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+++++++++++++++++++++ So what are Gradient Shorts? +++++++++++++++++++++ These are ¾ length boardshort from Palm designed with kayaking in mind. ========= The Design ========= The Material The outer shorts are made from XP100 2.5 layer fabric with Cordura 550D Ripstop on the reinforced areas. The inner short is made of 2mm neoprene. The Seams The neoprene inner short has flatlocked seams.. The Waistband There is an easy velcro adjustable neoprene waistband. The Cut These have been designed to be longer than the average boardshort to cover your knees whilst in the kayak. Drainage The shorts have air vents and mesh to allow easy drainage of water. Pocket There is a waterproof zipped pocket. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ The shorts come in the following sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL There is just the one colour midnight blue/black. ==== Price ==== £60 ++++++++++++ My Experience ++++++++++++ Occasionally we do get those sunny days in Scotland where it would be nice to wear shorts when out kayaking. Why bother with such an expensive pair of shorts when any normal pair would do? I used to think that but having gone through bruised and scratched knees while sitting in a kayak I came to realsie that my shorts needed to be slightly longer. The Material They are quite a shiny material but the reinforced bottom area is great as it protects the materia and stops you sliding about. The inner short is nice and comfortable to wear and keeps you quite warm and gives a bit of padding on your rear. The Seams As the inner short has flat seams you don't end up with seam lines on your skin. The Waistband I hate boardshorts which just have a tied wasitband. These are great as the neoprene is nice and soft and the velcro allows a custom fit. The Cut As I said the ¾ length covers your knees when you are sitting in a kayak which protects your knees, nice. Drainage There is nothing worse than going for a swim and your pockets fill up with water, the drainage on these are great. All water flows out real quick. Pocket The zipped pocket is waterproof, well that's what they claim but that is only if you the wearer ensures that the zip is done up properly! I've never put anything of value in the pocket to test, as I'm not that brave. A zipped pocket is however a good thing to have to keep keys and the like safe. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ The sizes are OK, not big but OK. +++++ Finally +++++ What can I say, roll on the summer so I can get my shorts out again!
What Is A Marine VHF Radio? A marine radio is a radio to be used at sea and you will find them installed on all large ships and most sea going craft and also as handheld radios. The main function of the radio includes summoning help from the coastguard, communicating with marinas, locks, bridges and harbours. They can also be used for communication between craft sometimes to avoid collisions and to get weather forecasts. How Does It All Work? I'm not going to go into all of that as it is quite complicated but is all included if you attend the VHF course. Why Go On A Course? Anyone can go out and buy a VHF radio but by law to operate it you need to have a Short Range Certificate. This course if you pass it gives you that certification. A lot of people don't bother with the course and never transmit from the radio, only listen. That is OK and it's doubtful if you would be prosecuted if you did use it in an emergency. I had had my radio for 2 years before I finally did the course and I'm glad I did as I have learnt a lot from it. What Does It Involve? There was a bit of pre course reading to do which was good as it meant that I already understood a bit of what the tutor was talking about. You are given the RYA VHF Radio Book to read and you also have to learn the phonetic alphabet, which I already knew. I guess that each tutor delivers the course slightly differently but all will include the following: · the basics of radio operation including how to change channels, how to speak, what to say and when. · the correct frequencies (channels) to be used eg. Channel 16 to speak to coastguard · distress, emergency and medical assistance procedures including what information you need to give the coastguard. · making ship to shore telephone calls · Digital Selective Calling (DSC) using simulators and the importance of not hitting the button by accident! · Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) · Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB) and the precautions of using them · Search and Rescue (SART) What I enjoyed most were the practical parts. You actually get your hands on a radio and have to use it in scenario situations. For me this puts the theory into practice and then I remember it. Some people may find it intimidating but this is the place to get it wrong and practice when nobody's life is at stake. We were split in 2 groups so each group would be speaking to the other over the radio. I was attending as I have handheld VHF, which I use for sea kayaking. The course majors on the type of radios which are fitted in most craft which have Digital Selective Calling (DSC) so the part covering that wasn't entirely relevant but I could now use one if I had to. The course lasts a day and ends with a written test with a mixture of multiple choice and written answer questions. It wasn't too hard and everyone in the class I was in passed. The day cost £85 then there was an additional £25 payable to RYA who send out the certification. You then need to register with OFCOM for in my case a portable radio license. I hope to never have to use what I learned but am confident that I could if I had to. Well worth the money for the peace of mind.
