The petunia colour and slim fit make these a favourite for my winter wardrobe, and the stretch material made them extremely flexible while still being snug. Not only are they breathable but also waterproof which made for a perfect piece of ski gear.
There are multiple pockets which I could use for my sun cream and lift pass, with a Velcro adjustable waistband which came in handy after a big lunch on the mountainside! The knees and heels are made with reinforced material which made sure they were durable and the material, although unusual, I really liked as opposed to the usual waterproof material.
Skiing around for a week made me fall in love with these trousers and I would definitely recommend them to anyone who loves to look stylish while being sporty!
Coming into my first extended period of skiing (a season’s vacation in Vail CO); checking all my gear was up-to-scratch was a massive part of my so called ‘pre flight checks’: new powder skis, new outer shells, base layers, mid layers, helmet and all the other usual bits a week at a time skier needs. It wasn’t until my mother made the point about my boots smelling rancid after a week’s skiing, that I thought “I could be in for a smelly few months”! With the plan to get as many days on the mountains both alpine skiing and touring; it was a problem I was keen to solve.
Having worked at Tallington Lakes as a boot fitter, I am not keen on using the normal boot dryers. Heating the boot even very lightly without my foot being in the boot to hold the foam in place seems a bit counter productive to the extensive moulding processes that is offered at the Pro Shop; in my opinion. So when I was introduced to the Drysure Boot Dryers, I was intrigued. The appeal of not adding heat to dry the boots perked my interest; and secondly the versatility of them, being able to throw them in a bag on hut trips and have dry boots in the morning after the previous days hiking is a nice concept. After using them for almost 50 days on the mountains I can’t believe how well they have worked at drying my boots over night, at room temperature, and most importantly the odour reduction of my boots. My boots smell fresher after 50 days skiing with Drysure than a week’s skiing with conventional drying.
Drysure works by absorbing the sweat and moisture into the Desiccant Silica Gel inside the boot dryers. This helps to, firstly, dry the boots but also, because the sweat is absorbed, bacteria doesn’t have chance to grow which is the cause of the rancid smell. The rancid smell does not come from the sweat itself, it actually comes from the bacteria breaking down the proteins in sweat. No bacterium also means cleaner and healthy boots, and feet because foot fungi are eliminated.
The dryers are easy to maintain. After 10 or so used you can easily remove the silica pouches from the hard shell and place them on a radiator, or in front of the fire, to dry the Silica Gel pellets inside and recharge the effectiveness of the dryers.
For a relatively inexpensive item, that will easily fit in your boots whilst travelling, I will never fly anywhere without my Drysure Boot Dryers again. The versatility of being able to take them on hut or camp trips, and the effectiveness of the technology, means that wet, smelly boots are pretty much a thing of the past; much to the appreciation of my mother!
I work outdoors at a Watersports Centre, and I am an avid hill walker in my spare time, so I was interested to see if the Salomon Drifter mid-layer jacket would be a welcome addition to my assortment of gear.
The Drifter mid-layer is really light weight, weighing in at just 500g, and packs down really small, thanks to the Primaloft 60g insulation, consequently you can carry it anywhere.
The mid layer has a pretty cool reversible function which allows you to wear it inside out. This particular colour reverses from an Acid Green to a Purple. The two sides have very different uses: one is more windproof, whilst the other is more breathable, so you can regulate your temperature to the conditions. Or treat it as two jackets!
This mid layer jacket is also snow/water proof with Salomon’s AdvancedSkin Shield technology, and Pertex water repellent finish, which means you can wear it as an outer layer. I have found the jacket does not fare well to harsh rain conditions as the water does eventually seep through, but in light drizzle there are no problems.
The jacket was ideal for hill walking, and nipping down some caverns, in the peaks; because it is light and thanks to its breathability I did not overheat! It fits well and is consistent with all other Salomon clothing sizes.
We all have that one embarrassing memory of walking on a wet surface, only to end up awkwardly flailing in sheer panic, desperately trying to grab onto anything in arms reach. Sadly though, the final result often leaves us sprawled painfully on the floor, greeted by the laughter of friends, family or anyone lucky enough to have witnessed our misfortune.
Depressingly, I was cursed with being accident prone from birth, so this memory is a reoccurring nightmare for me on a weekly basis due to working as a boat driver and wakeboarding instructor.
