Thursday, 28 June 2007

NEWS: Tiso Group acquire George Fisher

George Fisher Ltd of Keswick has been widely regarded as England’s leading independent outdoor shop and Trail readers have regularly given it the thumbs up after receiving great service from the store. However, times could be changing as the store has now been swallowed by the Tiso Group Ltd in a deal worth £3 million. The business was put up for sale at the start of the year due to the owners looking to retire, during which period Tiso emerged as the preferred bidder.

Chris Tiso, Chief Executive, said: ‘George Fisher provides a natural fit with Tiso and we are very excited at the prospect of taking the business forward under the George Fisher name. The primary focus and objective now will be to ensure that the integrity of the business is maintained and the offering continues to be in line with expectations of the existing core customer base. We have enormous respect for the business and recognise its position in both the local and national markets.’

Michael Standring, of George Fisher, commented: ‘George Fisher has evolved over the last 50 years to what it is today; one of the most respected independent outdoor retailers in the UK. It is essential that it is taken forward to the next level by someone who shares and understands our values and our customers’ expectations. George Fisher has led the way in the Lake District in terms of exceptional service, product integrity and retail innovation, and I believe that Tiso is best placed to ensure that this remains the case.’

George Fisher will retain both its name and existing management team. However only time will tell as to how the take over will effect the store, its product range, its pricing and, above all, its quality of service to you the customers.

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REVIEW: Teva Karnali Wraptor £70

If you are flooded out then sandals are ideal. Also of course it is supposed to be summer, in which case sandals are a great way to air sweaty feet around the camp site, after a day on the hill, or just for sitting at the computer!
A new model this year is the Teva Karnali Wraptor, which is a turbo charged version of the classic Teva Wrapter.

It’s good The Teva Karnali Wraptor is built around a similarly highly functional footbed as the classic Teva Wraptor, being stiff enough to resist pressure from stones underfoot yet beautifully flexed at the toe to allow an exceptionally natural walking action. In short it feels great when walking on paths and rocky surfaces due to the support, stability and cushioning that the sole provides.
When crossing rivers water can get trapped under the feet of most sandals, but not the Karnali, as they have built drainage slots in the sole to let the water out, which they call a Drain Frame. These slots have a fine mesh on the outsole to prevent grit rising up them, while the outsole lug pattern is deep enough to prevent water getting forced up through the mesh on each step. These slots also allow a little more air to circulate underfoot which may partly be why these sandals don’t feel quite as clammy as some.
The other big difference between the Karnali Wraptor and the old standard Wraptor is the toe bumper. This provides great protection for the big toe and prevents the toe from slipping forward and over the front edge of the sandal when walking down slopes or over uneven terrain. It also hides your toes if you are not too pround of how they look and of course it’s the current flavour of shoe design! The straps are similar to the old Wraptor, although slightly easier to adjust and loosen thanks to a combination of Velcro and quick release clips. The soft lining around the inside of these straps is also better than the old Wraptor.

But like the Wraptor, these are not a budget priced sandal, so you need to be sure you really want all that extra comfort if you are going to splash the cash on these. My old Wraptor had a heel fit webbing strap, but the Karnali Wraptor doesn’t have this, so it may be worth checking the fit before buying as there is less heel adjustment. A size 46 pair weighs in at 828g, so these are not a lightweight sandal if you just want a pair as a spare when backpacking. Of course if you only want a sandal for occasional use and don’t need it for river crossings and wearing as your sole alternative to your walking boots, then other sandals have advantages of price too.

Buy it if you want a sandal that is superb on all terrain that you would consider wearing a sandal crossing. But the performance may be more than you need, and as you have to pay a performance price, you may prefer a less practical sandal at a more practical price.

Vital stats
Upper synthetic straps, texprene padding
Sole Spider rubber, EVA cushioning, Microban® zinc based anti-microbial protection
Sizes 7-14 (men’s); 5-11 (women’s)
Weight 828g (size 11)
Made in China

For more information visit the Teva Web Site

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Reviewed by Graham Thompson

NEWS: Mobile roaming charges plummet from Saturday

Using your mobile to call home from your holiday in the Alps? Do it with a trifle more abandon from this weekend on: new EU Roaming Regulation comes into force on 30 June.
The regulation will run for three years and will cover all 27 EU member states. Under the legislation, operators will have to offer a 'eurotariff' with a maximum charge of €0.49 per minute for making calls within the EU and €0.24 per minute for receiving them. That's up to 70% off current rip-off roaming charges. Even better, the rates will be lowered further in 2008 and 2009. However, operators have one month's grace to comply with the new law - until 30 July - so if in doubt, check with yours before blah-blahing too long.

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Wednesday, 27 June 2007

VIDEO: What to look for in hydration systems

There's no need to get a dry mouth on the hills with a hydration system fitted inside your rucksack. Check out the key features to look out for when buying a hydration system in this video. Then check out the August issue of Trail that goes on sale on 1st July 2007 for reviews of all the latest hydration systems.

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Tuesday, 26 June 2007

NEWS: Craghoppers drop eVent

Craghoppers will use Gore-Tex fabric instead of eVent fabric from Autumn 2008. Craghoppers Managing Director, Jim McNamara, says on the company web site: “We are absolutely delighted to have been given the trade mark licence by Gore and see this news as an endorsement of the growing success of our brand as the travel authority."
Gore have been researching new markets and distribution routes for the last 10 years and have chosen Craghoppers as the route to new consumers looking for more casual lifestyle orientated clothing according to the Craghoppers web site.

The move away from eVent to Gore-Tex will not effect Craghoppers use of AquaDry fabrics in its range of jackets designed for the hill walker and outdoor enthusiast.

This now leaves only Vaude, Rab and Montane using eVent waterproof and breathable fabrics in the UK, a material that is regarded by many as having a performance edge over Gore-Tex. Gore plans a massive marketing campaign in the Autumn to introduce its new ProShell range which will make it even tougher for the users of eVent to maintain or increase market share.

This is not the first time Gore have managed to fight off competition. Many users of Sympatex eventually moved to Gore-Tex and recently Lowe Alpine switched to Gore fabrics from its successful Triplepoint Ceramic brand of waterproof and breathable fabric.

For more information go to the Craghoppers Web Site

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By Graham Thompson

Sunday, 24 June 2007

NEWS: Pod under new ownership

Technical rucksack brand Pod have been bought by Equip Outdoor Technologies Ltd. (owners of Rab and Outdoordesigns). Pod have a well established reputation for designing and making great packs for the climber, mountaineer, scrambler and hillwalkers who want gear with a little more edge.

Up until now Pod were a range of rucksacks that were hard to find in stores, due to their limited distribution of only about 5 retailers due to their very limited production capacity. They rarely appeared in magazine reviews either, again because a good review in a magazine can place huge demands on the supply chain. However with the change of owners, you can expect to see a lot more of Pod, in stores, in magazines and, I suspect, on the hill.

While many products will remain the same, production will move out of the UK to increase supply. Pete O’Donovan, the founder of Pod, will remain as consultant designer to develop new styles and over see quality control of the new Far Eastern production, so hopefully the high standards that Pod are known for will not drop. There is also a move to new fabrics such as Hyperlon, which had not previously been used by Pod.

For more information go to the Equip Outdoor Technologies Web Site

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Reviewed by Graham Thompson