+++++++++++++++++++++ So what is Stretch Skin? +++++++++++++++++++++ Stretch skin is a neoprene material (like a wetsuit) which acts as a thermal layer. ========= The Design ========= The Material The top is made from Titanium lined supr stretch 2mm neoprene with 1mm under the arm pits.. The Seams All the seams are flat locked and there are no under arm seams. The Neck The neck is higher than your average T-shirt to give you that extra bit of protection from your cag. The Cut The top has been cut in such a way that it is ergonomic for the paddler as it has bent elbows. There is a stretch binding around the waste. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ The top comes in the following sizes XS. S/M. L/XL. XXL. The rashy comes in 1 colour dark grey/ light grey. ==== Price ==== £56 ++++++++++++ My Experience ++++++++++++ I saw this top on a website and liked the idea of it.I thought it looked like a cross between a rashy and a thermal top. Looks can be deceiving! The Material Its made of neoprene just like a wet suit and appears to be hard wearing. I however find it hard to wear as it is quite restrictive and without another layer underneath rather uncomfortable. It can almost stand up on its own! The Seams Thers nothing worse than a tight fitting top with seams that dig into you, not so here. The design is such that the seams are flat so no marks on your body. The Neck The neck is a comfortable fit and stops any chaffing if you are wearing a cag. The Cut Definetly small made and not an awful lot of stretch in it. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ Peak seem to make their clothes for tall skinny paddlers so I do struggle to get a good fit. +++++ Finally +++++ I sold my top after wearing it just the once, recouping most of the money I spent on it. I have a lot of friends who love their tops and have no problems at all, this one was simply not for me.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ So what are Precip Pants? +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ These are a lightweight waterproof trouser from Marmot. ========= The Design ========= The Material These are made from Marmots PreCip Dry Touch Technology. The microporous polyurethane material is impregnated with silicon dioxide particles that allows small holes to let sweat escape but keep rain out. The material remains compressible enough to stuff into a pocket. The Seams 100% Seam Taped - For Full Waterproofness Side Zips These trousers come in 2 versions an Ankle Side Zip or a Full Side Zip. Pockets There are 3 pockets 2 at the front and a small zip pocket at the back. Waist Fitting These have an elastic waist with draw cord making them confortable and a good fit. The Cut They come in 3 lengths, standard, long and short. They have a straight cut which gives a comfortable fit through the hips and thighs. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ The trousers come in sizes from small to XX Large. There is plenty colour choice Black, Tempest, Tarmac and Gargoyle. These trousers weigh in at 238g. ==== Price ==== Around the £60 mark but worth shopping around. ++++++++++++ My Experience ++++++++++++ These are my spring / summer trousers, great for cycling when it's a little damp or on those days when the long grass is a bit wet. The Material The precip material is great. The trousers are really light, they are breathable and waterproof and comfortable next to your skin. They are also quite quiet to wear, no noise as you may find with some cheaper materials. The Seams The seams are well taped to keep you dry. Side Zips I have the full zip version and I find these easy to get on and off without taking my boots off, a great feature. Pockets I do like to have side pockets and these trousers deliver. Waist Fitting You get a nice comfy fit with the elastic with the additional security of a drawstring. The Cut The cut is pretty good and because there is a cuff at the bottom it reduces the chance of you dragging the bottoms on the ground. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ I have black trousers though the others colours are nice to. +++++ Finally +++++ These are not the most hard wearing of trousers so you do have to look after them, so no sliding down rocks on your bottom too often!! They are however superb for living in your rucksack foe emergencies and for those spring/summer days out walking or cycling. Lightweight, breathable and waterproof what more do I need to say........
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Who are Werner? +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I'd always thought they were a German company but no they are Ameriican. Started by Werner Furrer Sr who had no intention of building a business he decided to experiment in making fibreglass kayaks and paddles as a way for the family to spend quality time together in the outdoors. Money was tight so making his own eqiuipment was the way forward. His sons took the business forward to where it is today known as the premier paddle brand and for offering the most advanced designs in the world. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ So what is a Werner Shuna Paddle? +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Werner make lots of different paddles for different uses. The Shuna is a paddle for touring and is one of the most popular in the range as it has a mid sized blade, which suits a wide range of kayakers. Its versatility and ease of use for all manoeuvring and touring makes it a winner. It's named after the island of Shuna in Scotland. +++++++++ The Design +++++++++ High Angle The paddle is designed in such a way that it is kept at a high angle to the water allowing a faster stroke rate. It also allows a more powerful catch and stroke for increased forward efficiency. It is also excellent for bracing strokes and rolling. Mid Sized Blades The size of the blades is such that it fits the widest range of kayakers and is light and gives a smooth feel in the water. The construction of the fibreglass weaves through the blade which means it is light but also strong. The blade is a dihedral in shape, which allows for smooth forward strokes. Adjustable Ferrule The paddle has a ferrule (a band placed around shaft to prevent splitting) with a low profile button lock which allows you to split the paddle in 2, ideal for transportation. It also allows you to alter the feather of the blades left or right to get the perfect fit for you. Shaft - Straight or Natural There are 2 choices here. The cheaper option is a straight shaft or you can go for the more expensive neutral bent shaft in a carbon blend. The neutrally bent shaft allows your wrists to naturally align which reduces tierdness. You also have more control of the paddle as more of your hand has contact. The carbon blend makes it extremely lightweight but is still durable. Shaft - Standard or Small Diameter Once you have decided on straight or natural next you need to decide on the diameter of the shaft. Hands larger than 7" should go for the standard fit, smaller than 6.5" the small fit. If you are in between then try them both and decide. Light Swing Weight The swing weight is the weight that you will feel when you lift your blade up during a stroke. The lighter the weight the longer it will take for you to get tired! The Length There are a number of options available to take into account the height of the paddler and also the width of the boat. Werner have a very good size chart on their website. ++++++++++++++++ Size/Colours/Weight ++++++++++++++++ Straight Shaft 210cm weighs 755g Neutral Bent Shaft 210cm weighs 907g Straight Shaft available in lengths 205cm - 230cm Neutral Bent Shaft available in lengths 205cm - 230cm (5 cm increments) Colour Blades come in orange, amber, red or black. ++++ Price +++++ Around the £200 mark but worth shopping around. ++++++++++++ My Experience ++++++++++++ I had always paddled with fairly heavy paddles, still good quality fairly expensive ones but I felt secure knowing that the paddle wouldn't be blown out of my hands on theose windy sea kayaking days. A friend I paddle with had just bought a werner shuna and I couldn't believe how light it was but she said that it was great. When I heard how much they were I nearly capsized. I decided to take the plunge (not literally) and am now the proud owner of a werner shuna paddle and I am glald to say that I have not regretted it. High Angle The paddle allows me to have a high paddle angle, which gives me a good pull in the water making the boat travel through the water with less effort from me. It is also great for rolling with, as it is a perfect shape for cutting through the water. Mid Sized Blades I've paddled with bigger blades before and by the end of the day your arms know that you've been paddling. These blades are different and I find that I can paddle all day and not feel that my arms have had a major workout. Adjustable Ferrule Paddles don't fit into cars particulary well as they are so long so to have one that splits in 2 is great. Its also good when you are paddling abroad as your faithful paddle can come to. Its also a bonus being able to change the feather on the paddle as there are some occassions when its windy that it is good to do this to prevent less wind resistance in your strokes. Shaft - Straight or Natural I have the natural shaft in a carbon blend and have found that I no longer get sore wrists as they are now kept in the right position. It feels strange to start with but I wouldn't paddle with anything else now. Shaft - Standard or Small Diameter I've got the standard fit diameter shaft but have a friend with the smaller one and she says that it has made a huge difference to her hands as she is not having to stretch her fingers round something that is too big. Light Swing Weight The Shuna is as light as a feather, well almost. You don't feel like you have been swinging a heavy weight through the air at the end of the day. The Length The paddle I have is 210 cm in length. +++++ Finally +++++ A great paddle but a high price to pay but if you look after it will give you many hours of paddling pleasure. Be warned if you try it once you won't want to give it up!!
