Post-COVID Hiking Gear for 2021

By James – my co-blogger at TrekSumo.

Now the seemingly perpetual cycle of lockdown is giving way to brighter days, outdoor gear brands have kicked their production lines into top gear. Jake and I blog over at TrekSumo, but Adventure Embassy still gets a fair amount of visitors and we don’t want you to miss out (some of the links will take you to corresponding posts on TrekSumo.com. Preamble done, let’s take a look at what goodies we can expect to find in our big bag of 2021 hiking equipment.

Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0 Waterproof Jacket

I have a fetish for jackets – feel free to pop round and take look in my garage (I’ve never parked my car in there, it’s always been my hiking and expedition gear store) and you’ll see the huge variety I own. In theory, I don’t need to buy more, but Jake sent me some details of the Kinetic Alpine and I was hooked.

Before we move, I do not own this jacket yet (the order is being shipped on Monday 12th April and I’ll follow up with a review which will be linked from this post).

So, what is it that got my spidey senses tingling?

Well, once you look past the disturbing stare of the model on the product page (Rab Men’s Kinetic Alpine 2.0 Waterproof Jacket – Rab® UK), you will see a pretty stylish jacket. Sure, fashion is not everything when you’re on the trail, but it does matter if only a little.

Joking aside, I like a close-fitting jacket to wear hiking and the Kinetic Apline 2.0 has very close fit.

What I am also interested to test is the weatherproofing. Not Gore-Tex, but like Gore-Tex, the Proflex membrane supposedly wicks away sweat fast. We will see…

Huawei GT 2e Sports Watch

Jake and I have written quite a few large reviews of watches such as the Fenix 6 (here), the Vivoactive 3 (here), the Garmin Instinct (here). We’ve even created a huge post to find you the best hiking watch (here) money can buy.

So why the need to test a low-end sports watch from Huawei?

Because all the watches I mentioned at the start of this section are expensive and it’s time to explore some of the more affordable pieces of gear available. My partner has a Huwei, and she loves it. It cost about $100 (£80) and has every feature she needs to track her exercise and general health.

It evens tells her how well she slept (I’m guessing not very well as my snoring is loud!)

On paper, the Huawei GT 2e looks pretty impressive:

  • 14 days battery life
  • 43g in weight
  • AMOLED touchscreen (hmm, not a fan of these…)
  • GPS and a whole array of other sensors

Review coming soon.

Icebug Running Shoes

So I run. A lot. I ran and hiked 400+miles crossing Lake Baikal in February 2019.

My pulk weighed around 70kg. I wore a pair of Altra Lone Peak shoes with wood screws drilled into the soles.

That was painful. And I still spent a lot of time slipping and falling. So for my next big expedition, which should be a 1100km solo ski to the South Pole, I want a pair of Icebugs (the Zeal 5s), even though I plan to not run most of the distance!

Icebug, a Swedish company, have been quietly making a name for themselves since 2001 (they seem older, but that may well be because the founders looked like they have some years on them). Their range of shoes has gone from a simple design aimed at cross country runners to a smorgasbord (hehe) of trainers that can be used for pretty much any terrain.

Which means they’ll probably make good substitutes for some of my aging hiking boots.

Cirrus Flex 2.0 Hoody

I like shell jackets. I love lightweight insulating jackets. And, yes, I do wear them about town as is the current fashion for which I should be chastised.

But they just feel so good. They’re warm. And they have a multitude of pockets in which to hide my wallet away from my kids, so what’s not to love about them?

On a more serious note, I do like the Cirrus Flex – I did own one until it had the misfortune to be introduced to my eldest daughter’s dog. Now it’s an ex-Flex.

If the original version is anything to go by, the Flex 2.0 should be a cracking jacket. The version 1 fit was perfect for me – not too tight and with enough give to allow movement at all but the most extreme angles a contortionist reaches.

This is another jacket we’ll be reviewing over on TrekSumo.

Iridium Next

Iridium is the comms backbone of devices such as the Garmin InReach, an excellent piece of equipment that provides all the features of a GPS smushed in alongside some of the satellite communications (SMS, no voice). And, although a great piece of idea, the major let-down is the current slow speed of 2.4 kbps (my first computer modem was 64k!)

But time and technology has moved on and over the past 5 years Iridium have been upgrading their satellite network to support broadband speeds. Yes. YouTube via out space!

They call it: Iridium NEXT. Yeah, I know… move along.

Okay, near space. And if you do insist on watching even a few minutes of YouTube over the NEXT network you’ll need to re-mortgage to pay the bill.

Some of the current NEXT terminals weigh in the region of 20kg+, not exactly portable! I’m hoping the tech, and at least some of the high speeds, seep into devices such as the Iridium Extreme satellite phone. Then I can make high quality phone calls to you all from the Antarctic ice.

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