Saturday, March 31

Sorting out the gear

Its going to be a weird sort of year for me, with the possibility of unlimited free time, and some substantial cash to go with it. Or business as usual. All of which is making any sort of real planning for serious wildcamping trips this year a little difficult. A bit of a challenge you could say. And those that know me may spot the loaded terminology there.

But now I've got Scotland lined up for July its helped focus my attention a little more to try to sort out something (anything really) just to have some sort of plan at least. Things to look forward to during somewhat trying times. And then there's how to get hill fit?

With one eye on gear replacement I popped into my local independant outdoor retailer today. I know the proprietor of Barkers in Ringwood from many years ago, when we both had different lives. He left one career path and opened an Outdoor shop, a substantial change from his previous expertise.

I last popped in whilst considering boot replacement, and heard about new product lines due in after Xmas, so with new boots and possibly a new pack in mind, I thought I'd take a looksee.

The shops not large, but the product lines are very well chosen. Ignoring an excellent range of boots (and a fitting service), its the first place that I've seen a Superfeet insoles readily available. I've become a fan of these over the last couple of years, replacing my former choice ( Sorbothane) to prevent sore feet at the end of a one too many long days.

And then there were the new lines.

Backpacks - Yippee! Including Gregory, Osprey & Go-Lite amongst others. All there in the flesh to try out (get thee behind me Satan)

This is typical of the stock in good specialists. If you've limited space, best to make sure what is on display is something special. And this proprietor knows his stuff, based on years of experience and feedback.

I managed to escape today with just a Smartwool marino base layer. I've been hunting around other local outdoor stockists for a roll neck, zip front design, over the winter months. I like the ability to select the amount of venting, and keep the wind off my neck. Cotswolds, a large shop, had an all too limited range. But I pop into a specialist, and its a case of 'Here's choice - which one can I help with?'

I'm due back there in the next few weeks for a pair of boots, and once I've taken time to weigh (literally) and assess my current backpack, and future requirements, maybe I may stretch to one of those at the same time. (More on that selection process later, and I'll try not to get too geeky I promise)

And despite Barkers now being the proud owner of a 'JH Walkabout' calling card, this is an entirely unsolicted recommendation on my part. As far as I'm concerned good service & a great product range deserves recognition.

So if you're in the Ringwood area I'd suggest checking it out. It's never going to compete on price, especially from the Internet based shops, but I'm impressed by some well selected gear for what is, lets face it, a Millets/tourist area as far as the potential purchaser trade is concerned.

I think I was right about that debit card taking a hammering.


Second that about Barkers, the shop just gets better and better. I knew he was going to do Gregory and Osprey (I've got an Atmos 50) but did not know he was doing Golite, so I must pop in to see their new range. He is also a Paramo Premier Retailer.

Hi again Jon

Yep. I know the Paramo was tempting me as well, but I'm trying to ignore the calling of that one for the moment
Paramo will get you in the end !!!

Having had a look at those packs recently I thought the Gregory's better than the Ospreys. But I'd have a look at the new Golite packs - very impressive.
now I thought the Ospreys looked a little more robust than the Gregory's and the Go-lite a but like it would blow away on the wind.

But overall its great to see such a range all in one place
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