Keeping warm this winter
Winter might be drawing to an end but the cold mornings and nights are still present. These products aren’t just for Winter, they will have their uses all year round. Whether you are hiking, camping or just a photographer on the go. These four products are must haves and can make your life a lot easier, a decent pair of waterproof socks make all the difference, a good cup of coffee or tea never goes a miss and having something to keep it warm on the go helps a great deal. Also means you don’t have to stop by a coffee shop to buy one.
I take the Bridgedale Stormsocks, Camelbak Hot Cap and Chute vacuum flasks plus the popular Jetboil Zip stove for review over the UK’s coldest period of Winter to see how the perform, the uses and whether they are useful beyond just Winter and camping.
First, what do the brands say about the products?
100% Waterproof boot length sock with dense resilient terry cushioning throughout, ideal for outdoor activities where an increased amount of insulation is desired.
Waterproof boot length socks that give you all the comfort and cushioning you expect, alongside great protection from the elements. When heading outside in wet, cold and windy conditions, the Bridgedale StormSock will help keep your feet warm, dry and comfortable.
Primarily knit from Merino Wool, which is well known for its natural anti-bacterial, anti-odour and moisture management properties, this heavyweight boot length sock also has dense resilient terry cushioning throughout for extra warmth and padding.
The Nylon outer layer protects the Hydrotech* waterproof and breathable stretch PU membrane against abrasion, while the clever matrix lamination process bonds each layer together for comfort and practicality.
Lycra has been knit through every course to give you Bridgedale's performance fit and, together with the flat toe seam and elastic arch support, ensure the sock remains in place without any hot spots.
Designed to sit comfortably above the ankle cuff of standard walking boots, you can further protect against water ingress by pairing them up with waterproof trousers or gaiters.
Outer: 95% Nylon/Polyamide, 5% LYCRA®/Elastane
Inner: 63% Merino Wool, 27% Polyester, 7.5% Nylon/Polyamide, 2.5% LYCRA®/Elastane
Membrane: 100% PU
Available in Light, Mid and Heavy weight, Ankle, Knee and Boot socks.
CamelBak Hot Cap Vacuum Travel Mug
A stylish vacuum insulated mug that lets you drink from any side, with an ingenious rotating leak-proof valve for easy tipping.
Camelbak's Hot Cap Vacuum Travel Mug is really easy to grip and lets you drink from any side, with a leak-proof 360° to prevent any spills when you finish sipping. The sweat-proof, vacuum insulation keeps the outside cool and dry, whilst inside your drink of choice remains hot for up to 6 hours or cold for up to 24 hours. To make it uniquely versatile, the Hot Cap itself has a universal fit and will screw onto any Camelbak Chute Mag vacuum bottle for an instant upgrade.
Give lukewarm the cold-shoulder with the new Hot Cap bottle. A leak-proof 360° cap allows drinking from any side so you can sip subconsciously. Sweat-proof, vacuum insulation keeps the outside of the bottle dry and your beverage hot for up to 6 hours or cold for up to 24 hours. Hot Cap can accommodate contents up to 195⁰F, 90⁰C. For easy cleaning, the rotating valve twists apart and can be removed completely.
Available in 0.4L and 0.6L in White, Black (Jet), Red (Cardinal), Blue (Cobalt) and Purple (Iris)
360° Cap: Allows drinking from any side of the bottle
Leak-Proof Rotating Valve: Twists open for easy sipping and twists apart for easy cleaning
Vacuum Insulation: Keeps beverages cold for 24 hours and hot for 6 hours
Stays Dry: Sweat-proof insulation ensures a no-slip grip
Hand wash vessel only
This cap is compatible with Chute Mag bottles only
CamelBak CHUTE® MAG VACUUM INSULATED STAINLESS
With the 32 oz NEW Chute® Mag Vacuum, you can get a cold drink and a smooth pour every time. The new magnetic top keeps the cap out of the way while you drink. This vacuum-insulated bottle keeps liquids cold for 24 hours (even longer if you add ice), and hot for six. The sturdy, double-walled steel design keeps condensation from collecting on the sides of the bottle, and the powder-coat paint job adds some extra colour. The narrow-mouthed opening also makes it easy to drink and pour without spilling, so you won’t waste a single drop. After all, nobody wants to refresh or refuel with a lukewarm drink.
