The big test: Waterproof gloves reviewed (2019)

Warm hands are essential for great mountain days, so we’ve taken a closer look at six of the best insulated waterproof gloves from across the price and performance range.

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The runners up


Trekmates Chamonix Glove GTX £42

Tester: Graham Thompson

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  • Unisex XS/S, S/M, M/L, L/XL

  • Weight 158g (pair, L/XL)

These attractively-priced gloves feature a Gore-Tex Active waterproof lining to keep your hands dry from rain and sweat, as well as polyester hollowfibre insulation for warmth. Instantly comfortable when you first slip them on thanks to a brushed microfleece lining, the pre-curved fingers improve grip on ice axes or poles and the palm has a PU layer for durability. 

Impressively these gloves work with touchscreens device, such as my smartphone, and I also liked the cuff length, which fitted easily inside or outside my jacket. Less impressive were the fingertip seams, which are just at the point you want to touch things. This really affects dexterity, and if used regularly this area would be less durable than other designs. The thumb shape was also not very close fitting, with a square seam that again raised dexterity and durability concerns. 

These are good, but pay just a little more and you can get a much better glove.

Pros

Price, weight, touchscreen performance, size range, general features.

Cons

Fingertip design not ideal for dexterity or durability.

Buy it if

You want a low-priced glove that is ideal for walking with touchscreen sensitivity, and you don’t need the extra durability or dexterity that other designs offer, or don’t want to pay more.


Outdoor Research Adrenaline £55

Tester: Anna Humphries

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  • Men’s S-XL n Women’s S-L

  • Weight 153g (pair, women’s M)

These gloves come in both men’s and women’s sizes, and feature a useful textured rubbery palm that helps grip trekking poles or ice axes. The roll-tip seams on the fingers provide better durability and dexterity, while the Ventia waterproof lining and EnduroLoft polyester insulation both work well. 

A webbing wrist cinch strap locks the glove in place to prevent it slipping, and you can wear the cuff inside or outside a jacket sleeve, although the big cuff is a little more tricky than others to tuck inside a sleeve. 

Another fab design feature is that the women’s fit comes in plain black, with no touch of pinks or sparkles that some women’s gloves insist on!

Downsides include the lack of wrist leash, leather palm, nose wipe and touchscreen sensitivity. Also I’ve found slightly higher-priced gloves have a closer fit and slightly better dexterity. 

While not quite the warmest gloves I’ve ever tried, I actually found these fine for our Lake District test conditions.

Pros

Men’s and women’s sizes, cuff that fits inside and out, good all-round performance.

Cons

Lacking some benefits, such as wrist leash, leather palm, nose wipe and touchscreen performance, also not the warmest.

Buy it if

You want a very good all-round fit and performance ideal for most UK hillwalks.


Extremities Antora Peak GTX £80

Tester: Tim Butcher

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  • Unisex S-XL

  • Weight 217g (pair, XL)

These are excellent winter hillwalking gloves, with a waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex Active lining and a durable soft leather palm, giving ideal contact with poles or ice axes. 

The gently pre-curved fingers and roll-top fingertips gave me no problems at all with zippers and rucksack straps, and I navigated the maps and menus on my GPS with ease. There’s no touchscreen sensitivity though.  

The XL size proved a perfect fit for my wide hands, while the synthetic lining and insulation was comfortable to the touch and provided enough warmth for my hands, even as the wind and rain battered my hands. 

An adjustable webbing strap on the wrist secures the gloves nicely in place, and while I liked the extended cuff on the inside of the wrist, I would have liked a wider and longer cuff all around, with a drawcord for extra wind and rain protection. There’s no wrist leash either, though there is a small loop inside for fitting your own. 

Pros

Great comfort and dexterity for a winter glove, provides everything most hillwalkers will need.

Cons

A longer cuff with drawcord and wrist leash would make this an ideal glove, no women’s specific sizes, others offer touchscreen sensitivity.

Buy it if

You value a high level of dexterity, and aren’t troubled by the wrist cuffs or lack of women’s size options.



