Review of Corrymoor Companion Mohair Socks

At some point over the last year, I have managed to end up on a bloggers list that gets flogged to marketing agencies and PR firms in the hope they can get some free advertising for whatever rubbish they are selling. Mostly this means spam emails but just occasionally something lands in my inbox that piqued my interest.

In this case comfortable, hard wearing, anti-bacterial, moisture-wicking socks….. Mohair socks.

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Review of Target Dry Element Jacket

Preparing to face a wet day on Dartmoor

Six months. That is how long it has taken to review the Target Dry Element Jacket I was sent. Much longer than usual (and I am sure much longer than Target Dry would have hoped!) Why did it take so long?

Firstly the lack of rain over the late summer and early autumn months made it fairly tricky to test a waterproof jacket (although sadly the recent rains and the resulting flooding has more than made up for it).

Secondly I hit review fatigue – reviews are tricky and take a surprising amount of time and with three products to review at the same time I struggled (so much so in fact that I am not intending to review anything in 2016!).

Thirdly I was slightly intimidated by Matt (hillplodder) with his excellent detailed (and timely) review of the Element Jacket. Show off.

Finally (and most poignantly) I was stuck pondering whether there is such a thing as a perfect waterproof jacket – a jacket that can hold at bay hours of torrential rain whilst removing every drop of moisture your body excretes without costing the earth.

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Review of the Grisport Dartmoor Hiking Shoes

Dartmoor shoe testing in Brecon Beacons

Like most outdoor bloggers, I sometimes get offered products to review. Often I turn the offers down, usually when the product in question is not something I would use (like the one season sleeping bag with arms and legs!) or I do not think that much of the brand. Just occasionally however the offer really resonates and it seems like destiny! This was the case back in July when a representative for Grisport got in touch on Twitter asking if I wanted to review something from their range. It did not take long to spot ‘Dartmoor’ on their website…. a pair of ‘Dartmoor’ shoes just before I move to Dartmoor?!! It was surely meant to be!

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Review of Sunix Ultra-Bright 120 Head Torch

Sunix Ultra-Bright 120 Lumens

Curiosity got the better of me when an email landed in my inbox asking if I wanted to review a new head-torch – the Sunix Ultra-Bright 120 Lumens (sold by XC Source in the UK). Since I reviewed it back in 2011, the Petzl Tikkina 2 has been my head-torch of choice, but with an impressive list of bells and whistles for a similar price tag the Sunix sounded interesting.

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Investing in safety and reassurance (and Social Hiking tracking)

My new and shiny SPOT3

I peeked out of the tent door – the rain was still lashing down, and the nearby tarn and the top of the mountain behind it was lost in a shroud of fog, the tendrils of which were blowing nearly vertical in the storm. After putting up the tent in the rain, I had napped for bit on my damp mat (as, it turns out, my damp dog also napped against my previously dry sleeping bag!) waiting for the rain to ease before heading back out to find some mobile signal to text my partner my exact location. No such luck.  Light was fading, so I braved the storm, retreating my steps back to the footpath and the outcrop high above the valley where I remembered having signal earlier. The signal proved elusive initially, but, after clambering up some slippery rocks, a bar finally appeared. Message sent, I tried to return to my tent, which seemed to have disappeared in the fog. I could feel the panic rising before, thankfully, a change of direction revealed it in the gloom. I collapsed on my (still damp) mat and, for the first time, started thinking a SPOT device might be a good idea.

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Review of Merrell Moab GoreTex Hiking Shoes

Merrell Moab Goretex Hiking Shoes

With hindsight, walking 11 miles around Dartmoor in sandals (albeit hiking ones) might not have been a particularly wise move. Bits of dust and dirt had got trapped between the strap and my feet, slowly rubbing them raw. In my defence, I did not have much choice (not walking on Dartmoor was not an option!). It had been over three years since my last pair of hiking shoes, a pair of Keen Targhee II. They had served me well for over 1000 miles, but the deteriorating heels progressively got worse until even a few miles would lead to blisters forming (and they had started to leak).  A new pair was long overdue!

The much needed replacement came in the form of a pair of Merrell Moab GoreTex hiking shoes. My previous experiences of Merrell has been from their casual range, but I have always been impressed with their comfort and quality (albeit with a price tag to match), and I was curious to try out a pair from their hiking range. How best to break in some new hiking shoes than another trip to Dartmoor!?

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From orange survival bag to hooped bivvy: falling in love with bivvying

Sunrise on Great Mis Tor, Dartmoor

I couldn’t possibly sleep. The full moon we had watched rise from beyond the sea was making its steady progress across the sky, lighting up the cliff top around me.  I was surprisingly comfortable in my plastic orange survival bag with the breeze gently gusting across my face and Gareth’s last minute warning about adders, as he zipped himself up in his hooped bivvy-tent, had quickly faded from my mind, replaced by the intoxicating thrill of being part of the outdoors.

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Chocolate Fish discontinue their baselayers

If you asked me what my favourite item of outdoor clothing is, I would answer, without hesitation, ‘my Chocolate Fish merino baselayer’. I actually have two – my first one suffered an accident with a dodgy washing machine and was badly ripped in several places… but I still wear it… (albeit in the privacy of my bed and much to the disgust of my partner!). I even contributed towards one for my brother, who wears baselayers throughout all of winter. My experience of other makes is, I admit, ultimately quite limited – I had an Icebreaker, which shrank after the first few washes and did not seem to regulate temperature evenly, and then I discovered Chocolate Fish – soft to wear, a good fit (long torso length), kept an even temperature and never shrunk in the wash. It looked like my search for the perfect baselayer had come to a quick end! So it was with some sadness that I received an email from Chocolate Fish that they are discontinuing their baselayers.

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