I ended up in Town earlier this week. On the way home I did a loop around the gear shops, not much to excite but then Berghaus, etc, never really does...
Snow and Rock hadn't got their new stock in so nothing to see there.
Costwolds had the new Vaude Power Lizard Light set up along side the Mountain Hardware Sprite. I got really excited about this Vaude tent, a one kilo almost two person tent. A potential Atko slayer. My excitement faded when I discovered that it had a 95cm internal height... And when I sat inside it; I couldn't. No surprise really it's the same with the Competition, and the Atko.
I was disappointed with the Sprite too. I had a PCT1 once, I couldn't sit upright inside this tent because again the internal height was 95cm. The tent has been redesigned; shifting the shape to create a larger porch and losing the hammerhead shape, and with it the bit of storage space on the non porch side which was big enough for a 45L rucksack. This shift in shape has now made the tent even more difficult for me to fit in as I had to lean back into what head space there was.
In the rucksack department I tried the new lightweight offering from Lowe Alpine the Zepton 50, reviewed by Chris Townsend in the current issue of TGO. My impression of the bag was this was Lowe Alpine attempt to compete with the Osprey Exos 46 and the Golite Jam. They all have similar volumes, and the Zepton's colour scheme is borrowed from the two other manufacturers. It's stated weight is approx 1.2kg a tad heavier than the Exos 46 but 300g heavier than the Jam. It's only available in one back size however unlike the others. It has a floating lid with external and internal pockets, like the Exos, but with only two attachment points. The Exos has a third buckle that holds the lid in place. My experience with floating lids is that they have a habit of sliding down the straps, so that third buckle is essential in my view. The Jam of course doesn't have a lid. All have the now obligatory stretchy side pockets.The acid test is to see if you can you get a drinks bottle and a bag of GORP in and out of these pockets with ease. Sadly the Zepton failed on this point. Unlike the others the hip belt doesn't have any pockets either. Chris Townsend gave the bag a recommendation, and it does have some plus points but it's the little things like no hip belt pockets and not being able to use the side pockets mark it down in my opinion.
Then I found the Paramo shop. The styling of the gear is wanting; more Ron Hill than Paul Smith. I wrote to them last year asking whether they had plans to bring out the new Velez Light in a decent colour (meaning black) and I was told no. However that afternoon I found that they'd had a change of mind. I tried a couple on and they seemed to fit well enough. And I deliberated long and hard on whether to invest, then I thought about the main criticisms; the weight and bulk of the items. My wallet stayed in my pocket and my card breathed a sigh of relief.
I left the shop, grabbed a coffee and walked back to Waterloo for the train home.