Outdoors Magic https://outdoorsmagic.com Outdoors Gear, Equipment, News, Reviews, Forums, Walking Routes and More at OutdoorsMagic.com Tue, 24 May 2022 14:47:27 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2 Ultra Inspiration | An Interview With Katy Parrott https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/is-katy-parrott-the-most-badass-montane-athlete/ https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/is-katy-parrott-the-most-badass-montane-athlete/#respond Tue, 24 May 2022 14:47:17 +0000 https://outdoorsmagic.com/?post_type=article&p=136729 Competitive ultrarunner, mountain climber, combat medic. This woman is hardcore.

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“You are more than what you do” became Parrott’s mantra as she recovered from a knee injury and made a stunning comeback performance at 2022’s longest arctic ultra race.

Try to find an ultrarunner with a cooler origin story then Katy Parrott’s. Found one? That’s what I thought.

Like most people who end up being called an athlete, Katy has loved the outdoors since she was little, but the really cool part of her story is her transition from hobby-level enthusiast to professional outdoors powerhouse. While studying for her master’s degree, Parrott put her fitness and endurance to the test by appearing on the TV show, Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week. It’s as friendly as it sounds. Competing in this hardcore military-style bootcamp, Katy felt a part of herself unlock for the first time. She gained access to levels mental and physical resilience she never knew she was capable of. She realised just how strong she really was. So, naturally, following this experience she became an ultrarunner, mountain climber, and joined the army reserves.

Believe it or not, that’s only the prologue to Parrott’s impressive career. She tells her full tale in this new video from Webtogs, have a watch to learn about her subsequent travels, military training as a combat medic, her injury, and her return to competitive long-distance running at the 2022 Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra. Katy was hoping to just make it to the end of this 185k race; she ended up finishing fourth.

Next up for Katy, she’s heading to the Himalayas soon to hopefully scale one of the 8000-metre summits.

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‘Any Hour, Any Day, Any Weather’ https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/a-day-with-assynt-mountain-rescue/ https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/a-day-with-assynt-mountain-rescue/#respond Tue, 24 May 2022 10:36:50 +0000 https://outdoorsmagic.com/?post_type=article&p=136588 We sent our writer to spend a day with one of the UK's hardest working mountain rescue teams

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We sent our writer to spend a day with one of the UK’s hardest working mountain rescue teams Ridge Stac Pollaidh Ed Smith Photography

It’s the final week of April. Spring exhales across the UK. An exuberant wind rushes up the island, rousing the dazed plants and scattering a thick sheet of cloud into discreet, puffy little unfair portions. The rising sun casts their striking sharp-edged silhouettes across the ground. Between them: blazing stretches of grass and heather sway, silent; lochs and lochans writhe and spark like TV static; hills rise from the treeless plains and glow fiercely along the northwestern coast of Scotland. They are huge and tiny. A speckled green carpet stretches to the south, to the east. A flash of white borders the endless blue to the west, to the north. The Earth runs off for miles in all directions. That’s my view, anyway.

helly hansen stac pollaidh press mountain rescue climb

Photo: Ed Smith

Back at HQ, Helly Hansen are launching their new page: Trail Finder. Developed in collaboration with mountain rescue teams around the world, Trail Finder is a one-stop-shop to discover hiking routes, learn all about the mountain code, and pick up tips from the pros on what to pack and how to leave no trace. To run through its ins and outs, and to raise awareness of the incredible work Mountain Rescue Teams do across the UK, HH summoned a rag-tag group of outdoor journalists, including myself, to the coastal town of Achiltibuie, Scotland.

We arrived yesterday evening and met Tim, the fearless leader of one of Hansen’s partnered rescue teams – Assynt MRT. After a night’s sleep, we reconvened refreshed and ready. Tim outlined the day’s itinerary: reach the summit of Stac Pollaidh, execute some mountain rescue training exercises, and learn first-hand just how difficult it is to carry a stretcher a couple thousand feet up. We try to avoid clichés here at Outdoors Magic, but this one is inevitable, so I’ll just say it out of the gate: Wow! This experience opened my eyes to the near endless levels of mental fortitude and physical strength required to be a mountain rescue volunteer. You need to be brave, steadfast, patient. You must remain calm, yet determined, and press on however dire a situation may appear. Plus, the stretcher is seriously heavy. Have I made that clear?

Assynt Mountain Rescue Team Helly Hansen

Charlie (left) and Tim (right) taking roughly 80% of the weight | Photo: Ed Smith

grassy walkin up stac pollaidh

Oh, look, that’s me there! | Photo: Ed Smith

Assynt MRT HH

And here’s Ben looking stoic as ever | Photo: Ed Smith

This team of three, Tim, Ben, and Charlie often scale mountains far taller than this one with the weight of their stretcher plus extra gear shared between just two of them. We, four interlopers, each took a corner. We huffed, we puffed, and we took several breaks. I am not especially unfit, and I stand about a foot taller than Tim, yet I have no doubts that he would destroy me if we ever had a fight. He’d pick me up, dangle me by my belt with one hand, and nonchalantly toss me off the mountain as if he’d found a mouldy apple in his packed lunch.

Eventually, the soft green hill gave way to ancient Torridonian sandstone; we’d ascended to the col, a flat haven flanked by the towering grey walls which ran off east and west, composing the rest of Stac Pollaidh’s ridge.

Photo: Ed Smith

Here, things got serious. Someone got in the stretcher. I mean, they volunteered, but still. We learned how the rescue team transport a casualty up steep and rocky terrain – we remain still on either side and pass the stretcher forward, hand-over-hand. As it moves along, those passing from the back eventually can’t reach it, so they head around to the front to keep caterpillaring the casualty along. It’s a gradual but safe method, very safe – I eventually became jealous of the volunteer and wished that I could be held in Tim and co.’s strong arms instead.

stretcher mountain rescue

The casualty was so secure, she didn’t even break a nail | Photo: Ed Smith

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The ‘Team Caterpillar’ Move | Photo: Ed Smith

This rescue training, along with the scrambling that followed, was where I really got to put my gear to the test. Helly Hansen kitted us out, which was vital for the training – that team caterpillar move requires secure footing, and the HellyGrip outsole on my Switchback Trail Airflow hiking boots stuck to the sandstone like glue. The boots also breathed exceptionally well, which was another blessing on the high-temp climb.

