My name is Chas; and time spent in the mountains, rivers, lakes and sea; is time well spent.
I thought I would gather useful information, from our experts, for those who like outdoor activities such as water sports and snow sports. Having 'had a go' at many of the sports, myself, I see things from the customer's perspective!
I trust the article help, enjoy!
For a more natural snowboard feel the Flex footbeds are softer and therefore more flexible and comfier underfoot. Plus, in the past I’ve found standard footbeds, and the green Superfeet footbeds, have an aggressive arch; so the Flex is ideal for foot support without any interference with my funny shaped feet. Unlike other footbeds, in the Superfeet line-up, the Flex liners only feature the rigid support in the heel which provides excellent support without being too tough underfoot – perfect for snowboarders.
As well as reducing foot fatigue, the Flex liners feature Moisturewick™ to ensure your feet don’t get swampy or smelly- ideal for those longer days of riding. One thing to bear in mind though, they do take a ‘pretty minute’ to break in! Stick with it though; once they’re worn in you won’t regret it.
So, in my opinion, the Superfeet Flex footbed is a perfect compromise for feel, comfort and support for snowboard boots. Please note people’s feet are different; so the time the benefits are felt may vary.
Matt (Snowboard instructor)
Tallington Lakes Pro Shop offer a full ski and snowboard boot fitting service. Please call 01778 381154 to book an appointment.
Want to know what’s great about the Vans Encore snowboard boots and what’s not so good about these boots. Well take a ride with Ollie, our snowboard ambassador, as he explains how they felt, smelt and dealt after he wore them for the first time to ride ‘park’ for a three-day session.
Buying Snowboard Boots
Buying snowboard boots for riders of my age (12) is pretty difficult. You’re in that ‘in between’ size where youth boots are too small and men’s boots are too big…. aarrhh! This means that the range of snowboard boot options is pretty limited; and considering women’s boots becomes a necessity. I’m measured as a 4.5 (UK size) and I’ll explain what that meant for the Vans Encore later on.
Purpose made kids snowboard boots are not an option for me anymore and if you’re in this situation, relax and read on because there are boots out there that will fit your feet and your style.
Vans Encore Snowboard Boots
Riding Level: Beginner to Expert
Flex: Soft to Medium
Inner Liner: Flex Liner with no ‘break-in’ delay and go straight to comfort
Lacing Type: BOA Coiler a spring loaded BOA to ‘crank’ them tight without pinch
Footbed: V2 – UltraCush Lite a foam designed for comfort with less weight
These are super comfy boots straight out of the box (see above) with an easy to use inner web harness and outer BOA system. They are lightweight and responsive and, because they’re Vans, look totally sick. They are at the upper end in terms of price but they’re packed full of tech that makes them a good buy. They do fit a little small so although I am measured as a UK size 4.5, had to buy the UK size 7 (US 9.5) even the UK 6 was too small! So would always suggest visiting a store and boot fitting specialist.
These boots are very snug and comfortably tight. Compared to other boots I’ve had in the past, these ones definitely feel better when I’m on my snowboard and when I’m walking about off the slope. They felt great straight out of the box (see above) as they were really comfy and weren’t stiff at all. I rode with them for three days straight away with no pinching or cramping and they are pretty lightweight too. I did feel the seam from the inner digging into my toe a bit, but this wasn’t that bad and didn’t make it uncomfortable. These boots never come loose at all and provide a lot of structure for your feet. Based on all the factors of comfort, I’d rate them as a 5 out of 5!
One of the problem areas for snowboard boots is how they transfer the movement of your feet through your bindings and into the board. The soft to medium flex of the Vans Encore make that feeling just right. I felt that my feet were connected very well with my snowboard and this made turn initiation and putting the power down feel just right. They have just the right amount of flex to allow you to jib and ride freestyle with good movement and feel. The BOA fastening system is by far the easiest and tightest system out there. Once I’ve done them up, there is absolutely no heel movement and they hold feet really well. The inner is a standard draw-string system that makes it simple to fasten comfortably tight. Based on all the performance factors, I’d rate them as a 4 out of 5.
