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Vango Ultralite 900 Sleeping Bag

VANGO_ULTRALITE_900_DSC3143 sleeping bag

Vango Ultralite 900 Sleeping Bag.

I’ve had this for a while now but I’ll start this like every other review I do; with a disclaimer, that this Vango Ultralite 900 sleeping bag was sent to me by Rachel to review. Rachel works for a company called Silverfox Travel & Outdoors and she contacted me. We had a discussion over a few emails and she suggest that I could choose a sleeping bag from the website. I picked the Vango Ultralite 900 sleeping bag and Rachel was kind enough to send it to me and I get to keep it. I have no vested interest in Vango, the company that Rachel works for, Silverfox Travel & Outdoors or the sleeping bag itself other than to share my views and opinions; good, bad or otherwise.

First Impressions.

I had the Vango Ultralite 900 delivered to my work to save some hassle if I missed the delivery at home and jaunt over to Lanark and back. It was delivred pretty quick and all compressed up in it’s stuff sack. Compressed down like that it’s pack size is about 25 cm by about 20 cm. Which is pretty reasonable for a synthetic sleeping bag. Not really being able to look at it properly at work I left it alone.

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Once home I got in about and had a good look over it and a thorough read of the attached bumpf on the tags. As well as going through the now standard Tookie Indoor Gear Test™ with the help of my daughter. On first inspection that sleeping bag looked well made, a few long ends of some threads but nothing loose or not finished. I fiddled with the zips and closures. Pulled on all the toggles as well as climbing in and out of the bag. My daughter did the same.

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As always I find a standard sleeping bag big. Being 5’7″ on a good day. It does have it’s advantages in that I can snuggle right down into the sleeping bag or stick I can just stick an insulated jacket or fleece down the bottom and eliminate that wasted space. In the house it did find the bag to be very warm but I do run hot. Even the small Bunten found the bag warm when she was doing her test. I think what helps this was that it has a really good neck baffle to keep the heat in and the drafts out and the hood seems to work well. However it does have a two zip that can be used to vent the bag.

The sleeping bag is made from Nylon. 40 denier ripstop on the outside to make it hard wearing and mini ripstop on the inside. This is very soft and comfortable next to the skin. The bag is insulted with Insulite® Superfine synthetic insulation. This is a blend of spiralised, siliconised fibres. The bag also incorporates Vango’s Thermal Embrace System. Which comprises of elasticated threads with an off-set double layered construction. This always you to move freely and also helps to eleminate the dreaded cold spots.

The bag is rated down to -5°C, with and extreme of -22°C and has a maximum comfort of 18°C, personally at that temp, in that sleeping bag I would be far too warm. Again on the converse of that I would have to have all my clothes on for that. It does mean that it’s a sold rated 3 season bag and 4 seasons at a push in my opinion. All their temperatures are independly rated against the EN 13537:2002 standard.

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According to Vango the Ultralite 900 is designed for wild camping and long distance backpacking. Personally the weight and pack size go against that for me. I would want something lighter and of less volume for that kind of activity but then that’s where prices start to rise rapidly. It is good value for money.

In Use.

I found using the bag to be fine. The only real issue I had is snagging the zip. Having said that I having found a sleeping bag yet that I haven’t managed to snag the zip. Except maybe my top bag but that doesn’t have a zip. I did find the bag to be very warm for me at times and having to strip down to my underwear in the middle of the night as I was sweating. That led to a really cold morning trying to get dressed.

There’s no signs of wear other than where I keep snagging the zip on the fabric on the inside. Bearing in mind I’ve only had a few nights in this bag but it seems to hold up well to general wear and tear.

After being compressed it lofts quite well after a good shake which might not be too practical in a small one man tent but left alone for a bit it’s just fine. It’s really comfortable to sleep in. Nothing to get snagged in and all the toggles are easily adjusted from in the bag for the hood and the baffle.

Conclusion.

This is really more of a my opinions of the Vango Ultralite 900 sleeping bag than a comprehensive review. That would need a few more good nights in the bag. The bag has some really good features for the price and looks to be a durable sleeping bag, time will tell but I’m happy to use it and I will. Maybe not for humpfing around the hills when I’ve got lighter bags available with the same temperature rating. However it would be a good all round bag for someone starting out.

You can view the full set of photographs on flickr here Vango Ultralite 900 Sleeping Bag. This will get updated from time to time as I sort through any photographs with the bag in it.

