Posts tagged warm
I have a good selection of Brasher socks now and I have to say right at the start of this review that I really rate them. I have learnt over the last few years that if you buy decent socks and shoes your feet will thank you. This time I am reviewing the Brasher Hillwalker socks – the women’s fit – and I like them a lot.
Hillwalker socks are designated as two season – spring and summer – and are designed for hiking and hillwalking for as many miles as you fancy. They have ThermoCool fibres which are said to optimise the foot’s natural thermoregulation – in other words they have been made to keep your feet warm when it’s cool and cool when its warm. The ventilation panel on the top of the foot keeps feet cool and dry (and therefore smelling fresh!), and Brasher have included some lycra support in these socks to keep them pulled up and stop them moving around as you walk.
The thing I particularly like about these, and the reason I will be buying a couple more pairs for myself, is the extra cushioning/padding for the heel, toes, ball and top of the foot. I found this cushioning made these some of the most comfortable socks I’ve ever had. Not exactly what Brasher had in mind for them I’m sure, but the part across the top of the foot makes these especially comfortable for wearing with motorcycle boots. They are ideal for wearing with hiking shoes and boots, of course, and are also comfortable for wearing with trainers.
This is The North Face’s Women’s GTD Long Sleeved Shirt. It is a lightweight running top designed for comfort and protection. Mad from synthetic microfibre fabric it offers UV protection and promotes wicking to keep you cool and dry.
I have been using mine for a spot of jogging over the last couple of weeks and also some walking, and I have to say it is indeed very comfortable. Long sleeves are a necessity at the moment and this top can be layered up on very cold days or worn on its own to keep you at just the right running temperature. I’ve already used it a lot – it also makes an ideal layer under my motorcycle gear.
I wanted to show you a picture of me wearing the top – it really does fit well and looks great (I think so anyway!) – but I look particularly awful in all of the shots and the top is in the wash (again) now so I’m not posting them here. Sorry.
The lady who sent me this top to review said it’s her favourite top at the moment, and I can see why. The shape is flattering, it is a lovely colour – much more interesting than boring black, it has reflective bits and bobs which helps keep you visible, and is made from a comfortable fabric that has good technical specification.
The only problem I have is that it keeps catching when I wash it. It has loads of little pulls and nicks in it now, which is quite disappointing. I suspect this is totally down to my washing machine rather than the top as everything made from this kind of material (including all my thermals) seems to come out with a catch or two. Such a shame as it now looks far less than perfect; I should learn my lesson and hand wash this kind of thing. Ho hum.
Anyway, that aside, I really love the Women’s GTD Long Sleeved Shirt. I’m no long distance running but it matches the claims The North Face make on the website as far as I can tell, and does its job very well. I evem enjoy putting it on and getting out for a little jog! It comes with a big recommendation from me. I shall have to treat myself to another one.
LincsGeek and I are fairly new to the skiing game. We went on our first ski holiday just three years ago after some ski lessons at snozone. Before that first holiday we kitted ourselves up as cheaply as we could – we wanted good quality at low cost, and so bought coat, pants, gloves, socks and thermals in the sales and at discount stores. Skiing is expensive, and you can spend a fortune on kit if you wanted to. I want to, there is so much fabulous kit about, but can’t warrant it.
So when The North Face offered me one this season’s jackets for our trip to Finland I was delighted. You already know I like The North Face as a brand, I find their clothing fits me nicely and their shoes are comfortable. And I love my down slippers! But they are a technical brand with very high price points.
This is the Honee Snugs Delux Parka, and as soon as I saw it I knew that this was exactly my kind of coat. Just look at the colour for a start, the muted green (Boyce Green) is just lovely, so much better than the (boring) black of my existing ski coat. And it just looks comfortable and warm. I couldn’t wait to try it out.
A military-style parka offering skiers and boarders serious protection from the elements. This longer-length jacket is built with Heatseeker™ synthetic insulation, ensuring a warm ride whatever the weather. An adjustable hem system, adjustable cuffs and powder skirt provide a secure and comfortable fit. When the holiday is over, convert the parka into street wear by removing the powder skirt and unzipping the hood down the centre to reveal long-pile fleece lining. Core zip-vents help to prevent overheating when pounding the hill or park. Chest, hand, wrist and media pockets provide ample storage for all necessities. Created to look effortlessly stylish, The North Face Women’s Honee Snugs Delux Parka is street cool for the mountain and beyond.
I was a little worried about the length – this is a long line ski coat – and as I am short it could have looked silly and restricted my movement. I think you’ll agree though that it looks great on (I hope you agree!) and thanks to the shorter front and longer back I can move my legs about with no trouble at all. Actually that lower bit at the back is genius – it was just right to sit on when I was on chair lifts, which made a big difference to keeping me warm on the way up to the top of the slopes. There was plenty of room under the coat for me to layer up (I had the medium); while this coat has a feminine cut it isn’t tight.
