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Salomon Running Shoes

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This week I was lucky enough to go on a Salomon shoe test event in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. Great timing as we have just had 6 pairs of Salomon shoes added to our off road running range.  Before I get onto the shoes, one word about Salomon sizing. I found that they are about half a size smaller than stated. I am usually a size 10, a full 10 but not a 10.5. However with Salomon shoes I am definitely a 10.5 and I am not swimming around in those. If you occasionally take a half size up in some brands definitely do that with Salomon. Right, onto the shoes…

Salomon Fellraiser

Salomon Fellraiser

Salomon Fellraiser

The Fellraiser is a proper UK off road shoe. A wide spaced studded sole to give good grip in wet and muddy conditions. I have run a lot in X-talons, Fellcross and Roclites and I took to them straight away. The width fittting is pretty average for an off road shoe. The Fellraiser is wider than any of the S-Lab trail or fell shoes. 6mm drop front to rear gives some room for cushioning whilst still feeling nice to descend in, the lack of flared heel also makes it fine for traversing. The upper and tongue have a reasonable amount of padding making the shoe feel like a training rather than a racing shoe.  The Fellraiser  makes for a great do it all fell shoe if you only have one pair or a great training shoe if you race in one of the S-Lab models. All Salomon shoes have the same lacing system featuring a thin nylon cord and a cord gripper, which stores in a little pocket at the top of the tongue once done up. My shoes have not loosened or come undone once this winter using this system.

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Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 4 Soft Ground

 

Salomon Sense SG (soft Ground)

Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 4 SG (soft Ground)

There are 2 S-Lab Sense shoes from Salomon, the Sense Ultra 4 and the Sense Ultra 4 SG (soft ground). We are stocking both for Summer 15. The Salomon boys didn’t have the the standard sense so I only ran in the SGs but I will highlight the differences and similarities here. Both of the Sense shoes are for ultra and trail running and both are designed as low weight, low bulk competition shoes. 240g for the Sense and 264g for the Sense SG. The fit is pretty much the same, both wider than the S-Lab Fellcross but narrower than the Fellraiser. A fairly stiff sole to protect the foot on broken trails. As the Sense SG is designed for softer and wetter conditions it features a deeper 6mm  lugged sole for extra grip rather than the 2mm lugs on the Sense. The upper has a finer meshed top for more debris and mud resistance on the SG.  Once running in the Sense SG it’s firmness definitely made it a trail and ultra shoe not a fell shoe, as did it’s slightly wider heel. On the trails the shoe felt compact and responsive as a competition shoe should and I can see why many people choose them for ultras. I can see much agonising over whether to get the standard or SG model but for me I would go for the better grip as I often leave the solid trails.

Sense Ultra SG Sole

Sense Ultra SG Sole

S-Lab Fellcross 3

Since I have some S-Lab Fellcross at home I didn’t need to use them at the test but it’s the shoe I have used the most. The Fellcross is an out and  out competition fell running shoe - narrow fitting, low drop, aggressive sole with minimal padding. I love this shoe but it’s uncompromising design and price does mean that it might not be the best choice as your every week fell shoe, see the Fellraiser above. Even taking the Salomon sizing mentioned above into account I still found the Fellcross pretty narrow fitting. I run without the insoles in mine and that makes then fine. I often run with no insoles in my shoes and never find a problem with it. Once I had the fitting right there is nothing I do not like about the Fellcross, up or down I find the grip great and love the lacing. I changed from X-Talon 212s to these and definitely prefer then.

