Category Archives: Kit

photo (6)

Sigg Thermo Mug: Perfect Companion?

I’ve been fan of SIGG bottles since I was a teenager (which was a very long time ago): they’re sturdy; last a lifetime and they look pretty cool too! I’m an outdoorsy, ‘busy’ type of person and my SIGG products have travelled the world with me, turning heads wherever I go. The latest addition to the family is the Thermo, an insulated bottle that keeps drinks hot or cold (depending on what you put in them). This is due to the high-grade 18/8 stainless steel and the vacuum-insulation used to make the Thermo.

I was sent the SIGG Thermo 0.5L mug to review and I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I’ve always used a traditional flask when out for a day and a screw top thermal mug to take a brew away with me in the car. At 0.5L the Thermo certainly has the capacity of a decent sized hill walking flask but I wasn’t sure if it would keep my coffee as hot for as long. The Thermo definitely looks the part: it’s slim, cool to the touch and has a lid which is really easy to hold. I took my Thermo everywhere, and I mean everywhere…

I’m in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) and have just been through all my Basic Training for Seafarers courses. I took my Thermo to lectures, to the lake whilst doing lifeboat training and I also tested the cold properties of the Thermo when doing my firefighting.

photo 2

I played around with the thermal properties of the Thermo, following the instructions to the letter (preheat the Thermo with boiling water prior to filling with drink) and also throwing caution to the wind and NOT preheating it. When I did it properly, I made a brew at 0845 and got bored of waiting for it to get cold at 2215. In all fairness I did leave the lid on tight , only opening it occasionally over that time and whilst the coffee wasn’t steaming hot at 2215, it was still a very drinkable brew. When I made my brew maverick style, again at 0845, my coffee was still drinkable at 1500. That’s a better performance than my traditional flask and way better than any thermal screw top mug I’ve ever owned – they usually keep a drink warm for about 2 hours. As for the keeping water cold, it also performed very well indeed – definitely welcome after coming out of a burning container wearing full fire fighting kit!

The Thermo mug has a removable tea strainer, which does what it says on the tin. I made some green tea and it worked pretty well, I didn’t test it with loose leaf tea so I can’t comment on whether the strainer is fine enough for that but it definitely works well for using tea bags. No messy fishing it out of the mug!

photo 1

I work hard and like to play equally as hard and I took my SIGG Thermo to Northern Ireland with me to provide a hot, home made brew wherever I went on my road trip. It really was the perfect companion on my trip, slim, unassuming and keeping my drink hot for hours. It was something special to have a coffee on the Giant’s Causeway! My friends who’ve been with me whilst testing the SIGG Thermo have tried to whisk it away on several occasions – it’s definitely a bottle that’ll turn heads!

I’m not sure that I would take the Thermo 0.5L away as a flask on the hills as I like to pour out my coffee and drink it from a mug BUT the larger sized Thermo bottles actually have a mug. Given the performance of the 0.5L I am sure the larger SIGG Thermo’s would be excellent pieces of kit for a day on the hills. I am more than happy to say that the SIGG Thermo 0.5L is the perfect companion for work and play, and I highly recommend it.

The SIGG Thermo is available in 0.3L, 05.L, 0.75L and 1L bottles.

I was sent this product for the purposes of this review, all opinions are my own.

Jetboil Zip: Supreme stove?

The Jetboil. A stove I’ve seen many a military person whip from their webbing, make a brew in record time and then pop it all back nice and neatly in the pouch. It’s fair to say that I’ve been pretty envious of this, I mean – it all seemed so ‘neat’. A mug, burner and gas canister all stored in one super easy to carry package? Whats not to love?!

I’ve finally managed to acquire one to have a play with. I got a Jetboil Zip (retails at approximately £69.99) free with a subscription to Trail Magazine (£49), which I figured was a pretty good deal. It’s smaller than other Jetboils holding 0.8ltrs of water and you need an external source of ignition: I choose to use my Firesteel because it makes me feel rugged and outdoorsy, but you could just use a lighter or matches.