The classic Vans styling makes these boots look super sick. Kind of what you’d expect from such a great street style brand. The simple black and white colours of my boots go together really but I didn’t like blue and yellow on the inner draw-string. I think these straps would be better off being white or black to match the rest of the boot. Based on all the style factors, I’d rate them as a 4 out of 5.
Overall, I’d rate the Vans Women’s Encore snowboard boots as a 4.5 out of 5 and I’d definitely recommend these boots for young riders. They are pretty rad! I’ve rated the boots in different aspects so I’ll take the best and worst factors from each area.
Best – Really fluffy and soft on the inside
Worst – Inner seam sometime digs into toes
Best – Really tight and keeps your foot in place
Worst – None
Best – Typical VANS Styling and colour scheme
Worst – Colour choice on the inner draw-string
Sadly it’s reached that time of the year where the sun sets far too early, and the wind chill sends shivers down your spine. Most sensible people are sipping on a hot chocolate, tucked up in their blanket, and enjoying being curled up with ‘Rover’ – the cuddly golden retriever. Unfortunately, I am not most people and I’m certainly not sensible. That’s why you’ll normally find me covered from head to toe in goosebumps, with dark blue lips, as the cold water slowly creeps over me wakeboarding.
Its time for a wetsuit! Or translated into water sport terms, it’s ‘Shorty Season’.
A shorty is a wetsuit which is exactly as it sounds – ‘a shortened wetsuit’. Short arm and short legs. But there is another, which has long arms and short legs; which is perfect in the Summer/Autumn months for all water sports including: kite-surfing, jet skiing, kayaking, sailing, water skiing and, my chosen sport of, wakeboarding.
Mystic Stone 3mm 2mm Long Arm Shorty Wetsuit
To our delight, Tallington Lakes Pro Shop kindly provided one of these wetsuits to the Water Ski and Wakeboard School to review; and this is what we think.
I’ve always been a keen fan of Mystic because I really admire the style of their products; and the Stone wetsuit certainly doesn’t disappoint. It is very aesthetically pleasing to the eye; the colours and patterns, of this wetsuit, blend extremely well together. If you were buying a wetsuit simply on fashion, you could easily strut this down the catwalk with pride. Remember, when you look good – you feel good!
According to Mystic it “creates products that push riders further, allowing them to break all existing boundaries and take action watersports to a whole new level”
If you’ve ever worn a wetsuit in the past, you will understand the pain and time consuming misery that can occur each, and every time, you have to put one on or take off. RIP to all the body hair that has been violently removed during this process. Thankfully the guys at Mystic must have heard our screams and have produced a neoprene which is highly flexible. They call it M-Flex which stands for “high quality neoprene with an awesome stretch ratio” Not only does this allow the wetsuit to fit like a glove, it also allows you to slip in and out of it with ease. But more importantly your body hair stays in tack.
As well as M-flex, the wetsuit comes fully equipped with Polar Lining Fabric. This inside layer provides the comfort and thermal insulation making sure you are nice and toasty – who needs ‘Rover’ anyway.
In terms of aiding performance, the flexibility of the neoprene acts as a heat blanket that boosts riders confidence. This is due to the extra layer of protection it provides. This wetsuit is suitable for all ranges of capability whether you are a complete novice or a seasoned professional.
The best thing about this wetsuit is the fact you’re not restricted in your movements- which is always considered a negative when wearing a wetsuit. I would highly recommend this wetsuit to anyone who fears the cold this Autumn.
As an passionate coffee drinker, and I mean espresso machine, cafetiere, moka pot etc – not insta.. (sorry can’t bring myself to type the word), I was intrigued to hear that Helly Hansen were adding coffee to their garments!
Personally I’ve used coffee grounds, from the spent puck of the portafilter, on my garden as a mulch. And I have heard, you can use coffee grounds to neutralise orders. But clothing? Consequently I spoke to Helly Hansen; and they kindly enlightend me about the use of used coffee grounds in clothing, and gave me a garment to try, so I shall enlighten you.
Odour Control. We knew that; and because the grounds are embedded in the yarn they do not wash out.
UV Protection. Didn’t know that! The numerous microscopic pores help reflect UV rays; giving UV protection.
