The return

After six weeks of not blogging, there was a temptation not to return, but I did miss it! It has been enjoyable just relaxing and surfing other blogs. The traffic on my blog has hardly been affected by the lack of postings. Perhaps the back catalogue of posts has been more useful than I had thought.

Although I have been extremely lazy, things have been happening. Gear has been purchased and plans have been made. I’m hoping to go to the Lake District next week for two three day trips around Eskdale and the Coniston fells.

I will be taking some new gear. During the break, I have taken delivery of a Force Ten Vortex 200 tent, a ULA Ohm pack (there’s a bit of a story behind this one), a Cumulus Quantum 350 sleeping bag, a Super Delios water purifier (thanks, Alan), a Duomid shelter with net inner, MLD Event gaiters and head net. Over the next few days I’ll give some initial impressions of these.

The Outdoor Retailer Summer Market show seemed to have had more interesting items on show than the Friedrichshafen Trade Fair. Perhaps this was due to’s excellent reporting. That’s not to knock Bob’s excellent podcasts of Friedrichshafen, which were very interesting, but the reports both in the press (well TGO) and online were a bit thin.

One item at the ORSM caught my eye in particular, which was the new Terra Nova Solar Photon 2. A two person tent similar in design to the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 (presumably with a solid inner), weighing under 1kg, looks very attractive.  The structure looks very stable. The cost is $440. It will be interesting to see whether this translates into £440.

Terra Nova are also releasing a Cuben fibre version of the Laser Comp, (the Laser Ultra), weighing a crazy 539g. At $700, even if it’s translated directly into sterling, I shan’t be buying this one. Is it just me, or is the thought of being in a transparent tent a bit off putting? It must be like a sauna in the sun.

TGO magazine landed on my doorstep yesterday. It is one of the better recent editions with interesting articles on a trek in Sarek in Sweden, an alternative West Highland Way and mad Eddy making his own pied d’elephant.

However, the most exciting thing is the pull out supplement on the TGO Challenge. I shall be submitting an entry for next year’s event. This is something I’ve wanted to do for the last three or four years, and now I have the time.

I know the Challenge excites some debate. Why not just go and do a traverse of Scotland anyway?. I guess for me, I like the idea of bumping into a load of nutters doing the same thing. It provides an ideal way of mixing solitude with company. Whether I would become a regular Challenger, I don’t know. However, I’ve already worked out three routes!

At a later date, I would be tempted to do an east-west traverse of Scotland. As Cameron McNeish mentions in the supplement, this seems a more “natural” configuration, but is logistically impossible for an event like the Challenge. I’ve also been watching the DVD of Wainwright in Scotland and was very taken with the panoramas of Sutherland. The Cape Wrath trail beckons at some stage.

I’m also very tempted to do some treks outside the UK. Scandinavia looks fantastic, so does the Pyrenees. I’m also mulling over whether to go on an organised trek in Morocco or Jordan early next year.

Any way that’s enough for now. There’ll be some more waffle over the next few days and then a bit of silence again next week when I’m in the Lakes. By the way, thanks for the comments that have been posted while I’ve not been actively blogging.



18 thoughts on “The return”

  1. That Cuben version of the Lase Comp uses an extremely light/thin version of Cuben for the floor and fly. As such, it includes a ground sheet that isn’t included in the listed weight. I’d be hesitant to use it without the ground sheet so that should really be included, but then it might no longer be the “lightest tent”.

  2. Good to see you back. Looking forward to the reviews & initial impressions. I’ve just completed the Tour du Mont Blanc. After something like over 180km, 10,000 metres of ascent, 10,000 metres of descent, a vast number of peaks, cols, valleys, mountain passes, scrambles and plenty of cheese and wine, I’ve made it to Les Houches, 11 days after I left. It’s been emotional…

    Full day by day report to come but the all-important kit reviews first. I’ll be posting this weekend.

  3. I take it you’ll use the Vortex as a basecamp?

    It’s a good looking tent and if it’s anything like my F10 Nitro (which I was messing with today) will be nicely put together with all the little touches that other leave out to save weight and Vango/F10 always have a nice little spares pack.

    Look forward to the reviews of all that nice new kit 🙂

  4. Interesting feature on new gear in this month’s TGO, particularly as you say the cuben fibre Terra Nova – but at that price, I don’t think there will be too many takers – but we will see.

    I would love to do the TGO – but that time of the year -I am so busy at work it would be very difficult for me to take the time off – still maybe one day !


      1. Thanks very much. I would like to ask a question if I may – unrelated to this current post – but as you are the man with all the sleeping bags !! . Do you have recommendations for bags for the dead of winter – What rating do you think I would need ? I have an Alpkit 400 which is great for spring/autumn but I would like to do more winter camps and guess it is not warm enough. I like to go as light as poss taking the conditions into account.



      2. I have a Pipedream 600, which would be easily enough for winter (I’ve slept comfortably in sub zero temperatures). You might also want to look at the PHD sale where they are selling a Minim 500 for £176 (no zip, but is an option). The alternative strategy would be to use the Pipedream 400 in conjuction with an insulated jacket and perhaps fleece leggings (or down trousers). Don’t forget, insulation beneath is as important as above. I use a thin foam mat underneath an inflatable mat. The ultimate is an Exped Downmat, which I also like but is heavier.

  5. Welcome back to the world of blogging.

    Having been trekking in Morocco twice now – once in the Anti Atlas which is little visited, and once to the High Atlas – I’d recommend it highly.

    I, too, would love to visit Scandinavia, but with my current summer seasonal job (if I return in 2011) I can’t take any leave in July and August, although I suppose June is an option.

  6. I have some PHD gear it is great – I saw that they had a sale on – I was not sure whether the Minimus would be warm enough. I saw I think on Martin Rye’s blog about the POE mat which looks good and I could use the Duomat out of my Jirishanca I guess to add some additional warm.

    Once again thanks for taking the time to help me.


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