Jetboil Zip

 

Inside the Jetboil mug is the burner, a pot/pan support and a tripod. A 100g gas canister will also fit inside, if you fit all the pieces together correctly.

The pot/pan support means that you can use the Jetboil as a normal stove and put pots and pans on the burner. My main misgiving about the whole Jetboil system was that it could only really be used for one thing: to boil water quickly. The addition of a pot/pan support makes it a much more versatile stove – I used it to cook bacon when I went camping last week and was pretty impressed. The tripod massively increases the stability of the cooking system and can fit several different sized gas canisters – there is nothing worse than watching your freshly boiled water tip over in the wind!

When the Jetboil Zip is used to simply boil water, it is the fastest stove I’ve ever used and I had my brew in record time. It didn’t fare so well when I tried to cook boil in the bag meals in the mug, I found the 0.8ltr capacity a tad small to fit my food pouch in let the water boil without overflowing. I’ve mostly used the stove to boil water to make a brew, I’ve found it a nice alternative to taking a flask of coffee out with me. 20130822-134659.jpgPerhaps a larger Jetboil would be better for heating up boil in the bag food as I see plenty of people who use them to do just that. Another selling point of the Jetboil is that you can simply boil the water in the mug and then make the brew straight into it. I did just this a while back and it worked well, saved me packing another cup! The downside to that is that you have to wash the mug before putting your stove back together. Perhaps I’m lazy but I’d prefer to just stick to clean water in my Jetboil mug.

All in all, I’m quite taken with the Jetboil Zip. It does exactly what I need it to do with minimal fuss and doesn’t take up too much room. I’m not sure it’d replace my flask on a walk but it’s a great addition to my kit and means I don’t have to take my trangia with me if I do want to make a fresh brew.

Esbit Titanium Spoon

Being a bit of a gear fondler, I am always looking at other people’s equipment and checking out what’s available on the market. Whilst in the woods with some Army Cadets I noticed that one of the regular soldiers with us had a foldable titanium spoon and he was pretty obsessed with it. I have always used a Spork but sometimes the length of it meant that it would dig into me, a foldable spoon sounded awesome. The fact that it was titanium meant that it should be pretty light, which is always a bonus when looking at new kit.

I searched online and found the Esbit Titanium Spoon, I got mine from eBay but obviously other online retailers are available.

20130324-121358.jpg

The spoon was light, smooth to the touch and the actual eating bit is polished to enhance your eating experience. Sounds a bit fancy but it does actually make a difference. The spoon weighs in at a minuscule 18g/6oz is 17cm long when in use and folds down to 9.3cm when packed away. Compare this to the fixed 17cm Light my Fire Spork – no wonder I kept stabbing myself with my spoon when it was in my pocket! The handle folds neatly into the back of the product, when open there is a sliding locking mechanism which is extremely effective and leaved no possibility that the spoon will fold when in use. I have found that you need to really make sure that the slider is fully pushed down to the base of the spoon to make sure it doesn’t fold when you’re trying to dig out your scoff. It sits nicely in my hand and I don’t notice it in my pocket, I take my spoon everywhere with me and have used it almost daily since buying it.

20130324-121517.jpg

I eat porridge for breakfast and sometimes top it with banana – the edge of spoon is more than capable of chopping up the banana, no need to get a knife out! This spoon has been an invaluable addition to my kit and means that I am never short of an implement to eat with or make a brew with. I’ve not used my plastic spork since I got this spoon, it stays in my bag as an emergency eating device but that’s where it’s stayed.20130324-121535.jpg

I am a convert to the whole titanium ‘thing’ and am now looking for a titanium kettle and/or pot. As to whether I get the rest of Esbit’s cutlery (they also do knife, fork and a spork – all foldable) remains to be seen as for me, the only must have when outdoors is a spoon. I can do all my chopping and food prep with my Gerber knife and a fork isn’t really necessary. The Esbit Titanium spoon retails at around £10 and is, in my opinion, money well spent.