Moister wicking. The garment moves moisture away from the skin to the outer surface of the fabric for faster drying process.
Helly Hansen Lifa Active Light T-Shirt
So what’s it like to wear? I was fortunate to be given a HH Lifa Active Light t-shirt to try; which is made from Helly Hansen’s legendary Lifa hydrophobic fibre and S.Cafe yarn. It’s categoriesed under ‘base-layer’ however I was going to wear it as a t-shirt. Consequently, it was an athletic, slim, snug, or some may say tight fit; because base-layers work best when they are touching the skin they are trying to wick moisture away from. I’m normally a size large, and the large was a comfortable ‘athletic’ fit – you may want to go up a size for a relax/baggy fit. I think the flat-lock seams and stretch, of the fabric, made the ‘athletic fit’ comfortable to wear; the crew neck was good and it was long in the body. It was a good fit for me! However, the first thing I noticed, putting the t-shirt on, was it felt cool! I don’t know if this was psychological, because Helly Hansen had said it would feel cool, but I did genuinely feel a little cooler when I first put the t-shirt on.
The recent hot weather presented idea testing conditions; so off I went climbing in the Derbyshire Peak District. The t-shirt performed well; even on the crux of the climbs I felt cool and the garment nonrestrictive – I was very impressed. The day’s climbing was in and out of the sun, so difficult to evaluate the UV protection, but I didn’t burn. However, I do know of some who have burnt their shoulders, because the garment they were wearing didn’t provide any UV protection, so it’s worth considering.
By the end of the day I had a good few routes in the bag, including a higher grade lead for me, so I was pleased with myself. But what did I smell like, after an arduous day at the crags? Not too good, I’m afraid to report. Now, how much you stink is subjective (“one man’s toxic waste is another man’s potpourri”, said the Grinch). So I didn’t smell fresh; but had I not been wearing this t-shirt I could have smelt worse, or perhaps I just need a ‘stronger roast’ coffee in my S.Cafe yarn!
Overall as an active t-shirt I was suitably impressed, and at £29.99 good value for money because it can be used as a summer t-shirt and a winter base-layer. This S.Cafe t-shirt, and other garments, will be available from Helly Hansen summer 2019.
Recently I purchased the O’Neill Re-Issue black and white bikini set; and I’m absolutely in love! Inspired by 90’s swimwear, the high waist and high fit leg made for an awesome design, and the chunky stripes are fun and funky!
This bikini top and pants (sold separately) features O’Neill’s Hyperdry, a DWR (Durable Water Repellency) coating to the fabric which speeds up dry time – hence ‘hyper-dry’, and a polyamide and elastane mix makes the fabric extra soft. The top has a snug fit which meant it was quite supportive; although the straps are quite thick – which isn’t usually the style I’d go for. I loved the snug fit of the pants.
Both the supportive top and snug fit pants made me think they would be good for wakeboarding, so I tried them out. And, yes, the top was very supportive, and comfortable, underneath my impact vest. The snug fit of the pants were great, too, because it meant that I wasn’t worried if I fell over. The neon logo at the back matched perfectly with my Glidesoul impact vest, too, sooo happy!
With the long withstanding heat wave that has hit the UK in May, and hasn’t left since, the idea of wearing a wetsuit for an after work wakeboarding sessions sounds like my idea of torture, to me!
Wearing just bikini bottoms is just a little bit too risqué for my liking, and I always find it hard to find shorts that fit me right, that’s when the ‘surf leggings’ seemed like the ideal solution.
Protest Surf Leggings
The first thing that caught my eye with these Protest surf leggings was the unmistakably loud pattern. Normally I would shy away from such a bold pattern on my lower half, as I have been cursed with stumpy legs, however because of the block of black on the thighs – it offers a flattering look.
The leggings are extremely comfortable; and thanks to the Elastane nonrestrictive.
Another added bonus, for all the fair skinned gals out there, is these leggings come with SPF 50+ protection; which is comforting to know that you will be protected from the sun’s UV rays all day on the water. It also means you won’t have to reapply/use sunscreen, which not only is annoying, but can often be harmful to the environment – especially if you are swimming in waters with coral reefs.
