Monday, January 21, 2013
Love it or hate it, the weather reports say the snow is here to stay for a few more days at least, so why not make the most of it with gadgets that can help you get out and about? Emma Harrowing puts five to the test.
The snow can look pretty on the bare winter trees; covering roof tops and dressing buildings in Norwich such as the castle and the cathedral in a sprinkling of white fairy dust: but when it comes to getting out and about this magical display can be dangerous.
Last week’s sudden snow storm resulted in gridlock in our fine city. Some of you left your cars and decided to walk home as Norwich came to a standstill, but even then the paths were icy and perilous.
The snowy weather also resulted in a buying frenzy of snow boots, wellies and gadgets that can help you get from A to B safely.
Shops have reported that they are running low on snow items due to the weather, with ice grippers you can slip on over your shoes, gloves that still enable you to use your touchscreen phone and even traditional walking sticks usually reserved for skiing holidays in the Alps or for the avid hiker topping the list of items that have become must-have buys.
So do these snow gadgets really work in the snow and ice? Can they help you get out and about when Norwich is covered with a blanket of snow. I put five snow gadgets to the test to find out if they have what it takes to stand up to the white stuff.
Sno’n’go ice grippers £12, Pilch and Ice Traction slip-ons £4.99 (in sale), Menkind in Chapelfield.
I can be somewhat prone to slipping over. Even when there is no snow to be seen I will probably trip over, well, a dry, flat floor. So put me on snow and I will slip.
Walking to work I probably slip on average every ninth step, and last year I slipped and fell forwards on the ice so that I slid very inelegantly on my front down Bridewell Alley.
So when I heard about these miracle spikes that when attached to your shoes or boots can prevent you from slipping on snow and ice I just had to try them out. After all, if they worked for me they would probably work for anyone.
I tried two different types of ice grippers. Both stretch over the soles of your shoes or boots and can easily be removed, washed and reused. The more expensive of the two, the Sno’n’go grippers from Pilch, felt more robust than the cheaper option from Menkind in Chapelfield. The spikes were also more pointed, but both gave so much traction that I couldn’t even slide my foot along the snow or ice intentionally.
In fact the spikes stuck into the snow and ice making it easy to stride out with confidence. A must-have buy to get you safely to your destination in the snow and ice.
Leki walking stick, Pilch
Often reserved for when you are on a skiing holiday, walking poles are said to help you keep your balance making it easier to walk in the snow.
Standing in the middle of Chapelfield Gardens in my fur lined Parka, I felt a bit like I was walking through the Arctic, until passers-by stopped and stared wondering what on earth I was doing walking with two poles in just a few inches of snow.
I have often seen hardened walkers out for a Sunday afternoon trek along the coast with a walking pole in hand and thought that it must make walking on rough terrain that little but easier. It turns out that in the harshest of icy ground it does, but you do feel a bit of an idiot holding two poles as you walk especially when your bag keeps slipping off your shoulder and you end up juggling the poles and your handbag.
Etip Glove from North Face £30 Pilch and Touchies touch screen gloves, £4.99 in sale at Menkind in Chapelfield.
If you have ever tried to use your touch screen phone outside in the cold while wearing gloves you will know that it is impossible without taking off at least one glove.
These gloves prevent you from getting cold hands when you want to communicate on the move, as a conductive pad on the thumb and first finger enables you to text, view social media and email while wearing gloves.
The Etip glove looked the most hi-tech with its metallic pads and white stand-by symbol on the finger, but the cheaper Touchies gloves have conductive fibres interwoven throughout the glove so that you can use any finger to work your phone – handy if like me you type on your mobile using your middle finger.
The Touchies are also available in a stretching black or grey wool, or black leather (£12.99) making them look more like your average glove rather than a gadget.
Barts earmuffs with an adjustable frame, £14.99 Pilch
The last time that I had a pair of earmuffs was when I was six years old. They were light blue and very fluffy and I wouldn’t go anywhere without them.
Last year the earmuff made a comeback, but this time the headwear is worn by those that are young enough not to remember when these were in fashion the first time around.
However, these earmuffs are designed to be worn by anyone of any age. They can be worn in three different ways with the head strap worn over the head in the traditional way, around the back of the head or underneath your hairline as if you are a radio DJ.
I decide to wear them so that the band goes around the back of my head. Apparently this is how ‘everyone’ is wearing them this year, but I’m doing it because to wear them in the traditional way makes me feel like I’m six years old again – not a good look.
The earmuffs are practical, keeping your ears warm, but call it old age if you will, the earmuffs muffled my sense of hearing – surely not safe when you are walking to work or school and you have to cross busy roads?
Little Hotties hand and body warmers £1.95, Pilch
When the pavements were too icy to walk on and the roads were gritted and clear, I decided to take the bus to work to avoid having my dignity taken away with another falling over incident.
Standing still waiting for the bus to turn up, the below zero temperatures started to penetrate through my winter coat and gloves so that by the time the bus turned up parts of me felt like they had turned to ice. So this gadget, the cheapest of all I have tested, sounded like the ideal solution to keep me warm when bracing the outside elements.
The hand warmers are easy to use. Shake the pouch for a couple of seconds and the heat starts to come through warming up anything that it touches. It did take about 20 minutes for the pouch to reach its maximum heat and this is quite hot, so it is best that you don’t put the warmer directly onto your skin.
I placed the Hottie into the inside pocket of my coat and the heat warmed up my body, quickly making it feel like I was walking around with a portable heated blanket.
The pouch stays hot for a good five hours, ample time then to get home if you miss your bus or your bus doesn’t turn up at all.
The warmers are not reusuable so after one use you have to throw them away, but at less than £2 for two it’s worth having one in your bag in case you get stranded in the snow or you are waiting for a bus in the cold wind, rain or snow.