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The Gear File, Vol 4

Side sleepers might enjoy the bag designed specifically for them.

Contributing gear editor Mark Watson provides a round-up of the new and interesting products he’s discovered lately.  

Side sleepers rejoice, there’s a bag designed specifically for you

Are you a side sleeper? If so, Big Agnes has the sleeping bag for you. I seem to sleep on my front, side or back at random and am fortunately one of those people who could probably sleep lying on a bed of nails. 

A few months back, Big Agnes sent me one of their new Sidewinder SL20 (rated to -7c) side-sleeper specific sleeping bags. These bags have an ambidextrous zipper that runs down the top centre of the bag (when you are lying on your back), rather than a conventional left- or right-sided zip. This means the zip stays out of your way when you roll side to side, and that the bag’s insulation is better distributed to where it’s most needed. Insulation in these bags (there are two temperature ratings as well as men’s and women’s-specific models) is a combination of 650-fill power hydrophobic down with additional recycled synthetic insulation at the hips and feet to relieve pressure points for side sleepers, and provide additional warmth. 

This sleeping bag won the Backpacker Magazine Editors Choice Award in 2021, and I can verify it’s very comfortable. Considering its roomy fit, plush insulation and additional synthetic fill, it’s a fairly respectable weight too at 1130g. 

Rab’s Arc Eco has won the coveted ISPO Awards for Outdoor Apparel, due to its ‘function, style and sustainable approach.’

Rab’s ‘greenest’ jacket yet

Its positive to see outdoor equipment companies offering more products made from recycled components. 

In a previous gear review, I mentioned the Nemo Dagger Osmo tent which contains recycled fabrics. Recently, a new approach to waterproof breathables was revealed by Pertex, one of the major fabric manufacturers.  Pertex ‘Revolve’ is a collection of fabrics constructed only from 100 per cent post-consumer recycled polyester fabric and membrane components. 

Traditional three-layer jackets are constructed with a face fabric, a waterproof/breathable laminate and a backing fabric, usually made from nylon, polyester, polyurethane and fluoropolymers. 

Pertex’s ‘mono-material’ method means it is significantly easier to recycle the fabric at the end of a garment’s life, as it’s all made from the same polymer. 

Rab’s Arc Eco is a new shell garment made from this fabric family. The jacket has won the coveted ISPO Awards for Outdoor Apparel, due to its ‘function, style and sustainable approach.’     

The latest and greatest from GoPro.

GoPro Hero 10 Black launched 

Action camera pioneers GoPro’s latest camera, the Hero 10 Black, has a new processor which enables 5.3K video and improved image stabilisation technology. The latter helps eradicate vibration induced by such activities as mountain biking and skiing. Even the still image camera function captures 23 megapixel photos. 

The rate at which this technology has moved is quite remarkable, with features that were once the domain of high-end equipment now available in a small bundle for a reasonable price. While 5.3K is available at a frame rate of 60 per second, you can still shoot at an amazing 2.7K at 240 frames per second for smooth slow motion. Noise reduction and low light camera ability is said to be improved with the new processor. The camera also has dedicated webcam and live stream modes. 

While these cameras’ wide-angle fixed focal length is not for everyone or every purpose, they come into their own for recording rides, and close-in shots of outdoor activity, or when it’s simply too wet to use anything else.