SIGG Wide Mouth Sport bottle review: A Canadian Adventure.

Regular followers of my blog will know that I am a volunteer with the Army Cadet Force and that this hobby sometimes ends up with me doing some pretty cool stuff. This summer was no exception and I found myself leading a group of twelve 14/15 year old cadets on a 6 week long Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corp (RCAC) Expedition Instructor’s Course in New Brunswick, Canada. On the kit list for the trip was the word ‘water bottle’ and I decided that this would be a perfect time to test out the SIGG Wide Mouth Sport bottle.

The bottle has a capacity of 0.75ltrs, a 3-stage-sports-top and had a narrower bit in the middle to make it easier to hold.  It comes with a wide mouth top enabling standard SIGG tops to fit the bottle. This ultimately meant that there were two places you could drink from – the standard lid or take both parts off and drink straight from the wide mouth.

 

This bottle went everywhere with me during the 6 weeks I spent in Canada – it was hot, hot, hot over there!! New Brunswick had an unseasonably hot summer with temperatures reaching 30 degrees celcius most days and there was a very real risk of heat injuries.

When you’re on an 18-day expedition in a hot and dry training area, staying hydrated is not optional, the consequences of not drinking enough are fatal. The mandate was to drink water and LOTS of it…

The wide mouth top made the bottle super easy to fill, I was able to fill my bottle directly from the main water source at a camp on the training area – quite novel as it was very similar to a fireman’s hose! I quite quickly removed the sport top and replaced it with a standard one as I found that I could get water into me quicker that way. We’re I to be out jogging/cycling in standard weather the sports top would be ideal but when drinking litres of water, the wider opening made the process easier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Putting a standard top on the wide mouth top meant that I could attach some paracord to it, whack a karabiner though the lot and securely attach the bottle to the thwart of my canoe. Whilst on a 5 day canoe phase of the expedition, we used water filters to make the river water clean (if you’ve ever been to the St John River in New Brunswick you’d want to make sure the water was clean!) and this was pumped straight into my SIGG wide mouth bottle.

 

When drinking 2-3 litres of water an hour ALL day, everyday – water can get a tad dull and you also need to start replacing your salts (pretty sure I’ve never sweated as much as I did in Canada…) so I sourced some powdered Gatorade. This small act made such a difference and amazingly. after a quick rinse, fresh water put into the SIGG bottle still tasted fresh – no nasty, sickly residue left behind! I’ve now learnt that this is due to the internal coating on the bottle.

 

I saw a few other SIGG bottles whilst in Canada and was pleasantly surprised to see a whole display unit in the Canex featuring bottles in their camouflage design - Cadpat - and the very same bottle that had been by my side every stage of the way.

This bottle was also instrumental in a first aid emergency – I found myself having to deal with a young adult suffering from a heat injury. I had my SIGG bottle, a jerry can of water, my Cadet Safety Training Precautions and a notebook & pen with me. Combining these three things enabled me to look after her until help arrived. How? Dumping the contents of my bottle on her to cool her down, monitoring her heart rate and giving her my bottle to drink from as often as she could. So there you have it, SIGG is a real life safer!!

I love my wide mouth sports bottle and it is now my bottle of choice when I’m out and about.

I was sent this product for the purpose of the review. Opinions are my own and unbiased. 

SIGG Alu Maxi

Hungry? SIGG Alu box Review


Given my ridiculous hobby and my unwillingness to buy food from the staff cafe,I spend rather a lot of time carrying my lunch around with me. Despite owning a myriad of outdoor gear I’d never purchased a specialist lunch box. Sure I’d seen them reviewed in magazines but somehow there was always something else I found to spend my cash on. Having now spent a few months using the SIGG Maxi Metallic Alu I can firmly say that I wish i’d owned one years ago!

