Dont take this seriously….because i dont !!

Gear

Monkeys are customer centric

Just a quick post to say the guys at PowerTraveller have the right attitude when it comes to customer service. My Powermonkey charger stopped charging my iphone4 a few weeks back, a quick email was sent and a reply came back a few days later. Apparently the tip on the iPhone charger stopped working because of a software upgrade. I was sent a replacement chipped tip and everything is working great again.

A few of my blogging mates use these for outdoor uses, haven’t heard a bad report back yet. Top marks go to the tree swingers !!!

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A cheap way to make your iphone waterproof

Several companies are charging up to 100 pounds for a waterproof case for the iPhone.

This seems a tad excessive when you can buy a set of three aloksaks for £3.29.

These are certified to 60m by the navy diving unit and are temperature rated to minus 40. Made of polyethylene you are given three sizes in the pack.

12.7 x 10.16
17.14 x 15.24cm
22.86 x 15.24cm

The smallest is suited to the iPhone and all the functions like touch typing and camera work perfectly fine in the bags.

I tested the water resistance by putting some tissue paper in the bags and submerging them for several hours, they all passed with flying colours.

For the gram counters among us the pack of three weigh in at 23g though I suspect this includes the cardboard packaging which can be discarded.

My opinion is these are a total no brainers for hikers.


The month that was July

The month that was July brought about my 31st birthday, I responded the onslaught of age by walking the Yorkshire 3 peaks in a respectable time of 6hrs 16mins.

My car broke down and wiped out my cash for the month, which eventually saw the arrival of my new motor which has brought a smile back to my face. I spent a lot of time reading, so much so that I was going through a book every week fuelled by the easy and cheap supply of books at Amazon. The picture shows some of the books, my favourite so far was minus 148 degrees a true story of the first winter ascent of Denali, mountaineering classic if ever one was wrote. Currently I am reading about the myths and legends surrounding Don Whillans, an amusing read full of eye witness accounts. The Primal Blueprint is a diet/lifestyle book which a friend mentioned around Christmas time, I have never adopted a diet before, me being a lean mean walking machine, but some drops in energy of late means I may well be adopting the 10 point primal lifestyle, possibly more to come on this.

My son passed his National Swimming level and is attending football camp this week so sport and fitness are second nature to him, this is something I always strive for.

I also picked up a new rucksack, the Inov8 Race Pro 30, this is for future lightweight ultra distance hikes I have planned for the future. I have been drawing inspiration from Andrew Skurka on this front who is currently pack rafting around Alaska.

I also adopted a new workout, it’s so simple its hard to believe it would work, but it certainly does, I wont bore anyone with the details, you can check it out here Simplefit.

Train tickets have been booked for the Great Glen Way in October which will see the FC Hikers back in action. Anyway that’s what’s going on with me at the moment.


Trail trainer’s

This is not something new to the outdoor world but it’s certainly new to me. Previously I wore North Face Hedgehog Mids which worked really well for me. The goretex inner was not perfect but it did a decent job at keeping my feet dry. unfortunately these boots recently died a magnificent death on the TGO Challenge. It was at this time I decided to take some advice from the fellow challengers. After discussing the merits of trail trainers in the Fife Arms in Braemar I decided I would give them a whirl.

I choose the Innov8 Roclite 320’s mainly because they don’t have an inner goretex liner so you can dry your trainers as you walk, and secondly because the shop was lacking in choice !!

I walked the second half of the TGO in the Roclites with seal skinz socks. This combination worked really well for me and my initial worries of the socks causing damp sweaty feet were unsubstantiated. Its a combo I will be using in the future and its great being able to walk straight through streams and puddles, the water actually cools your feet but the sock keeps out the water, a nice combo indeed.

My only niggles are the cushioning in the foot beds came detached but the nice people at Innov8 sent we some new footbeds for free. The laces are a bit short too but apart from this I am generally enjoying the whole trail trainer experience.


North Face Hedgehogs XCR mids

After close to four years service my faithful Hedgehogs have come to an untimely end. So now I thought it fit to look back at my old boots in a kind of review/reminiscence style.

I bought these for £50 from Millets back when I didn’t know the difference between crampon compatible boots and a pair of sandals. They were pounded around 3 National Trails, a TGO crossing and several over adventures of note. I loved these boots and I was desperate to get them across Scotland for the TGO. But Scotland eventually pounded my boots into submission on the outskirts of Bramear, even some emergency boot triage involving 10 meters of gaffer tape could not save them. So here is my review based on many miles of experience.

Soles – The Vibram soles look like they could do another 1000 miles easily. I found them to be grippy and I wore them year round up until crampon season. The inner soles are some of the best I’ve seen, really comfy and durable.