Berghaus PolarPlus Fleece Jacket

Berghaus PolarPlus Fleece Jacket Logo

I’ll start like I start all of my reviews; with a disclaimer, that this Berghaus Polarplus Fleece Jacket was sent to me by Gareth to review. Gareth works for a company that represents Berghaus and he contacted me. He a few things that I could choose but only this fleece in a size medium. He was kind enough to send it to me and I get to keep it. I have no vested interest in Berghaus, the company that Gareth works for or the Fleece itself other than to share my views and opinions; good, bad or otherwise.

Berghaus PolarPlus Fleece Jacket Collar and zip

This arrived pretty late in the year, just as the weather had turned for the better after the long cold winter and round about the time that I was gearing up (no pun intended) to move in to a new house, not that it matters greatly. I came home to a parcel waiting for me. There’s something about that, that gets me excited like a child. I opened the parcel and was immediately struck be the weight of the folded up fleece. It was heavy. I had a quick read at the tags. Polertec 300. That’s a proper fleece and a lot heavier that anything I’ve had before and made from recycled yarn according to the bumpf. Most, if not all fleeces I have had and use are Polertec 100. I was struck by how different this 300 material was. For a start it’s a double sided fleece fabric. It’s in a whole other level. Thick, soft and really luxurious feeling. Really a jacket in it’s own right. Next move was to stick on the digital scales. It came in at 768 grams. Heavy but not necessarilly a bad thing.

Berghaus PolarPlus Fleece Jacket Hem Drawcord and Toggle

Next thing was to try it on. It looked big for a medium when I took it out the wrapping. Trying it on confirmed this, it’s cut on the generous side of medium. This re-enforces the feeling of this standing up on it’s own as a jacket and not just a mid-layer. A classic fleece set up. Nice big collar, two large hand warmer pockets and drawstring elasticated hem to keep out the drafts. The collar is quite stiff and stands up which I like, right up under your chin keeping the wind out. The cuffs on the sleeves are not elasticated but theres no problem with them riding up because of the generous cut. The sleeves are on the longish side for me. They also have the attachment points for use with Berghaus InterActive system that some of their outer shells use along with the zip. Giving you that classic 3 in 1 layering system. The two pockets have zipped closures and are deep enough for a mobile phone and most compact point and shoot cameras in my opinion. They are also proper thick lined hand warmer pockets, more of that soft luxuirous comfort. The hem has the standard elasticated cord and toggle set up that can be tightened or loosened with one hand if need be. Quality was the word that came to mind after this first wearing.

Berghaus PolarPlus Fleece Jacket Zip and Storm flap

After that I put it through the Tookie indoors gear test, which was pretty short. It was like being wrapped in a furnace, a soft sumptuous deluxe furnace. I’ve said before I run warm and in this fleece even sitting around on the couch doing nothing I was roasting. The jacket is very comfortable to wear. It just envelopes you. There was no chasing the little Bunten round, that part is going to have to wait till it’s colder. Like a lot with this it’s just going to have to wait till the Autumn for an update. It’s not the weather for it.

Berghaus PolarPlus Fleece Jacket Sleeve and Cuff

All in all a well made fleece but I’m sure that comes as no surprise from a company with the pedigree and history of Berghaus. It might not be the most fashionable, trendy or cutting edge of fleeces to look at but I’ll look forward to the weather getting harder and giving this jacket a proper testing in the elements.

More photographs can be found in my flickr set here.

Rab Orbit Pull-on

Rab Orbit Pull-on Fleece logo

I’ll start like I start all of my reviews; with a disclaimer, that this Rab Orbit Pull-on Fleece was sent to me by Sam at GO Outdoors to review. Sam contacted me. I was given the choice of few bits of kit that I could review. GO Outdoors were kind enough to send it to me and I get to keep it. I have no vested interest in GO Outdoors, Rab who make the fleece itself other than to share my views and opinions; good, bad or otherwise.

Rab Orbit Pull-on Fleece Zip pull

First impressions out the bag, this was as fancy free as it could be. No bells and whistles on this top. No nonsense functionality. I do a job and I do it well. A mid-layer or a base layer whichever you choose it was ready to do the business. Lightweight Polartec 100 is the fabric that Rab have gone with for this microfleece. They say it has a micro stripe pattern which I assume is on the outer face of the fabric and feels a bit harder. Whereas the inside face is soft and almost silky in contrast. Making it very nice to wear next to the skin as a base layer should you want to. Rab have made a good comfortable top. On closer inspection and handling it’s well made, no dodgy stitching or loose threads. Some really nice finishing touches, like on the inside the seams round the collar and zip have been overlaid with a comfort strip.

