Keen Ridge Flex boots

My Salomon X-Ultra Mids have started to leak so I needed to replace them. Instead of getting the new X-Ultra 4s, I’ve been tempted to try out some Keen Ridge Flex boots. I’ve never had Keen boots before so it was bit of a punt.

They are not a straight swap as the Keens are leather rather than fabric, but they should be a bit more robust. The flip side is they might be a bit warmer. The fit is rather different too with a broader toe box. I was concerned there might some heel lift but the heel retention system is excellent, probably the best of any boot I’ve had.

Despite being leather they are very flexible with “bellows flex” on the toe. That said, they do feel a bit more like a boot than the X-Ultras, which are more like a trainer. The stability and comfort is good, although I’ve only used them on short, easy walks so far. I don’t know how waterproof they are but being leather and having a membrane they should be pretty good until the membrane fails.

The broad front foot makes a big difference in terms of comfort especially with thicker socks. I suffer from a mild case of Morton’s neuroma and have found that allowing my toes to splay out helps alleviate it. The mid height gives good ankle mobility. I have started not using the top set of cleats which makes it even better, especially as the heel retention is so good.

The only quibbles so far is the cleats are a bit small and fiddly. Securing and locking the laces takes a bit of care. Not a deal breaker, but could be better. For choice, I’d rather have deeper and more widely spaced lugs on the sole. The sole pattern gets quite clogged with clay. Hopefully this is less on an issue in the hills.

Overall, I rather like them. I can’t make a definitive judgement until I’ve used them on a proper trip but first impressions are good. Keen also made a fabric boot, the Tempo Flex, which I might get for warmer weather. As I said, I’ve never had Keen boots before, but I’m impressed so far.

Disclaimer: I have no relationship with Keen and bought these boots with my own money.

Grand Scandinavian Tour videos

I would love to go backpacking in Scandinavia. Unfortunately that’s unlikely to happen. However, I enjoy watching videos of trips on YouTube. Recently a video popped up of a Norwegian guy who has done a grand tour of many of the best places in Sweden and Norway. He’s only part way through publishing the series, but I’m hooked.

Here’s the trailer for the series:

Here’s a stunning section of his night on Stor Svuku in Norway:

Andy Howell R.I.P.

Well known TGO Challenger and blogger, Andy Howell has died after a short illness https://www.birminghamworld.uk/news/birmingham-politics-tributes-paid-to-former-deputy-leader-of-birmingham-city-council-who-has-died-3412857 Sad news indeed. I met Andy and his wife Kate on my 2014 TGO Challenge when I stopped at a shooting hut above the Red Bothy in the Monadhliath where they shared their jelly babies with me. Fond memories. The TGO Challenge Facebook page has many tributes to Andy. R.I.P.

Mariposa rucksack – Frankenpack edition

WordPress managed to delete my original post on this, so I’ll try to recreate it. As followers of my blog will be aware, I’ve made some changes to my old Gossamer Gear Mariposa. The front pocket mesh ripped on my 2017 TGO Challenge. A friend kindly replaced it with a solid one and at the same time replaced the old shoulder straps with new ones.

I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Over The Top closure. I preferred the drawstring and Y strap closure of the original Mariposa. I persuaded another friend to remove the OTT closure and replace it. I’m very pleased with the result.

It makes the rucksack easier to pack and more flexible with different loads. It gives a little more volume too, which is helpful for longer trips.

The top closure has a Y strap but it is also possible to use a single strap which is useful for smaller loads. I also added a karabiner to further cinch down the load if required.

I’ve also changed the backpad from some tent underlay (from Needlesports) to an evazote mat from Ultralight Outdoors Gear. I’ve saved a bit of weight, 66g vs 120g.

I’m not sure if I’ve blogged this before but I put a bit of fleece (from a dog bed!) in the lumber area which makes it more comfortable in warmer conditions. If it’s raining I usually remove it to stop it getting wet.

Some time ago I also swapped the original hipbelt for the latest version, which is much better.

So there you have it, the Mariposa Frankenpack, my almost perfect rucksack. The only further improvement would be replacing the gridstop fabric with X-Pac. Now if I could persuade someone to do that…

Around Haweswater

Last week I managed to get away for a three night trip around the southern end of Haweswater. After parking the car, I headed up the Old Corpse Road to camp near Brown Howe. The next day I climbed Selside Pike and continued to Branstree, then to Harter Fell and down to Small Water to camp. The following day I climbed back up the ridge to Mardale Ill Bell and High Street. From there I followed the ridge to High Raise where I had lunch. It was then an easy walk down to Low Raise and Measand Beck to a lovely camp spot. The next day I followed the western shore of Haweswater back to the car park. Here’s a slide show of my trip:

Tarptent Notch Gear Loft

There’s not a lot of storage space in the inner tent in a TT Notch (plenty in the porches) so I used a bit of lateral thinking. I spotted a triangular gear loft from Big Agnes and thought I might be able to adapt it for the Notch ( https://www.ultralightoutdoorgear.c…-tent-accessories-c315/tent-gear-lofts-p13534 )

It fits rather well!

I had to sew a grosgrain loop at the end on the inner tent. I extended two cords to the pole apex glove hooks on the inner. Because the inner ends are secured to the pitchlok apex by elastic you wouldn’t want to put anything too heavy in the gear loft as it would drag the inner down a bit, but it will be handy for lighter items that you don’t want to store on the floor. It doesn’t impede the door either.

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