Big figure change

Well that’s that then, over 100,00 page views since November 2007. Not surprisingly, the most popular pages have been the ones on my Laser Competition modifications. I even seem to have a following in France who are busily adapting their Comps. I wish I could have posted more on trips rather than on gear, but I don’t have a huge number of opportunities to get into the hills living down south as I do. I’ll tone done the gear buying now although I do like the look of Hendrik’s ULA Ohm pack and I still fancy a Soulo. However, I’m not going to buy anything more for the moment, although I’m still awaiting a pair of Montrail Streaks to replace some aging Hardrocks. I’m hoping for a further wander around the Carneddau in just over three week’s time. I’m toying with taking out some gear that I’ve either not used yet or haven’t used for some time. Happy hiking everyone!


Very close

I’ve never really bothered that much about blog stats. However, a few days ago I noticed that page views since inception were nearing 100,000. Hence, I put the little counter on the right. A couple more days and it should tick over.

Thanks Bob

I’ve really enjoyed this year’s TGO Challenge podcasts. Thanks, Bob, Andy and Shirley for your efforts. I think the format of an audio diary interspersed with a few interviews worked really well. There was a much more even pacing this time and it really felt like I was travelling with you. Wonderful vicarious pleasure.

The real TARDIS

Nigel mentioned that my Laser Competition is a TARDIS. However, the real TARDIS is my Mariposa Plus. How do you get this (bear in mind my sleeping bag is already in the Mariposa):


…into this:


It’s a mystery. What a great rucksack. It will look even smaller when I take out the end stays of the Competition to pack separately with the the tent pole. The fly/inner can then be packed inside the main pack and I can dispense with both the Exped stuff sack that I put the tent in and the foam that I wrap it with.

In my tent

I know some of you like to see what it looks like in other people’s tents, so here’s a couple I took in the Cairngorms when I was holed up for a day. Reasonably tidy.


 A nice mug of tea brewing. Note the improvised mug lid from a fruit salad container.


Disaster area

I’m in a disaster area. I’ve had a stomach bug for the past three days, our kitchen is being replaced and now the broadband phone line is dead.

I was concerned that I might have the dreaded swine flu, but I’ve not had a fever, so it can’t be, just an unpleasant stomach bug (is there a pleasant one?). Someone at work has contracted swine flu, so I should count myself lucky.

We have been without a functioning kitchen this week. The sink has been removed today, so it’s all a bit tricky and will remain so for the next two weeks. However, not wanting to waste an opportunity for a bit of testing, I had a Real Turmat game stew to avoid cooking and washing up. Although not Michelin three star, it was good for a dehydrated packet meal. No MSG type tang. Nice meaty bits and reasonable taste. It was a bit salty, but that would be welcome after a hard day’s hiking. Real Turmat is still the gold standard.

The phone line for broadband packed up today, so this is being typed on my iPhone. We have an old telegraph pole/copper wire system that has been a bit flaky for a while. BT are coming round tomorrow to fix . It feels weird not to have broadband, but I’m glad I’ve got my iPhone. As a consequence, though, I’ve not been able to download the latest Bobcast of the Challenge. Hopefully tomorrow. However I have been able to read the latest Rondane Romp from Dave.

The kindness of strangers

A big thank you to George for kindly sending me his surplus White Box stove to play with. Actually I don’t count George as a stranger, even though I’ve not met him. That’s the strange thing about blogging, you connect with people that you’ve never met and may never meet, yet you feel as though you know them. It may be too strong to say it’s a friendship, but it’s more than an acquaintance. Even if you don’t have a blog, but comment on blogs, I expect you have the same feelings.

Anyway, thanks, George. I’m very impressed by the quality of workmanship and the robustness of the White Box. I suspect one disadvantage may be a lack of stability for these types of stoves. For my gas stove, I use canister feet, which make it very stable. I’ll update you when I have a chance to use it. Whatever, it does look like an ideal back up stove weighing 30g, 64g with base and windshield.

Competition for the Competition

Thanks to Roman for his posts on the OutDoor 2009 trade show. Last year he did a great job getting us all excited over the Osprey Exos packs and the Thermarest NeoAir. This year he has kicked off with some of the tents on show.

Of particular interest is the Vaude Scutum Ultralight (no giggling at the back, it is Latin for “shield”), which looks like an interesting development with design cues taken from the Competition. I have wondered for a while why the Competition doesn’t use clips rather than a pole sleeve, especially as Terra Nova use clips for the Wild Country Sololite. Vaude make an interesting claim that it is stable in high winds. It will be interesting to see whether that claim proves correct in real world use. Will it be less noisy in high winds than the Competition? It certainly looks spacious and not much heavier than the Comp.

The other tent that is worth a look is the GoLite Eden 1. I got all excited when Roman quoted 1045g as a pack weight (now corrected), but I see that is only the tent. The whole set up (tent, pegs, poles) actually weighs 1558g, so it is more of a competitor to the Akto. It does look a very neat design though. The two end hoops ought to make it a very storm worthy tent I would have thought.

The Terra Nova Solar Elite and Solar Competition don’t look so appetising. They look rather small and claustrophobic.  I find Terra Nova quite a frustrating company as they have some great ideas but don’t quite execute them, hence, the myriad of tweaks and adjustments to the Laser Competition. I just don’t understand why they don’t do a slightly larger Sololite with truly lightweight materials. It’s a great design, spoilt by a lack of headroom and weight. Here’s another idea for them for free. Why not a Laser Competition with slightly higher ends but using an “A” frame at each end to aid stability and hopefully get rid of the noise in high winds. It would be worth a try.