Julbo Monte Rosa and Monte Bianco Sunglasses
Becky Coles and Simon Verspeak take these top-of-the-range men's and women's sunglasses from the UK, to the Alps, to the Himalaya
Christmas is nearly upon us, and as usual we've left present buying til the last minute. From timeless seasonal staples such as hats and torches, to climbing hardwear and ultralight packs, here are some ideas for gifts that won't break the bank.
One of the most precious items you carry to the crag is usually your guidebook. Lovingly ticked and voraciously browsed, these objects of desire are essential for any good day out. But they aren't quite up to the battering our other gear receives and we often see ducktape spines or floppy coverless books stuffed carelessly in rucksacks full of metal items. This A5 sized Rockfax guidebook cover gives ideal protection and, with an elastic bookmark and water-resistant outer, it is just the thing to prolong the life of your favourite guidebooks. You can even clip it on your harness if you wish to carry the book up the route with you!
In double walled stainless steel with a durable silicone sleeve, this rugged flask is built for extra cold conditions, with no exposed metal to hurt your hands. It's effective, it comes in two sizes (.75 L and 1 L), and it's available in a choice of colours. Ideal for chilly Christmas walks. You could go for hot juice, but we're thinking mulled wine.
You can never have too many hats, and it's one of those things (like pants and socks) that most of us would rather be given than have to go out and buy for ourselves. This one's made of Polartec Powerstretch Pro, which you can't really argue with for lightweight, quick drying warmth. Plus, black never really goes out of fashion.
At just 45g the Mantis is super light, yet thanks to DMM's typical quality it feels reassuringly sturdy in use. A refinement of the traditional belay device, its deep grooves offer tons of friction whether you're belaying on single or half ropes, and it's compatible with anything from a modishly skinny 7.3mm to an unfashionably hefty 11mm. We have one on long term test (review pending) and so far we've used it for everything from sunny sport to winter climbing.
Nothing says Christmas cheer like a torch. Thanks to its four LEDs that offer a light range of up to 30m, and a maximum burn time of 80 hours, as well as an emergency signal function, the T-Trail is pretty versatile for its small size. It covers "a wide spectrum of applications from camping to hiking and night bouldering" say Mammut, and we think its low weight, just 72g, also means that it would shine as a backup light to keep in your pack - something no winter mountaineer should be without.
These lightweight gloves can be used either as a base layer under somethig bulkier, or on their own when the weather's not quite so nippy.
"Made from our unique Merino +™ fabric, created using a combination of superfine Merino wool and polyester with 37.5™ Teechnology, all our Merino +™ products are designed to maximise temperature regulation, offer unrivalled levels of warmth and to control odour performance during multi-day use" say Rab. Sounds good to us.
What to get the boulderer in your life, if you can't quite stretch to a one way ticket to Rocklands? Assuming they already have a beanie and a pocket manicure set, this bag from Moon looks pretty cool. Here's what they say:
"This stash bag secures your chalk with a dry-bag closure system (Velcro, roll, and buckle). But if you cuff its top, it sits upright and doubles as a chalk pot beneath your project or climbing wall. An outer mesh pocket holds your remaining essentials, such as sand paper, nail clippers and toothbrush. Just add car keys and a pair of climbing shoes ... but never leave home without it."
With a casual cut, and made from luxuriously soft organic cotton, 3rd Rock's Orbit is a t-shirt that wears its ethical credentials on its sleeve. Part of their 'Earth Collection', for every sale £1 is donated to the Environmental Justice Foundation.
Hey, it's the darkest time of year: you're gonna need more than one torch. This compact but powerful number looks the business. Black Diamond seem to think so too. Here's what they say:
"Our most popular headlamp for everything from pre-work dawn patrols to late-night rappels after a long day, the Spot Headlamp now features 200 lumens of power in a waterproof package. Featuring PowerTap Technology, easy on-the-fly brightness adjustments are literally at the tip of your fingers."
What were we saying about hats and Xmas? This one's deceptively simple, but effective.
The Páramo Beanie’s combination of fabrics makes it warm, fast wicking and quick drying. The shape is designed to work well under a hood or a helmet as well as on its own. No need for cold ears this winter.
Extending to 2.5m, it might not fit in the stocking, but the Project Brush Stick is ideal for dusting off those hard-to-reach holds. Made in Sheffield by Beta Climbing Designs, it is described as "the perfect all-rounder", featuring an articulated and lockable head, an extendable shaft, and a modular end that fits a variety of brushes. It comes with a Lapis Uber Brush, too.
Built for safe, simple operation and easy clipping, the Pure Slider from Edelrid is a locking karabiner with a twist ...the twist being that there isn't one. Instead of a conventional screw, the gate operates via their unique slider - just place your thumb on the bar and slide down to unlock. Versus a conventional screwgate this makes it easy and quick to use, but still gives you protection from accidental opening. We can certainly see ourselves wanting it for that occasional key placement, where you might otherwise use a more fiddly screwgate. Let's hope Santa is reading this.
