Wednesday, 27 July 2011
As I mentioned in the Mammut Eiger Extreme review below, I was very impressed with NeoShell for a number of reasons. NeoShell represents a very odd combination of feeling and performing like a soft shell, but bringing with it the waterproof qualities of a hard shell. In particular my favourite jacket with this fabric was the Mammut Gipfelgrat jacket (see review further down). I can already see the benefits of this fabric for winter climbing, the fabric has stretch in it to give great comfort and freedom of movement, it's warm like a soft shell, but gives protection from the weather like a hard shell. On the Polartec® stand was a short demonstration of how the fabric works:
As you can see the fabric is fully breathable; allowing oxygen to pass through it into the liquid, however non of the water above gets through the fabric into the container below. The fabric in the right hand container was not named, so could be anything. NeoShell also claims to be machine washable without any loss of waterproofing on the jacket - another big claim that can't be substantiated at this stage. The other thing about NeoShell is that it seems like more of a 'beefy' fabric, it's not designed to be super light weight, so from an adventure racers point of view this fabric could be less that ideal. Full details of NeoShell can be found on the website: http://www.neoshell.com/
Overall I was very impressed with NeoShell, the neat little demo on the stand, the substantial feeling fabric, the proof will be in the pudding, but if NeoShell delivers what it promises then this could represent a real step forward in terms of performance fabrics.
Gore-tex® Active Shell
Active Shell is the latest fabric from Gore-tex designed to provide a high degree of waterproofing and breathability. From Gore-tex;
"Ideal for all weather fast forward athletes seeking durable protection and comfort during highly aerobic, done in a day activities such as trail running, mountain biking, and fast alpine ascent."
(Left) Mountain Equipments new Firefox jacket uses Active Shell
My first impression of Active Shell? It felt like Paclite crossed with ProShell. It felt very thin, and light. I found it hard to get very animated about Active Shell, because from my point of view it is just another Gore-tex fabric that is waterproof and breathable. I also had to sit through a lecture one morning that was supposed to be about outdoor gear targeting the ageing market, however when the Gore-tex woman appeared to do her section, she just talked about the various fabrics available instead of staying on topic, however listening to her all the fabrics made the same claim: waterproof and breathable....so what exactly is new about Active Shell? From Gore-tex website:
"combines extreme breathability and durable wind- and waterproofness with minimum weight and pack volume."
Sound familiar? Thats because the above was taken from the description of Gore-tex Paclite. My point is that Gore-tex new fabric just seems to me to be "just another waterproof fabric". 4 of the 5 fabrics on the Gore-tex site claim to be waterproof and breathable, and on feeling and trying on Active Shell jackets, it feels like another one for the collection; an updated version of Paclite, that perhaps provides slightly more breathability and waterproofing, however once again the proof will be in the pudding. Website: http://www.gore-tex.co.uk/remote/Satellite/content/product-technologies/garments/active-shell
In summary; I am finding it very hard to get psyched for Active Shell, I'm sure it will be a step forward in terms of producing a shell that is; lightweight, breathable and waterproof. But to me it just seems like it's nothing new. NeoShell on the other hand seems to be exactly what I have been looking for in a soft shell, but with the added bonus of being as waterproof as a hard shell. I was impressed with NeoShell to the point that I gave V12outdoor an email this morning to see about pre-ordering a Mammut Gipfelgrat in September.
Thursday, 21 July 2011
Magellan eXplorist series
The eXplorist series are Magellan's latest GPS handsets, as well as being available to view and trial at the Magellan stand it was possible to borrow one and test it out. The eXplorist series comes in several models; GC, 310, 510, 610, and 710. All the models
The GC version is designed for Geocaching, and comes with a preloaded database of 1000's of Geocaches. It also comes with a 30 day premium trial on Geocaching.com. It can hold around 10,000 Geocaches. However it does not come with any maps included. The 310 and 510 include world mapping (roads, river, some relief shading, land use worldwide), however the 510 has a larger 3 inch touch screen, and a 3.2 mp camera built in. The 610 and 710 are the 'big daddy's' of the series and both include topographic "summit series" mapping. The summit series mapping is 1:50,000 and includes all the detail you would expect from a map of that scale. The 710 includes turn by turn navigation (US only at moment).
So all in all I liked the eXplorist series, the signal was very constant (even inside the centre), navigation was simple enough using the buttons, I would imagine the touchscreen versions with larger screens would have been even easier to use! Overall, good range of GPS sets, some good features, and the price point is also pretty good.
