walkhighlands





Finisterre gear review

It doesn’t get much more niche than Finisterre – a Cornish company specialising in cold water surf apparel. It may seem strange that a surf company would appear on the radar of a hillwalking website, but amongst the hoodies and chunky jumpers are a few technical pieces that I think are worth a look. Finisterre Ekman DB Waterproof Shell Price: £250 Weight: 425g (size large) fabric, styling, hood cut, zip pulls Most outdoor brands have a 400g hardshell in their range, and Finisterre’s is pretty good. The fabric is an unbranded three-layer waterproof breathable laminate which is particularly soft and

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Posted in Baselayers, Gear reviews, Jackets

Boreas Gear Buttermilks 40 rucksack

Ultralight rucksacks are often little more than a cylinder with straps, based on the assumption that an ultralight load doesn’t require a complicated back system. Boreas Gear are newcomers to the UK, with packs that manage to be minimalist, aesthetically-pleasing and lightweight yet concealing some surprising features. Boreas Gear Buttermilks 40 rucksack Price: £140 Weight: 1293g as supplied, strippable to 886g looks, load-transfer, big front pocket weight could be lower Features For a minimalist pack you’d expect this to be a short section, but the pack’s clean lines conceal some clever stuff. The star performer is the back system –

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Posted in Gear reviews, Rucksacks

Mountain King Trail Blaze poles

I’ve used the more conventional Mountain King trekking poles before, but the Trail Blaze is something altogether different and exciting for lightweight aficionados. Mountain King Trail Blaze trekking poles Price: £79 (pair) Weight: 250g (pair) for 120cm length weight, packed size, colours, ease of maintenance non-adjustable strap Materials and Construction There’s no huge secret here – the Trail Blaze is  essentially a beefed-up tent pole with a handle and tip. Mountain King are based in Newcastle where they import the raw aluminium tube and carry out the rest of the manufacturing themselves – things like cutting, anodising and sticking the

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Posted in Accessories, Gear reviews

Arc'teryx Alpha FL 45

Shortly after declaring my undying love for the Crux AK50, the Alpha FL arrived and made me happy. It has all the characteristics that endeared the AK50 to me, but in a lighter weight, modern package. Arc’teryx Alpha FL 45 Price: £150 Weight: 650g weight, durability, simplicity, innovation nothing Materials and Construction Outdoor fabrics are getting lighter and stronger. The Alpha FL range is made from N400-AC2, an air and water impermeable fabric that combined with the rolltop closure effectively transforms the pack into a drybag with straps – not a bad idea for Scotland. It feels light and flimsy

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Posted in Gear reviews, Rucksacks

(Battered) Gear Review: Crux AK50

After my last post concerning the demise of the Inov-8 Terroc 330 trailshoes and in the midst of an uncharacteristic haze of nostalgia, I began to survey the other items in my gear store that have been called variously "game-changer", "iconic" or "go-to" depending on your penchant for the colloquial. As I’ve just booked my annual trip to the Alps my thoughts turned to the concept of a mountaineering rucksack. Mountaineers look for a rucksack able to cope with hauling in a heavy load of hardware in relative comfort, that’ll then cinch down and remain unobtrusive and rock-resistant during the

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Posted in Gear reviews, Rucksacks

Inov-8 Trailroc 245 trail shoes

The old Inov-8 Terroc 330 trail shoes were the mainstay of my outdoor footwear quiver for many years until, amid outpourings of grief from the backpacking community, they were discontinued. After a period of mourning (and now that my stockpile has worn out) it’s time to source a replacement. Could it be the Trailroc 245? Inov-8 Trailroc 245 Price: £110 Weight: 298g (per shoe, size 11) weight, mesh upper, outsole toe protection I reverted to trail shoes for non-technical hillwalking many years ago. For multiday backpacking trips it made little sense to me to carry the extra weight of a

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Posted in Footwear, Gear reviews, Magazine

Gear Short: SteriPEN Ultra

We’re lucky to have probably the world’s finest water in Scotland, so most hillwalkers think nothing of swigging straight from the burn – in fact, it’s one of my greatest outdoor pleasures (especially when combined with a local single malt…). Even in Scotland precautions need to be taken though, extracting water downstream of a dead sheep is never wise, and ensuring that you’re well above farmland and any surface run-off is a good move. Risks from contaminated water include waterborne pathogens – protozoa (causing, for example,  cryptosporidiosis), bacteria (eg. dysentery) and viruses (eg. hepatitis). There’s also the matter of particulate

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Posted in Accessories, Camping, Gear reviews

Gear Review: The North Face Fuse Uno jacket

One of the joys of my job is the chance to fondle the latest innovations in outdoor equipment – be it a new wonder-fabric, tent design or super-efficient stove. So I was excited to receive a sample of the latest output from the TNF labs – a waterproof jacket made from a single piece of fabric. The North Face Fuse Uno Price: £340 Weight: 349g (size M) innovation, weight, fabric front zip, pockets, hood Fabric Most modern hardshell jackets designed for mountain use contain a mix of fabric panels – breathable at places where you’re likely to get sweaty (eg.

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Posted in Gear reviews, Jackets

Gear short: Gehwol Footcare

For the hillwalker their feet are their most valuable asset, particularly on a remote, multi-day trip where faulty feet could be much more dangerous than a painful limp back to the car. Think of it this way – cyclists have to keep their bikes maintained in order to function effectively – hillwalkers need to keep their feet in good working order in exactly the same way (well, not exactly the same way).   Launched in 1868, German brand Gehwol was founded by Eduard Gerlach after he left the Prussian army. Months of marching in appalling conditions wearing inappropriate footwear inspired

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Posted in Accessories, Footwear, Gear reviews, Magazine

Kestrel 4500 Weather & Environmental Meter

RRP: £367.20 Weight: 102g Batteries: 2 x AAA (supplied) Compact and lightweight with a full range of useful features. Expensive, and perhaps too many features for the casual user. “Oh yeah, it was easily blowing 100mph plus up there” The hillwalker’s equivalent of ‘the one that got away’, it’s actually really difficult to accurately judge windspeed, with wild exaggerations commonplace, particularly if you’ve had to retreat from the hill to the comfort of the pub. An anemometer removes the uncertainty (and is usually enlightening). “This sleeping bag is rubbish – it’s rated at -5ºC but I was shivering all night”

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Posted in Accessories, Gear reviews


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Walking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk. Information is provided free of charge; it is each walker's responsibility to check it and navigate using a map and compass.