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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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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Review of “And did those feet” by Charlie Connelly

I enjoy history – in my early days at school I spent hours slaving over projects on subjects like the Vikings and the English Civil War, encouraged by my parents who took me on daytrips to battlefields and museums. The realities of academic history surfaced however whilst I studied the World Wars for GCSE with a less than inspiring history teacher and I lost interest (unlike my brother who went on to study Medieval History at University). Like with walking, my interest in history has been rekindled in later years, so I was quite excited to receive Charlie Connelly’s And Did Those Feet, walking through 2000 years of British and Irish history, from the aforementioned brother for Christmas.

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Review of North Face Pamir Etip Gloves

Grubby pair of North Face Pamir Etips

Navigating maps, taking and sharing photos, tweeting, listening to audiobooks and checking in with loved ones – I use my smart phone a huge amount when enjoying the outdoors. Phones are getting better – with rugged phones like the Motorola Defy (or a standard phone in an Aquapac), they can survive the elements more and with power solutions like the PowerMonkey Extreme, battery life for multi-day trips is becoming possible. Screen technology has also progressed away from the single tap resistive screens (remember those styluses?) towards multi touch capactive screens. This however creates a problem for outdoor use – capactive screens need contact with skin which means cold hands in bad weather! The North Face Pamir Etip gloves (slogan: “Get cold weather phone friendly function without removing gloves”) aim to solve this problem and I have spent the last three months trying them out.

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Head torches, night walking and a review of Petzl Tikkina 2

The first proper head torch I bought was the Petzl MYO XP (I am excluding the cheap chain store head torches I went through that have poor performance and terrible battery life). My (former) neighbour, @documentally, had got himself a Petzl MYO RXP (his first look video is quite amusing) and, whilst the programming element seemed largely pointless, it seemed a good torch.

The MYO XP offers up to 150 lumens (in boost mode – shining up to 97 meters), has three lighting levels, a flashing mode, a diffuser and I found battery life to be good. It does however have some drawbacks – it weights in at 170g (including batteries), it is quite expensive (mine cost £58.50), the buttons are very fiddly (I really struggle to switch it on in a dark tent) and light gets reflected straight into your eyes when the diffuser is up (I never noticed this until @groovy_nut pointed it out – now it is like having the sun burning directly into my eyes. She has a fix involving matt black enamel paint).

The Petzl TIKKINA on the other hand is £19.99, offers a maximum of 23 lumens (shining up to 23 meters), weighs 80g (including 3 AAA batteries) and has two lighting levels (maximum and economic). The torch has a big push button switch – you press it once for maximum beam, a second time for economic beam, and a third time to switch it off. It comes in a variety of garish colours – french rose, electric blue, lime green and orange. I was initially not very fond of lime green (the colour of mine) – but having a bright colour certainly makes it easier to find in my pack than my dark ‘ninja black’ MYO XP.

But with 6.5 times less brightness, is the TIKKINA going to be any use? There is only one way to find out!

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Review: Men’s 100 Khyber 1/4 Zip Fleece Top

Men's 100 Khyber 1/4 Zip Fleece Top

>I have had this Men’s 100 Khyber 1/4 Zip fleece top for almost three months now. I have worn it on hills and in fields, on hot days and showery days, whilst on campsites and in pubs – I have even worn it watching TV! North Face describe it as “soft, lightweight, breathable and stylish” and do you know what – it is all those things. I like it!

[Disclosure – this fleece was provided by Webtogs for me to keep and to give my own personal opinions on it and they have no influence on these views and no editorial control. Webtogs have a whole range of fleece tops available on their site]
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