These leggings would be perfect for wakeboarding, SUPing, kayaking (saves getting a soggy bum!), snorkelling and any other water based activity! Plus the fast drying fabric means you can hop in and out of the water all summer long.
This isn’t a review of the classic Walt Disney film The Lion King; which by-the-way is excellent. No this is the nostalgic ramblings of someone who forty years ago, at the age of fifteen, travel to the Alps with the intent of climbing the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc!
Allegedly, at the time, my peers and I were potentially the youngest people to try this. But just as noteworthy; is that we all came from the outskirts of London, which is not renowned for its hills, let alone mountains!
How it all began
So how does a group of kids, more accustomed to playing in the streets, get to attempt such a feat! Well it’s all thanks to Rick Grice, and the London Borough of Havering (Havering)!
Consequently, two bus trips away from my house, was a disused gravel pit called Stubbards. Not the vast complex that is now Stubbards Adventure Centre; but a few lakes where you could learn to kayak and sail. Havering also ran a minibus to Harrisons Rocks, East Sussex to learn climbing. Unknown to me at the time, but these were the same rocks that were so influential to the legendary mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington!
Throughout the summer, for a small fee, I would spend many days at Stubbards and Harrison Rocks. Soon a merry band of climbers formed, and at the end of summer Rick asked if anyone was interested in doing more climbing. At this point I am not sure if Rick had the alpine expedition planned, but he was keen to provide an opportunity for those interested in more climbing. We travelled to other parts of the UK – Derbyshire, North Wales, Lake District, Cornwall and ultimately Scotland – in the familiar Havering minibus. The numbers dwindled; until a core group of young people were offered the chance to go to the Alps and attempt the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc.
Intense training pursued. We travelled to the Highlands of Scotland in winter, and we improved our fitness by running up and down the stairs at the London Borough of Havering offices, before on the 21st July 1978 the expedition set off for the Alps – in two Havering minibuses!
We camped in the Chamonix valley; and our first objective was to acclimatise to the altitude and become familiar with ice. We had practiced ice-work in the Highlands of Scotland; but here we had massive glaciers. I understand these glaciers have now receded an astounding amount, since we were on them in the 70s, a result of ‘climate change’! We climbed the Aiguilles (needles), that overlooked the valley, and notch up many classic routes. All in preparation for the instantly recognisable Matterhorn (4,478), our first objective!
We slept on a small ledge, part way up the Hörnli ridge, ready for a sunrise attempt on the summit – in fact we would start in darkness. In summer the snow and ice will melt, on the mountain, which can instigate rock falls. Consequently time is your enemy! 400m from the summit a small team, including me, had run out of time. Rick knew we couldn’t make the summit, in time safely, so we had to turn back. Disappointed at being so close, we made our way back down. Later that same day we heard the news that a ‘handful’ of climbers had died, in a rock fall, on the Matterhorn!
After some rest, and a few more peaks, we focused on Mont Blanc (4,810m); the highest mountain in Europe. We spent the night in the Gouter Hut, ready for another early morning ascent. The hut was not as big, back then, but still extremely popular; as I remember sleeping curled up next to the u-bend under the kitchen sink. The following morning we climbed the Bosses ridge to the summit. Unfortunately no spectacular summit views, because we were in white-out conditions, but triumphant in our success!
Since that trip to the Alps, I have taken part in many outdoor pursuit activities with Rick, and fallen ‘in love’ with the great outdoors! Time spent in the mountains, rivers, lakes and sea; is time well spent. My family and I love the great outdoors!
Rick died the summer of 1986, I understand attempting to reach two other friends and colleagues who had fallen on a climb in the Alps. There is a memorial climbing wall at Stubbards Activity Centre dedicated to him. I do believe many people have, and will continue to be introduced to outdoor pursuits, thanks to Rick.
Circle of Life
So why ‘Circle of Life’? Presently I am the manager of Tallington Lakes Activities Ltd; a disused gravel pit in Lincolnshire where we introduce people to kayaking, sailing and climbing. We also offer other activities such as stand-up paddle boarding, open water swimming, skiing and snowboarding. And coincidently there are no notable mountains, or hills around us.
