Online Outdoor Gear Retailers
OutdoorsMagic used to have a comprehensive list of U.K. outdoor stores on their website but the list that’s there these days is a pale shadow of its predecessor. That’s makes what I have here all the more important and it features stores based in Ireland too, not something that you see in very many places. As well as the list, I have added a log of my dealings with a number of these retailers and any experiences that I may have had in doing so. General information even for those with which I have had no dealings may follow.
This is an Irish operation with two shops in Dublin and one in the centre of Cork too. It all started with one store so it amazes me to see them expand given the economic state of the country. High street retailing in the western world cannot be easy at the moment.
This is an independent retailer specialising in an eclectic range of lightweight backpacking gear as the name suggests. There is a personal touch too and what came from an attempt to exit the hectic humdrum of a normal working life has brought plenty of work all of its own. Maybe, it’s case of swapping unappealing busyness for what is the more satisfying.
Part of the same group as Millets but serving a slightly different market sector, their bricks and mortar shops have seen me more often that their online variant. My North Face Nuptse jacket was bought at their Manchester branch but I have been known to buy at other ones too like in Aviemore when I acquired rubber tips for my walking poles to replace easy to lose plastic caps.
It has been Paramo gear that I have been acquiring from this Settle-based concern in Yorkshire. Service is prompt and efficient too and there’s the personal touch that you get from an independent retailer as well.
When I became in need of new boots a few years ago, the Manchester branch of Cotswolds was where I sourced my now resting pair of Scarpa ZG10′s. Their online store has yielded some items too though I cannot recall what they wereÂ from the top of my head.
It may be because they don’t do discounts as a matter of course but I can’t say that I have bought much from these people. For ages, my only purchase of note was a pair of North Face trail shoes but 2008 saw me pick up an Osprey Aether 60 rucksack that accompanied me on my escapade taking in Skye and the Western Isles. They also operate bricks and mortar stores for The North Face in the U.K. so it shouldn’t have been a pleasant surprise to see them stock The North Face’s replacement’s for their ever practical Paramount Cargo trekking trousers. In their own shops, there’s a good selection of brands and a return visit to their Castlefield store in Manchester has remained a dormant thought in my head for a while now. It was their online emporium though from where I added another pair of TNF Hedgehogs (on my first use of it as it happened) to complement the stalwarts that I already have from elsewhere; sometimes a tidy pair of a favourite shoe is good to have.
For a few years, this was an online emporium that I frequented more than I care to admit or remember; their real world stores seem to be away from the sorts of places that I tend to frequent. Apart from the non-delivery of a Magellan GPS receiver by Royal Mail, most mail order items made their way to me without incident. Two pairs of my favourite hill trousers, North Face’s Paramount Cargo, have came from them as were a now well holed pair of Salomon Nubuck leather boots (they fitted well and performed likewise while they lasted; leather boots from Scarpa and Meindl have done better for me though).
These are the people who sold me my (blue) Osprey Atmos 50 after a spot of tick-tacking with them. Then, I found the service friendly and efficient with the pack arriving to me within days of I putting in the order.
This bunch seems to have exploded onto the outdoors scene and have new shops popping up in all sorts of places. It has been their online store that has seen the most business from me so far, even if it failed to process a payment for me on one occasion. A North Face jacket for my brother’s birthday was something that I got as part of a deal and held it over until the actual time came. At the same time, I got lured into ordering an inexpensive North Ridge Col one-person tent that has yet to see any actual use beyond test pitching. Otherwise, it has been volume adjusters and other bits and pieces that I have sourced from them.
It’s a name that appears over the door of a number of outdoor emporia so it needs to be said that this one is in Dublin, Ireland. The site is the online branch of a pair of bricks and mortar shops.
This shop was spotted near the market place in Buxton and this is the online version of it. It’s an independent store that has been going since 1972. As ever, the personal touch has to count for a lot.
This lot are everywhere and, though they may not have much outdoor credibility in the eyes of some, I must admit to picking up a few items from their stores, one of which is in Macclesfield. These days, I limit my shopping there to things like water bottles, socks, laces and other odds and ends but they supplied a pair of TNF Hedgehogs that have proved their worth since 2008.
Their shop in Fort William has seen me a few times over the years and is more than an outdoor gear emporium with a bar, a cafe and a souvenir shop all under the same roof as well as the outdoors stuff. A Sprayway Commanche jacket that has seen use when going to and from work in the wet came from here as did a pair of overtrousers that often bale me out when the heavens open. On a more recent occasion, I fulfilled a lighting need with my purchase of a new Petzl head torch only for the older one to resurface afterwards; you never can find anything in a last minute rush…
- Open Air
- Outdoor Pursuits Co-operative
- Páramo Hill & Mountain
- Snow and Rock
- Spike Outdoor Equipment
- The Mountaineer
- The Climber’s Shop
- The Outdoor Shop
My Rab Latok jacket came from these people after a wait of a few months and a misfire with the wrong jacket appearing before it was returned in exchange for the correct one. Others may have given up in disgust, but I put it all down to the tardy availability of winter stock in the month of August. It also was £50 less than elsewhere too so I stuck with my vigil with my not being in a mad rush. After that, I would have been forgiven for giving them a wide berth after that but it has not been so. A pair of Meindl Burma boots bought in a January sale arrived promptly as did a Mountain Equipment duvet jacket in the same sale so all is forgotten. The delay with the waterproof jacket must have been caused by availability and I think that they are more transparent about things like that these days.
Their shop on Rose Street in Edinburgh was where I purchased my first ever footwear for outdoors escapades, a pair of Columbia trail shores that now reside at my parents’ house in Ireland and still see use whenever I am over there. Other purchases include a Low Alpine Walkabout 35 rucksack found at a knockdown price in a sale in the same shop; it has been taken on journeys across the Irish Sea and on local jaunts in Cheshire and Derbyshire too. There is a store in Leith too and a Craghopper shirt came from there and their online store has been the source of a pair of trail shoes from The North Face as well as a few other bits and pieces.
- Tower Ridge
- Ultimate Outdoors
- V12 Outdoor
- Whalley Warm & Dry
- W. Slack & Sons
- Yeomans Outdoors
This chain has been going since 1904, a fair innings. Even so, I only ever have been in and out of their Macclesfield shop with the only purchase from there being a pair of wellingtons that now reside at my parents’ house in Ireland. It was for there that I bought them because doing things in the country like cleaning out hen-houses may need to be done in the wet too.