Monday, 10 December 2007

NEWS: Keen rucksacks and luggage

Keen footwear has taken the outdoor market by storm in recent years, but not content with their succcess, the brand are now releasing a range of rucksacks and luggage.

As Keen have shown with their footwear, they are not a brand that simply repeats other people’s designs. Instead they have produced a progressive and ecological range of bags. The range utilises recycled materials throughout including aluminium buckles harvested from drinks cans, recycled polyester linings and recycled rubber reclaimed from the trimming of footwear outsoles to reinforce bag strength and stability. The direction the brand calls Rethink. Reuse. Repurpose.

Multipurpose, ergonomic designs and common sense features can be found throughout the range. The Oswego (£54.99) and Pearl (£39.99) offer heaps of style and versatility to keep you organised on the move, whilst Keen’s range of technical daypacks are rugged enough to perform on or off the beaten track. Choose from the form fitting Goose Hollow shown above (£59.99) and Menlo Park (£64.99), a top loading daypack with adjustable shoulder straps.

There are also a range of deluxe messenger bags such as the Alameda shown above (£99.99) with removable laptop sleeve and Hillsdale (£74.99), through to the Hawthorne (£54.99) - a unique sling bag featuring a hollow core molded foam back panel with centre air channel for comfort and pleated draw cord opening for easy, instant access. Even the classic shoulder bag is given a modern face lift as the Irvington (£54.99) is nothing short of illuminating with a handy slash pocket under the lid and an ingenious interior light which turns on when the bag opens and shuts off when closed.

For more information go to Keen web site

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Tuesday, 4 December 2007

NEWS: Ortik Heat-It £45

The UK's camping stove market is a hot bed of development at the moment and the pace of debate could be fired up even more by the arrival of a fresh new brand of stove products to our shores. The Heat-It stove adaptor by Ortik was developed to improve efficiency of stove performance by fitting over your existing stove and the adaptor is said to increase efficiency by over 40%. e

The Heat-It cooking system adaptor protects the flame from the wind and it can be used as an oven to cook bread and cakes! Heat-It can also be suspended when big wall climbing.

Tipping the scales at 138grams and costing £45 this stove adaptor looks set to shake up the market alongside recent developments in this sector of the outdoor market. Trail already has its order in for a sample, so watch this space for more information.

For more information go to Ortik web site
In the UK Heat-It will be available through

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Friday, 30 November 2007


If you thought the Garmin Forerunner GPS Watch was good then you'll love this as it looks like it could be even better, as it also features a map display.
Westech Korea has just launched its Pyxis GPS watch at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair 2007. This comes complete with databases of different exercise routines such as marathons, hikes and walks. You'll be able to view these courses from your wrist and plan a schedule in advance. This GPS watch displays various information like elapsed time, speed, distance and consumed calories while you exercise. You can even save the nitty gritty details on each lap (maximum of 2,000 entries).
The big story here is the map though. However, it is going to pretty small and so hardly an ideal answer to mountain navigation in the rain when a droplet of water could drown the view of a cliff.

No idea on how much it will cost though or when it will appear on our shores.

For more information go to web site

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Wednesday, 28 November 2007

NEWS: Vango Force 10 Ultralite tents

The Force 10 series of tents by by Vango continues to grow in 2008 with the introduction of the Force 10 Ultralite series, which comprises of four designs, each with its own unique features and benefits.

The whole of the Force 10 range has been updated for 2008 which some new models being added to the range. The Vitesse (SRP £99) shown above is an ultra lightweight shelter for the extreme racer or an emergency shelter. With a minimum pack size, this two person tent has a trail weight of just under 1kg. For extra convenience or when you really need protection on the go the Vitesse can be pitched with walking poles or suspended from trees, canoe paddles or whatever else is around thanks to its hanging loop.

The new two person Vapour weighs only 1.1kg (£180)or just 800g (£150)for the lightweight version. A variable airflow vent designed to increase stability in high winds combines with TBS Pro system is designed to allow this tent to survive in serious weather. When the weather turns and you need to get undercover swiftly the single skin outer is quick and easy to set up, providing rapid protection against the elements.

The ultralite “twin skin” Helium one person weighs in at just 0.9kg and is £170. It's big brother is the 1.2kg 2 person model at£200.

The new Nitro offers the best balance available between performance, stability and weight. This versatile tent starts at a trail weight of just 1.75kg. Available in one (SRP £180), two (SRP £220) or two plus (SRP £270) capacity.

For more information go to Vango Force Ten web site

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NEWS: Hi-Tec Ion Mask Waterproof treatment

Tired of having to reproof gear? Hi-Tec have announced the release of Ion-mask™ technology, a treatment that works at the molecular level, binding invisibly to the surfaces of products, giving them an extraordinary ability to repel most liquids. Ion-mask™ was originally developed for the military to protect soldiers from chemical attack. The benefits include minimal consumption and negligible waste, and according to Hi-Tec the ion-mask™ treatment represents a quantum leap in footwear technology according to Hi-Tec.

Using patented plasma technology the Ion-mask™ process coats 3 dimensional objects with an invisible polymer mask that repels oil and water, without affecting the look or feel of the shoe.The plasma process enables polymers to infuse to the shoes/boots on a sub-microscopic scale. This means that every single fibre is given a layer of water repellent polymer only molecules thick.

