Monday, November 23, 2015

Do Your Gloves Work for You?

A quick review of the Gloves I have found useful at work. 

Over a period of years I have tried and tested and spent a lot of money on various pairs of gloves looking for  the shang-ri-la pair to keep my digits warm, dry and working. 
I am still looking.....

There have been several pairs from reputable outdoor brands that
 have come close over the years. 
However,the elusive, dexterous, warm/ cool, dry, on & offable, 
affordable piece of kit that will help me perform my job in the 
outdoors must still be in the bargain bin somewhere that I haven't located. Yet!

Gloves are part of my PPE (Glove PPE taken from a Canadian document) 
and as such need to be useful to me to be able to function safely and with 
some degree of comfort. 
Here are some of the alternatives that I have tried during my work 
as an International Mountain Leader,Volunteer Mountain Rescue Team member, 
Fell runner and Mountain Marathoner over 20 years in all seasons.

Liner Gloves
These are invaluable to keep your fingers warm and help you perform the fiddly
 tasks, undoing zippers, tyeing and untying knots, undoing the age old 
conundrum of unwrapping a Starburst sweet. 
You should have numerous pairs of these stashed in easy accessable dry places, 
pockets, dry bags and top pockets of rucksacks. 
They should, as with all these gloves, be easy to get on and off in all conditions and dry quickly. 

My current favourite are from Decathlon and are inexpensive.
 They are great when wet, keep hands warm and dry out very quickly. 
The dexterity of these are like skin as they are so thin, 26gms in weight means you can carry a few pairs. 
Touch screen devices can be used through these also. 
This is a wonder fabric, warm when wet, reasonably durable and wind resistant.  
Read from the title link what the manufacturer's say.
I just know it works well. Here is a link to the current pair I am using Montane Power- stretch pro pair.

Another great inexpensive option that can be stashed in every pocket. 
This is the type that can be seen being used daily in freezer sections of supermarkets.
 If it works for them....

They can be used on either hand so there’s no messing about trying to get them on. 
 They are not very windproof so maybe an over-glove or mitt maybe useful. 

These are great as a waterproof barrier under these liner gloves. When in place they can stay there all day long and I can keep the dexterity I need without removal. They will then work like a  vapour barrier, a new sort of education needed for our British climate, but do work very  well in colder climates. 

This is Andy Kirkpatricks take on Vapour barrier socks. The gloves do turn your fingers into  something that look like your granny’s. With a bit of practice and used in 
the right conditions  they have  worked for me.

Next Layer
This is a standard style of glove used most days where its not to cold for the need of a liner. 
As with the liner gloves the applications for me are the same in fit, price and usefulness.

These have excellent grip on maps and compass etc along with a great fit. 
In the wet they just get wet and can be wrung out. 
They are again very inexpensive, CE and EN rated for protection. 
The only drawback is that when working with ropes the rubber palm is
 not as Durable as leather. I have used these gloves on numerous occasions and I can
 get a silk liner underneath to add extra warmth.
They are not very wind  resistant either but can be covered over. 

These seem to be a staple glove in Europe favored by Mountain Guides and Ski Patrollers alike. They are tough, warm with a fleece pile liner that does not pull out.  
When treated with some saddle oil or  Nikwax Glove oil they do have some water repellency.    Here is an overview of the gloves.
They are slightly heavy as you may expect. But do remain warm when wet and fits a liner well. I have used mine in temperatures down to -25C in Norway with a liner and they have been great. 
I have made a couple of elastic leashes to connect to the wrist eyelets to keep in contact with 
the gloves when I have to “drop” them and use my liner gloves for greater dexterity.  

I have also tried the new version of CE rated Delta FBF50, they have now taken over from Venitex and have a great feel and dexterity for this size of glove. Again a few applications of Nikwax or saddle leather reproofer works brilliantly to keep most of the water off the surface. This glove has a Thinsulate lining which has been much maligned by the outdoor world as a cheap alternative to other insulators. Thinsulate has been around for 40 + years and and here is some info on its heritage and history

These Gloves are great not only for the novelty value, a lot of folk ask about a
 customs style inspections with these on, but they are warm and waterproof,
 until water gets down the cuff. If you can get the right jacket sleeve- cuff to fit over the
 top they are pretty bombproof. Click on the link for specifications.