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ So what are Exum Pants? +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I don't think I've ever worn my Exum pants quite as much as I have this year. These pants are a waterproof over trouser ideal for all weather conditions. ========= The Design ========= The Outer The outer is made of Gore-Tex Pro Shell. The Seams The seams are 3 layer construction and 100% seam taped. Hand Pockets Hand pockets for extra convenience. Reinforced Areas For extra abrasion resistance these pants have a reinforced bottom, knees and ankles. Side Zips Full zips down the legs covered with a storm flap. Internal Stretch Gaiter Internal gaiter to provide extra weather protection and boot loops to you're your trouser leg riding up. Stretch Waistband The waistband gives a good fit with elastic and velcro. The Cut With articulated knees and an athletic cut make these pants highly functional. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ The trousers come in sizes from small to X Large. Only one colour is available and that is black. These trousers way in at 652g. ==== Price ==== Around the £230 mark but worth shopping around. ++++++++++++ My Experience ++++++++++++ I've had a number of different pairs of over trousers in the past but none of them last very long. These Exum pants have been the exception. If you want to know why then please read on....... The Outer The outer is made of Gore-Tex Pro Shell. This is a material, which has been designed to excel in extreme conditions whilst being breathable, windproof and of course waterproof. I have worn these trousers in the pouring rain, heavy snow. I've sat in the wet, I've sledged in the snow and I have never got wet through the trousers. The Seams The seams of any garment are a weak point but these are really well constructed and look strong. Hand Pockets These are a nice to have but not really necessary. Reinforced Areas All of my other trousers have worn around the ankles or the knees or in the bottom, not the Exum pant. They have been designed with extra reinforcement in these areas so will last so much longer. Side Zips Ther's nothing worse than having to take your boots off to get your trousers on especially when you are balancing on one foot in the rain on a windswept hillside only to get your foot stuck. Wear these pants and that's a thing of the past. Internal Stretch Gaiter The internal gaiter is great especially in the snow as it stops it getting into your boot. The boot loops also stop the leg of ypur trosers riding up, a great little feature. Stretch Waistband He velcro and elastic make the trousers fit really well and with the braces there is no chance you are going to lose your trosuers. The Cut I find that these trosers fit really well. The articulated knee reduces the amount of extra fabric in this area and aids in mobility. The athletic cut means that there is a standard cut from the hip and thigh but comes in at the knee and the cuff. I find that this works well as obviously my lower leg is much thinner than my top so the trosers don't need to be the same all the way down. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ If you don't like black then tough! +++++ Finally +++++ These may have been more expensive than the trousers that I have bought in the past but as they are showing no wear and I've had them a year now they will have been a good investment.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ So what is the Marmot Glenmore Jacket? ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ The Glenmore Jacket is a super tough, fully waterproof and breathable shell jacket designed to withstand the Scottish winter. It is perfect for winter climbing, skiing and general mountaineering. ========= The Design ========= All too often outdoor garmnets are designed to look stylish and appeal to the mass market and will probably never see the great outdoors. The Marmot Glenmore Jacket has been developed over a number of years using the experience of Glenmore Lodge, Scotlands National Outddor Centre, instructors. Who better to say what works and what doesn't than those who work on the icy rockface or the wind and snow blown mountain top. The Outer The outer of this jacket is made of Gore-Tex XCR material which is both waterproof and breathable. Construction The jacket is micro-stitched and 100% seam taped 3-layer construction. The Hood The jacket has a hood attached which also has a wired peak. Pockets The jacket has a number of pockets, an exterior map pocket, pack pockets and a flash pocket. Articulated Elbows The elbows are articulated in design. Reinforced Shoulders When wearing a rucksack you will get extra wear on the shoulder area so this has been reinforced. Angel Wings Have you ever lain in the snow and made a snow angel? In most jackets when you move your arms up and down the jacket rides up. Marmots Angel-Wing Movement allows full range of movement in the arms without the jacket riding up. Pit Zips Zips under the arm pit area which can be opened to provide ventalation. Storm Flap Not just one protective layer but two. Powder Skirt This skirts can be zipped off if you are not going to need it. Draw Cord Hem The elastic draw cord allows for a good tight fit. DriClime Chin Guard The driclime material is soft and warm on your chin. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ The jacket comes in sizes from Small to Extra Large. The jacket is becoming harder to buy so colours are limited as stocks get smaller. ==== Price ==== £300 rrp but available cheaper if you shop around. ++++++++++++ My Experience ++++++++++++ I bought one of these jackets second hand and have found it to be excellent. The Outer Although you expect to stay dry in a Gore Tex jacket I've never yet found one that does. This jacket is no different in that I have sometimes been a little damp as I sweat inside the jacket. The protection from the external elements is however excellent. Construction All the seams are great and the jacket appears to be very well constructed. The Hood The hood is not detachable but this means that it is well integrated as part of the jacket and certainly gives you lots of protection which is needed when you are out in bad conditions. There are various elastic drawstrings which allow you to get the hood to fit well. Pockets The pockets are high on the chest allowing access to them when you are wearing a rucksack. The map pocket can easily fit your OS map into which is not always the case when a map pocket is advertised. Articulated Elbows I do find the arms of the jacket quite longbut once you do up the velcro at the cuffs they do fit well especially the shaping around the elbows. Reinforced Shoulders The reinforced shoulders as well as adding protection against wear act as a double barrier to the elements. Angel Wings