Similarly, my jacket – the Odin 1 World Infinity – is ideal for the strenuous work. It’s super lightweight, the seams allowed me a huge range of movement, and the LIFA INFINITY membrane managed to keep me cool during the hot sections while still protecting me from the whipping winds as we ascended higher. I even popped the chest vent open! A great shell for layering over thick thermals or wearing solo for lightweight weather protection.

The MRT boys are wearing custom HH rescue gear; I’m told they’re in the Squad Jacket and Action Pant, two impressive garments despite their names sounding like a superhero/sidekick duo from the early 90s. The construction is based on the Odin Mountain collection but then tailored to the specific needs of mountain rescue teams, including a lot of smart storage space, a nifty hi-vis colour scheme, and purpose-built insulation which was tested and tweaked with the help of MRT volunteers around the world.

helly hansen stac pollaidh press mountain rescue climbhelly hansen stac pollaidh press mountain rescue climbhelly hansen stac pollaidh press mountain rescue climb

Led on by the brave mountain rescue trio, our rag-tag group of outdoor journalists scrambled across Stach Poly’s narrow but forgiving ridge – we even traversed the Bad Step thanks to some efficient ropework from the Assynt team. Just a hundred feet further and we arrived here, this view, the summit. I feel weightless.

My very first mountain, and I got up here easily and safely thanks to Tim, Charlie, and Ben. My arms and legs unbruised, unburnt, unbitten by the midges, and my toes unstubbed thanks to all the HH kit. Now we just need to carry that damn stretcher down to the loch, where I believe a canoe is waiting…

Helly Hansen Canoe Life Jacket

Photo: Ed Smith

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Best GPS Watches For 2022 https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/best-gps-watches/ https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/best-gps-watches/#respond Tue, 24 May 2022 09:30:35 +0000 https://outdoorsmagic.com/?post_type=article&p=85412 Find out which watch came out best in test...

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We’ve spent time testing the best GPS watches for adventure enthusiasts, whether you’re hiking, running or cycling best gps watches for the outdoors

GPS watches have become an essential adventure accessory these days. They are on-trend. Head out on any outdoorsy adventure and you’re sure to see numerous wrists proudly emblazoned with chunky, brightly-coloured timepieces. Hikers, runners and cyclists are all using them – it’s the tech-centric, gadget-loving way of things these days. But why have GPS smartwatches become so popular?

It’s partly about fashion – they looks stylish and contemporary. But ultimately it’s more about functionality. GPS watches are incredibly useful in a practical sense. They can help if you’re hopelessly lost, enabling you to navigate back to safety or pinpoint your exact location. They improve your physical performance by tracking your fitness goals and motivating you to push harder, faster and higher. And they can keep you connected, with social media notifications, Spotify integration and weather alerts.

Most GPS smartwatches enable you to keep a very close eye on your physical performance while out on an adventure, recording enough data to satisfy even the geekiest and most obsessive of fitness fanatics. You can track all the usual stuff: distance travelled, ascent, time and heart rate, choosing one of a myriad of workout modes such as running, cycling, hiking, skiing or whatever else you’re up to. High-end watches also include technical measurements such as blood oxygen levels, barometer pressure and altitude. And then there’s all of the more lifestyle-y, everyday fitness-related features, such daily step counts, calories burnt, stress levels, and even a sleep monitor, which tracks both the length and quality of your sleep.

Not all smartwatches are created equal, however, and it’s common sense to pick one designed with your favourite activities in mind. If you want to use your GPS watch for navigation while cycling and hiking, choose a timepiece with in-built mapping, or one that has integration with a mapping app such as komoot. These will give you turn-by-turn notifications and even allow you to view Ordnance Survey map tiles on-the-go. If you’ll be off-grid for long periods, opt for a smartwatch with good battery life and solar charging, or if fitness tracking is your thing then choose a running-specific smartwatch that’ll give you all the stats you need. But, whatever your priorities, there’s a smartwatch out there for you in our top 10 list of the best outdoor watches for this year.

The Best Outdoor Watches

We’ve scoured the market for the best GPS watches out there, with a wide variety in terms of price, features and styles. Here are our favourites:

  • Garmin Instinct 2 Solar – Best GPS Watch
  • Garmin Fenix 6X Pro
  • Casio G-Shock GBD-H1000-1 Heart Rate Monitor
  • Polar Grit X
  • Honor Magic Watch 2 – Best Value Outdoor Watch
  • COROS Vertix Icebreaker
  • COROS APEX Pro
  • Suunto 9 Baro
  • Casio Pro Trek WSD-F30
  • Honor Watch GS Pro
  • Elliot Brown Tyneham

 

BEST BUY: Garmin Instinct 2 Solar

Price: £299.99
Weight: 52g
Best for: Off-grid adventures, multi-day adventures
Key attributes: Solar charging, GPS tracking

In a new watch design from Garmin, the Instinct 2 Solar has possibly the most impressive battery we’ve seen. A step up from its previous incarnation, this watch offers unlimited battery life even while using its Smart features (providing you’re able to capture enough sun to provide charge, of course). It’s remarkable how long this thing can last, even without solar charging, you’ll get up to 28 days of full functionality, and as many as 32 with Expedition GPS Activity (again, indefinite with solar). If you’re using the GPS at its most accurate, with frequent satellite positioning, then the charge should last up to 48 hours. That’s over a 50% increase from the original Instinct Solar. These times are all assuming all-day wear with 3 hours per day outside in 50,000 lux (bright) conditions.

