I was recently sent a couple of bits of kit to test, a jacket and a tent by a relatively new British company called OEX. I didn’t know a huge amount about the brand to be honest other than it is sold through Go Outdoors and a D of E group I worked with last year was using OEX tents, which had performed admirably in some pretty brutal weather.

When the parcel arrived I sort of knew what to expect from the tent as I’d checked it out online, the Lynx EV 1 is a one man tent costing £169.99 (if you’ve got a Go Outdoors card) and perhaps more importantly weighs in at 1.65kgs. The jacket however was a mystery, I can’t say I was expecting great things but I was pleasantly surprised when I got it out, it looks smart!

OEX Lynx EV 1 Tent
Let me start by saying I’m a bit spoilt by currently owning a Terra Nova Laser Comp as my lightweight tent, which retails at over £300, but can be had for significantly less. I’ve written a brief bit about this tent before (kit blog here), even though it’s the tent I love to hate, it’s still the tent I reach for though when I’m camping on my own for work due to the fact it weighs less than 1kg. So, the Lynx costs a lot less, weighs a bit more, but is it any good. Well yes, it’s really good.

Putting the tent up is really straight forward, it’s a one pole affair (decent Yunan T6 aluminium, better than most), but it is a funky pole with four branches which makes quite a stable frame. The inner clips onto the poles with some fairly naff looking plastic clips, I’m a little dubious about how long they’ll last, then you chuck the siliconised outer on which has a few little tie in points to attach it along the pole. The tie in points are pretty fiddly with cold hands after a day out in the cold, as I found out working on a Mountain Leader training. On the same ML training it was pretty windy overnight but the tent wasn’t flappy or unstable so big plus points there. Inner pitching first tents tend to be more stable, with the disadvantage of the inner getting wet if you’re not quick in poor weather but personally I’ve never had a problem with this, just be quick!. A nice touch is that it comes with a proper dry bag which is actually big enough to easily take the tent without a battle.

At 6’3″ I fit in it comfortably, although getting in and out of the entrance is a bit of a squeeze, I can however sit up at the front end of the tent for cooking and eating etc. The porch is a lttle on the small side, once your pack and boots are in there, you’re not left with much room for cooking and the porch has one of those silly door mat type things which I find pretty pointless. Inside the roomy interior you get a pocket to tuck the door into (simple but really good idea) and a couple of other decent sized ones (which is better than my Terra Nova which for some silly reason has none!)

I’d be more than happy to spend more time in this tent, I guess it’s main competition is some thing like the Wild Country Zephyros which costs a bit less and weighs a touch less with more porch space, but it isn’t as stable. I see a lot of candidates with those tents on ML courses.

Mountain Leader Instructor Snowdonia OEX Tent

OEX Hydra Stretch 2.5 Jacket
So in a similar vein to the tent, my normal go to jacket is a Patagonia Super Alpine which retails at, wait for it, £450. Now these jackets are aimed at wildly different markets, but I use my kit year round and all over the world so I expect high standards. And this is why the OEX one has been such a surprise! It retails at £75, yep that’s correct £75, without even considering it’s performance it looks like a jacket costing a lot more.

My test jacket was a medium (weighing 370g) and it was perfect in the body fitting my athletic/skinny frame, but was a little short in the arms, I do often have to compromise somewhere in terms of fit though. Stretchy fabric, two big chest pockets that easily swallow a map and pit zips that do a good job of venting excess heat are great, the hood though wasn’t any good for me as a climber and mountaineer though as firstly it doesn’t fit over a helmet properly and secondly the draw cord adjusters for it are not retained so fling around in windy conditions. When one of those flicks you in the face it feels like your going to die (well, nearly).

I’ve had this jacket out in some honking conditions and it’s done really well, it seems just as waterproof as my Gore Tex Pro kit, but doesn’t seem to breathe quite as well as I expected. For me this is a great, lightweight hill walking jacket or to have stowed in my rucksack when I’m running rock climbing courses, it’s comfortable to wear, looks good and keeps the weather out. Seems like a bargain to me.

OEX jacket mountaineering instructor north wales

To see what we’ve been up to lately, check out the Facebook page and follow us on Instagram.

Go Outdoors – OEX page

Photos by me, or courtesy of Ilana Miller.