The top three


Regatta Transition WP £25

Tester: Graham Thompson

Is this low-priced glove all you really need in the hills, or are there benefits in splashing more cash for extra features?

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  • Unisex S/M, L/XL

  • Weight 142g (pair, L/XL)

It’s good

The low price of these gloves is instantly inviting, and for many walkers this and the design benefits on offer will more than suit their needs. The waterproof Hydrafort fabric has Thermoguard synthetic insulation inside, so your hands stay warm and dry. I also like that you get roll-tip fingertips – a feature other low-priced gloves often lack but one that really improves dexterity as well as durability, so for me is an important benefit of these gloves. There is some pre-curvature to the fingers too, which makes gripping ice axes easier and neater. I was particularly pleased with the thumb, as this fits very neatly and is nicely shaped. 

For durability the palm and fingertips have a textured PVC layer. The cuff is a good general length that can be fitted under or over a waterproof jacket, and you get basic elastication at the wrist as well as a cuff drawcord. This all works well, so these gloves are ideal for general walking if you are on a tight budget.

However

These gloves come with a number of drawbacks, which means that if you can pay more then it is worth doing so. Firstly they only come in two sizes, so you really must try before you buy and if the fit is not ideal then try other designs. Also while these are insulated, they are not as warm as some higher-priced gloves, and as such are great for mild conditions, but those suffering from cold hands may want something warmer. 

The palm is durable enough for most walkers, but hard users will find those with leather palms even better. There is no nose wipe – something you may come to miss! Also there is no wrist leash and no wrist cinch strap, all great little details that do make a difference if you are out in the hills regularly. These gloves don’t operate with touchscreens either, so they will need to be removed when you want to use a phone.

Verdict

Good basic gloves that are ideal if your budget is limited and you don’t need all the extras that are available on higher-priced gloves. Regular users, or those heading to Scotland in winter, will benefit by paying more though.

  • Features 4/5

  • Fit 3/5

  • Weatherproofness 4/5

  • In use 3/5

  • Value for money 5/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 76%

 

Mountain Equipment Guide £60

Tester: Anna Humphries

Does this popular workhorse warrant its price tag, or is it best to go higher or lower with your cash outlay to find the right glove for your needs?

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  • Men’s S-XL

  • Women’s XS-L 

  • Weight 175g (pair, M)

It’s good

This well-established glove offers great comfort and dexterity. It’s also available in both men’s and women’s sizes, with the women’s range coming in black/grey – which is great if you don’t like the typical pinks/purples that many women’s products display. 

On offer are a Drilite waterproof lining, a leather palm and a fibre pile lining on the back of the hand, with a microfleece lining on the palm. This all adds up to a warm glove with durable protection. The pre-curved fit means they feel natural when the hands are relaxed and the materials don’t bunch up when holding things such as ice axes or trekking poles. Also the lining doesn’t get caught when you remove them quickly, and doesn’t snag when putting them back on. 

Although the cuff isn’t the longest, you can fit it inside or outside a jacket sleeve and you get a drawcord to close the cuff. A soft nose wipe is included and there is a loop on both ring fingers to clip the gloves to a karabiner for easy carrying.

However

There’s no wrist leash, so you need to keep hold of these when taking them off in the wind to prevent them flying off the mountain. Also, while warm, they aren’t as warm as others here, so you may need something better for really cold days. 

The shorter cuff could allow for air gaps around the wrist, which is annoying, but then longer cuffs can be difficult to fit inside a jacket sleeve. Some gloves have an additional adjustment at the wrist, but here you just have elastication, so you need to consider if you need any additional adjustment. 

Also you don’t get the touchscreen sensitivity required to operate a mobile phone. But for me these worked fine on the hill and I really liked using them just as they are. 

Verdict

A good all-round glove for winter but not the warmest option. The cuff isn’t the longest and there is no wrist leash, but at they are ideal for most hillwalker’s needs.

  • Features 4/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Weatherproofness 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 88%

 

Rab Blizzard £80

Tester: Tim Butcher

This glove appears to offer everything a walker needs in the mountains, but are all its features really necessary and are there any drawbacks?

