Archive for March 2007

New boots and panties

Posted by on March 31st 2007 in Bargains, Shiny new kit, TKMaxx

Went over to Go Outdoors (Coventry) today to get some kit for Ella's impending school trip to France. She found some Mountain Hardwear Micro Chill Zip Tees for £20, and I couldn't resist snapping up a pair of Raichle Fusion Mid XCR boots for myself, they're not bad for £49. There are some really good boot deals on there at the moment, more than they advertise on their new-look website. We had a look at the Vango Hurricane 200 tent, they are selling for £139 which seems a fair price. I didn't buy one, though, as I can do without the grief I would get from SWMBO.

TKMaxx (Nuneaton) was trawled as well, I picked up some Lowe Alpine DryFlo Briefs for just £4 a pair. Ella found a size 8 Craghoppers Kiwi fleece jacket for £14, it was such a good fit that it had to be bought.

Jetboil PCS – stability, packing etc.

Posted by on March 28th 2007 in My reviews
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The Jetboil PCS. Either you're a fan or you're not. I'm not about to try to sway your preference for stoves, this is just a bit of info about stability and the like, as I've experienced it.

OK, they're fairly stable with a bigger gas canister (e.g. a Coleman 250), but not so much with a smaller one (e.g. a Coleman 100). Never mind, things can always be improved.

Jetboil make a set of legs that fit into the system and pack away neatly, but these little beauties by Vaude / Markill fit on a Coleman 100 a bit better, IMO:



Vaude/Markill legs folded (above), unfolded (below)



OK, now it's a lot more stable with the legs attached. But let's not stop there. How about the widget on the right in the piccy below? It's a blowtorch canister stand:




It fits onto a blowtorch canister and it can be pegged to the ground for great stability, as shown below:









It can be held down and supported by small rocks (above) or you can ditch the widget and dig a small pit for the canister as shown below:





You've just got to be careful that you don't clout the top bit too forcefully, as there's a slight risk that the setup will part company at the weak-spot (where the canister is screwed in). You have been warned!

Anyway, back to the Coleman 100 canisters. One of them can be stored in the Jetboil mug, beneath the burner unit. But what about when there's two of you and you need more gas? Well, two more will fit snugly upside-down in an Alpkit Mytimug:





Conveniently, the Jetboil and the gas-filled mug stack rather neatly into a stuffac that used to hold an Outwell pillow. There's room at the sides for a couple of long-handled spoons (or similar), the folding feet and a few bags of dehydrated food. Neat and versatile, I reckon, and just for good measure, this package fits perfectly into the external crampon pocket on my Lowe Alpine pack (the Alpine Attack 40), where it's handy to get at for a quick brew without the hassle of having to dig it out of the main compartment of the pack.





All that, and I didn't even rave about how good the stove is. I must be slipping in my old age 🙂


Mike "The Doctor" Bell has come up with a lightweight, cheap and simple method of using pans on the Jetboil.

Patience is a virtue

Posted by on March 27th 2007 in Shiny new kit

At last, the long wait is over. My GoLite Tarp2 has arrived. There's a bit of a boring story behind this, but what the hell, I'll tell you anyway, you don't have to read it!

Back in November of 2006 , James at OneOutdoors was having a sale. Tarp2s were going cheap but try as I might, the website wouldn't let me order one, then the site showed zero stock as they all sold out, so I thought I was going to miss out on a bargain. Undeterred, I emailed James, telling him of my plight, and he kindly set up a special order for me so that I could reserve a Tarp2 at the discounted price.

Well, things didn't go according to plan for James. He had ongoing problems getting tarps from his source. Much to his credit, James kept me informed at every turn in the proceedings, and gave me options to either cancel or wait on several occasions. You just can't fault that for good customer service, can you?

Anyway, I got an email from James on Friday last week, telling me that he had received some tarps, yesterday he emailed that one had been dispatched, and the tarp arrived this morning, so I'm a happy bunny, it was worth the long wait.

So, top marks for James (and Nicky, who put a sweet message on the invoice), who achieved triumph in the face of adversity.

BTW, you might like to know that there's a clearance sale of GoLite kit at OneOutdoors right now.

New kip-mat

Posted by on March 26th 2007 in Shiny new kit

Miscellaneous pics

Posted by on March 24th 2007 in Bloggers' Meet, Great Escapes

First up is a shot of the UKOBs at the N.E.C..

Just an ordinary piccy at first glance, but after a beer or two, there is more to be seen...
Why is Dave M wearing a placard on his head?
John H seems to have had George G's head grafted onto his shoulder in a similar manner to Zaphod Beeblebrox...
Darren C appears to be sporting a crest and a wattle like some sort of Cassowary / human hybrid...
Is the woman on the right the elusive "Big Agnes"?



And then there's this hairy old git, snapped by my daughter during our most recent trip to the Lake District. I would avoid him at all costs, he looks a bit dodgy:


Mountain Safety Man blogs!

Posted by on March 20th 2007 in Rambling on...

Well, last night we watched Wainwright's Walks 4/4 Scafell Pike on BBC4. The web blurb is as follows: In the last in the series exploring the work of Britain's most famous fell-walker, Alfred Wainwright, Julia Bradbury attempts to climb England's highest peak.

