Treksumo was created with hiking and trekking in mind, but from time to time we step off the well-beaten hiking routes in order to explore and review gear we think should have a place in your packing list. A good example of this is the hiking boot alternative category as today we’re going to be walking through a quick Altra Lone Peak 4 review.
The last few times I’ve bought insulated jackets I’ve tended to go for real down. It’s warm, compressible, and it just felt like the ‘superior’ option versus artificial insulation. Fleeces aside, my only synthetically insulated jacket prior to buying the Rab Cirrus Flex was the very lightweight Arc’teryx Atom LT. However, on a trip to the Cairngorms a couple of years ago, down jackets were strongly discouraged and I ended up borrowing a synthetic jacket. The reason, simply, is that even the very best hydrophobic down just does not perform well when wet. And it’s almost always wet in Scotland. Wet down clumps together and loses its loft, and suddenly what you thought was bombproof insulation is about as effective as wrapping yourself in damp newspaper. You can read more about what makes a down jacket warm here. So perhaps it’s no wonder that, for a lot of hikers and climbers in the UK – where it pretty much rains all the time – synthetic insulation is seen as a better choice. In other parts of the world, where cold but very dry conditions can be guaranteed for weeks at a time, real goose down is of course an excellent choice.
The Garmin Fenix 6 is, essentially, Garmin’s top-of-the-range activity watch (with the debatable exception of the almost-identical Tactix). It has ended up at the top of the food chain in almost every category: not only is it their most fully-featured hiking and navigation wearable but also one of their only watches with true multisport functionality for triathletes, their premium lifestyle and smart watch, and a running watch that is at least as good as anything in the Forerunner series. Almost every feature that exists anywhere in the Garmin wearables range is available in the Fenix, especially the Fenix Pro.
In a way, that makes it an obvious choice – if you can afford it (and that’s a big if), why not buy it, and be confident that you’re unlikely to be missing out on anything? On the other hand, given that it’s comfortably twice the price of some of the excellent watches in the Forerunner range, or the superb Garmin Instinct – is it really worth the sizeable investment? Read this mega-review to find out my thoughts after a month of extensive testing in as many conditions as I could manage.
PreTents is a new arrival on the tent scene, but with some serious pedigree behind it. Though information is currently fairly sparse online, the brand is a new venture between Hong Kong-based cottage outdoor gear designed Tara Poky and well-established Chinese tent manufacturer The Free Spirits. In the UK, PreTents can be purchased from Valley and Peak, who kindly loaned us the PreTents Ridgeline for testing and review purposes (it was returned afterwards, and neither PreTents nor Valley and Peak had any input into the content of this article).
I’ve already carried out some side by side comparisons of satellite communicators and navigator devices, but finally decided to get a Garmin InReach Explorer+ review out there for our readers.
Jake, the co-author of TrekSumo, and I have a huge amount of experience using GPS and navigation devices. I’m ex-military, with 10 years service in the British Army, and Jake is seasoned hiker and explorer. Over the course of respective tours, we’ve encountered the good, the bad and the ugly of satellite navigation devices (trust me: the military is great at buying and dumping heavy, U-G-L-Y equipment on the troops).
Anyway, time to quit the meander down memory lane. Let’s get this InReach review on the road.
My Atmos 65 was both a very last-minute and, as it turned out, a very fortunate purchase.
Back in 2018 when I went to Seattle to spend a few days hiking Section J of the Pacific Crest Trail, the rucksack I had taken with me was a Vango Contour 60+10; a decent but by no means top-end piece of kit that had served me fairly well on a rainy three days wild camping in Scotland but which I was becoming increasingly nervous about using. I could ignore most of its (myriad) flaws but the one thing I couldn’t ignore was that what must have been a one-off construction fault meant that the shoulder adjustment strap on one side would always end up digging into my neck, no matter how much I tried to move it.
I’ve now had the Garmin Instinct for over six months, so I finally feel in a position to write a reasonably thorough review of it. I’m going to start off with quickly explaining why I bought it, on the basis that since almost all Garmin products are essentially pretty good, the question here isn’t so much ‘is it a good watch’ as ‘is it the right watch for me’, and hopefully understanding my thought process will help you figure out if the same applies to you.
So, I’ve had Garmin watches for running for years – I think I’ve had five watches in that time, and with my last one (the Vivosmart HR+, which James has reviewed) I made the switch to it being my everyday watch. I really appreciate the notifications as well as the health and sleep tracking, so those were key for me. Aside from that, my use of the watch is probably 70% running, 20% hiking, and 10% other sports. A big factor, however, is that I am a serving Army Reservist and wanted a watch that was rugged enough to use in the field, and could replace the features of my Garmin Foretrex which, while brilliant, was feeling increasingly outdated.
Your plans are set, gear packed and all that’s left is to choose the right footwear for you hike. The age old battle of hiking boots vs trail runners keeps on coming round. What I’d like to do today is make a few suggestions for you to consider.
First though, trail runners have come a long way since I first pulled on a pair (about 18 years ago). Over time they’ve been engineered to be more rugged, with deep treads on the outsoles, and lightweight. And for many trips they’ve become a credible alternative to hiking boots.
Let’s walk through some of the questions you should be asking of your footwear.
Do you know how to choose hiking boots? Well, the process is a little like entering into a long and committed relationship: you’re going to travel long distances together, on journeys that may take many years. Along the way there will be friction, fun and occasional boot envy when you’re hiking the wilds.
Most important of all, you’ll care and protect one another. Mutual respect will grow, and in time you’ll feel comfortable with each other, no matter where you adventures take you both. How to choose hiking boots that you’ll cherish in a way that will make your bobble hat green with envy is a dizzying process.
But don’t worry! This post is part of a new series of article that will bring together all you need to know about hiking boots. Let’s get this love affair on the trail!
Before you finally commit to a match made in hikers heaven, you need to be sure the two of you are compatible.
General: a small, but very capable sports watch. Rugged and reliable, the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is a great option for outdoor enthusiasts looking for a relatively low cost GPS-enabled fitness tracker that’s ideal for more than just hiking or running.
The Vivosmart HR+: General Information
One of a long line of capable devices, the Vivosmart HR+ has been around for a few years now. That’s because it works and it works well. When it comes to buying a low cost fitness tracker or hiking/running watch it’s worth pausing to look this one over.
I have to admit to really liking the HR+: the GPS tracking is great and there are plenty of applications that just work with it out of the box (more on those points in a while). And the price point is a good one – right now you can pick one up for about $100/£100.
When it first launched back in 2016, the Vivosmart HR+ was relatively expensive. Over time the price has dropped to a point that it’s an easy purchase decision.
Okay, let’s get into the heart of this Garmin Vivosmart HR+ review…