The watch is equipped with a GPS device that makes use of GPS, GLONASS and Galileo system of satellites (standard from Garmin), meaning you’ll be able to track all of your activities including trail running, hiking, ski touring, among many others. On top of this, the Instinct 2 Solar is also carrying a wrist-top heart rate monitor (chest heart rate sensor can also be purchased separately for accurate readings) and improved smartphone pairing thanks to the Garmin Connect+ app. You can check the day’s total ascent / descent, view your route fully mapped on your phone, receive texts, notifications, and even stream music from the Garmin. It’s all contained within a rugged shell that’ll withstand pressures equivalent to a depth of 100 metres. Easy to use and navigate even with its arsenal of smart features; the perfect companion for someone who wants to get lost in the wild but stay safe and connected.

Read the full Garmin Instinct 2 Solar review

BUY NOW: GARMIN.COM

 

Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar

Garmin Fenix 6X Pro

Price: £749.99
Weight: 82g
Best for: Multi-sports, mountain pursuits, running, hiking
Key attributes: Long battery life, TOPO mapping, full health & fitness tracking, music storage. 

The Garmin Fenix 6X Pro might seem eye-wateringly pricey, but this watch really is an all-singing, all-dancing multi-sport champion with an impressive suite of outdoors tools, bucket loads of premium features and an impressive design. It’s packed full of sensor tech, including built-in heart rate monitoring, GPS/Galileo and GLONASS satellite support, barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, blood oxygen sensor and thermometer. And essentially is designed to streamline your life on the trail, be that full-colour Europe-wide TOPO mapping for navigation support or health and fitness insights like Pulse Ox Acclimation to keep tabs on your blood oxygen saturation (SATs) levels while you’re ascending. 

At 83g, the 6X is a chunk of a watch with a large 51 mm case size – the largest in the whole Fenix lineup. That’s made up of a large titanium bezel to protect the 280 x 280 pixel Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX or sapphire crystal watch face, depending on which model you go for. Battery life is impressive with 21 days in smartwatch mode, 72 hours of tracking in UltraTrac GPS tracking and up to 56 days of GPS tracking in Expedition Mode that takes a new GPS fix every hour to save juice. Music lovers will enjoy the onboard storage for 2,000 songs storage and it also plays nice with Garmin’s InReach satellite communicators. 

Chosen for our Outdoor 100 2021/22. Read our full Garmin Fenix 6X Pro review.

BUY NOW: GARMIN.COM

 

Best Outdoor GPS Watches: Casio G-Shock GBD-H1000-1 Heart Rate Monitor

Casio G-Shock GBD-H1000-1 Heart Rate Monitor

Price: £380
Weight: 106g
Best for: Multi-sports, watersports
Key attributes: Sturdy and rugged build, scuba diving compatibility

Able to survive a lifetime’s worth of abuse in the outdoors, this G-Shock model is not only tough as nails – it’s also packed with everything you’d expect from a modern day smartwatch: GPS, wrist heart rate measurements, training analysis, training data (up to 100 runs), digital compass, altimeter, barometer and a thermometer. You even get ISO 200 water resistance built in – that’s an equivalent of 20bar pressure, or 290.075 psi – more than enough to bring with you on your next scuba diving adventure.

All of these features are powered by a battery that’ll last around 14-hours with continuous smartwatch use (GPS & heart rate tracking), an astonishing 12 months in regular watch mode without battery saving functions enabled, or 34 months with battery saving enabled. These astonishing figures are further boosted by solar power charging when you’re in clear sunlight.

Read our full Casio G-Shock GBD-H1000-1 Heart Rate Monitor review

BUY NOW: G-SHOCK.CO.UK

Best Outdoor GPS Watches: Polar Grit X

Polar Grit X

Price: £379
Weight: 64g
Best for: Trail running, hiking
Key attributes: Lightweight, komoot integration, excellent for trail running

Well-suited to hikers and trail runners, the Polar Grit X is, in our opinion, a great looking GPS watch. The screen has lovely clarity and it’s actually brighter and clearer than previous Polar models. You navigate using the touch screen and buttons on the sides. At 64g it’s pretty lightweight and it’s passed a bunch of military-level grades so you can be sure the outdoor durability is there. Its waterproof to 100m too.

Related: Best Trail Running Shoes

With 130 different sports modes, including activities like open water swimming, road cycling and mountain biking, this watch has a bunch of very useful features that help you plan, perform and analyse your exercise. You get altitude measurements, barometric readings, weather forecasts and of course basic stats such as distance and pace. The hill splits feature is nifty too, automatically breaking down your performance going uphill and downhill. The watch also advises you on what you should be drinking and eating after each exercise, like your own personal nutritionist. Integration with navigation app komoot also enables you to follow a route via breadcrumb trails.

Read our full Polar Grit X review

BUY NOW: POLAR.COM

 

Best Outdoor GPS Watches: HONOR MagicWatch 2

HONOR MagicWatch 2

Price: £100
Weight: 41g (excluding strap)
Best for: General fitness, outdoor activities
Key attributes: Superb price, fitness tracking

This is one of those watches that will help you with your daily life; whether that’s keeping on top of your diary, listening to music or, well, being on time for things, but it also has the added bonus of being an aid for your outdoor adventures and training as well. Whether you’re into hiking, trail running, snow sports or even open water swimming, there are a bunch of features here that will aid, record and ultimately improve your performance.

Fully waterproof with a 1.39-inch screen with crystal clear clarity, this superbly-priced watch has 15 different fitness modes covering outdoor activities like running, walking, hiking, climbing, trail running, cycling, open water swimming and then indoor, gym training stuff as well. With each one you get a bunch of useful data feedback along with professional advice – even with optional real-time voiceover guidance. When hiking, for example, you get accurate readings of your heart rate, pace, footsteps, altitude and the distance covered, as well as barometric readings so you can prepare for any bad weather on the way. If you lose your bearings, just flip on the compass mode to get back on track. All of this for £120 is a remarkable bargain.

