Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Regatta Freebase Insulated Jacket

This Jacket has been supplied by Go Outdoors on a review and keep basis.

If money was no object then I guess I would buy the best and lightest equipment available but as it is , sometimes I have to look at the lower end of the equipment scale; to manufacturers like Peter Strom, Craghoppers and Regatta.

So when I was asked if I would like to review insulated jackets for Go Outdoors I chose the Regatta Freebase insulated jacket.

This jacket is a synthetic insulated jacket which is also waterproof.  The swing-tags have this to say about the insulating and outer materials:-

Insulation - Thermo-Guard

Thermo-Guard insulation is made up of advanced synthetic fibres, trapping air to keep you warm in cold or snowy conditions.
  • Soft & Light
  • High loft, giving excellent insulation 
  • Quick drying, easy to care for

     Outer Material - Isolite 5000

    Isolite 5000 is Regatta's waterproof and breathable lightweight fabric to keep you dry and comfortable outdoors.
    • Waterproof hydrostatic head of 5000mm
    • Hydrophillic breathable system allow inner moisture vapour to escape
    • Durable water repellent outer fabric treatment to help water run off
    • Superior windproof performance to eliminate windchill 

    Having looked at the Go Outdoors website's size chart, I guessed that a XXL would probably be the size I would need.  This proved to be pretty much spot on, as the jacket fits really well.

    The jacket is only available in one colour, which is a seal grey with a lime green inner, it has four pockets, two on the hips, one small one on the outside around the chest and one inside.  The side one is situated near the bottom of the jacket and although fairly large, its position is a little awkward as you have to unzip the jacket to reach into it. 

    The jacket also has a fixed hood and although this fits quite well there is no way to cinch the hood in, as there are no cord or toggles on it.

    It also has taped seams, as the jacket is also waterproof, although it doesn't have a storm flap across the zip, also missing is a beard guard.

    I have worn the jacket over the last few weeks, with temperatures around 5-12c  and it has kept me warm, there have been times when walking in it that I have been too warm.

    The waterproofness of the jacket has worked well to, I have been caught out in the rain a couple of times and although there isn't a storm flap across the zip and water haven't as yet, got in.

    Although this is a synthetic jacket it weighs in at a reasonable 1.5kg and folds up fairly small.

    Jacket and ETA Pot
     Pro's & Con's


    • Synthetic and Waterproof
    • Fairly lightweight and packed fairly small
    • Has a hood 

    • No storm flap over main zip
    • No beard guard
    • Hood can't be cinched down

    The Regatta Freebase Insulated Jacket is currently available at Go Outdoors for £49.99

    Monday, 5 December 2011

    Not my annus horribilis, that's probably next year.

    Over the last six months, I have been thinking where is blog has been and where it is going, and whether I should continue with it.

    I have always stated that it was primarily for me to write up trip reports and have photographs from these trips available for Peter & Keith to see; up until 2009 I spent eight years backpacking with these guys.

    Keith, Peter and me somewhere in the peaks
    Gradually others found it and started following or subscribing and slowly it built up a reasonable number over the years.

    I wouldn't say I was a prolific blogger with rough 350+ posts over six years and the grammar and spelling at times have been pretty bad, there are reasons for this but I won't go into them.

    Not surprisingly the most viewed posts are either trip or gear reviews, but then I guess we're all interested in when people have been or what gear they are using.

    The last eighteen months have seen no backpacking trip reports posted; the main reason for this, is that after finishing TGO2010 and going back to work, I found that I had to take a fairly substantial pay cut.  It also seems that public transport has become quite expensive especially travel in the South, the cost of a trip to somewhere like Dorset is almost as much as a trip to Scotland but a trip Scotland means at least a week away which then only adds to the expense.  Even local campsites that use to change a couple of pounds a night are now asking £8-12 even for a backpacking tent.

    I had hoped to enter the TGO2012 as a present for my fiftieth or failing that do something similar but neither are now looking possibly; although I didn't apply for the TGO as I knew I wouldn't be able to afford to do it.

    The only thing at present keeping the blog alive are the equipment reviews and I'm not sure how much longer they will be appearing.

    I did try to get out for a couple of trips in the past year but both times they were scuppered due to illnesses in the family.  So for the first time in near ten years, I haven't managed to spend any time in the outdoors.

    I honesty can't see next year being any better and the chances of getting out are going to be even more limiting.

    There will be at least one more post before the end of the year but after that who know.

    If I do manage to do something, I'm sure it will appear here at some point.

    Friday, 25 November 2011

    Review: Berghaus Terabyte 25

    I was contacted by a representative for Berghaus and asked if I would like to review some rucsacs for them, I have the choice of a few but decided that the Terabyte 25 would fit my usage the best.

    The Terabyte is marketed as a sac for the urban environment; which means that it has a lot of pockets inside and outside.

    Internal pockets
    There are two compartments that make up the main body of the sac; one has five open pockets and one large zipped pocket.