So having visited Magellan the next stop was Garmin and their new eTrex revamp. The eTrex has been a stable GPS in terms of sales and popularity for some time, most likely due to it's ease of use and cost (the eTrex basic model can be picked up for around £50). However Garmin obviously decided it was time for a change around, so their new eTrex series was created. There are 3 models; 10 (£100) ,20 (£130) and 30 (£150). All models have the same interface which consists of a small scroll stick in the top right, and a number of buttons on the sides which control various functions. They all also feature waterproofing up to IPX7 and have a 2.2 inch screen. The pricing is very good, and with only a 33% difference between the top and bottom model's it would definitely be worth considering getting the eTrex 30 for the additional features. The eTrex 10 is a basic model featuring no maps, the 20 comes with a colour screen and expandable memory to allow new maps to be added. The 30 comes with a barometric altimeter for more accurate height readings, a worldwide basemap and a 3 axis compass, as well as wireless sharing for sharing routes between other compatible units. Overall I really liked these units, they were a good size, had good features, good ease of use, and most importantly the price point was excellent (much cheaper than the Magellan units). It should be pointed out however that the Magellan sets include maps where the Garmin sets do not, so factoring in the cost of expanding the maps brings the costs up to around equal. The new eTrex series will be appearing in the UK soon!
Last on my tour of electronics was SatMap. Whilst there were no new products from Satmap this year in terms of GPS units, there were a few extra bits that may be of interest to anyone who has, or is thinking of getting a Satmap set.
First up is the ProShield. The proshield is a rugged case with a belt clip. This is designed to bring the Satmap up to IPX7 standard for waterproofing. It protects the unit from drops onto concrete, water and dust, as well as protecting the screen from scratches and damage. It comes in 3 colours (left) and is very easy to fit. The belt clip is also large enough to fit onto a rucksack loop or strap for ease of access. The second thing is that all 1:25k maps from SatMapSatMaps now have new software which increases their efficiency and reduces the chances of the unit freezing. I guess from Satmaps point of view they have decided "if it ain't broke don't fix it!".
So there you are, new releases and updates on the top brands of GPS available in the UK, some good stuff on the way!
Speaking of Ultralight; Terra Nova recently announced their new Terra Nova Laser Ultra 1 tent. A 1 man tent that weighed only 495g. The interesting thing about the Laser Ultra was that despite it's lightweight, the fabric used in the tent boasted a high level of water resistance that most other tents. The ghostly clear fabric is so opaque because the fabric is too thin to be dyed. I was impressed with the Laser Ultra, firstly because I like Terra Nova, but secondly because it represents a leap forward in the design and build of tents. When I got to the show I was keen to get my hands on the Laser Ultra, however when I reached the Terra Nova section I was greeted with something even newer....The Voyager Ultra. The Voyager has long been a cracking 3 season tent in Terra Nova's collection, but they have taken it a step further by following in the steps of the laser and creating an ultra light version. The voyager Ultra is much lighter that the Voyager superlite, but just as strong, which is amazing when you think about it. The Voyager Ultra weighs in at 880g (120g lighter than the superlite and 1.1kg lighter than the original Voyager)
As well as their range of ultra lightweight tents, Terra Nova have produced a range of lightweight
packs. The Ultra 20 (left) is a 20L lightweight pack that weighs a mere 136g (111g without waist belt). Despite it's light weight it still has generously padded shoulders and drawcord closures. This pack is very cool indeed, the fabric feels tough considering how light it is, but at £120 you are paying a lot for the luxury of less weight!
Wednesday, 20 July 2011
The last product that caught my eye was Beal's Diabolo rope. Chatting to one of the sales rep's on the Beal stand, he explained that the rope used a unicore system. What this does instead of being a traditional rope with a core and a sheath, the 2 parts are bound together. The idea of this being to illeviate rope slippage and increase the rope lift. Another example of a great new product!
There were a number of other climbing related gear releases including new DMM rebels (they have different handles in the 2011 version), a new climbing helmet from Edelrid, and many many more.
First of all, it was everything I had hoped and more. The whole atmosphere and buzz around the place was incredible, and it was amazing to be a part of it. Not only did I get to see the latest gear months before it will appear in the marketplace, but I also got chance to meet Ueli Steck and Dave Macleod, both cracking guys! There were climbing compeitions to watch, movie nights, parties, lectures, breakfast meetings, and tonnes of gear!
Over the next few days I will be putting together all the information I gathered so stay tuned!
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Wednesday, 6 July 2011
4. Simplified maps: Anyone with basic Photoshop skills can knock up a quick map trace to simplify the OS map for younger groups. (See picture below) this map took me around an hour, not finished, but gives you the idea:
Have been wearing my La Sportiva Rock Jock shoes all day and my feet have been comfy the whole time. They stick to the rock perfectly and the technical toe and sides has been a god send on some of the 6a's. The rock has been warm and beautiful the climb on.
I've been using my longer DMM phantom quickdraws for the over hanging routes and have been good as usual, I feel however, that something lighter may have been better.
The Petzl meteor helmet has been fantastic in the 35degree heat and has kept my head well ventilated and cool (unlike my grivel salamander). Its light design and vents on the side, front and back allow you to be comfy in it all day if necessary.
My oakley straight jackets have been superb, no glare at all. The sun over here is extremely bright even from early morning.
A quick visit to the supermarket yielded an impressive bounty of 24 beers and 5 litres of wine all for 10 euros. Happy days.
Au revoir for now
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone
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