“Should have worn better shoes” a phrase that is frequently repeated to me every time a colleague or kind stranger picks me up from my slip of doom.
Volcom Draft Shoes
I feel the guys at Tallington Lakes Pro Shop were taking pity on me when they offered me the chance to try out these ‘Volcom Draft Shoes’, assuring me that I would never fall again. This is essentially like telling a child they are about to move to Disneyland.
It was love at first sight when I opened the box to these pristine conditioned Volcom’s staring up at me. I have never really been a fan of wearing shoes without socks (be they water shoes or not), but when I discovered these Volcoms are lycra lined for ultimate comfort, I decided to test the theory. If feet could talk, they would be singing with joy. Putting on these shoes is like slipping into pure bliss. I was a little hesitant because the width of my feet are on par with bigfoot, but the lycra lining easily adjusts to the shape of your feet.
“The Draft shoe was created for incredible breathability and control… design features laser perforations for steady air flow. Sweat and moisture are quickly dispersed, allowing for rapid drying.”
Thankfully, working on a lake provides me with just about enough water to test Volcom’s “rapid drying” statement. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how rapid the drying truly was. After fully submerging both feet, the shoes did not become uncomfortable to wear or walk around in – if only they could walk on water, it would make them the perfect shoe.
“Ortholite anti-microbial footbed prevents odors and bacteria from spreading”
Now not only do I have abnormally shaped feet, whenever they get sweaty or wet, the smell that is produced is enough to knock out all forms of life in a 10-metre radius. Therefore, I was pessimistic about Volcoms anti-microbial claim. Once again, I was surprised to find that the shoes were holding the toxic smell at bay. People were willingly approaching me without pinching their nose whilst the squirrels and birds didn’t fall from the trees.
“Custom rubber trading provides enhanced traction and stability for wet and dry surfaces. Lightweight compression moulded EVA midsole offers lasting comfort for years of non-stop wear.”
Here comes the most important aspect for me. When the decking on the dock becomes wet, it turns into a minefield of banana skins. It’s safe to say at first, I was treading gingerly on egg shells when conducting this test, however as time went by and my confidence in the shoe support grew, I could comfortably walk up and down the decking with ease. I’ve safely arrived at Disneyland folks.
To top it off the shoe comes with an EVA midsole which stands for ‘Ethyl Vinyl Acetate’ which basically means your foot is resting in the VIP section of shoe world.
When it comes to sunglasses, I am fussier than a fashion model with OCD:
Do I like the colour? Do they fit correctly on my abnormally shaped ears?
Are the lenses dark enough to hide my eyes, while also not impairing my vision in the shade?
Will they make my nose appear the same size as Pinocchio’s?
Will my street cred rise a considerable amount, finally bringing me to the definition of looking “cool”?
Smith Outlier XL Polarised Chromapop Sunglasses
Therefore I was more than a little sceptical when Tallington Lakes Pro Shop asked me to review these “Smith Outlier XL Polarised ChromaPop” sunglasses. Now, as a boat driver and wakeboard instructor, having polarised sunglasses is an absolute must for me. If the lenses fail to block the sunlight glare from the water, then I’m basically driving blind and nobody wants that…especially the poor beginner clinging to the handle for dear life behind the boat.
“ChromaPop Lenses are the most advanced polarised lenses in the world… By blocking colour wave intersections as they pass through the lens, ChromaPop is able to eliminate colour confusion… ChromaPop optimises colour and increases clarity, enabling you to see the outside world with an unparalleled level of vibrancy.”
In other words, they cut through sunlight glare like a hot knife through butter whilst simultaneously spreading the jam on the bread all in one swoop…sweet.
Little did I realise how truly magical that jam sandwich would be. I decided to test them around sunset when the glare from the water is at its finest, often resulting in severe wrinkles from squinting so hard, you age by at least ten years.
I was honestly blown away at how the glare from the water turned almost non-existent. I felt I was watching my life behind a new HD TV monitor and Johnny Nash ‘I can see clearly now’ began playing in my ears.
Not only did the world now look bright and cheerful, when I glanced in my rear view mirror at myself – I wasn’t bombarded with negative thoughts regarding fitting size, shape or colour. I was pleasantly surprised with the way these glasses looked whilst sitting comfortably on the bridge of my nose. I reluctantly removed them, allowing others to test the glasses, and it was clear to see they had the same immediate reaction I did. Noting the fact our head and faces were all different sizes, yet the glasses always fit perfectly just like Cinderella’s slipper.
