August 29th, 2012
Getting a sleeping bag back in to its stuff sack is not rocket science but these five tips should make it easier for you:
- Hold the sleeping bag at the foot
- Push it right to the bottom of the stuff sack
- Carry on pushing the bag into the sack, keeping a tight grip on both and spreading the bag evenly inside. Holding the sack between your feet or knees and having the rest of the bag over your shoulder helps.
- When the sleeping bag is fully in the sack, pull the drawstring tight with one hand whilst pushing down hard into the sack with the other.
- Pull the compression straps tight
*TOP TIP: As it is not always possible to store sleeping bags as recommended, at least slacken off the compression straps when you get home.
Tags: down bags, packing sleeping bags, sleeping bags, storing sleeping bags, synthetic sleeping bags
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August 26th, 2012
It’s time to pull on some hiking boots and take to the hills to help end cruelty to children in the UK. The NSPCC’s HACKs (Hike Against Cruelty to Kids) are taking place across the UK and the charity is looking for people who want a real physical challenge to sign up to take part.
The HACKs range from 10 to 25 miles and will take place during September in five locations across the UK – Buxton, London, Devon, Northern Ireland and Shropshire – raising vital funds to support the NSPCC’s projects and services for vulnerable children including ChildLine which this year is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
Rachel Case, NSPCC Head of Community Fundraising, said, “Training for the HACK is a great way to start a keep fit campaign, and taking part is an amazing challenge and experience. The HACK will be a fabulous day out in the great outdoors and a valuable opportunity to help the NSPCC raise money to support its projects and services to help vulnerable children and families across the UK. Why not sign up with a group of friends or colleagues and make it a real team challenge?”
HACKs are taking place in the following locations:
• Buxton High Peak HACK – Saturday 1 September
• London HACK – Saturday 15 September
• Mournes HACK – Saturday 15 September
• Devon HACK – Sunday 16 September
• Shropshire HACK – Saturday 22 September
The HACK challenge can be great fun, but is hard work. The walks are a demanding physical challenge and the NSPCC recommends people who register undertake some training beforehand. There will be checkpoints and marshals on routes, with radio contact between all checkpoints and the control centre. The terrain is very varied and the weather conditions can change quickly, so suitable walking boots, clothing and accessories, such as a rucksack, are recommended for all walkers. Check out the training tips section on the NSPCC website at www.nspcc.org.uk/hack for more information or to register for your nearest HACK.
The HACK is open to people aged 18 years and over (people aged 16 to 18 years may be eligible for some walks – check website for details). Pets are permitted on some of the walks (see website for further details). The registration fee is £10 for the shorter walks and £20 for the longer walks. Once registration is complete, entrants will receive a walker’s pack outlining their start time and giving further details of the route. Participants can then begin collecting sponsorship pledges from friends, family and colleagues.
Photo credit: John Challicom
Tags: charity, fundraising, HACK, HACK challenge, hiking challenge, NSPCC, walks
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August 20th, 2012
Backpacking is all about enjoying self-contained travel on foot in the outdoors staying comfortable and well-fed along the way whether you use a tent, bivvy bag or tarp. With a rucksack, tent, sleeping bag and cooking gear you have the basic ingredients to whip up a variety of recipes for outdoor adventure year after year, wandering through a landscape carrying everything you need for a night or more without the need to be anywhere at any particular time. With the right clothing, offering flexibility and protection with base, mid and outer layers, the elements can be enjoyed rather than endured.
It’s not meant to be a survival challenge but more a state of mind. The simple pleasures of waking deep in the hills or by the sea after a sound night in a cosy sleeping bag are priceless. Traveling through the country with all you need to hand allows you follow impulses, explore and just have fun. For a modest price, you can enjoy your own place in the country without the ties of a fixed holiday home.
A journey of a thousand miles may well begin with just one step but a successful backpacking jaunt needs a little more forethought. Not a lot if you want to maintain a footloose feel to your trip but even the most relaxed backpacker must have, at least, a start point and initial direction. Sensibly, you should be scheming on where to go, how long it might take and where to pitch your tent safely, legally and with regard to the outdoor environment.
Plus, of course, whether you are tracing the course of a river or following high mountain ridges, it makes sense to leave details of your proposed route and alternatives with family or friends. Routes and pitches are intertwined when you are planning – something of a chicken and egg scenario – so gather as much info as you can before spreading out the maps and packing your rucksack.
How much planning you need to do depends on a variety of factors. Where you are going, for how long and at what time of year are all basic considerations. Then there is your own experience and fitness – and the weather. There is a world of difference between backpacking in Scotland in the depths of a snowy winter and a balmy summer, particularly with regard to the ground you likely to cover each day and the sleeping bag and clothing you’ll need. Not forgetting, of course, a sleep mat. You could also use a sleeping bag liner to both help to keep your bag clean as well as adding extra warmth. You might fancy a theme to your trip; summits, valleys, historical sites and rivers are obvious but the opportunities are only limited by imagination.
Tags: backpacking, base layers, camping, inflatable sleeping mats, lightweight hiking, sleeping bags, tarps, tents
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August 17th, 2012
Pitching a tent in the correct location can make all the difference between getting a good nights sleep and having a complete nightmare. Follow these top tent pitching tips for a peaceful and comfortable slumber:
- If you have never pitched your tent before always have a dry run in your garden to iron out any problems
- There’s something quite relaxing about camping near water but beware of mosquitoes and boggy ground
- If you cannot find some shelter behind a rock, wall or hedge, pitch your tent so the entrance faces away from the prevailing wind
- If there is dry vegetation or leaves on the ground, pack it under your groundsheet for a free natural mattress
- Try to avoid pitching in a dip in the ground or at the bottom of a slope – rainwater runoff and cold air creeping downhill may disrupt a good night’s sleep
- Avoid pitching under a tree – unlikely though a lightning strike or falling branch might be, the drips from above will drive you mad long after rain has stopped
- Try and pitch on level ground, otherwise you may wake up scrunched in the corner
- Check the ground for rocks and holes masked by grass or vegetation. These can damage your ground sheet and will be uncomfortable if laid upon.
Tags: backpacking, camping, lightweight tents, tent pitching, top tips
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August 14th, 2012
These waterproof and windproof emergency shelters are lightweight and compact, making them ideal for lightweight backpackers, hill walkers and mountaineers. The Terra Nova Bothy Bags start small at just a 2 man, all the way up to a 20 man for a large party. For the ultra-lightweight conscious the 2 and 4 man bothys come in a superlite version.
Tags: backpacking, bothy bags, emergency bags, hill walkers, lightweight camping, mountaineering, survival, terra nova
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