Rab Orbit Pull-on Fleece Chin guard closed

Once I put it on, within a few minutes I was unaware of it. Which is ideal as personally when I’m out walking or whatever I don’t want to be always footering with my garments. It passed the Tookie indoors gear test with flying colours. If something isn’t comfortable or functional about the house, lounging, playing games with the family, down the pub, at the shops then it’s going to be 10 times worse when you’re out on the hill or far from home. It’s also a very light top coming in at 267 grams on my scales.

Rab Orbit Pull-on Fleece Collar detail

There’s not much in the way of features on this fleece but personally as midlayer I don’t want much. It has a deep chest zip to help with venting and a chin guard on the collar to stop the zip chaffing when you have it pulled all the way up. It also has a storm flap behind the zip to help stop drafts getting through. The zip pull is very small and probably a bit difficult to get a hold of, if you’re wearing gloves or have big muckle hon’s but it does tuck away nice and neat into the chin guard. The cuffs are not elasticated but the fleece fabric is stretchy enough should you want pull them up to your elbows. I has a scooped tail at the back to help keep your back covered when bending over or stretching up. The fit for me on this size medium is almost perfect so I would say that it would be a standard fit on the medium scale not slim or generous. It also has flat locked seams which help especially if you are layering up or carrying a rucksack no bulk to catch or sit uncomfortably.

Rab Orbit Pull-on Fleece Cuff and sleeve detail

I’ve had this for a while now and it’s either been on under a shell or as top layer with a base or I’ve just been carrying it around just in case. I found it to be an ideal partner for my close fitting windshirt as it not bulky so it fits great under it. Great to just pull it on when I stopped to keep that breeze from chilling me. It’s in my rucksack for when I need that extra warmth without hassle. It’s good; it works, what more could I want really?

Rab Orbit Pull-on Fleece Polartec label

More photographs can be found in my flickr set here.

Terra Nova Laser 35 Rucksack

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I’ll start like I start almost all of the reviews; with a disclaimer, that this rucksack was sent to me by idealo to review. Christoph from idealo contacted me. I was asked what I would like to review, I was asked to pick something through their site. This was a bit different as idealo is a price comparison site. I was like a kid in a sweet shop. I ended up sending a list to Christoph saying I would be happy to review any of those items. They were nice enough to send it to me the Terra Nova Laser 35 litre rucksack. I have no vested interest in idealo, Terra Nova or the rucksack itself other than to share my views and opinions; good, bad or otherwise.

Not long after sending the list in the postman delivered a large but light parcel which got ripped open almost immediately to reveal the rucksack. This was a bit different for me as the last few items have been clothing so on I my first look I usually don them and wear them about the house. Trying to get an idea of how comfortable they are. Not really practical with the rucksack, doesn’t really work rolling about the floor with my young daughter playing games or sitting on the couch consuming content on the iPad or watching telly. No Tookie indoors gear test. I would just have to make do with a really good once over in my hands before taking it out to play.

On first inspection it’s a well manufactured pack. Nice and tidy. The website has it at two different weights, 476 grams and 467 including the 8mm foam back pad. I’m pretty sure it’s a typo. My scales had it come in at 478 grams with the back pad in, the website has that at 50 grams but the one I have is very tight fit in the sleeve. It was not shaped, more or less a square cut and is a few grams heavier at 54. Nothing really; it is still a very light pack for it’s size, 424 grams without the foam insert. It is certainly the lightest pack that I have handled. It is also, as far as I’m aware the largest rucksack that Terra Nova have in their range at 35 litres.

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It is made from what feels like siliconised ripstop nylon in a rather bright; if not fetching, luminous yellow and a heavier black fabric in the key rub areas like the seat and the harness. There was no specifics named on any of the tags other than to say “Robust fabric in key areas to give maximum strength for minimum weight”. Not much to go on, not even anything in a quick google search with the iPhone. The back panel is made up of some padded mesh at the shoulders and the base of the spine and a plain middle section to give some ventilation and save some weight I assume.

On the waist belt it has a couple of pockets. Useful for small items which I’m a big fan of, storing sweets, nuts and other things that you want to have at hand instead of overloading your trouser pockets. They aren’t the biggest pockets and you would be struggling to get a point and shoot camera or even some of the latest smart phones in them. However a pocket knife or a compass would be fine. Both are accessed through a water resistant zip.