The box itself was lightweight, cool to the touch and looked good – I wasn’t going to suffer the embarrassment of  carrying my lunch in something that looked like it belonged to a five year old! The box is well designed with a strong clip to keep the lid firmly attached to the box and a rubber lining on the part where the lid contacts the box.

 

Clip to close the lid

Rubber seal around the edge of the lid. This all has the effect of keeping the lid on nice and snug with no rattling (the last thing you want is your bag to be rattling with every step you take)

I am an adult volunteer in the Army Cadet Force and as such spend rather a lot of time away doing ‘this and that’. The MOD provides plenty of food to eat during the day but the packed lunches always arrive in a brown paper bag (hence the phrase ‘horror bag’ as slang for ‘packed lunch’). Before heading out into the hills for they day I transferred the contents of the Army issue lunch box to the SIGG Alu and was pleasantly surprised to see that all my food fitted inside. Another benefit was that the box was re-usable and didn’t fall to pieces as soon as it got the slightest bit damp…

SIGG Alu lunch box vs Army lunch box (bag)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have taken the SIGG Alu with me whenever I have needed to carry my lunch and found that the lid doubles up as a plate when needed – pretty handy when you want to put your butty down if you need to go do something else! The SIGG Alu really does look the part – a colleague at work asked me about it and was very keen to go buy one himself. A big tick for the lunch box!

The lid doubles as a plate when needed

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s all very well looking the part but how did it fare when used in anger? Well I dropped the box a fair few times and it survived with no visible damage. It seemed pretty water tight, keeping my lunch dry during a very rainy expedition. However, I did a submerge test at home on the SIGG Alu and I can confidently say that it is not a water tight box. For this reason I would not recommend it to take with you when paddling UNLESS it was inside a dry bag.

Overall I am extremely pleased with this product, the only draw back is that it isn’t water tight but that is a minor issue for what is other wise an excellent addition to my kit.

Would I recommend this to other people? Without a moment’s hesitation. Go buy one – it’s money well spent.

I was sent this product for the purpose of the review. Opinions are my own and unbiased. 

 

 

 

Tough enough? SIGG UK water bottle review

I have been obsessed with kit since I was a teenager. It all started when I joined the Air Cadets, spent time in the great outdoors and saw the ‘stuff’ that the staff and senior cadets had. I became intrigued by all things shiny and new: browsing Blacks in Cardiff became a genuine guilty pleasure. This obsession with kit followed me into adulthood where a foray into outdoor retailing kept me off the streets for two years and I became an expert in advising people on the ‘right kit for the job’. Being an Officer in the Army Cadet Force means I spend a significant chunk of my time outside where having the right kit is imperative.

When I saw that SIGG were looking for outdoorsy people to review their products I jumped at the chance. I’ve been around SIGG products for many years now but have never actually owned a bottle. As soon as I opened the parcel from SIGG UK and saw the 0.6 litre Classic bottle in black, I knew I was in love.

 

 

 

It was smooth, it was shiny, it was light and felt cool to the touch. Aesthetics aside, how was it going to fit  into my life? Shortly after receiving the Classic bottle I was off to North Wales with cadets for an Adventurous Training weekend – a perfect chance to see what the Classic bottle could do.

 

 

 

The first plus point occurred shortly after breakfast when I was issued with my horror bag (Army slang for packed lunch) and removed the small bottle of water provided. Plastic waste is a real problem for the environment with over 60 billion tons of it being produced every year but SIGG bottles are reusable and last a life time. Last year one young cadet I was working with had borrowed his Dad’s twenty year old SIGG bottle for a three day expedition – sure, it was battered and dented but it worked! Imagine how many plastic bottles have been saved from going to landfill in that twenty years.

