Anatom Q2 Ultralight Hiking Boots

Forecast said blue sky, light cloud cover. What did I get? Zero visibility and unforgiving rain. Standard. But, on the bright side I took my new boots for a spin and tested their maximum waterproof-ness and durability in dreich conditions.

I haven’t had a new set of boots for 7 years – my old kicks were completely knackered, no longer watertight and so worn through it was becoming impossible to walk a mile without getting blisters.

So here they are - the shiny new boots

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After a summer of running around hills in trail shoes, I was dreading the return of clumpy heavy boots. So my main concern for new boots was to find something as lightweight as a trail shoe but waterproof and robust (hopefully to last another 7 years).

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Why did I choose the Anatom Q2 Ultralight?
  • They really are ULTRAlight
  • They feel soft and flexible – I didn’t need to break them in at all
  • The insole and midsole is shock absorbent and comfortable
  • They contain a waterproof and breathable membrane to keep the foot dry
  • They have well positioned eyelets and laces with good grip
  • They have a narrow heel area to avoid feet slipping around (common blister area for me)
  • They have a reliable tred – ideal for wet conditions

16km of rugged inclines and one boggy decent later – how are the boots doing? Overall – really good. My feet are wet, but that is no fault of the boot. Water got in over the top – so gaiters are a must next time. I have NO blisters, which is a first for me – I didn’t have to re-tie my laces at all and my feet are actually feeling really fresh and unharmed.

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If you are in the market for a new walking boot or shoe I would recommend looking at the Anatom footwear website. All footwear is designed, made, tested in Scotland and built to last. www.anatomfootwear.co.uk

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Theme of the day – map out, map away, map out, map away. Bad vis all morning, but made the 16km stretch feel a bit more adventurous. 3500 calories down, very soggy and no views to vouch for… but happy with my new boots and feeling pretty satisfied with my two dinners tonight – so that 5am alarm was 100% worth it this morning.

Thanks for reading – keep up with recent adventures @ronamcmillan

GoApe Aberfoyle

With a beastly winter coming our way I am starting to cram as many outdoor activities I can into Autumn before we are hit with -temperatures. The last few weeks have been very sea/loch based for me so I was keen to stay on dry land for a few days – and yesterday I took that to another level and went sky-high! I don’t know how I have managed to go 5 years in Glasgow without ever visiting GoApe – but if you live in the area, or nearby any of the other GoApe courses you have got to give this a go.

Adele and I got SO lucky with the weather, I booked two weeks prior to our visit and when I woke up yesterday morning it was one of those cold, crisp and sunny autumnal days. SCORE! But if you don’t get so lucky, I would recommend bringing waterproof trousers and a jacket – if you have as much grace as me you’ll be on your backside often and therefore pretty wet and muddy!

While GoApe is a great place for children, you don’t need to be a young flexible whiz kid to enjoy this place. We went for a girly day out and had a blast. I also think it would be such a fun alternative date idea – I’d much rather swing about trees for an afternoon than go for cocktails. Although, cocktails post tree swinging would be nice…

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So what to wear and what to bring
  • Closed toe shoes (trainers were perfect)
  • Trousers/gym leggings – that can get a little mucky
  • Waterproofs if its going to be wet
  • Gloves would be a good idea – I didn’t bring any and my hands were getting sore towards the end (big wimp).
  • Some snacks, or pennies to buy snacks at the end. Tree swinging makes for thirsty work.
What to expect

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On arrival you are given safety rules to read through (pretty important as you are responsible for your own safety on this course). Then given a safety briefing by a team member who then ensures you have your harness on correctly, and shows you exactly how to clip on and off all the wires.

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Thrown into the deep end – the start of this course is a spectacular 426m zip line through the trees to the first landing station where you begin the route.

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With a body pumped with adrenaline you make your way round 5 different aerial assault courses with various challenges on each – my personal favourite being the Tarzan swing. Ahhh ah ahh ahhhhh!

My least favourite being…img_7901.jpg

Always time for a quick selfie (you can take phones/cameras round as long as they zip away in the a pocket).

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And finally at the end – after many Tarzan Jane fails and a very muddy bum we were presented with a certificate of awesomeness. Thanks Go Ape!

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I also thought I’d mention – if the whole family is coming along but only a few people want to participate in the Go Ape course… there is lots more to do. Plenty trails for walking/biking in the surrounding areas, also Ben A’an and Ben Venue are right next door for hill walkers. And for those with tired legs – the cafe is great and has incredible cake!

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Keep up with recent adventures @ronamcmillan

Rona X

 

Kit Review – DRYROBE

A Dryrobe has been on my kit wish list for almost a year. I had a shot of my brothers Dryrobe on Christmas day last year and it was incredible. We had been out on the water and in the water all day and I got very very cold. This isn’t usual for me, I do get cold easily and I’m used to it. However that day I had next level chills; and the Dryrobe got me home without getting dangerously cold.

So, to my delight – a Dryrobe has been added to the kit bag just in time for winter adventures. This piece of kit is for when a towel doesn’t quite cut it anymore, you need more warmth and more protection from the elements – pre swims, post swims and for general use in cold situations.

When would I use it?

Wild swimming – for the last two weeks I’ve not needed to bother with clothes when I jump in the car or on my bike to get to the water. Dry robe before and after every swim, no shivery changing situations and straight into something that will warm me up.

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Competitions – it’s obvious now when I’m at triathlons and open water swims (usually cheering on my mum) that Dryrobe’s are becoming an essential bit of kit. There’s always a lot of standing around before and after a race, and often transport on boats with a lot of exposure to weather. Staying warm and dry in these situations is so important.

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Car park changing – I can say bon voyage to the car park struggle. Trying to get your pants on the right way round without your towel falling down – with numb hands its always a battle. Dryrobe = cosy changing palace!

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Photography – this is a bit of an alternative use, but since the weather is getting colder I’ve used my Dryrobe on a few occasions for photography. If I’m out with my tripod for long periods of time not moving I get really cold, so it has been really handy for that.

Van adventures – van dressing gown? The best thing ever. I say van and not tent because the Dryrobe takes up quite a lot of room so it’s not ideal for tent camping, but perfect to have in a van.

Boat journeys – wind chill is something I always forget to consider if we are heading somewhere on a rib/open top boat. Sticking my Dryrobe on over my wetty keeps that wind off, as well as sea spray and rain.

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Features
  • Completely waterproof and windproof
  • Super warm synthetic lambs wool lining
  • Full lengths 2 way reversible zip
  • Fleece lined pockets
  • Lightweight (1.3kg)
  • Waterproof chest pocket
  • Internal zip pocket (phone, wallet, iPod)
  • Huge A4 sized internal pocket
  • Velcro wrists
Key Benefits
  • Fits over clothing/wetsuit
  • Re-use multiple times without it feeling wet
  • Provides protection from the elements
  • The lining draws water away from my skin
  • Dries me instantly and continues to keep me warm
  • Hands kept warm in the insulated pockets
  • Stores my things safely (phone, money, camera, snacks)
  • Lightweight to carry

To sum it up, I can’t fault this product. It great, and truly a lifesaver for someone like me who gets very very cold. It’s something that will always be in the boot of my car ready to use. I also got a Dryrobe drybag with my order (bought separately) which I would recommend as the robe does take up a bit of space if it’s not in a bag.

I’ve had a lot of questions over price, this robe is £110. It is a pricey purchase and something to consider. For me, it came down to safety and how the product would perform keeping me warm and dry in challenging situations. It works – and therefore it is worth it in my opinion!

www.dryrobe.com

Thanks for reading

Keep up with adventures @ronamcmillan

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Q&A with Ethical Clothing Brand OTSO

This week I have teamed up with UK based clothing brand Otso to get to know them a little better. I had the pleasure of trying out a few pieces and also had a chat with Simon (founder) about Otso and the brands ethical qualities.

Simon also had a few questions for me – so I have included them at the bottom of the blog!IMG_02195 questions from me to Otso

So who is Otso and can I meet your team? 

Otso is our pet bear!  – No he’s not really – bears should be roaming free in the forests being all majestic, grizzly and wild. It’s this idea that drew us towards having a bear as our mascot for our nordic inspired fashion label. Hence the bears face hidden in our logo. Our team is very small at the moment – It consists of me; a graphic designer and founder of the company, and then some very nice people at Huddersfield Screen Print who hand screen each of our tees, a lady called Amanda who does our sewing and another local company who help us out with embroidery. Then there’s all of our arty friends who have pitched in since we started to help create new designs and my very awesome girlfriend who helps me keep my chin up when things don’t always go to plan.

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This is Simon – founder of Otso and graphic designer

How did you create your brand name and tag line? Otso sounds very contemporary and ‘The Spirit of the Bear’ feels old, wise and traditional – I really like it! 

It’s funny you should say that as that really sums up what we wanted to achieve with the look and feel of the label. We searched high and low for a short and rememberable name that sounded like it could fit a modern clean street wear brand but also have a rugged heritage edge to it. Otso is a Finnish word and means the ‘spirit of the bear’ in their folklore.  He’s the king of the forest – a friend, brother and forest cousin. I wanted to create a street wear label that was contemporary enough to wear out in the city but heavily influenced by the great outdoors and in keeping with all the pursuits my friends and I enjoy like mountain biking, camping and climbing.

I found Otso in a search for ethically made clothing – was this part of your initial concept or did it develop later in the design process? 

At first I just wanted to create an outlet for my personal design work that would allow me to be more creative and less governed by my corporate graphic design clients. This moved on to getting my friends to design spirit of the bear influenced tees. In the process of finding a really good quality tee to have the designs printed on I discovered some that were ‘fair wear’ ethically made.We started with the tees and gradually expanded our range with other ethically made garments as we developed our understanding of the fashion industry.  I felt using these would complete the picture of having a nature inspired brand that used garments that were also more environmentally minded.

So I know your clothing is ethically made – can you explain what this really means and why it is important?

All of our clothes are ether manufactured in association with the ‘Fair Wear” foundation or can show they have a commitment to excellent working practices for the people who manufacture them. Theses movements became much more prevalent after the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in 2013 where over a thousand people were killed. It is considered the deadliest structural failure accident in modern human history.

The Fair Wear Foundation commitment makes sure among other things that the people working in the garment industry get paid properly, there’s no child labour and they get to work in a safe environment.

Since starting Otso we have also used our social media channels to raise awareness on other environmental issues and have made most of our packaging plastic free.

We feel its important to try and build a better planet for the future and not add to its destruction – it’s also important to try and get people who otherwise might not know or care about such issues to start taking note. In my experience ethically made clothing used to be aimed solely at certain, lets say hippy types but now it’s becoming much more main stream we can create garments that are more of the now without jeopardising the people and our planet along the way.

Sum up Otso in three words… 

Creative, Contemporary, Conscious  – they all begin with C for extra points!

Otso also had a few questions for me… 

I see you live in Glasgow which is a large city – how does this work with your love of nature and passion for outdoor activities?

 I do – and I love it! I grew up in rural Scotland and moved to Glasgow when I started uni at 17. I was absolutely petrified and panicked so much about being separated from the outdoor lifestyle I had at home. But Glasgow has heaps to offer for the adventurous type – lots of climbing gyms, indoor skiing, and a wake park in the city centre. But most importantly, Glasgow is in the perfect location for someone who likes both rural and city life. It takes me less than an hour to be surrounded by hills and lochs in The Trossachs, Glen Coe’s mountain range is less than two hours from me… and the list goes on. So the west coast (the best coast) and the highlands are very accessible from this fine city!
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You look to have travelled far and wide – Is there a special place you love to visit time and again, if so why?

Hopefully it’s not too dull to choose somewhere in Scotland, but my favourite place to revisit is always Tiree. It’s a small island in the Inner Hebrides known as the ‘Hawaii of the North.’ Tiree is a paradise of white sandy beaches with incredible surf – I have made some amazing memories there over the years. I’m actually heading there very early tomorrow morning!

You look really cool in our Otso wears – They’re aimed at blokes traditionally but we’re happy for anyone to wear them. Do you feel the divide between the genders is closing up these days or even really exists anymore? 

Thank you! You know, I hadn’t even considered that you were aimed at guys when I first looked at the website. I just really liked the designs. I think there is certainly still a divide in gender stereotyping – especially for children’s clothing (the pink and blue thing). But there have been some interesting movements towards closing that gap recently which I am all for. Personally I choose clothes that I want to wear, if they are aimed at blokes I am not put off buying them. The only time I do find this a problem is when brands (particularly outdoor brands) have a tendency to make female clothing in typically ‘girly’ colours – pink, purple – and I always prefer the male colour choice; for jackets and things that need to fit to be functional I can’t always get away with the male sizes. But hey – that doesn’t apply to you guys!

What does the term ethical fashion mean to you and is it something you actively seek out when making clothing choices?

Absolutely yes – as I’ve gotten older I have grown to understand the importance of buying clothes that are made ethically and in good quality. I hate waste, and when buying clothes I am careful to buy less for more in the hope that it will last me for years. I want to know products I am buying are being made in a safe working environment and employees are being paid correctly.

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Are there many ethical fashion brands that you know and like or are there still lots of room for more?

Room for more – yes! I am also really happy to see existing brands like ASOS, Levi and Zara all producing specific clothing labelled as recycled or ethically made. I can only hope more high street brands follow on. One of my favourites is Finisterre who design functional and sustainable outdoor products. I’ve also recently come across some great sustainable & ethical swimwear brands that I am itching to try – Davy Js, Salt Gypsy and Bower Swimwear.

Keep up with recent adventures @ronamcmillan