Only tiny quantities of chemicals are needed, with minimal waste, so the Ion-mask™ process is also highly efficient compared with traditional methods such as dip application (DWR's) or membrane technologies. Equally the process is activated at room temperature making it one of the most climate friendly footwear technologies available.

Ion-mask™ also helps to keep footwear clean, a quick wipe and the dirt simply falls away. Furthermore the Ion-mask™ process means the fibres on even open weave materials become repellent and therefore non-absorbent. Coating every fibre, not just the outer layer, means the entire shoe (inside and out) is treated. This eliminates the need for a waterproof membrane or 'booty construction' so the shoe is as breathable before the process as after. Better still the process is far more durability than conventional treatments, while breathability remains unchanged compared with untreated materials.

The Ion-mask™ treated shoe is also lighter, by around 35 grams for mid-cut UK8, than its membrane equivalent. In fact, unlike a membrane construction, the treated shoe will not gain weight when used in wet conditions as the material no longer retains water.

The new technology will not be available until Autumn Winter 2008, however it does look set to change the performance of footwear in a major way and could see the end of having to regularly treat footwear to maintain water repellancy.

Trail has a pair of the treated footwear and will provide more information here as soon as they have had a good test.

For more information go to Hi-Tec web site

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Thursday, 22 November 2007

ViDEO: Satmap Active 10 GPS Receiver

At last! A GPS receiver that has all the features most walkers want in the countryside. Ordnance Survey quality mapping allows the user to see their location on a 1:25,000 or 1:50,000 scale map and move across the map in real time. A large screen makes the mapping easy to view, while large buttons allow use while wearing gloves. It's also waterproof and boasts a very long battery life compared to many other units.

There is a full review of the Satmap Active 10 GPS Receiver in the December issue of Trail. For a glimpse of what all the fuss is about, check out the movie.

For more information go to the importer's Sat Map web site

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Tuesday, 30 October 2007

VIDEO: MSR Reactor stove £110

It's been the most eagerly awaited stove this year and now it's performance is cooking up a storm, when backpackers debate which is the best stove for backpackers.

According to the manufacturers, the MSR Reactor is the fastest and most fuel efficient stove system available.

There is a full review of the MSR Reactor in the December issue of Trail. For a glimpse of what all the fuss is about, check out the movie.

For more information go to the importer's First Ascent web site

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Monday, 22 October 2007

NEW: Jetboil frying pan

Jetboil have added a frying pan to their unique cooking system. The Jetboil set new standards for cooking systems when it entered the UK market in 2004, with superb boil times coupled with unparalleled efficiency. The drawbacks of the system were that users had only one pan that was compatible with the burner. The latest addition to the range widens the appeal of the Jetboil, and should mean campers and backpackers should be able to russle up a fried breakfast or styfried evening meal quickly and efficiently thanks to the unique performance of the Jetboil system.

This frying pan uses Jetboil’s FluxRing® technology to heat the cooking surface quickly and distribute heat more evenly. The curved side walls are designed to allow easy flipping and stirring. A plastic bottom cover doubles as a preparation or eating plate. The handles fold flat for storage. You can also store a Jetboil companion spatula (sold separately) into the pan.

According to the manufacturers, the FluxRing™ technology concentrates heat to make Jetboils boil faster than traditional stoves. The FluxRing yields fuel efficiencies of over 80%, compared with the 30-40% typical of standard stoves and cookware. The manufacturers also state that when used with a Jetboil, a single 100g canister boils 12 litres of water - twice the volume of water of a conventional stove.

The Jetboil Frypan will retail at £35 when it goes on sale in January 2008.

For more information go to Lyon Equipment web site

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Sunday, 7 October 2007

NEWS: Mallory clothing research

While Mallory's clothing was lighter than modern clothing it was not so good at providing protection against high winds and lowering temperatures according to scientists at Loughborough University.
In a presentation at the Innovations for Extremes Conference held at Lancaster University in September, Dr. George Havenith, Professor of Environmental Physiology and Ergonomics at Loughborough University demonstrated that George Mallory's clothing was less able to withstand changes in temperatures and high winds. Could this be a contributing factor to his ability to have reached the summit of Everest in 1924?

The graph below shows how warm clothing was on the vertical axis with air temperature is shown along the horizontal axis. The red and blue diagonal lines show how warm your clothing needs to be at a windspeed of 7km/h (blue line) and 40km/h (red line) to avoid hypothermia.
The two horizontal dotted lines represent two clothing systems. The blue dotted line represents a modern down suit and Mallory's clothing is represented by the red dotted line. So you can see that Mallory's clothing was rated for warmth as 3 and moderrn clothing was rated as 5 for warmth.

Clearly as the temperature goes down and you move from left to right across the graph, you need greater insulation, hence lines go diagonally from left to right. Also in higher winds (red line) you need even more insulation.

Note that if the wearer is breathing more oxygen then both lines could move down as the body is better able to produce warmth and resist hypothermia without having to wear extra clothing.

Mallory's clothing, represented by the red dotted line, crosses the blue line at -22 and the red line at -5
Modern clothing crosses the blue line (off the graph) and the red line at -26

So Mallory clothing was not as warm as modern clothing and also would not be able to keep the wearer warm in a change of air temperature and wind speed.

