The Winners of the Scandinavian Outdoor Gear Award have now been officially announced so I can tell you what we decided at our meeting in Are in Sweden (see my post here) earlier this month.
SOA Overall Winner: Ecco Biom Hike Boots
These boots won because of their combination of instant comfort, quality materials, solid construction and performance on rugged terrain. I wore them for the two days of the judging and was impressed by the comfort, not something I expect straight away from chunky boots like these. Indeed, at the campsite and during the walk the next day I quickly forgot I was wearing them, which is exactly how walking footwear should be. The other judges who tried them said the same. I also wore them on the walk over Areskutan the day after the judging (see this post), which further confirmed my view that these are excellent boots. The boots were worn on snow, mud, wet grass, wet rock and loose soil and stones and were secure with a good grip on all of them. They have a low profile sole that gives more of the feel of a trail shoe than a big boot. They’re made from yak leather, said to be three times tougher than cow hide, treated to be water-repellent and have a Gore-Tex lining. Certainly on initial use they are completely waterproof. Ecco say they will keep your feet warm down to -24ºC whilst walking. We weren’t able to test this (thankfully as it was June!) but the weather was fairly chilly with a cold wind and the terrain was wet with many snow patches to cross. My feet felt pretty warm, though not overheated. I reckon these boots will be fine for October to May use in Britain but too warm for summer (though maybe not in summers like this one so far).
SOA Sustainability Award: Fjallraven Keb Jacket
This is a substantial jacket made from recycled polyester and organic cotton. It’s windproof and very water-resistant and can be reproofed with Fjallraven’s Gwax and so should prove very durable. The design is good with a big hood with stiffened peak, big chest pockets and no shoulder seams. There are stretch panels so the jacket can be close-fitting without restriction of movement. I tried the jacket on but didn’t wear it during the field test. The judge who did found it comfortable and waterproof in the showers and drizzle we experienced. As it’s quite a heavy and bulky jacket that gives a great deal of protection I think in the UK it would be a cold weather garment; one to be worn all day rather than carried. I could see it being excellent in Scottish blizzards.
There were three products that we felt were worthy of honourable mentions.
Haglofs Gram 15 Pack
This ultralight daypack is made from Blue Sign approved materials and all the components, including buckles and webbing, are colour-matched. As the colour of the test model was bright pink this made it easy to spot at a distance! (You can see it in some of my pictures of the judging day). The design is very stable and the pack and pockets can be opened with one hand.
Helsport Fjellheimen Superlight Tent
By marrying ultralight fabrics with traditional designs Helsport has produced the lightest fully specified tunnel tents yet made. There are 2, 3 and 4 person models. As the light fabric does move more in the wind than heavier ones we felt that the two person Camp 2 was the best model. This only weighs 1.65kg. I tried the much bigger 4 person model and found it easy to pitch by myself.
This car roof kayak rack was the one item I couldn’t judge, never had a roof rack or a kayak, but those familiar with such things reckoned it made loading kayaks far easier and gave much better protection against theft.