As a man with no hair, suncream is stowed in my rucksack on long walks .. so it gets included as ‘essential kit’ in my view And I know it doesn’t have to be a hot sunny day for you to burn, even on an overcast spring day.
NO-AD gave me the factor 50+ 100ml tube to try out and as today was a mix of clouds, blue skies and bright fresh snow (yipee!) it seemed a good day to test it on a hills walk. I used the suncream before I headed out, it was easy to apply and didn’t leave me with white smears on my bonce (never a good look) – it absorbed straight away. And as it was pretty hot (great to feel the sun after what feels like months!) for a fair bit of the time on the moors, I got pretty sweaty. Apologies for the image now in your head. NO-AD apparently stays effective even with sweaty skin.. so if you’re a hiker, cyclist, climber etc (in fact any outdoors person) I reckon it will suit you.
I’ve hurt my back and that coupled with busy work life has meant no real outdoorsy-ness for a while. My lower back occasionally fubars (traced back to schoolboy rugby and then a very long tumble down an ice-field where it all went a bit somersault-y). This time it was brought on by an innocuous slip on some leaves on a steep cobbled path. Pah. Enough of a slip to have me eating diclofenac like smarties this last week or two
So I’m using this downtime to share some kit and also tech / gadget geekery info, which you might find useful.
1. Kit review – the POcpac wallet.
I recently spotted that an ex colleague (my old boss actually) has been distributing a waterproof wallet – initially aimed at the cyclist market – that keeps your phone, money, cards etc dry when you’re out on the road. He’s a keen cyclist and whilst that’s not my bag we got talking and he mentioned that it’s an ideal bit of kit for hikers and the outdoors crowd in general. A couple of days after our chat a pOcpac arrived in the post and although I haven’t had day-long hikes of late I have been up on the moors on a couple of (wet) occasions – so I’ve ‘test driven’ the pOcpac enough to get a feel for it.
I always take some spare change and also notes with me when I’m out an any length of a walk but I’ve tended to keep them in a sandwhich bag. Which is okay when it’s dry but often – it isn’t! So a waterproof wallet is a good idea. The pOcpac also acts as a phone pouch / wallet. My HTC HD is a tad larger than an iphone and it fitted in well, the zip closed up nicely even with a chunky phone like the HTC HD inside. And I was able to check my phone through the clear cover and navigate the touch screen despite drizzle on the cover – so it does what it says on the tin (website).
There’s also some clever technical properties which appeal to my geek nature too.. more details on the pOcpac website.
5 out of 5 for quality and usefulness (zip closes well, study construction and it fits with a slim profile into my trouser side pocket)
5 out of 5 for waterproofing (used on 2 occasions, one drizzle, the other low cloud and rain and both phone and money stayed dry).
2. Next up is some App news:
(I’m not getting a free App or software for this, just sharing the love as it were).
The guys who developed the West Highland Way app have a new one out: The Cotswold Way App
They sent me an email saying that this is the first app guide to the Cotswold Way long distance path .. and (pleasingly, as an Android fan) it’s available for Android phones and tablets. People can use it to plan their route and accommodation in advance and also day-to-day as they walk the route. From their news release: “The app can display a map of the route overlaid with the locations of essential facilities such as hotels, hostels, B&Bs, campsites, restaurants, pubs, shops, transport links, etc. Users can move around the map and touch a location to see information about the facilities there, including links to the appropriate website for further information. So people can find the best accommodation options and link straight to their websites for contact details and booking.”
Mapping / GPS routeplanners like Viewranger are available of course but this app seems to me to be a useful tool in undertaking one of the long distance trails and good luck to guys behind it.
More info available on the Calton Hill site.
3. And finally, there have been some updates on the Social Hiking website / service which I spotted.
If you like to share your trails/ hikes (and especially I guess if you’re embarking on a long distance challenge) then Social Hiking is to my mind a neat bit of technology. I think there’s a time for silence and solitude (real world and electronic) but also times when you want to share and keep your friends / family / supporters / buddies up to date with what you’re doing.
Again, no commercial link or incentive for me on this service – I just like it and if you’re a hiking geek, or a geeky hiker – it’s worth a look
Scores: 5 out of 5 for comfort (including great arm venting)
5 out of 5 for weight
5 out of 5 for wind protection (and rain up to heavy showers – it may be as good in wetter conditions but I didn’t experience anything more than that weather-wise)
Some of the kit reviews on my blog are spontaneous as in I’ve been out and bought a product and want to share my review.. others are via an invitation to review something.
In this case it was the latter : the guys on the Berghaus store website contacted me and asked if I’d like to test then review the Berghaus Teton WINDSTOPPER® Softshell Jacket.
The disclaimer part comes in that I got to keep the jacket.
So .. I’ve had the jacket 2 weeks now and whilst I haven’t encountered true winter conditions as such, we have had some pretty awful weather recently. Enough to put any jacket to the test: I’ve been up on the moors twice now in gale / heavy shower conditions (and Dog was not impressed on either occasion). On the first hike I wore the Teton Softshell as the outer layer and with that and a long-sleeved base layer it was all I needed. My rain jacket stayed stowed away in my back pack. On the other trip it was a fair bit colder and I wore my rain jacket over the top so the Berghaus was the mid layer.. and as both garments have arm vents I regulated my heat nicely. Speaking of cold : the fleece lining is a nice touch – I can see that being very welcome when the temperatures really drop.
This is a great jacket / mid layer in that it’s got enough pockets for anything I’d need and I really like the drawstring around the neck.. that’ll come in very handy when the temperature plunges and the snow starts to fall up in the hills
I only have 1 niggle - which is actually redundant – as this jacket was sent to me, remember – the colour. It’s subjective of course but I’m a black / dark greys, colour accents kind of a walker. Fire engine red isn’t my colour of choice. But I know lots of folks wear reds and bright colours in the hills / moors / mountains. That said – it won’t stop me wearing this jacket through the winter, I like it.
No photo of me wearing it as yet as it’s hard to to take a shot of myself with camera phone, so I’ll take out the big camera soon and use the timer for a self portrait with new jacket
Just a quick ‘kit test’ in that I think I’ve mentioned the water bowl I have for the dog before but I think it merits a proper mention because it’s so handy.
The one we (well, Brodie Dog) uses is the Mountain Paws bowl. It’s collapsible and with two handles, I can secure it easily to my backpack.
And whilst she favours stream water (or puddle water, weird dog) I always take extra fresh water for her. The walk we did this weekend (end of July) was about 5 hours and the sun was out for most of it, so she was getting pretty hot. Having a water bowl with me made all the difference, there are lots of streams on the moors but not always where you want them, as it were.
Here she is with it, accessories are model’s own.
My son just put me on to a new app from the British Geological Survey – iGeology 3D.
It’s only available on Android (maybe it was too onerous / time-consuming / costly to develop an iphone version? not sure.)
We’re going to give it a proper test drive (walk) on Saturday – I like the idea of being able to identify what you are walking over and above, wherever you are in the UK. And with the surface landscape still available to see.
I think there is already a Geology map available for your phone from the BGS but this adds an extra layer (excuse the pun) of interest for when you are out and about.
It also means I may write slightly more accurate descriptions of the rocks I’m trudging over in future posts!