So while Mallory's clothing was lighter than modern clothing it was not so good at providing protection against high winds and lowering temperatures. This suggests that Mallory was sailing closer to the limits of his equipment and would be less able to survive if the wind or temperatures changed during his climb? Could this be a contributing factor to his ability to have reached the summit of Everest?

For more information about Mallory's attempt on Everest in 1924 go to Innovation for Extremes web site

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Thursday, 4 October 2007

NEWS: Balanced chest pouch

Keeping access to cameras while backpacking has always been a problem with choices varying from chest mountain pouches that bounce around to hip belt mounted pouches that make it difficult to squeeze through cracks when scrambling. The innovative syncpack™ frontpack system could solve all these problems, as it is a chest mountain system that remains stable.

The patent-pending syncpack frame has innovative telescoping members that slide dynamically to match the bending movements of your torso, without compromising stability or weight transfer to the hips. The sliding frame members allow your upper body to move independently of the weight-bearing central frame structure, for complete freedom of movement during the full range of outdoor activities from hiking and skiing to tying your shoes.

The syncpack quick-release connectors strap onto the hip belt and shoulder straps of your backpack so you can attach and remove the frontpack in a "snap". The pouch makes a heavy load feel dramatically lighter and more comfortable as the patent-pending syncpack frame counterbalances the backward pull of your backpack and restores your natural upright body posture. The syncpack system reduces the strain on your shoulders, back, and abdominal muscles so you can go farther, go faster, and feel better at the end of the day. Best of all the system provides on-the-move access to frequently used gear. You don't need to stop and take off your backpack to reach your camera, map, sunscreen, snack, water, etc.

Currently the Sync Pack is only available in the US, but hopefully a UK importer will look into bringing it across the pond.

For more information go to Sync Pack web site

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Wednesday, 3 October 2007

NEWS: The Greenest And Most Ethical Technical Product Line

Surf brand Finisterre is launching the greenest and most ethical technical product line in the world.

The range consists of an exclusive bio-mimetic waterproof fabric, that is more breathable and more comfortable than any other waterproof on the market, according to Finisterre. It is made from recycled polyester, with lightweight ribbed insulation, coupled with a polycotton jacket impregnated with beeswax. The clothing provides weatherproof protection all year around with a fitted and casual style.

Finisterre has been invited to present their findings and achievements at two major global events this coming year, the Rite-Group Conference ( and Good Profit Event ( The events will be rallying some of the largest business and individuals in the global arena like M&S, Timberland, Nike and Patagonia, as well as a keynote speech by Al Gore (An Inconvenient Truth and Ex-Vice President of America). “We’re the only brand presenting at these global events whose bitten the bullet and decided to pull out of China, apply the most stringent environmental and sustainable decisions into our product line”, said Ernest Capbert, Finisterre marketing director.

The bio-mimetic waterproof fabric is featured in the Limited Edition Storm Track at £250.00

How long will it be until outdoor brands following this surfing brand's lead and ride the wave of interest in more ethical outdoor gear?

For more information go to Finisterreuk web site

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NEWS:World's first bicycle iPod speaker

Tired of the sound of the wind whistling through your ears when mountain biking? Then you could strap the wireless iPod dock to your bike so you can listen to your music while you ride. Working with the iPod or iPod nano, it's a wireless speaker, using the Kleer Audio transmission that claims to be 10 times more energy efficient than Bluetooth.

The Cy.Fi speaker is about the size of a deck of cards and mounts on your handlebars. It spreads its stereo sound so you don't have to wear earphones that might prevent you from hearing cars that are creeping up beside you. You can even use one iPod to broadcast its signal to everyone in your riding group as it has a transmitter range of 30feet. You could of course also use the speaker as a lightweight sound system and attached it to just about anything.

Is this a good development that walkers will welcome in the countryside? Does the thought of hearing a group of mountain bikers with music pumping out clash with your dream of finding tranquility in the countryside while walking along a quite bridleway?

Available sometime in 2008 and it'll cost you $149 - not available in the UK - yet!

For more information go to My Cy Fi web site

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Tuesday, 2 October 2007

NEWS: Petzl Signal £10

Touting the headline "See me before I see you", the Petzl Signal red safety light is designed to complement the Petzl e+LITE head torch. The Signal is designed to be seen from 1000 metres, with 180 degrees of lightbeam. The Signal can be set to blink or burn on full beam mode. It weighs just 22grams, including batteries and is water resistant to 1 metre depth. The Signal can be attached to the elastic head band of a standard headtorch, or clipped to a helmet, arm or rucksack.

Could be a useful safety aid in the hills as it should allow a rescue team to find you far more easily.

The Petzl Signal goes on sale January 2008

For more information go to Lyon Equipment web site

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Sunday, 30 September 2007

NEWS: Scarpa heated footbeds

Frozen out of winter walking by the fear of cold feat? Well the chill could be over, as Scarpa is launching the Grizu heated footbed system that heats up the front part of the foot and raising the temperature inside the boot to an extremely comfortable 38° C. The microprocessor inside the insole regulates the output based on the outside temperature making sure the foot is never too cold or hot.

Inside the Heating Support Footbed there is a lithium battery, a flexible resistor and a highly sensitive temperature sensor. Also included is a battery charger with a double outlet so the right and left insoles can be charged individually. A remote control is also included so that the insoles can be switched on and off from outside the boot.