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  • Unisex S, M, L, XL

  • Weight 267g (XL)

It’s good

The Blizzard is the ultimate winter hillwalking glove and ideal for the toughest days on Scotland’s Munros. The super-durable outer of ripstop nylon and a Porelle Dry insert ensure waterproofness, while the strong, double-layered leather palm guarantees a durable grip. The thumb also has a much used nose/goggle wipe – a feature often lacking on lower-priced gloves. 

I swapped to these gloves as we neared Pike O’Blisco and the weather turned colder, wetter and windier, and after a few minutes without gloves it was a relief to slip cold, wet hands into the soft fibre pile lining. The wrist cuff is really long and elasticated at the wrist, with an easy-to-use drawcord at the cuff, and this combination made it quick and easy to fit these gloves securely even in the pretty foul weather we were walking into. 

The overall fit is precise, with the lining staying in place at all times, and the pre-curved palm and fingers allowed my hands to rest or grip in a natural position. I really valued the wrist leash, which kept the gloves close to hand when removed in high winds.

However

At 267g (XL), these gloves are heavy and bulky, so are a little harder to stuff into pockets. The thicker insulation and double-layered leather increase warmth and durability, but the trade-off is reduced dexterity – I had to take them off to open my malt loaf, while my other gloves allowed me to eat with well protected hands. 

In terms of features, all they are missing is an adjustable wrist strap which would provide greater security and a tighter fit at the wrist. They can’t be used with a touchscreen device either, and there’s no women’s option. That price is pretty hefty too.

Verdict

An awesome winter glove for the toughest winter days, though more than needed for a typical Lakeland Day out. But if you walk in all conditions, buy them and they’ll never let you down. 

  • Features 5/5

  • Fit 4/5

  • Weatherproofness 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 84%


For the latest reviews - including extra photos and products that won't appear online - 
pick up a copy of the current issue of Trail magazine!


THE BIG TEST: hillwalking headtorches reviewed (2018)

There’s no need to stop hillwalking when the sun goes down – but you do need the right headtorch, so we’ve taken a closer look at six of the best from across the price and performance range.

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THE RUNNERS UP


GP Xplor PHR15 £35

Tester: Graham Thompson

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  • Power range 300 lumens for 5 hours, 150 lumens for 8 hours, 5 lumens for 69 hours

  • Beam distance 157m

  • Batteries 3x AAA (alkaline or rechargeable)

  • Weight 110g

GP’s Explor PHR15 offers all the power you need for most walking situations, and at a great price. The automatic distance sensor is brilliant for reducing power use, as the torch simply turns up the power when you look into the distance. The PHR15 uses 3x rechargeable batteries (recharged via the onboard USB socket) but will also accept AAA alkalines. The single-button operation is easy to use, allowing you to switch between power settings and turn the auto sensing option on or off. One slight niggle is that you can’t lock-off the operation button to prevent accidentally turning it on when it’s in your rucksack. Battery life is also a little shorter than others here, and the times GP quotes are for alkaline batteries (5-69 hours), with rechargeables providing a lesser 3-42 hours.

Pros

Price, weight, rechargeable and alkaline options, ease of use, decent power and burn times 

Cons

No means of locking the button to prevent accidental operation when stored in a rucksack, some higher-priced options offer more power and durability, burn times are slightly less than some

Buy it if

You want a low-priced but great general-purpose hillwalking headtorch with a good practical power output and the option of standard or rechargeable batteries


Lifesystems Intensity 230 £30

Tester: Tim Butcher

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  • Power range 230 lumens for 6 hours, 70 lumens for 18 hours, 9 lumens for 110 hours

  • Beam distance 85m

  • Battery 1x lithium-ion rechargeable

  • Weight 88g

The Intensity 230 is great for the environment and your bank balance – as it’s well priced and uses a USB rechargeable built-in battery unit that is charged via a port on the side. A power indicator light lets you know how much juice is in the tank. I found the 70 lumens power setting was just enough light to get me off the hill, while saving the 230 lumens boost for short sections on trickier ground. The torch has a single-button operation, which is easy to use even with gloves on. The downside is if you are heading into the wilds for a few days without access to a means of recharging then you cannot slip in a spare battery of any form if the juice runs out. Also a 100-150 lumens setting would have been more useful when walking and prevented the need to use the 230 lumens, which burns battery life. 

Pros

Price, weight, rechargeable battery, ease of use, decent power and decent burn times 

Cons

Cannot fit spare battery, 100-150 lumens would be a useful additional setting, no means of locking the operation button to prevent accidental operation when stored in a rucksack, some higher priced options offer more power and durability

Buy it if

You want a day-to-day headtorch for hillwalking that is well priced, light and good for the planet thanks to its rechargeable battery


Fenix HP25R £80

Tester: Jon Bennett

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  • Power range Spotlight settings: 1000 lumens for 1.5 hours, 350 lumens for 4.5 hours, 130 lumens for 12 hours, 30 lumens for 42 hours Floodlight settings: 350 lumens for 2.5 hours, 130 lumens for 9 hours, 30 lumens for 40 hours, 4 lumens for 150 hours

  • Battery 1x lithium-ion rechargeable or 2x CR123A

  • Weight 236g

This has everything you need and more, with one floodlight and one spot, both with four power settings and easily operated via glove-friendly buttons. You can’t turn the buttons on accidentally either, as when the lamp is tipped up to its highest position the buttons are covered, but when tilted slightly in normal use they are exposed. The huge power output is provided by a rechargeable battery pack at the back of the head. It is recharged by a micro USB plug but you can fit CR123A batteries, although these are not as readily available as standard AAA or AAs. This headtorch offers more power than required for general walking, and others are lighter or lower in price, but for hard users this is a stunning option if you need extra durability and power.

Pros

Ease of use, robust construction, decent burn times and massive maximum output

Cons

Price, weight, more power and performance than most hillwalkers will really need

Buy it if

You Want a headtorch for more than just walking, or just like loads of light and don’t view the weight or price as a drawback


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The Top Three


Alpkit Manta £35

Tester: Jon Bennett

Does the combination of a low price and a high power outweigh any design drawbacks for this headtorch?

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  • Power range 300 lumens for 11 hours, 150 lumens for 26 hours, 30 lumens for 90 hours

  • Beam distance 140m

  • Battery 1x lithium-ion rechargeable

  • Weight 219g

It’s Good

As always with Alpkit, the price is stunning for what you get, as it’s both well built and well featured. The three main power settings of high, medium and low are managed by a single button with a very positive click, which is easy to find with the fingers too. 

Power comes from a built-in rechargeable battery, with a USB port tucked away behind the battery pack at the back of the head. The battery can be removed easily and replaced as needed, so you could carry a spare if required (NB: The warranty would be voided if you do this, but Alpkit has told us it is looking into it). 

The focus control is a nice touch, with a simple aluminium ring for adjusting the beam from floodlight to spot, which can even be operated with gloved hands. Compared to others around this price you get a far more solidly constructed headtorch with longer burn times, and IP64 rating means it is splash-resistant.

However

Some higher priced torches offer more, such as higher waterproofness ratings so they can be submerged for longer periods. This is also a heavier torch, so the battery pack is placed at the back of the head for more comfort. Although both the power and burn times are great for hillwalking and camping, you can get even more power and burn time if you pay a little more. 

Annoyingly, but like many others, there’s no ability to lock the operation button to ensure the headtorch doesn’t turn on accidentally in your rucksack. The other main drawback is that you cannot fit readily available AA or AAA batteries, and as mentioned above there is a warranty issue with taking a spare rechargeable. But if you suspect you won’t have access to some means of recharging the battery you may have to take a spare, fully-charged lithium-ion rechargeable with you. 

Surprisingly there is no low power indicator either. 

Verdict

Superb value for money, with great power output for hillwalkers, but it is heavier and more bulky to carry and lacks some benefits of higher priced torches.

