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  1. Backpacking For Freedom

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    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.

  2. Making The Most Of Simple Campsites

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    Camping completely independent of any facilities, being truly self-contained, has always appealed but it needs careful organisation and easing of standards and expectations – it’s a tough person who rolls naked across a field for a grass bath. A simple campsite is one that offers the basics of loo and water and has that difficult to define element – ‘character’. It may come from the setting, the wider context or the personality of the owners. Some attract campers who enjoy privacy; others have an air of camaraderie from the moment you start to pitch your tent. Shops, pizza stalls, swimming pools, closely packed pitches and licensed bars add a layer of complexity to sites that shift them from camping holidays to holiday camps.

    However, where simple farm sites once cost just a couple of pounds, ‘modern’ simple sites can rack up charges that reflect location, unmarked pitches and character. The emergence of web-based campsite guides – www.ukcampsite.co.uk; the Cool Camping series – www.coolcamping.co.uk ; and Tiny Campsites – www.tinycampsites.co.uk –  have all not only spread the word about exceptional sites but actively helped to develop a new theme in sites. More privacy, open fires and an awareness of sustainability are linked to pubs in walking distance to make up a rounded package that delivers a more ‘authentic’ camping experience.

    The downside of many smaller, simpler sites is not being able to book them in advance. Over the years, word of mouth and pot luck have been as useful as printed and electronic guides. No pre-booking means risking turning up to be turned away. Or, perhaps, finding that secluded site you enjoyed last year bursting at the seams. It pays to have alternatives up your sleeve and to be flexible in what you expect. You can book National Trust campsites online; many are run by tenant farmers – www.nationaltrust.org.uk.

    Campingninja is a free, independent campsite booking site that allows you to browse with search filters for campsites, find availability and book on-line all in the same place – no more phone calls or the frustration of unanswered emails. With hundreds of campsites in the system, Campingninja co-founder Rhian Evans said, “We have a great variety of campsites to book including eco-campsites, small campsites, campsites where you can have a campfire, campsites for all kinds of activities – the list is endless and you can easily search on all of these criteria and more.”

  3. Primus Polaris LED Lamps Now In Stock

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    Primus Polaris LED Lamps are ideal for taking on camping and backpacking trips where a gas lamp mantle is not going to survive the journey. The instant availability of light at a switch of a button means no more scrabbling around for matches in the middle of the night or dousing your tent with water after accidentally setting it alight!

    The Primus Polaris LED lamps come in two sizes, the compact original and the group sized Polaris XL.

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