The jacket is designed quite short so the angel wings help prevent it riding up when you stretch. Pit Zips The pit zips are good but its worth remembering if you open them to close them before you put the jacket away. I've regularly forgotten then wondered why I feel like there is a draft!! Storm Flap The double storm flap is great as it makes sure that rain or snow does not get blown against the zip area making you cold or freezing up the zip. Powder Skirt Its great that this can be zipped off as I find it a nuisance. It does however do the job if you are a skier and want to stop the snow heading up you jacket when you take a closer look at the powder! Draw Cord Hem If you find the bottom of the jacket loose you can tighten the fir using the draw cord easily. DriClime Chin Guard I've had jackets in the past where I have rubbed my chin raw on the zip or the Velcro when I've had to zip right up. Not this jacket as it has the lovely soft wicking warm DriClime fabric in just the right place to protect your chin. +++++ Finally +++++ I do seriously question the price of this jacket, as it is very expensive if buying new at full price. At 732g it is quite heavy and as it is only a shell you still need a warm fleece underneath. It is however a great jacket if you are seriously into the outdoor but one to give a miss if you are only going to wear it for a trip to the shops!!
---Who Are Glenmore Lodge?--- Glenmore Lodge is Scotland's National Outdoor Training centre. For over 60 years their goal has been to inspire adventure by teaching beginners, coaching intermediate/advanced and delivering training and assessment courses for leaders and instructors. As well as courses based in Scotland they also have an international programme, which I joined, as part of a group sea kayaking in the South of Greenland. ---Trip Description--- According to Glenmore Lodges website the description of the trip is as follows " Greenland is the ultimate sea kayaking venue. Rugged mountains, glaciers, rocky spires and the immense Ice Cap provide a humbling and awesome kayaking experience. This unique trip offers a chance to experience the Inuit culture while journeying through the icebergs using equipment and techniques that were originally developed by the Inuit." ---Pre-Requisites--- The pre-requisites for this trip are that you have at least twenty-five days kayaking, including ten days sea kayaking with experience of force 4/5 winds and rough water. Experience of camping in remote areas and the ability to roll is also useful. I spent 2 years getting enough experience sea kayaking but hadn't managed the remote camping or roll!! ---Costs--- Flights from Copenhagen to Nanortalik cost around £1200. The reason this is that there is a helicopter transfer once you land in Greenland. On top of this you need to fly from the UK to Copenhagen around £200. Trip £1800 this includes equipment, food and accommodation and guiding. Spending Money. Yes believe it or not you may want to purchase some gifts from the lovely tourist information shop in Nanortalik, which sells items made by local craftsmen. ---Dates--- For 2010 it's the 23rd July until 7th August 2010. ---Ratios--- The normal ratio is 1 instructor to 5 clients with a maximum of 10. When I went we had 3 instructors and only 9 clients. ---Equipment--- I booked my place on the trip 18 months before the date of departure. This meant that I had time to get my equipment together. You are sent out a very detailed list right down to the number of pairs of underwear they say you should take. In case you are interested the answer is 2!! I rebelled and took 4!! Space is at a premium in your boat and as you have to carry food, stoves, fuel, tents, water, clothing etc you can only afford to take the minimum. The other thing to take into consideration is that the weight limit for luggage on the helicopter is quite low!! All of the sea kayaks, plastic P&H Capellas, are all kept out there along with tents, stoves and some buoyancy aids. Everything else gets freighted out along with the food. ---Food--- Paddling for up to 30km a day obviously uses up energy so food is important. As the food is shipped out in advance it cannot be perishable. Main meals are either boil in the bag or dehydrated and I found them very appetising especially the sweet and sour chicken with rice, better than some Chinese takeaways!! Desserts are boil in the bag to and included sponge and custard, rice pudding, chocolate pudding and custard. Breakfast alternated between porridge (just add water) or beans & bacon (boil in the bag). Lunch would be oatcakes with Primula cheese or jam or marmite. You also get lots of chocolate biscuits and museli bars and some dried fruit. To drink you have tea, coffee, hot chocolate, cup a soup and isotonic drink. ---Accommodation--- When you reach Copenhagen you stay in a comfortable hotel close by the airport, dinner and breakfast is included. The next 2 nights are spent in Nanortalik in a small bunkhouse, which is perfectly adequate and begins the acclimatisation ready for remote camping!! After this your home for the next 16 nights will be your tent at some of the most amazing camping spots you will likely encounter on this earth. When you return to Nanortalik your final night will be spent in the Youth Hostel, which has small rooms and nice warm showers. You will have a final dinner together in Greenland at a local restaurant before returning the next day to the hotel in Copenhagen. ---Temperature--- I was pleasantly surprised by the temperature. Most days it was warm enough to be around camp during the day in a t-shirt, I would liken it to a usual Scottish summer!! Night could get a little colder with temperatures going down to around -1 degrees C. When it was misty it definitely did feel colder. I did try the water to see just how cold it was and stood in it up to my knees. I very quickly could not feel my feet and realised that to fall into this would be life threatening!! ---My Experience--- The 22nd May 2004, the day I first tentatively sat in a sea kayak on Loch Morlich, on day one of an Introduction to Sea Kayaking course at Glenmore Lodge. That evening I watched a slide show by Doug Cooper, one of the instructors, about sea kayaking in Greenland; it became my dream that one day I would paddle in amongst the ice and under an ice arch. That dream began in July 2006. I kept telling myself that this was a trip of a lifetime and I certainly was not wrong. Our starting point was Nanortalik this involves an amazing aeroplane flight into Narsarsuaq then an even more amazing helicopter flight to Nanortalik, the place of the polar bears, and Greenland's southernmost town. We were assured that visits from polar bears were now quite rare! The route the trip takes over 12 days takes you from Nanortalik past some of the most amazing