I am most-definitely not as competent as Rick, in climbing, mountaineering, kayaking etc; and although passionate about the great outdoors, nowhere near as infectious. But I do manage a team of young people who can show you a new activity; a new activity which, like me, may inspire you to #getoutside!
I chose the 10’8” stand-up paddle board, over the 10’6”, because I thought it would be more stable, for me, on the sea. And as for location, I decided upon the North Atlantic Ocean – Sennen. Sennen is on the North Cornish coast (just up from Land’s End) and is a celebrated surf location; so I may have bitten-off-more-than-I-can-chew for my first SUP outing on the sea!
With the car parked, overlooking the fabulous Sennen beach, I unpacked my SUP, grabbed the Titan pump, and proceeded to inflate! Twenty minutes later I was walking on the sand towards the sea – yes they really are that easy to inflate!
Fortunately the swell (waves) was small, at low tide, so out I paddled beyond the breaking waves – on my knees. Once ‘out back’ I proceeded to stand. As I bobbed between crest and trough, of the waves, I got myself stable and started to paddle. Momentum helped with the balance, but it wasn’t too long before I was in the sea – splash! Totally refreshed and invigorated by the cold sea I was back on my SUP, and began to paddle, looking ahead at the waves and trying to get into a rhythm. I began to feel confident and paddled along the beach – with the wind and against the wind. I was doing OK!
I returned to shore. The small breaking wave nearly had me off, but I managed to save myself in the shallow water. I may have been out for an hour, but it felt longer. My core, arms and legs felt they had had a workout, so a cream tea was in order!
Over the next few days, in slightly bigger swell, I paddled my stand up paddle board. Confidence grew, and I thoroughly enjoyed paddling to-and-throw on the North Atlantic Ocean. So now it was time to try surfing! Needless to say it was the rider not the SUP that struggle in the breaking waves, the Ride 10’ 8”performed well – however this is where the smaller 10’6” would have been a better choice.
So is the Red Paddle Co Ride the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of SUPs? I think so, however, a river trip needs to be completed to say for sure – I’ll let you know how I get on!
After four years of riding the Ronix One Timebomb wakeboard I decided that it was time for a change; and with so many new pro-models hitting the shelves this season it was a tough decision. The reason for grabbing Massi Pifferetti’s new pro model, the Ronix Happy Hour, was simply because the ‘Poolside Blue’ graphics stood out to me. The graphics have a super playful feel, replicating his incredible style and reminding us all that the board was designed by arguably one of the world’s greatest riders; who previously rode the One Timebomb. I was excited to see if he had taken all the great features from the One series that I love, and incorporated them in his new awesome looking board.
The 2018 Happy Hour was no let down and honestly I am taken aback by its performance on the water. I had always believed that the One Timebomb was untouchable! Well done Massi; this wakeboard really does do it all; it has given my wakeboarding a new feel and will definitely make this season a fun one.
The Happy Hour wakeboard costs nearly half the price of the One Timebomb and by no means does this inhibit its performance on the water.
The Happy Hour is the only board with a continuous rocker in the Ronix line of wakeboards. I would like to begin by clearing up the rumors; many people believe that wakeboards with continuous rockers lack ‘snap’ when leaving the wake and so are less ‘poppy.’ I do not believe that this is the case with this board; the take offs are really smooth. The continuous rocker simply allows the rider to take tricks further into the flat water, whilst still allowing for smooth landings. The first thing that I noticed was the speed of the board, due to the clean rocker-line, which enables a consistent release off the top of the wake. This is so helpful as I feel more confident on the approach to the trick because I know exactly what to expect. Having a defined rocker-line and a continuous rocker allows the board to lock in, and stays on its edge on approach to the wake, making going big easy. In conclusion, I believe that the continuous rocker gives the board a more mellow lift off the wake. However, this is definitely made up for by a faster more consistent glide on approach, leading to a more predictable, effortless take off.
The core of the board is ultra-stiff. I believe that this is great, because it allows for a takeoff that always feels the same, and enables the rider to easily point the board into a turn. Not only is this board lightweight, it also has the highest strength to weight ratio that has ever been tested by Ronix.
