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Royal Geographical Society Expedition Planning Weekends

October 19th, 2011

Start your expedition journey with the Royal Geographical Society

Geography Outdoors, at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) with IBG, is a great resource supporting field research, exploration and outdoor learning This year, the annual Explore expedition and fieldwork planning weekend (18-20 November) will be kicked off by the Atlantic Rising team, winners of the RGS-IBG Land Rover ‘Go Beyond’ Bursary. The team travelled around the edge of the Atlantic documenting the effects of sea level rise on coastal communities and will be sharing their stories in an inspiring opening lecture on Friday evening.

Over the rest of the weekend, over 100 speakers will be hosting a series of lectures, workshops and one-on-one advice desks, offering expertise and inspiration to those looking to carry out their own overseas project. To launch Explore 2011, a new web page, a new facebook fanpage and a new YouTube video have been created. Have a look to find out more.

New for this year is the ‘Vehicle Safety Course for Expedition Leaders’ – 11 October – organised in association with Fieldskills. The one day workshop aims to give those using vehicles abroad the relevant knowledge to assess and manage vehicle safety and will look at pre-planning vehicle safety, what checks can be done to vehicles in the field and how to develop practical and effective risk management strategies. It is particularly well-suited to group leaders and supervising staff, helping them to recognise and minimise risks associated with the use of vehicles overseas.

Alongside corporate benefactors Land Rover, the RGS offers a practical two day driver training course covering driving and safety techniques for those undertaking research, expeditions or fieldwork in remote areas 24-25 October and 13-14 December. 2010 participant review:
“A most enjoyable, informative and practical course, providing a no-nonsense approach to planning and developing safe, off road driving skills.”

For details of either course, see


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Cold Weather Camping Top 10 Tips

October 12th, 2011

10 Top Tips For Camping During The winter Months

Wild camping can be enjoyed all year round and more campsites are staying open for longer these days opening up opportunities to camp in relative comfort throughout the year. Cold weather camping doesn’t necessarily mean there’s snow on the ground as wind and rain can cause the temperature to drop uncomfortably. Our tips will help you make the most of autumn and winter trips.

  • Layers of thin clothing rather than a heavy jacket allow you to adjust insulation and warmth quickly and easily; try to avoid getting hot and sweaty as damp clothes will soak up body heat.
  • Natural fills like feather and down in sleeping bags will lose their insulation value when wet or even just damp but with a waterproof stuff sack and a decent tent, it’s pretty easy to keep your sleeping bag dry.
  • A ‘mummy’ shaped bag means your body has less space to heat as it hugs your head and shoulders like a cocoon.
  • Try not to sleep with your head inside your bag as your warm breath pumps damp air into the bag reducing the insulation properties and warmth.
  • Whenever you can, air out your bag and tent as body moisture vapour and warm breath condense in the tent at night and the moisture will reduce warmth. It might even freeze on the inside of the tent giving you an unwelcome frosty shower in the morning.
  • A sleeping bag liner not only helps to keep your bag clean, it can make a big difference to how warm you are all night.
  • Cold ground will draw heat away from you so insulating yourself from it is essential. A closed cell foam sleeping pad or self-inflating air/foam mattress offer good protection from the cold and can be boosted by lying on spare clothing, waterproofs or even your rucksack.
  • Change into dry clothing such as a spare base layer top and ‘long johns’ before getting into your sleeping bag. A snug hat such as a beanie will cut down heat loss through your head. Beat the morning chill by pulling the clothes you ‘re going to wear inside your bag to warm them up.
  • Torch batteries are affected by cold but you can coax a dead battery into life by warming it up in your hands; keep them in your sleeping bag overnight.
  • Keep your sleeping bag loosely in a large mesh or cotton bag between trips to ensure  it keeps its loft qualities.

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Rucksack Essentials For Walkers

August 9th, 2011


What To Pack In Your RuckSack

Most lists of gear for walkers’ rucksacks emphasise safety aspects but walking is about having fun in the outdoors so comfort and enjoyment are key elements in planning. Whatever you decide to take, the first step is to have a rucksack that is big enough to swallow all you want to take whilst accessing it easily and carrying it all comfortably for several hours. Happily, there’s no shortage of options to suit all shapes, sizes and pockets so makeyour own list of essentials from the suggestions below.


Waterproofs – if not worn, keep them handy and pack a warm hat and gloves as well. As fleece tops are so light, it does no harm to pack a spare. In winter, packing extra warm clothing is a true essential.

Map and compass – hardly a rucksack item, of course as they should be kept ready to hand and in use; they can add so much to the pleasure gained from a walk quite apart from route finding. As well as knowing how to use a compass and read a map, you’ll need to keep the map dry in a waterproof case if it’s not proofed or laminated. Your GPS device should be charged up, route loaded and ready to go.

Whistle – useful to summon help (six short blasts in a minute) and letting other needing help that you’ve heard them (three blasts back).

Torch – You may not expect you’ll still be walking as it gets dark but it pays to be prepared. A head torch leaves your hands free; signal for help as per the whistle.

Plastic survival bag – you may carry one for years and years and only ever use it as a picnic mat but that’s what insurance is all about. Safety, that is, not sandwiches!

First aid kit – adapt the contents to suit your experience and needs; check it every now and then to make sure everything is in order; keep it handy and clearly labelled. It’s also a good place to keep details such as your name, address and who to contact in case of an accident.

Food and drink – as well as lunch or whatever, pack a little extra in case you’re out longer than anticipated and keep ‘trail snacks’ handy to nibble as you go. Pack enough water to see you comfortably through the day and drink from it regularly; hydration systems aren’t just for outdoor athletes. A flask of hot drink is usually welcome whatever the weather.

Walking poles – a pair will take a lot of the strain off your knees but even a single pole helps with balance.

Mobile phone – useful for summoning help in a true emergency; dial 999.

Camera – whatever you take, keep it handy and protect it from knocks.

Binoculars – often described as useful for route finding and spotting birds or wildlife, they’re also just fun to use.

Notebook and pencil – you never know when a stunning philosophical insight should be recorded!

Sun cream and insect repellent – it’s easy to burn on the move and biting insects can ruin a walk.

Bootlaces – a spare pair takes up little space and weighs next to nothing.


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