The Grizu can be inserted into any boot or shoe with a removable insole. The Heating Support Footbed even functions in humid conditions. If they are submerged in water the electric circuit automatically protects itself and once dried out will carry on working. The polymer Lithium batteries use similar technology to mobile phones and stay charged for up to 7 hours.

The Grizu could be ideal anyone with poor circulation or those prone to cold feet in the winter and retails for £140.00 and go on sale this winter.

For more information go to Scarpa web site

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NEWS: Vaude Versametric backsystem

Vaude's Versametric backsystem was designed for carrying heavyloads over long distances. The back system features a polycarbonate frame so that the back is stiff and supportive to reduce the energy use of the user. This frame is preshaped to follow the contours of the spine and pelvis. The backsystem consists of a pendulum hipbelt that pivots in the same place as your back twists, again to reduce energy use by the user. The result is that the load is distributed onto the pelvis without lateral pressure caused by a normal hipelt. The back length can also be adjusted on the move.

The new Versametric backsystem will be featured in a range of rucksacks with capacities from 60 to 70 litres. The Versametric Proof 65+10 also benefits from Ultra Seam Technology, which makes the seams the waterproof.

The new Versametric backsystem will be released in Spring 2008.

For more information go to Vaude web site

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Wednesday, 29 August 2007

NEWS: Viewranger GPS smartphone software upgrade

Viewranger have added more features to their GPS software that pinpoints your location on a mobile smartphone. Nokia have also introduced a firmwear update to improve the speed of a first time GPS fix when the software is used on their phones such as the N95.

A new Trip Analysis Profile Graph provides a graph of the GPS tracklog recorded showing distance, altitude, gps altitude and speed (either individually or overlayed) against time. This can be shown whilst a tracklog is being recorded so you don't have to wait until the end of the trip to see the data.

The new ViewRanger BuddyBeacon provides the ability to be tracked (or see/track other users). A great feature for keeping tabs on mates, family or group members out on the hill.

ViewRanger TravelLog allows a user's photographs to be viewed over the web and geo-located on aerial photography in a similar way to the Buddy Beacon. The user can provide their user name to a friend, allowing these "digital postcards" to be viewed by those back home.

Viewranger can now display maps from outside of the UK too, with the first being the National Land Survey of Finland at 1:50,000 scale mapping and shortly 1:20,000 mapping will be available. Viewranger are working with several European partners to deliver additional map coverage through 2007.

For more information go to Viewranger web site

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Friday, 24 August 2007

NEWS: Anquet mapping software upgrade

Anquet is releasing a new version of their digital mapping software tonight!

Anquet version 6.2 takes into account feedback from people using the Download Service. The software is compatible with Windows Vista, 2000 or XP. Improvements include letting you know the maps are being downloaded rather than appearing to freeze as it did before. It’s now much faster to access the download service and download multiple maps too. Anquet now queues your map downloads for you, so there’s no need to download one map at a time. You can also now keep using Anquet while your maps are downloading. The result is an improved download experience. In Trail tests, the slow download was a real issue, so this update is very welcome.

Anquet v6.2 also improves the tools for ‘cutting your own map’. New shading tools in the Map Manager show the map data you already own and the map coverage available. Now you’re able to easily extend your map data without fear of buying the same area twice. For map types where complete coverage of Great Britain is not available such as aerial photography, you will now be able to see the coverage available shaded on the map, and cut round those areas.

Other improvements in the new software release include easier management of My Maps. The My Maps tab now contains a filter to allow you to see certain types of maps, such as free maps available, or maps that you have purchased more intuitively. Again this was an area that Trail testers found irritating, so once again this sounds like a promising step forward.

You can download the latest version of Anquet at
Anquet are also running a sale during the bank holiday weekend, with 20% being slashed off all Anquet digital maps, so long as you have the coupon code: SUM20. The sale starts tonight (Friday) and finishes on Tuesday 28th August at 12 midnight! To claim the 20% discount of all Anquet maps here’s what to do….

Anquet Download Service
Upgrade to Anquet v6.2 so that the coupon can be entered at the checkout. Once you’ve added all your maps to your basket press the new ‘Add Coupon’ button and enter SUM20 to get the 20% discount.

Anquet CD’s
Visit the Anquet web shop at Once you’ve added the Anquet CD’s you’d like to your basket proceed to the checkout and you’ll be given an opportunity to enter a coupon code. Enter SUM20 and get 20% discount.

For more information go to Anquet web site

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Thursday, 23 August 2007

NEWS: Vaude tent upgrade

Vaude tents have beefed up stability and venting for the 2008 season. The new Power Frame uses thinner poles with cross ties to enhance stability through the use of a triangulated design of the tensioning ties. The image above left show how the current Space III tent would flex under 80km/h winds, while the image above right, shows how the new Power Space III tent is able to withstand 80km/h winds.

Vaude have also improved ventilation around the base of many of their tents by creating an air vent around the foot of the flysheet that allows air in without letting the rain in. As can be seen from the image below, the ground vent is made from mesh and so allows airfllow. However the mesh also keeps horizontally driven rain out by blocking raindrops and in the manufacturer's terms, 'exploding' the rain drops! The manufacturers suggest that the mesh will keep bugs out too, although they obviously have not battled against a highland midge.