sea cliffs and scenery to Augpilagtoq. A small village nestled up some fjords near Prins Christians Sund. From here a boat picks you up and returns you to Nanortalik. The first few days were spent sorting out equipment, food and checking the stoves work. The time soon comes to put on your paddling kit, get your boat and get on the water for a short paddle to check the boats are all OK. I can still remember the excitement and realisation that I was about to paddle with icebergs. At last I was able to touch my first iceberg. It was like a dream, I was sitting in a sea kayak with an iceberg right beside me, this was what all the hard work and scary moments over the last 2 years had been for. The next day dawned and we packed our boats. It's amazing how much you can fit into a Capella as tents, stoves, fuel, food and clothing were carefully squeezed into the boats. There is certainly an art to packing one that I daily got better at. Day 1 We paddled across the fjord to our first campsite with ice everywhere. As we snaked our way silently through these breathtaking sculptures of ice it was as if you were in an art gallery. After dinner we climbed a small hill to get a better view of the ice. I had expected ice but not in my wildest dreams had I expected what lay before me. Across the horizon the ice looked thick with no perceivable way through this impregnable maze laid out before us, not a stationary maze but an ever-changing one. As we were to soon find out this amount of ice was not normal, this was the most ice since 1979! We sat around the campfire as the sun set over the ice and mountaintops, the lights of Nanortalik twinkling in the distance. Day 2 The reports were not good; there was a lot of ice moving in just the direction we wanted to go. No matter where you looked we were surrounded with ice. We stayed where we were for the day and just went out for a short paddle around our biggest berg yet. It was also our first big reality check paddling through ice, which was moving, closing off gaps and trapping you, this ice was powerful and we would do well to remember that nothing would stand in its way. The day ended with another camp fire and amazing sunset with a visit from an artic fox that stood on the horizon and barked at us. Day 3 Still too much ice to go on our way so another short paddle around into another fjord was the plan. Then it all got a bit scary as some huge pieces of ice started to block us in and we had to make a very hasty retreat back to camp. Day 4 Another stunning day dawned. This was a day I had been looking forward to, my birthday. We headed back to Nanortalik as it had become clear that our intended route was blocked by ice. From here we then set off on a real adventure where none of us really knew where we would camp or just quite what lay around the corner, including the instructors!!. We camped at Anitudla with amazing views up to the island of Amitsoq. Another campfire, birthday cake and our first fish caught by Shaun topped off an excellent day. Day 5 A paddle to a disused graphite mine at Amitsoq where we explored the rusting machinery over lunch and then onwards up alongside towering mountains rising straight up out of the water 800m into the sky. A beautiful warm sunny day and a chance to paddle without a cag on and top up the tan! Yet another awesome campsite with icebergs floating past and more fish to cook on the campfire. Day 6 From our previous campsite we could see an old Inuit village at Sermilik so it was to here that we paddled on this morning. Out in the bay was a large iceberg, which we would soon paddle beside, Crack, the top fell off it, and soon a wave was heading towards the beach where the boats were sitting. As we paddled onwards we had to push our way through chunks of ice, which had come from the fallen berg, another stark reminder that these icebergs are owed a lot of respect. Then into the wind and up the fjord of Sondre Sermilik where we were forced to stop on a pebbly beach to wait for the conditions to improve. They didn't and so we pitched tents on a pebbly beach and stayed for the next 30hrs!! Day 8 At last we retreated from the now nicknamed Windy Fjord. As we paddled out of the fjord the wind changed direction and we still had to paddle into the wind. As soon as we left the fjord the wind dropped and we were back paddling in perfect conditions. A few stops along the way to admire the mountains and yet another superb campsite at Niaqornakasik selected by birthday boy Adrian. A superb view, a lovely stream, birthday cake and plenty of wood for our campfire. Day 9 A misty day but back into the ice we headed, I hadn't realised how much I had missed it. All around you could hear the creaks and groans and on occasions the crashes as bergs collapsed. From our first stop on a little island we could see the most amazing iceberg, it looked like a cathedral. As I paddled closer I could see it was an arch, how I longed to paddle under. This one was not to be, as we were warned to give it a wide berth, it did look slightly unstable. Plenty of pictures were taken of this masterpiece before it was time to move on. The weather began to deteriorate and we landed in the wet, so tents were put up quickly and most people disappeared inside. Footprints along a beautiful sandy beach showed that this was once again artic fox territory. After walking along the beach and a scramble over some rocks a few of us came across the most beautiful stream with lovely deep pools. Had it have been warm enough this would have been an ideal spot for bathing! We managed to get a fire going and slowly the rest of the team managed to pull themselves from their warm tents and soon we were all around the fire drying wet kit. Day 10 There were huge icebergs on one side of us appearing through the mist and, a rocky, boulderly coastline on the other, with plenty of opportunities for rock hopping, caves to explore and gaps to paddle through. With the occasional glimpses of mountains towering above us we could only imagine how big these were. What else could make the day complete? An appearance from a humpback whale. Out of the mist we heard him and then he surfaced a couple of times finally he showed his tail and disappeared leaving us in the mist, speechless. As we weaved through the icebergs to what would be our campsite, 2 white tailed sea eagles circled above us, looking at these strangers encroaching on their territory. Our final camp spot had the most wood so a roaring fire was soon made and we sat around it eating pancakes. Day 11 Our final push around a headland and back to Nanortalik. With an early start we benefited from the tide and the wind and soon we had completed probably the hardest part of the trip. We crossed over to the North side of the island of Nanortalik before weaving our way through the maze of ice trying to find a clear path. Then there in the distance was Nanortalik. With, a bit of tide to deal with, some narrows to negotiate, a paddle across the bay and we would back to where we had started 11 days ago, the first Sea Kayakers to have completed this journey. Then there it was an ice arch, I had almost paddled past it. It looked safe and it was almost certainly my last opportunity so I went for it; I paddled through my ice arch and survived! A dream come true and a few more grey hairs for the instructors! 