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Talking about zips, the main body is accessed through a full length water resistant one. I’ll be really honest and say I was sceptical about this. I thought it was a bit of a gimmick. You are so used to snap-to-buckles, drawstrings, lids, flaps and accessing your gear from the top down that anything else just seems wrong. After using it though it’s a bit of a revelation, easy access to all your gear. It’s all laid out in front of you. No lucky dip rummaging around, poking this one, squeezing that one trying to find the correct stuff sack. My only worry was about overloading the rucksack pulling the zip apart especially with the side compression pulled tight. I tried reconfiguring the bungee cord using the gear loops; while it helped ease my worries, taking away the pressure on the zip. All it really did was hamper my access to the contents by getting in the way as it criss-crossed over the zip. I ended up removing the cord and threading it back into it’s original configuration as it was just too annoying and so far so good, no pulling apart.

Inside the one and only main compartment there is an elasticated sleeve for a hydration pouch (also holds the foam pad in place) and entry/exit hole for the tube. The minimalist and boxy rectangular shape make for a good bit of usable space when it comes to packing gear in with the help of the full length zip. Like I said it does let you access all areas. Round the body of the rucksack there are plenty of attachment points, a couple with reflective tape, should you feel the need to hang things off the ‘sack or you can’t get everything inside the generous 35 litres. Most likely a helmet, ropes for the climbers or ice axes for the winter walkers. That is one thing it doesn’t have, loops for axes.

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You also have a couple of deepish pockets either side for water bottles or in conjunction with the side compression bungies you can secure walking poles or a camera tripod. There is loads of bungee cord on those side compression pulls. I ended up trimming it down a bit as I felt there was more than enough especially if you are securing gear in a half filled pack. You end up with cord whipping all over the place. Not much worse than the wind catching it an’ skelpping you in the dish with it. On the top of the right hand side there is also a zippered pocket that has a secure clip for your keys, its slightly bigger than the waist strap pockets. The harness has the same comfortable padded mesh as the the back panel and the sternum strap has the standard built in whistle on the buckle. The strap also has some leeway to move it up and down the torso.

I like the ‘sack but I haven’t used it on any overnight trips only day walks at the moment so it’s never really been full or packed hard. It copes great, it does what it does. I have no problems with it. If you’re tall or long in the back then it might ride a bit high but other than that the only niggle I have is with the zip. I’m still a bit worried about it being pulled apart if it gets overloaded and you pull in the side compression cord tight to lock down the load but in other ways it genius, giving you all that access. It is very light and comfortable for a rucksack of it’s size. Well made and for the moment it replaces my Alpkit Gourdon as my daysack. What it really needs now is to get away for a couple of days……

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Craghoppers Kiwi Long Sleeve Shirt

Merrick 007

photograph courtesy of Steve Horner

I’ll start like I start my most of reviews; with a disclaimer, that this shirt was sent to me by Ski + Trek to review. Ski + Trek and contacted me. I was asked what I would like to review and I asked for this shirt. They were nice enough to send it to me. I have no vested interest in Ski + Trek, Craghoppers or the shirt itself other than to share my views and opinions; good, bad or otherwise.

Ski + Trek have a range of gear for walking, skiing and snowboarding. From their site I selected the Craghoppers Kiwi Long Sleeve Shirt in a size medium and in indigo.

Craghoppers solardry

As I always do I gave the shirt a once over, running my hands through and giving it a good going over. I then stuck in on my scales. It came out weighing 296 grams for my size medium. It states a weight of 300 grams on their website but doesn’t say for what size. The shirt is made from Craghoppers’s own fabric, SolarDry. This is basically a polyester cotton mix that gives a reading of 40 on the UPF(Ultraviolet Protection Factor) index. The fabric also meets the British Standard for sun protection (BSEN 13758-2). It does this through the combination of 3 factors. The colour of the fabric, the density of the fabric construction and the type of yarns used. In my hand it felt nice and soft like a standard medium weight cotton shirt.

Craghoppers pocket

It is a pretty standard cut like most button down shirts. It has two button closure pockets on the front and one of those holds a zipped security pocket. I felt that the pockets were a little small considering they state that the secure one’s passport sized. I’m not sure which country has one that size but my British passport isn’t that small but then again I’m not one for stuffing my pockets full of things.

