I came across “grough” a few days ago. It’s quite interesting how many “walkers” are getting into trouble these days. Inadequate preparation and gear appears to be the refrain. How anyone can go up a Munro without a map, compass and torch in winter is beyond me. Then there are the three medical students suffering from hypothermia going up the Pyg track on Snowdon. Extraordinary. There’s an interesting article on the increasing demands on MRT from “walkers” getting lost and ringing the rescue services on their mobile phones. We may laugh (or cry), but there is a danger of this spoiling it for the many who go out on the hills responsibly with the right gear and preparation. I hope the ‘elf and safety apparatchiks don’t get involved. It does remind me of the time, a long, long time ago when I was descending into Wasdale from Sty Head to see a woman in a summer dress walking towards us in……high heels!!! At least she was keeping to the path and no mobile phones those days meant she couldn’t call out Mountain Rescue if she broke a finger nail.


ptc* accelerates

ptc*has upped the game for us gear bloggers by producing two quickfire reviews of the Terra Nova Laser Competition and the OMM Villain 45 + 10L MSC. I bought a Laser Comp back in the autumn (£70 off, can’t resist a bargain) but have not had the opportunity to test yet as my October trip to the Cairngorms had to be pulled. Pop over and have a look. Have a look at his Christmas Eve posting as well, what a cutie!

Computer moans

Every so often something happens to my computer. It starts degrading and it gets so irritating that I have to do a fresh install. I must have done this at least ten times over the past few years. Even if you are diligent about backing up, it takes an age to recreate your system.

Moan number 1: Dell has a great utility which enables you to restore your computer to its original state. As long as you copy all your data to another disk, it’s straightforward. However, Dell shipped the wrong PDF manual and no amount of using <ctrl> F11 would push it into restore mode. Search the Internet, 10 seconds later I find out on Vista it’s F8! Why can’t they ship the right manuals!!!!!

Moan number 2: Reinstalling Tracklogs. What a faff! You have to install version 1 which keeps stopping and starting. After importing all the maps, you have to use the e-mail version to upgrade to version 2. Then you have to use the version 3 upgrade, load the maps and then re-validate them with the old CDs. Why can’t the program just check the permissions from the old program. Talk about Byzantine! All in all it’s taken the best part of three hours. I like Tracklogs but sometimes the thought process behind these programmes is baffling!

Mal odeur

This is not for the squeamish. Backpacking can be a smelly pastime. While merino wool or silver impregnated clothes can help keep smells under control, there still the issue of using deodorant (or not). Deodorant is not a great idea when exercising as it blocks the skin’s pores. Using none runs the risk of an unpleasant aroma towards then end of a hard day. You could use a mineral salts based deodorant such as PitRok. While they are better than nothing, they are not as effective as normal deodorant.

The best solution I’ve found is to use antibacterial hand cleanser. This doesn’t block the pores or prevent sweating, but does neutralise the offending bacteria. I always carry some for hand cleaning anyway, so it’s no extra weight. The best I’ve found is Carex Aloe Vera, which has a pleasant, but not over powering perfume. You get about 80-100 applications in a bottle. Unlike some hand cleaners it dispenses just the right amount and has a good secure cap to prevent accidents. A 50ml bottle weighs 60g.


Blogpacking to blogcasting?

Listening to Bob’s excellent interview with Judy Armstrong, I was intrigued to hear she used a digital Dictaphone to record notes while she was on her epic trek. I had been thinking about whether to try my hand at podcasting, but chickened out when I went to Scotland this year.

I have an old I-River HP-140 MP3 player which has an external mic socket. I bought a simple lapel mic, but got a bit self conscious. The HP 140 weighs 183g, so it’s not exactly lightweight, although it does have 40GB capacity, enough to record the rest of my life! Obviously it is primarily an MP3 player, and very good too, but it is rechargeable and therefore not entirely practical for the outdoors.

I’ve been looking around for a lighter MP3 player with an external mic socket that uses ordinary batteries, but to no avail. When I heard Judy’s interview I made a quick internet search for Dictaphones and after a bit of digging came up with the Olympus WS-331M . This little beauty has 2GB of memory, runs off 1 AAA battery and weighs only 47g! For comparison, I have a little card reader MP3 player that I bought from Bob, which weighs 40g.

At £110, it’s not exactly cheap, but you can buy a noise cancelling microphone as well . Being a sucker for this sort of thing, I’m getting one. At the very least I get a very lightweight MP3 player with the ability to keep some voice notes. Who knows, I might even pluck up the courage to make a few blogcasts. I’ll post a review when I’ve got it, in the meantime, here’s a review from Laptop.



Nalgene health scare

I pass this on in those immortal words: “for what it’s worth” 

“One of the most respected outdoor retailers in Canada has withdrawn from sale drinks bottles, widely available in Britain, containing a controversial chemical.

Mountain Equipment Co-op, which has no connection with the British Mountain Equipment clothing company, has taken off its shelves all containers made from polycarbonate. One of the best known brands is Nalgene, whose brightly coloured drinks bottles grace many outdoors stores in the Britain’s High Streets.

Some research has linked a chemical added to the polycarbonate in the containers, bishphenol A (BPA), with increased cancer risk, lower sperm count and the early onset of puberty.”

Source: grough

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