Category Archives: tips & tricks

Unlocking your trekking poles

Twist-lock trekking poles have a nasty habit of jamming. The slippery shaft of the pole can make it difficult to get a firm grip to unlock them, especially if they are wet. Here’s an easy way to overcome that problem.

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Cut two rectangles from some rug anti-slip underlay (available from places like Dunelm) or from a car boot anti-slip mat (from places like Halfords). In the picture, the rug underlay is white, the boot anti slip mat is grey. Wrap one piece around each section and twist. They give a far better grip than using bare hands. Weight? Rug underlay 2g, boot mat 7g. The rug underlay is now in my repair kit. Of course, you could use flick lock poles, but they are heavier.

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Revised Scarp pole arch tension system

After my experience with the F10 Nitro Lite 200, I decided to revise the pole arch tension system on my Scarp. You can find the details of the old system in this post. The old system is shown below.

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The reason for the “dog leg” was that I thought the cord might compromise access to the porch. Having experienced the more direct system in the Nitro Lite, I decided that this wasn’t really a problem after all. The new system is shown below.

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At either end of the cord I’ve used a mini carabiner so the whole system can be easily removed if needed. When packing, I unclip the lower carabiner and tie the loose cord so that it doesn’t get tangled when rolling up the tent. On the lower attachment, I added a loop of cord to the small grosgrain loop on the ribbon that connects the pole grommets (see below).

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At the top, instead of tying the cord, I’ve used another carabiner. While this is not strictly necessary, I prefer to have the option of removing the cord quickly if necessary, rather than fiddle around trying to untie a knot (show below).

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How did it work? It gives the pole arch a lot more stability than being untethered or just using the side guys. In conjunction with the side guys, it makes the hoop a lot more stable, but still allows some modest flex. It can be used without the side guy on small pitches where space is compromised and has a similar effect to having the side guy. It doesn’t compromise access to the porch. It also has a secondary use as clothes line for drying socks!

All in all, I think this works better than my first iteration. Later this week, I’ll publish a post with all the modifications that I’ve made to my Scarp 1. I was going to make a video, but I chickened out and just took photos of the mods when I was on Dartmoor.

Holdon tent clips tweak

While I had my new MLD cuben Duomid in pitched in the garden, I thought I would try a little tweak I’ve thought of for the Holdon tent clips. Mole mentioned that they might damage the tent material. One way to avoid this is to cut a small piece of material (in this case some thin PU coated nylon) and place it between the Holdon and the tent (see above). It seems to work well. It doesn’t affect the grip, which is strong and it prevents any marking of the tent material.I think this should alleviate any concerns that a Holdon clip will damage the tent.

Buff pillow cover

On the last few trips I’ve used a Thermarest microfibre pillow case for my Exped inflatable pillow. While the pillow material is not unpleasant, I prefer the fleecy feel of the microfibre on my skin. Strictly speaking this is a luxury item, although at 60g it is hardly an enormous weight penalty. A function of having too much time on my hands is thinking of solutions to meaty problems like this!

Yesterday I had an inspiration. Why not use a buff instead? I dug out a fleece and a microfibre buff and inflated my pillow to see whether it would work. Hey presto, perfectly fitting pillow covers and one less item to carry.

Left to right: pillow and “covers”, microfibre pillow case, fleece buff, microfibre buff

Ice cream?

The observant amongst you will have noticed in yesterday’s picture two ice cream tubs. Unfortunately, I’ve not found a lightweight way to transport ice cream. However, they are a great way to protect food from being crushed in your pack.

For the past three years, I’ve been using a 4L locking food container (no longer available) from Lakeland (see above). Some readers have suggested this is overkill, but I like some protection against food such as sandwiches getting crushed. It also keeps out pesky rodents and ants, which can be a problem. I’ve not suffered from mice (or hedgehogs) but I know people who have. I have experienced some issues with ants.

I now have a lighter replacement: some ice cream tubs from the M&S Cornish Ice Cream range. While they are not quite as sturdy as the Lakeland container, they are still quite robust. To ensure the lids don’t come off, I used an elastic band, but the lid is quite firm anyway. The ice cream tub is 1L and weighs 56g, while the Lakeland container is 4L and weighs 345g.

Even if I used four ice cream tubs (the equivalent of the Lakeland box), I would save 121g. However, I found that two tubs were enough, as some of the food could be relocated into stuff sacks without risk (e.g. dates, nuts), so I actually saved 233g. The other neat thing about the ice cream tubs is that they stack. Even the lids will stack on top each other. This means that if all the food is used in one box, I can collapse the tubs down into one, saving space. It also means I could carry three if necessary for a longer trip but expand and contract the storage as necessary.

From now on, this will be my crush proof storage system. I’ve left the labels on for the moment as they seem to be water-resistant and they help to differentiate the boxes. Perhaps other ice cream tubs are even better. Let me know if you find any. The experimenting could be fun!

Winter camping tips from Alpkit

The Alpkit website has a page on winter camping with some helpful videos. Most of it is common sense. However, I thought the idea of putting damp gear in a drybag and then in your sleeping bag to keep warm, but not transfer moisture was a good one that I’d not thought of. I’ve used the closed cell mat under an air mat quite a lot over the past three years and it helps insulation significantly.

iPhone glitch

One thing I forgot to mention after my latest trip was that the GPS function on my iPhone had a seizure. Previously I had been very impressed with its accuracy. However, on the way down to Moor Divock, I was trying to find where I was in relation to a branch in the path and it was very badly out. First of all it positioned me in the Midlands somewhere. Then it told me twice that I was in Penrith. At the fourth time of asking, it showed me reasonably accurately where I was. I experimented a few more times and found myself located in Penrith a couple of times before I got an accurate fix. Very strange. It could be that I was quite low on battery and the GPS system couldn’t draw enough power. Anyway, I pass it on as a warning to be careful about believing a GPS fixing. I’ve always used a GPS as a secondary tool rather than a primary route finding tool. I will be more wary in future. I’m glad it wasn’t misty.