As above there is a taunting from onlookers when wearing these. 
Ask what a window cleaner working all year round outdoors will be wearing and I bet this are on the list. 
The faux wool fleece liner will come 
 out and can be replaced with any of the aforementioned liners. 
Or an alternative fleece liner can be added.
 They are not very dexterous but work in cold conditions where water, snow, ice are in contact. 
Made in Finland where they know a thing or to about the cold.  

   Another in the style of the above, in that its a fish out of water on the mountains but used extensively by deep sea fishermen the world over. 
This the breathable version with a cotton liner. Takes a while to dry and  can get a bit clammy. 
The fit is a bit tight on the fingers which does not help getting them on and off as easy as the above gloves. 
It conversely helps with the smaller fiddly jobs, therefore needs to come off less. 

There are numerous occasions when I get the wrong glove choice on a day out. 
More thought has to go  into multi day activities, but with greater glove choice and these being 
relatively inexpensive work gloves  I can afford to make a better choice.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Photo Shoot with Berghaus on Helvellyn

Five go Mad on a Mountain (and a Dog)
Photo Shoot with Berghaus 

On Sunday I was asked to go along as the safety person to accompany the Berghaus photo shoot on Helvellyn. 

We met in a very wet and windy Glenridding with the Athletes and local photographer Stuart Holmes from Keswick. 
While we drank tea, ate cake and waited for the strong winds and rain to disappear we managed to catch up with Steve Birkinshaw, Charlie Sharpe, Jo Zakrzewski all world class elite athletes and looking to take part in the Dragons Back Race in 2015. 

Stuart got into the swing of things early on as we left the village making the guys warm up by running up and down the road. 
After this we set off to the hills now covered with a new layer of snow still with strong winds but easing later in the day. 

Only two days before I had been up Helvellyn as part of the safety checks for the Lakes Mountain 42  organised by NAV4 Adventure  in +19C in shorts and T Shirt with Keela my dog. 

24 Hours later the weather had changed abit and was now -2C and 35mph winds.

Our day was forecast for continuing strong winds rain and snow clearing in the afternoon. Charlie is know for wearing shorts and managed to stay like this all day. 

Jo sadly had to leave early her excuse was that Poldark was on at 9 and she need ed time to get ready for all the smouldering from the TV.

We carried on with Stuart and Angela, from Berghaus, directing the runners all over dressing them like a doting mother and looking after Keela

We were fortunate with the weather later in the day. 
Notice the wind on Ullswater making a very un-natural looking break point near Outward Bound.
Our day topped safely out on the summit for the obligatory summit selfies and 

We then continued Northwards along the ridge  avoiding the cornice and the areas of small avalanches. capturing the fantastic light at the end of the day

A great day with a safe circuit of one of the iconic fells in the Lake District with a great group of talented world class athletes getting ready to take on further challenges. 

I am able to help out with safety cover for any of your events worldwide do contact me.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Travels in a Strange State

Travels in a Strange State

I have put a trial set of Random shots taken from my travels onto a site if you are interested in a bargain for Xmas. Have a look here and please post any comments. Thanks

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Very British Affair

True Mountain Windshell Jacket 

We are all now very accustomed to the concept of windproof layers and their
 benefits along with their compact size means that they are indispensable 
and allow for constant packing in your pack. 
True Mountain sent me a sample of one of their brand new range of windproof’s to test 
over a couple of months to make sure its had a thorough range of mountain days 
and conditions to really shake it out. 

Whats so new about a new windproof on the market?  

The materials are different from the others on the market at the moment; here's the comparisons from the True Mountain website. Ultralite Windshell
You will have noticed the major difference, as reflected in the logo,
 is that its designed and made in Britain.

