Friday, 23 March 2007

What is lightweight? part II

The great weight debate rolls on.

Roman, Darren, & John have been posting some interesting thoughts on lightweight Vs traditional weight packs.

It seem that some manufacturers and individuals are questioning the viability of some of the lightweight packs, and suggesting that the only way forward is to continue using the heavier packs.

I`ve been using light packs for 5 years now; starting with a GoLite Gust, so I believe that I have a good understanding of how to use and look after this type of pack.

First off, these packs aren't as fragile as some people make out. A lot of the high impact areas are made with a strong denier pack cloth, the main weight saving comes by using good quality silcone nylon.

Obviously it can get damaged being throw around by baggage handlers but this is true with any pack even the traditional ones.

In the past whenever I stop I would use my pack as a seat; I don't do that with the new lightweight ones but I always carry a foam pad so I now use that as a sit mat.

As I've said before; I don't carry great weights but there have been times when I have overloaded the pack for a short period, yes the pack hasn't been that comfortable but its only when I have carried extra food, beer and bottles of wine to a nearby campsite. The pack has handled it O.K.

One thing manufacturers don't seem to realise is that other pieces of equipment are getting lighter, tents are not 2-3 kgs, Titanium pots & untentils are much more readily available, so heavy duty pack aren't needed.

The lightweight market is a niche market within a niche market, and as far as the big boys are concerned until someone starts to nibble away at their piece of the pie, they are happy to keep the status quo.

Podcast report

49% female, 51% male.
All ages.
Wired - spending more than 50% more time online.
More likely than others to own an HDTV and use a TiVo or other digital video recorder.
More than twice as likely to own an iPod or other portable media player.
More than twice as likely to own video gaming systems.
Twice as likely as others to use NetFlix or other DVD rental service.
36% more likely than others to have made online purchases.
Nearly 4 times as likely to have purchased songs or other digital audio online.

Do you fit into any or all of these catogories? If so you are an average podcast listener.

It seems as podcasts have hit the big time, with audiences up by 18% in the last year and awareness has grown even more, jumping from 22% in 2006 to 37% in 2007.

The full report is at

I guess these figures are for the US.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Bellingham AGM Weekend update

Some news updates from the Backpackers Club about the AGM and Ultralight Fest at Bellingham.

'The Northumbria group have embraced ideas offered to ensure a happy and fruitful weekend for members - which is how there are retail Traders as well as industry demonstrations on equipment and backpacking goodies.
The Town Hall is open to the public from 10am on Saturday. NO SMOKING applies.'

For Backpacker Club members:

Every member registering for the weekend will receive a special Bellingham Buff. This multi-use bit of kit can cost up to £15. New membership enrolments over the weekend also get the celebratory Buff.

To celebrate the 35 years of Backpackers Club there are 35 Victorinox knives for the Saturday Supper Draw, donated courtesy of distributors Burton McCall. To buy one will cost you £19.50 in the shop. Be a lucky draw winner!

The goodies bag will include bottles of Storm’s wash & reproof - the way to keep your backpacking clobber neat, tidy and working well.

First Choice Expedition Foods will have a free “tasters bar” from their selection of backpacking foods on Saturday.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

The OS Outdoors Show

This was my first trip to the OS outdoors show and to be honest probably my last.

It was a really long day for me; a 5am started and not home until 9pm and it seemed a lot of effort for little return.

I know that the outdoors encompasses a lot of different activities, cycling, caving, kayaking, paragliding to name but a few and these all seem to have representatives there, but there was a lack of smaller well known brands.

I was hoping to see some of the new GoLite packs and shoes, but there was nothing from them, now surely if you are looking to launch a new range of equipment, a show like this is ideal.

Surely if shewee can have a stand GoLite could.

There were some of the small independent retailers Alpkit show their new Filium smock which I quite liked and the new bivvy bag, which was in shocking pink!!

For me, the biggest event was the UOBC2007, getting to meet in the flesh Darren, John, Stef AKA BG!,Chris ,Dave,and Andy.

Cameron and Paddy Dillon also turned up.

I was due to do an interview with Andy; which I did but I was also accosted by Cameron and did a piece with him (whether these two appear I don't know, I don't think I have the voice for podcasts :-) ).

Cameron interviews Paddy

I had a quick chat with Darren, Dave and Stef but only really got to say hello to John and Chris maybe next time.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

It looks like, it has been a busy night for Podcast Bob.