11 days of adventure for us all, ice, ice and more ice, wildlife, amazing mountains of all shapes and sizes, towering rock faces, gigantic boulders, and all shared with a great team of people. It had exceeded all my expectations, captured my heart and left me knowing that I had to come back. As McGonagall wrote, Greenland's icy mountains are fascinating and grand, And wondrously created by the Almighty's command; And the works of the Almighty there's few can understand: Who knows but it might be a part of Fairyland? Because there are churches of ice, and houses glittering like glass, And for scenic grandeur there's nothing can it surpass, Besides there's monuments and spires, also ruins, Which serve for a safe retreat from the wild bruins. And there's icy crags and precipices, also beautiful waterfalls, And as the stranger gazes thereon, his heart it appals With a mixture of wonder, fear, and delight, Till at last he exclaims, Oh! what a wonderful sight! The poem goes on but to me this sums up my trip to Greenland. It's well worth the effort and certainly the cost. Words and pictures barely scratch the surface of what it is really like, you have to come and sample it for yourself and you certainly will not be disappointed but be warned you will want to come back!
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++ So what is the Predator Shiznit? +++++++++++++++++++++++++++ The shiznit is a helmet especially for watersports made by Predator, a manufacturer of ski and watersports helmets in the USA. ========= The Design ========= The Material The shell is made of high impact Ralvek which is a thermoplastic giving increased stiffness and protection. Protective Inner Foam The comfortable closed-cell waterproof foam is used to dissipate impacts. Straps The Shiznit features the Croc-Loc, which is a rear adjustor for a comfortable, locked-down precision fit. It also features top quality webbing and buckles and stainless steel chinstrap rivets. Ear Covers The helmet comes with detachable thermoformed ear covers. Fit Pad Kit The Shiznit includes a closed-cell fit pad kit for customizing. The Visor The Shiznit can be worn with the visor front or back. The visor is 1 1/2" (4 cm) and provides sun protection and improved safety by reducing "bucketing" +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ The helmet comes in one size and in white, blue, carbon or matt black. ==== Price ==== £58 CE EN 1385 approved ++++++++++++ My Experience ++++++++++++ I don't wear a helmet very often when I am open canoeing but occasional I reach a rapid on the river when I want that added bit of protection on my head. I've had experience of hitting my head pretty hard while wearing a plastic kayaking helmet so know the importance of making sure that the helmet you choose has been tested to high standards. The shiznit is CS EN1385 approved. The Material The outside of the helmet is solid and does not flex in any way. It is shaped in a very stylish way and the fact that you can wear it either way you can look cool. Protective Inner Foam The whole of the inside of the helmet is covered in this foam, which feels quite solid but does give you protection. Great thing is that the foam does not hold the water so your head has not got soggy foam on it. Straps It's really important to ensure that the helmet fits well otherwise its not going to do its job when you need it most. This helmet comes with easily adjustable webbing to make sure that you get the ideal fit. The rear adjustor locks down to keep it in place. Ear Covers I've worn the helmet once with the ear covers on but wasn't convinced that they would stay attached. They attach with a press-stud, which works, but I think you might lose them if you end up in the water. Fit Pad Kit You get a kit to allow you to add any extra padding to make the helmet fit you perfectly. It is much the same, as you would get with your bike helmet, strips of foam, which you stick in place. The Visor The visor is great. I haven't used it much for shielding me from the sun but more to keep the rain from your eyes, bet they didn't think of that at the time!! You can wear it with the visor at the back but I find I catch the visor on the back of my buoyancy aid, which is really annoying. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ I've got the matt black helmet which now has a few scrapes on the shell from trees I've ducked under but they are just superficial. Not bad for 4 years of use/lying in the bottom of the canoe. +++++ Finally +++++ A good helmet around half the price of the Sweet Strutter but still looks just as good.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++ So what is a Headcase? +++++++++++++++++++++++++++ No no no its not that sort of headcase but in this case Peaks Headcase is a neoprene cap designed to fit underneath your kayaking helmet. ========= The Design ========= The Material The cap is made from 1.5 mm neoprene lined with titanium. Flat Lock Seams No unsightly or uncomfortable seams. Lycra Stretch lycra binding around edges. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ The headcase comes in two sizes, S/M or L/XL and is black/ice in colour. ==== Price ==== £15 ++++++++++++ My Experience ++++++++++++ Have you ever put your head in cold water and got an ice cream headache? Probably not!! Well the perils of kayaking in Scotland during the colder months are an ice cream headache should you capsize. The headcase although not the height of fashion is a great piece of kit for keeping your head cosy. The Material This soft neoprene is nice and thick and with the addition of the titanium lining keeps your head nice and warm and slows the inevitable brain freeze down should you get your head wet. Flat Lock Seams No unsightly or uncomfortable seams which is imprtant when you have this under a good fitting helmet as you don't want anything sticking into your head. Lycra Stretch lycra binding around edges is comfortable and keeps the cap in place. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ With 2 sizes you should be able to get one to fit plus the fact that they are made of stretchy neoprene means they will fit a range of head sizes. +++++ Finally +++++ If you don't mind wearing something that reminds you of a shower cap this is just the thing for preventing brain freeze.