When it comes to sacks of seasonal swag, you don't often hear people harping on about less being more. But here's a rare exception from Lowe Alpine, a super stripped-back little pack with clean minimalist lines. Lidless, zipless ...there's almost nothing to it; but despite a featherlight 340g weight, its 210 denier fabric should be good for some real world abuse.
Yes, it's another hat; but in our defence, this one does sort of have Christmas present written all over it (no, not literally. That would suck). Taking the brrrrrr out of Spitsbergen, say OR (we would never stoop so low, but we guess it beats taking the 'spit'), this combo of 100% lambswool with a wind-blocking WINDSTOPPER-lined earband looks both smart and effective.
It's made of titanium and it holds 400ml of coffee - well we're sold.
"With all the charms of our MytiMug 650, but miniaturised" say Alpkit. "For those who are pioneering unchartered waters (or land), this peripatetic mug will tag along at little extra weight."
"This suave, sandblasted titanium is a mere 74g (with lid) and is beautifully compatible with our other titanium products. It will nest neatly within the MytiMug 650 or MytiPot 900."
Surely everyone needs an inflatable pillow in their lives? If you're not going to carry an actual pillow around, then it sure beats a stuffsack full of yesterday's smelly socks. At just 75g this is a realistic proposition for backpacking, and its anatomical tapered shape gives options to both side sleepers and back snorers. While you're at it, get a set of earplugs too.
An oldie but a goodie, Petzl's marvel of miniaturisation tips the scales at just 27g, and yet it kicks out up to 26 lumens. You might not deliberately pick it for a night ascent of Tower Ridge, but as an emergency extra light to keep in your pack, or even your pocket, this tiny torch is hard to beat. The e+LITE is good down to -30 and can be stored with batteries for 10 years and still be good to go. It's a stocking filler that could genuinely save someone's bacon.
OK, we know we said you can't have too many hats but this is getting ridiculous. Only, it's hard to quibble with Jottnar's excellent Tove - we should know, we got one as a prezzie last year. A warm and stylish wool/acrylic beanie with a low profile to ensure a comfy under-helmet fit, it's available in four colours.
Chamonix-based Blue Ice know a thing or two about tough-yet-lightweight Alpine packs, and this one's so small it can be rolled up and stuffed in its own little pocket (or into your partners' Christmas stocking). Designed for minimalist climbers or hikers looking to carry just the bare essentials, the Dragonfly features highly breathable shoulder straps, a generous zipped pocket, daisy chains and a rope carrying system. It holds 18 litres and weighs a negligible 325g.
All the bits and bobs for the aspirant boulderer, in a convenient bundle - and a little cheaper than buying each item separately. You get a pack of Super Chalk - America's best selling brand - a brush; and the all-important finger tape. Keep it all in the Dust Bin chalk bag, which features a no-spill, tapered design and large mouth for easy access, plus dual pockets for small items with multiple brush-holders, and a grab handle.
Need fresh coffee on the go (who doesn't)? The Commuter Java Press gives you the full flavour of proper freshly pressed coffee in a convenient travel mug, with a clever looking design that replaces the bulky cafetiere style plunger rod with a nesting inner sleeve, creating an additional wall of insulation to keep your drink hot on the frostiest of winter mornings. A good one for car camping, or lucky van owners.
An affordable bit of Arc'teryx luxury, the Phase Glove is made with "durable, moisture wicking Phasic AR-X fabric and patterned with a next-to-skin fit" say Arc'Teryx.
"The Phase Glove is an excellent insulating liner but also functions on its own. Worn under a shell, it provides warmth, rapidly wicks moisture, and insulates when wet. Sensor pads on the thumb and forefinger enable use of smartphones, tablets, and other touch screen digital tools."
Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? The CAMP Ice Master are a great pair of micro-spikes for preventing dangerous slips and falls on ice covered surfaces where full crampons might be overkill (walking to the shops, say, or patchy snow-and-ice cover on less steep hill terrain). Four sizes attach to any kind of boot or shoe and the steel points offer a secure and precise grip on uneven ground. With a carry case included, you're getting a lot for your money here.
Boot Bananas make an ideal Christmas gift for any climber or runner - and it's a present that the whole household can enjoy. Filled with entirely natural moisture absorbing and funk defying ingredients, they make living with smelly shoes more bearable. Depending on use, Boot Bananas will last up to a year and much like the real thing they eventually turn brown when they’re ready to be replaced. Hand made in Yorkshire and available in climbing walls and outdoor retailers throughout the country, as well as direct through the Boot Bananas website.
"These revolutionary gloves have a micro pack size and a superb warmth to weight ratio that has made them a best-seller" say Montane.
"Featuring PrimaLoft® GOLD Insulation they also have a PERTEX® windproof outer and a brushed microfleece lining. Ideal as multi use gloves that will live unnoticed in your pack or pocket and can easily be pulled on when needed."
Weighing around 50g, they come in both men's and women's sizes.
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From inspiring new rock guides and big name autobiographies, through glossy photography books to some fascinating writing compilations, readers this Christmas will be spoilt for choice. Here are our favourites.
From biography and photography to guidebooks galore, lovers of mountain books have had plenty to celebrate over the last year. We've picked our favourites.