Available in 0.4L and 1L in Olive, Black, White, Red (Cardinal), Blue (Cobalt), Purple (Iris), Coral and Lime
Magnetic Handle: Keeps the cap stowed while drinking
Vacuum Insulation: Keeps beverages cold for 24 hours and hot for 6 hours
Angled Spout: Provides an ergonomic drink interface that delivers a high flow of water without sloshing or spilling
Internal Cap Threads: No more drinking off those uncomfortable bottle threads
Hand wash vessel only
Wide-Mouth Opening: Easy to fill with ice and water and a breeze to clean
Jetboil ZIP Cooking System with coffee press*
A simple and easy-to-use cooking system, featuring the same FluxRing® technology as our higher end systems without the frills. Rely on Jetboil Zip to provide hot food and drinks quickly and conveniently when you want them the most. Born from the original Jetboil PCS design, Zip provides the essential function and features you expect from Jetboil. Zip is so compact and lightweight, you’ll keep it on hand for day trips close to home and overnight adventures alike.
0.8 Liter FluxRing® cooking cup with insulating cozy
Bottom cover doubles as a measuring cup and bowl
Drink-through lid with pour spout and strainer
Compatible accessories include Coffee Press, Hanging Kit,Pot Support, Skillet, FluxRing Cooking Pot and Utensils
Fuel Canister Stabilizer included
Weight: 12oz (345g)
Volume: 27oz (0.8 litre)
Boil Time for 16oz (0.5 litre) = 2 minutes, 30 seconds (avg over life of Jetpower canister)
Water Boiled: 12 Litres per 100g Jetpower canister (sold separately)
Dimensions: 4.1” x 6.5” (104mm x 165mm)
*The Coffee press must be purchased separately and is not part of the setup
Starting with the waterproof socks, Bridgedale have created several weights and heights of the Stormsocks to make the waterproof socks, useable throughout the year and to factor in various conditions. For this review I had the thickest pair being the heavyweight boot socks. These socks are not only waterproof but also have a thick fleece lining to keep your feet warm in colder conditions and better yet in the snow.
Personally I think everyone should have a pair of waterproof socks. Like a waterproof jacket, these socks can make all the difference in the rain or in wetter regions. I own maybe five pairs of waterproof socks from various brands and typically on trips pack only these socks now along with a regular pair of merino wool socks for extra comfort. I lend pairs out to others I am with and anyone who hasn’t heard of waterproof socks are still shocked they are a thing! Until they see the price.
Waterproof socks aren’t cheap, a decent pair will set you back a good £30 at minimum and these Bridgedale Stormsocks cost £40 and the knee high pairs are £45, lighter versions start from £32 but on average most brands who make waterproof socks rate them for 2 years so in the grand scheme of pricing, £40 over 2 years is cheap. However, treat them well you can get them to last much longer!
If you haven’t worn a waterproof sock, they will feel weird when you first put one on. Its a tight glove and your foot almost feels like a flipper.
The odd feeling doesn’t go with these Bridgedale socks but the added merino wool lining inside means the socks do still feel vaguely normal when compared to standard socks. Ones without wool linings can feel strange but nothing more than this.
Bridgedale say these socks are 100% waterproof and for the best pair this has been true. I have used them extensively over the past 2 months in rain, mud, boggy conditions and snow and my feet have remained bone dry! If you have cheap boots which are prone to leaking then a good pair of waterproofs can make a huge difference. For me personally I have some very hard wearing and heavy duty mountain boots which are tough and waterproof so the waterproof socks a more an insurance and warmth purpose rather than my boots will fail.
I find the Bridgedale Stormsocks great for trail running and running in general where running shoes might not have GTX or waterproof shell to them. These socks will keep your feet dry and warm and keep you running. The thickest Stormsocks are a little to warm for running in but lighter versions will be better suited.
Cleaning the socks after is no difficult task and can be washed in the normal means, mine have been washed numerous times now and after each trip and have been completely fine after wash. They do take a little longer to dry because of the weight and thickness but have been perfect for wear with no damage. The waterproof socks aren’t suitable for tumble driers however, they must be left to drip-dry and away from hot sources so don’t leave them on a radiator to avoid damaging the outer layer.
Because the heavyweight Bridgedale Stormsocks are thicker they are considerably bigger so don’t pack down as much in comparison to standard hiking socks but weigh no more than standard socks either, I feel its a fair trade considering the protection and warmth these socks offer. Especially in Winter, I found the socks in the snow a blessing.