Read our full Honor Magic Watch 2 review

BUY NOW: HIHONOR.COM

 

Best Outdoor GPS Watches: Coros Vertix Icebreaker

COROS Vertix Icebreaker

Price: £600
Weight: 76g
Best for: Multi-sports, skiing
Key attributes: Powerful battery, excellent skiing mode, rugged design

Coros’ high-grade hardware, loaded with innovative tech, is designed with outdoor enthusiasts, mountain lovers, and all-round active lifestyle folk in mind. This watch is all about “attitude” and “altitude”, as the marketing spin suggests, and it certainly hits the spot for mountaineers who like to climb up high bits of rock. You get a built-in barometer, altimeter, compass and GPS / GLONASS satellite connection feature, as well as 24/7 blood oxygen monitoring with altitude acclimatisation assistance, and a 150-meter waterproof rating. Battery life is impressive: 45 days of regular use without using all the bells and whistles, 60 hours in full GPS mode, and 150 hours in UltraMax GPS mode. To follow a route you’ll need to download it as a GPX file onto your smartphone off another app like Strava or komoot. You then need to open it with the Coros app on your phone and you can then view it on the watch as a breadcumb trail once you’ve paired your two devices together. In terms of design, there’s a titanium bezel and cover, with high-grade fibre watch body, and sapphire glass with diamond-like coating –  which all ensures the Vertix Icebreaker is more than tough enough to handle itself in the world’s most extreme places.

Read our full Coros Vertix Icebreaker review

BUY NOW: COROS.COM

 

Coros Apex Pro

COROS APEX Pro

Price: £450
Weight: 59g
Best for: Training, racing and conquering multi-day challenges
Key attributes: Excellent battery life, vital health statistics including 24/7 blood oxygen monitoring, tough, lightweight and waterproof. 

The COROS APEX Pro is an outdoors watch built for adventure with some serious training skills to boot. With a set of sensors that matches Garmin’s Fenix range, it’s a tool built to help anyone who spends time working up a sweat in the mountains – whether that’s ski touring or trail running – prepare for, and conquer challenges. It packs a standout battery life with 40-hours of full GPS, extendable up to 100 hours in low-GPS mode. There’s built-in optical heart rate and 24/7 blood oxygen monitoring with Altitude Mode providing hourly acclimatisation evaluations. 

At 59g, it’s surprisingly lightweight on the wrist thanks to a lightweight, titanium alloy bezel that wraps a large, bright and crisp sapphire glass reinforced LCD touchscreen display. You also get 100 metres of waterproof protection and a huge selection of activity-specific workouts created by athletes and coaches as part of a library that lets you create more event or challenge-specific training sessions. It also comes in white, silver and black. 

Chosen for our Outdoor 100 2021/22. Read our full Coros Apex Pro review.

BUY NOW: COROS.COM

 

Best Outdoor GPS Watches: Suunto 9 Baro

Suunto 9 Baro

Price: £540
Weight: 81g
Best for: Multi-sports, skiing
Key attributes: Powerful battery, heart rate monitor, 80 pre-installed sports modes

The Suunto 9 Baro represents the new flagship model in their range of sports watches. This smartwatch is packed full of features that make tracking and logging your days out while hiking, running, climbing, or whatever else you like to get up to in the outdoors, not only extremely easy, but also enjoyable. The battery life is certainly Suunto’s main selling feature for the 9. A single charge can last up to 120 hours in the ‘Ultra’ mode which keeps up GPS tracking but deactivates wrist heart rate tracking. In ‘Endurance’ mode, battery life is 40 hours with full wrist heart rate and GPS tracking. With 80 pre-installed sport modes that are able to track over 50 different values such as heart-rate, GPS location and many others, there doesn’t seem to be an outdoor sport that this watch wouldn’t be able to track and give you essential feedback on. Running watches don’t always offer to carry GPS tracking, whilst traditional hillwalking watches don’t house heart rate sensors. The Suunto 9 offers both in a pretty sleek form factor.

Read our full Suunto 9 Baro review

BUY NOW: SUUNTO.COM

 

Best Outdoor GPS Watches: Casio Pro Trek WSD-F30

Casio Pro Trek WSD-F30

Price: £450
Weight: 83g
Best for: Hiking, trekking
Key attributes: Wear OS by Google integration, Viewranger maps and routes

Here’s a smartwatch that, as the name suggests, is designed for hikers. It helps trekkers to navigate through the countryside, understand the conditions they’re about to face and, well, to know the time (obviously). The key feature comes courtesy of Google’s Wear OS technology. With this watch you can download apps, and the Viewranger option enables you to view full Ordnance Survey map tiles – complete with contour lines and topographical features – on-the-go. Obviously it’s not as detailed as a navigation app on your phone, but the watch touchscreen does its job admirably. If Viewranger isn’t your thing, there’s also pre-loaded Google mapping as well as MapBox which presents OpenStreetMap in a way that is easy to interpret in terms of terrain variation. Aside from navigation, the watch is sturdy and robust with 50m waterproofing and three buttons that are glove-friendly. You also get a a compass, altimeter, air pressure reading, tide times and a screen that shows the sunrise and sunset times.

Read our full Casio Pro Trek WSD-F30 review

BUY NOW: CASIO.CO.UK

 

Best Outdoor GPS Watches: HONOR GS Pro

Honor Watch GS Pro

Price: £200
Weight: 46g (excluding strap)
Best for: Multi-sports, skiing
Key attributes: Powerful battery, excellent skiing mode, rugged design

THE GS Pro is a rugged, chunky smartwatch designed specifically for the intrepid outdoor adventurer. It’s an adventure watch and nothing else and that clarity of purpose is refreshing. For £200 you get a sharp AMOLED display, enhanced GPS capabilities including a ‘route back’ function with breadcrumb navigation, over 100 workout modes such as mountain climbing, hiking and skiing, and weather alerts. A headline stat is the 25-day battery life (up to 48 hours with GPS enabled) and for high-altitude mountaineers there’s in-built blood oxygen level monitoring. The skiing mode is particularly impressive too. It tracks slope gradient, altitude, average speed, biggest slope, average pace, altitude and so much more, giving skiers (or snowboarders) more info at their fingertips than ever before.