Trail will be doing our own tests on the Power Space III as soon as we can get one. The new products go instore in Spring 2008.

For more information go to Vaude UK web site

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Tuesday, 21 August 2007

REVIEW: Gregory Z30 rucksack £80

The Gregory Z30 is part of the brand's Fast and Light range, designed to strike a balance between weight and durability without sacrificing performance. It has the new Jetstream air sprung back system with a capacity of around 30 litres, so it should be ideal for day trips as well as superlight overnights. Trail reviewed a bunch of these sacks in the August issue, but here's one that missed the test, yet is well worth a closer look.

It's good:
The Gregory Z30 benefits from a new Jetstream airsprung back system, which means it doesn't stick to your back like a wet flannel in hot weather. However it still fits reasonably close to your back so it remains stable when walking. I even used this for scrambling and found it great. As the back system is not too curved, it does not impede packing, unlike some other pre-curved back systems. You get a massive hip belt, which is unusual for this size of sack, but the result is a good close fit that is comfortable and not too hot and sweaty.
The main compartment of the sack is fairly conventional with a capacity of 30 litres according to the manufacturers. There is a zip around opening, which works well. A compression panel on the front is ideal for stashing a jacket too. You get a zipped front pocket that is large enough for OS maps, a OS map sized lid pocket, plus mesh wand pockets, that are deep enough to hold a waterbottle. Poles can be stashed on the sides quite easily too thanks to a pair of compression straps and those deep wand pockets. It is hydration system compatible and generally ideal for walkers.

But: Not everyone will like the zip around opening and I would prefer a single buckled conventional lid. Some may prefer side pockets, rather than a front pocket. So not a great deal to complain about here and it is really down to personal preferences when you are looking for drawbacks to this design. At 1200g there are lighter sacks if you want to travel light.

Verdict: Excellent well ventilated rucksack that is ideal for valley, hill and mountain walkers and it is fine for scrambling too.

Vital stats
Manufacturers capacity 30 litres
Fabric 210 D nylon
Features Jet Stream DTS suspension well ventilated sprung back system, lid pocket, front pocket, compression straps, zipped main opening, top tensioning straps, ice axe loops, hydration system compatible
Weight 1200g
Made in Far East

Reviewed by Graham Thompson

For more information go to Gregory web site

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Friday, 17 August 2007

VIDEO: Khul is cool!

Tired of wearing surf gear when you are off the hill? Then check out Khul, the new brand that is hitting the UK.

'Follow no one, follow your dreams" is the brand's passion. Khul was born in the Wasatch mountains of Utah in the USA and they aim is to create original, unique products that will incite passion. What's more they appear to have a sence of humour too if the video below is anything to go by!

For more information go to Kuhl web site

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NEWS: Inov8 Roclite 390

This is probably the most eagerly awaited peice of footwear this Autumn. The Inov8 Roclite 390 weighs in at just 390g for a half pair size 8 and yet it retains ankle protection, a great grip and a protection from the wet.

Following on from the success of their running shoes, Inov8 have added the Roclite 390. This waterproof and breathable boot was originally designed for ultralight paragliding. However, the Roclite 390 it is creating a buzz around the walking world, as it is also ideal for lightweight hill walking. The higher ankle cuff promises to keep mud and water out of the boot as well as protecting the ankle from scrapes and adding a notch of support.

The boots hit the stores in August 2007 and come in sizes from 3-14UK.

Trail are promised the first boots in the UK, so look out for a review.

For more information go to inov-8 Web site

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NEWS: Montrail Cirrus GTX boot

Montrail have added a new lightweight waterproof boot to their range that looks ideal for anyone wanting to lighten the load on the feet. Following on from the Montrail Stratos GTX, the new Montrail Cirrus GTX adds a little extra grunt making it ideal for those heading to wetter and rougher terrain, yet still prefering to travel light.

The Cirrus benefits from a Gore-Tex liner, like the Statos, but the upper is now more durable to increase the boots ability to resist long term wear. Underfoot the lug pattern on the outsole has been beefed up too, for better traction in the mud.

The Cirrus hits the shops in October 2007 at a price of £100. From our first look we reckon it could be an ideal boot for those wanting to travel light.

Look out for a detailed review in Trail soon.

For more information go to Montrail Web site

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Wednesday, 8 August 2007

NEWS: Aarn Packs in UK

Body centered load carrying systems specialist Aarn Packs will shortly be available in the UK through distributor Outdoor Elements. As reported in the September issue of Trail, a change in posture could be all you need to walk faster, for longer and with less fatigure according to scientists from Harvard University. Aarn Packs have incorporated this research and other similar research into their body centred load carrying systems, which they describe as ”FlowMo Bodypacks”. These packs are designed to disturb the body as little as possible under load, completely replacing backpacks as the most comfortable way to carry loads on the human body.

Aarn Tate's designs have been seen before in the UK, as his ideas appeared a few years ago in the Craghopper range of packs. Trail loved the packs and found the body centred load carrying systems superb for carrying heavy loads. We found it allowed the user to stand in a more upright position, which allowed a far more natural walking position that was stable, comfortable and unrestrictive. Sadly the range did not sell well into stores, despite numerous favourable reviews from users and the media and so finally Craghoppers dropped the ideas. Hopefully Aarn's latest developments will be more popular.

