We put the latest outdoor clothing and equipment to the test
1. Land Rover Explore Phone, £599
SMARTPHONE apps have taken devices to the brink of being complete outdoor companions, but the phones themselves are still flimsy bits of kit. Enter the Land Rover phone. Built by Bullitt, it’s designed for an active life. Drop-proof and comfortable in temperatures from -30 to 60˚C, it also has an OS subscription and a boosted GPS antenna. Typing with gloves on or in the wet is a breeze, and you don’t need to wrap it in a ziplock bag on grim days because it’s waterproof to nearly 2m (6ft 6in) depth. Plus that extra battery pack will give you a weekend of use. Far more versatile than other top-tier smartphones at a comparable price.
2. Deuter Aircontact Lite 50+10 Pack, £140
IUSED this on a 12-day coast-to-coast backpacking trip across Scotland. Without extending the lid, it comfortably held tent, sleeping bag, spare clothes, three days’ food and even firelogs for bothies. Fully laden, it was around 15kg (33lb) but felt comfortable, even on days of 25km
(15 miles) and 2000m (6500ft) ascent. Pressure points are well cushioned. Straps are fully adjustable to fit length of the user’s back. Bottom and main compartments can be combined. Huge lid compartment, while two big pockets on the belt held all the food I needed while on the go each day. Padded struts allow air to circulate to the back. Top notch!
3. Primus Primetech Stove Set 1.3l, £125
THIS smart, compact stove set comes with two pots, a lid with integrated strainer, tong handle and lighter – everything you need except gas and food. The whole lot weighs in at 727g. The burner has a built-in wind guard, which works remarkably well, and the attachment valve has a gas regulator to steady the flow, too. The main pan is specially designed for optimal heat-exchange, resulting in incredibly fast cooking times. I stuck on a litre of burn water for drinking on the next day’s hike, and it was boiling in just over three minutes. What impresses me most about the set, though, is how easy it is to pack away. The components fit neatly so they don’t rattle infuriatingly in your kit bag!
4. Hanwag Tatra II GTX Shoes, £222
THERE’S no doubting the German craftsmanship that has gone into making these boots. High-quality leather with ventilation holes, rigid sole and Gore-tex waterproof membrane. But for someone used to light-weight trail shoes or boots, I found them rather too heavy. Even after a couple of miles on track and trail, there was still the sensation of being a bit cumbersome. Unyielding too, as I reckon they’ll take some breaking in. However, the high ankle-support gives protection for rough boulder conditions and the robust sole could cope with the toughest underfoot conditions. Surprisingly, the specs of these boots doesn’t include suitability for crampons, despite their sturdy soles.