+++++++++++++++++++++ So what is a Rash Vest? +++++++++++++++++++++ A rash vest is a close fitting top which is often worn while surfing or during other water sports under a wetsuit to prevent chafing. Some also provide UV protection and in some cases extra warmth. Peak's rash vest is designed to go under your paddling cag or bouyancy aid. ========= The Design ========= The Material The rashy is made from nylon lycra which makes it quick drying. The Seams All the seams are flat locked. UV Protection The rashy is UV50 protective. The Neck The neck is higher than your average T-shirt to give you that extra bit of protection from your cag. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ The rashy comes in the following sizes XS. S/M. L/XL. XXL. The rashy comes in 2 colours black or grey. ==== Price ==== £27 ++++++++++++ My Experience ++++++++++++ This rashy has been an excellent investment, not that it was all that expensive. I love the water whether its canoing or sea kayaking, body boarding or snorkelling or just swimming. A visist to the beach is not complete without a dip in the sea. I often wear the rashy on top of my swimsuit when I'm wearing my board shorts if I'm bodyboarding, swimming or snorkelling. Although it does hug your body its better tha the wet t-shirt look!! The Material I've had the rashy for a few years now and its still in good condition even though it has been used in a swimming pool with chlorine. The nylon dries really quickly and is comfortable to wear. Added to that the UV 50 protection it makes for great beach wear. The Seams Thers nothing worse than a tight fitting top with seams that dig into you, not so here. The design is such that the seams are flat so no marks on your body. UV Protection I guess it works but it has mainly been worn in Scotland!! The Neck The neck is a comfortable fit and stops any chaffing if you are wearing a cag. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ I've got the black extra large rashy and it just fits. Peak seem to make their clothes for tall skinny paddlers so I do struggle to get a good fit. +++++ Finally +++++ I know its summer when I can wear this out paddling with just the buoyancy aid over it shame there won't be too many occasions in the next 6 months but there's always next year to look forward to.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ When would your wear Bagz Shorts? ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Bagz shorts have been designed to be worn on those warm sunny days when you don't mind if you get wet. Ideal for a quick dip in the water as swim shorts to. ========= The Design ========= The Material The shorts are made from quick drying ripstop tactel fabric. The Bottom The rear of the shorts is covered with cordura. Waist The shorts have an elasticated waist with a drawcord. Pockets The shorts have a cargo style pocket with a gear loop. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ The shorts come in the following sizes small, medium, large, XL, XXL. Be warned that Peak sizes are small made. Only one colour is available and that's charcoal/ice. ==== Price ==== £25 ++++++++++++ My Experience ++++++++++++ I bought these shorts thinking that they would go well with my rashy and they do but I haven't worn them as much as the top. Read on to find out why. The Material The shorts I bought were unlined and I found the material a bit rough on the insides of my legs. You can however buy a lined pair but at twice the price! The Bottom Its good that the shorts have a little extra protection on the rear of the shorts as this is where most of the wear is going to be. Waist I liked the idea that the shorts had an elasticated waist unlike most board shorts which don't. A little extra stretch I thought, I was very wrong! There is very little elasticity so not very comfortable. Pockets The pockets are fine for storing the essential bits you might need to. There is some velcro on them to keep them securly closed. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ I bought the XXL shorts as these would be the same size as my paddling trousers which are also made by Peak and are plenty big enough. Well I got them on but they were anything but comfortable, I felt like I was having to hold my breath and was afraid to bend or stretch incase I split them. +++++ Finally +++++ I'm afraid to say these are anything but baggy shorts, which won't be coming out to play unless I miraculously loose weight. If however they did fit me I would certainly wear them for summer watersports, as I do believe that they would perform well. I have lots of friends who have them and love them but then they are tall and skinny paddlers and I'm sure that is who Peak are aiming them at.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++ So what are Peak Uk's Neoprene Mitts? +++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I'm guessing if you have looked at the picture you will be thinking that these don't look like any mitt you have ever seen, unless you are a paddler. These mitts are designed to keep your hands warm whilst paddling. ========= The Design ========= The Material The glove is made from 2mm neoprene. Flat Lock Construction No unsightly or uncomfortable seams in this mitt. Lycra Stretch lycra binding around edges. Velcro Opening These mitts have a velcro opening to allow the paddle shaft to be attached. Bite Me Tag!! Just pull on this tag to help get the mitt on. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ The mitts come in one size fits all and are black with the grey peak logo on them. ==== Price ==== £15 ++++++++++++ My Experience ++++++++++++ I don't tend to wear gloves when paddling after a near drowning experience whilst river kayaking. I capsized and could not find the spraydeck handle to pull it off because I was wearing a wetsuit mitt and couldn't feel it. I ended up having to pull the mitts off then get myself out with very little breath left. Since then I'd much rather have cold hands than go through that again that was until I was introduced to these mitts or poggies as they are sometimes called. I wasn't convinced at first but since then they have at times been invaluable. The Material This soft neoprene is nice and thick but because these fit around the paddle lack of movement which would normally be associated with this thickness of neoprene is avoided. Neoprene works best when wet just like a wet suit and also dries quickly. Flat Lock Construction The seams are all well stitched and are flat so no uncomfortable bits. Lycra The cuff has nice stretchy lycra making it easy for you to get your hands in especially when you are also wearing a thick jpaddling jacket. Velcro Opening Across the palm where your fingers are is a velcro opening to allow the pmitt to be attached to the paddle. This means that you are holding the padlle in your bare hands but your hand is still inside the glove. In other words the mitts are attached to the paddle, if you want to scartch your head then you have to take your hand out of the mitt. The velcro is covered in the neoprene so there is nothing rough inside. Bite Me Tag!! Yes on the tag it says Bite Me! Took me a while to work out why but I think its because it looks like you have a glove puppet on which has a big mouth which is going to bite the paddle. On the oyher side of the tag it says to wash the mitts from time to time in the interest of personal hygenie. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ I don't have particulary small or big hands so there is plenty space but they certainly don't feel too big. If you have very small hands they might feel a little strange and will reach up your arm some way. +++++ Finally +++++ I've never capsized whilst wearing these but I am 100% confident that I could very quickly let go of my paddle, remove my hand and get out of the boat. The added bonus is that you won't lose the mitt, as it will still be attached to the paddle!!
