these unique times of isolation, having a dog is the best thing in the world.
As we know they are not just ‘a man’s best friend’ but the whole family’s. They
share our time, our companionship and our emotions so it’s obvious we need to
look after them as much as they look after us.
With the new
restrictions regarding Covid-19, we are all limited to only one walk a day. For
some little dogs this is acceptable but for many like my energetic cockapoo, we
are going to have to start using our imagination. When dogs have too much
energy, things can start to get infuriating for both parties. Bad/cheeky
behaviour is more likely to occur and a short temper on our part can slowly
creep in. So what can we do to make sure the love stays in the air?
As we are unable
to go for our usual long walks, throwing balls and playing fetch are great and
easy ways to tire out our dogs. Also it’s amazing how much energy they use up
through mental stimulation. Examples include playing ‘find it’ where our dogs
have to find something we’ve hidden or for a bit of fun, we can even hide from
them ourselves. Hide and Seek is also a great game for in the house and fun for
all the family. Through using their noses, their sight and through interacting
with us, our dogs will wear themselves out faster. Which in theory should keep
their mischievous behaviour to a minimum.
With all the current uncertainties of shops closing, restrictions changing and the unknown of how long it’s going on for, it’s best we be prepared for all occasions. While the sun is shining and the days are still, it’s hard to imagine rain, sleet, wind or anything other than bliss, right now. But being British, we all know it’s best to be prepared for all weather conditions so we can make the most of our limited time outside. This means good waterproofs and wind protectors for both us and our four-legged friends. With pet stores closing we can be organised and buy online now before the time comes when we get wet and start shivering. With a good quality jacket, like those made by Ruffwear, we will have happy puppies in all weather. Ruffwear also provide handy tips for measuring and sizing-up our dogs at home so we can be confident in ordering the right size. Plus, the bonus of having our dogs wrapped up is that our furry friends stay dry which means less time battling them with the towel when we get home.
With all this
extra time we now have at home with our dogs, we have an opportunity to be
imaginative. Including Hide and Seek, there are many fun activities we can do
with our pooches which use mental stimulation as well as physical. In the
garden or inside we can make obstacle courses and try to teach our dogs how to
complete the course using a step by step approach. We can use tasty treats, a
tennis ball or whatever gets their attention to encourage them up, over or under.
The learning process is just as much fun for us as it is for our dogs, as the
trick is in the teaching. There is also an endless array of tricks we can
attempt to train our dogs. Some pointless but entertaining like ‘roll over’,
while others can be handy like picking up litter or ‘shut the door’.
unprecedented times, we are the fortunate ones who have dogs to encourage us
off the sofa. By getting equipped for all weather conditions and becoming
imaginative in our interactions we can be sure to reap the rewards of our
‘family’s best friend’. Let’s not forget they keep us active, they give us
companionship and unconditional love in times of social distancing, and are
wonderfully entertaining in their own unique ways. So let’s take this
opportunity to have some tail wagging fun!
New to our Pro Shop for this Spring/Summer season, the
British brand Montane have dedicated over 25 years to carefully craft their
reputation as a leading provider for technical outdoor apparel. Known for
developing the lightest weight clothing with the highest breathability
possible, to ensure maximum comfort; Montane’s equipment has been purpose built
and tested to endure extreme activities in extreme conditions. All this affords
you the best protection against the elements and everything in between.
Montane are the go-to brand for any mountain professional who
wants innovative clothing, accessories and equipment that have the durability
and tenacity needed to brave the great outdoors. This is why we thought it
essential we stock them in our store!
Montane works with the world’s leading fabric suppliers to
produce industry-leading materials built specifically for outdoor trails, pushing
the boundaries of what is achievable for outdoor product design. In 2016, they
were the first British brand to be given a GORE license in decades from GORE-TEX®.
GORE-TEX® provides extreme breathability
combined with durable wind and waterproofing within outerwear clothing. Not
only that, with Montane’s garments including technologies from the likes of: COOLMAX®,
PrimaLoft, Pertex and Polygiene to name a few, all contribute to a products
ability to regulate temperature, manage moisture and odour whilst optimising
the comfort for you.