If you’re a snow skier/boarder, fishing enthusiast, avid mountaineer or a fussy boat driver like me – these ‘Outliers’ are certainly high contenders in the sunglasses market and will not disappoint.
…Oh and yes, these glasses will definitely raise your street cred!
Ladies if you are thinking of a hoody or fleece, for when it gets a bit nippy this summer, why not have a look at a few Charlie has been trying on – it might help !
Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Fleece
The Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T fleece is ideal in a variety of ways. Firstly this fleece provides a thermal heat with it being 100% recycled polyester which creates a snugly feeling throughout the day, especially if the day is quite chilly! The fleece is also excellent for comfort, thanks to a soft short fur layer lining the inside and high neck. The large all in one pocket not only keeps your hands warm but can hold objects securely. There is also a small pocket on the chest of the fleece and branded badge.
From personal experience trying on this fleece I found it had a slim fit but not tight on the arms. I tried a size up than usual which I found more comfortable because of the larger fit; especially wearing a shirt underneath.
Picture Organic Clothing Nesla Hoody
The women’s Picture Nesla is another groovy styled hoody. This has a large ‘Picture Organic Clothing’ print in the centre surrounded by a summer pattern; which stands out from the navy blue colour. The hoody has pink and white striped band around the bottom, which can be tightened. A large front pouch pocket which is ideal for keeping everyday items, or your hands warm. Extremely comfortable thanks to the 70% organic cotton. Thick hood which was well wrapped around the neck with a unique twist.
This had a slim fit and it fit me perfectly in the correct size ; so no need to go an extra size up for a comfier fit.
Roxy Cruiser Night’s Hoody
The Roxy Cruiser Night’s hoody is a popular fashion item. This is ideal for wearing in the summer season as a form of casual wear for evenings or daytime due to the thin lining made of 60% cotton which is perfect for the summer weather and chilly evenings. The inner layer has a soft layer of fur which maintains a bearable amount of heat. This also features a simple but potent design which gives off a summer feel and represents the Roxy brand on the centre of the hoody. A front pouch which I found was ideal for keeping everyday items in or useful for just heating up my hands.
Volcom In A Dayz Hoody
The Volcom In A Dayz hoody is a simple but trendsetting product however, different in a variety of ways compared to the previous hoodies. This has a zip which is perfect for matching with a shirt beneath which may contrast of the heather grey colour. I found this is easy to match with any day outfits as well as being a comfortable and thermal ideal for breezy weather, featuring two pockets ideal for warmth with the thick lining.
The sizing was perfect as this wasn’t too tight or too baggy but had a stretched fit which was cosy to lounge in.
When it comes to a pair of sunglasses that are suitable for both lifestyle and active wear, Oakley have got it right. The Oakley Crossrange sunglasses aren’t a hybrid. Theses shades come with two sets of nose pads and temples, or arms (the bit that extends over the ear to help keep the sunglasses in place), to suit the conditions/mood you are wearing them in!
Oakley has a video of some cheeky hipsters, including Chas Christiansen, riding bicycles to show the versatility of these sunglasses, however, I chose to wear them:
Lifestyle – attending a Game and Country Fair
Active – walking in the Derbyshire Peak District
The lifestyle nose pad and temples were extremely comfortable; and made the shades easy to take off and put back on, as you walked in and out of marquees and the sun. Certainly did the job, and didn’t look out of place –hipster!
You immediately felt the active nose pad and temples get into position, when putting them on, giving you confidence that they would not be slipping out of place; thanks to the grippy nose pads and earsocks. These are made from Oakley’s ‘Unobtanium’; a patented Oakley material that becomes tacky when wet/or you sweat and holds the frame in perfect optical alignment.
OK walking in the Peak District may not be classed as extreme, but we were keeping up a healthy pace, along undulating terrain (including a bit of scrambling). It was a warm day, so perspiration was building up, yet the sunglasses did not move. Once again extremely comfortable and I was confident they were not going to fall off!
The Crossrange comes in three styles: the Crossrange, Crossrange XL, and the Crossrange R (coming soon). All are made to Oakley’s exceptionally high standards, and seeing-is-believing with these ‘High Definition Optics’. The Crossrange XL, as its name implies is for a larger face, with a lens height of 46.7mm; compared to 46.1mm and 43mm for the Crossrange R and Crossrange. The temples and bridge are identical on all three: 137mm and 17mm respectively.
