Posts tagged 'Aku'

The Buttermere trip – a quick gear roundup

Posted by on November 4th 2010 in Bargains, Great Escapes, Shiny new kit

Just thought I'd do a short post about some of the kit that my family used during our recent trip to Buttermere. There's not much here to excite the lightweighters out there but when kitting out a family sometimes value-for-money is a more important consideration than grammes-per-litre, and often cheap doesn't mean bad.

Footwear

I wore my AKU Crodas, Ella wore hers. Neither of us had any issues, they were nice and comfy. Chris was breaking-in her Scarpa Mantas - it was her first full-day outing in these stiff boots and they were obviously overkill for the route and the conditions, but they did need to do some mileage before being used in anger. Aside from an issue with the fit around her ankles, they were fine. Anna wore an old pair of hand-me-down Hi-Tec mids, no idea which model, they were fine too. We've promised her some new boots next year. Despite the bog-trotting and beck-crossings, we all enjoyed dry feet all day.

Regarding the performance of the Fitness Footwear test-and-review samples, I wore the Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slams for the walk to and from The Fish on Thursday night and they were fine (apart from the squeakiness), even in the wet. If Friday hadn't been forecast to be wet all day, I'd have worn them on the hill too, but the AKUs got the vote at the last minute. The Salomon Exit Aeros were a dead loss - comfy for driving but dangerously slippery even when getting out of the car and stepping onto a damp motorway-services car-park.

Other Clothing

I was trying out some different socks - for many years I've used only Thorlo KXs, KXLs or STs, but I'd seen some Wed'ze RNS 700 ski/snowboarding socks in Decathlon and I'd decided to try a pair. Actually, they're not bad - nice and long, padded in the right places, thin in the right places, and they stay up!

Packs

I carried the LA Alpine Attack 40 - my standard any-season day-pack for a few years now. It's a tough, solid performer with few techie bits, the easy-access external crampon-pocket this time being used for the bothy-shelter instead of the JetBoil PCS. Ella used her Berghaus Womens Freeflow III 35+8, the shape and the back-size are both perfect for her. Chris was using a new Quechua pack - the Forclaz 25 Air - she said it was a good carry. It's got some nice features for a sub-£25 pack, such as decent-sized and well-placed belt-pockets, a lurid green stowaway rain-cover, and a comfy air-cooling system mesh back. With the rain-cover deployed, there was no way that we would have lost her! Anna had a new Quechua pack too - the Arpenaz 20 - and it was just right for her slight frame.

Shelter/Safety

I figured that having some sort of shelter for the kids during snack-breaks would be a good idea, so I took the Terra Nova Bothy 4. It turned out to be a good call - the kids enjoyed sitting/eating/playing in it. I might invest in a bigger version for whenever we walk with another family.

Obviously we carried, used or wore many other items, but other than the above there was nothing to write home about.

A long weekend around Windermere – Part 2 – Two waterfalls

Posted by on April 6th 2010 in Bargains, Great Escapes, Shiny new kit, YHA

Compared to the previous day of constantly overcast but dry weather, Saturday started out as a mixed bag of interspersed drizzle and dry sunny spells. We decided that we were going to have an easier day, and a visit to some waterfalls seemed to fit the bill nicely. A study of the map and a recommendation from a fellow hosteller resulted in us deciding to go to Skelwith Force, followed by a gentle walk along part of the Cumbria Way to Colwith Force.

I won't bore you with a step-by-step text analysis, you can just have the pics instead. Suffice to say that it was a fine morning walk enjoyed by all.

On the flat rocks at Skelwith Force

Skelwith Force

Near Park House

Near Park Farm


Colwith Force

Staying away from the edge

Colwith Force again

Above Colwith Force

A tributary of Colwith Beck

 

After returning to the cars we spent the rest of the afternoon in Ambleside, as it was necessary to buy gifts for folk back home. We scoured The Mountain Factor, The Climber's Shop, Cunninghams, Gaynors and the like, looking for some good-quality bargain three-season boots for Ella, but to no avail. Needless to say we steered well clear of F***d and T**k. They may well have actually had what we wanted at 99% discount, but we wouldn't have given them the time of day, let alone the cash. We ended up buying a couple of cheap sledges instead, and the others bought Buffs.

Back at the hostel we did the quick wash/change routine and soon were back outside, this time heading for Windermere, searching for somewhere to eat. Most places were either closed or full, but we found The Elleray to be practically empty so getting a table for eight wasn't a problem. The place was brilliant - there was a good choice, servings were vast and the prices were seriously low, to the point where we thought that they'd made a mistake with the bill. The staff were very kid-friendly, supplying our youngest three with crayons and huge colouring-books to use and take home. The place was packed out within an hour, with folk waiting for tables, so I guess that we'd just dropped lucky.

Back at the hostel again and it was time for the kids to chill before they went to bed:

The Hostel

DS time


Story time


We adults managed some beers and chinwagging for a few hours before retiring to our micro-rooms.

On Sunday our friends had to leave straight away to visit relatives, but we had another morning to enjoy before heading home. The intent was to park up near Hird Wood on the Kirkstone Road and to walk the short distance up Troutbeck Tongue, but heavy rain in the night had made the route a complete mudbath and had made the stream too dangerous for the kids to cross safely. A quick change of plan saw us spend a few minutes in the car-park at the top of the pass, and then detour to Ambleside via The Struggle. The scenery was awesome, according to the kids, but the camera had been packed away so I took no pictures of the snowy landscapes. We carried on to Windermere where I pulled into the small car-park outside The Outdoor Warehouse - by strange coincidence our friends' car was already there. The shop wasn't open yet, so we decided to wait, just in case they had any suitable boots for Ella.

Well, I needn't have doubted. Charlie and Jon opened up the shop for us and we headed for the boots. I saw their AKU display and then saw the sale prices on their clearance lines, and I knew that we'd struck gold. Ella tried on some discontinued Croda GTXs (half-price at £87.50) and fell for them instantly. Despite her enthusiasm, Jon insisted that she wandered the shop in them for a decent amount of time, just to be sure that they really did fit properly and feel comfy.

Ella's Croda GTXs

 

While this went on, I had a good mooch around the other wonderful stuff on display, refraining from investing in another Rab VapourRise jacket, and discussing Podcast Bob's Honey Stove, of which a fair few were on prominent display in the shop-windows. When Ella was sorted, I was asked why I was looking so envious. I had to explain that I'd been after a pair of AKUs for ages but could never justify the expense. I was led back into the boot-room where I was "persuaded" to try on some discontinued Edge GTXs, (again at half-price, this time at £80) but they really didn't suit my feet, and besides that I don't really need another pair of B2- or B3-rated boots - the Scarpa Freney Pros that I have will outlast me at the current wear-rate. They (my family) then cajoled me into trying the mens version of the Croda GTX, and I just had to buy them in order to stop them all nagging at me...

 

My Croda GTXs (bought under extreme duress)

So, if you're after some discounted AKUs, have a look at what the guys at The Outdoor Warehouse have to offer. When we were there they still had a good range of sizes (and half-sizes) and colours for quite a few discontinued models in the range. If you're into Marmot kit, they have some good 60%-off deals on "sample" garments too. Go see - online if you have to, but preferably in person, as Charlie and Jon are great guys to talk to.

There, I'll bet that wasn't the ending that you were expecting, eh? BG! buys something hi-tech and lightweight, but not "Jessiehiker". Ooda thunkit!

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