You can still wear Montane’s apparel for a run around the park or a walk through the woods; though to use their gear to the best of its ability, try pushing yourself onto rougher terrain and step outside your comfort zone! Those that choose Montane demand the most from their clothing and equipment; something that Montane’s happy to provide in spades. A minimalist, functional design that’s built to last is the epitome of their range; having been tested to the absolute limit so you can go even further, even faster.
I had the Atomic Vantage 97 Ti skis for a week and used them in varying conditions on piste which was hard packed and icy in the morning with soft spring condition snow in the afternoon. And after a dump of over a metre of snow I used the skis off piste too.
The first thing I noticed was how surprisingly light they were for 180cm ski. However these were the widest skis I had ever skied on so I was a little concerned about how they would react.
I shouldn’t have worried as they were excellent: high speed carving turns were a dream, very stable with great acceleration out of the turns. It was like being on rail tracks.
Shorter turns were also very easy and controllable. Just get in the rhythm and you are bouncing from edge to edge which seemed to take the skiing to another level.
Moguls were great fun, bashing the tops off and sliding down the back. Due to the sidecut I did not try the fall line route.
When on off-piste powder it was exhilarating, just like floating on a cushion of air.
The heavier slushy stuff towards end of the day was never a problem. The skis coped really well.
I really enjoyed skiing on the Atomic Vantage skis. They never let me down but to get the best out of them you have to work them and not be a passenger. By being aggressive with your skiing you will get so much out of them. They really are a dream for an advanced skier.
After years of testing and trying numerous different gloves and mittens I am happy to say I’ve finally found my perfect pair, the Planks Bro Down snow mitts! Not only are they a simple design but the glove liner within ensured all my fingers kept snug and warm whilst looking as though I was only wearing mittens. The 10K waterproofing and breathability meant my hands stayed dry all day and didn’t get too hot or sweaty whilst the quilted insulation kept them snug and cosy even when it was sub zero! They were easy to adjust and the glove leashes were great for when we stopped for a drink as I definitely couldn’t lose them.
I would definitely recommend these to anyone looking for a simple but effectively designed pair of mittens!
Before travelling to Poland for my ski trip I treated myself to a new ski jacket. I have always loved the Picture Organic Clothing designs – I just love the style and aesthetic – and particularly this year’s ‘marble’ range, so I decided to purchase the Tanya Marble snow jacket.
This is the first over-the-head jacket I have tried and the armpit-to-hip zip made it really easy to get on and off. The two-layer ripstop, with a crosshatch pattern, felt extremely durable and resistant to tearing, so I wasn’t worried about it getting damaged if I fell.
This outer fabric protects Picture’s DryPlay waterproof membrane and is covered by a durable water repellent (DWR) treatment, so the jacket is extremely waterproof. Even all the seams are sealed by tape to prevent water getting in!
The stretch snow skirt was brilliant for preventing snow (and cold) getting in, as were the wrist gaiters which were perfect for going over the tops of my gloves and keeping the heat in. The half zipper opening and underarm vents helped me regulate my body temperature when I was too warm however I stayed a perfect heat every day thanks to the breathability of the DryPlay membrane and the Coremax lining which insured I was cosy even when it got below 0 degrees.
I loved the front pouch pocket as it was great for my phone and sunglasses and even a snack for the mountainside, great size, and the magnetic poppers helped for quick and easy access.
I would recommend any of the Picture range as it is all beautifully designed and boasts multiple technical features! I absolutely loved this jacket, not only for its design but also the variety of qualities that made it perfect for my spring skiing holiday!
At Tallington Lakes our team tried and tested a variety of Falke ski and snowboard socks; this is what we thought…
Charlotte (Ski Instructor)
As a full time ski instructor it’s so important my feet are comfortable all day, every day; otherwise teaching becomes painful and I can’t focus or enjoy myself as much. After testing out different ski socks, both at work and on the mountains, I’ve never really found anything that I absolutely love…until now! The SK4 women’s skiing socks with their light cushioning instantly made my feet feel warm and padded; additionally the merino wool mixture felt soft and snug whilst also providing me with moisture wicking. So, even when out all day my feet stayed reasonably dry and cosy. What’s more is that I normally get really cold feet so I was slightly worried at trying one of the thinner-style socks in the range; but ultimately I was amazed at the heat they retained without building up moisture thanks to the air flow channels built in.