Ankle deep snow, high boots with the Bridgedale Stormsocks and my feet were toasty, dry and kept me outside for a lot longer if I hadn’t had them on.
Whilst camping the Bridgedale Stormsocks were helpful for the light wading through mud and boggy areas around the mountainous regions. A good pair of boots and gaiters helped solve much of the muddy conditions but the Stormsocks helped keep my feet warm and peace of mind if I stepped to far in to a boggy area and nearly lost my boot.
The heavyweight Stormsocks may not get much more use now as Spring fast approaches bringing warmer conditions but certainly to pick up a midweight or lightweight pair will get more use for the rest of the year. The heavyweight Stormsocks are best suited to Wintry conditions.
The Jetboil Zip is nothing new, it’s been out for a number of years now but it’s a tried and tested cooking system which many love. A number of variations exist now such as the MiniMo, Flash and Sumo cooking systems depending on number of people, size and of course budget and time to boil.
The Jetboil Zip is a hardy system which sticks to the old match/lighter ignition method and simple turn of the gas ring, rather than some of the newer built in ignition systems. Having tried and tested a number of these have found many are very haphazard as to when they will work… Personally I’d rather save the extra £20 and go for a straight-box standard ignition like this seen on the Jetboil Zip. At least I know how and when it will work with more control from me as a user.
Weighing 345g it’s fairly lightweight and compact as you can store everything inside the pot itself, including gas. If you purchase the coffee press this will need to be stored separately as it won’t fit inside with the burner, feet and gas. Which is a shame, considering the many accessories Jetboil make it would had been handy to be able to fit EVERYTHING inside, including the coffee press. But, how many people are going to purchase the coffee press on top? Not everyone likes coffee.
The cooking system is easy to use and set up. You can do it in the dark and blind folded. Feet out, strap to the gas canister, screw on the burner, water in to the pot, lid on and sit on to the burner. The pot can be secured on to the burner by sliding in to the slots but in cold conditions can be a little awkward. I left the burner and pot balanced and this worked perfectly, however in windy conditions you will want to slot it in.
The lid has a pouring method which makes life easier and you can pour the boiling water safely in to your food or mug.
The coffee press is also easy to use, unscrew the press, slide the rod through the lid and screw the press back on. Boil your water and press, now this is where the press isn’t very good. Coffee brewed and all good to go but pouring the coffee in to my mug I found the press didn’t catch all the coffee grains and several floated in to my coffee. Not so many that you couldn’t drink the coffee but certainly enough to notice it wasn’t 100% effective. Tea and hot chocolate drinks, you won’t have this issue obviously.
The pot has a fabric exterior which can be removed, this helps to avoid being burnt when boiled. The handle on the other hand I am not a fan of. Its fabric as well and a little flimsy, I get trying to make it lightweight and compact but when the pot is full it can feel a little unsafe in the hand so, some care is needed to ensure you don’t burn yourself. The fabric however around the exterior of the pot does provide plenty of protection so the risk is limited but still a risk. A folding handle system may prove safer as found on Alpkit’s Brukit or Roben’s Coffee pot.
When it comes to boiling and cooking in poor weather, the burner is fairly effective in the wind but better systems are on the market which provide greater protection. However, even in the wind I didn’t have to relight the burner so it does provide plenty of protection where required, it just doesn’t look like much. In sub-zero temperatures boiling time was a little longer but nothing prolonged by minutes but mere seconds. Rather than using water, I melted down the snow around my tent and this melted and boiled in 2 minutes tops. Further to this it is worth buying gas cartridges which can cope in these conditions. Jetboil’s 4-season mix and Colemans C100 gases are both good cartridges to use in wintry/sub-zero conditions.
If you don’t go camping or hiking then you may be thinking how is the cooking system going to be helpful to me?
I keep one in the boot of my car so I can bring it with me to events, trips, work or just at the services to brew my own coffee or food, it saves money in the long run and I can have a choice of my own food and coffee. So I small cooking system like this will be very beneficial for individuals, couples or families on long journeys, picnics, coast trips and so on.
Some might be put off by its high price, with the Jetboil Zip, coffee press and a couple of gas cartridges you are looking around the £100 mark. There are a number of cheaper options on the market which do the job but this is the original and often the go too. It might be more expensive in comparison but the quality and build means it should last for a number of years. Previously I’ve bought the cheaper £40 cooking systems like this but many have been recalled because burners have failed or leak gas. Considering we are working with fire and gas I don’t want anything that will leak or fail as a result of just general use.