 I grew up on a heritage of British is best products for the outdoors
You could tell which side of the pennines hill folk came from due to the brand
 name on their rucksack.
 Innovation and competition was fierce but friendly and with the new 
technologies emerging in fabrics; life in the outdoors  became much more comfortable and lighter in weight meaning we could stay out 
longer to enjoy it  further and go faster. 

True Mountain have taken this fantastic heritage and ideals and have been at
 the forefront of the reshoring, the term used to describe the fact the materials,
 design and manufacturer are taking  place in Great Britain. 
This can give an almost instant change in garments colour’s and design, stock run and overall cost in  terms of turnaround rather than the months to years that production in Asia can offer. 

So, back to the windproof, the essential item not just to be packed but taken and used from a pack. True Mountain have been able to listen to my feedback and act on it almost there and then to change the little things that make a big difference. 

I have worn it over three months in most weather conditions in high end activities, work and dog walking. 
Its been invaluable on the OMM, Lake District Mountain Trial, Spine Race training, RAB 
and other events. 
In the picture above, on a wet and windy day in the Cheviot on the OMM,
I put the windshell  on over my dry base layer and under my wet base layer to help dry it off as I slept and rested for day two.
All of the above events are notoriously hard events typically true British affairs with accompanying mountain weather. 
The back is long enough not to ride up under a pack.

The side panels compliment the colur scheme and work hard at moisture management; another plus point for the jacket.

The sleeves are made to be snug yet adaptable enough to moved up the arm to further aid in keeping cool. The zip works well even with gloves on, I did add a knotted string zip puller. 
My sample model had a test hem closure system which did not affect the jacket 
as I wore a waist belt on my rucksack.
 It did have potential to be changed and Tim and the True Mountain crew took on board my feedback  very speedily.

In terms of looks True Mountain have addressed this as well with some vibrant and retro colour schemes that would work well in the mountains and the trendy bars of Shoreditch and the Northern Quarter. 
I think I fit into part Two of True Mountains Philosophy 
I hope you are able to take from my experiences of this product add to them yourself and feedback for sustainable British craftmanship. 

In essence this is indespensible windshell has been produced for use in the outdoors and its worth making it a piece of kit that you take, use and enjoy. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Copeland Chase

For £9 what can go wrong?

At the last minute I decided to enter a revived classic tradional Mounatin Orienteering event hosted by West Cumbria Orienteering Club in the little visited fells around Kirkland. 

                                    An early start and with a forecast getting better thro the day I met up with John
the orgainser and registered, did the usual faffing and then was given a map to set off.

Walking to the start I was trying to work out the scale dimensions and a 1:15000 with 5m contour interval with O type colours took a little time to get used to.
In the end it took a looong time to get used to as I cleared, set off from the start and then found the out-run track runnable I got my head down and shuffled quickly.

Its unusal not to be flogging up a steep hill in the first 1km and I was going quicker than ususal. A bloke from WCOC came past and I sort of tagged onto the back of him. The Plateau arrived with a fence and jumped it and shot off into some tussocks not unlike on the OMM a few weeks previous. I marched on thro and started to drop quickly. I saw Steve Heaton and Kaaren Nash behind me and this spurred me on.
I then stopped at the coll I thought was my No. 1 and realised I was facing the wrong direction nothing fitted, so i did the classic thing when in a rush, of trying to make it fit!!. I thought I would give up on No. 1 and just go round the others, not dibbing.
I set off downhill to number 2 and then realised the sheepfold fast approaching was in the wrong vallet when I unfolded the map to have a look for a line to No. 3!!!!!
 OOh long uphill back to 2 where I had just been stood!!!! (the kites were a little flattened)

So a day of pics and fun and meeting some old and new friends.

All the pics can be found here on my Google + page 

If you want an original please contact me. 


A great day out and an expereince I can share 
Results can be found here 

All for £9 Si dibber hire , comprehensive map, and FREE tea and cake at the end.
What could go wrong?

Hope to see you on the next one?