Normal backpacks tend to force a stooped forward posture, which strains the body. FlowMo BodyPacks allow an upright posture, relaxing the body, eliminating body pain & discomfort and reducing energy use. So if you fancy easing the strain of your pack, then Aarn Packs could be answer to your dreams.

Trail will be reviewing the Aarn Packs as soon as we can get hold of them!

For more information go to Aarn Packs

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NEWS: Ooh! Ooh! Magellan turns GPS phone-sexy

Magellan has announced a brand new range featuring touch-screens, digital cameras, topographical mapping capability and integration with a new desktop application called VantagePoint. As if to reverse the trend of top-end phones poaching GPS technology, the latest 'Triton' range steals ideas from the latest phones, bringing a 2.7-inch QVGA touch screen, built-in 2 megapixel camera, SD card slot and voice recorder to the Triton 2000 top-end unit. The new GPSs are also completely waterproof. Prices range from $129 to $499 and all but the cheapest have upgradeable mapping. In the US Magellan has partnered with the National Geographic to offer topographical mapping for the first time on a dedicated GPS handset. Hmmm... camera, plus GPS: could this be the start of real-photo route-directions, via geo-located photos shared via the web? Details of the range, which hits the US first in September are:

Triton 2000 $500

* 2.7-inch QVGA color touch screen
* built-in 2MP camera
* built-in base maps
* uploadable maps using Magellan's new (free) VantagePoint software
* SD card slot
* electronic compass and barometer
* speaker and microphone
* LED flashlight
* waterproof to IPX-7 standards

Triton 1500 $400

* 2.7-inch QVGA color touch screen
* built-in base maps
* uploadable maps using VantagePoint software
* SD card slot
* speaker and microphone
* flashlight
* waterproof to IPX-7 standards

Triton 500 $250

* more compact-sized
* 2.2-inch QVGA color screen
* SD card slot
* uploadable maps using VantagePoint software
* built-in base maps
* electronic compass and barometer
* waterproof to IPX-7 standards

Triton 400 $200 (pictured)

* 2.2-inch QVGA color screen
* SD card slot
* built-in base maps
* pointer and compass screen
* waterproof to IPX-7 standards
* uploadable maps using VantagePoint software

Triton 300 $150

* 2.2-inch QVGA color screen
* built-in base maps
* waterproof to IPX-7 design
* pointer and compass screen
* uploadable maps using VantagePoint software
* 10 MB of memory for map storage

Triton 200 $130

* 2.2-inch QVGA color screen
* built-in base maps
* waterproof to IPX-7 design
* pointer and compass screen
* runs on two AA batteries

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Tuesday, 7 August 2007

NEWS: Simond return to UK

Simond have been away from these shores for a while, but the Chamonix based manufacturer of high quality mountain climbing hardware are back!

Just in time for the winter season, which could of course welcome the UK peaks with a flurry of snow or a downpour of slush, the Simond brand will be distributed by UK based importer Apex Distribution and will be available in selected retailers from November 2007.

Simond have been manufacturing climbing and mountain hardware since 1890 and are one of only two, large climbing manufactures to be making their products on-site in Chamonix, the home of Alpine mountaineering.
Simond use hot forging and working with titanium to produce some of the best hardware available.

It also good to see that is now in English. At present the English part of the site only details information about their products but they will shortly be putting up real-time information on conditions in the Mont Blanc Massif, news about the Simond team as well as really useful practical advice.

Trail will be reviewing the ice axe and crampon range as soon as we can get hold of them. All we now need is some snow and ice !

For more information go to Apex Distribution

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Monday, 6 August 2007

NEWS: Magellan hints at big things for new GPS handhelds

Magellan says it “will announce partnerships that will change the landscape of the handheld GPS category” at the OutdoorRetailer show that starts tomorrow. With a blizzard of new patents being filed in the last few months, including (though we daren't hope for this yet) real-photography directions, the sense of expectation is high. It all hinges on who those "partners" might be. It could be a technological partner, offering bigger PDA-style colour screens and the processing power to handle more detailed topographic mapping; it could be the Ordnance Survey, bringing full Explorer-quality mapping to your next eXplorist; or they could mean a tie-up with a data partner like the AA, adding guidebook-style information about pubs, camp sites and even routes. Fingers crossed for all three...

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Thursday, 2 August 2007

VIDEO: Ruffwear Web Master dog harness

There's no reason to leave your dog at home when heading for the hills. However normal dog collars may not be the best option when scrambling over rocks as the dog could slip the collar or slip and be left hanging from its collar.

To make a dog's life on the hill safer and more comfortable Ruffwear produce the Web Master dog harness. This was designed in conjuction with search and rescue dog teams and so it is ideal for mountain travellers. The harness fits around the dog and is secured with quick release buckles. Padding makes the harness comfortable, while a tough haul loop allows the dog to be lifted over stiles, rock steps or kept safe in the event of a slip.

This video will give you a feel for it and you can read more about taking your dogs on the hills on page 44 of the September issue of Trail.

For more information check out the Ruffwear web site

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Wednesday, 1 August 2007

VIDEO: INOV8 Race Pro rucksack

Not content with kitting out fell runners and adventure race teams with running shoes, Inov8 have added a range of ultralight rucksack's to their product range. The range is designed for travelling fast and travelling light and comes in a range of sizes from 12 to 30 litres. All the sacks feature Inov8's revolutionary hydration system, that stows the water bladder horizontally around the waist rather than vertically up the pack. The result is that running with a pack and hydration system may never have been so good.

