Friday, 11 October 2013

Obscure Outdoor Brands Pt1

All the best outdoor gear is made by companies, with rubbish websites - Truism

All kinds of people start outdoor goods companies, some of them make total crap [I've started a list it's HERE] some of them are driven by a need to prove a point to their former company, some sold the last co. but love to tinker with designs and keep their hand in. Some just go out of their way to behave strangely....

The Bambi Basher and I are heading north of the border in the new year for a week on the Hinds - stalking female Red Deer - and expecting the usual Caledonian weather I resolved to sort my 'cold but active' kit out.It's no secret that I favor kit made by people who use it themselves, and make it in small batches over kit made to a price by faceless corporations. Sometime this involves dealing with the foibles of the kind of company that swims against the stream.

A longtime ago the don of uk sporting journalists James Marchington posted that he'd flashed up the not inconsiderable cost of a fleece by XXXX, so after a subsequent post where he'd been out in all weathers I asked him if it lived up to its reputation and cost. "Better, you can see why so many keepers wear them on the hill". Searching online I found a website so bad that my first thought was that I'd gotten the wrong end of the stick and the company actually was based in New Zealand - home of the crap website.
In the years that have followed I've kept checking back and its still atrocious, tiny pictures of people who may be wearing the clothes, taken from angles that don't really let you know what the gear may or may not be like.There are quite a few online mentions of the brand, from Stalkers and Gamekeepers, universal in their praise, many citing the only drawback as being 'too warm for most of the year'. Keepers earn very little and spend all day every day mooching about in the cold and rain, while some get a clothing allowance, most have to spend it out of their own pocket. Their endorsement bodes well.

A couple of years ago while at a game fare,  I wandered over to the XXXX stand to learn a bit more. I had a very affable chat about jacket design with a distinguished looking gent and found that my hand had involuntarily grasped my bank card and was drawing it from my pocket. The website claims that any special requests could easily be accommodated, so in the light of our pleasant chat I asked if a couple of tweaks to the jacket were available. Scrub that, I'd only got as far as asking about the first when suddenly 'Dr No' (I assume the company's owner) burst into the conversation, making it abundantly clear, at volume, that no tweaking would be taking place on his watch. Dismayed, but not disheartened to the point of circumspection, I spent the money with another retailer where I got a thumping deal on a pair of Lundhags and change.

Fast forward to last week

I found a fella with a shop in Scotland who could do a bit of a deal on the brand, so I asked about another tweak I'd thought of; I'm a big fan of 'breeks' the traditional short field trousers of the british isles. I'm also a big fan of kneepads, I'd like to be able to fit kneepads into the breeks, he kindly got in touch with Dr No. Who lived down to expectations. Once again claiming that it was 'impossible' this time as the breeks would have to come further than the requisite four inches below the knee. Oh the horror!

More soon
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