Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Hi-Tec Walking Boots – A Review

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I’d reviewed a couple of items of Hi-Tec footwear:

Some three season boots – here;

and some trail shoes – here.

Both were extremely comfy, but they only lasted for about 500-600 kilometres hard use.

So after trashing these items I thought it unlikely that Hi-Tec would be prepared to send me anything else.  I was wrong.  I suggested some running shoes, but James Campbell at Hi-Tec was determined to prove a point.

“I’m happy to send you some of our Rainier Event backpacking boots, which really are our top of the range boots and will have no issue with durability.”

They looked pretty impressive when they arrived.

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The Rainiers have now been replaced as Hi-Tec’s top of the range offering by the very similar Bernina boots, with HI-TEC’s website proudly proclaiming the following:

Features

    • Full Grain leather upper for durability
    • Locking hook for adjustability
    • Full leather tongue for added protection and durability
    • Sympatex membrane technology for protection from the elements whilst offering breathability
    • Dual density midsole for all day comfort, stability and durability
    • Rugged Vibram outsole for durable traction
    • B1 Classification - compatible with flexible C1 crampons
    • Italian made and lasted for superior yet versatile fit

The RRP is about £150, but they are currently available for £120 or less.

Here’s what I thought about the Rainiers.

Fit and Finish:

  • the EU size 43 were good for my average sort of feet.  Unlike with the previous offerings from Hi-Tec, I found a need to break these boots in gently as the stiffer leather rubbed my ankles.  This gave me encouragement that James’s ‘durability’ claim wasn’t just hot air 
  • the construction was fine, though not quite up to the standard of the Scarpa boots I usually wear.  The main problem at the end of the day was that the thin leather fabric inside the heels eventually gave way, resulting in a shoehorn being necessary to put the boots on.  Perhaps this problem has been addressed in the Berninas.  They were good, solid boots though
Features:
  • HI-TEC’s stated features for the successor Bernina, with an emphasis on their durability, are listed above
  • the boots were completely waterproof, given the leather finish and their Event membrane.  As waterproof as my Scarpa Infinities
  • forgetting all the technical jargon, the boots were extremely comfortable for serious backpacking trips
Weight:
  • at 1600gm, they are slightly heavier than similarly priced fabric boots, but that’s quite acceptable for a serious pair of mountain boots
Practical Use:
  • between March 2011 and September 2012 I wore these boots for the equivalent of a total of about four months’ continuous hard use, including a TGO Challenge, a five week trip to the Alps, and a further two week trip to the Ecrins in France.  Only when the heel fabric wore through in the Ecrins did they cause me any trouble, but the need for a shoehorn (an improvised insole) was a minor inconvenience, though they were retired after that trip, having covered about 1900 kilometres by then
  • in contrast to the other Hi-Tec products I’ve tested, the waterproofing qualities were excellent and the durability quite acceptable  
  • the excellent ankle support made these boots very suitable for walking for long periods on steep ground with a heavy backpack

Here’s what the boots looked like on 16 September 2012, after about 1900km (1190 miles) of use, as referred to above.

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As you can see, apart from the damage inside the heel that is evident in the top picture, and the poor condition of the leather that is partly attributable to limited maintenance on long trips, the boots are essentially intact and would have continued in use but for that heel problem.

Alternatives:
  • there are lots of alternatives to these three-season boots.  My own favourites are the Scarpa Infinity boots, but these have now been discontinued, as have the Rainiers.  Hopefully the Hi-Tec Berninas are at least as good and they should therefore be suitable for serious hillwalking and backpacking.  As with previous Hi-Tec products, I was fortunate in that the boots posted to me fitted perfectly, but I would always commend users to try on boots and shoes before buying them – different products suit different feet
Conclusion:
  • once they had been broken in by way of a couple of weeks’ worth of mountain days out, these boots provided me with comfortable mountain footwear for a good 18 months.  They remained waterproof more or less to the end, and were only let down by insufficiently durable fabric inside the heel
  • whilst the heel problem slightly diminished my enthusiasm, I can agree with James that he has finally provided me with a ‘durable’ product.  Well done!  I wonder what the Berninas are really like, James?

Friday, 23 August 2013

Thursday 22 August 2013 – Return to Deepest Cheshire

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In my absence overseas, young Notchy took it upon himself to organise a couple of ‘Deepest Cheshire’ evening strolls, the second of which took place last night.

Notchy’s marketing agent ensured a good turnout, albeit JJ’s failure to attend due to ‘Dad Duty’.

The Egerton Arms, just outside Chelford, is a good place to start such jaunts, with a friendly landlord and good beer.  It dates back to the 16th century, and the current owners do have a vaguely local connection, in that Jeremy’s granddad was Glynne Jones from North Wales who produced the first ever hay bale machine called ‘The Jones Baler’, the bright red icon of farming equipment that every farmer grew up with after the war, presumably attached to one of Alan R’s  smart grey tractors.

I like the bit of history in which the old coach house was sold off in the late 1890’s by the Egerton family to a private buyer who urgently needed to replace the old candle and gas lamps with electricity and thus he took down the fifteen or so black chandeliers. On doing so he found that they were made of solid gold, which made him an overnight millionaire, so he sold the pub on to a brewery.