Craghoppers rolled up sleeve

The long sleeves are great giving you a lot of versatility, roll them up or down if you’re too warm or too cold. Keep the blazing sun off or look a bit smarter if you nip into the pub for a pint after being on the hill. The fact that you can button down the sleeves when you roll them up is great. No need to keep fiddling with them and rolling them back up because they can’t start to fall down.

Craghoppers drying loop

The shirt also has a couple of interesting little features. The first one is a couple of drying loops allowing you hang the shirt up after washing it without the need for pegs. Ideal for travelling. The other is a double collar. Tucked under the standard collar is another small flap which gives up more shade when you stand it up to protect yourself from the sun or cold draft blowing. Really smart thinking. One that I liked as I have milk white Scottish skin that sun only needs to wink at to turn me pink and the place that always gets it the back of my neck.

Craghoppers double collar

The only thing to let the shirt down was the untidy ends to some of the stitching. Nothing loose or not stitched correct just that finishing, tying off was unruly other than that it looked and felt a well made shirt. One I was happy to wear.

Craghoppers untidy stitches

After the initial inspection the shirt went through the usual lounging about the house testing. Rolling on the floor playing games with the little one, watching sports and drinking beer. A run round the colour cycle of the washing machine. The hard stuff. I always find wearing gear, if possible, casually is a great way to find out if it’s going to be any good when you do eventually take it outside. You’ll find out very quickly if its going to rub or pinch, ride up, are the tags going to scratch and itch. Thankfully none of that happened with this shirt. The polyester cotton is nice and comfortable with no hard tags to itch. No real worries or concerns. It passed the first phase of testing.

Its first trip out was nowhere near the wilds or hills something much more mundane and tranquil, the weekly trip to pick up some groceries from the local supermarket. Again the shirt was comfortable. I had no problems with and it didn’t look out of place in the urban environment, the man about town looked fine.

Craghoppers Logo

When out in the wilds when I was working hard I found the shirt to be cool and also to dry quite quickly for what feels like a medium weight fabric. It was always comfortable and it didn’t find any rubbing under rucksack straps or any chaffing. I have worn it on its own, under a windshirt. I have even slept in it like a dirty stop out. The shirt has taken a lot of abuse, washed and dried well. There a few marks where my sweat and the suncream has caused a slight discoloration of the fabric on the sleeves where I had rolled them up. Other than that the shirt is great and it doesn’t affect the wearing. A tough well made shirt. It seems to fill a lot of uses and occasions. I like it.

Montura Skisky Insulated Jacket

Montura Skisky Insulated Jacket

Photograph courtesy of Michael Thomson

Promises made and promises broken. I said I was going to post more often and I haven’t but less of my moaning, lets have a quick look at more gear. Like the other post, that you can see here Montura Magic G Active Shell, I have to qualify this review as more of a first look as I only had the jacket for a couple of days as part of a meet Petesy organised. These are my initial views and thoughts. Remember what works for me and what I like might not be for you or be to your liking.

There was a lot on offer to test and next up was the insulated gear. Down as well as synthetic jackets. I went for for the Skisky by Montura. For those that haven’t at a look at my last post about Montura Magic G Active shell, Montura are an Italian outdoor apparel manufacturer. Their website is under construction at the moment and can be found here at http://www.montura.it/

The jacket was red and black a more of a colour combination that I would go for, personally. The outer shell is made from TS165, a PU (polyurethane) coated polyester taslan that is very water resistant. It was mainly red with the black being on usual wear points, the shoulders, back and elbows. The hood was also black. The filling is about 40g of PrimaLoft. I’m not sure of the overall weight of the jacket but it didn’t feel excessively heavy.

Again my first impressions like that of those for Magic G were good. Another really well put together jacket. Even for a sample this was very good. No loose threads. The jacket had some very nice features which made you think that they had really thought about the little details that make a difference during the design process. The ones that really caught my eye were the lined hand warming pockets, two large long, Sigg bottle shaped internal pockets and my favorite, the long thick ribbed elasticated cuffs with monkey thumbs. Essentially turned the bottom of the sleeves into fingerless gloves. I really do like thumb holes on sleeves. It also meant that wearing your gloves over the cuffs meant that you are effectively sealing out the drafts and the cold. The hood was interesting as it wasn’t really adjustable in the true sense but was made from an elastic fabric which kept it tight to your head. The recommended retail price for the jacket is £195 should someone in the UK decide to stock it.