I could tell this coat had been designed for winter sports. The large goggle pocket, the internal phone/mp3 player pocket with hole for the headphone wires, the powder skirt, the sleeve pocket in exactly the right place for your lift pass – all make this coat very useful on the slopes. That sleeve pocket even has a glasses cloth attached, which was a very useful feature, and the long toggles on the zips mean you can use them with gloves on. The two pockets at the front are massive – I could easily fit my wallet and some chocolate in one and my camera in its case in the other – and those little hand warmer pockets half way up were also useful for my poor cold fingers.
All the pockets aside, the whole point of a ski coat is for it to keep you warm and dry. And it did. Thankfully. The insulation did its job and I stayed totally dry for the whole holiday and in all the weather conditions Finland threw at us. The main zip has a flap over the top to stop wind and moisture getting through, and it does right up over your chin which helped keep my neck warm and dry. I think it goes without saying that I wore this coat over the required thermal layers, and needed a neck tube too, but it definitely went a long way to keeping my body warm and comfortable. I was very thankful for such a good quality coat when it was -22 and blowing a gale in the middle of the day. I wonder if the addition of comfort cuffs would have helped keep my hands any warmer – LincsGeek has them on his ski coat and I like the idea, they stop snow going up the sleeves and fit underneath his gloves adding a layer to his wrists.
[I will never make a model, but we had a great laugh taking these photos at the bottom of the Ski Jump in Ruka, Finland... below shows what happens when you run in the snow and it suddenly gets a lot deeper!]
This coat isn’t just for wearing on the slopes. The North Face has designed this for casual wear at home too, and you may have seen me sporting around and about quite a lot since we got home. The powder skirt comes out, the hood zips down the middle leaving it flat on your back, and you are left with a very nice parka style coat for everyday winter wear. The double zip is also very useful when wearing this coat casually – it means you can unzip it a little bit when you’re sat in the car driving.
I think you can tell that I really like this coat. I love the style, I really love the colour, and the fact that it’s great for the slopes and in town is perfect. It also fits well and is flattering – it’s not too bulky. This has become my “go everywhere” jacket, fit for all my winter activities. As for whether it’s worth the £260 price tag to be honest I really don’t know – I am not and probably will never be in the position to spend that much on any item of clothing, and so have nothing to compare it to. I know that with outdoors gear you get what you pay for and it is certainly superior to the ski coat I bought a few years ago, as well as my other winter coat. It has immediately become my coat of choice when heading out in the cold, wet and snow, and I think that is down to the design and quality.
The Hi-Tec Sierra Sina 200 WPI shoes are warm, waterproof and durable snow boots designed to keep your feet warm and dry whatever the weather. With a leather and nubuck upper, they incorporate a 200g Thinsulate insulation, a moisture wicking lining, and a Vibram rubber outsole ideal for snowy and icy conditions.
I chose these myself from the current Hi-Tec range after being offered a pair to review. I liked them the most from the selection because they didn’t actually look like snow boots… they are just like skate shoes, which I love to wear thanks to their comfort and style.
Here are a few photos of them before I took them out in the rain…
These were comfortable from the first time I wore them, which was actually to walk to the shop one pretty yucky day in early January. It was raining, was very cold, and even though I was worried about ruining the light coloured nubuck leather uppers on these, I wanted to give them a try. My feet thanked me – they were toasty warm, completely dry, and lovely and snug in these Hi-Tecs.
Actually I needn’t have worried about the upper. Sure these shoes don’t look like new any more, but the uppers didn’t ruin, they just dried out (thanks in part to my Stuffits!) a bit darker than before. They are comfy shoes, not smart ones, so that’s fine.
I also took these with me to Finland, where they have proper snow (and proper winter temperatures)! These were my shoes of choice when wandering around in the evenings – they are much less bulky than normal snow boots like my KEENs so I could wear them with my straight cut jeans, and I reckon they kept my feet as warm thanks to that insulated lining. I’ve come across Thinsulate in gloves and hats before, but this is my first experience of it in shoes – it works.
I found myself wearing these to work for a day too. I decided I needed something properly warm and comfortable thanks to the very icy pavements – I didn’t want to be stuck in the office at lunchtime thanks to unsuitable footwear, or break my neck getting to a meeting. The Vibram soles worked a treat and, even though I was definitely careful – I didn’t want to end up with anything broken, I felt very secure with these on my feet.
I do like these a lot and I have been wearing them a lot while it’s been cold. They an easy-wearing shoe, cosy and comfy, that keeps what’s on the inside dry and warm even if the outside is disgusting.
It seems like a very long time since I won the KEEN Playtime Tester prize… but it hasn’t been until this last couple of weeks that I’ve been able to give the KEEN Hoodoo High Lace snow boots a really good try. I will be honest and say I very nearly bought this pair of boots last year before we went skiing. I’d tried them on, found them at a decent price, but something stopped me. I’m not sure what. I loved them from the pictures, and wanted them badly. When I won the competition and was allowed to choose four pairs of KEENs it was an absolute no brainer, I had to have these.