 

No contest here! Resuable, tough SIGG bottle versus small, disposable plastic bottle…

 

 

 

SIGG were kind enough to send me a neoprene pouch for the bottle – as you can see it fits snugly around it. I found that when in temperatures around 0 degrees, the bottle, because it’s metal, became very cold and difficult to hold when not wearing gloves. The pouch enabled me to use the bottle without gloves and is a good addition to your kit if you think you may be taking the bottle somewhere cold.

The next plus point came when I took the cadets to a climbing wall for the day. I often find that when instructing I don’t drink enough to stay hydrated – it’s thirsty work making sure that the cadets are safe and having fun! Initially I thought that the clip on the neoprene pouch would attach to my climbing harness but I found that the clip wasn’t wide enough. A quick rummage in my kit bag later and my bottle was attached to my harness via a karabiner through the hole in the lid of the bottle. Having the bottle to hand meant that I could keep a watchful eye on the cadets and still have a drink, bonus!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bottle is made from a single piece of Aluminium and has an EcoCare Liner, all rather technical but basically ensures a fresh, clean taste with no metallic after-taste. No matter what drink I put inside the SIGG bottle, it did indeed taste clean with no metallic nasty-ness – I tried milk (for coffee while at cadets), Ribena, water and fizzy pop. The fizzy pop was an interesting one, the SIGG website said it was fine to use the bottle for fizzy drinks so  I gave it a whirl. Carrying a can of grape soda isn’t really a good idea while in uniform but disguising it in a smart, black SIGG water bottle seemed like a good way to smuggle it in. And it worked reasonably well. The drink was still fizzy for about three hours and the bottle fitted perfectly in my combat jacket pocket.

 

 A perfect fit!

 

 

 

 

Whilst I found the bottle to be an excellent addition to my kit I was unable to use it in ‘the field’. Disappointingly it didn’t fit in my webbing and in all honesty when it comes to doing hardcore Army things with guns, I will stick to the issue water bottle. But as a bottle to take climbing, to the office, on the hills and to stuff in my daysack when doing less intense cadet things – it’s a definite win.

Would I recommend this to other people? Of course I would, I’ve not left mine at home since I got it!

I was sent this product for the purpose of the review. Opinions are my own and unbiased. 

 

A new take on the foam roller

Being injured is everyone’s worst nightmare and sadly, I consider myself to be something of an expert on the matter. Many of my injuries stem from the fact that I over pronate, more so on the left foot than the right. This seemingly small problem has led to hours and hours of physio and years of rehab/resting/recovering, I was just glad I had private healthcare (I no longer have healthcare, I claimed on it several times and couldn’t afford the renewal price). To cut a long story short I suffer from ITB syndrome and  adverse neural tension. It took 18 months of stretching, gait analysis, expensive trainers and gradually building up the exercise to get myself to being able to run for over an hour at a time.

One of the things that I found crucial to my rehab and recovery was a foam roller. I bought it from an online physio store and it was quite possibly the best £20 I’ve ever spent. I would roll the outside of my left thigh on it starting at the outside of the knee and moving gradually up to the hip, maintaining the pressure at certain ‘sore’ spots. This is a painful process but I’ve learnt that many things in rehab are painful: the worst pain causes me not to scream and shout but to go white and feel sick. My roller was brilliant but it has lost it’s shape in time and the ones in the gym see much use and just don’t quite cut it. So when buying some new running shoes the other day I came across a new type of foam roller: my eyes lit up, I fondled it, I caressed it, I simply had to have it even at the princely sum of £44.99. May I introduce you to The Grid.

It’s basically a tough, hollow plastic tube covered in EVA foam – it’s light, about the length of my forearm and has different types of bumps in the foam. The marketing says that some of the bumps feel like the palms of hands, some like thumbs and others like fingers. I’m not too sure about that, to me every bit of it just hurt. And boy did it hurt, more than my old roller – much, much more. It is genuinely the most effective foam roller I have ever used and I shall be scheduling in more intimate session with The Grid after every run.

Regular use of The Grid should help to keep my ITB from causing me any problems during my training for a half marathon. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who suffers from ITB problems.