There are three; yes, three new podcasts from the PodMeister.

Out Of Africa - 3 Peaks Challenge

The Book Club - Paddy Dillon - Corisica

The Kayak Show - Greenland

The Kayak Show - Shetland

The Kayak Show - Sponsorship

Well, its an extra busy night with five podcasts going up.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Two new podcasts from Bob over at The Outdoors Station

The first is Gregory Mountain Products

'An interview with Hugo Youngman the UK distributor of Gregory Mountain Products who explains the 2007 improvements and changes to the popular Z-pack range, including the introduction of the women’s Jade pack.'

Download MP3 File

The Second is Bob and Andy's Big day out

'The first in the new series of podcasts sponsored by and coming under The Outdoors Station website. Bob takes Andy for a walk on the wild side and makes him wait for his lunch, whilst playing with fire!'

Download MP3 File

Monday, 5 March 2007

What is Lightweight?

I`m finding it increasingly difficult to understand what lightweight is.

Let me explain.....

When I started backpacking back in the last century (1985). My pack was a Karrimor Panther 70 (70 litres) which weighed in at 1.4 kg (3.1 lb), this pack had two compartments, a padded hip-belt, two good size pockets, aluminium stays, adjustable for different back lengths and made from nylon.

Now; I wouldn't call this pack lightweight, it's a normal weight for a pack of its time.

Move on; twenty years and packs are weighing a whopping 3 kg (6 lb) that's the weight of my Karrimor Cougar. This pack is bombproof, built like a tank, strong heavyweight material, a big chunky hip-belt. Great for big heavy loads but not for my kind of backpacking.

About six years ago names like GoLite and GVP started to be see, on the internet and being mentioned in some magazines. These packs were only any good if you carried a total weight below 14 kg (30 lb).

I don't do trip much longer than a week, I don't normally carry that much food and my total pack weight is around 11-13 kg (24-28 lb). So by using one of these lightweight packs; I can save 2.5 kg (5.5 lb).

So; by changing just the pack, I can get the total weight into the 8.5-10.5 kg (18-23 lb).

The first pack was the GoLite Gust 590 g (20 oz). This pack was O.K. but its a big pack and was never full, so tended to be a bit floppy.

Next up were the GoLite Trek 1.1 kg (2.4 lb) and GVP G4 (homemade) 500 g (17.6 oz). Again the GoLite Trek was a big pack and again I had trouble filling it so had similar problems.

The G4 was ideal; big enough to take all the equipment I needed plus a bit spare if needed. One problem was the it needed looking after and the material could get damaged easily but it was also easy to repair.

Finally; the pack I`m currently using the Sixmoondesigns Comet 780 g (27.5 oz). This is very similar to the G4 but has aluminium stays and a hip-belt which can be removed.

My needs for a multi-day trip are; minimum of 50 litres, decent sized outer pocket(s) and a reasonable hip-belt and below the weight of 1.1 kg (2.4 lb).

So where am I going with this?

The latest edition of TGO have 109 packs listed and reviews of five of these. The OMM Mountain Mover 55, GoLite Pinnacle, Osprey Talus 44, the Gregory Z55 and the Macpac Amp Light 45.

The GoLite Pinnacle is 73 litres.

Now; all these packs are classed as lightweight but personally I would consider them all to be a normal weight for a decent multi-day pack with the exception of the GoLite, which I would class as lightweight. Maybe the Talus 44 could go into my lightweight category but I feel this would be a cop-out because it's less than 50 litres.

Some people will say 'I can get all my equipment into a 44 litre pack for a two week trip' and I say 'good for you' but I can't and the reason is bulk. I use a tent, it can be bulky, I use an Insul Max-Thermo sleeping pad (bulky).

If I were to use any of the reviewed packs other than the GoLite, it would be either the OMM MM55 or the Gregory Z55 to give me the volume but the weight of the packs would be an issue and with tent and pad would be over 4 kg (8.8 lb) compared to 3.5 kg (7 lb) with the GoLite Pinnacle or the Sixmoondesigns Comet.

Obviously I could save more weight by either not using a tent or choosing a lighter tent and sleeping pad but should I have to have a heavier pack because I wish to use a tent.

I maybe going about this the wrong way, I look to reduce weight in certain areas so I can have more comfort in camp. I cannot sleep on Therm-a-rest or closed cell pads anymore.

