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There’s something in the Air….

by Neil Summers.

Patagonia’s Nano-Air technology is a classic example of their ethos, to improve, innovate and refine everything that they do. Thanks are also due to a design team who live the outdoor life as well as create products for it. Who’s passion and high standards of quality have resulted in a unique form of fabrication that is breathable but still maintains warmth through a unique mix of full-range insulation with nylon fabric.

Whether experiencing varying temperatures on the commute to work or on the side of a mountain, we all know that swapping or removing layers on the move can often result in large amounts of sweat and general discomfort. But working up a sweat in a garment made using Nano-Air technology allows a certain amount of air to pass through the clothing and evaporate to avoid the body getting overheated.

The magic has happened thanks to Patagonia managing to somehow incorporate incredibly warm synthetic ‘fill’ alongside a fabric weave that doesn’t make the insulation clump together and lose durability whilst letting out air. Though exactly how they do it is still a trade secret, this advancement in making a breathable but incredibly warm synthetic fabrication has been a real game-changer in the world of mountain climbing and outdoor sports in general. It’s also stopped a lot of people from getting all hot and sweaty on crowded trains back home from work too!

Shop Patagonia, brand new range, at The Sporting Lodge.

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Introducing – Brett Davies

The Sporting Lodge would like to give a warm welcome to our new blog contributor Brett Davies.

Brett is a highly experienced game and clay pigeon shooting instructor at North Wales Shooting School, with an impressive history in competitive shooting.

As a junior, Brett re-wrote history by winning the Home International Championship with a score of 196/200 making him the Inter Countries all round Champion. He was the only junior to win this title. He also was the Home International Champion at Automatic Ball Trap as a Junior shooting for England.

Brett then went on to represent The England Shooting Team three times, winning the English Open Sporting AA class and the English Open ABT.

In 2016, America also opened up a wealth of opportunities for Brett, as this is where he achieved 12th place in the Seminole Cup.

Staying true to his roots, Brett represents Cheshire in national inter counties competitions where he has become Cheshire’s English sporting, English Skeet and Olympic trap county champion numerous times at senior level. Within Cheshire, Brett is also the Sporting and Skeet Doubles Champion.

At present, Brett is ranked 8th in the official CPSA top ten ranked English sporting shooters in the country. Brett is also the current West Midlands Inter Counties all round Champion.

We are really looking forward to getting a glimpse into Brett’s life, seeing where his shooting careers takes him next and getting some of those valuable shooting tips!

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Clay Pigeon Shooting Glasses

When clay shooting, it is always advisory to wear glasses to protect your eyes from fragments of broken clay. They are also extremely useful for improving visibility in different outdoor conditions. A variety of coloured lenses are used to help different coloured clays show up better in specific conditions, lighting or backgrounds. I use Beretta or Pilla shooting glasses and generally use a 22N lens now the weather is nice and light.

The Beretta Race Glasses are a particular favourite of mine.

 They offer an all-round lens, which shows up orange clays very well against a background and vision for black clays is not compromised. They are have a rather wide lens, which stops light from flooding in.

During the winter when the lighting is poor and rather dull, I mostly use a clear lens with a slight tint of green, allowing most light to enter your eyes.
There are many different brands and models of shooting glasses, some much better than others, mainly based on the clarity of the lenses. You can tell the difference between cheap and expensive shooting glasses rather easily. Cheap shooting glasses can perform a basic job and are often a popular choice for people who are not keen to invest a lot of time or money in shooting. However, those who are regular shooters and particularly those who compete find that high quality shooting glasses are a great investment of money as the difference in protection and performance is vast.

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Introducing – Fred Whitehurst

Meet Fred Whitehurst, our newest Blog Contributor for The Sporting Lodge.

Hi, I’m Fred Whitehurst, a 17 year old shooting enthusiast. My Dad introduced me to game shooting at a young age, and over the past three years I have also got into clay pigeon shooting as it allows me to get my practice in all year round.

I was ranked No 1 in colts in UK until I recently moved up to the juniors where I am now ranked 8th in the UK.

I shoot most weekends, whether that be practising, taking part in local shooting competitions or representing Cheshire CPSN at county shows around the country. My next big competition is the English open this week where I will be hoping to improve on my no 8 ranking. Wish me luck!

My current weapon of choice is a Perazzi MX8, 12 bore 30½” barrel (my pride and joy).

At home, we have 4 dogs; 2 working cockers, a German wirehaired pointer and a lab x Collie. This is my dog which I have trained myself to be a retriever at our local bird shoot throughout the winter when I am not clay shooting.

I have a real passion for everything outdoors and I am currently studying agricultural engineering, so I am pretty handy on the tools which has put me in good stead whilst working on my Defender.