Camelbak Hot Cap and Chute Vacuum insulated bottles
Both insulated bottles have a metal exterior, washed in various colours. The travel mug is just a smaller version of the Chute bottle and having to different colours helps to distinguish between either, the next big help is the caps. The Chute has a new magnetic top which keeps the cap out of the way while you are drinking. It’s very secure and to date, I have yet to have any leaks from the magnetic cap.
It’s been very easy to use and quick, even in cold conditions the magnets haven’t failed and kept the cap out of the way while drinking.
The other cap which you may have noticed is the new Hot Cap, which fits on either bottle and both bottles are insulated and can keep hot for up to 6 hours or cold for up to 24 hours. Before I go further, the new Hot Cap. The new Cap brings a new twist open for easy sipping of hot drinks or cold for that matter in a leak proof design. Of course when open and tipped over it will leak but closed as of yet, no issues and the liquids have remained inside. The Hot Cap has been easy to use with the rotation and although sits inside the cap its easy to open and adjust with thick gloves on and in the cold.
Ideal because whats the point on a Hot Cap if it only works in good conditions and no gloves on! Would seem pretty pointless. Unlike the Magnetic cap on the Chute bottle, you drink from 360º so you can unscrew the valve and not have to rotate the bottle to drink from. Making life easier whilst on the go.
The important question! When either bottles are filled with hot drinks can you feel the warmth on the outside? I.e. Does it burn you?
I’ve used a number of insulated bottles and some of the cheaper brands and designs you can’t touch without heatproof gloves because the exterior of the bottle gets to hot to handle. In either of Camelbak’s vacuum insulated bottles I had no issues with the hot liquid boiling the exterior of the bottles. The insulated bottles do a good job at keeping the heat inside. You can feel the heat still but a nice warmth, even without gloves on so they can double up as hand warmers too.
The Travel Mug can keep hot drinks, hot for 6 hours. I’ve used it extensively over the past 2 months and for the better part 6 hours has been the mark but possibly longer.
I don’t add milk to my hot drinks in the vacuum flasks, I find it keeps them fresher and hotter for longer. Also if you can’t clean them immediately it won’t smell, only the smell of coffee, tea or hot chocolate. In sub-zero temperatures the travel mug kept the drinks hot for the advertised length but in warmer conditions 0ºc – 5ºc I found it stayed hotter for a little longer. It’s size has come very handy for events and travelling for work too. It’s small size means it can fit inside a bag and not take up much space. With the Hot Cap lid which is leak proof, means I don’t have to worry about my Mac Book getting leaked on and even passed the 6 hours its still been hot, granted on the colder side of hot but still drinkable and to my liking. Of course how hot you like to drink your coffee is personal opinion. I’m not fussy and will drink hot or cold.
The Hot Cap can be purchased on it’s own for approx £11 from Amazon UK or can be purchased with the Travel Mug for a little more at £24 which for a small travel mug is fairly expensive but you will get years of use with your own coffee or using as a fill up from chains. The metal exterior means its tougher than these bamboo/recycled mugs or most certainly more durable than the plastic mugs that are dished out from the chains too.
I’ve dropped both numerous times and thrown them about, left them sat at the bottom of a heavy rucksack or squashed them in to overfilled bags and the metal design means they are easier to store, less worry about breaking and as I mentioned above are a lot harder than the smaller recycled travel mugs you can purchase for £8-14 depending on size. The new Hot Cap lid also brings the added benefits of a leak proof design, not a rubber top and can be used 360º, again unlike the rubber tops you get from the recycled mugs.
So spending a little more will get you a mug which will last a lot longer! For the review I used the 600ml bottle but a smaller 400ml bottle is available to purchase too. The smaller 400ml is a better size for commuters and office goers, those interested in the outdoors and using the bottle for hiking or camping, the 600ml could be better suited if you are out all day - Larger coffee, less refilling.
If size isn’t a concern then the larger Chute bottle is the one to look at, with a smaller 400ml option or the large 1L option with it’s Angled magnetic spout its a large bottle to use for cold or hot drinks. The Magnetic cap has a narrower mouth opening, making it easier to drink and pour from. I’ve leant the bottle out to a number of people and the general feedback has been good but if you have smaller hands then the large bottle might be to big to hold comfortably in one hand. As the exterior of the bottles are metal and no grips they can feel like they would fall out of your hand.
