Friday, 2 December 2011

mammut burny

The Mammut Burny is described as a safety lamp. Weighing only 18g including the two CR2032 batteries. It has three modes; flood, red, and flashing red. And these are cycled through it that order by using the button on the front. At the rear there's a clip and an short loop of elastic. These allow the light to be mounted on cycle helmets, baseball caps, bike handle bars or shoulder straps of rucksack, etc. But unlike the Petzel e+Lite the clip doesn't have a mechanism allowing it to swivel so it can't be clipped to the brim of a cap and used like a head torch.

If you don't need to use the elastic to mount the light it can be removed saving a massive 2g! The elastic also has a very innovative tab that is used to open the battery hatch.

The lamp boast a brightness of 12 lumens and has a range of 12m in flood mode. And you'll be pleased to note that in flashing red mode it's visible from 500m and the battery will last up to 160 hours in that mode.

If you're fond of jogging after dark or need more lights adding to your bike's array then this little device is ideal.

therm-a-rest easy chair

I bought a pair of these some time back for use when car camping. The TNF Nebula has good headroom and porch space but it's not big enough to fit people sitting on folding stools into. So these were a good solution. With the purchase of a Therm-a-rest NeoAir a few years ago the chair kits fell out of use.

Until, that was, someone mentioned that they had been using theirs with their NeoAir. I lost no time scrabbling about the attic looking for them. And as the picture shows you can indeed use a NeoAir. The NeoAir is slightly wider than the kit but it still fits, all you need to do is semi inflate and squeeze into place, remembering to put the valve in the right place should you need to add some more puff - job done. At 300g I would never consider taking one backpacking, however if a trip comes around and we don't have the luxury of a pub to spend the evening in then I may do. Especially if that trip is in the winter.

berghaus ardennes soft shell jacket

It's always nice to be sent kit to try out and you'd think being sent a soft shell in the autumn would be an ideal time to put one through it's paces. But somehow we didn't figure on the unseasonably good weather we've been having.

I've had the jacket three weeks but it's not seen a drop of rain to test it's water resistance, and drying time. So this afternoon I resorted to setting the garden sprinkler up.

The Ardennes soft shell jacket is one of Berghaus's new season outdoor clothing offerings. The one I'm testing is a medium which on my frame is a good fit, the sleeves and length of the garment are spot on. The back has a drop tail which is what you'd expect, and the hem has two cinch pulls that make a very effective seal. The two pockets are set high to clear hip belts and are mesh lined to aid ventilation. One gripe is that the pockets are not very deep nor wide; too small to put my hands in anyway. On the plus side, inside the pockets are stitched on three sides leaving the top open so they create two internal pockets, if you get my drift. In fact as the pockets aren't that deep I've adopted the internal way of using them for house keys and mobile because they're more secure. The jacket on my postal scale weighed in at 550g.

The collar is quite high, and like the sleeves and hem, it makes a good seal. Although at first I thought the material was too stiff making the fit uncomfortable. Maybe it is and I've gotten used to it, or it's softened. The material is stiffer compared to my Marmot ATV jacket or The North Face Apex 3/4 top. And whilst I'm on the subject of comparison, doing a HUR test*, the jacket is more wind resistant than the Apex and comparable to the fabric used by Marmot. I also did a HUR test with Penny's RAB Baltoro Lite and the Polartec fabric is markedly more wind resistant than the AF fabric used by Berghaus.

And it's this balance between water and wind resistance, warmth and breathability that's the issue. For some a soft shell jacket is the bee's knees for others they aren't sum of their parts, being neither windproof nor warm enough. As for water resistance...

Well I chickened out of running around under the garden sprinkler so I put my arm in the jacket and put in under the shower. As you'd expect from a new jacket it beaded well, and when the material wetted out there was penetration through the material. However the seams (of which there are many) started leaking in a very short time.

To recap I love the fit of this jacket, the close fit might not suit all, particularly if you were planning to wear a thin fleece under it to increase the thermal rating. (I tried this and it was uncomfortably tight). The wind resistance is good but personally I prefer better. The water resistance looks comparable with other soft shell tops, and I'm confident that it would hold off a shower. Long term use will determine how durable the DWR finish is, but I expect like other jackets it will need to be washed and reproofed subject to use.

*HUR test; place hand inside jacket and try and blow breath through it. The harder you have to blow the more wind resistant.