This video will give you a feel for it. You can read the full review on page 16 of the September issue of Trail.

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NEWS: Proshell promises weight loss

Gore's new ProShell fabric not only promises improved condensation control, but according to Mountain Equipment, there is also a weight saving to be enjoyed!

Mountain Equipment have sliced 50grams of the weights of their classic mountain jackets such as the Changabang, Kongur and Ogre by switching to Gore ProShell from Gore XCR. In the search for the lightest waterproof in the World, the use of Proshell is clearly going to raise the bar on what we all call average weight for a waterproof. Furthermore every gram counts when you want to lighten the load on your back.

The offical release for Gore Proshell will be in September 2007, however Mountain Equipment have jumped the gun and their Gore Proshell jackets are already available in some stores ... even though their web site still lists the old Gore XCR versions of the classic jackets and makes no mention of the new Proshell versions!

Look out for more news of Proshell in Trail as we have had them since the Spring!

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NEWS: Lafuma Eco Award

Who is the most ethical brand in the outdoor market? Well according to the Ispo Sport & Style show in Munich, Lafuma hold the title and won the Ispo Performance Award for Eco-responsibility.

The Ispo Award was won by Lafuma during the Ispo show that took place between June 29th to July 1st. The award highlighted the Lafuma's Eco 40 backpack. According to Lafuma this rucksack is the first eco-design backpack to appear in the market. The top priority in its design is environmental protection. The materials and manufacturing processes were selected on account of their low environmental impact. Lafuma developed a special recycled polyethylene fabric and a new waterproofing technique that causes less pollution. According to Lafuma, the end result is a lightweight backpack delivering comparable performance to conventional products, at a competitive price.

This is the second prize awarded to the Eco 40 backpack this year as it also. won the 2007 Etoile de l'Observeur du Design award, organized by France's Agency for the Promotion of Industrial Design (APCI), with a special mention from the Agency for Environment and Energy Management (Ademe).

As green issues, become the leading marketing issues of the day, this will no doubt be the start of a new wave of eco products and at last it is not just Patagonia that are winning all the eco awards.

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Tuesday, 31 July 2007

NEWS: Event not a wind of change

Event's much awaited windproof softshell fabric has not brought the wind of change to the market that the brand had hoped. Rab are using the fabric in their Kailash jacket, which will be released this Autumn for £150. However sales of the flagship garment have been low and only the blue version of the jacket has been sold into a very small number of stores. Event are looking into designing a lighter version of the fabric for Autumn/Winter 2008.

Trail have had their bodies inside the Rab Kailash Event windproof since the spring and we'll be bringing a full review shortly. The jacket is fairly close fitting and warm and you should find that the windproofing and breathability on at least on par with other windproofs like Gore Windstopper and possibly better.

The jacket hits the stores in September - although by the sounds of it, they are going to be few and far between.

For further information visit Event fabric web site

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NEWS: TEVA trash shoes

You can be green and be seen in cool gear now that just about every outdoor brand is raising their green credentials.

Autumn/Winter 2007 sees Teva going green and giving trash a chance with its new ‘Curbside Collection’. All footwear in the collection features post consumer canvas lining and a post consumer recycled rubber outsole. Using post consumer materials such as plastic bottles and used car tyres Teva have set out to be ethical.

Is this a step in the right direction or a chance for Teva to hike up their green marketing?

For further information visit Teva web site

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NEWS: World exclusive review of World's lightest tent

It's official. The lightest two person tent in the world is the Terra Nova Laser Photon. This is the suped up version of the Terra Nova Laser Competition, that held the Guiness World Record in 2006 for being the 'lightest tent in the World'. As far as we know there is only one sample of this tent in the Europe and we have had it in our sweaty palms! We had it just for a week, before it was sent back and shown at the OutDoor 2007 trade show in Germany.

The Photon shaves 110grams of the weight of the Laser Competition. The weight saving comes from a lighter groundsheet fabric, a tweak in the design to reduce weighty seems, a lighter main pole and a set of titanium pegs that tip the scales at 1gram per peg!

Is this tent ideal for your average backpacker? I suspect not, but then it is not designed to be. I found the thin wire pegs were easily lost and also that they tended to ping out more easily than more substantial pegs. Like the Laser Competition, this tent is not as stable as heavier tents either and while it is rated as being spacious enough for two, you'd need to enjoy sharing body sweat! But if weight saving is on the agenda, then the Photon could be ideal.

If you are heading for the OMM event, then you are in luck as Terra Nova have ensured a small stock of the tents are available from the end of August 2007 (ready for the OMM), from Field and Trek and Up and Running

Read the Trail review of the Terra Nova Laser Photon in the September issue of Trail

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Tuesday, 24 July 2007

C.A.M.P. one-handed helmet

This January C.A.M.P. will unveil a helmet you can operate with one hand. Their unique system uses straps and turning dials to secure the helmet to your head rather than the conventional buckle you have to pinch with both hands.

A tensioning strap at the side of the helmet, like the style you use to tighten your rucksack straps, tightens and losens the helmet around and under the chin. Turning dials, one at the side above your ear and one at the back, fine tune the fit to within the milimetre.