Salomon Speedcross 3

Salomon Speedcross

Salomon Speedcross

This is the shoe that I found most confusing. I know it’s Salomon’s best selling off road shoe but wasn’t sure why. Out running it feels like a high mileage road shoe with an 11mm drop and plenty of padding and comfort in the upper. Going uphill feels pretty OK but on the flat and descent I was so aware of the heel height and my foot didn’t land right. That’s because I never run on the road and only wear low drop shoes! I am firmly in the minority with most runners in the UK only dabbling with trail and fell running. If you are used to road shoes then the Speedcross feels very familiar and your knees and ankles are used to that position but you now have the benefit of a pretty aggressive sole for your adventures. This shoe is perfect for transitioning to more off road running after years on the tarmac. Suddenly it all makes sense and I see why this shoe is so popular. If you have already had some inov8s or other minimalist shoes this is not the shoe for you but as a first off road shoe choice it’s great.

Speedcross Sole.

Speedcross Sole.

 

Brand New Arc’teryx Spring/Summer 2015 Range

 

Available now at Facewest.co.uk – the new range of Spring/Summer clothing (and footwear!) from Arc’teryx! See it all here

As usual, there’s so much gear to gawp at that it’s hard to choose our favourites – but here goes…

Alpha SL Jacket

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The Arcteryx Alpha SL Jacket has been designed to be a lightweight go-to piece for the climber or Alpinist for those sudden storms. Made from the lightest Gore-Tex waterproof fabric the Alpha SL is very packable yet fully featured so it will perform every time. The jacket is cut with a trim fit and patterning that provides unrestricted freedom of movement. The StormHood is Helmet compatible so can be pulled over a helmet in poor weather but is also shaped to allow for maximum visibility.

Tenquille Hoody

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The Tenquille Hoody is a lightweight packable hooded softshell providing protection from the wind and light rain. It’s a great jacket to have in your pack for when the temperature drops and the weather is on the change. The Tenquille is ideal for trekking and walking in the hills and mountains providing both comfort and protection.

Rampart Long

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The Rampart Long is a lightweight and fast drying short that is superb for climbing and trekking in the summer months. Cut with a diamond gusseted crotch to allow excellent freedom of movement as you make high steps these durable shorts are ideal for summer rock.

Astri 19

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A highly water resistant and extremely tough day pack that is great for travel, hiking or every day city use. The main compartment is roomy enough to carry a days gear and also has an elasticated strap ideal for securing a laptop or documents. The front pocket will provide protection for valuables and has a clip for the safe storage of keys, sealed with a water resistant zip you don’t have to worry about the contents getting wet.

Acrux² FL GTX

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The Arcteryx Acrux² FL GTX is a Gore-Tex alpine approach shoe with a customisable liner. The Acrux² FL GTX is the pinnacle of the range featuring a removable stretch Gore-Tex liner with an adaptive fit allowing it to form to the shape of the foot. The advantage of the removable liner is that it can be aired over night ensuring you start each day feeling fresh and comfortable. The liner can also be replaced for increased longevity.

See the entire new approach shoe range here

Or to check out the full range from Arc’teryx, click here

Pro Review – Black Diamond Raven Ultra Ice Axe

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Pro Reviewer:

Kevin-Avery

“I have used the Raven Ultra mainly for ski touring and ski mountaineering and it’s lightweight simplicity, makes it perfect for this. It has a stainless steel head and pick which actually work on proper ice, unlike some of the lightweight aluminium axes I have used. The shaft of the axe is aluminium, has no rubberised grip or handle and can feel a bit slippery when you actually need to pull on it on steeper ground but you could add some self amalgamating plumbers tape for extra stickiness if you found this to be an issue. On terrain that was AD+ or harder, I’d usually carry a proper ice tool anyway.”

“The Raven Ultra has a stainless steel spike integrated into the bottom of the aluminium shaft and whilst this is definitely more effective than some other lightweight models I’ve seen without this feature, offering greater durability and security when plunging it into snow and ice, it is definitely not as effective as a proper spike. However the Raven Ultra is all about compromise. It is a fantastic lightweight axe with a stainless steel pick that actually works in ice, and an adze that is very effective in chopping steps. The holes in the middle of the head and adze give lots of options for creating snow belays too.”

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“As I said earlier the lightweight simplicity of the Raven Ultra make it perfect for skiing where weight is usually an issue. However I’ve also used mine on plenty of classic alpine routes up to AD and found it to work really well. I mentioned earlier that the shaft can feel slippy to hold, but holding the head feels pretty comfortable and secure and whilst it’s not the most comfortable I’ve used, it’s also not far off.”

“Due to it’s light weight and compact size (I tested the 50 cm version but 55cm and 60cm are also available) I have found the Raven Ultra invaluable when approaching alpine rock climbs such as on the South Face of the Aiguille Du Midi or when crossing short sections of glacier. It fits inside my 25 litre pack and doesn’t feel bulky or heavy to carry.”

“Whilst the Raven Ultra has some failings you have to remember the context of the review and the purpose that the ice axe is designed for. It is a lightweight, minimalist axe designed for easy climbs, ski mountaineering and short sections of approach and descent where using an axe may not form the main part of the day. But when you do need it the Raven Ultra works, and works well!”

Climbing Gear Reviews are an independent reviewer of climbing, skiing and mountaineering equipment. Fronted by Kevin Avery, a trainee IFMGA mountain guide and former Gear Editor at UKClimbing.com, alongside Yorkshire based MIA Dave Sarkar, they provide completely honest and 100% impartial reviews. Click here to see their page.

Black Diamond Raven Ultra Features:

  • Climbs moderate alpine ice and snow
  • Head designed with an aggressive pick and large carabiner hole
  • Unique angled spike penetrates hard snow
  • CEN-B certified

 

Full Black Diamond Raven Ultra description here

Pro Review – Coll Tex Whizzz Skins

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Pro Reviewer:

grahamfrost

Graham Frost is a British Mountain Guide living in Evolene, Switzerland, where he runs Frostguiding, offering year-round climbing and ski guiding.

Click to see more about Graham.

“I’ve been using these skins for a few weeks now in a variety of snow conditions. Although it’s still ‘early’ ski touring season, most of my work is day touring, and I carry skins in my pack every day.
First the basics; grip uphill is excellent on all sorts of snow. It’s been an unusual season with very varied conditions so I’ve tried them on hard piste, wet afternoon slush, icy track, breaking trail in deep powder, cold mornings and warm afternoons, and these skins grip well. No problems re-sticking on multi-ascent days either. No balling up, and no signs of wear yet, although it’s still early days.

Now the interesting bit. The Whizz glue is non-sticky¯, ie. it sticks to the ski, but not to itself. This means you can fold the skins in half, glue to glue, without a mesh sheet, and still get them apart again without a 2 person tug-of-war! Handy on windy cols and snowy days, and very handy if you lose your mesh mid-tour.

They are supplied as a straight 120mm skin, which means you’ll need to trim to fit (unless you’re using a very wide ski) This is fairly easy but takes some time and care. Measure twice, cut once! The special cutting tool provided works well for the edges, and I used a pair of scissors to trim the tip and tail. Rivets for the tail clip can be pressed if you have the tool, or hammered if you don’t.

The CollTex tip bail is wide and seems to fit most skis, even Dynafit/Trab/K2 which have different tip fittings.

Overall I’m very impressed with these skins. I’ll try to update this report towards the end of the season after more use.”

 

Coll Tex 41 Bail Whizzz 120mm Features

  • Acrylic-based adhesive layer
  • 65% mohair + 35% polyamide
  • Easy to fold adhesive surface on adhesive surface
  • No protective netting
  • Temperature-resistant
Colour:
Green
Weight:
259g (1 skin, no fixation)
Length:
185cm

Click here to see the full Coll Tex Whizzz skin description

Skis and Bindings – Up to 40% Off This Season’s Gear!

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40% OFF – Grab this season’s skis at a great price

Skis on Sale

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We stock a range of touring capable bindings that fit the needs of a variety of skiers from Freeride capable bindings to ultra light ski touring bindings. Whatever your demands, we have the correct binding for you. NOW 25% OFF!

Bindings on Sale

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Pro Review – BCA Tracker 2

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Pro Reviewer:

RicPotter

Ric is a North Wales based Guide who has a small guiding company called RPM Guiding. Ric teaches rock climbing and mountaineering in summer, and works as a backcountry ski and splitboard guide in winter.

Click to see more about Ric.

“I have a number of these transceivers for novices and/or inexperienced backcountry skiers and snowboarders to use when I am guiding them. The Tracker 2 is supposed to be one of the easiest transceivers to use, and I have found that a novice user can find a mock victim buried in the snow with virtually no training at all. With a small amount of training, however, a novice can become very quick at locating a victim. Even with the best intentions, most people do not practice transceiver searches very often, so a simple operation and high success rate with minimal training and practice are features that I look for, in addition to having 3 antennae as the Tracker 2 features.”

About the BCA Tracker 2:

Best For

Those who want a fast, easy to use transceiver (just about everyone) with no extra options or modes to worry about

The BCA Tracker 2 is engineered to be as simple as possible. It only has 1 switch and one button. The button is unobtrusive and only for those who know where it is! In making the Tracker 2, BCA stuck to their guns on the usefulness of digital features instead BCA worked on a 3rd antenna to increase distance accuracy and eliminate the spike, making the information update faster which leads to more accurate pinpoint searches and an increase in range whilst still being backwards compatible to drifted analogue beacons.

The BCA Tracker 2 is a fully digital 3 antenna avalanche transceiver.

Ease of Use

BCA’s goal was simplicity. Once the transceiver is on there is just one big pull down switch, pull to search, push to transmit, everything else is automatic. BCA have shunned features like digital masking and target selection as their research has shown that all that really counts in the real world is speed and ease of use. The Tracker 2 has replaced the Tracker 1 as the easiest to use transceiver available.

Standard Search Mode

This mode is selected when you pull down the bottom switch. Grid search until you receive a signal. Turn yourself and the Tracker until the red light is in the centre. Walk forward whilst checking that the distance reading is going down. Keep repeating until you get there. If the Tracker 2 detects more than one signal it will lock onto the strongest signal but will light the multiple burial light to alert you that there is more than one signal.

The Tracker 2 has the best pinpoint search that we have tested. The display updates so fast that it is difficult to overshoot in this final stage. Research showed that this was a problem for inexperienced searchers and so was one of the most important refinements from the original tracker.

Special Mode

The Tracker 2 has a special mode which allows the searcher to manually hide a a signal from the transceiver, this can be used during multiple burial searches. However this mode can be confusing to some users and is not selected as standard. In fact the button has been deemphasized from Tracker 1 to 2. It is now a black button on a black background, that’s how important BCA think it is to the average user.

Maximum Compatibility

An important feature of both the Tracker 2 and original Tracker, and one that is easy to miss, is that of all the new digital transceivers the Trackers are the most backwards compatible with old analogue transceivers. All digital transceivers will detect a correctly functioning analogue transceiver.

The problem is that many old analogue transceivers especially old Ortovox F1′s have drifted outside the industry standard transmitting window. Now I would stress that this is a problem with the old analogue beacons not the new digital beacons, but BCA have decided rather than reduce bandwidth to increase overall range which would exclude these older transceivers (of which there are many) they would leave the range alone and attempt to pick up as many old analogue transceivers as possible. This is quite a technical point but shows that BCA are committed to avalanche safety as a whole and not marketing driven performance figures.

About You

If you like your tools to be simple but effective with no combinations of buttons to remember then the Tracker 2 would be a good choice.

Product Video:

Click here for more about the Tracker 2

Suunto Ambit Range

 

The Suunto Ambit 3 range is Suunto’s latest sports watch family, designed to take advantage of technology now available in modern smart phones and tablets. The range breaks down into 3 distinct categories – Peak, Sport and Run, which all use Bluetooth to sync wirelessly with your phone or tablet via Suunto’s Movescount app.
The Movescount app is used as the main user interface for the Ambit 3 range. You can use it to change the info displayed on your watch. See the heart rate, speed, distance and GPS data that your watch is recording on the larger screen that your phone provides, although this is all still displayed on the watch. One other handy feature of connecting your watch and phone is that caller and text info is displayed on the watch. If you receive a call mid work out you can quickly see if it is worth stopping for.
Currently the Movescount app is only available for iPhone – the Android release is due in April 2015.
Bluetooth has replaced Suunto’s old ANT+ transmission system in the Ambit 2 which means that the Ambit 3 is not compatible with Suunto’s old HR belts and pods. The old HR belt has been replaced by the Smart Sensor which is smaller and lighter.

Peak

The Ambit 3 Peak is aimed at those who require advanced outdoor functions. GPS, Altimeter, Barometer, Compass combined with the ability to track performance and plan routes make this a great watch for anyone getting out into the mountains. The feature that sets the Peak out from the rest of the Ambit 3 range is the air pressure sensor. This gives altitude readings based on air pressure and GPS data and barometric weather information. The storm alarm and weather trend indicator are real life savers for those on fast and light trips into the mountains.
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Sport

The Ambit 3 Sport is a dedicated training watch for those who do not require the Altimeter, Barometer features of the Peak. Multi sport functions are retained in the Sport, it is compatible with 3rd party Bluetooth enabled cadence sensors and bike pods as well as the smart sensor like the rest of the range. Anyone training for and competing in Triathlons or just training in multiple sports, this is the watch for you.
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Run

The Ambit 3 Run is the latest model, released March this year. Like the Sport it does not have Altimeter, Barometer features. As a purely running watch it does not have the multi sport software of the Ambit 3 Sport. Removing these features has meant a saving in weight (at 72g it is the lightest of the Ambit 3s) and price. The Ambit 3 Run starts at £199.99. The Run makes an ideal introduction for those who are new to the world of training watches or dedicated runners looking to get the most from their training.
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Lastly and most importantly, is the Ambit 3 range compatible with Strava? Yes, the Movescount app can by synced with Strava and a range of other 3rd party training apps. Once they are connected your latest epic rides will automatically be transferred from Movescount to Strava for bragging rights!

Key features comparison

I have broken down the key features of the Ambit range into a comparison chart which should make comparing the models easy. Hopefully this will help you decide which features are most important for you and choose your watch based on that.

Ambit 3 Peak Ambit 3 Sport Ambit 3 Run
Weight 89g 80g 72g
Battery life with GPS active at 5s intervals 30 hours 15 hours 15 hours
Altimeter and Barometer functions Yes. GPS and Air pressure No Barometric info. Altitude data is GPS only No Barometric info. Altitude data is GPS only
Running, Cycling and Swimming data Yes Yes Running only
Heart rate and recovery data Yes Yes Yes
3rd party Cycle pod support Yes with Bluetooth smart Yes with Bluetooth smart No
Swimming Stroke rate and Efficiency data Yes Yes No
Training & Workout planningand analysis Yes, with Movescount app Yes, with Movescount app Yes, with Movescount app

 

If you need any more information please do not hesitate to call us on 01943 870550 and we will be happy to talk you through the range.

Click here to see our full range of Suunto watches

Pro Review – Black Diamond Compactor Ski Pole

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Pro Reviewer:

RicPotter

Ric is a North Wales based Guide who has a small guiding company called RPM Guiding. Ric teaches rock climbing and mountaineering in summer, and works as a backcountry ski and splitboard guide in winter.

Click to see more about Ric.