Notchy did find quite a few paths, as well as these quiet lanes where I took the chance to collect a few snaps.  He’s shown below, explaining the ups and downs of high level backpacking to an itinerant gardener. Lagging behind, Bridget and Sue were preparing to sort out Richard, who seemed to have got tangled up in his own legs.

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The motley group welcomed a newcomer tonight, Sandra, a Dunham Massey volunteer gardener like Bridget, who chose a good evening to come along – it was warm and summery, ideal for a chatty amble.  We’ll yearn for evenings like this in the months to come.

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Anyway, Sue, Jenny, Richard, Bridget, Andrew, Sandra, Mary, and out of shot Graham managed to survive Notchy’s 8 km course, despite 50 metres of ascent and the occasional nettle – not to mention a severe deterioration of visibility, and refreshment from above, towards the end of the walk, and by around 9.30 pm we were all back at the pub and tucking into much needed rehydration fluid.

A very nice route, and a good turnout – well done to the organisers.

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There’s another evening walk next Thursday (29 August), starting at The Harp (SJ 290 760) at 7.30 pm for a 7-10 km wander around the Wirral. All are welcome.  There’s also a day walk in the Peak District on Sunday 6 October, starting in or near Buxton.  More details can or will be found on our web site here.

Some readers would certainly also enjoy some of Stockport Walking and Outdoors Group’s upcoming Wednesday evening talks – details are here.

A Broken Kindle

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The Kindle is 18 months old, so out of warranty.

I think this is a terminal problem.

The lesson to be learnt is ‘however good you may think your Kindle case is (my Kindle was kept between two sheets of plywood like material in an envelope), if you keep it for more than three months in a rucksack that is also used as a sitmat, it may eventually fail’.

Judging by what I can see of the screen, at least it seems to have saved the house from the litter of 11 books that have been read and a further 23 that may have been partly read or are ‘pending’ or for reference (eg ‘phone and camera manuals – the ability to keep PDF files on the Kindle is very useful).

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Wednesday 21 August 2013 – Back at Home

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Whilst we were away, somebody seems to have bleached the local Mallards!

Maybe ‘confit du Timperley canard’ (a local dish) tastes better with these…

Actually, we remain in the Pyrenees in spirit in that Humphrey passed through last night. By now he will be in Pau or even Etsaut, for a couple of of weeks’ walk to Bagnères-de-Luchon. He should be ok for a day or two as we gave him a ‘cake’ supplement to his freeze dried larder.  His S3 phone is the same as mine, so he has the technology to report on his progress, but perhaps not the inclination.  Anyway, if we do hear from him we’ll let you know how he’s getting on, as I know Humphrey is well known to a number of readers of these pages.

Meanwhile, our own trip will be re-lived as we plough through the massive job of editing the photos, and editing another document – more of which later.

Reading about other people’s exploits will be an enjoyable ‘aside’, especially once I’ve set up an an alternative to the discontinued Google Reader service. I’m sure that the withdrawal of that service will have resulted in a reduction of page views of Blogspot (Google) blogs, many of which sport advertisements from which Google profits.  So I don’t really understand why the service was withdrawn.

Never mind.  Hey, weren’t there six of these before…

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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Sunday 18 August 2013 – Shelsley Walsh

Man and Machine in Harmony

…. And now for something completely different.

A few hours after arriving home for the first time in nearly nine weeks, it was time to pop down to Surrey for Sue’s Uncle Rob and Auntie Liz’s Golden Wedding Anniversary party.  I’ll leave Sue to say more about that if she wants to – it replaces our ‘Annual Picnic’ jaunt, so readers will be spared that posting this year.

Back in Birmingham, Sue’s Dad turns out to be a member of the Midland Automobile Club, with tickets for one of the five hill climb meetings held every year at Shelsley Walsh, in Worcestershire.  So we went along.

This particular meeting was in celebration of Aston Martin’s centenary year, so was themed accordingly.  The other meetings have other themes – Jaguar, Porsche, etc.

This old Aston Martin has a long history, dating from 1918.

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It’s a friendly sort of meeting, as you might surmise from the grinning stranger in the top picture. Competitors had two practice runs on Saturday and two race runs on Sunday.  Most took between 25 and 45 seconds to negotiate the twisty 1000 yard, 300 foot climb.  Some (unlike the swish car below) didn’t even make it to the start line!

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The cars queue up in batches to perform, before the course car follows them all back down the hill before the next batch sets off.  Some cars have two drivers.

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This Le Mans Aston did go up the hill, but not in race trim – there was a lunchtime parade of classic Astons in which it took part.

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The fastest starters who complete the first few yards in less than two seconds enjoy gravitational forces in excess of 1G.

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The course starts fairly gently, but by the time they reach where I’m standing, some cars are travelling at up to 130 mph.

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A buzzard spent much of the day on this branch overhanging the course – a bird’s eye viewpoint, so to speak.

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There’s an ‘S’ bend that those travelling at up to 130 mph have to slow down for.  It can be interesting.  Several competitors managed under 24 seconds, and the top ten in the morning and afternoon sessions get an extra run and points in a national championship.

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After each ‘batch’, most of the cars free-wheel back down the hill in order to be reunited with the batteries that are needed to start their engines again.  The six wheeler car pictured below is a very fast home-made effort that symbolises the ‘fun' loving’ nature of the event.

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There’s a slideshow here for anyone who may be interested.  It was a really pleasurable day out, in perfect weather.