Freeing up one hand is a bonus in precarious terrain and extreme conditions like snow, altitude and exposed situations where helmets are vital. The French ski mountaineering specialists see this £60 head-protector being scooped up by all types of mountaineers in the coming year.

Boots that breathe easier

French company Lafuma will launch a completely different way of waterproofing boots that makes them more breathable this February.

Boots are traditionally made with a tough outer fabric and then lined with a separately made waterproof bootie, inserted and glued into place. Water can pass through the outer fabric and build up between the bootie and outer layer, reducing breathability, comfort and even freezing in cold weather.

Lafuma's new lamination process, OutDry, avoids this by ditching the bootie and laminating the waterproof layer straight on to the outer fabric, similar to what you find in a three-layer jacket. This leaves no gaps for waterlogging so your stinky foot sweat is free to escape.

NEWS: MSR purify water with gravity

MSR make gravity do the hard work for you with their latest water filter, out February 2008. The new Auto Flow Gravity Filter plus two bladders and attachment hoses will cost you £65 and save your arms from the pumping that conventional purification systems require by harnessing the obvious effects of gravity on flowing water.

Their "Why didn't anyone think of this before?" invention attaches to the hydration hose of your water bladder. Fill your bladder with water from a stream, attach it to the hose and filter combo, hang it from a tree, then kick back and relax as you watch clean water flow from the system.

It takes just over half a minute to filter a litre of water, removing 99.9% of bacteria and protazoa with no pumping whatsoever.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

VIDEO: New Superfeet launched

Live from OutDoor 2007: Superfeet are expanding their range to include men´s and women´s specific insoles that come in orange and pink respectively.

So just what do they do? We asked the guys at Superfeet to explain the biomechanics of walking and luckily they just happened to have a foot skeleton to hand.

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VIDEO: Award winning magnetic buckle

Live from OutDoor 2007: When we heard that a magnetic buckle had scooped an award at this year´s OutDoor 2007 award we gave a mildly interested nod. The Big Turn Catch All Fastener is a nice idea but we didn't see how it would revolutionise our walking.

BUT... then we got our hands on it and realised just how easy it is to use. It´s a breeze to unclip, even with gloved hands and it locks back into place almost by magic. All you have to do is get it roughly in the right place and a mini-magnetic tractor beam pulls it into place.

The video is a bit grainy but gives you an idea just how it works!

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MY SHOW: Hot trends from OutDoor 2007

Live from OutDoor 2007: Thinking outside the box appears to be the way forward for companies wanting to make a splash at OutDoor 2007. The radical design of the Edelrid folding helmet that won the OutDoor Gold Award this year is a fine example of what can be achieved when functionality and the latest manufacturing technologies meet.

The ETA Power stoves shows just how much wasted energy is used in normal stoves and how much extra gear we have to drag across the hills if it were not for such out of the box innovation.

The new range of Grivel packs (shown above) provide vast amounts of new practical features, while their exploded diagram makes it easy for the potential purchaser to see what all the features are designed to do.

Macpac have further developed their rucksack range with the change in the location of where their rucksack hip belts pivots (see above image). By moving the pivot point up the rucksack, it is able to rotate from the same point as the wearer's back flexes, rather than at the base of the spine where most hipbelts are designed to rotate from.

Radical designs are appearing that seem so challenge our concept of what is normal, while new technologies allow lighter, more functional products to be developed.

So if you are in the market for some new gear, take a sneak peak around the corner, as something that you thought was normal could just about to be changed.

Graham Thompson, Technical Editor

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NEWS: Primus ETAExpress

Live from OutDoor 2007:
Not content with producing the award winning ETAPower MF two to three person stove, Primus have added a one to two person compact model called the EtaExpress. Like its bigger brother the new EtaExpress boasts a heat exchanger and windshield that combine to redefine the meaning of cooker efficiency. The Primus Total Weight concept means that this sove is lighter than most when the fuel use required for a week it taken into account.

With a packed weight of 418g without gas and a boil time of 2.5 minutes, the ETAPower Express allows a backpacker to carry an intergrated cooking system that weighs in at 700g including fuel for a week's trip.

The ETAPower nows runs head to head with the well established Jetboil and the new MSR Reactor stove for the coveted award of best backpacker stove! Watch this space for details of a burn-off between these big three.

NEWS: Kenton Cool's new pack

Live from OutDoor 2007: Mutiple Everest Summiteer Kenton Cool has brought his expertise to Mountain Hardware’s latest mountaineering backpack showing at the OutDoor 2007 show.

The Dihedral 40L technical mountaineering pack boasts a range of features informed by Kenton’s experience at high altitude.

"One of the changes I insisted on was finding replacement buckles on the compression straps," says Kenton. "The originals were fiddly to open and I needed something that would be much easier to operate with my hands in gloves."

The streamlined bag features interchangeable, moveable compression-carrying straps and loops that can hold a huge range of gear from ice axes and crampons to snow anchors and marker wands to snowshoes and skis.

The Dihedral is as light as possible but still super robust. Replace the lid and padded hipbelt with the alternative minimalist straps, and it allows you to shave off even more weight.

To get your hands on the Dihedral technical mountaineering pack, you’ll have to wait until Feb 08. For now, drool over this pic.