Read our full Honor Watch GS Pro review

BUY NOW: HIHONOR.COM

 

 

best GPS watches

Elliot Brown Tyneham

Price: £845
Weight: 125g
Best for: Simplicity and all-day
Key attributes: Unbeatable toughness, stylish simplicity, impressive water resistance, pressure tested to 300m 

When many outdoor watches pack GPS, wrist altimeters and topographical maps, this classic and rugged automatic field watch might seem a little under-equipped – particularly when you consider that £845 price tag. But Elliot Brown’s trademark exceptional build quality, attention to detail and uniquely British design sensibility, makes the Tyenham a stand out for anyone seeking an adventure-proof wristwatch that’ll keep good time, without the distractions of temperamental tech and limited battery life.

The Tyneham’s go-anywhere, do-anything toughness comes from the combination of a fairly-compact, 41mm stainless-steel case and individually case-hardened bezel that delivers supreme scratch-resistance. Apparently six times harder than marine-grade stainless steel Plus an anti-reflective sapphire crystal screen that’s recessed, with a bevelled circumference to protect the edge from chipping. That houses a reliable, low-maintenance Miyota 9130 Japanese automatic movement, with a protective two-stage shock absorption system. It’s pressure-tested to 300m so also boasts impressive water resistance. And we’re big fans of having the indices, markers and hands being liberally coated with 8 hour SuperLuminova, for a soft but highly visible blue glow at night.

Chosen for our Outdoor 100 2021/22. Read our full Elliot Brown Tyneham review.

BUY NOW: ELLIOTBROWNWATCHES.COM

 

 

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Garmin Instinct 2 Solar | Deep Dive https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/garmin-instinct-2-solar-review/ https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/garmin-instinct-2-solar-review/#respond Mon, 23 May 2022 11:20:57 +0000 https://outdoorsmagic.com/?post_type=article&p=136487 Did someone say 'smartwatch with unlimited battery life'?

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A new watch with a bunch of features and functions designed to please outdoor adventurers – and an unlimited battery life to boot Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Review

I recently spent a good five days hiking in Albania’s Accursed Mountains using the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar smartwatch with the GPS tracker in use and by the end of the trip, I was impressed to find I still had more than enough juice to last me the almost 24-hour journey by plane and car all the way home. In fact, the battery percentage reading I was given barely changed.

It’s quite remarkable just how long this thing can last, even with GPS tracking, and that’s why, as an outdoor enthusiast who likes to hike and wild camp for days at a time, completely away from civilisation, it has a heck of a lot of appeal. 

Read on for my complete breakdown. If you want to see the Instinct 2 in action, the latest episode of Will’s World has everything you need.

Battery Life

But this does also in fact have an unlimited battery life – that’s thanks to the clever Garmin Power Glass solar panels that sit across and around the watch face.

Now, although solar charging was a feature of the previous Garmin Instinct, that model was only capable of giving you an unlimited charge if the watch was in battery saver mode. With this new model, however, you can continue to use the various features of the watch (in other words, you can use it as a smartwatch) and you can still rest assured that it will live for as long as you need it to. That’s as long as you’re using it in the right conditions; Garmin specify that unlimited battery assumes all-day wear with 3 hours per day outside in 50,000 lux conditions.

You can’t be too gung-ho with the GPS usage. If you’re using the GPS at its most accurate, with frequent satellite positioning, then the charge should last up to 48 hours. If you’ve got the max battery GPS mode on (my settings for our test trip in Albania) that’ll give fairly frequent tracking for as much as 370 hours – that’s over 15 days – of charge. 

Then there’s the Expedition GPS mode. This allows you to continue to use the GPS – albeit with very, very spaced out tracking – while still enjoying an unlimited battery life. So, if you’ve got, say, a 3-week trip hiking the GR20 through Corsica, you can still use the watch in multiple ways, have the peace of mind that your position is still being tracked and not have to charge it up once.

Jessie tested the Instinct 2 over the course of a gravel riding, wild camping and climbing trip to Snowdonia.

Our writer James using the Instinct 2 on our trip to Albania’s Accursed Mountains.

Of course, as should go without saying, you do also need some sunlight to rely on unlimited battery life. If you spend a lot of time indoors at a desk and you track your gym sessions in the evening, the watch is going to struggle to keep itself charged. If, however, you’re a bit outdoorsy and like to get outside during the day whenever you can, then the charge should stay nice and high for you – even if the days are on the gloomy side. 

Models

The screen on the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar pictured here measures 45mm in diameter. For those with daintier wrists, there’s also a smaller version with a 40mm screen, that’s called the Instinct 2S.

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Review

Navigating the menus is done so using the set of five buttons.

You can also then take your pick between the solar model or the cheaper standard model (that doesn’t have unlimited battery life) and there are then specialist options, either in Solar or standard, to cater for surfers, truck drivers and for the special forces too. 

Design

Unlike many GPS smartwatches, the Garmin Instinct 2 has the look of a real rugged watch made for the outdoors. And it is indeed built to withstand the rigours of life on the trail, being waterproof to 100 metres, dustproof, shockproof and highly scratch resistant too. By the end of our week in Albania’s Accursed Mountains it had come through looking as good as new.

The built-in heart rate monitor.

The screen is monochrome and is visible even on the brightest of days. The strap is made from silicon and is removable so you can customise your watch if you so choose. 

With three buttons on the left hand side and two on the right, each one clearly marked with their functions, learning how to navigate through the various menu interfaces on this doesn’t take long at all and, as we found, it’ll quickly become intuitive. 

What Can You Use The Garmin Instinct 2 For?

There are a whole bunch of tools for outdoor enthusiasts here. We’ve mentioned that it has GPS tracking already and that’s via GLONASS and Galileo satellites – so expect an accurate reading of your location, altitude and co-ordinates. You can view a digital compass, upload routes onto the watch to follow a breadcrumb trail, record routes as you go and you can also use the watch for track back navigation. The Instinct 2 also has a built in heart rate monitor to help you track your fitness, performance and even stress and sleep patterns.

Over 40 different sports are catered for here, including hiking, trail running, climbing and mountain biking and then also things like treadmill and track running, yoga and road cycling. It’s a very diverse list. 