In the article, I could only find five packs that I would class as lightweight. Some of the packs can be lighten by removing some of the components but what parts these are I don't know; hip-belt, aluminium stays, shoulder straps (I can do this with the Comet but its not a pack when that is done, just a big bag).

Some manufacturers are reducing the weight and still able to keep the volume but some seem to be getting the weight down by reducing the volume.

I do feel as there is a bit of the smoke and mirrors/Emperors new clothes with some of the new lightweight packs. Yes; the packs are lighter but in some cases at the expense of litreage (is that a word!?).

'Look at our new lightweight packs; eh no please don't look in there (you may see how small we've made it to get the weight down).

My Criteria for a pack and its weight.

Minimum 50 litres, decent sized outer pocket(s), a reasonable hip-belt and below the weight of 1.1 kg (2.4 lb).

500g or less Ultralightweight
501g - 1100g Lightweight
1101g - 1500g Normal weight for multi-days
1500g and above Heavy

Sunday, 4 March 2007


Spent most of last night sitting in the garden watching the eclipse of the moon.

It seems as those most people in the Country had a really good view of this, we had clear skies all night.

I was using a bird spotting scope to look at the eclipse and tried taking some pictures through it.

This is the best of the bunch.

The Outdoors Channel becomes......

The Outdoors Station

Last year; Bob Cartwright AKA Podcast Bob, started up a new website called 'The Outdoors Channel' this was set to be the new site for the new podcasts he was about to start producing.

These new podcasts started out with; The TGO Shows, The Outdoors Channel Magazine and the TOC Book Club.

All these shows were received well by the listening public. Unfortunately an American site already had the name and although they were not in the same field, they slapped a 'cease and desist' on Bob.

Well; Bob is back with his new website The Outdoors Station. There are several new podcasts under way and there is a rumour; that there will be prizes up for grabs. Infact the lastest podcast is giving listeners the chance to win tickets to the OS Outdoors Show.

The Outdoors Station will not only be audio podcasts but video casts (vidcasts) too, some of the first vidcasts will be on the GregoryPacks, the new Golite packs and Leki Poles, plus the 'famous' Tarp Video (this was a victim of the 'cease & desist').

Another feature of the new site; is to allow bloggers and other interested parties to download the html links to the podcasts and post them on their sites.

So here is the first podcast from The Outdoors Station.

The OS Outdoors Show

MP3 File

Friday, 2 March 2007

The 2007 Sheffield Adventure Film Forum

The 2007 Sheffield Adventure Film Forum
23-25 March 2007
The Showroom Cinema, Sheffield

ShAFF is back. Featuring films on climbing, mountaineering, bouldering, ice climbing, BASE jumping, mountain biking, Parkour (free-running), skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, trans-Atlantic rowing, free-diving, culture, humour and more, from every corner of the planet it_s bigger and better than last year. Over 60 films will be shown during the weekend, all on big screens at the largest independent cinema outside of London.

Joe Simpson has agreed to be Patron to the event. Andy Kirkpatrick, John Arran, Alastair Lee, Dave MacLeod and Leo Dickinson will give talks alongside films that they starred in or made. There will be a party to remember on the Saturday night with well known DJ_s. There will also be an urban orienteering race starting at the Showroom, and an international bouldering masters at The Climbing Works, the world_s biggest bouldering wall, newly opened nearby. Lastly, there will be live music in the Showroom bar on Saturday night & live Jazz on Sunday afternoon.

The full list of films to be screened at ShAFF is available on the website. The list features 4 World, 2 European and 3 UK Big Screen Premiere.
Check out the world_s first Adventure Film Festival Film Selection Wizard online at Simply mark the box next to each film or talk that you like the sound of and let the wizard tell you how best to use your time!

Promotional Literature: Programme, Poster & Flier:

Backpackers Club News about the AGM

The new issue of Backchat has much information for the Bellingham Weekend.
Since the issue went to press some developments and ideas have evolved.

if you arrive by
RAIL - We can help you with advice on local travel. Ask!

FLY TO NEWCASTLE. We can arrange you have cooker/stove to borrow, fuel to buy. Some tents are available.
Check first so we can confirm what will be available for you.
We can help you with advice on local travel. Ask!

THE COACH NETWORK. We can help you with advice on local travel for when you arrive in Newcastle. Ask!

We have been told there is ORANGE phone reception in the area.
We've not been as lucky with O2 or Vodaphone.

e-mail we will try hard to organise things for you.
other addresses for members: