21 Jul 2009

That has messed things up ...

Both my current backpacks are ancient POD Sacs, both about 20 years old. The Cragsac pictured is showing some signs of wear. It soaks up a bit of water now and the fabric on the lid is starting to come apart.

The xPod is a 70+ litre sac, which is great load carrier but my ancient version is about 2.6kg. This leads to the obvious question what next. I prefer simple, slim packs that don't mind if I kick them about a bit. In the short-list are:

OMM Villain
Crux AK57

And now this appears

New POD Sacs for 2010

There is not much detail, no weights or volumes ... should I wait?

13 Jul 2009

Peter's Cycle Africa expedition

I met Peter on the train to work a few months ago. He has now stopped work as he is preparing for his next big trip. As part of his trip to South Africa he is raising money for the Against Malaria Foundation.

On his fascinating website there are some great photos and inspiring stories.


9 Jul 2009

Black Tor

How adventurous should your first backpacking trip be? Take it too easy and you will not feel the sense of being out in the wild, away from civilisation on your own. The other extreme and, apart form the obvious risks to life and limb, you might come away thinking this is not for me.

The plan for Will’s first trip was to have a relatively short walk over some rough ground and then camp out using tarps and bivvy bags with an easy route back to the car. Our route went from Meldon reservoir up Yes Tor, over some open ground to Black Tor where we would camp and back down West Okemeet river to Meldon reservoir.

After following a good track from the reservoir we headed over some rocky ground straight to the top of Yes Tor. The wind was very strong on the top and there was a strange feeling to it, with lots of signs of man, including litter, pipes and mess. After a bit of discussion we agreed that this was not a good place to camp so headed west to over Longstone Hill.

We put the tarp up on Black Tor and had sausages and beans watching bands of grey clouds fighting for space in the sky with sunshine.

The weather was unsettled and I was not confident we would have enough shelter, so we headed down and pitched the tarp near the river. Despite a few heavy showers in the night we stayed dry enough.

After a quick hot chocolate breakfast we headed down the river through some boggy ground.

I can see how the tarp and bivvy is a great way to camp. For 2 people we could have done with a bigger tarp but for one it is perfect. The clue is in the name really – Solo Tarp. The only problem we had was that although we were sheltered near the river it meant that there were a few more midges (and I forgot the repellent).

As Will said at the end “I don’t want to see concrete and roads, I want to see more bracken, rocks and grass”. I can’t argue with that.

3 Jul 2009

Tarp practise

Very soon we are going to make a trip to Dartmoor to sleep under one of the Tors. The tarp I bought from backpackinglight many months ago has sat in the cupboard for too long. It is time it came out into the light. There is lots of information setting up and using tarps available

Tarp DVD
Andy Howell's Going lighter guide
Colin Ibbotson on tarps

so having looked at a few of them, I decided to have a go at setting it up in the garden.

The Solo tarp is designed for one person; I don't think I am being wrong if I say one and a half of us are going. It will be my son's (age 9) first backpacking trip and we will be taking bivvy bags and the tarp and making sure that the forecast for Saturday night is clear. To see if I put him off for life you will have to wait for the next post.

A Frame

Lean to (or it only rains from one direction round 'ere

Low A frame