Montane Women’s Claw Shorts – Review

After buying these lightweight, breathable Montane women’s Claw shorts for hot sunny days at work, the last thing I expected was to be wearing them out on the water every evening! After one wakesurfing session in them I’ve fallen in love, and not for the reasons you’d expect. From a trail short I expected a loose comfy fit and maybe some moisture wicking properties, but I was not prepared for how quickly the shorts dried – they were dry within minutes of getting out the water!

The Aeroflyte stretch fabric made them really comfy both in and out of the water and also protected my legs from sunburn! The inner mesh lining not only helped wick away the moisture but also once dry, felt and smelt fresh and ready for another wear.

I have NEVER worn a pair of shorts so comfortable, lightweight and effective. Perfect for any lifestyle whether you’re off on a trail adventure or simply a sunset surf!

To see our full range of Montane outdoor clothing, click here.

Charlotte (Ski Instructor)

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Only One Walk A Day

During 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?

Firstly it’s good to focus on the time we do have outside. During any outings we make, our number one priority is for us to stay safe, follow the government guidelines and help prevent the spread of Covid-19 (please read all the government guidelines to keep up to date with all current restrictions as they are regularly changing). While the necessary restrictions are in place we can still be sensible and enjoy the great outdoors. After all, this is where all the good smells and poop spots are for our dogs, and the all important vitamin-D and fresh air for us. 

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.

The Ruffwear Cloud Chaser dog coat extends activities during inclement weather, protecting against rain, snow, wind, and cold. 

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’. 

During these 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! 

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Montane: British Brand Since 1993

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.

Come in store or check online what we have to offer from Montane, including their British Mountaineering Council (BMC) collaboration of clothing, so you can start your own adventure with the right kit.

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Salomon Quest 4D 3 Gore-Tex Walking Boots – Review

Walking – hiking – is an extremely popular activity to #getoutside and a good, well fitting pair of walking boots or shoes is a must if you want to enjoy the experience!

I’ve been using the Salomon Quest 4D 3 Gore-Tex walking boots for nearly a year now. I’ve worn them over a variety of terrain, in different seasons and weather, and I have to say I’m impressed.

I chose a walking boot because I wanted to protect against the likelihood of an ankle injury, particularly on uneven terrain when carrying a heavy pack, which you do not get from a walking shoe. The Quest were both supportive and comfortable whatever the terrain. They’re relatively light-weight too, so all-in-all I was happy I had boots that were made for walking!

On the warm sunny days the Gore-Tex breathable membrane worked well with my foot-to-boot interface, commonly known as a sock, to keep my feet comfortable. Yes my feet got warm but not too sweaty and hot as the socks wicked the moisture away from my foot and through the breathable membrane of the boot.

In contrast on wet autumnal and spring days, and the occasional river crossing, the membrane and gusseted tongue kept the water out. Obviously if the puddle, stream or area of water is deeper than the height of your boot you will get a wet foot, but anything else your foot was dry!

These boots were made for walking!

So what were they like to walk in? I found the fit nice and snug, with great heel hold. The lace locker eyelets ensure you can get the foot secure before finally tying up around the ankle. They are also set back from the other eyelets to help secure your heel into the back of the boot. At first, having been use to walking shoes, this felt a bit restrictive but once underway the support was very comfortable and reassuring.

Traction was good thanks to Salomon’s Contragrip sole and lug (tread) pattern whether footpath, rocky terrain, or muddy woodland. They even performed well in the snow!

The boots come with OrthoLite insoles, however I did replace these with Superfeet’s Trailblazer Comfort insoles to tailor the fit more specifically to my feet – making them even more comfortable and my feet less tired.

Why not check out our range of walking boots and shoes, and take advantage of our boot fitting service.

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Atomic Vantage 97 Ti Skis – Review

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.

Thanks Dave (Ski Instructor)

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Planks Bro Down Black Snow Mitt – Review

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!

Charlotte (Ski Instructor)

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Picture Organic Clothing Women’s Tanya Snow Jacket – Review

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!

Charlotte (Ski Instructor)

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Falke Ski & Snowboard Socks – Review

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!

Falke women’s SK4 skiing socks.

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!

Falke SB2 snowboarding socks.

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!

Why not check out our range of Falke socks, or pop in-store for expert advice.

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American Institute for Avalanche Research & Education – Course Review

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.
people in the snow
Le Tour learning how to use beacons, probes and shovels to find backpacks buried in the snow.
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.
Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc, in the back ground, looking for avalanche terrain.
snow covered mountains 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.
avalanche probe and shovel
Snow pit!! You can see where we have used our gloves to mark different strength layers in the snow-pack.
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:
snow covered mountains
Can you see the ski tracks and all the avalanche activity on the terrain? (look above the tree). The lift to access this terrain was just off the picture to the right.
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. www.chamex.com/trip_courses/aiare-level-1-chamonix www.chamex.com/trip_courses/aiare-avalanche-rescue-course Thanks Will Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather