The sun shone brightly from a clear blue sky in Ottawa today. Sod’s law dictated that we had a day off skiing, spending it instead relaxing in the quiet environs of Woodroffe Towers.
Yesterday Sue lost one of her liner gloves, so a trip to the local outdoors shop, just a couple of miles away, was in order.
Amongst the Canadian outdoors fraternity, MEC, aka Mountain Equipment Co-Op, is an institution. Its 12 stores, spread right across Canada, are meccas for Canadian skiing, canoeing, biking, mountaineering and hiking enthusiasts. In order to purchase anything you must be a shareholder; I’ve seen bemused customers abandon their purchases when confronted with this requirement, but to date over 2.8 million of us have forked out the $5 cost of a share in the company.
I’ve bought various bits of kit from this store over the years, and today it served us well, with a new pair of gloves for Sue at a cost of $9. The store seems to me a bit like a Decathlon emporium (which I visit very rarely) with lots of own branded gear and little that shows signs of high technical detail.
There’s not much evidence of lightweight gear, either. Ken has been exploring lightweight kit for his forthcoming 160km of skiing in two days, including an overnight ‘camp’. I noticed he had printed off a GoLite rucksack catalogue, but he is still using an ancient Berghaus Cyclops sac. Apparently no retailer in Ottawa stocks GoLite, as there is ‘insufficient demand for their products’. Ken likes to try before he buys, so until he visits a stockist, GoLite is off limits for him. That’s a shame. PTC* has recently posted about the early Karrimor Alpiniste rucksacks, and perhaps the Berghaus Cyclops is in the same genre. Ken’s large sac weighs in at a competitive 1.3kg, has few if any ‘bells and whistles’, and must have withstood tens of years of use and abuse. So he continues to use it, whilst his mates struggle around in their over-engineered kit weighed down with unnecessary appendages.