Monday, 19 November 2012

Gloves - finally, a decent walking pair?!

I think that I may have actually found a solution to cold wet hands.

Montane Resolute Mitts
If you have ever read any of my other glove posts, you may think that I am beginning to be a little obsessive about cold hands, and the amount of gloves I may or may not own. However, I recently bought a pair of Montane Resolute mitts.

First things first, yes, they are mitts, but hey, I wanted something that was crazy warm, and more as something that was going to go over other thinner gloves. I have quite small hands so I figured I'd get some Mediums and they would probably be pretty damn big.
Not so.

The Mediums are about right for my hands with no other gloves on, unless I have the thinnest silk liners I can possibly find. So if you want a pair for going over other gloves, go a couple of sizes larger than you think.

The trigger finger inner
I've been out on a couple of enforced walk and stand in the cold in the past few days, and I had a number of gloves on me to try and keep warm. As a brief idea, it was wander around in the cold (yes it ended up sleeting and snowing on us, on Kinder, in October), and I spent about 2 hours standing still, so not your normal running around the place, pumping blood through arteries to hands at full speed kind of thing. The second occasion was out on a very windswept hill in the middle of the night, teeming with rain, gloves on, gloves off, gloves on, gloves off, cold wet hands, nightmare scenario.

Amazingly grippy palms
Let me tell you what happened.
Warm. Dry. Hands.

I couldn't actually believe it. I don't think I have ever been in a situation (without hand warmers, and in some cases even WITH hand warmers, where I have had cold, wet hands on the hill, and not had to wait until I got back home before they actually warmed up. No liners were used, just the Resolute mitts.
On the first night out, I started out in my Arctery'x SV gloves, got cold fingers, even as we walked. When we stopped, I thought I'd have a blast with the new Mitts, and astonishingly, my fingers warmed up. That in itself is nigh on unbelievable as it is, but the fact that I was standing still in biting wind, sleet, and general not-nice-ness meant that the increase in comfort and dexterity within my fingers was notable and very surprising.
The inner's inner. Fleecey pile. mmmmm
As mentioned, the second time was in rain and wind- traditionally the kind of place where if I take off gloves to do something that requires dexterity, or if I'm wearing a glove which provides relative dexterity anyway, my fingers freeze and I get quite miserable very quickly.

My hands got wet and cold. I thought damn, thats it, cold hands for the next 5 hours, stuck the Resolute Mitts on, and within 5 mins, my hands were warm and dry.
Let me say that again. WARM. DRY.

That cycle was repeated a number of times throughout the evening, and my mitts are currently drying out. However, as someone who has suffered for years with cold and loss of dexterity in the fingers, I have to say that these are the best walking gloves that I have ever ever owned.
(better than the Sealskinz lobster mitts? I hear you ask)
For walking, yes, I believe so. I haven't completely and comprehensively tested these things yet, but from 2 experiences where I know I would have been suffering, they are superb.
...And a D ring to attach them to you!
Top marks to Montane for these, and if you want to send me a pair in Large, they would be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Head torch - Silva Trailrunner Plus

I've been using this headtorch for about a year now, for winter evening training runs, night nav sessions, races and night rescue scenarios. There are a number of really good headtorches out there on the market, by Hope, Petzl, LED lenser, Fenix etc, but I chose this one. Why, and has it been a good buy?

I originally bought it because I am a bit of a sucker for new bits of kit that I haven't seen reviewed by other people, or even used by other people. (However, the Petzl Nao is firmly on my list of things that I'd love to get my hands on).
After using it on last years High Peak Marathon
The Silva light unit is very small and lightweight, especially if you get the one with the waist mounted battery unit. This one takes 4AA batteries, the normal Trailrunner takes only 2AA batteries and has a correspondingly lower amount of battery life. (I've never used one of these, so can't actually tell you what its like with the batteries on the headband).

A lot of people will go on and on about lumens, length of light, and all that kind of stuff. Which is nice, and lovely, and indeed, objective. However, you can get all of that off the back of the packet, or somewhere else off the internet.
(oh go on then, since you ask - 80 lumen, 45m and 48hours).
Not stellar figures if you go by other headtorches on the market, but when running, I'm not totally convinced that its all about wearing the equivalent of a Nightsun on your head. With the Silva, it was the lighting pattern and the general comfort that I was really enamored with.
3 LEDs
The first thing you notice is that it has 3 LEDs in the lighting unit, with the smaller 2 of 3 pointing at different angles to the main one. Interesting. I was originally of the thought that these were for lower light levels like on the old petzls. A main one for running and smaller ones for looking at maps etc. Yet when you battery it up and switch it on, all 3 come on at the same time. The 3 lighting levels don't actually correspond to how many lights come on, just how much light is being pumped out of all 3 LEDs simultaneously. Why would it do that? what possible benefit would it have to working like this with all 3 permanently on?

Intelligent lighting
The packaging alludes to this with its "Silva Intelligent Light" beam pattern. Instead of just focusing on one specific area in front of you, there is a big beam that goes out on ahead, and other smaller beams around  the area, but aimed more down toward where your feet are going to be. All at the same time, so as you are running, it gives of this rather nice all encompassing light which gives distance, and also peripheral vision as you pound along the path/heath/moor/bog.

For generic running I tend to keep the beam on mid-power, so that I have something to really ramp it up to when hurtling down hill. Its nice for my eyes to get used to a certain level of light as I run, and then when things speed up, I hit the bright setting to give me more of a fighting chance to get down the hill without tripping over something. The low setting gets used when I'm map reading, or going really slow, and don't actually need to see all that much around me.
If anything, the only annoying thing is that the low setting is just a little bit too low, and I wish there was an intermediate setting between low and middle. A minor point, but worth mentioning.

Back of the torch unit
As mentioned I used this torch for night exercises, and I have to admit that when you have to take your rucksack on and off, and the battery pack is in the top pocket of the rucksack, its a bit annoying to get things on and off. Equally, if the battery pack is in a coat pocket, if you then take the coat off, where does the battery go? Slightly annoying, but equally, it wasn't made specifically for that, and a smaller headtorch with an enclosed battery would probably do the trick.

Where this torch excels is on a day to day basis. In the evening, going up onto the moors, battery in bumbag, doesn't feel like anything is on my head, and just blasting about on a training run. I've never actually used the belt that it comes with to wear the battery pack around the waist - its always just shoved in a bumbag. There is a small band of silicone (or some such thing) around the inside of the headband so that it doesn't slip, which is a nice touch, and the actual light unit itself is also adjustable up and down. (As you would expect). It's waterproofed to IPX6, so I can wear it in the Peak district without being worried about anything damage occurring to it because of water ingress.

Winter solstice run last year. Lots of torches. 
I have to say though, I did break it recently. It could have been because I stuffed it into a rucksack too violently, I could have stored it wrong, I could have had it crushed up in a bumbag and a connection came loose. I have no idea. It started to work kind of intermittently - I got the impression that the battery life just wasn't up to scratch. I took it out for a couple of runs, and then bang. Nothing. Not even some light, just nothing. This happened a couple of times, and then eventually after rebattery-ing  it twice, with new batteries, nothing, I decided to send it back to Silva.

By this time I've had it for about 18 months, and used it very thoroughly over the winter. Silva have a 2 year warranty on technical failure, and replaced it within a week, I now have a new one sitting on my desk. Thankyou Silva, excellent service.

So, as a round up...
Wearing it with the snazzy downward behind ear cable director 
Brilliant for running, amazingly lightweight on the head, maybe not bright enough for biking, lightweight, excellent beam pattern, like the separate battery pack, except when using it for walking/with a rucksack and it has to be taken off.

Apologies for not having many pictures of me wearing it, its kind of difficult when you're out and about in the dark. I'm trying to work out how to get a picture of the beam spread, and when I get a decent picture, I'll put it up.

AHA! I have one now. Here it is. Retrieving the Glossopdale Goodie Box before being replenished and relocated. Yes. That is a miniature Bells. Very nice it was too.