We put the latest outdoor clothing and equipment to the test
1. Grivel Stealth Helmet, £75
MY regular lid is a Grivel Salamdar that I use for everything – rock, ice, sports crags. It’s fine, a bit scraped, but good for lots more years. I expected the Stealth would be just as adequate – how different could it be? First shock was it weighs zilch! Just 192g – suddenly the Salamander, at 388g, felt like a ton! The key is the faceted design – it increases the rigidity of the shell, meaning less polycarbonate is needed but strength isn’t sacrificed. It comes in one-size and is adjusted by pulling toggles at the back. It’s a lighter system than the Salamander’s turn to tighten/loosen dial but not as convenient. With the venting it has all-day comfort. Looks pretty funky, too!
2. Sea To Summit Alpha Pot Set 2.2, £80
THIS is a pretty nifty wee set! It contains two sizes of pots with straining lids, two pasta bowls, a dishcloth and two mugs – complete with insulating mug holders. I was impressed that all of this fits neatly together into the big pot, with the whole set weighing only 765g. The lack of weight doesn’t mean lack of durability, though – the bowls and mugs are Bpa-free, glass reinforced polypropylene; and the pots are hard-anodised aluminium. The pot handles are fixed on, but have a unique pivot-lock to secure lids in transit. They also have a handy “lid keep” so you can hang the lid on the pot’s side. I never thought I’d be so impressed with pot lids!
3. Keela Hydron Softshell, £149.95
WE Scots have a great word for that mist-rain-drizzle that turns a dry walk into a dreich one – smirr. In these conditions a softshell such as this Keela number will keep you dry without having to resort to heavy waterproofs. It is also quite warm so if the smirr is accompanied by a chilly wind, you’re kept snug. A T-shirt or base layer is all you need to wear underneath. Other plus signs are good-sized pockets, Velcro-adjustable cuffs and a helmet-compatible hood. However, its tailored fit means it’s quite close-fitting and, even with side vents – which I thought would be a great advantage – there’s a lack of proper air circulation. Going up a size might give you a bit more comfort.
4. Sea To Summit Ultra Sil Daypack, £25.99
WEIGHING a scant 72g with a 20-litre capacity, Sea To Summit’s rucksack squashes down into its own carry case for easy transport. To be honest, I’ve not yet thought of a situation when you’d need a packable rucksack (if you can carry a bag out, why can’t you carry one in?), but maybe that’s the fault of my imagination. In 2017 the Ultra-sil® Daypack won the prestigious Backpacker Editors’ Choice Gold Award, so it must be doing something right! If you think you need this then it does the job very well. It’s well-made and can reportedly hold up to 250 times its own weight. However, the material it’s made of causes you to sweat in a matter of minutes, so don’t wear it if you’re hoping to stay smart.