As someone who spends all day on the slopes, whether it’s here in England or in the Alps, I want socks that won’t have a negative impact on my performance, and with the SK4’s I found I have control and great power transmission credited to their thin cushioning and instep fit. They protect my feet from rubbing and blisters; whilst padding all the necessary areas without being too thick, meaning my feet have never been happier than in these Falke SK4’s!
Chandler (Snowboard Instructor)
I don’t normally mind what socks I wear when I teach and yet after trying the Falke SB2 men’s snowboard socks, I will definitely be wearing them in the future! My favourite factor was the stretch and elasticity; it meant they were really easy to take on and off but still had a snug fit for maximum comfort and performance. Even after a few washes, and initial worries of the SB2’s losing their resilience, the socks still held their shape and kept the secure fit I liked.
The SB2 socks were definitely more comfy than others that I’ve tried before; they kept my feet warm and prevented sweat building up because of the air channels, which I appreciated when boarding all day. I’ll definitely be using these in the future!
Paul (Boot Fitter and Snowboarder)
My main role here at the Pro Shop is as a ski and snow boot fitter, so it’s important for me to understand the technicalities of ski and snowboard socks. The SB2 men’s snowboard socks are brilliant! The extra padding is great for the high backs and binding zones because it prevents rubbing and eases pressure points, whilst the merino wool kept my feet warm throughout the day. I also liked the fact that they are anatomically designed because it meant they are fitted perfectly to the feet; which is great for boot fitting. Besides this, my favourite feature has to be the hydrophilic insides which draw moisture from the feet and the hydrophobic outsides which push the moisture out and away; keeping my feet dry, warm and comfortable!
In December I headed to Chamonix to take the AAIRE Level 1 Course and AAIRE Rescue Course ran by the Chamonix Experience. The Level 1 Course is a is a 3-day introduction to avalanche safety and hazard management, combining classroom and field work, focusing on decision-making skills in avalanche terrain. The Rescue Course is an extra day bolt on at the end of the course that is focused on rescue practice including the transceiver skills, shovelling methodology, single and multiple burials and rescue response drills.
My motivation for seeking out the courses was two-fold. Firstly, from an academic point of view I am always keen to find out more about how the geography and weather are going to affect the quality of my annual ski trip. And secondly because my skiing has improved (or certainly my confidence not necessarily my technique!) I find myself looking further afield for more challenging routes, or for a fresh stash of powder. With increased attention on avalanches and the dangers of venturing off piste, especially following recent tragedies even in resort, my ignorance of my decision making is no longer bliss!
Day 1. We spent the first morning in the classroom, being introduced to the “Ride Safely” framework for planning and organising trips into the backcountry. The main emphasis was on introduction to different types of avalanches (there are nine different types!), what conditions they form in and what the warning signs are (if there are any!). As well as monitoring weather and snow reports throughout the season to get a feel for what’s going on in the snow before you even arrive on site. In the afternoon we headed up the Chamonix Valley to Le Tour and spent the afternoon learning how to use beacons, probes and shovels to find backpacks buried in the snow. This included the best practices for how to use each piece of equipment but also, what to watch out for in terms of good and “not-so-good” equipment.
Day 2 was again split 50:50 with the morning in the classroom and the afternoon out on the mountain. During the morning we continued to learn about how different weather conditions influenced the snow pack, but also on how to identify avalanche terrain and warning signs when out in the field. We also looked through some case studies of historic avalanches, as well an example of a situation where one of the instructors had a near miss on a day that was a level 2 on the scale. This really hammered home to me how naive I have been previously with my decision making. It turns out being in the wrong place on a level 2 day can be the same or worse than being somewhere on a level 4 day. This is probably my main taking from the course. How can you have enough information to be safe based on a scale that runs from level 1-5. Different parts of the mountain can be different levels on the same day, the scale only says the highest risk.
We spent the afternoon at the top of the cable car at Le Brevent, looking for avalanche terrain and trying to find the safest touring routes through avalanche terrain.
View north-west from Le Brevent, which is a popular ski touring route. Can you see the areas to avoid?
We finished the day digging snow pits to look at the make up of the snow. Digging snow pits is the part I was probably the most looking forward to, however it’s a bit too advanced for the level 1 course. Having spent a lot of time talking about “weak layers” and “facets” over the previous couple of days, it was really interesting to see these terms first hand.