Once on the fit of the jacket was again accommodating, like the hard shell I had. This meant there would be no problem getting a fleece below for some extra insulation if needed. There was plenty of freedom of movement. I wasn’t restricted in anyway and the hem didn’t ride up as can sometimes happen when stretching. After that quick initial wear in the car park the jacket got packed away in the rucksack until later. It compressed down reasonably well into one of my small dry bags. As soon as we got to our camp spot it was the first thing out the bag. It was getting really cold, with the snow and wind blowing. You all probably know that when you stop moving, you start losing heat really fast. No problems with this jacket. I was snug while pitching the tent.

The next day I decided to give the jacket another go, this time in a more active scenario. We had all decided to climb The Cobbler and with it being cold and the stop start nature of my climbing, due to my fitness and wanting to take loads of photographs. I thought it would be ideal for this jacket. The jacket was good at no time on the entire climb was I too warm or felt wet on the inside and I never got cold when I stop for extended periods, either to talk to the others, take photographs or mostly just to catch my breath

I couldn’t pick fault with this jacket, I really liked and wished I didn’t have to give it back. I thought it was a very good insulated jacket. I would love to have it in pack for winter. I really liked the fit and the comfort and the warmth. Just a shame no-one in the UK seems to be stocking them.

Montura Magic G Active Shell

Montura Magic G Active Shell

Photograph courtesy of Michael Thomson

I have to qualify this review as more of a first look as I only had the jacket for a couple of days as part of a recent meet Petesy organised. These are my initial views and thoughts. Remember what works for me and what I like might not work for you or be to your liking.

The shell that I was given, volunteered to in the car park was the Montura Magic G Active shell. Montura are an Italian outdoor clothing manufacturer that I couldn’t find that much about. They have a website that’s under construction but by all accounts they are an up and coming company doing well over in Italy and that side of the Alps.

The jacket was a very bright green, not sure if it’s an attractive colour but it would certainly get you noticed. For those of you who don’t know Active shell is a new fabric from GORE-TEX® and it’s a bit of an enigma, some people love it and others hate it. According to the official bumph from GORE-TEX® the jackets engineered from the fabric are built to provide durable water and wind protection as well as extreme breath-ability. The Ret value for the material is less than 3. The fabric is a 3 layer construction and lighter in weight to deliver excellent comfort when being worn next to the skin. The garments are ideal for highly aerobic activities like mountain biking, fast alpine ascents and trail running. They also claim that garments made with Active Shell will have a maximum weight of 400 grams. The test jacket weighs in at 307g according to Montura. I’m not sure if that was for the size medium that I had or for the largest jacket they sell.

My first impressions were very good on having just been handed the jacket straight out the boot a car. I was very impressed with the quality. It did also feel very light in my hand and the fabric was very soft and subtle to the touch. With a more robust feeling version of Active Shell on the top of the arms and shoulders. The classic rub points. It was a well put together jacket. The quality was very evident, no loose threads or badly taped seams that I could see. Nothing extravagant, just a couple of hand pockets and a hood, no toggle adjustments. The cuffs, hood and hem were elasticated. The hood had a Velcro volume adjustment at the back. There are reflective strips on the hem and around the jacket and the logo. On the cuffs it had a couple of elasticated thumb loops which I thought was interesting, I do like thumb loops on tops. It also had robust waterproof zip with a really big storm flap behind it. The expected retail price in the UK is £185.

The fit of the jacket was quite accommodating for a medium including my beer belly which is fine in my opinion as it means you can get a layer, or 2 at push below the waterproof shell, like an insulating jacket or fleece. Maybe that’s what they call an active fit. I was very nice on, it felt as light as they claim and my initial hand hefting. There was good movement in the arms and torso.It was one of those days and the jacket got all sorts of weather thrown at it; snow, rain, sleet and wind, a really strong driving wind. A typical west of Scotland day. I’m not sure how it would cope in extended periods of rain over a few days. However I was fine in the jacket and felt that the fabric was breathing well as I wasn’t wet or damp even with all the exertions my unfit body was going through pulling up the track to the Cobbler and it was coping really well in the wind as well.

