It’s a rare event to have an outdoor trade show in Scotland, so the Reliable Outdoor Kit show is a significant point of note for the calendar. The great thing about these shows is that you get to see some of the gear from lesser-known brands, or should I say lesser-stocked. With the slow death of the specialist independent outdoor retailer in Scotland over the last decade, the choice is limited to say the least, and the buyers at Tiso et al like to tell you what you as the consumer should want. Mostly in black or brown. Well there’s a whole world of gear out there, only a fraction of which you’ll see on the shelves, and a lot of it does what the big brand stuff does, but sometimes better and at a lower price. Some of it is very innovative and downright great, so it pays to get to know what’s out there. With the proliferation of online shopping, the world really is your oyster, but how do you get to know about it?
Most of these shows are trade only, so you’re unlikely to get to see this kit and if the buyers don’t pick it up you won’t see it on any shelves either, unless you’re a regular at the few remaining independents in England. So how to bridge that gap? Well sites like this are a good place to start. There’s an army of people doing what I do, new media isn’t new any more and the reader numbers prove it. Let’s head to Ratho and check it out.
First up is a wee gem from Nordisk. How about a sleeping bag rated at 5 degrees with a synthetic fill that only weighs 500g? The Oscar attracted at lot of attention at Outdoor in Friedrichshaven, and rightly so. Synthetic fills are easier to handle in Scottish summers, but generally a fair bit heavier than down so it’s definitely worth a look. Couple it with the Nordisk Telemark tent and your damp conditions ‘big three’ weight just took a nose dive and the wee compression system keeps the pack size down too. Awesome. I’m keen to take this for a spin.
WildClimb is an Italian/Romanian producer of climbing shoes, distributed here in the UK by Troll. These look well made with a good range across all skill levels and very competitive in terms of pricing.
Also from Troll, TerraPeak rucksacks are new and definitely aggressive in terms of pricing. It looks like an interesting range with some good material choices and features.
Climbing Technology were showing off their climbing hardware. You’ll likely be familiar with the Click Up belay device, well they have a new device, the Be Up which looks to be of interest to guides and mountaineers for a light and compact auto-locking device. Yours for only 26 quid. Beats a GriGri any day.
The winter kit range is definitely worth a look, the Agile Plus Ice Axe caught my eye at 315g for £50 and the Pro Light crampons look tasty too.
Want to kit yourself out with a rack for not a lot of bucks? This is a good place to start.
Talking of Troll as I did earlier, fans of the Omni Pants will be happy to see the Omni smock which packs down into it’s pocket and clips on your harness. Windproof, water resistant, 225g for £50. Ideal for summer nights cragging. Also it’s Troll. Tradition maintained.
CAMP are a family company from Italy who have a centenary Neve axe with a special price which I think you’ll like and the rather splendid X-Gyro leash system with wee rotators to stop you getting tangled up. I like this. Watch out for the Matik belay device too. Smart design and well thought through to avoid the problems other such devices have. I reckon it’ll become standard issue at walls and youth groups.
Suprabeam focuses on headtorches that just do the job. A single light, no faff, no unnecessary features. Interesting.
The lightweight microspikes market has been flooded with copies from China, all more or less the same as each other, but here’s something of interest from Snowline, the Chainsen Pro which has 1cm long teeth at 360g and Chainsen Light, which has decent spikes at 240g for a size large. They also come in purple
Sierra Designs had mostly passed me by so far, but looking closer reveals some very innovative sleeping bags. How about the Mobile Mummy, with wee arm ports and footbox that you can pop your feet out of. Moving about at camp without having to get out of your bag? Oh yes. Their Backcountry Quilt looks awesome too. The clothing range took me by surprise and I’ll be trying to sort out some review kit so I can go into it in more depth.
KoziKidz showed me some of the upcoming goodies for the kids. They still corner the market on proper outdoor kit for small people. Base layers and insulated jackets with Elk on them. Proper softshell is coming in the shape of the cunningly named Softshell jacket , along with the lovely Smidig insulation piece which comes with it’s own stuff sack just like a grown up puffa jacket. Love this kit, almost as much as my kids do. Also, orange owls. My only disappointment is that they don’t make it in big people sizes.
Viking Footwear is another brand I’m not entirely familiar with, so it was nice to have a wee tour of the range with Donald and Frances. It looks like there’s a fair bit to pay attention to, with thermal boots for the kids and some innovative trail and approach shoes, along with mountain boots. I’ll be trying to line up some reviews of these for you later.
Water2go is a nice wee solution for those who want water filtration but really can’t be bothered with faff. Dead simple with bottle that’ll go in the dishwasher. Solutions for lazy people are good. I tend not to use filtration in the highlands, but if I’m heading south I might have to take it for a spin before I contract sheepitis.
Paramo you most certainly will be familiar with. Too hot and too heavy is the feedback some give me, others will say it’s the best solution to a Scottish winter ever invented. You decide. What you might be surprised with is the Enduro layering duo where they separate the fleece and windproof to give better control of layers and hence temperature without changing the fundamental principle. The fleece breathes well on it’s own, the windproof on it’s own is good wind protection, couple them for the full Paramo experience. The vents line up between the two so you can make the best use of them which is smart design and maybe the solution to many people’s thermal issues.
I did bump into Gus which was nice, and he gave me a tour of the Wigwam range. It deserves a post of it’s own, so that’ll follow soon.
Last up is Silverpoint who piqued my interest with some well specced torches at very decent prices. I’ve got one in on test, so I’ll give you the low down shortly.
There were a few others I’d like to have seen, but alas time was short and conversation was long. I’ve got a fair bit of review kit on the way, so I’ll keep you updated in progress.
Aye, I’ve been busy, it’s always the same at this time of year and so this place goes a bit quiet. The snow’s arrived in decent amounts now and I’ll shall be heading off to play in it with a fair bit of shiny new gear from Arc’teryx, MSR, Rab and Montane, to name but a few. Stay tuned for more write-ups from the white stuff.