Archive for August 4th, 2012

August 4, 2012

The Edw valley – Landscape perfection in Wales

by backpackingbongos

From the edge of the escarpment warm air was wafting up from the valley floor two hundred metres below.  The green patchwork of fields were busy with tractors, farmers making the most of the fine sunny weather.  I had the hill to myself, the crowds passing by this gem of a region, pulled to the nearby Brecon Beacons National park.  I normally prefer my landscapes bleak and empty, getting my thrills from remoteness.  However the Radnorshire hills had put a spell over me.  Somehow this landscape has so far escaped the recent industrialisation of our hills.  There was not a giant wind turbine in sight.  Long may it remain that way.

An area I can’t wait to return to, even after the unpleasant encounter with the gamekeeper.  I’ll do a couple of trip reports in the next week or so.

August 4, 2012

Montane Terra Pants review

by backpackingbongos

When Christoph Hitchen got in touch and asked if I wanted to test some outdoor gear from , I have to admit that I spent a while perusing the huge amount of kit on offer.  Idealo is not an actual retailer but a price comparison website, outdoor gear being a small proportion of what it offers.  After an initial cheeky request I sat and had a think about what I needed rather than what I wanted.  With a trip to the Arctic coming up there are a few things that I need to get.  This includes a new pair of hiking trousers after my others exploded, in the end I settled for a pair of the Montane Terra Pants.

When I picked them from idealo the cheapest that they could be found for were £69.99, checking a few weeks later they are now available for £52.49.  Once you have picked the best deal you are put through direct to the online retailer, in this case Snow and Rock.  This shows that the site is reactive to changes in prices.

I have been using a pair of Montane Terra Pack Pants on the hills for a couple of years now, the lighter version of these standard Terra Pants.  They are simply the best trousers that I have owned.  They weight in at 260 grammes as opposed to 332 grammes for my new standard Terra Pants.

The standard Terra Pants are made from Tactel nylon with the backside, knees and inner hem made of abrasion resistant Cordura mini ripstop.  I was initially worried that this two-tone look would be rather clownish in the flesh but I was surprised at how smart they actually are.  Within a couple of days of receiving them they were worn for a weekend backpack in the Peak District.

I am 6ft and usually buy trousers in a 34 inch waist, the size large in a regular leg were a perfect fit for me.  They come up a bit shorter than many other regular length trousers which is a good thing.  Even at 6ft I find many outdoor trousers are too long, with excess material dragging through the wet and dirt.  These sit nicely at the top of my trail shoes.

The waist is semi elasticated and has a regular fly, button and belt loops.  The belt is a low profile nylon webbing affair.  A nice touch is the soft fleecy lining which makes them nice and comfy around the waist.

Down each thigh is a zipped vent which is backed by a mesh panel.  My legs often overheat when backpacking so this is a nice touch to let in a bit of air.  The mesh allows you to keep a bit of modesty and stops you flashing your undies!

My only criticism is the zipped lower leg as I really can’t see what the purpose of it is.  The blurb says that they are there to enable you to get them on over lightweight footwear.  Maybe I do things differently to others but I prefer to put on my trousers before my shoes.  Does anyone out there really put on their hiking shoes and then decide that they better put on a pair of trousers?

On the second day of the Peak District backpack I tested the abrasion resistance of the knees by twisting my ankle and hitting the ground with some force.  My knee was grazed but the material itself remained intact, my original Terra Pack Pants would probably not have survived that.

On a warm sunny day in Wales I did think that the Cordura panels don’t breathe as well and blocked out some of the cooling breeze.  Depending on your viewpoint this could be a good or a bad thing.  A heavy shower showed that they can keep the rain at bay for about 30 seconds before they were soaked through and water was streaming down my legs.  Not that they claim to be in any way waterproof.  I hung them up dripping wet in the Bongo that evening and they were totally dry in the morning.

Overall they are highly recommended trousers for the hills, perhaps a bit pricey but worth it.  In the heat I much prefer the Pack Pants which don’t have the Cordura reinforcements as they breathe a bit better.  For the rest of the time the Terra Pants will be the ones I’ll always choose for the hills.

On a separate note I do wish that manufacturers would stop calling trousers pants.  Pants are something that I wear over the top of my superman costume……….