The only thing that I could pick fault with and fault is not the right word. It was more of an annoyance I found that because the hem of the jacket was elasticated it would and could ride up. The thumb loops worked well, keeping the sleeves down over the cuff of my gloves and therefore sealing out the drafts. The hood was good, not sure how it would deal with a helmet but was fine over my watch cap and I had no issues with the fabric. All in all I had a great time in and found nothing wrong with a very well made jacket from a brand I hadn’t heard of before. Very impressed indeed.

Review – Paramo Mountain Vent Pull On

On the Throne...

I’ll start like I started my last review;  with a disclaimer, that this Paramo Mountain Vent Pull On base layer  was sent to me by GO Outdoors to review. I have no vested interest in GO Outdoors, Paramo or the base layer itself other than to share my views and opinions; good, bad or otherwise.

GO Outdoors have a large range of fleeces and base layers I selected the Mountain Vent Pull On from the Paramo range available at GO Outdoors, in a size medium and in black.

I received email notification that my order was placed on the Friday and I had the top in my hands on the Tuesday. Not to shabby at all for standard delivery. 2 working days. Once in my hands I was impressed with the workmanship. Very good quality, no loose threads or ragged edges. I had only ever seen Paramo shells before as they are popular with a lot of winter walkers in Scotland, so I knew of them but hadn’t realised that they also do a line of base layers. It was never a brand that was on my radar until now.

Paramo Mountain Vent Pull-on Parameta S label(2)

Having unwrapped the base layer and released it from it’s plastic prison and parcel taped hell. I was impressed the initial feel of the garment. It has a soft smooth almost shiny pile on the outside and nice short fleece velour style pile on the inside. It’s made from Paramo’s own proprierty fabric Parameta S, it’s a reversible fabric, the fleece side against the skin to retain your heat or turn it inside out and wear the smooth side against your body to cool you down.

Paramo Mountain Vent Pull-on

Probably like all reviewers I’m a bit pedantic and anal so after having a good feel and heft of the top I had a look round at the stitching and general workmanship. To that end it was a very clean top; no missed hems, loose stitches or anything that would catch the eye. Very well put together indeed. I did notice on this first look and nice deep chest zip and push button studs on the cuffs a bit like a dress shirt. It also has a secure chest pocket with a zip closure. It’s only really big enough to hold your mobile phone, spare camera battery, keys and things of that ilk. An extra pocket is always handy though.

Paramo Mountain Vent Pull-on

I had noticed on the GO Outdoors and on Paramo’s own website had different weights for the base layer. 389 grams and 354 grams respectively so out came my electronic scales; lo and behold, a different weight. 361 grams for the size medium which seems to me to be good and light for a base/mid layer.

After all that there was nothing left to do; off came the t-shirt, well it is marketed as a next to the skin base layer, and on went the top. I felt good and comfortable on. I like the cut of the cloth however I did and still do think the sleeves are a little short for a size medium. I’m not the tallest or smallest. The length of my arm from wrist to shoulder is approximately 52 cm and the cuff sits nicely on my wrist. I have no problem with sleeve riding up due to the articulated shoulders and elbows but I’m not so sure of some one with longer arms will get on as well. One thing I didn’t like is where the vents were on the arms. The zips run down the from of the sleeves over your biceps and every time I bent my arms I could fell them, as obviously the zips are stiffer than then fabric. I think that could get annoying if walking with poles and constantly moving your arms. That or it’s because the top was just new.

It does have something I really like in a base layer or fleece a really high collar. Nothing worse than draft down the back of your neck because there’s a big gaping gap between yir bunnet and your collar. No such trouble with this top. I also liked the scooped tail at the back no worries about exposing your back to the elements.

Paramo Mountain Vent Pull-on Front Zip(1)

Having given the top what is now becoming the standard once over and initial indoor test of rolling around the floor, carrying on and playing games with the toddler. Lounging on the couch, drinking beer, watching the football. Hard strenuous but unscientific tests.  Well I’ve done that twice now so we can call that the Tookie-start-off-standardTM. I found the base layer more than adequate if a little too warm but the house is warm and chasing around a toddler can be very exhausting. It was time to get the top out into it’s natural a habit, outside.

The only problem I have had with the outdoor testing as been the mildness of the winter here in Scotland. Compared to the last 2 years it has been positively tropical. Not much snow and not much cold if any. Ho Hum but I just have to get on with it. I’ve had the top on at nearly every opportunity, even for trips to the shop not just the wilds of Ayrshire and Lanarkshire.

