I have to say that I am rather proud of the fact that I nearly got through the whole of 2014 without doing a gear post. I made a minor slip up just before going to Sarek when I posted a gear spreadsheet. All I have to say about that was it was one of the most boring soul-destroying things that I have ever done. For a start spreadsheets should only be used for work and even then they should be passed to an admin type person. I actually spent part of my life carefully weighing each and every item and putting them on a spreadsheet to find out how much my pack weighed. I could have simply stood on my bathroom scales and subtracted my body weight. After this experience I have come to the conclusion that people who regularly do gear spreadsheets should be viewed with suspicion and possibly are not having enough sex.
I did however realise that I slipped up a bit on my recent blog post 2014 – a year in the hills. It was pointed out to me that I had used six different shelters throughout the year. Yes I admit that I have a shelter fetish but happily I am mostly able to keep this to myself. They are the supporting cast on this blog, not the main characters, which remain the mountains and wild places.
So what about Backpackingbongos gear of the year I hear you ask? Be patient I will get there. There was a tense moment over the past month when I got nominated for Trespass Blogger of the year. I have to admit that this got me a little bit worried. My approach was to pretend it wasn’t happening and hope that no one noticed. Thankfully this paid off and I did not win. Trespass from what I can gather is a second-rate Blacks or Millets. Although I don’t write about gear I’m still a bona fide gear snob. Winning this would be like a craft beer blog being nominated by Fosters. In my opinion Trespass have just jumped on the TGO blog awards bandwagon, mining for data from people’s Facebook pages. But then maybe I’m a cynic.
Anyway, drum roll. The winner of my gear of 2014 is……………….
I first discovered Manfur back in 2011 when I wrote a review of it. A few years have now passed and I thought that I should do a living review. One thing that I have noticed is that since my original blog, Manfur has taken off in a big way. You can barely walk down the high street without bumping into someone who looks like a Victorian preacher. That’s the problem when certain kit gains popularity, everyone wants to own it. Even people who open cereal cafes in posh bits of London. Manfur has turned into the North Face or Berghaus of the outdoor world. It’s just as likely to be worn down the pub as on a mountain.
Anyway kit is always updating and re-inventing itself, trying to tempt us with bigger and better versions. Sadly in this instance I have bought into this one-upmanship and ordered a newer model.
As with a lot of gear it pretty much looks like the earlier version. However there are some subtle differences. The fibres are slightly thicker and a little softer. There has been a minor colour change, it has developed a bit of a ginger tint. This I’m hoping is a manufacturing fault. The thing I’m most impressed with though is the lofting capability.
It is possible to move the insulation to where it is most needed. In the photo above my cheeks were a bit cold so I fluffed up my face a bit. Result? Warm cheeks and it makes you look cool and I reckon that all the ladies really love it.
Who said that gear can’t be sexy?
I am already thinking ahead to 2015 and what my gear of the year will be. Shoulders and thighs are neck and neck at the moment.