The Hoodoo High Lace boots are calf length lace up hiking boots with a thick chunky sole and insulated sock. This is what the website says:
The Hoodoo High Lace tames snow banks and cold fronts with ease. Lined with plush synthetic shearling, the high shaft combines handsome oiled nubuck leather with a fast and easy lacing system for a stylish look that’s easy to get into. Inside, a KEEN.DRY waterproof/breathable membrane and 200g KEEN.WARM insulation keep feet warm, dry, and happy—so you can enjoy winter wherever you are.
I have to say, they only just fit around my legs. I really do have large legs, I hate it, really hate it, but because these are lace ups I can get away with it. Now they’re broken in I can get them laced up better too, the sides of the boot have softened up and they are easier to lace up now they’re not as stiff as when I first got them out of the box. That of course is generally true of any boot. They fit under my ski pants and my boyfriend jeans well, look great over leggings, but I couldn’t get them over or under my straight cut jeans – they wouldn’t do up when the jeans were tucked in and the jeans wouldn’t stretch over the top; I just had to choose my outfits to go with them.
Walking around in the snow was a doddle. The massive lugs on the bottom of the boot gripped onto the thick fresh snow in Finland with no problem at all. I did fall over twice – the first time I was running through the snow when all of a sudden it was at least twice as deep and I sank(!), and the second was when I was walking down a steep icy path – oops. So not fool-proof but better than standard hiking boots. They’ve also been great in the slush and ice this week at home; I walked up the hill into the village on Monday morning and felt very sure footed when others were wobbling around treading daintily. Don’t get me wrong, when it got really icy on the pavements I was careful – I’m not stupid (!), but I was confident that if there was grip to be found, these would grab onto it.
I can also confirm that they keep my feet warm and dry – even in deep snow and at -22C to -28C in Finland last week. I obviously wore them with ski socks while out there as I wanted to give my feet every chance possible, but I can honestly say that my toes were quite happy even when my fingers were moaning! The toe protection is great too, that solid area keeps my feet safe when I inevitably bash into things (so clumsy!), and also help the boots keep their shape.
We had great fun on a couple of walks in the snow in Finland taking in the scenery and snapping photos, having something decent on my feet made a big difference as I didn’t worry about them. Playtime is definitely back in these. I’m so pleased with them. They do their job as all-weather boots without a problem, and fit with my idea of what snow boots should look like. Let it snow!
Being a Playtime Tester has turned me into a proper KEEN fan. Put it this way, next time I need to buy a pair of shoes or boots for the outdoors then I would definitely consider KEEN. The shapes are just right for my feet, with plenty of space for me to wiggle my toes without them being sloppy. And they look great too – the range is full of rugged looking shoes suitable for wearing all day and for various activities. And yes, that’s a glowing review, I can’t help it! I now have my eyes on a pair of the canvas mary jane style flats for the summer.
So thanks KEEN. I’m looking forward to Spring to see what you come up with next.
I was offered a pair of socks by Incredisocks to take to Finland with me. The email said… “high-tech socks that guarantee to keep your feet warm and are soooo comfortable!”. So naturally I had to give them a try.
The packaging said that these are “proven to increase foot temperature by 3.2C in 5 minutes. The world’s best thermo-regulating ski sock. With carbonised charcoal and germanium anion technology for increased blood flow, moisture wicking, odour elimination, improved comfort.”
I was worried about these socks. I’ve said before on Splodz Blogz that my legs are larger than average. I have problems with boots fitting so if these socks used their tightness as an aid to keep your feet warm then would they even pull up? Oh how I wish my legs were smaller. Not shorter you understand, narrower.
Thankfully they did fit. They had enough stretch in them to go over my lovely legs. Phew. They came up just over half way up my calf muscles, and were very comfortable.
The claim that these would be the warmest socks ever was quite a significant considering I was planning on taking these to Ruka in Finland for testing. They’d need to be good. On the morning I put these on the thermometer on the apartment balcony said -16, and it went down from there. My toes had been fine the previous day (-12) in my Trespass socks.
Off we went for a days skiing. And thankfully my toes were happy all day. I did get a little cold towards the end of the day on the lifts, but it wasn’t so bad that my feet hurt as they warmed up or anything (they did towards the end of the week!!) – by the time I’d skied a couple of turns my toes were toasty again. As far as ski socks go I’d say there as good if not better than the best ones I own, they are obviously designed well.
The shape of the socks is good too. When skiing you need your socks to give you protection and padding in the right places – those ski boots can be torture devices otherwise. You can see on the photos below how the different areas of the socks sit on my feet and legs, and these did the trick.
I do wonder based on my experience with hiking socks that a decent pair of merino wool socks might be warmer, but these are good. For £19.95 they are worth the money – I just wish I’d saved these for the following day when the thermometer said -22 at around 2pm and in the evening it was -28 when we were on our snowmobile ride, that would have been an extreme test!