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Review

Jessie using the Instinct 2 Solar on a wild camp in North Wales

I’m a hiker and, unsurprisingly, I’ve mainly been using this for hiking. Out and about it’ll tell me how far I’ve hiked and how far I’ve got left, I can see my heart rate as I go, I can use the breadcrumb navigation and its little arrows to keep on track. I can see the route profile and the elevation ahead. I can even check the temperature and weather I can expect. The sunrise and sunset times are particularly handy for any hikes that involve a bit of wild camping. 

Afterwards, with the watch synched to my phone, I can use the Garmin Connect+ app to see my route in detail on a map and I can analyse the changes of my pace and heart rate throughout the day. I can also see the total ascent and total descent from the day. Message and call notifications can also be received through the watch, you can send pre-set messages and, with the solar versions you can stream music through Spotify and make payments through Garmin Pay.

Conclusion

Smartwatches with all the bells and whistles for fitness enthusiasts can be a little off-putting for outdoor enthusiasts who might just want something that they can use to follow a route, or even to just give them their coordinates quickly. With its rugged build and deliberately uncomplicated screen and metrics, the Garmin Instinct 2 does, however, come across as being made specifically for us mountain climbers, trail pacers and mud seekers. And that’s before factoring in that unlimited battery life. That aspect to this thing should be a surefire clincher for outdoor enthusiasts in the market for a smartwatch.

BUY NOW: GARMIN.COM

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Gear Spotlight | Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3 https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/arcteryx-norvan-ld-3/ https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/arcteryx-norvan-ld-3/#respond Mon, 23 May 2022 09:50:18 +0000 https://outdoorsmagic.com/?post_type=article&p=136177 Arc'teryx new long distance trail running shoe, Norvan LD 3, delivers in comfort and durability.

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Arc’teryx are back with a new and improved release of their classic model, now more comfortable, durable, and breathable than ever. Womens arcteryx Norvan LD 3 GTX cover

The Norvan LD has been the signature long-distance running shoe for Arc’teryx for a good few years. The step up to the LD 2 in 2020 showed that Arc’teryx were eager to refine and improve their model; the shoe was lighter, more durable, but maybe a little stiff, sacrificing some comfort for more protection and security. 2 years on, their latest offering, the Norvan LD 3, has made some huge strides.

First and foremost, the LD 3’s midsole has been totally overhauled. The addition of more stack in the heel and forefoot greatly increases shock-absorption. This is especially good over long runs, thanks to the new full-length 42c compressed midsole with 55c anti-fatigue insert. For minimal weight, you can expect an impressively smooth ride that doesn’t wear thin when you want to push yourself to the max.

arcteryx Norvan LD 3 GTX

Related: Best Trail Running Shoes 2022

To keep your feet protected, the new last shape provides more room for splay on impact. This means landing on even the hardest of surfaces won’t put any unnecessary pressure on the bottom of your feet. The toebox has also been made roomier for improved comfort, and to further accommodate splay.

buy arcteryx Norvan LD 3 GTX

All-day comfort is the goal of the Norvan LD 3. Small details make all the difference, like the minimized friction in the dual-layer interior, which prevents grazes and blisters, or the Cordura upper which provides breathability and durability in equal measures. The Aeriaprene cushioned tongue also protects against trail hazards, and the breathable 3mm foam mitigates lace pressure for a consistent – but not constrictive – feel.

Men

Arc’teryx Men’s Norvan LD 3

Womens arcteryx Norvan LD 3 GTX

Women’s Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3 GTX

Ahead of the launch of the Norvan LD 3 and the LD3 GTX, Norwegian trail running star Henriette Albon has joined the Arc’teryx global athlete family. Albon, having achieved some seriously impressive results on the international ultra-running circuit, is an authority on what makes a long-distance running shoe great. As the latest member of the trail squad, Henriette has been testing the LD 3 extensively.

Lars Schneider photography trail running shoes

Photo | Lars Schneider

“As an ultrarunner, the shoes are the most important tool I have”

Henriette Albon’s high praise for the high-performance footwear: “For me, a good long-distance shoe should protect the feet, be comfortable without compromising the feel of the running, and grip in challenging terrain. The Norvan LD 3 is an exciting upgrade and I look forward to standing on the starting line this summer with them on my feet.”

Find out more about the Norvan LD 3 at arcteryx.com

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Gear News | Dometic Release Multipurpose Drinkware with Modular Cap Designs https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/dometic-launches-new-multipurpose-drinkware-collection/ https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/dometic-launches-new-multipurpose-drinkware-collection/#respond Mon, 23 May 2022 09:34:46 +0000 https://outdoorsmagic.com/?post_type=article&p=136421 Dometic's new modular design philosophy makes their drinkware endlessly customisable

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Whether you’re keeping yourself or a crew hydrated, or even breaking out the bubbly on a camping camping trip, Dometic’s new outdoor drinkware has something for every occasion

Longtime leaders in outdoor living, Dometic have introduced a new range of drinkware for any occasion. This is a pretty major expansion for Dometic’s outdoor drinkware portfolio; not only does the variety of new sizes double their initial range, but the introduction of interchangeable caps allows users to mix-and-match for a fully customized setup.

Dometic bottle squad

Related: Dometic Thermo Bottle 660 Review

This modular design philosophy has plenty of benefits. For starters, if you favour one particular style of cap for hiking – like the new 360° drinking cap – then you can set off on a sunny morning having matched the cap with the bottle best suited to the length of that particular hike. If you’re unfamiliar with the 360 cap, just know it’s a real game changer for low-intensity outdoors activities. Take a moment to enjoy the view of a rushing waterfall, click the cap and take a sip from any angle – its like you’re leisurely enjoying a fine glass of wine. In fact, speaking of wine, Dometic now have a compact wine tumbler in their range!

Dometic wine tumblers

The four Dometic caps each have their specialty; bring a couple along on long treks or varied adventures to make the most out of each model. The Handle Cap allows for easy clipping, saving you space and affording quick access. The stainless steel cap is 100% leak proof and efficiently insulative, meaning you can keep your water ice cold and then swap it out for the sports cap when things get intense. Or journey for up to 12 hours with a hot soup dinner waiting, still steamy, for when you finally settle in and chow down. Either way, you can bury your bottle in a sports bag and be confident that any additional layers you’re keeping inside will remain dry.

Dometic Stainless Steel Cap Big Boy 1920mlDometic Sports CapDometic Clip Capdometic 360

With the addition of larger sizes stretching all the way up to just shy of two litres, one Dometic bottle can be the perfect bit of storage for a small crew or a long solo haul. Each cap is compatible with the following Thermo models: THRM 50 / THRM 90 / THRM 120 / THRM 192. They’re all made from 100% stainless steel, ensuring durability for years of use and consistent ease of cleaning (they’re dishwasher safe, by the way). With double wall insulation, Dometic’s new range promises to keep cold drinks cold for 24 hours, and hot drinks hot for 12!

Their new range is available now at Dometic.com

dometic drinkware glacier

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Is Crotch Cooking The Future of Camp Cuisine? https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/gossamer-gear-crotch-pot/ https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/gossamer-gear-crotch-pot/#respond Tue, 10 May 2022 15:02:47 +0000 https://outdoorsmagic.com/?post_type=article&p=135703 'Just don't think about it too much'

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Chilli crotch carne for dinner, anyone? US thru-hiking brand Gossamer Gear takes dirtbag thinking to new lows with The Crotch Pot, a pouch for ‘cooking’ camping meals with the heat of your nether regions.

When we first Googled ‘crotch pot’, an Urban Dictionary definition came up – “when it is so hot outside that a girl can cook a ham in her pants”. Gross, right? Well, in a bizarre twist of events, this rather odious urban joke has become a reality thanks to minimalist hikers’ never-ending quest for a lighter, simpler set-up on the trail. Thru-hiking brand Gossamer Gear has released The Crotch Pot, a pouch for ‘cooking’ camping meals with the heat of your nether regions. Leave the camping stove at home. Ditch the heavy gas canisters. Now all your need for a hot meal is your personal anatomy. But is crotch cooking set to become a new trend in long-distance walking, or the act of a few deranged, obsessional gram counters?

crotchpot cooking with crotch gross gear hot bits

Ultimately, this product is an extension to the ‘cold soaking’ trend – a ‘no cook’ process for preparing meals out on the trail that has exploded in popularity over recent years. It works like this. Rather than faffing around with fuel canisters and heavy, bulky camping stoves, you instead simply soak dry food in cold water to rehydrate your meal. Walk the PCT and you’ll see ultralight thru-hikers tucking into porridge, noodles and other backcountry gastronomic concoctions prepared in this way. But, of course, all of these meals are eaten cold – until now.

The Crotch Pot’s role is to harness the power of the crotch – that hot, sweaty, stuffy bodily void – to warm up these meals while you’re walking, thus transforming cold porridge into hot porridge and chilly noodles into a steaming ramen delight.

crotchpot gossamer instructions game changing gearcrotchpot gossamer instructions game changing gear

crotchpot gossamer instructions game changing gear

Pictured: Gossamer’s helpful, totally not off-putting instructional diagrams

Gossamer Gear describe The Crotch Pot, which slightly resembles a map holder, as “the perfect gift for the ultralight backpacker in your life” and the “ultimate fuel-less ultralight backpacking stove”, which is also “climate change friendly because it has zero carbon monoxide hazards”. The pouch is constructed out of ultralight cuben fibre dyneema composites, and attaches to any pair of trousers with belt loops. It is designed to accept a quarter of a gallon (1.13L) sized freezer Ziploc bag, so your dinner contents are completely sanitary at all times. It weighs only 9g (including two mini carabiners) and costs $19 (+ shipping and customs charges).

Related: Best Ultralight Hiking Gear

In a blog post, Gossamer Gear founder Glen Van Peski – who has used this system of cooking for years – describes the appeal of this radical approach. “Infrared images of the human body confirm what is basically common knowledge – one of the hottest parts of the human body is the crotch area. Your body naturally generates significant heat while hiking; why not harness this heat for a warm dinner? Save the weight and hassle of cooking. Just slip your dinner into your pants about an hour before you stop hiking for the day, and when you get to camp, sit down to a hot dinner.”

crotchpot cooking with crotch gross gear hot bitsnow he

“Imagine the envy on your friends’ faces as they fuss around with their stoves, or choke down a cold dinner, and you simply pull your warm dinner out of your pants.”

Glen goes on to give his top tips for getting the most out of the product. He says: “Just add cold water to the dry ingredients in the Ziploc bag, zip the bag shut and put it into the Crotch Pot. Slip the pot into your pants, directly against your skin for best results, and hike on for the last hour or so before stopping for dinner. You can knead the meal (discretely) while walking to make sure things are mixing well, and you may need to monitor in case you need to add additional water. Then when you get to camp, simply pull out your dinner, grab your spoon and enjoy. It works for breakfast too. Just break camp quickly after slipping some instant oatmeal into your pants. When the sun comes out after a few miles, you can stop and enjoy a satisfying warm breakfast, without the hassle of breaking out a stove and pot to boil water.”

 

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News | John Kelly Smashes Wainwrights Record https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/john-kelly-smashes-wainwrights-record/ https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/john-kelly-smashes-wainwrights-record/#respond Mon, 09 May 2022 17:47:05 +0000 https://outdoorsmagic.com/?post_type=article&p=136454 John Kelly settles unfinished business by breaking the record for a continuous round of the Wainwrights.

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Less than a year since the previous record was set, long-distance runner John Kelly has slashed the Wainwrights fastest time by almost half a day

Photo: Steve Ashworth

Late last Saturday night, ultra-runner John Kelly settled unfinished business by breaking the record for a continuous round of the Wainwrights.

Kelly, the Bristol-based La Sportiva team member has finally broken the record at 27-years-old with a provisional time of 5 days, 12 hours, 14 minutes, and 42 seconds. That’s an impressive 11 hours faster than the previous record established by Sabrina Verjee in June last year.

Verjee herself took three attempts to break the record, finally shaving six hours from her predecessor’s time which had held the top spot for two years. With today’s exponential improvements in shoes and gear, it’s unsurprising that this record is being shattered in quicker succession. But make no mistake – this is not an easy feat by any means. Joss Naylor’s 1987 record of 7 days, 1 hour and 25 minutes stood firm for over 27 years.

John Kelly (L) supported by previous record holder Sabrina Verjee (centre) | Photo: Steve Ashworth

John Kelly (L) supported by previous record holder Sabrina Verjee (centre) | Photo: Steve Ashworth

“It takes a seriously dedicated athlete to make a dent in the Wainrights challenge”

The challenge is a multi-day run hitting a list of peaks chosen by Lake District writer Alfred Wainwright for his famous 7-book collection: A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells. It’s comprised of 214 Lakeland tops, 515km, and 36,000ft of ascent.

Kelly had attempted the record last year but was hindered by extreme temperatures and problems with his feet. Setting off from the Moot Hall in Keswick on Monday 2nd, the round went relatively smoothly and Kelly had decent weather throughout the week, managing to get ahead of foot problems before they became an issue. He also made small changes to the standard route in order to realise some marginal gains.

John Kelly ultra running record Steve Ashworth 1

Photo: Steve Ashworth

Over recent years, John Kelly has broken the record for running the 260-mile Pennine Way twice, completed the Grand Round (the Paddy Buckley Round in Wales, the Bob Graham Round in the Lake District, and the Ramsay Round in the Highlands) continuously, linking them by bike, and won the Montane Spine Race in 2020. Kelly is also one of the small number of finishers of the infamous Barkley Marathons in the USA.

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This Is My Time | Rehna Yaseen On Her Outdoor Journey https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/rehna-yaseen-on-her-outdoor-journey/ https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/rehna-yaseen-on-her-outdoor-journey/#respond Mon, 09 May 2022 13:00:40 +0000 https://outdoorsmagic.com/?post_type=article&p=136388 We spent the day with Rehna Yaseen and left feeling totally inspired

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We spent the day with Rehna Yaseen and left feeling totally inspired

The story of Rehna Yaseen’s journey to becoming an outdoor instructor isn’t your usual one. It all started when, as a 16-year-old, she attended a trip with a local youth project based near her home in Manchester. The aim was to climb a small hill in the Peak District near Dovestone Reservoir, a hill that wouldn’t really be of much significance to any regular outdoor enthusiasts. It was to Rehna, however. After all, this was to be the first proper outdoor experience of her life. 

And she hated it. 

“I complained all day and was swearing the whole way up,” she tells us. “On the summit, I threw my boots at the instructor and told him that I just wasn’t cut out for hiking.”

But a day or so after that trip “something clicked.” Rehna realised that actually, on reflection, the trip wasn’t so bad. Retrospective fun and all that, and the gaining of a sense of achievement and pride.

That led her to seek out more adventures. She completed the UK’s Three Peaks Challenge, journeyed to Morocco to climb Mount Toubkal and even progressed to the Himalayas where she took on the long hike up to Everest’s Basecamp. 

“No one in my family had done something like that and none of my friends had either”, she tells us. “It was a big deal, not just for me but for the wider (UK south Asian) community.”

Rehna admiring a morning inversion on the summit of Mam Tor. Photos: Giles Dean

Pictured: Keen’s new NXIS Evo Mid WP shoes.

Today, she devotes her life to assisting young people in Britain, predominantly those with the same background as herself. Her aim is to help them to find their own way into the outdoors too. Working as a qualified outdoor instructor with the Lindley Educational Trust, she’s out there week-in-week-out widening horizons and showing people that there’s so much they can achieve and experience.

Head up to Mam Tor, above the outdoor centre Rehna works at, and you might just find her with a group there, passing on that infectious enthusiasm for the outdoors she has and helping to plant that seed of adventure within them.

DISCOVER MORE ABOUT THE KEEN NXIS EVO

This is part three in our series with KEEN highlighting inspiring journeys of personal development through time outdoors. Watch part one where we headed to a climbing adventure on the coarse sandstone crags of the Peak District with Jessie Leong. In part two we headed to the surprisingly green urban edge of London exploring Epping Forest with Dwayne Fields

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How To Wash a Waterproof Jacket https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/how-to-wash-a-waterproof-jacket/ https://outdoorsmagic.com/article/how-to-wash-a-waterproof-jacket/#respond Thu, 05 May 2022 16:28:17 +0000 https://outdoorsmagic.com/?post_type=article&p=136418 Watch our editor's quick video run through (and evidence of the results)

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OM editor Will takes a very, very wet to show the effects of Nikwax and talks through how you can apply it quickly and easily to your waterproof kit at home

Seeing a soaking wet waterproof jacket makes my toes curl a little. It reminds me of hypothermic D of E expedition weekends when no one in our group knew what a good rain jacket was let alone knew how to look after one. Because of those memories, I’ve always been aware of the difference a well-looked-after jacket can make. So I use Nikwax’s Tech Wash and TX.Direct solutions.

The green bottle, the Tech Wash, is brilliant at removing dirt and body oils from the fabrics without damaging any pre-existing durable water repellent treatment – the stuff that helps to repel moisture. It’s definitely the safest way to clean your waterproof jacket.

Then there’s the purple bottle, the re-proofer, which is called Nikwax TX.Direct. This stuff is excellent for making sure your waterproof jacket remains not only waterproof but breathable as well, adding a restorative new water repellent barrier to the outer fabric.

Now I recently had one of the wettest runs of my life and unfortunately it was 50 miles long too. 50 miles of non-stop rain. Fortunately, I’d washed and re-proofed my jacket beforehand and I was exceptionally glad I did. Watch this video below and you’ll be able to see the difference it made. You’ll also be able to see my step-by-step guide to applying both of these solutions quickly and easily at home – and that’s to any type of waterproof jacket, whether that’s a Gore-tex, eVent, NeoShell or Paramo one.

You May Also Like:

How to Wash a Down Jacket

How to Wash a Tent

How to Give Your Old Gear New Life

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