    The other compartment is designed to take a laptop, this compartment is made up of a material called 'd3o intelligent shock absorption'.  The swing-tag quotes d3o as being 'soft & flexible but on impact its intelligent molecules lock together to absorb impact energy'

    This compartment also has a pocket for a hydration bladder with the outlet hole at the top of the sac.

    The rest of the sac is pretty much standard for a daysac, a couple of zipped pockets on the outside, mesh pockets on the sides, a hip-belt and chest strap although personally I can't see the point of either of these on such a small sac; luckily both can be removed.

    The shoulder straps are a bit on the thin side but are well padded and are comfortable. 
    d3o computer pocket

    The back has flow technology which is mainly ribbed foam on either side of the sac to create a channel up the middle to allow airflow.

    Over the next month, I will be using it as my main sac for work; which means carrying amongst other things, waterproofs, eye-glasses, packed lunch, first aid kit, a kindle, phone charger and assorted batteries and chargers.

    One extra to add is that this sac will be compared to a 15+ year old Berghaus Dart 35; as this has been my everyday sac for that time, and as yet I haven't found a sac to replace it.

    More can be seen at the Berghaus website.

    Tuesday, 15 November 2011

    North Face Resolve Jacket Final Review

    I've had the jacket for roughly 4 months now and over the last few weeks it have been getting pretty regularly outings with the wet/damp days we are having.

    This jacket was originally supplied by Go Outdoors on a review and keep basis, and the early reviews can be seen here and here.

    The jacket has done the job it is intended for i.e. it keeps me dry when its been raining.  And although it hasn't had a great deal of time out on the hills it has had a good workout around town.

    The hood problem hasn't been a problem since I fixed it (see second update) using a hair tie, but it would be nice if North Face added some type of hood reducer in future models.

    There has been some build up of condensation on my walks to work but nothing that has been that bad, even with a pack on and the rain coming down.

    I still think that is jacket is a good mid-price waterproof that works most of the year round.

    Monday, 14 November 2011

    Thursday, 3 November 2011

    Help for Heroes-Everest Base Camp challenge

    Most PR stuff I receive via this blog is usually trying to sell me something or asking to promote some new piece of equipment, without actual seeing the said item.

    But today I have a request to promote a walk to Everest Base Camp.

    I know copy and paste of PR emails can annoy some but this get the point across much better than I could.

    Setting off on 4th November 2011, the Everest Base Camp Expedition will see wounded hero Lance Corporal Jonathon "Frenchie" Le Galloudec, 30, trek 75 miles over 19 days, reaching a height of 17,590 feet. The expedition is considered an enormous challenge for even a fully-abled person. Jon faces the physical and mental challenges of this trek, the first since beginning to walk without the aid of walking sticks, which include undertaking grueling acts of physical exertion while living with the day-to-day reality of constant pain, and difficulties with balance on unforgiving terrain.

    In June 2007, Jon sustained a gunshot wound to his spine while serving in Iraq, which has left him partly paralyzed. His best friend was killed while trying to rescue him. Jon was told he would never walk again and his ongoing recovery, supported by Help for Heroes, has astounded doctors.

    To keep upto date with the Expedition, there is a website/blog and a facebook page

    Thursday, 20 October 2011

    Help me win

    Help me win an iPad or iPhone 4s

    All you have to do is click the giffgaff ad over on the right, for every unique click, I get one entry into the competition.  That all you need do, you don't have to order a SIM; although you can as ordering one doesn't cost anything.

    Thanks y'all :-)

    Sunday, 9 October 2011

    Stags and Zombies!

    For those who are not on facebook or google+, this is what I was up to yesterday.

    I had an early start to get to Richmond Park to photograph the Stags; it's rutting time at the moment and I was hoping to get some pictures of the stags fighting but unfortunately none of the stags were interested in displaying their fighting talents.

    This is my favourite from the day

    From 2011-10-08

    1/100 f5.1 ISO400@590mm

    Stags Roaring in Richmond Park (mp3)

    After Richmond it was back into London for World Zombie Day 2011

    From World Zombie Day London

    It's life Jim but not as we know it

    Sunday, 18 September 2011

    Tour Of Britain

    I spend today up in town, watching the final stages of the Tour of Britain.

    Here are a few pictures from the day.

    Mark Cavendish, the Manx Missile

    Arrow Head


    The Leaders (House & Mclaughlin)

    The Peloton chasing

    Monday, 12 September 2011

    Update:North Face Resolve Jacket

    I've had the jacket for about a month now; and luckily in that time we have had some heavy rain down here in London.

    The jacket has performed really well in keeping me dry on a couple of days on my 3 mile walk to work, and the mesh insides have helped to move and keep most sweat away from me when cocooned in side the jacket.

    One problem I did mention in the first post was that I find the hood to be to big and cinching it in didn't really help.  I looked at a couple of ways to reduce the hood, one was to attach Velcro to it, but this would mean either having to sew into it and then have possible water entering through the needle holes or to use sticky Velcro but this could end up coming of with to much rain getting on it.

    The solution I came up with, was to place a hair tie on the inside to reduce the volume.

    This may not look pretty but it does the job of reducing volume and stops the hood flopping over my eyes.