I know a number of people don’t like to use metal insulated bottles because they can give a metallic taste to everything so typically opt for the plastic or glass options for travel/drinking bottles. I asked these same people to use both insulated bottles and no one had an issue with taste. The caps being plastic means you don’t get the metal touching your lips and the metal bottles don’t flack or pass on the metal taste from the insulated walls.
Finally both bottles are easy to clean too, leaving them to soak in hot soapy water does the trick and even with hot chocolate inside the travel mug, a good soak and rinse has taken the chocolate and coffee taste right out. Leaving to dry is painless too and just simply leave them upside down on the dry rack. The Hot Cap can be unscrewed so you can clean inside the cap and the Magnetic Cap is even easier as you don’t need to dismantle anything, simply unscrew the cap and wash. When stored away I kept both inside an open dry-bag to prevent from loosing the caps, to keep them fresher for longer and prevent any mildew or smells from building up. Keep the lids off when stored away.
For the most part the 600ml Travel mug was more useful for everyday life, especially commuting around London, up and down the country on trains or even just driving and having a hot drink there. The size made it more convenient to use and was easy to clean. The larger 1L bottle was of more use when hiking and camping, especially in the colder weather where a larger hot drink was useful or keeping cold water fresh. Used in both the general cold or sub-zero conditions and snow the insulated walls did a great job at keeping the hot liquids, hot for past 6 hours in some instances but for the most part 6 hours was the average mark. Although both bottles can appear expensive for an insulated bottle the metal walled design and strong design means they will last longer than most and can certainly take a beat in. The Travel Mug and Chute bottles have a number of scratches on the exterior to the paint work but nothing to call for concern.
Scroll down for the conclusion.
As I first mentioned, Winter has gone now… Well and truly as I publish this in February the UK is basking in 21ºc and bright sunshine! I know in February, to put it in to context only 12 months before we saw the Beast from the East, freeze the UK down to -15ºc so the title ‘Keeping you warm this winter’ has long passed but that doesn’t mean these products don’t have their uses beyond Winter. The Bridgedale Thick StormSocks being the only exception but that isn’t the only density Bridgedale offer in the StormSocks and thinner and short pairs are available to purchase which will be better suited for the rest of the year.
Collectively these products can make a difference to your mood when camping and hiking, having a good stove, waterproof socks and a good hot coffee in a solid bottle can keep you going for sure and on the cold miserable wet night camping, they can most certainly make a difference, both in size and weight plus design with leak proof and easy to use products.
Waterproof socks are in my eyes a must for anyone serious about hiking and the outdoors. It still shocks me that many don’t know they are a thing but they are an are worth every penny spent to get several pairs for use throughout the year. I leant mine Waterproof socks to the guys in Snowdonia from SnowdoniaTogFest and this made a huge difference to them and immediately after, all went and bought there own pairs.
The Jetboil Zip won’t be for everyone, this is better suited for those who walk, camp and regularly spend time in the outdoors or up mountains. The lightweight and compact design is what makes the difference here and its easy of use. The whole package weighs less than 400g and as everything sits inside the cooking vessel you won’t loose anything inside your rucksack. Although a basic cooking system that does lack a built in igniter it does the job and very well, shrugging off the wind and staying upright and when it comes to using it with contents inside the lid and pouring system prevents you from being burnt or scolded. The coffee press isn’t the greatest accessory however, it does an okay job but I’ve had better coffees with less grains floating in before. Personally I’d save the £10 for the press and just use instant coffee to save the grainy taste.
The Jetboil Zip with the two Camelbak insulated bottles go hand in hand, boil your coffee and keep it hot for longer with the Travel Mug with Hot Cap. Both the Camelbak bottles and Jetboil can be used in sub-zero conditions with thick gloves on making them practical and all round useful.
Granted to purchase the socks, stove and bottles will set up back a near £200 but the uses you will get out of all of them throughout the years to come makes it a good and practical £200 well spent.
Transparency Notice: Please note that I (Matthew Holland) receive free products for review from brands and manufacturers, but I only accept products for review on condition of total independence and no guarantee of endorsement. I work with MyOutdoors who receives free products for review from brands and manufacturers, but we only accept products for review on condition of total independence and no guarantee of endorsement.