The mechanism to swap the nose pads or temples is very simple to use, yet secure, but not designed to be change mid-activity!
Oakley is moving towards Prizm lenses in all their sunglasses, following the success of Prizm in goggles. The lenses are designed for different environment such as: Everyday, Sport – Road, Golf, Trail, Deep Water, Snow etc.
However, as I found, although designed for a particular environment they are equally effective outside of that environment. Back to my stroll around a Country Fair and walk in the Peak District; the Prizm Sapphire Snow lenses performed outstandingly without a flake of snow in sight! Obviously I will update this blog once I have experienced them in the snow; but for now, as ever, Oakley have designed another excellent pair of sunglasses….
Now these may just look like normal t-shirts to you, however there is an individual story behind each one, the O’Neill Heritage T-Shirt Collection by Jack O’Neill. Back in the fifties O’Neill started up as a small surf shop. Now it’s thriving more than ever and ready to include you in the journey; inside each t-shirt is the story behind the picture on the front of the t-shirt! Welcome to the world of Jack O’Neill……
O’Neill Heritage T-Shirts
The 1950’s t-shirt features a picture of the Surf Shop which was located behind the fence, indicated by the large piece of driftwood written on by Jack and his surfer friends. This is one of the earliest photographs of the surf shop when it first opened in 1952.
The 60’s t-shirt is made from a collection of photographs from the O’Neill Heritage archive. This particular collage of photos is called ‘First Name in the Water’ and is inspired by the old surf movie posters.
Whether you are cruising on corduroy, lapping the park or shredding powder, a decent pair of gloves or mittens is essential for keeping warm as your hands are usually the first thing to get cold on the hill.
For many people, choosing between gloves or mittens is down to personal preference. Gloves will give you a bit more dexterity for picking up your poles or putting your goggles on, while mittens tend to be warmer than gloves as your fingers produce more body heat when next to each other. If you are unsure my advise would be to try both types on and if you are a skier hold a ski pole to see which feels more comfortable and gives you a nice grip.
The key things to consider before purchasing either models are the specifications. Do they fit well? How waterproof are they? Are they windproof and breathable?
To stop your fingers from freezing, it is important to get a pair which fits. If you go too small and your fingers are pressing on the end the cold will sooner seep into your finger tips and moisture is more likely to get inside the lining. If you go too big there will be a lot of space to fill with wasted body heat and you’ll lose some dexterity with the extra material. I would recommend trying a few on to get the best fitting pair.
One of the most important features to look at is the waterproof rating because no matter how insulated your gloves are, if your hands get wet there is no stopping them getting cold. (This is even more important for snowboarders who tend to have more frequent hand contact with the snow). Most waterproof ratings for snow wear will range between 5,000ml and 20,000ml. I would advise an absolute minimum of 5K which will give you only some resistance to water. 10K plus for general conditions would be better but 20K plus is essential to keep you dry in wetter conditions.
As people back home have probably heard Europe has had a slow start to the season with unseasonably high temperatures throughout December. However when it has snowed this year it has been falling intensely with two 50 cm plus snow falls in 24 hour time periods. This has provided us with a wide variety of condition to test the Dakine Prospect Bib Snow Pants!
Dakine Prospect Bib Snow Pants
The first impression you get from the Prospects is how incredibly light they are compared to other winter pants. This lightness provides a fantastic feel when skiing and touring as you aren’t restricted by any heavy materials. They are built from 3 layer Gore-tex which provides the trousers with a formidable shell against all conditions. Despite being out on a few torrential ski days this year I am yet to see the trouser soak through even when sat on wet chairlifts. The bib design is a great feature for any powder lovers as it ensures protection of your base layers even on the deepest of days and the occasional tumble!
However it is not just in miserable conditions that the Prospect shines. I have been touring in them in +15 and there lightweight breathability means that they control your temperature very well. With multiple vents featured on the trouser you are able to make quick adjustments whilst on the route up as well as insulating your warmth at the top.
We have been skiing for eight weeks now and as stated the condition have been tricky with plenty of grass and rock on show. This has highlighted one of best features of the Prospect.The reinforced cuffs at the bottom of the legs have made them considerable more durable than other snow pants. Despite being scraped between rocks and ski boot on numerous occasion they are yet to show any sign of wear and the strong boot gators stay firmly attached to the boot.