Thursday 31 December 2020

Favourite New Outdoor Gear of 2020

Klattermusen Vanadis 2.0 jacket, Merrell Thermo Rogue boots, Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro, plus some old favourites - Lightwave Fastpack 50, Pacerpoles, & Grivel Helix ice axe.

Here are my favourite items of gear for 2020 after another year testing gear for The Great Outdoors. As in previous years they don't necessarily replace old favourites and they're in no particular order. More detailed reviews of some of the items can be found in my column on the TGO website, along with other reviews. (Note my column was suspended in March due to the pandemic so there are no reviews since then. It will return in the New Year). 


Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro 

My first new smartphone in over four years and the first one I've had that's waterproof and rugged and has a changeable battery. I reviewed it on this blog back in October and wrote "It's an excellent phone for the outdoors. I love not needing a case, not needing to treat it as fragile, and knowing I can swap the battery over if it runs out of power." Two months later and I'm still delighted with it. 









Rab Microlight Alpine

The latest version of Rab's excellent Microlight Alpine down jacket has a shell made from recycled fabric and, a first, a recycled down fill. It weighs 465 grams and is warm and comfortable.







Patagonia R1 Air Hoody

This is the best fleece I've tried for many years. Made from hollow core recycled polyester it has a unique zigzag pattern. It's very breathable, very warm for the weight (366 grams), and very comfortable. 

Merrell Thermo Rogue

These unusual boots have become my favourites for when there's snow on the hills. They're made from a ballistic textile with a neoprene bootie inside, and have a BOA side adjustment - a very thin lace attached to a tightening dial - plus a strap and clip buckle round the ankle. There's a Gore-Tex membrane and 200 grams of Primaloft Gold inside. The boots are very warm and very light at 1130 grams. I find them comfortable and supportive.


Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro

Ratchet buckle bindings make these one of the easiest crampons to fit I've tried. With ten points that are a little shorter than on other crampons they're great for hill walking and a good compromise between micro spikes and full spec crampons. They're made of steel and weigh 700 grams.

(Pictured here and above with the Merrell Thermo Rogue boots, a great combination).


Kl├Ąttermusen Liv

This luxurious down jacket is very warm and comfortable and only weighs 470 grams. It has a silky-feeling recycled shell, 800 fill power down, box wall construction, and a snug high collar.

Gregory Zulu 30

The Zulu 30 is a comfortable daypack that's easy to fit as it comes in two back lengths and has an adjustable back. There's a sprung frame and breathability is good. I really like the long curved zip for access.


Sierra Designs Cloud 800

Instead of a zip this sleeping bag has a wrap-around comforter that opens and closes easily, giving a great feeling of freedom. Underneath there's an uninsulated sleeping mat sleeve running about a third of the length. I don't usually like this design but with the Cloud 800 I just didn't insert my mat and still stayed warm. The Cloud 800 has a comfort rating of -3C and a lower comfort limit of -10C. It has 800 fill power down and weighs 875 grams.


Patagonia Ascensionist 

The Ascensionist is made from recycled nylon Gore-Tex Active and is comfortable and breathable. There are plenty of pockets and a good hood. It copes with severe weather but only weighs 385 grams.

Black Diamond Neve Pro

These lightweight (600 grams) aluminium crampons are designed for ski touring boots and fit my Nordic ones really well. With a front bail and an adjustable heel lever they are easy to fit securely. 








 Inov8 Roclite Pro 400 Gore-Tex 

Durability is the drawback with lightweight footwear. It shouldn't be with these 800 gram boots from Inov8 though as they have a graphene enhanced rubber outsole and a Schoeller ceramic-coated fabric upper for "unprecedented strength and durability". I've worn them a fair bit so far and they show little sign of wear. They're comfortable and the grip is excellent. 


Kl├Ąttermusen Vanadis 2.0 

The Vanadis is made from a comfortable abrasion-resistant softeshell fabric. It's quite wind-resistant though not fully windproof and very breathable. It has a good hood and big chest pockets. It's not that light - 535 grams - but it is very comfortable. I've worn it more than expected after first trying it.


Patagonia Nano Puff

The long-established Nano Puff jacket is now more environmentally friendly with a 100% recycled polyester shell and a 100% recycled PrimaLoft fill. The design is still the same and the jacket is warm for the weight (375 grams), windproof, and breathable.



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