The final day of the Level 1 was spent touring. The class split into two groups and we had to plan and execute a safe tour for the day. The avalanche risk was level 4 (high) and the visibility was extremely low so this severely limited what we could do safely. However we managed a full day touring in relative safety by minimising our exposure to avalanche terrain. This was the first time I have ever been touring, and whilst we did not do anything overly challenging, it was an awesome experience. It was also a great opportunity to put everything we had learnt in the classroom to good use.
I spent the last day doing the optional Rescue Course. I nearly didn’t stay on for this course, especially having spent a little time on the other course practising some some basics rescue techniques, but I am so pleased I did. We spent the whole day in the field going over different search scenarios and practising. I have to say I was blown away but how quickly you are able to land a “probe strike” on a bag hidden a metre down in snow after learning different techniques. By the end of the day we were getting down to having found buried bags in little over one minute, that’s how good the techniques and equipment were.
The last day also allowed us to continue honing our skills from the Level 1 Course. Having checked the weather and avalanche forecasts before heading out on to the mountain, we knew roughly where to look for areas at risk to avalanches. During a one hour period at lunch we witnessed seven or eight small avalanches going off in a steeper section of terrain in between two pistes. Not only that people were still following tracks and skiing off piste in this section whilst it was happening, completely oblivious. I couldn’t help but think how many times that had been me. The terrain in question is in the picture below:
Overall, both courses were incredibly enjoyable and informative. Although quite expensive, the instructors and guides you gain access to were incredible and the whole experience has hammered home how naive I have been on all my previous ski trips. I was definitely the least experienced person on the course but I left the course feeling like I did it at the right time in my skiing journey. To give you a sense of my level, I ski once a year on holiday (twice if I am lucky), on some all mountain skis and spend my time on piste, on the side of the piste or getting a guide for a day if the weather is good. I’ve never been touring until the course. If you are staring to venture off the side of the pistes and are considering venturing in to the off-piste world with a guide, I would definitely recommend doing these courses.
Remember: you are probably going to be flying and will have
to fit everything into your ski bag and holdall. So, this is my ultimate guide
after massively over packing for my own season!
Firstly, keep in mind that you will, hopefully, be skiing everyday for five months so invest in your kit wisely! The number one piece of kit on your list should definitely be boots, whether that is ski or snowboard. We’ve all worn rental kit, which is just about passable for a week but these need to be comfortable from the moment you step onto the slopes on your first day to the last day of the season. Go to a shop, and get your boots fitted properly. A simple solution is to get a footbed, get them heat moulded, and wear them in before you go. Then you’re not wasting your precious slope time trying to make sure your feet don’t hurt! Get several good pairs of socks too; this will ensure your feet stay warm and provide all the necessary padding in all the important areas.
Secondly, get yourself a tray, or two! Investing in a snowboard or skis will mean you can have exactly the right kit to meet your needs. Remember, you are there for five months so you have to think about what you can achieve in that time; even as a beginner you can progress to be riding powder (which will happen) to free-styling within a month or so. Since you are riding every day make sure you get yourself something you can have fun on everywhere as well. An all-mountain set up that’s not too stiff will mean you can venture anywhere on the mountain, including the park, but won’t hold you back on the fresh corduroy. With your hardwear now covered, don’t forget your head. Never ride without a helmet, protect yourself!
For the duration of your season, one pair of salopettes is
plenty but ensure that they have leg vents. Bib pants are a great choice since
you get more pockets and they keep all the snow out, especially on a powder
days. They are also fantastic for summer slush laps as they provide all the
important cover without the need for extra layers, not to mention they look
pretty cool too.
Clothes and layers are equally as important, since you will see all sorts of weather throughout the season; where sunburn is possible and but so is frostbite. You’ll need t-shirts and sun cream when riding in 12°C sun and also a number of thermal tops and leggings for those really cold days. Remember, layering is more than just one massive coat, so grab a riding hoodie or fleece (or three), plus a thin waterproof jacket. This will benefit greatly as you can then mix and match your apparel depending on the weather – so you don’t get too hot or too cold! What’s more, a cheap spare coat that you are happy to get a little dirty is a must-have for your nights out.