Waterproofness – The Gore-Tex inners worked great at the start, but after a year or so my feet would get damp every now and again. I suppose everything fades with time, having a great big rip in the front of the boot is certainly something which  affects the waterproofness of the boot !

Fit – Quite simply the most comfortable boots/shoes/trainers ever to grace my plates of meat. Think the original Nike Air Max and your on the right lines. The mids are a cross between hiking boots and trail trainers. They have a lower boot line than a normal hiking boot but this gives your extra freedom when you are walking. However you also need to factor in ankle support, if you have ankles like Bambi then maybe these are not for you.

Would I recommend these to others….your damn right. If you are starting out and are looking for a boot that can deal with anything outside of winter then look no further. For the price you get an honest, comfy boot that feels a delight to walk in. There is no point in comparing them to a leather boot as frankly they both have good points and bad points that could keep a bunch of hikers arguing long into the night. Comparing them to trail trainer’s is another argument entirely…..I will report back on this in a year once my Innov8 Roclite’s have been given a real test!

 


I’ve joined the evil empire

I have finally gave in to Apple’s latest wonder gadget the Iphone4. For years I have avoided Apple like the plague until I heard memory map was available as an App. I had a quick look at the App at the outdoor show 2010 and then saw a similar App of Ken Knights iphone.

So I have signed my life over to Apple for 24 months, will things ever be the same again….only time will tell.

P.S. The closest i have been to the outdoors since the TGO Challenge is a pub beer garden. Football comes first while the World Cup is running.


Alpkit Airo 120

I took delivery today of the new Alpkit Airo 120 2/3  sleeping mat. The wee airic which I had a several problems with is now discontinued. I actually loved the mat when it worked but it let me down too many times as you can see here.

This new mat costs £35 which is an increase but straight away you can see the difference in quality from the wee airic. The 33D Mini Ripstop Nylon feels stronger and nicer to touch. The mat comes with a stuff sack with compression strap and a nice feature is the addition of a small pouch inside the sack where the repair kit can be stashed. The sack is also smaller than the previous range so  you can stow it away nice and small.The valve seems a lot better quality than the wee-airic.

I really wanted a neo-air but the greedy buggers set the price too high, I can afford the neo-air but I refuse to be bent over backwards on price. Alpkit did replaced my 2 faulty wee-airics and I placed my faith in their new mats even though I was offered a full refund. Time will tell and I will report back with my usual no bullshit review after the airo has been out and about on at least a National Trail.

Specifications Airo 120

  • Weight (gr): 399
  • Thickness (cm): 2.5
  • Real World Packed Weight (gr) 439
  • Dimensions (cm): 120 x 51 x 2.5
  • Min Rolled size (cm): 28 x 12
  • Realistic Rolled size (cm): 28 x 14
  • 33D Mini Ripstop Nylon
  • Expected R value 2.5
  • Repair kit included
  • Update August 2010

    No issues as yet with the airo 120. A few wild camps have brought no issues. I like the way the repair kit tucks into the bottom of the stuff sack. It seems a lot toughter than the old wee-airic. All good up to now.


    New Family Tent – Outwell Nevada 5 birth

    So with the addition on young Pepper at Christmas we are now unable to book into hostels, most B&Bs and bunkhouses. So i was left with 2 options a family tent or a caravan.
    Not wanting to park a caravan on my drive i popped down to go outdoors tonight and came home with this for just short of £200. Not bad, managed to haggle 20% off with the manager.

    Anyway here is a little info a picture

    Berth: 5
    Bedrooms: 2
    Doors: 3
    Height (cm): 200.00
    Length (cm): 485.00
    Width (cm): 360.00
    Flysheet Hydrostatic Head (mm): 3000
    Weight (kg): 18.20
    Pack Size (cm): 31 x 69
    Pole Bag Pack Size (cm): 7.9/11.0/12.7
    Bedroom Dimensions (cm): 215 x 180 x 180
    Bedroom 2 Dimensions (cm): 215 x 140 x 180
    Fire Retardant: Fire Retardant

    The Outwell Nevada M will comfortably accommodate 4-5 people in it’s conveniently segregated 3 + 2 inner, and leave plenty of room for storage and living space.

    It’s easy and quick to set up, and features the full Outwell Sealed Ground System for maximum comfort and protection from the elements, as well as insects and dirt.

    There’s also great internal living space for all the family, with ample storage pockets to keep your family’s stuff organised and out of the way.

    The flexible living system includes good ventilation all round using vents and the breathable inner.

    Other great features include an electric cable tidy,2 side doors and one optional front door, large windows to let light in and give good views out, and a rain-safe door for added protection.

    All in all, this is a simple and roomy family tent that will ensure a trouble-free, comfortable camping trip away.

    And don’t forget, you can add some luxury to your camping experience with the Nevada M carpet, or enlarge and secure your camp base with the Nevada M Extension and Nevada M Footprint.

