Countryside Wanderings

It's amazing how things develop. After all, this blog started out as a news section for the rest of the website. With encouragement from readers, it has become a place for relating my countryside wanderings and musings about the world of outdoor activity. Walking, cycling and photography all are part of what I do out of doors and, hopefully, they will continue to inspire me to keep adding entries on here. Of course, there needs to be something of interest to you, dear reader, too and I hope that's the case. Thanks for coming.

Online Hiking & Backpacking Gear Retailers

Equipment is the cause of much discussion among practitioners of many leisure pursuits and hillwalking or backpacking is no different. It is why you get crowd sourced gear review websites like Trailspace together with gear testing sections in many an outdoors magazine. However, lists of retailers like what was once found on OutdoorsMagic seem to be thin on the ground and I yet have to meet up with aggregator like what Bikesy does for cycling gear. The latter may stop you needing to look for specialists like Chain Reaction Cycles or Merlin Cycles but lists of cycling kit retailers are another thing that I have yet to seek.

The aforementioned absences may make what I have here more useful. In additon to U.K. stores, it also features ones found in Ireland so that adds something that you may not see elsewhere. Details of purchases have been added together with other perhaps useful comments so there is more to this than a mere list.

This is an Irish operation with two shops in Dublin and one in the centre of Cork too. It all started with one store so it amazes me to see them expand given the economic state of the country. High street retailing in the western world cannot be easy at the moment.

This is an independent retailer specialising in an eclectic range of lightweight backpacking gear as the name suggests. There is a personal touch too and what came from an attempt to exit the hectic humdrum of a normal working life has brought plenty of work all of its own. Maybe, it’s case of swapping unappealing busyness for what is the more satisfying.

Part of the same group as Millets but serving a slightly different market sector, their bricks and mortar shops have seen me more often that their online variant. My North Face Nuptse jacket was bought at their Manchester branch but I have been known to buy at other ones too like in Aviemore when I acquired rubber tips for my walking poles to replace easy to lose plastic caps.

It has been Paramo gear that I have been acquiring from this Settle-based concern in Yorkshire. Service is prompt and efficient too and there’s the personal touch that you get from an independent retailer as well.

When I became in need of new boots a few years ago, the Manchester branch of Cotswolds was where I sourced my now resting pair of Scarpa ZG10’s. Their online store has yielded some items too though I cannot recall what they were from the top of my head.

It may be because they don’t do discounts as a matter of course but I can’t say that I have bought much from these people. For ages, my only purchase of note was a pair of North Face trail shoes but 2008 saw me pick up an Osprey Aether 60 rucksack that accompanied me on my escapade taking in Skye and the Western Isles. They also operate bricks and mortar stores for The North Face in the U.K. so it shouldn’t have been a pleasant surprise to see them stock The North Face’s replacement’s for their ever practical Paramount Cargo trekking trousers. In their own shops, there’s a good selection of brands and a return visit to their Castlefield store in Manchester has remained a dormant thought in my head for a while now. It was their online emporium though from where I added another pair of TNF Hedgehogs (on my first use of it as it happened) to complement the stalwarts that I already have from elsewhere; sometimes a tidy pair of a favourite shoe is good to have.

For a few years, this was an online emporium that I frequented more than I care to admit or remember; their real world stores seem to be away from the sorts of places that I tend to frequent. Apart from the non-delivery of a Magellan GPS receiver by Royal Mail, most mail order items made their way to me without incident. Two pairs of my favourite hill trousers, North Face’s Paramount Cargo, have came from them as were a now well holed pair of Salomon Nubuck leather boots (they fitted well and performed likewise while they lasted; leather boots from Scarpa and Meindl have done better for me though).

These are the people who sold me my (blue) Osprey Atmos 50 after a spot of tick-tacking with them. Then, I found the service friendly and efficient with the pack arriving to me within days of I putting in the order.

This bunch seems to have exploded onto the outdoors scene with new shops popping up in all sorts of places. The range includes cycling, horseriding and running too so the range is an extensive one. Both their online and physical emporia have seen business from me. The mix of items includes a North Face jacket bought for my brother’s birthday, an inexpensive North Ridge Col one-person tent that has yet to see any real use, pairs of socks, a Garmin GPS receiver and a pair of Meindl Bhutan boots. Getting discounted prices on payment on annual membership is part of the attraction so there may be more to come yet.

It’s a name that appears over the door of a number of outdoor emporia so it needs to be said that this one is in Dublin, Ireland. The site is the online branch of a pair of bricks and mortar shops.

This shop was spotted near the market place in Buxton and this is the online version of it. It’s an independent store that has been going since 1972. As ever, the personal touch has to count for a lot.

This lot are everywhere and, though they may not have much outdoor credibility in the eyes of some, I must admit to picking up a few items from their stores, one of which is in Macclesfield. These days, I limit my shopping there to things like water bottles, socks, laces and other odds and ends but they supplied a pair of TNF Hedgehogs that have proved their worth since 2008.

The name may suggest otherwise but this is an Italian concern that may have a use if you are based there or need to shop locally after uncovering a packing oversight after arrival for a walking trip.

Their shop in Fort William has seen me a few times over the years and is more than an outdoor gear emporium with a bar, a cafe and a souvenir shop all under the same roof as well as the outdoors stuff. A Sprayway Commanche jacket that has seen use when going to and from work in the wet came from here as did a pair of overtrousers that often bale me out when the heavens open. On a more recent occasion, I fulfilled a lighting need with my purchase of a new Petzl head torch only for the older one to resurface afterwards; you never can find anything in a last minute rush…

Their shop on Rose Street in Edinburgh was where I purchased my first ever footwear for outdoors escapades, a pair of Columbia trail shores that now reside at my parents’ house in Ireland and still see use whenever I am over there. Other purchases include a Low Alpine Walkabout 35 rucksack found at a knockdown price in a sale in the same shop; it has been taken on journeys across the Irish Sea and on local jaunts in Cheshire and Derbyshire too. There is a store in Leith too and a Craghopper shirt came from there and their online store has been the source of a pair of trail shoes from The North Face as well as a few other bits and pieces.


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