Tag Archives: Outdoors

First Look – Gore Air System Gilet

I’m testing a batch of waterproof jackets for UK Adventure Sports Magazine this week from Paramo, Haglofs, Rab, and Berghaus. Hopefully a few more will show up, but I wasn’t expecting the little surprise that arrived with Mr UPS from Germany. Seems I was sent a Gore Running Wear Air System Gilet to review alongside the other jackets, but this one is a little bit different so I’m not sure it really fits in. Will probably have to look at it separately and in more detail.

Gore Air System Gilet
Gore Air System Gilet

It’s constructed from a mixture of different Gore fabrics, Performance Shell and Paclite along their Comfort Mapping theme – putting tougher fabrics in higher wear spots and lighter, more breathable fabrics where they can get away with it. You might spot the unusual looking matrix across the front, which continues on around the lower back. This is an air chamber that can be inflated by blowing in the black valve on the chest, creating a web of small compartments on the inside. These trap warm air next to the skin, in the same way as down or synthetic insulation does, however, being Gore, the outer fabric is waterproof, making this a pretty interesting piece. So its a waterproof gilet with adjustable insulation, that won’t stop performing if it gets wet like down, or becoming sodden like Primaloft etc. I’ve yet to try it in anger, but I can see it being quite versatile meaning days on the hills with a windproof need only be augmented by the gilet if the weather turns shit. Keeping the core dry is clearly the most important point, which this will do. Still getting chilly or stopped at a belay point midway up a climb? Just blow in the valve for some instant insulation. Ready to move again? Just release the valve and be on your way!

Voila! Gore Air System Gilet inflated
Voila! Gore Air System Gilet inflated

I’m keen to see how it works out and about on the hills, but in the short term I quite like this, but that’s maybe just because its different and I welcome Gore’s attempts to bring something different to the market. My only niggle at the moment is a lack of handwarmer pockets, but hey it is designed for runners and who runs with their hands in their pockets?

Victorinox Swiss Champ

Summary: Highly featured, superb quality multi tool
Price: £50
Value: 8/10
Performance: 8/10
  • Classic design
  • Swiss precision multi tool
  • 33 stainless steel tools
  • High quality construction
  • Lifetime guarantee
When I was a child in the Scouts, we would play games of Top Trumps with Swiss Army Knifes, constantly trying to out do each other by revealing some tool from the belly of our knife that supposedly more niche and of higher value than our friends. The bigger the knife, the more tools it contained and the more creative the imagination would have to get to define exactly what some of them were used for. Horse hoof stone picker…or parcel hook? Nut cracker or wrench? Small spike for making tiny holes in windscreen washer jets or…oh that’s what it is for!

Thankfully, the Swiss Champ Knife, the one I dreamed of owning as a boy, came with a universal picture manual to show exactly what each of the 33 tools were for. Of course, there are many of them that I would not dream of ever actually using, but is that really the point of this knife? The Swiss Army are, after all, issued with a knife with only 6 features. Top Trumps to me!

The tools are all made from stainless steel and are of the highest quality, still being manufactured in Switzerland since 1884. Using some of the tools to prise and bend puts a lot of torsional force on the main body which would cause less well constructed tools (like you get in the local market) to split open. Not a hint of it with the Swiss Champ, it is rock solid and shows no signs of the hinges loosening. This particular model is the most well equipped model in the range and has become such a classic item of design that it appears in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

A knife is often on the kit list for expedition races, but this would simply be overkill to carry with you, it is heavy and at what point in the race will you need the corkscrew anyway? It is one for the transition box though, and worth having. The tweezers alone could be a saviour to remove annoying thorns and a support crew could find a good use for the can and bottle openers.

While it is certainly not a necessity for adventure racing, it is a really nice tool to own and with a lifetime guarantee it should be a purchase for life.

Here is the tool list in it’s entirety:
Large blade, Small blade, Corkscrew, Can opener, Cap lifter, Screwdriver, Wire stripper, Reamer, Punch, Key ring, Tweezers, Toothpick, Scissors, Multi-purpose hook, Wood saw, Fishscaler, Hook disgorger, Ruler, Nailfile, Metal file, Nail cleaner, Metal saw, Fine screwdriver, Chisel, Pliers, Wire cutters, Wire crimper, Phillips screwdriver, Magnifying glass, Ballpoint pen, Pin, Mini-screwdriver (patented)For more details please visit: http://www.victorinox.com

Whisky Galore

The Tranter’s Round attempt was one of the best moments of the year, although yet again unfortunately the weather was against us. It had been so perfect and such a beautiful night that we were well up on the existing record, however, the weather totally changed as we climbed onto Aonach Beag, the first of the 4000ft hills, and we had to face increasingly dangerous winds and treachorous ice. Full story is on this Sleepmonsters report.Christmas has been and gone, and this year it really just snuck up and hit me between the eyes. I was working for Jon, Mark and Robbo’s Easy Drinking Whisky Company, plugging their wares in Jenners department store in Edinburgh, and before I knew it, it was Christmas Eve and the present buying hadn’t even begun. Thankfully inspiration came from somewhere, the day itself passed pretty quietly and now the New Year is around the corner. Looking forward to some arrivals from Iraq and Australia, just in time for Hogmanay thankfully. It’ll be a different one this year, for the first time I’m working, again with JMR this time pumping out Hot Toddies in Princes Street Gardens at the big ceilidh going on there. Should be fun…

WARCy Adventures

Reading back through some of this blog I’m never quite sure of any time when I don’t have an injury! Somehow though I still manage to heal just in time for the next race, only to break myself again in pusuit of adventure. Thankfully the season is drawing to a close with only a few more races in October to go and then a chance to spend a winter in the gyma nd on the bike and doing the first proper training since back in 2002. Before that I have to master a new art…inline skating!At the end of August I joined Cotswold Outdoor for the inaugural Wilderness ARC World Series adventure race in Lochaber, starting in Fort William and lasting 5 days continuously over a 400km course. During the course of this week I had the most amazing experiences and adventures of my life so far and made some solid new friends. Unfortunately the weather was appalling during the first night after a glorious first day which took in a paddle down Loch Linnhe and traverse of the Aonach Eagach ridge in Glen Coe. The cold and wet led to many teams pulling out due to moving too slowly or having insufficient clothing for the conditions, as was the case with the rest of my squad. Luckily the decision to bail out was made before it got silly cold and one of the guys ended up going down with food poisoning so it was quite fortuitous in the end.

However, myself and Fred Yong combined with a couple of other guys including Peter from Denmark and were reinserted into the race at a kayak stage after only missing one mountain bike stage. This was followed by a 23 hour trek through the wilderness of Moidart, where I got to know Peter’s Danish friends including Thure who has now invited me across to Denmark to compete in a race in Copenhagen at the beginning of October. (Hence the inline skating!). The trek was followed by a 130km mountain bike ride out to the Ardnamurchan lighthouse, the most westerly point on the British mainland, where the angels of the light looked after us with tea, curry and a lighthouse living room floor! Ask me sometime and I’ll explain more! A further 6 hour kayak up Loch Sheil to the finish at Glenfinnan was all that remained to cap and incredible week, with so many funny and scary anecdotes.

Thankfully I was pretty much injury free for the whole event but am now suffering with hamstring tendonitis with only a week to go until the Mourne Mountain Marathon with Tim Lenton…One of these days I’m going to begin and finish a race injury free! Maybe.