  • Power 5/5

  • Battery life 4/5

  • Comfort 3/5

  • In use 5/5

  • Value for money 5/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 84%

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Petzl Actik Core 350 £50

Tester: Graham Thompson

This lightweight headtorch is not the most powerful, but does it provide all the features most hillwalkers will actually require?

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  • Power range 350 lumens for 2 hours, 100 lumens for 7 hours, 5 lumens for 160 hours

  • Beam 95m

  • Battery Petzl Core Rechargeable or 3 x AAA

  • Weight 81g

It’s Good

This has all you really need for hillwalking, with a reasonable 100 lumens for seven hours, which is great for general night walking, and you can boost that to 350 lumens for short bursts to find the route. So long as you switch back to a lower power settings you can get reasonable burn times. This is also lighter and more compact than higher powered torches, so you don’t mind carrying it in your rucksack even if it is rarely used. 

It’s operated with just one button, which makes it easy to turn on and switch through the functions. You even get a red light to manage night vision better. The option of either 3x AAA batteries or a rechargeable battery gives a choice of power, and there is a USB socket so you can recharge the battery without removing it from the torch. But you can also take it out for charging, as the USB socket is built into the battery itself rather than the torch. 

However

Burn times are lower than some other torches around this price, but that is due to having 3x rather than 4x AAA batteries, and the result in part is less weight and bulk on your head. You have to ask the question: do you really need a torch this light when if you add a few grams you can get longer burn times or more power? But to me this torch has all you need in general – why carry more?

The bigger drawbacks are that there is no means of locking off the operation button, apart from removing the battery, so if you accidentally turn this on when it is sitting in a rucksack you may lose power. Rated as IPX4, it can resist a spray of water – but others are higher rated and can survive being submerged. 

Verdict

Great for most hillwalkers, as it is light, compact and has a good power source and output, but some others offer more power, longer burn times and more water resistance.

  • Power 4/5

  • Battery life 4/5

  • Comfort 5/5

  • In use 5/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 88%

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Black Diamond Storm £50

Tester: Tim Butcher

With more power and features than last year, is this the best option for hillwalkers... or can you have too much of a good thing?

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  •  Power range 375 lumens for 75 hours, 8 lumens for 310 hours

  • Beam 100m

  • Battery 4x AAA

  • Weight 120g

It’s Good

This popular headtorch has new features for 2019, with power rising from 350 to 375 lumens and a massive quoted burn time of 75 hours. It’s also rated waterproof to IP67, which means it can be submerged to 1m for up to 30 minutes, so Black Diamond is right to brag that the Storm is engineered for epics. 

The white LED light is fully adjustable for brightness from 8 lumens right up to 375, so you can choose exactly how much light you want, and the long burn time means you shouldn’t have to worry about running out of juice. If you value red, blue and green light, then you have those on board too. 

The unique PowerTap feature means you can tap the casing for a short boost at full power, which is useful on complex ground, while the lock function ensures the Storm can’t get turned on accidentally, which is superb and one of the many features that set this headtorch apart. 

However

For something as simple as a headtorch the Storm isn’t quick to get to know, and I struggled to work out how to use it during our outing on Fleetwith Pike. Even after a few more days of use I still get lost within its functions. Operation is complex, with three different buttons, and I found the power tap boost kicked in when I grabbed the casing to adjust the tilt angle. 

For normal hillwalking, 375 lumens seemed excessive, as only 100 lumens is really needed to safely navigate at night, and the main beam is so bright and distant on full power that it cut out all of my peripheral vision. 

You don’t get the option to recharge the batteries directly, so you either need to take spare alkalines or get an additional recharging kit for the batteries. As it takes 4x AAAs rather than the 3x used on other torches it has a longer burn time, but this also adds extra weight and bulk. 

Verdict

Great light output and burn time for hillwalkers and camping, but you need to consider if the extra features are worth the time spent working out how to use them.

  • Power 5/5

  • Battery life 5/5

  • Comfort 5/5

  • In use 3/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 88%


For the latest reviews - including extra photos and products that won't appear online - 
pick up a copy of the current issue of Trail magazine!