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++ So what are Powerstretch Pants? +++++++++++++++++++++++++++ These are midweight fleece pants with flat-lock seams and an ergonomic design. They provide plenty of warmth and a great fit whether you wear them under running shorts, waterproofs or if you are brave enough on their own!! ========= The Design ========= Main Material The trousers are made from Polartec Power Stretch which is a material made from 88% Polyester 12% Elastane. This versatile material features a body-hugging 4-way stretch and is very breathable. They keep you dry when you sweat and provide warmth without weight. The Waist The waist is elastic and has an added drawcord to make sure they are confortable and secure. Pockets The trosuers what is described as a credit card sized pocket for small items. Flat Lock Construction No uncomfortable seams to stick into you. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ The trousers come in sizes from Extra Small to Extra Large in both mens and womens. If you don't like black these are not for you as they only come in one colour - Black. ==== Price ==== £55 but shop around. ++++++++++++ My Experience ++++++++++++ I've never been one for leggings, I don't have the figure to wear them!! So why I hear you cry are you reviewing them? Well I did buy a pair, 2 actually but I certainly don't walk around in them unless they are under another garment, usually my paddling trousers. Main Material The polartec material is nice and warm and does keep you warm and dry. Any moisture does get wicked away quickly and if you do get the trousers really wet they dry quite quickly to. The Waist The elastic complemnted with the drawstring keep these trousers in place and is comfortable. Pockets You would just fit a credit card intot he pocket but it certainly would not be comfortable. I don't really see the purpose for the pocket as you can't put anything worthwhie into it without it sticking into you as its on the waist band. Flat Lock Construction With flat seams you don't get any uncomfortable stiching stuck into you. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ I've got the extra large size and they fit well with just a little baggyness and of course they are in black. +++++ Finally +++++ Certainly not the most flattering piece of clothing in my outdoor collection but they do get worn a lot under my waterproofs. They keep me warm and cosy especially in the winter and are my under garment of choice for sea kayaking. I have also worn them out mountain biking with my baggy cycling shorts over the top when its cold and wet and they work a treat. Warm legs mean warm toes so power stretch here we go.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ So what are DriClime Side Zip Pants? +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Yet another one of my favourite pieces of Marmot clothing these trousers are wind resistant, water repellent and breathable. ========= The Design ========= The Outer The outer is made of 100% polyester with Marmot Defender DWR, which is wind resistant. The Lining The lining is made from Marmots patented DriClime which is a Bi-Component Wicking material which allows for breathability and excellent moisture removal. Articulated Knee The trousers have an articulated knee which reduces the amount of un necessacery material in that area and also to aid in movement. Leg Cuffs The cuffs at the ankles have elastic to keep them snug. The Waist There is an elastic waist but also a drawsstring for extra securing. Pocket The trousers have a small back pocket with a zip. Side Zips These trousers have full zips down the sides of the legs of the trosers with velcro at the top as well. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ The trousers come in sizes fromsmall to XX Large in both a mans and womans fit. Only one colour is available and that is black.. ==== Price ==== Around the £50 mark but worth shopping around. ++++++++++++ My Experience ++++++++++++ When I first saw these trousers they reminded me very much of my shell suit that I had when I was younger so I wasn't entirely convinced that I wanted to own a pair. After a colleague convinced me of how good they were and how versatile they were I decided to go for it and try them for myself. The Outer The outer is quite a thin material, as you would expect from 100% polyester. I was worried that it would rip easily but I've now had them for 4 years and they are only now beginning to show signs of wear on the bottom and knees. The Lining DriClime is an amazing material and it does exactly what Marmot says it will. I stay warm and any moisture is wicked away plus if you get them wet they dry really quickly. Articulated Knee The shaping of the knee is good especially when cycling though they do go a bit baggy at times. Leg Cuffs The elastic around the cuffs works well. The Waist The elastic makes the trousers comfy to wear and the drawstring is also useful however I do find that these trousers do slip a lot especially when you have a pair of waterproofs over the top. I've nearly had some embarassing moments as I've taken off my waterproof paddling trosers to find that the side zip trousers have slipped down revealling areas I'd rather not reveal to the world!! Pocket Ideal for some cash but watch out with keys as they can damage the material easily. Side Zips I call these my full monty trousers not that I've tried them out in this way. The zips allow the trousers to be totally removed easily. Why I hear you cry? Well if you are a runner or cyclist and are wearingthem to warm up the last thing ypu want to have to do is struggle to get your trosers off over your running spikes or cycling shoes. Just undo the trosers and off they come, likewise to put them back on once you are finished, simple. +++++++++ Size/Colours +++++++++ Don't buy these trousers too big as you are limited as to how far you can pull the drawstring because of the fact that they zip rigfht off. +++++ Finally +++++ If you want a comfortable, cosy base layer, which can be easily put on or taken off then these, are for you. Added to that they are wind resistant and water repellent and breathable what more could you ask for. I love these trousers and they have so many uses biking, walking, Nordic skiing, running, canoeing, sea kayaking or just drinking coffee!! Well worth the money to stay warm and cosy.