Thursday, 19 December 2013

2013's Gear of the Year

Before everyone gets stuck into the year reviews and stuff that they've done, and stuff they want to do next year because they haven't got around to doing it this year, along with familiar excuses, I thought I'd just do a quick run down of gear that I've found incredibly good to use in the hills this year, and if you don't have them, these are the gems that I'd certainly suggest looking at.

Gloves- Montane Extreme Mitts
Warm hands? While walking in the cold? I didn't think that was a possibility for me, but these mitts just keep doing the business. In the snow, in the rain, in crazy high winds, at night, where ever. These are the best Gloves I own.
Not only do they keep my hands warm, but if I take them off to do something fiddly, and freeze my fingers, they actually enable my hands to warm up again.

Top - Mountain Equipment Ultratherm
I've raved about this before. I will do so again. Pertex outer (DWR- water resistant), fleece backed inner. Zip away helmet compatible and head compatible hood that has all the excellence that you'd expect from a ME hood (I reckon they are the best on the market). Stretchy under-arm panels. Its all I ever wanted from a Rab Vapourize and more. I run in it, I walk in it, it's getting battered, and I suspect will be even more battered by the end of next year. At least 4 other people have bought one because of that review, and they all have as big a smile as I do about it.

Shoes - Inov8 x-talon 212 - new style
Different widths on the 212's
Ok, so I haven't actually reviewed this one officially yet. Allegedly they are nearly exactly the same as the original model. I am really not so sure. The forefoot is definitely thinner by about a centimetre. To me, thats not an issue as it means I simply wear thinner socks and I still get the same slipper-like fit of the old shoes. If you have wider feet- you might encounter some problems with the new streamlined shape. (then again you might not).
Same confidence inspiring grip. Same gloriously comfortable fit. Crazy new colour scheme. Same expensive price.
Love these shoes, and if you ever find a pair in size 7 in a sale, tell me.

Waterproof trousers - Montane Superflys
Yes, yes, I haven't talked about or reviewed these either, mainly because they only get pulled on when I'm wearing trousers- which only ever really happens in town. No, they aren't as light as other waterproof trousers, but they are bombproof. They also have solid zips which zip up and down when you want them to and don't get stuck.
Was out in miserable heavy crap weather yesterday for 3 hours. The arcteryx jacket I was wearing let in water. The Montane Superfly pants - none. Best eVent trousers I've ever owned, and best carryable ones as well. (heavy duty bib-waterproof trousers would come under a different category).

Light - Silva runner
I thought this would be "just another light". It's a revelation of lightness in weight and lightness of lumens. Revolutionised my downhill running at night - on full beam mode its almost like cheating. Crazy expensive. Crazy light. Rechargable. Worth it for night training, night running, and generally lighting up the dark.

Rucksack - OMM Adventure Light 20
A shocking pose. But a great sack.
I got this for Christmas last year. I've used if for races, recces, holidays, commutes, walks, runs, on a bike, through all seasons. It is solid on the back, has pockets in the right places and compression elastic that has
enough clippy bits to make it stay on in the right places. Quite simply the best and most useful all round sack that I think I have ever owned - and I own a LOT of sacks. It's put the Jirishenca out of a job - which I really didn't expect!

Other notable things that ALWAYS seem to end up getting used.
OMM cypher smock - it gets taken pretty much everywhere that I run. Showing signs of age with a couple of holes here and there, but it is a great bit of kit. The hood is so good that it nigh on rivals an ME hood for construction and fit.

Inov8 caps: I own 3 of them. Despite my (apparently) remarkably small head, they do a great job of not getting blown off it.

Buffs- I go through these at a rate of knots. Ridiculously versatile. If you don't own one, go and buy at least 2.

Suunto Ambit. It's still going and goes out with me on every single run and walk.

Arctery'x Atom SV. A few years old. Still warm. Still water resistant. Still looks excellent despite being used on and off the hill for a remarkable number of occasions. It is probably my most used jacket.

There you go. Some of the best stuff out there at the moment. Just because its not on the list doesn't mean it isn't good- it may just mean I haven't got around to buying and using it yet. There looks to be some good stuff on the horizon for next year as well. Inov8, OMM, Haglofs, Montane and a number of other manufacturers all seem to have been pulling out the stops to bring out new gear.
More money to be spent... but will it be worth the spend? I think next year will be a year for really scrutinizing stuff before getting committing the cash.


  1. Top gear review Zeph.
    Maybe see you at the KinderTrial?

  2. Yep, I should be bashing around, entry is already in. (hopefully Luvshack has ordered the snow again).