The more durable construction gives the wakeboard a stiffer ride, which I believe is preferable as it adds to the regularity and feels more stable. The flex rating of the board is 6.5/10 which means that the energy off the wake is closer to the instant end of the spectrum. Thus making jumping as effortless as it can be: and allowing for maximum pop whilst maintaining its free/fun feeling.
Beginner and advanced riders can ride this board, as I believe that it is perfect for all levels of riding. The board feels awesome on the water! It’s unlike any other wakeboard I have ridden, in that it has an incredibly fast glide speed allowing me to ride for longer periods of time because there is less stress on the body. Having two sets of fins (1.0” fiberglass fins and 0.7” ramp fins) allows for increased versatility and allows the rider to customise their set up.
My buddy Jane and I have a habit of entering events without really knowing what they entail – and my discovery of stand-up paddle boarding happened in just this way . I messaged Jane and suggested we enter an alternative triathlon (as quite frankly we are both terrible swimmers ) where the swimming was replaced with this activity called SUPing – which looked pretty cool in a ‘surf dude’ way. Entries done, kit packed we headed off on our girls weekend away mini adventure!
On arrival we quickly realised what this first section of the event entailed – stand up paddle boarding 3km around a Welsh lake in rather a strong wind…we had never even seen a paddle board before …. nothing like a bit of winging it !!!
We set off from the start line on our knees, wondering how the heck we were actually supposed to stand up, let alone steer this wobbly SUP we were on. A lot of cursing , minor panics about crashing in to the edge and a huge amount of slightly hysterical laughter – we braved it – we stood up!
We then braced ourselves ( feet planted !) and cracked on with trying to paddle without propelling ourselves off . 3km later we returned onto dry land…charged up the bank with a huge smile ready to jump on the mountain bikes.
I can’t deny it was a slightly awkward experience to start with, but it was also truly brilliant !! The sense of adventure and excitement from the start was quite unique, we were buddies out together on our paddle boards in the middle of a glorious wavy lake – laughing hysterically at each other , getting equally frustrated at times at our inability to do it, and yet feeling like we were amazing super humans at the same time – simply because we were doing something so unbelievably different , and actually achieving it !
That hour on the paddle board is what got me hooked. I felt totally refreshed yet physically tired after an hour of paddling – but most of all, I wanted to go again and soon !
Fast Forward: This Is Where The Exercise Part Comes In
Paddle boarding is pretty cool – you can simply hire or buy a stand-up paddleboard, and take it for a tootle around a lake or down the river , and almost anybody could do this and get that lovely sense of freedom and escapism the water gives you …….but if that’s a little sedate…. you can of course take it a little further !
SUP Fitness (SUPfit) does just that. We lose the walls and take your workout to the water on the paddle board, giving you an effective full body training session, in a location that gives a sense of space and freedom.
When you exercise on land you have a nice firm base ( ground !)…..but then transfer those same moves to a wobbly platform, and boy is it new challenge!!
The exercises improve:
your core strength
your cardio performance
and tone those legs superbly!
Add that to the back and shoulder muscles required to actually paddle the board, and you leave a session really feeling the benefits. Plus of course you are outside in the fresh air and sunshine – and simply nothing is better then exercising outdoors for your mental and physical health.
What to the sessions actually involve?
A standard SUPfit session is effectively a circuit training class on the water. We use cardio exercises to up that heart rate, bodyweight moves to get those joints and muscles working and also add resistance bands to the boards to give us additional strength core workouts. We mix the sessions up to include sections of stretching and controlled work, with high intensity bursts to keep us on our toes !!
Workouts can also be tailored – so if you’re a private group wanting to take it a little slower, that’s totally fine, we can strengthen and stretch at sunset and all the benefits can be achieved at your own level.
So if you fancy something a little different, want to keep your workouts fresh and want to work hard and laugh at the same with your friends – why not try the fast growing sport of paddleboarding, and give SUPfit a try ?
If you enjoy it as much as I love teaching it – you will leave the water a stronger, happier and more chilled version of the person that arrived!
Tallington Lakes offer SUP Taster Sessions to introduce you to the basics of stand-up paddleboarding. More information here, or call 01778 381151