With all your technical equipment accordingly sorted, now to
decide what to wear when you’re off the slopes! The mountains are surprisingly not
a fashion show you don’t need a new top every time you go out; a couple of
spare jeans and tops will do you fine, just make sure you stay on top on your
Finally, my top seasonaire tip – make sure you pack yourself
a 4-way plug because you can be sure that you’ll need to charge several things
at once. This way, not only have you got a bit more extension but there won’t
be any arguments over plugs!
For more information about any equipment please see our other blog posts or visit us in-store.
However, as great as my sunnies are, they’re no match for alpine skiing conditions, which is why I’ve upgraded to the big guns. Tallington Lakes were kind enough to let me test out a pair of Smith I/OX snow goggles as I embarked on my adventure to the French Alps. When I first opened the box a bright smile was looking back at me, it was my own reflection cast from the pristine conditioned ‘ChromaPop’ lenses.
been skiing now for the best part of twenty years and I’ll be honest, I’ve
never really invested too much into my snow goggles. Comparing my old pair to
these I/OX goggles, it’s clear to see there’s no competition. It’s like trading
in your old banger of a car, that’s just about managed to get you from
point A to point B; for a souped up, all singing, all dancing teched out super
If I knew it wasn’t impossible, I would have placed a bet that Tallington Lakes had rigged the weather system in order to really allow me to test these goggles. In the one week I was there, I encountered harsh snow blizzards, gale force winds, torrential rain, depressingly overcast to extreme dazzling sunshine without a cloud in sight.
These I/OX goggles come equipped
with two different lenses in order to combat the diverse weather you can
clearly come across whilst in the mountains. Do not fear though, unlike other interchangeable
lenses where it feels as if you are solving a rubix cube for hours, the lens
swapping process here is very straight forward.
The first lens provided is the ‘ChromaPop Sun Platinum Mirror’ with a VLT (Visual Light Transmittance) of 13%. In English, it means only 13% of light passes through the lens. 13%?! I’ll do the maths for you, that means your eyes are shielded against a whopping 87% of all light particles trying to shine through. You will be correct in thinking, that’s an astronomical amount of light being blocked – however what you need to realise, is the UV rays from the sun are more powerful when you’re stood on top of a mountain. Those rays are then reflected from the snow which create the super annoying blinding-glare effect. Therefore a 13% VLT rating truly is a remarkable feat and not only does it work, it works brilliantly. I never once felt myself squinting from the sun glare. The goggles allowed me to easily pick out my turns in order to avoid the treacherous trees and murderous moguls.
For extreme low light
conditions, such as the total white out blizzard I unfortunately ended up in,
Smith have designed the ‘ChromaPop Storm Rose Flash’ with a VLT rating of 50%.
If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to ski in a white out, you will remember the
dreaded feeling of being lost, lonely and confused as you vision becomes
extremely impaired. You’ll remember trying to pick out those piste pole markers
you took for granted as you attempt to safely escape the mountain – the skiers
and snowboarders who were only a few feet away completely disappear and all you
end up saying on repeat is “I can’t see a thing in these goggles”. Sound
Without those low light lens on,
I think I’d still be stuck on that mountain top.
An important issue with snow
goggles is the potential fogging up of the lenses. This can be due to a number
of different reasons from the change in air temperature to difference in
altitude to simply the hot panting breath you produce when working your legs
overtime to get those turns in.
Thankfully Smith have countered
all these problems by installing an incredible feature called the ‘AirEvac’. It
allows for a constant air flow in order to reduce the risk of foggy goggles. On
top of this amazing feature, the Smith lenses are equipped with 5x anti-fog
inner lenses which provide five times the fog absorption compared to anything
else on the market!
I’m a wimp when it comes to the cold so I always wear my neck-warmer around my face and over my nose to stay warm. Therefore every time I breathe out, the hot air rises and attempts to pierce through my goggles defences. If I were in my ‘old banger’ goggles I surely would have fogged up and skied off a cliff. These goggles didn’t even slightly fog up once during my entire week!
The extra-large spherical lens
of the I/OX allows unparalleled peripheral vision which is absolutely vital
when you’re skiing on a busy slope surrounded by potential collisions.
To top everything off, the
goggles are perfectly designed to fit comfortably on your face whilst attaching
easily to the back of your helmet.
With the weather forecast ahead still predicting a huge amount of snow this season, it’s not too late to book another ski adventure. I cannot recommend these ski goggles enough – imagine a ski holiday in ultra coloured HD, it’s there and yours for the taking!