If you would like to keep up to date with my progress, my passion the sport of shooting and maybe a few hints and tips then you can find my latest posts here on The Sporting Lodge Blog.

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Fjallraven Kanken – evolving with the times

Founded in 1960, Fjällräven is a veteran at coping with the outdoors. The brand began like many of its counterparts, with problem-solving at its heart. That simple backpack created by Ake Nordin all those years ago has been joined by a full range of serious outdoor clothing and accessories, and while jackets like the Greenland have become iconic, it’s that original bag which lends its DNA to the brand in the current era.

When things are ubiquitous, it’s usually for a reason. The Kånken bag enjoys worldwide popularity, perhaps due to having nailed the middle ground between function and style. Like any good design, whether it be a car or an item of furniture, the Kånken has been gently evolved with the times, and there are now variations which include laptop compartments and other useful additions. The Kånken also comes in a number of subtle styles, from the well-known bright colours to a more understated, grown up version which utilises leather and more muted colours. There’s something for everyone. It’s a clear example of form following function and looking great as a by-product. Everything about the Kånken is clear, considered and concise. The same can be said for Fjällräven in general, in fact the only thing we can’t quite get our heads around is how to pronounce it correctly, which is fitting for a brand born in Örnsköldsvik. Try saying that with a mouthful of Kendal Mint cake!

We have a long lasting relationship with Fjallraven and have a fantastic range of products, tried and tested by The Sporting Lodge. Check out Fjallraven’s AW16 collection.

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Worth going? Yes…

Our guest blogger, Caroline Hutchinson, relays her first experience of The Game Fair.

Having never been to a game fair we were unsure what to expect…

Ragley Hall was an impressive 1600’s country manor with rolling parkland synonymous to a capability brown landscape.  A beautiful venue to visit and enjoy.

We arrived on the Sunday about 8.30, the road signage was very good and we were directed to the car parking area very easily.  We already had tickets but they could be bought on the day. For those camping, there was free transport from campsite to venue throughout the day.  You were able to get re-admission also which was a blessing as we did plenty of shopping and needed to unload at the car!

The fair was well set out – there was a large variety of guns and knives stands in, with an area for you to have a go at clay shooting.  There were various activities including a Bear Grylls Survival Trial for both young and old. The fishing section was located near the lake where there were numerous demonstrations on fly fishing, with a large area for the public to try their hand at fly fishing.  There was to our disappointment only a handful of fishing stands, having said that we manage to purchase a healthy amount of items.

In keeping with the theme, a local hunt had brought a selection of foxhounds, bassets and harriers with a demonstration and talk about their role within the hunt. On show were all sorts of terriers from the British Isles, some of whom are on the endangered list, it was most interesting talking to the owners and learning about the dogs characters.

Gun dog demonstrations throughout the day

For the horse enthusiast, there was show jumping throughout the day and demonstrations with French heavy horses which are used for pulling logs, an ergonomic way of forestry.  We watched a Shetland derby, highly entertaining!

Throughout the grounds there was a plethora of food outlets, ice cream vans and coffee/tea stalls albeit on the pricy side as you would expect, however you are more than welcome to bring your own and there are picnic areas.  At one site we were entertained by a trio who sang throughout the day a selection of old sea shanties and whaling songs, who were excellent.
Finally there was a fun fair area for children with a variety of rides and activities to keep the little ones busy while we shopped!

An excellent first experience, hopefully see you there next year!

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Fjällräven High Coast Wind Jacket Review

Last weekend I got to try the new Fjällräven High Coast Wind Jacket during a trip to the Lake District and here is my review of the product.

The jacket is made from a waxed polyamide and organic cotton material and is very light and breathable. As the name suggests, this is a windproof jacket as well as being shower poof so will keep you a little dry should you get caught in light rain showers.

My first use of the jacket was during a hike up Blencathra. It was a clear day and quite warm when I started the hike, but as I got higher up the wind started to pick up and started to feel a little colder, so on came my High Coast jacket. The jacket certainly did its job of keeping the wind off me and help maintain a comfortable body temperature.

Although it was windy as I got closer to the summit, my baselayer top was damp with sweat in the usual places where you sweat when on a hike, however I was surprised how quickly my baselayer seemed to dry under my High Coast jacket and how breathable the jacket actually was when wearing on top of a damp baselayer. I often find when hiking that you always seem to be taking layers off or putting layers on in order to get the right body temperature based on how strenuous the hike conditions are, I was very pleased with the combination of my baselayer and jacket and just pulled down the jacket zip if I felt I need to cool down or let more air to my upper body.

When I finally got to the summit and stop for lunch, it was a lot more windy and cooler, yet I didn’t need to put any extra layers on, I just zipped up the jacket and hood and pulled the cords to tighten the hood around my head. The jacket has a single zipped chest pocket on the left and two zipped hip pockets either side. The cuffs are elasticated and the hem of the jacket can be tightened by hidden chords at either side.