Loads more pictures…

OEX lynx tent snowdonia mountain instructor 5

Neat adjusters, which are glove friendly

OEX lynx tent snowdonia mountain instructor 2

The pole hooks

OEX lynx tent snowdonia mountain instructor 1

Putting it up for the first time in Cwm Glas

OEX lynx tent snowdonia mountain instructor

Organised mess

OEX lynx tent snowdonia mountain instructor 3

Nice streamlined shape

OEX lynx tent snowdonia mountain instructor 5

Mountain Leader expedition

OEX lynx tent snowdonia mountain instructor 4

OEX Stretch jacket snowdonia mountain instructor

Night nav on a Mountain Leader training

30th September 2015

Original Mountain Month September ’15

The end of our fourth Mountain Month is upon us and the sun’s been out to finish it off in style.

We’ve had another great month, this time joined by Anne Rebecca and Carol. The course is always bespoke to the clients and this time it’s been a fairly even mix of mountain days with a Mountain Leader focus and rock climbing, whilst we’ve kept the Single Pitch Award scheme in the back of our mind, the main focus of the climbing has been to get lots of leading done.

Anne Rebecca and Carol have been navigating us around the hills, micro navigating their way up and over Moel Siabod, getting us safely across Crib Goch, walking on bearings over the Glyderau plateau, amongst many other days out on the hill.

On the climbing front they progressed from me leading them up climbs like Ordinary Route on Idwal Slabs, to them leading me up routes such as the mega classic Crackstone Rib and Skylon on Carreg Wastad. We have visited loads of great crags around North Wales, including the cliffs on Anglesey, Bwlch y Moch and Upper Tier at Tremadog, crags in Ogwen, crags in the Pass, the slate quarries, even sport climbing on the coast.

Both of them have now completed their SPA training so will now need to get out climbing as much as possible to consolidate their new skills with a view to working towards an assessment and all that’s left is the official ML training which takes place next week

They’ve both done really well and have been a pleasure to work with throughout the month! A big thank you goes out to the other instructors who have played a part in the month too – Terry, Mike and Anthony.

Moving into our third year of running this course, the next one we have running starts on the 29th February and we have already got one client signed up so there’s only on space remaining, get in touch for more info and take a look at our Facebook page for loads of photos of what we’ve been up to and have a look at the Instructor Training page for more info.

September is super busy!

Our Original Mountain Month is in full flow with our two clients Carol and Anne Rebecca already improving lots. They been navigating in the hills, leading on the cliffs, improving their technique indoors and mountaineering on the East Face of Tryfan. Lots more to come too!

I was also directing a Brian Dent Single Pitch Award assessment last weekend with 8 candidates, the weather was super kind to us and I really enjoyed the weekend, as I always do.

Last week Terry looked after the mountain month for us, whilst I was working with an MOD group down in Dartmoor. We had an awesome week of good weather and had fun biking, climbing and a mini expedition. I had a brilliant group who learnt a lot and developed many skills, as well as providing top banter.

Loads more to come this month, so I’m thankful my new puppy Oreo is sleeping better at night!

As usual, check out the Facebook page for loads more photos!

 

 

 

 



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2nd July 2015

New Video, Releasing a Loaded Guide Plate

Ok, so be kind! This is my first attempt at making an instructional video, it’s not perfect but it was interesting to make.

In the video I look at how to release a loaded guide plate, which you must, must, must know how to do safely if you use one.

I might make other videos, but only if I don’t get too many “He’s got a face for radio” or “He’s got a voice for a book” comments!

(It’s been a busy couple of weeks teaching leading and running a rock improver course, check out the Facebook page for more updates..)

Releasing A Guide Plate Under Load from Jez on Vimeo.



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8th April 2015

A busy first quarter of the year!

What a busy start!

We’ve had all sorts of courses going on….

A couple of Mountain Leader training courses including one with a little bit of snow and one with overnight winds of 95mph!

A few Single Pitch award courses both trainings and assessments where we’ve been super lucky with the weather.

The third Original Mountain Month has just finished which was, as always a great success! We climbed some awesome routes at loads of different crags, from Gogarth to Tremadog and loads in between, plus had a good few mountain days looking at navigation, rope work and wild camping.

In amongst those there’s been an intro to scrambling course, an ML refresher and some D of E work.

Outside of work I’ve had some cracking days climbing in North Wales and over the winter some absolutely stella days mixed climbing in the snow and ice of Scotland,

Now the suns out in North Wales it’s time to really start making the most of it!

For loads of shots, check out the Facebook page!