Saturday, September 30, 2006
For those of you who fancy reading about these hills before you set off, I can recommend Graham Uney's superb 'The High Summits of Wales - A guide to walking the Welsh Hewitts'.
Grahams book is divided into two sections. The first section is a complete guide to the Welsh Hewitts, range by range, hill by hill. The second section is the story of Grahams successful bid to walk them all in one go in the summer of '98. It's a helluva story. You can find a link to the book at Amazon on the right of this page.
- Hilleberg Akto
- GoLite Continuum pack
- Ray Jardine RayWay quilt
- Thermarest Prolite Three 3/4
- Berghaus Infinity Light Jacket
- Berghaus Paclite Smock
- Inov8 Terroc shoes
- All sorts of Ti' goodies
- All sorts of bits and bobs from backpackinglight.com in the US and backpackinglight.co.uk
If you are interested in the Terrocs, visit Andy Howell's site and check out his comprehensive long term report. It made me buy mine!
I'll also be looking at some of the books that have helped me with the whole 'lightweight thing' (see a selection of the best in my links section on the right), plus the Brecon Beacons walking guides that I use.
Most of the walks have GPS and Memory Map data (although the couple of GPS routes I have tried have been very poor quality - lots of unedited waypoints, looks like a converted 'track' file to me, poor show guys). They also give you detailed route description, a couple of photos, route card, gradient profile and OS mapping.
They have basically re-purposed all of the routes they have published over the years, so don't go expecting any new routes if you have a 4 foot pile of back issues in the attic.
The bad news is that they charge £2.00 for the routes that are not free, but subscribers get a 50% discount. As I mentioned, I have only tried a couple of the digital mapping files, not very representative, but if the files were tidied up and commented properly, I could stretch to a pound.
Anyway, get over there and snaffle the freebies and don't forget your 5 free credits if you are a subscriber. I would be interested in your comments on the GPS data ;)
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
It was my first backpacking trip for many years and all of the old kit was dusted off, most of it now twenty years old - my Vango Hurricane, Berghaus AB70GT pack and my trusty Trangia, now given a new lease of life with a gas conversion. Aaron carried his own sleeping bag, thermarest, comics and pyjamas and I carried the rest - 55lb's of it!
Aaron had a wonderful time. He has been car camping since he was one year old and is always being dragged up a hill or into the woods for some Ray Mears type adventure. The thing that really impressed him was that he was allowed to dig a hole to poop in. In fact, it impressed him so much we had about 5 false alarms, just so he could dig his cathole.
He helped with filtering the water and cooking his pasta and spent hours paddling in the shallow waters. I feel sorry for kiddies that will never experience the outdoors like this - children love the freedom, the mud, the cooking, the camping and the staying up late looking at the stars.
We had spooky stories and hot chocolate and retired on what was turning into a breezy night but we both slept warm and well.
After a huge breakfast, we packed up and walked back to the road and waited for our lift back to Swansea, whilst watching the mountain rescue teams training their dogs on the sunny mountainside.
I'm not quite sure what his teacher and classmates thought when they asked him what he did on the weekend.
I hope he mentioned the cathole.
www.planetfear.com have a 2 for 1 offer on Outdoor Designs Ultrastuffsacks. They still have medium to xxlarge sizes left.
Medium: 200mm x 350mm
Large: 220mm x 400mm
XLarge: 240mm x 450mm
XXLarge: 280mm x 500mm
Sunday, September 24, 2006
His story will make you green with envy - 203 miles of sunshine on some of the best hills in the world. The hike was based, I believe, on John Gillham's 'A Welsh Coast to Coast Walk', from Cicerone.
If you are Welsh or know Wales well, his pronunciations will bring a smile to your face, but Scotland gives me the same problems! Maybe a phonetic pronunciation guide to the hills of Wales (and Scotland) is called for - are there any out there?
You can get the podcast, plus loads of others by Bob from iTunes or directly from his website.
What do you mean you don't have an iPod? Apple have just released a micro iPod for around £50, ideal for lightweighters, take a look.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
I found a much simpler solution in Chris Ibbeson's 'Gear Weight Calculator', a simple free PC app (sorry Mac people) in which you enter your gear and it's weight and then categorise it. Each item has a check box next to it, so you can pick your kit list for each trip and let the software work out your pack weight and print a packing list.
David Hieatt's company, based in Cardigan Bay, produce a range of clothing for young actives that contains a few gems for the outdoorsperson, including a good range of merino and some stylish and technical jackets using Scholler and Ventile fabrics. Their organic cotton tee shirts are always entertaining.
You can download the catalogue from here and save a bit of a tree. David would like that.
Friday, September 22, 2006
I reckon you could do the Penine Way with a couple of these.
I am amazed Trail magazine haven't featured these in their 'must have' section - anyone remember the 200 quid portaloo in a briefcase a few issues back?
I had done a lot of 10 to 15 mile days, but had not hit the 20 mile mark since my 20's. I knew we had to train for it and I knew it was a lot of road walking - no way was I wearing my boots. I was visiting my sister and dropped into a running shop in Sheffield and they kitted me out with a pair of wonderfully comfy, lightweight off-road running shoes from New Balance (M781) for around £50.
The first 20 mile day was hard work (leg muscles not used to the distance), but I couldn't believe how well the shoes performed on and off road. After boots, it was like walking on air - my theory was if people can run 26 mile marathons in running shoes, walking should be fine.
The next 20 mile training session was a dream. Then two more (combining on and off road). This was easy! I couldn't believe it!
I did a few shorter walks leading up to the event and when the day came, we both made it in good time and I could actually run across the finish line with my four year old son on my shoulders. I have not used my boots at all this summer and have clocked up around 150 miles in the NB's so far. I have used them all over the western Beacons and in the Peak District with no problems at all (I have not used them in the wet yet due to the fantastic summer!)
They have great grip with a reasonably deep tread pattern, excellent shock absorption, they give perfectly adequate support for light hiking on decent paths, they are supremely comfortable and are only 768g per pair (with Superfeet green's in them).
This walk set me thinking about other ways I could lighten the load on my days (and nights) in the hills and after some research, I found quite a few other items and ideas that have made my life easier. So the journey started!
Thursday, September 21, 2006
I have spent the last few months researching lightweight kit and techniques and with this blog I hope to record my days in the hills and the gear that keeps me up there.
I don't get out there very often - I have a hectic job (creating things like this) and a young family, but when I do, it's normally in the wonderful Brecon Beacons National Park, just 30 minutes from my home.
Lightening up is still a little strange to me - changing my boots for running shoes was scary, but if it can get me out for longer, that's got to be a good thing!