I’ve worn it as a base layer, as a mid layer and also under a hard shell. However not how Paramo envisaged it being used; As the following quote from their website states, ‘the Paramo Mountain Vent Pull-On has been designed to work ‘systemically’ with the Paramo Aspira and Alta Directional Waterproof Jackets providing excellent temperature control and breathability. When combined with your jacket, the two garments become a powerful unit which can be quickly adjusted to meet the rigours of terrain and weather.’ Yeah don’t think they want it being paired with a North Face HyVent Alpha hard shell. Oops, but in saying that the top was fine, great in fact. I had no issue it with as a base layer under the shell. Not to hot and not to cold. Which is good as I run warm and usually find as soon as the waterproof layer goes on I start to over heat.

Paramo Mountain Vent Pull-on

My only real complaint and it is probably just a personal one, is the vents on the sleeves. I just found them annoying as I noticed them when I lift my arms. Maybe I’m just used to venting options being under my arms. It’s not a major thing and something others my not even bother about. It’s a good quality top and does what Paramo states, ‘next to skin’ garments for mountain activities. Offering exceptional comfort and function. I’ll continue to wear it and hope it gets colder so I can test it properly.

Review – Montane Terra Mountain Pants

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I’ll start with a disclaimer; that these Montane Terra Mountain Pants were sent to me by GO Outdoors to review. I have no vested interest in GO Outdoors, Montane or the trousers themselves other than to share my views and opinions; good, bad or otherwise.

GO Outdoors have a large range of waterproof trousers and I selected the Montane Mountain Terra Pants from their range, waist size medium and regular length leg in the black and graphite colour combination.

This is my first experience of Montane gear and I have to say my first impressions on removing them from the parcel were good. Light in weight and soft to touch. They are made from Cotton-feel Tactel and Cordura Mini-Rip, rip stop fabric for the reinforced areas. These panels are on the seat(bum), knees and inner ankles. The classic high friction points. The fabrics also rated 40+ ultraviolet protection factor. They also claimed to be less than 320g for the size medium. I stuck them on my scales and they weighed in at 337 grams but I hadn’t cut off all the paper tags. Once snipping them off the trousers came in at 329g including the belt. After removing the belt they were well under, at 302 grams.

When I tried them on I was very surprised by the fit. I’m not the tallest, 5’ 7” on a good day and usually find that especially with trousers I have to get the short leg option. However these were not to long for me, as in touching the floor but not to the usual degree of standing on them with my toes poking out the end. They would be nearly a perfect length with my trail shoes on. This may be something to bear in mind if you are a ‘regular’ leg guy, these might well be short. The waist is elasticated with a button and a zip fly which makes for a nice snug custom fit for a range of sizes within that medium band. There is also a fairly standard webbing belt.

The trouser legs have mesh thigh vents which are opened or closed with a zip to help aid cooling should you find yourself too warm. The ankles also have zips and press studs that allow you to adjust the volume to suit and vent the bottom of your legs if need be. You can even remove the trousers completely while leaving your boots on, if you felt the need!

zip pull(2)

There is a distinct lack of pockets as the trousers only have two front mesh lined pockets, one with a zipped security pocket for your keys or such like. No back pockets or cargo pockets. Having said that, the two front pockets are ample in size and hold all the usually junk you keep in your jeans pockets with ease. The zip pulls on the pockets have a nice rubberised/silicon spot on them which grabs your skin, stopping the material tab slipping from between your fingers.

zip pull(1)

Having given them a thorough indoor testing; rolling about the floor playing with my 20 month old daughter, lounging on the couch, drinking beer and watching the football. After passing those hard tests with ease I felt it was time to take them outdoors and give them a proper test. Surprisingly though for the west of Scotland there hasn’t been much rain. Typical! Maybe it was just my luck in picking good days. Undeterred I got myself out on a couple of occasions and into the wild.

Stud fastners

Out and about in the wild on various walks including rolling about grass and stones trying to set up some self portraits in the hills I found the trousers to be very comfortable; no rubbing, chaffing or pulling. I can’t say much for the waterproofness of the fabrics as I was only ever in light showers. However the water did bead on the surface but I couldn’t say how long or how much water before that would stop and they wet out. What I can vouch for is there windproofness, even in strong winds I never felt drafty or any chill when I stopped walking. I know they claim to be a 4 season active trouser but until the weather really turns cold I couldn’t verfiy this. I would guess though that you would have to wear a thermal base layer under them for the true cold weather. All in all I found these trousers to be excellent and I look forward to wearing them out with confidence on future walks.