I continued to wear the jacket for whole of the descent and I just unzipped/zipped up as and when my body temperature dictated it. I also wore the jacket for most of my hike the following day in warmer, yet more changeable conditions while doing the Fairfield Horseshoe; both times the jacket protected me from the wind when needed and helped maintain my body temperature at all times.

The biggest thing that impressed me with the Fjällräven High Coast Wind Jacket was its breathability. I have worn lightweight windproof or showerproof jackets in the past and one thing what always happened was condensation/sweat inside the jacket. This never happen once with the High Coast jacket. Even when the temperature increased as I got lower down towards the start of my hikes, I never once felt condensation or sweat inside the jacket. I was actually amazed how dry the jacket was inside when I took it off.

Although I never got caught in any rain showers during the weekend (which makes a change for the Lake District), I’m sure the High Coast jacket would keep me dry in any light rain when the time comes. The waterproof level of the jacket can also be enhanced a bit by waxing it with the Greenland Wax as used on the other G-1000 based Fjällräven products, though I will wait to see how the jacket performs in light showers before giving it the waxing treatment.

I would thoroughly recommend the Fjällräven High Coast Wind Jacket as a perfect jacket for Spring or Summer adventures and look forward to putting it through its paces more over the coming months.

UPDATE 7th May 2015

Last weekend I got to test this jacket in more wet and windy conditions. Last Thursday I got caught in strong winds, hail, snow and light rain for nearly 2 hours during a hike in the Lake District. The jacket held up very well in the light rain, snow and hail showers, in that the jacket kept my baselayer completely dry. Two days later I was caught in much stronger winds and heavier rain while on another hike for a period of over 5 hours.

This time the jacket did become a lot wetter than previously in lighter showers and shorter time. The jacket was wet through but I was wearing it on top of my Keb Loft down jacket. Although my Keb jacket was damp on the outside, it still kept my baselayer completely dry. So basically the High Coast Wind Jacket certainly does its job in more moderate conditions over a shorter period of time, but if caught out in more heavier rain and for longer periods then the jacket will get wet, but it’s not designed for such conditions and would be best with a more heavy duty waterproof jacket.

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The Fjallraven Rucksack No. 21 Mini – Little Gem of a Backpack!

The Fjallraven Rucksack No. 21 Mini is perfect for the young outdoors, and for holidays or travel to school. Inspired by Fjallraven’s earlier backpacks from the 1960s and 1970s, the Fjallraven Rucksack No. 21 Mini is made from a durable waxed G-1000 HeavyDuty with details in natural-toned leather. We tested this little gem on a trek with the family, and it was tough enough to withstand the elements of wind and rain. Plus, as we’d waxed it with Greenland Wax, the rain water formed droplets on the bag and did not make our sandwiches soggy.

The main compartment has plenty of space for a flask and lunch bag, a t-shirt, our iPad in its own separate compartment and plenty of room for purses, notebook, and our umbrella too. There is also a sitting pad in G-1000, and a pocket that keeps a flask upright. The Rucksack No. 21 Mini features a large front pocket and two side pockets, an inside zippered security pocket for keys and other small items, and has super leather straps which are sturdy with easy-to-handle press buttons. Sometimes shoulders ache with narrow straps, but these are padded with an additional chest strap to keep you in place! This is the ideal backpack for the kids who want a rough, tough and fashionable reason to get out in all weathers.

The Fjallraven Rucksack No. 21 Mini is from the family of vintage designed backpacks from Fjallraven and they come in four sizes for all the family. You are spoilt for choice with the range of 6 colours from shouting Red to Ochre (our favourite) and the smart Navy, Black, traditional Green and the new addition, Lake Blue, which is stunning. The best thing about these bags is that it actually encouraged our kids to leave the laptop and get out in the great outdoors!

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An Audience with Phil Raisbeck

We had a chat with British blogger and outdoor adventurer, Phil Raisbeck, ahead of his impressive participation in the Fjallraven Classic trek that’s set to go ahead on Friday 8th August. Phil is a regular customer of The Sporting Lodge, who has a great love for the outdoors.

Taking your Fjallraven collection into account, can you name your favourite item and what makes it so special?

That is a tough question. I have so many items now, it’s hard to choose a favourite as all their clothing and equipment are excellent quality. I’m torn between my most commonly used items of Fjallraven Keb Gaiter trousers, Fjallraven Ruaha zip-off trousers, my first Fjallraven trousers, Sarek, or the Keb hooded fleece jacket. I think for its multiple uses for more technical hikes, challenges and varying conditions I will go with the Fjallraven Keb Gaiter trousers, plus they are in my favourite colour of UN Blue.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

Without doubt it has to being lucky enough to win 1st place for the UK in this year’s Fjallraven Polar back in April. It was such an amazing unique experience that I will remember for the rest of my life and made some amazing friends during the event.