“The Black Diamond compactor poles benefit from an innovative design that enables them to be packed away in your backpack easily when not in use – the clue is in the name! For snowboarding, these are pretty much the industry standard now for splitboarders, as reducing bulk in the pack when riding down is of great benefit. The mechanism is easily clicked into place and can be operated with gloves on. When extended, the poles are solid with no tendency to collapse, as can be found with some. They also have other uses: handy as a spare pole to be carried on a long ski tour within a group perhaps, and ideal as an occasional, packable trekking pole.”

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Black Diamond Compactor Ski Pole Features

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  • 3-section 18mm foldable aluminum shaft with speed cone deployment
  • Touring Series grip with fluted interior for weight reduction
  • Touring Series strap with lightweight webbing and plastic ladder-lock buckle
  • TRubber grip extension for quick, secure choke-ups
  • 100 mm (4 in) Compact Powder Baskets with 2-section pole capture
  • FlickLock Pro security and adjustability up to 20 cm
  • Length:
    115 – 135 cm
    Weight:
    640g

    Click here to see the full Black Diamond Compactor Ski Pole description

    Pro Review – Rab Microlight Vest

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    Pro Reviewer:

    JonMorgan

    Jon Morgan is a UK based Guide, living in Sheffield, currently working as a doctor, though a short working week allows him plenty of time for long weekend activities. Most of his guiding in the last few years has been on rock in the UK and ski touring in the Alps. He is the the only practicing doctor in the UK who is also an IFMGA guide.

    Click to see more about Jon.

    “This is a favourite top of mine for belaying, skiing, winter bouldering, and, lets face it, cold days doing absolutely anything. I often wear it skiing over a Rab Strata Hoodie. Hydrophobic down is a huge improvement and it really keeps its loft in damp days. It looks great too.”

    Rab Microlight Vest Features:

    • Pertex Microlight outer
    • 100% nylon ripstop inner
    • 750 fill power (US) European hydrophobic goose down
    • Mini stitch through baffles
    • Two zipped elasticated hand warmer pockets
    • Zipped chest pocket which doubles as a stuff sack
    • YKK front zip with internal down filled baffle and chin guard
    • Lycra bound armholes and hem with drawcord

    Full Rab Microlight Vest description here.

    Pro Review – Black Diamond Distance Poles

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    Pro Reviewer:

    willietodd

    “These poles are very light but sturdy and quick to put together with the one-click locking system. The hand grip is very comfortable, although there is a little more movement and vibration compared to a regular hiking pole, but this is completely acceptable. The low bulk and the carrying bag makes them excellent to pack and ideal for sports such as paragliding hike and fly where low weight is so important. The plastic tips work well on most surfaces and especially on rock and tarmac and you can easily change to the steel tips if you feel the need to. They have a very small basket which makes them not so effective on soft snow (a snow basket makes a great accessory as they would be very good as an alpine climbing approach pole). The hand loops are comfortable and easy to adjust with a neat built-in hook and loop system but are not as comfortable as the padded straps on heavier poles like the Trail. The overall quality is excellent.”

    “Make sure you check the length that you need. I prefer slightly shorter poles than BD recommend. The hand loops are also sized to match the pole length but these can be changed.”

    “I even bought my 82 year old mother in law a pair of the carbon fibre ultra distance poles and she loves them as they are so light, easy to use and they fit in her bag, which just goes to show that you don’t need to be a hardcore mountain athlete to appreciate light gear!”

    Willie is a British Mountain Guide based in the French Alps. Click here to see his guide page.

    Black Diamond Distance Poles Features:

  • Aluminium shafts
  • 3 section Z-Pole folding design with speed cone deployment
  • Lightweight EVA foam grip and breathable, moisture-wicking strap
  • Non-slip foam mini grip extension for secure choke ups
  • Includes interchangeable, non-marking Z-Pole Rubber Tips, Z-Pole Carbide Tips and stow bag
  • Stopper basket with shaft catcher secures folded sections
  • Full Black Diamond Distance Poles description here