Family Camping Kit: Exped MegaMat Duo 10 M Reviewed (2018)

Reviewed by Ben Weeks of Trail magazine

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For car camping, camper vans or basecamp use, Exped claim that the MegaMat is as close as it gets to sleeping on your bed at home. We’ll be the judge of that…

  • Comfort rating: -48 °C

  • R-Value: 9.50

  • Thickness: 9.9cm

  • Length: 182.9cm

  • Shoulder Width: 103.9cm

  • Foot Width: 103.9cm

  • Weight Mat: 3340g

  • Weight Pump: 45g

  • Weight Packsack: 150g

  • Packed height: 55.1cm

  • Packed diameter: 30.0cm

  • Pack volume: 38.9 litres

The problems with large camping mats can be mostly summed up as ‘back related’. Thick air mats lacking insulation can often be cold, giving you a chilly back. The plastic material that many inflatable beds are made of doesn’t breathe at all, giving you a sweaty back. The difficulties in getting the optimum inflation can result in a less than perfect night’s sleep, give you a stiff back. So does the MegaMat back up its comfort claims?

It’s good

“That mattress is amazing!” That was my wife’s verdict the morning after our first night’s sleep on the MegaMat. She has never been a natural camper, and was not looking forward to our tent-based holiday, as previous attempts with ‘value airbeds’ and proved problematic for all the reasons stated above. But this was different. The mat is 10cm thick and its vertical sidewalls carry this depth right to the edge for an completely level sleeping surface. The open-cell PU foam insulation inside the mat provides an R-value of 9.50, meaning that it’s comfort rated down to an astonishing -48°C. We’re not likely to test it out in those sorts of conditions, but it’s good to know getting cold is unlikely to be a problem. But neither is it too warm. The stretch tricot top surface is comfortable next to the skin and breathable, so there’s no stickiness. There’s a foam Mini Pump included to help get the the mat inflated, although the expanding foam gives you a head start.

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However

Let’s be clear - the MegaMat if for out-of-the-car-boot type camping set up. It’s fairly hefty and takes up a fair bit of space when packed - this is not a mat to be carried in a rucksack. Pumping it up is not particularly quick when using the provided foam pump, but it’s possible to connect an electric pump to the mat (using the foam pump as an adapter. It can be a little tricky to wrestle it back into its bag when packing up, but that’s normal for this type of mat. The only real problem with the Duo, though, is its size. at a little over 1m wide, it’s bairly much larger than a recular single bed mattress, so you need to be fairly cosy with whoever shares your mat. Campers used to sharing the close confines of a tw-person backpacking tent will be used to this lack of elbow room, but campers who prefer a little more space may be better off with the wider and longer MegaMat Duo LW+.

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Verdict

It’s not light, small, or what you’d call a budget-buy. But if you regard a good night’s sleep as a worthwhile investment, the MegaMat Duo comes approved by my wife, and that’s high praise indeed!

  • Portability 3/5

  • Convenience 4/5

  • Design 5/5 

  • In use 5/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 80%

Used and Abused: Victorinox Night Vision (2014)

PRICE: £570

Used by Simon Ingram, Trail Magazine editor
Used for 6 months

Lights built into watches are nothing new, but torches built into posh watches rather are. I’ll admit I became infatuated with this watch because it had the name of the best Swiss Army knife on it (which, come on, is pretty cool) and was a gizmo that struck the balance between being something I could wear on the hill without looking like I belonged in an office, and in the office without looking like I belonged on the hill. The push-button torch is actually a genuinely useful thing, when you remember it’s there. I’ve used it for a variety of practical applications on and off the hill (reading important things in the dark, rummaging in a rucksack for a headtorch, dazzling colleagues) and have to say this is far from a pointless gimmick. And the watch itself is lovely: precise, pretty and – while heavy, and with a rather fiddly strap – something to cherish. 

Verdict A Swiss mountain machine that isn’t Ueli Steck.

www.victorinox.com

Originally published in Trail Magazine, 2014