JB did the walk from Seathwaite, starting out at what seemed to be an average time in the morning after having a chat with Joss Naylor. The route took her over Stockley Bridge, up the Gill, a scenic detour around Sprinkling Tarn, back up to the true Esk Hause then via Calf Cove and the Ill Crag / Broad Crag massif to Broad Crag col and then the final pull up to the summit. A fine route, and, as she says, a long route.

Now, she was atop Scafell Pike quite late, after walking for over ten hours, so she said. The sun was lowering and the sky was turning a hazy reddish colour. Let's assume that she left Seathwaite at approx 8:00 a.m., that would put her at the summit at 6:00 p.m. Then bear in mind that she says that she's not a very experienced walker - according to her, Haystacks (programme 1/4) was her first Wainwright.

Doesn't leave much time for the return, especially with a camera crew in tow, does it? And it's not as if you can get back to Seathwaite easily without either retracing the route or dropping down to the Corridor Route - there's no short-cut back to base on any map that I've ever seen.

I'm more than a little bit concerned that armchair/novice walkers will be inspired by JB to tackle this route, arrive at the top knackered in the late afternoon, think that it's OK because they saw it on the telly, start back and then get benighted before ending up as MRT statistics.

Overall, the series has been excellent - varied routes and objectives, good scenic shots, and chats with notable characters such as Joss Naylor. The trouble is, it's all a bit misleading and it could tempt the unwary into more trouble than they can cope with.



Posted by on March 16th 2007 in Bloggers' Meet, Great Escapes, Shiny new kit

Just back from the Bloggers' Meet at the NEC, had a great time meeting the rich and famous, and some bloggers too! I could do some name-dropping, but that would be a bit anal. When Zooomr is up and running again, I'll paste in some piccies, but until then, you'll just have to use your imagination. WD did some real-time blogging and already has some pics up on his blog.

The Alpkit stand was excellent, the lads being as helpful and informative as ever, I bought a Gourdon and some odds & sods. The Montane stand was a disappointment without JG to spice it up... Jon Doran (OM Editor) was conspicuously absent... hmmmm... 2 + 2 = ? The Royal Marines, after shattering the windows with their dramatic show-starter, proceeded to give us info that will shatter the dreams of my eldest girl - they don't take on "females"! SWMBO raided the cheap rails at Craphoggers. Paddy Dillon gave an excellent lecture about walking in Northern Ireland, I can tell that SWMBO will be angling for a trip there sometime soonish. The polite people at the AKU stand tried really hard to sell me some new boots, but they were still too pricey and there was no room for negotiation (even though Dave M had already blagged a pair for free). Resisted the temptation to get more Mazzles from the Harveys Maps stand.

But the star of the show has to be Mr. Grumpyarse, the guy behind the mini-bar where we all stood drinking / chatting / smoking / blogging. He must see a demigod in his shaving mirror each morning. Some people have no sense of freedom, adventure or permissiveness - this guy taught them all.

Finally, I don't know what the other UKOBs think, but I reckon that it was remiss of the OS not to come over and thank us for allowing them to share our convention facilities.

Do you remember my blog entry about the Keela Belay jacket?

Posted by on March 15th 2007 in Shiny new kit, TKMaxx

Well, they're selling for a paltry 20 notes at TKMaxx. I got one from the Leicester branch this morning. Size L, it fits perfectly over the top of my medium Rab VR Climb. Can't wait to try out this layering combo on the hill, and looking at the forecast for next week, it might be tried in the snow 🙂

Edit: Forgot to credit my friend and fellow OMer, the legendary Captain Paranoia. Thanks, CP, for bringing the price reduction to my attention.

Another weekend slips by

Posted by on March 11th 2007 in Great Escapes, Rambling on...

Well, what with all this slide-scanning and Six Nations going on, and with intensive periods of decorating and gardening slotted in between, this weekend passed by as usual - no proper outdoors activities.

On the plus side, the scanning is progressing well - I've done all of the ones I took in the Faeroe Islands (Note - the link is to a .pdf file that I found online). The finished quality isn't brilliant, but that's down to the slides, not the scanner. My pics will be uploaded to my photohost within the next few days, when I've found the correct spellings for the captions (not as easy as it seems on a UK laptop keyboard!).

Oh, and we booked a Family Activity holiday at Okehampton YHA, so the kids are quite excited. Not sure whether I want to do a rock-climbing & gorge-scrambling day, or do the climbing wall and then kayaking. Decisions, decisions...

After much procrastinating, we bought a new scanner

Posted by on March 6th 2007 in Shiny new kit

The honeymoon slides have been languishing in a file for over a decade, viewed only occasionally when we've been able to borrow a projector. Last year, we tried to scan them with our ageing Plustek scanner but it really wasn't up to the job, so I asked for opinions from places various (including posting a thread on OM), then we did some sums and decided that it would be cost-effective to abandon the self-scanning option and get them done by a lab. A good plan at the time.

Recently the situation changed. Lots of old family photos have surfaced and the need to preserve lots of images for posterity has forced our hand, so we ordered a cheap (<£60) scanner that would handle negatives and slides - a Canon CS 4400F to be precise. I must admit that I thought that it would only give mediocre results with our old slides, but I'm happy to report that it's a little cracker. Now I can look forward to spending hundreds of hours converting our family images to 1s and 0s.

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