The Vault Regulars

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sunny Manchester, well apart from the rain.

 I try and have a mooch around Manchester Centre outdoor shops about once a month just to see what's new or if i can pick up a bargain piece of gear.
 I also take my camera just in case i spot something worth snapping. Most times i come home without taking any photo's and without any gear but today i saw one view worth taking.

 Coming out of The Cotswold Shop after a chat with the staff, i was just heading for a coffee shop when i noticed the low sun penetrating between the new tall buildings behind Spinnigfields. I wondered if i could get a photograph of some long shadows but as i crossed the bridge over the Irwell at the bottom of Quay Street, i was almost blinded by the suns reflection on the angled glass off The Lowry Hotel.

 Going back to my visit to Cotswold Shop, i was interested to have a look at the Jack Wolfskin trouser range ,  in particular the Wolfskin Vertec trousers that Andy Howell had reviewed a little while ago HERE. Unfortunately, Andy (Cotswold Staff) told me that the Vertec and all the other trousers in the range were not going to be stocked but could be ordered etc etc.
 He kindly checked the computer and told me that the only place in the North West who were stocking the trousers was in Liverpool where the Cotswold Shop actually had a Wolfskin shop too.
 I was a little disappointed but i still took the opportunity to look at the Wolfskin Jackets and was impressed with the Resolution which is selling for £150.00. It's a heavy weight, full winter jacket. Good protection from the elements.

 My favorite trousers by far are the Montane Terra's but because they have a crap belt and no wallet pocket i tend to pick my Columbia Silver Ridge more often than not or my Rohan Ether’s which i must do a review on soon. Not that the Columbia's are better for backpacking but they are comfy, lightweight, have pockets in the right place, dry quick and take any belt you desire to use. I notice that the Montane 2012 versions here, at Craigdon Mountain Sports, have now changed the belt to a std replacement one but i don’t think they have put a wallet pocket in. They are obviously watching the overall weight.

 Wolfskin are about to release a lightweight range of gear but guess what! Cotswolds are not going to stock it. Andy said he had seen some of it from the rep but that was about as far as the info went. I feel it's about time one of the big retailers stuck there neck out and started stocking some gear that is not in every other gear shop in town. I remember not that long ago i was in Cotswolds and chatting to them about Inov-8 shoes and waterproof socks and i was told that they were not stocking them because they were a niche market. How things have changed since then.

 Did i find a bargain? Not in Cotswold, but i did pick up a couple of Airtex military T shirts from Military Kit on Tib Street for £14 each.  These will be good for spring.  Quite light weight and very well made. This shop is a real Aladdin’s cave and it’s surprising how much gear and how many well know outdoor brands they stock. It’s worth a look if you are every in this neck of the woods.

 Oh yes and i did have a couple of pints of Joseph Holts bitter which cost £2.35 a pint. A bargain at any price.


John J said...

Aye, Joe Holt's is no longer a cheap pint in central Manchester - worth it mind, it's good stuff!


AlanR said...

Hi JJ. You can pay a lot more for absolute rubbish in town. £2.35 is ok by me for a quality drop of well kept cask conditioned bitter. Shame i wasn't on a night out.

afootinthehills said...

Hi Alan

I suspect that many outdoor retailers (as with others) are either prudently controlling cash flow, or are being forced to do so by banks directly or indirectly, so can't offer the range they previously could. Trouble is if you haven't got the stock you can't sell it and make money! Interestingly, Tiso no longer has a shop in Blackford and that's the first time I can remember them pulling out of anywhere so things must be tough. They have a large 'Outdoor Experience' shop in Perth but it's pretty poor in my view. I recently had a ski catalogue delivered from Snow & Rock: jackets up to £1200 and matching pants £600. Absurd even for the world of skiing but I expect they'll sell.

Along with several bottles of Maple Moon I recently had a bottle of their Two Hoots which I quite liked. 1849 remains my favourite but it is no longer available up here.

That first photo looks like the initial burst from a nuclear explosion!

AlanR said...

Hi Gibson,
The annoying thing for me is that all the big names sell all the same stuff. Blacks are having a complete makeover in Manchester so it will be interesting to see if they are going to do anything different.
Snow and Rock are always at the top end of the prices. How they manage to compete with online retailers i find it hard to imagine.
What i can say thought is that i usually find Cotswold staff very knowledgeable unlike others i could, but won't mention.

They have been selling the bottles at discount prices in my favorite town pub. The trouble is that the normal cask bitter is sooo good.

AlanR said...

Oh yes, the first photo. You should have seen it! This was the 2nd and 3rd.
Just increadable reflection, you couldn't look at it.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it frustrating how often a decent pair of walking trousers is ruined by a poor belt?

Alan Sloman said...

I still rate my Patagonia Simple Guide Pants very highly. Two zipped side pockets, a zipped bum pocket and a zipped thigh pocket but they don't look like "walking trousers" (I HATE walking trousers that make you look like a bloody "Action Man") They have large belt loops with a good buckle and are breathable and stretchy too.
My first pair lasted five years and my second look as good as new over a year since I bought them.

AlanR said...

Yes it is. It's so annoying. If a belt is provided it should do the job well not just be a belt in name only. Decent Outdoor trousers are not cheap, but the belts usually are.

AlanR said...

That's good Alan. I would have liked to get a hold of a pair of Vertex just to see if i agreed with Andy's review but it's not to be in Manchester.
It's good you rate the Guide. I will see if i can find somewhere to have a look at them. I am going into town tomorrow to watch "A bunch of friends". A tribute to Rory gallagher.

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