Breathability. Fill power. Active particle technology. Do these phrases excite you? Is your guilty pleasure a penchant for Gore-Tex?
I never used to pay much attention to all the technological terms associated with outdoor clothing but ever since our ski trip last year I’ve become an anorak addict, a worshipper of wicking base layers and a Buff lover. There are many like me, lurking in Craghoppers and Mountain Warehouse, assessing the merits of warmth-to-weight ratios. However, unlike most people pondering the value of taped seams and removable hoods with toggles, I’m not really an outdoorsy kind of gal.
My merino wool leggings did the job on the slopes of Colorado but now keep me toasty warm on the sofa in front of the TV. My new softshell jacket with chin guard and waterproof rating of 8000mm is designed to keep me dry in a downpour on Dartmoor but I chose it for its pretty pink colour and fitted shape around my bum.
Dougie has been an outdoor clothing aficionado for many years. He loves walking trousers with a plethora of zipped pockets. And he has a thing for bright colours, drawn to gaudy sports tops like a moth let loose in Tellytubbyland.
Up until now, however, I have struggled with footwear for our infrequent forays off-road. I own one pair of sturdy boots which I am happy to be seen in, but I was in real need of a lighter pair for summer jaunts. Every time I tried on a pair, they were rejected for their ugliness. I refused to go outside in shoes that made me look like Claude Hopper from The Dandy.
Last week, the holy grail of footwear was revealed to me in Go Outdoors in Peterborough. To accompany the strenuous Tough Mudder endurance events that take place across the world, Merrell have designed trainers which are perfect for this mud-filled punishing obstacle race. They feature TPU waterproof uppers, drainage ports and pinwheel lugs with 360 degree traction. With an integrated EVA footbed to absorb shock and reflective details for increased visibility in low light, these are the business. They’re even vegan-friendly.
I tried them on and, like Cinderella, found them to be a perfect fit: neat, lightweight and nothing rubbing on my delicate ankles. I even tried running up and down the little steps they have in the shop. It’s not exactly K2 but it gave me an idea of how they would feel on an ascent.
I took them proudly to the till and the assistant looked most impressed. “Oh,” she exclaimed. “Are you doing a Tough Mudder?”
“Are you kidding,” chimed Dougie as he opened his wallet. “She only wants them because they match her jacket.”
This post first appeared on 10 July 2017 in my column, Trish Takes Five, in the Lincolnshire Free Press.