Ahead of the Fjallraven Classic on Friday, what are three important steps you take to prepare yourself?

In the last few months I have been doing various hikes locally in places like Weardale, North Yorkshire, Northumberland and the Lakes. Doing hikes of various distances and challenges with the most recent ones carrying my Fjallraven Abisko 75 litre rucksack fully loaded with around 18kg in weight including everything I will be carrying on the Fjallraven Classic. You can be fit for long walks, but walking with a much heavier rucksack does make a huge difference, and you do need to practice carrying such weight before taking on a multi-day hike like the Fjallraven Classic.

Have you always been interested in expeditions and outdoor activity from a young age? What are your inspirations?

I did a little bit of outdoor activity many years ago in my teenage years, but then nothing for about 20 years. My recent outdoor epiphany only started in the summer of 2012, when my stepbrother Ian asked me to join him on his life-changing 250km trek through the French Pyrenees, where we did the Cathar Way. Since then I have been hooked on everything outdoors and this was followed by completing the 170km Tour du Mont Blanc trek last year. I’m also attempting to do the 282 Scottish Munros (though rather slowly, only done 4 so far!).

I’m always looking for my next adventure. Recently I went to Norway to visit my Norwegian Polar friend Jostein and we did an amazing hike to Trolltunga.

After the Classic next week I will focus on my next big adventure, which is the Toubkal Two Valley trek in Morocco this October. This will be the highest altitude I will have hiked. My ultimate goal is possibly ascending Mont Blanc after seeing it closely as I trekked the Tour du Mont Blanc, though I feel I need a lot more winter skills before I tackle that challenge.

What do you look for in the perfect piece of gear to accompany you in your travels?

That depends on how I intend to use them. If it would be for long multi-day trekking then one of the key thing would be the weight, however I also think ease of use and/or having multiple uses if possible is key and of course the quality. I find if you buy cheap you buy twice, and you really need all your gear to stand up to the challenges you face as you never know what to expect and can’t afford to carry spare items “just in case”, as this would add to the weight you would carry. So quality and practicality is key.

Any last words?

Since taking part in the Fjallraven Polar I have met some amazing people from around the world, some in person and some virtually online through my Outdrr blogging network and past Fjallraven Polar participants and it has been great sharing experiences with all of these people as well as planning many future adventures together.

Thanks a lot Phil! Don’t forget to check out Phil’s blog to follow his quirky and exciting documentation of various expeditions and adventures!

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Spotlight On: Trekking Trousers

At The Sporting Lodge, we pride ourselves on being able to cater for a large variety of outdoor activities, weather conditions and lifestyles. Our Fjallraven trousers are products that boast this speciality and prove that they can fit into your lifestyle just as well as you can fit into them.

The Fjallraven trekking range are offered in three families (or series). The Fjallraven Keb system consists of clothes and equipment for demanding trekking in challenging mountain terrain. The Fjallraven Sarek system is for long mountain trips next to the well-worn paths. The Fjallraven Abisko system is ideal when you want to move lightly, quickly and not have much to pack during both short hikes and treks lasting several days.

Fjallraven’s trekking range at The Sporting Lodge is where you’ll find clothes and equipment for different types of trekking activity, in varying terrain and climate zones, all year round. Everything from day-long hikes to longer expeditions that take weeks – or perhaps even longer. This range features clothes that protect against weather and wind, wick away moisture and excess heat, and allow you to move freely.

Some of our most durable Fjallraven trousers are designed for trekking. They are made from the special G-1000 fabric, which is known for being impressively water and wind resistant. We understand that to be able to move around freely, a particular leeway is helpful. We combat this with Fjallraven’s comfortable stretch panels which are woven into trousers such as the Fjallraven Abisko Trousers, Fjallraven Kalfjall Trousers and Fjallraven Keb Trousers.

As you’ll probably know, when trekking there’s a slim chance you’ll cease to perspirate – it’s a fact of life and it’s only natural! However, Fjallraven have really thought of everything, and to put your mind at ease, a built in membrane in the G-1000 fabric allows moisture to leave the body easier and in a more discreet manner. For trekking in warmer climates, you might also consider a pair of versatile Fjallraven zip-off trousers in light and airy fabric, which can be easily transformed into shorts – for example, the Abisko Hybrid Zip-Off Trousers.

We hope we’ve provided you with some ideas – and remember, we’re currently offering 30% off Fjallraven (RRP products only, excluding sale items) at The Sporting Lodge using code FJALL30 at checkout!