the globe. Particularly well known in the ski industry Nick is also a highly regarded safety expert to the adventure film industry. A keen photographer he contributes regularly to outdoor magazines and professional publications.

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First steps in the Alps – An introduction by Mountain Guide Nick Parks.

For most hillwalkers and climbers from the British Isles leaving our shores and tackling the mountains of our nearest neighbours for the first time, the barriers to success and enjoyment often seem overwhelming and a bigger challenge than they are wishing to tackle.

In this short series of articles we explore the differences between the UK mountain experience and the Alpine one and show you how these barriers can be surmounted safely to allow you to enjoy even more rewarding mountain adventures.

Its never been easier to access the Alps, with low cost flights and fast trains its as quick to get from London to Chamonix as it is to Capel Curig. They have beauty and wilderness in common but that’s where the differences between Tryfan and the Triolet end. First off is quite simply the huge difference in scale. Add altitude acclimatization difficulties to overcome and the glacial environment to safely negotiate and it’s easy to appreciate why tackling the Alps can be so daunting.

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Tryfan….impressive but not Triolet

Scale What are we talking about and how to adapt?

In the UK 300-400 metre long routes are rare, in contrast many Alpine routes can be 1500 or even 2000 metres long. Four times the size means that successful climbing in the Alps requires you to plan thoroughly, work to a timetable and use every part of your day productively, thereby avoiding epics like night-time descents. Gaining information, be it online, or from guidebooks is essential in helping you make correct route choices so that you don’t take on more than you can tackle. Seeking up to date information is critical too as the Alps are constantly changing, especially in these times of accelerating climate change. Glacial recession and rockfall can create drastic change even over the course of one season.

Top tip: Start off on alpine routes that are similar in length to those you are used to in Britain.

Preparation

Many of the skills necessary for safe success in the Alps are the same as those needed in the British hills; sound navigation; rock climbing; scrambling and in winter snow and ice techniques. All of these are directly transferable from our crags and mountains. Learning to move safely together on alpine ground is a key skill. Many alpine routes, like the Hornli ridge on the Matterhorn, although exposed are technically straightforward. However their length is such that climbing it in pitches aka British rock climbing style you would need a week to climb the route. Moving together using running belay techniques, gives a sufficient measure of protection whilst allowing you to get down in time to celebrate.

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The Matterhorn – an Alpine icon

Top tip: Practice moving together techniques like short ropeing, on long scrambling routes in the British hills e.g North ridge of Tryfan

Nick Parks is a leading British Ski and Mountain Guide who has been guiding parties for 25 years in mountain ranges across the globe. Particularly well known in the ski industry Nick is also a highly regarded safety expert to the adventure film industry. A keen photographer he contributes regularly to outdoor magazines and professional publications.

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Nick Parks – Ski and Mountain Guide

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