Monday, 29 December 2014

Gear of the year 2015

I've just been getting out and doing stuff, really.
To be honest, I haven't actually bought a whole lot of new stuff this year, or at least, it doesn't feel like it. Most of what I have been using has simply carried on working from previous years of use and abuse.

I suppose that goes to show that when you buy good stuff, you don't really need to worry too much about replacing it for quite a long time before it ends up falling off you because it's just too worn out.

I spent a long time in the middle of the year faffing about which waterproof I was going to replace my old cypher smock with. After a bit of a protracted blog I went for the new updated version of it - the Aether smock, which is pretty good, but if you know me and have spoken to me about it, I will, no doubt have talked at great length about the fact it has an internal pocket instead of an external one... seriously, don't get me started.
So yes, its a good bit of kit, but not without downsides.
Would I buy it again? Looking around at the options, yes, probably, but as soon as I find a waterproof which is basically the Cypher smock, I'll be going down that route instead.

Shoes -

Inov8 Mudclaw 300's after 900km
Despite all the rather snazzy looking salomons out there, the Fellraisers being a particularly good example of being mid price point, and apparently very good, I have stayed on the Inov8 train, simply because I was able to get a couple of cheap pairs, the yellow 300's and the xtalon 212's. They still do the job, but the 212's are still a bit narrow - though inov8 finally admitted that they were wrong when they said the new model are "exactly the same" as the old ones (except for a new material in the mid sole), and are now producing them in a "normal" fit and a "race" fit - the normal fit being the more relaxed on which people may be used to.

As a bit of a hack on the 300's, if you have an old pair of x-talon laces, relace the 300's with those, you get better closure around your foot, and they're easier to use than the horrible yellow laces that come with them.

I'd love to get my hands on a pair of the new fellcross 3 by salomon, but at £125 (on sale!) I somehow don't think thats going to happen, especially as the shoes on the left (inov8 Mudclaw 300's) looked like this after 900km. The Salomons would either have to do twice that, or be twice as good, considering they cost twice as much. I don't really see either of those situations occurring. However, the fellraisers might get bought and tested in the next couple of months, so we'll see how they go.

Bags - 

I'm still using the OMM adventure light 20, it's getting a little battered, but still works a charm, and the inov8 2 and 3 litre bumbags are soldiering on. I had to replace a zip tag with a bit of string, but really, they're holding up well.

Insulated jackets - 

I STILL have that arc'teryx Atom SV from about 6 years ago. It goes in the bottom of the sack when I'm out on long, cold runs as a just in case. It gets used a lot when I'm wandering through town to university. It STILL looks great.
The Mountain Equipment Ultratherm is also going strong, and I've had no need to update that at all. Perfect for dawn runs, belaying when climbing and generally kicking around in.

Cycling gear -

Perhaps the biggest game changer of the year was my Castelli Gabba jacket - bought in a sale, and just before the Gabba 2 came out, I'd been hankering after one for a long time. It's a softshell jacket - and I haven't really had much luck with them in the past. My MHW dragon jacket was a bit of a let down, as have been a number of that type of jacket that I've used. However, using the Gabba on the bike in the past 2
months has been a revalation.

Ok, it doesn't keep my dry, but it keeps the worst of the rain off me, it keeps me warm in autumnal and winter temperatures on the bike, it is bright and reflective (lets face it, if I'm going to be wearing a jacket like this, the weather is going to be rubbish, and it is most likely to be dark), and it looks smart. If ever there was a bit of clothing that will enable you to relish getting out there on bad weather days, this is it.

So there you go - not a whole lot of new gear in my collection to write about. Getting stuff that doesn't break quickly seems to be a good problem to have, though it doesn't make great reading, I guess. I suppose I'll just have to put my back into it and try a bit harder.

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