    Update : First thoughts

    I found a video on youtube and followed it to test pitch it in the backgarden. Pitching was very easy, i was worried about putting up such a beast of a tent. The build quality is good and i am very pleased with the features of the tent. Taking the tent down was soo easy, took about 15 minutes with two of us.

    Update – Sept 2010

    We love this tent and the ease at which you can pack it away but one if the cords inside the pole snapped when packing away the tent. There was no tension on the pole which meant it came as a bit of a suprise. Anyway its under guarnatee for a year so a replacement pole wont be a problem. UPDATE – Go Outdoors fixed the pole in a jiffy and its good as new again.


    Outdoor show 2010

    I’ve seen quite a few bad reports on forums about this years outdoor show but i must strongly disagree. We arrived early which meant we were one of the first through the doors. Within minutes lil Thomas had won a prize by hooking a fish from a sand pit and this set the tone for the day.

    I listened to Ben Fogle and James Cracknell talking about their adventures and was in awe at their stories, both really cool guys with plenty to say. Fogle surprised me the most, I really didn’t like him at one time due to his numerous TV appearances. But the guy has some guts and his track record in the outdoors is pretty impressive.

    There were a few gear suppliers at the show, but this doesn’t really float my boat. We spent most of the day letting Thomas try out loads of activities and myself and Leanne chatting to some really interesting outdoor folk. At the fashion show Thomas was given a Spotty Otter gillet in a giveaway.

    I popped over to the Trail stand and played a little personal joke on Matt Swaine, I couldn’t resist. I spent time talking to Action Nepal – Doug Scotts charity who i always love to speak too, i came away with a signed poster of Dougal Hanston on Everest, one of the most iconic pictures ever taken on a mountain. I chatted with the guys who took Top gear to the pole in a super 4×4, £43k to trek to the pole, maybe one day !!

    The owner of a new social networking site fidgetstick had some interesting ideas for outdoor networking and I duly signed up. More to come on this.

    All in all an action packed day, I always say you make your own fun. So what if big name brands were missing….shopping isnt my scene, I leave that to the missus.

    On the Sunday we headed home via Alton Towers Water Park. Great weekend and stacks of freebies, just check out the picture to see what we blagged. Shy boys get no sweets !!


    New tent bargain

    I have been considering a new tent for solo backpacking trips with a lightweight theme. My current tent the NF Tadpole 23 is a great tent but it weights 2.2kg so is a little heavy on the lightweight front.

    So after careful consideration and months of checking the internet for bargains I have decided to buy a North Face Mountain Marathon tent. Yes shock horror I have overlooked the all conquering Atko and Laser Comp. My reasons are simple, I don’t want to be a sheep, every Tom, Dick and Harry has these iconic tents and quite frankly they are way overpriced especially the Atko. Far enough the Atko is a better tent, and the laser comp is lighter but frankly I don’t give a rats arse for the sake of amazing construction or an amount of weight that I have shit bigger than

    I have bagged a quality tent for £70, don’t be fooled by all the hype surrounding other tents, they are all the same when you look at the components and for some reason lightweight means more expensive……go figure.

    Anyway I cant think of a valid argument why I should have spent £225 on a lasercomp or £320+ on the Atko. It’s funny isnt isn’t, recently I have seen walking poles for over £100, an inflatable lilo for over £110 and  coats for over £300 and yet I have managed to buy a new tent for £70 delivered to my door. My crusade to stick two fingers up at outdoor pricing goes on……………….dont be a mug !!!

    Update April 2010

    I used the tent on its first National Trail – Wolds Way. 4 nights varied conditions. The tent itself is low to the ground so wind is never going to be a problem but changing clothes inside the tent is a struggle for the larger man. I found the tent really easy to erect once I got the hang of it, the shape of the tent is confusing at first. Leave the inner attached to the outer and you have no worries about getting the inside wet when its raining. One of the main plus points is the ability to unpeg the inner and create more space inside, I found this extremely useful for cooking.  The weight saving on my NF tadpole was noticable and I have plenty of extra room inside my pack. Inside there is bags of floor space. All in all, very pleased so far the real test awaits in May and 200+ miles across Scotland.

    Update June 2010

    Well the tent survived the TGO challenge. The tent did not fail me, although I think I may have taken the title for the smallest tent on the challenge. Pitching has now become a doddle, you can actually pitch the tent extremely quickly with just 2 pegs, get inside and out the rain, then finish your pitch once its eased off. For the price I paid I am extremely happy with its performance. It does has its downsides though, mainly the height of the tent, its so close to the floor you can’t sit up. I didn’t find it a problem but I was  jealous of the height of some of the other tents on the challenge. Great tent at this price, but there are far better tents out there, trying to find one at this price will be the real challenge !!