    Unlike the first time that I wore the jacket

    Overall I'm pretty happy with the way this jacket preforms and will be my go to jacket for the foreseeable future.

    Friday, 9 September 2011

    When I was a kid...

    One thing I always remember wanting was a Blue Peter Badge; only problem I was never very industrious and never put the effect in, into getting one.

    This is unlike my youngest daughter, who has just been awarded a badge for an acrostic poem which she wrote.

    Unfortunately the poem was written by hand and she can't remember the whole thing, so it can't be repeated here.

    But here's her Blue Peter Badge.

    Thursday, 1 September 2011

    The best-laid schemes and all that!

    The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
    Gang aft agley,
    An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
    For promis'd joy!

    This post should of been about how I have a wonderful few days walking in the Peak District, about how I met up with some like-minded people and had a great time, but it's not.

    The weekend before I was due to go to the Peaks, my mum was taken into hospital with a bad infection.  I wasn't to worried as 1. she'd had this kind of thing before and 2. my sister would soon be back from her holiday and could deal with things while I was away.

    My sister arrived back on the Saturday and was complaining of pains in her chest and on the Sunday was taken into hospital and diagnosed with having a mild heart attack (this was her 2nd).

    Things took a turn for the worse on the Wednesday with my mum; I was informed that her would have to have a blood transfusion, with this mind and my sister still in hospital I cancelled my trip to the Peaks.

    It's been a tough couple of weeks but slowly things are getting better, mum is out of hospital and is slowly getting back to her old self.  My sister is also out but has been told to take things easy.

    And Me; well my fortnight holidays didn't go to plan but I'm hoping I may be able to do something in September to make up for it but have to wait and see.

    Tuesday, 23 August 2011

    Competition Winners

    Sorry it has taken so long to get around to posting the winners of the Bear Gryll's Book.

    I have had a major family crisis over the last week or so and haven't had time to sort out the winners.

    Anyways I'm back on online for a bit so here are the winners

    Tom Hart

    If the winners can send their address to londonbackpackr(AT)gmail(DOT)com I will get the books sent out as soon as possible.

    Saturday, 13 August 2011

    Review: North Face Resolve Jacket

    This review item has been supplied by Go Outdoors.

    Whether you are out on the hills or walking about a city, one essential piece of equipment during the Great British Summer is a waterproof jacket.

    The North Face Resolve is a typical lightweight Summer waterproof, breathable and seem-sealed jacket.

    It is made from The North Face's own ripstop nylon HyVent, which according to the swing tag is highly waterproof, has exceptional breathability, and exceptional durability.

    The inner of the jacket has a mesh lining throughout the body; and nylon lining in the arms.

    It has is a roll-away type hood and a fleece lined inner collar.

    There are also two large hip pockets but no map pocket.

    A double storm flap over the full length zip. 

    The Jacket weighs just under 500g for a XL.

    Very small toggle on hood cinch cord

    I haven't have a great chance to wear this as typically since receiving it, the weather hasn't been to bad here in London.

    With what little rain I have used the jacket in, it has coped pretty well with and kept me dry.

    Some small niggles I do have was it are that the hood is quite large and even cinching it in, the wind can get into and cause it to bellow up.

    The cinch toggles on the hood are very small and difficult to find and grip to pull in, especailly when you compare it to the hem draw toggle.

     Hem Draw Toggle

    The two hip pocket are more than large enough to easily carry things like mobile phone and a snack bar and still have room for your hands to fit in.

    The lack of a map pocket doesn't bother me as I never use them, I prefer to carry my map in hand or in my backpack.

    I will continue to test the jacket over the coming months and report back.

    Go Outdoors have a full range of Waterproofs from the budget end right through to high end products like Paramo.

    Friday, 5 August 2011

    Competition Time (Take Two)

    You may remember I did a review of Bear Grylls Autobiography Mud, Sweat and Tears back in June.

    My final paragraph was nothing to do with the book but the fact that I never received a second copy for a competition.  Well Transworld Publishers have been back in touch and sent me two copies of the book.

    But these two are different, as they both have a signed bookplate by the man himself.

    So if you want the chance to win a signed copy of Bear's Autobiography; leave a (reasonable) comment below to be entered into the competition.

    Competition will runs until 14th August 2011

    Friday, 29 July 2011

    We Are All Bourgeois Now

    Just a couple of things to report.

    First off; I am a bit disappointed in the response to the competition I ran for the free iphone city apps, there wasn't one comment posted for the competition.

    So this bring me to the conclusion that no one reading this blog, is interested in this type of app or there isn't as many iphone users as they are making out*

    Secondly if you go to the blog and not just pick the feed up in a rss feed, you will have noticed some adverts appearing in the sidebar.

    These are there to help support the blog; so if you are ordering an item from Amazon, please use the banner on the right.

    And of course clicking and using any of the other banners helps too.

    This has been a Public Service Announcement; thank you for your time.

    *Yes; that was a joke

    Monday, 18 July 2011

    Getting into backpacking on a budget

    Time for another guest post; this time from Simon Walsh for outdoor look

    Congratulations, you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and go backpacking to see the world but now what? How do you get started, what sort of stuff will you need, is this stuff expensive?

    Fear not, we are here to give you a beginner’s guide to backpacking, on a budget. We can’t vouch for sending you off to particular places; however we can give you tips and ideas on what sort of outdoor clothing and equipment you need to take with you and what you don’t need to take on your voyage.

    It can be scary thinking about it for the first time. You’re used to being at home, with amenities and a huge array of clothing options… how are you going to carry all this stuff around? Quite simply you are not going to be able too, and tough choices need to be made.

    Our beginners backpacking list goes something like this.

    - 1 x Backpack

    - 2 x T-Shirts (both quick drying, technical t-shirts)

    - 1 x Long Sleeved Shirt

    - 1 x Shorts

    - 1 x Lightweight jacket

    - 2 x Trousers

    - 1 x Hat

    - 3 x Underwear

    - 3 x Pairs of socks

    - 1 x Pair of shoes

    - 1 x Sleeping bag

    - 1 x Sleeping Mat

    - 1 x Tent

    - 1 x Stove

    Now, everyone will be different as to how much they value each item, and you may think that that seems an astonishingly low amount of stuff to take, but it really is all your essentials. Remember that if you need another t-shirt or pair of shorts, they sell and make them abroad too, often much cheaper than here in the UK.

    Now we will go through everything on the list, and tell you exactly what you need to look for, how much you should be spending if you’re on a budget.

    Around 55 litres would be a generous size considering you’re a first-timer and you may not be quite so ready to be ruthless on the issue. Many people however go with even less space than that and get by absolutely fine. We really wouldn’t recommend taking any more than that however.

    Also be aware that your backpack will get battered, bruised and broken. So choosing something durable will put you in good stead. Backpacks get rained on, get stood on, get dropped mainly.

    To ensure your backpack is durable, look for one which is made predominantly from ripstop fabric. Ripstop is basically the interweaving of nylon through other materials such as cotton or polyester. It’s often used on motorcycle equipment and at the highest grade, it’s the material used for hot air balloons. This will keep your backpack and possessions in good condition through the toughest of conditions and challenges.

    You can pick up a 55 litre ripstop backpack for around £50, although the smaller you go, the cheaper it will be, and also free up more cash for whilst you are away.

    Now for t-shirts, and you’ll need to consider the material. It would be nice to have something hip and ultra fashionable all the time, but it’s simply not practical for most of the time spent backpacking. Remember, you’re seeing the world not on a catwalk. Function over fashion.

    Look for garments labelled as ‘technical t-shirts’ as these will get you through all conditions. Quick to wash, quickly to dry and ready for all situations, a tech tee will be right up your street when it comes to backpacking.

    One of these versatile t-shirts can be picked up for less than £10 in some places, and you can be sure they will last the course.

    A long sleeved shirt is an absolute necessity to take the chill off on a night time, or simply smarten up a little if you’re out and about. You’ll also want to make sure the shirt is just the one colour in order to avoid unwanted attention from potential muggers or thieves.

    More earthly colours are best too if you can find them. Tan, sand or stone work well to avoid unwanted mosquito bites and other insect attention!

    You can pick up some great quality shirts like this for around £20-30 if you’re looking for quality, which you should be. Quality over quantity is a golden rule when it comes to gathering your things for backpacking.

    Shorts & Trousers are also needed. One thing we must point out from the off however is do not pack denim jeans! These are wrong for backpacking on so many levels in that they weigh a ton in comparison to walking trousers, and have nowhere near as much versatility.

    We’d highly recommend picking up a pair of lightweight walking trousers from a brand such as Craghoppers or Regatta Clothing, which will provide sun protection, be water repellent and be easy to wash and quick drying.

    We’d also recommend for your shorts a pair of swimming shorts which can double as regular shorts during the day time, if you can find a suitable pair. If not, you’d be wise to opt for any other lightweight shorts.

    As for a second pair of trousers, we’d strongly recommend some zip-off trousers, which can double as shorts. Adding the Craghoppers Basecamp Convertible trousers to your backpacking wardrobe would give you lots of versatility and not take up too much precious room in the bag.

    These convertible trousers may cost around £40, but remember you are getting a top quality pair of trousers and shorts for that money.

    A lightweight jacket will also be required for any undue rainstorms or simply for going out in at night time.

    Polyamide is your best friend here, fabrics wise anyway, as it is water and windproof, yet also lightweight and breathable.

    A good quality, smart jacket of this nature shouldn’t set you back more than about £30-35 for backpacking on a budget.

    A sleeping bag can be necessary on some trips, but your best off reading a few reviews of where you’re going first. Often hostels and the like are not quite as nice as they make out on their own website, and a sleeping bag maybe required if you want to avoid the bedbugs, or simply stay warm!

    Gelert are one of the leaders in producing lightweight, tough, comfortable sleeping bags, and you can’t go wrong with anything from the “X Treme Lite” range they produce. These bags keep you warm in the cold, and cold in the warm. Not to mention they pack away to virtually nothing, freeing plenty of space in your bag.

    This great sleeping bag is even better when teamed with a sleeping mat, which can provide essential comfort in tough terrain.

    There are several types of sleeping mat, from your standard foam ones to self inflating and fully inflatable airbeds. I find that the most effective for any sort of backpacking which will include a great deal of camping will be a self-inflating mat. These are thinner in most cases than an air bed, they can be purchased cheaply and are more easily packed than a rolled up foam mat.

    Of course you’ll need a roof over your head too for this excursion, and a quick to assemble, lightweight tent will be very beneficial to those who are taking a more wild route around the globe.

    One of the top products around at the moment is the Vango TBS Spirit 2001 Tent, which is very reasonably priced, quick to pitch and offers great shelter from the elements. It’s also very lightweight for carrying around at only 2.2kg.

    The stove will also be essential for cooking foods and boiling water whilst out and about. There are a great amount of lightweight camping stoves about, and one of the better one’s we’ve found is the Coleman F1 Lite, which as the name would suggest is light and compact, and great for taking away on a long journey.

    As for socks and underwear, the final things on our list, we’ll leave that for you to decide which ones you take with you!

    You might already own some of the things on this list, which makes the shopping list that much shorter.

    Always remember though throughout the packing and planning process – You don’t need as much stuff as you think you do. A smaller amount of good quality items, such as those we’ve discussed above, will see you through no problem whatsoever.

    You can always buy extra things once abroad and always leave your backpack at least 30% empty in order to carry any bits and pieces you collect along the way.

    Enjoy your first backpacking trip, and we hope this guide has helped you choose the right clothing for your adventure.

    Thursday, 7 July 2011

    London Calling

    Now that the holiday season is upon us; many will be jetting off to all parts of the world.

    Once we arrive in our chosen destination, it would be nice to have a guide available to help us find the more interesting places.

    This is where comes in; they have an iPhone app that works as a personal tour guide, helping you navigate independently and with ease through cities around the world; from Acapulco to Vladivostok.

    In total there are 5,000 tours spanning 470 cities worldwide. have recently released a self-guided tour for London. To celebrate this they asked me to run a Quiz/Competition on the blog.

    Readers that get the following questions correct will win three free city walk iPhone apps, to the cities of their choice.

    Answers must be sent to

    Now on to the quiz

    Discover London Quiz

    1.The city of London has gone through a variety of names during its history. How was London never called like?
    A. Lundenwic
    B. Lundenburg
    C. Londenstadt

    2. A culturally diverse and multi-ethnic city, London is home to people speaking over ___ languages.
    A. 100
    B. 300
    B. 500

    3. Which one of these fine gentlemen is not from London?
    A. Francis Bacon
    B. Jerry Springer
    C. Liam Gallagher

    4. The Queen's official residence, Buckingham Palace, was built in 1702 on the site of a notorious:
    A. Circus
    B. Theater
    C. Brothel

    5. London's perhaps most famous address has never actually existed. It is of course, the world known:
    A. 221b Baker Street
    B. 221b Lemon Street
    C. 221b Plum Tree Lane

    6. How many of UK's restaurants are located in London?
    A. 16%
    B. 26%
    C. 36%

    7. When was the Big Fire of London?
    A. 1666
    B. 1777
    C. 1888

    8. Which is the oldest bridge over the River Thames?
    A. Westminster Bridge
    B. Tower Bridge
    C. London Bridge

    9. What is the “London Eye” ?
    A. A large telescope in the London observatory
    B. A large ferris wheel operated by British Airways
    C. The nickname of London’s police

    10. Whose statue is placed in Kensington Gardens?
    A. Winnie Pooh
    B. Mickey Mouse
    C. Peter Pan

    And remember answers must be sent to

    Wednesday, 29 June 2011

    Review: Primus ETA Express Stove

    This review item has been supplied by Go Outdoors

    The whole kit

    Technical Information

    • Very fast boil time
    • Low fuel consumption
    • Environmentally friendly
    • Extremely low total weight
    • 2600W•8900 BTU/h

    The EtaExpress Stove System comprises of 4 main elements; a 1L pot, a lid/frying pan, an express stove burner and a dedicated windshield.

    All elements fit inside the 1L pot and this can also take a 100/250 gas cannister which then all go inside the supplied stuff sac.

    One at a time

    Burner - The burner is a typical 3 legged, screw on top gas burner, in fact it is the same one that I bought a couple of years ago, with the only difference being that this one has a Piezoelectric starter.

    As expected from Primus the build quality is second to none, with strong sturdy pot legs and the gas control knob being made of a strong plastic, the electronic starter switch also has a robust feel to it. One thing to note is that the gas control and the starter are at 180° to each other and to fire the starter you pull the switch down.

    1 Litre Pot and Lid/Frying Pan - Both the pot and lid are covered with a triple layer 'Titanium non-stick' surface. Both have grab handles attached; although the one on the lid can be removed. I much prefer the handles to be attached as it means I'm not constantly looking for a grab handle.

    The 1l pot also has a heat exchanger attached to the bottom to help speed up cook times. Although the pot is 1l in size it's not much taller than my 750ml Vargo ti-pot and this helps to keep it pretty stable on the stove.

    Most of my cooking is of the re-hydrate kind and usually only needs 300-400ml of water for this; so a 1l pot does seem to be quite big. Although saying that if there were two of us, it would probably be ideal.

    Is it a lid? Is it a frying pan?

    Eh; it's a lid. I do think that it is pushing it to call it a frying pan, yes you could fry an egg in it but you would struggle to get a couple of rashers in there.

    Heat exchanger

    Windshield - One of the biggest problems with top mounted gas stoves is that protecting the flame can be difficult as to place a windshield around the flame without also covering the gas stove.

    Primus have come up with the idea of a windshield that clips to the gas cannister and help to protect the flame. This one is made of two pieces of metal held by another piece of spring loaded metal (this can be seen in the top photograph).

    When all these elements come together they help to make the EtaExpress Stove a pretty fast stove, on the couple of times used I have had boil times around the 2-3 minute mark with a 100 cannister.

    All together

    Remember my comment about the positions of the starter switch and the control knob?

    When the windshield is fitted to the gas cannister it is almost impossible to get to the starter switch.

    As you can see from the picture above the switch is on the inside of the windshield and to get to it, you have to put your finger around the back to flick it. This is while you have the gas turned on, and it is igniting near your hand.

    I have tried this a couple of times and on one occasion I nearly pulled the lit stove on to me. After this I had a look around the internet to see if I was doing something wrong; although the picture on the box showed I did have the windshield fitted correctly.

    Once on the net I found that there seems to be two different windshields and I'm guessing that one was the original design and the one I have is the newer design.

    New and Old designs

    The old design has extra holes in it so that it sits on the potstand legs, and this leaves both the control knob and starter switch free and easy to get too.

    Apart from this one problem the EtaExpress looks to be a very quick stove and the low weight (450g) makes it a good all round solo cooking system.

    Friday, 24 June 2011

    How Much?

    What's the point of having a blog, if you can't have a rant now and again.

    I'm looking to plan an quick overnighter, and as such I want some food for the evening. As its only one night I can't be bother to get the dehydrator out and do one meal.

    So I looked on the web for freeze-dried/dehydrated meals; now these can be expensive if you go for something like Real Tummat but one's like Mountain House/Be-Well are fairly cheap at around £4-5 mark.

    But the problem I have buying those online is with the companies supplying them; as they seem to want to rip you off when ordering.

    So far I have tried two sites and both have the meal I want at £3.95 but one wants to charge £5.95 delivery charge and the other £3.96.

    The 5.95 one; only seem to offer a courier service and have no other options for delivery, I did try to contact them through their contacts page but this needed the following:- Username, Address, Telephone number, and department, these were the items that were required. So I have to register to contact them; No Thanks!

    The Second site's charge of £3.96 (where do you get .96 from?) is for orders less than £100; so in theory ordering £99 worth of meals, which is roughly 20-25 packages is the same as ordering one.

    I can't see how this is so; the bulk and weight is more than a single item and the cost surely must be more.

    I guess I have the option to phone them and ask if they could send a single meal out by 1st class post but I have always been of the opinion that if you can't see it on show; then they don't do it. If they do 1st class postage surely it should be on the the website, without have to be asked.

    Don't get me wrong; I'm not one of these people who think all postage on items should be free but I do feel that these postal charges are a rip off; last year I ordered a rucsac online and the postage for that was £3.00 and that's a lot more bulky than a dried meal.

    Now I'm of to Waitrose and firing up the dehydrator.

    Thursday, 16 June 2011

    Guest Post

    This is a first for this blog; today I have a guest post from Jess Spate.

    Jess' bio can be seen at the end of the post.

    Walks by train from London

    Having a car in London can be more of a hassle than a help, but when it comes time to get out of the city and go for walk, cars come in very handy. They make it far easier to go where you want to go, when you want to go there, but there are a number of excellent walks that can be done from train stations rather than car parks. Here are a just a handful of the possibilities:

    -Stour Valley Take the train to Chartham, Kent, and it's just a short walk to the bank of the River Stour. This area is famous for its orchards, so go in late spring and you'll see a wealth of fruit trees in full blossom. The Stour Valley Walk is well marked and very close to the train station in Chartham, or you can use the station as an entry point for a section walk on the North Downs Way. If you've got more than a single day on your hands, it's possible to follow this footpath all the way to Dover and get the train back to London from there.

    -The Chilterns Great Missenden Station in Buckinghamshire is the starting point for excellent walks in the Chilterns, or you can stop at Saunderton. It's on the London to Birmingham line so fairly easy to get to. Head towards High Wycombe Hill there is a good chance of seeing some of England's only Red Kites. You'll know them when you see them- the red kite has a distinctive forked tail and they're anything up to 5'6" in wingspan.

    -Thames Path The walk from Kingston Upon Thames (easily accessible by rail) to Westminster isn't exactly wilderness, but the 20 mile length is challenging. This section of the Thames Path passes Teddington Lock, Putney Bridge, Kew Gardens, and many more well-known landmarks along the way.

    -Offa's Dyke Path Both ends of the 180 mile footpath are accessible by train. It's less than 3 hours from Paddington to Chepstow, changing at Gloucester, and from there you can either launch yourself onto the Offa's Dyke Path and head for Prestatyn in North Wales, or explore the Wye Valley and the Forest of Dean. Chepstow is also the starting point for the less well-known but very interesting Wye Valley Walk, which follows the river 136 miles up into Mid Wales. However, finding public transport from the end point isn't so easy. It's another 8 miles walking to Llanidloes, where a bus will take you to Newtown Station.

    If you're willing to take a walk with a more distant starting point, the UK has a number of train stations that allow walkers to get into National Parks and more mountainous areas. Snowdonia and the Arans can be accessed from Barmouth, Blaenau Festiniog, and Betwys-y-Coed, and the stations along the Hope Valley line (Sheffield to Manchester) and the Derwent Valley line from Derby can be the starting points for walks in the Peak District. Kendal Station is just one of the options in the Lake District, or you can go even further and take the train all the way up to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands.

    Jess Spate used to live in London but is now based in Cardiff, close to the Brecon Beacons and the Forest of Dean. She works for Appalachian Outdoors when not out on the hills.

    Image credit 1: Richard Barrett-Small via flickr, under a Creative Commons licence

    Image credit 2: Paul Albertella via flickr, under a Creative Commons licence

    Monday, 13 June 2011

    Review: Mud, Sweat and Tears by Bear Grylls

    This is a bit of a strange book to review; in the sense of I feel than Bear Grylls doesn't seem as though he wanted to give too much away.

    The book opens with introductions to Bear's lineage; from his great-grandfather through his grand-parents to his parents; the social circles they moved in and the apparent influence they had on his life.

    His early life and school is covered in the first 34 chapters; yes, that right 34 chapters! But this is only roughly the first 120 pages; as the chapters only average 2 or 3 pages.

    The time-line moves along at a fair pace from boarding school to Eton, to University then on to his decision to join the SAS.

    Up to this point in the book we only get short anecdotes and glimpses of his life.

    The next 28 chapters (108 pages) are taken up by the telling of his selection for the SAS(R), the start of this section is prefaced with a note about how he sign the Official Secrets Act and how he is restricted on revealing details of the SAS.

    This is only one of two parts within the book that his passion seems to come through; and you start to get a feel for the person, but again we only get small anecdotal stories, mostly centred around the training and the long route marches. Again there are plenty of bones but not a lot of meat on them.

    Both Chris Ryan and Andy McNab have covered the SAS and selection in their books with much more insight.

    The next 35 pages cover almost a period of two years, in which Bear breaks his back, recovers and meets his future wife and prepares to climb Everest. Quite some big events to squeeze into 35 pages!

    The second part to play a big part in the book and show his passion is the climbing of Everest (115 pages). Again we get to see the commitment and passion that drives him on, and making him (at the time) the youngest Brit to summit Everest.

    The remainder of the book (40 pages or so) concentrates on his marriage, his motivational talks and the start of Born Survivor.

    I have to admit that I had never heard of Bear Grylls before his T.V. Series; Born Survivor, and was hoping that this part of his life would be covered but again this becomes a footnote.

    Bear has been criticised about 'faking' within the shows and although mentioned he doesn't really have much to say on the subject.

    And then on to the Epilogue; which goes on to mention, first team to cross the frozen North Atlantic Arctic Ocean, flying powered paragliders above Everest, and an expedition through the Northwest Passage in a rigid inflatable boat but these only get one or two line within this chapter, I would of like to hear more of these stories as this is the Bear Grylls I know from the T.V. Maybe they are being saved for Volume two.

    I was looking forward to reading this book but have come away slightly disappointed. If you already know about his time in the SAS and the climbing of Everest (which was covered in his book Facing Up) then personally I think you won't find much more about the life of Bear Grylls.

    On a sidenote, I was approached by Transworld Publishers about reviewing this book; the reasons for accepting this offer was 1. I get the chance to read the autobiography of Bear Grylls and 2. I was also offered a second copy to run a competition on the blog for one of my reader's to win.

    Although the review copy turned up; the second copy never did, even after I had been back in touch with Transworld Publishers.

    Thursday, 26 May 2011


    I was asked if I would like to try a TRION:Z dual loop bracelet and then review it for the blog.

    First port of call was the Trion:z website to find out some more information.

    "Designed to balance the body's magnetic and electrical fields, Trion:Z combines the therapeutic properties of magnets and negative ions, bringing you the most powerful complementary health product on the market today."

    This is what the site has to say about the dual loop bracelet
    Trion:Z’s original dual therapy bracelet combines Trion:Z’s patented Ionic AND Magnetic therapy into one unique and stylish wristband. With TWO identical loops of Negative Ion releasing “Mineon Health Fibre®” and twin patented ANSPO orientate therapeutic magnets, making it the most powerful ionic wristband on the market.

    Dual Loops of Mineon Health Fibre® Negative-Ion producing material:
    50- 100 stronger than any other product on the market 2 x 1,000 Gauss Magnets with patented ANSPO technology
    Over 20 stylish colour combinations
    The theory behind magnet therapy is that when a magnet is placed around a specific joint or body part, more blood is attracted to that area, leading to an increase in oxygen and nutrients. The combination of increased oxygen and nutrients leads to a faster healing process.

    Well that's most of the scientific spiel out of the way; so how has it worked for me?

    I have to admit that I am sceptical when it comes to things like negative ions and magnetic therapy's, I have tried magnets in the past for pain relief and found they didn't work.

    Also the website and information that comes with the bracelet doesn't seem to make any real claims that the bracelet will improve performance or help with pain relief.

    At present I'm walking roughly 15-25 miles a week: I also have a few little niggly pains in my knees and ankles.

    So far I have worn the bracelet 24/7 for the last week and have to say that it has done absolutely nothing for me.

    I don't find that the walking time has improved or that my recovery time has got better, the niggly pains are still there.

    All I can say about the bracelet is that its a fairly nice design; I usually wear some kind of bracelet, be it this one or my usual Cobra bracelet.

    The only other thing to say is "Your Mileage May Vary"

    Thursday, 5 May 2011


    I love trying new things; whether it's new equipment or a new piece of tech or playing with the code within the blog to make a scrolling blog list.

    I enjoy the thrill of adding new features and seeing them either work or fall flat and then having to work out where I went wrong, and all this for someone who has a very basic knowledge of this kind of sort.

    Since getting the Kindle I have wondered how I could get some personally content on to it. First off was to get the Londonbackpacker blog on there; although personally I can't see the point of this, as there are enough apps on the kindle to get the rss feeds through the kindle browser and the 3G network.

    After that I turned my attention to getting an ebook/let on to Amazon and the Kindle. The only real piece of writing was the Journal from last year's TGO Challenge.

    So this was converted into a .mobi file (this is the format that the Kindle eReader works in) and sent to the Kindle Direct Publishing site and within 24 hours the ebook was on the Amazon site and ready to download.

    The ebook has been up for a few weeks and without any mention of it, I have managed to sell a few.

    So here the shameless plug, if you click the TGO Challenge box at the top of the blog, it will take you to the page with information on how to obtain the ebook.

    Sunday, 17 April 2011

    Extra, Extra, Extra

    Someone once said 'That you should try everything once'*

    So yesterday morning found me in London's Docklands, being made up to look like a Zombie.

    I was playing a Zombie extra in a film.

    First thing was to have the make-up applied, which wasn't the nicest experience, the fake blood is quite sticky and it never really dries so you always have this red goo on your face and hands, then it was off to Zombie School.

    To learn how to move like a Zombie (it's not a easy as you think :-) ).

    After that it was.... well a lot of sitting around doing nothing, it seems as making flims takes a lot of time and a lot of waiting, what for I don't know as we were never told.

    When we did get on set, our part was to chase after the main characters of the film.

    This involved staggering down the street after them, then being sent back to do it again.

    I was luck to be in the front for most of these scenes so hopefully I'll make it into the final cut and not end up of the cutting room floor.

    Overall it was a fun day and a good laugh with the other Zombies but it was tiring, I think this was all the waiting around. I guess I know that filming takes time but never realised how much time.

    *There is some debate to that actual quote it's either:-

    “You should make a point of trying every experience once, excepting incest and folk dancing.”--Arnold Bax


    “Try everything once except folk dancing and incest.”--Sir Thomas Beecham


    Friday, 15 April 2011

    Dales Outdoor Weekend 7-8 May 2011

    Darren asked me if I would help to promote the upcoming Dales Outdoor Weekend.

    Below is the piece Darren has written for it.

    It seems bikes as well as boots are truly in vogue with the backpacking fraternity. The year round diary of meetings organised around the country by Backpackers Club is well sprinkled with the trips where wheels get the lightweight camper members between one pitch and the next.

    Bikepacking they've called it, ever since the author Robin Adshead went ride-about and showed the way with a book that partnered his Backpacking in Britain title. (go Google it all) Robin was one of the original gang of gadabouts who helped build the backpacking in Britain image.

    Northumbria Backpackers have already set the style for the Club's weekend in Bellingham, as all good Buff wearers remember. The 2011 agm weekend of Backpackers Club is back in the North east region, billed as Dales Outdoor Weekend, to broaden club appeal and get the public along to see what it is all about.

    The organising team have linked into local features such as the Weardale Railway and the famed Coast to Coast hike & bike trail (C2C), Mike Knipe will help people discover more about the joys of tinkling along in an ANOB, and there's also a bike ride option.

    Above Weardale sits Parkhead Station, with as good an all-day breakfast as you'll get anywhere - b&b too. The train no longer gets to here, but the old track is now National Cycle Route 7, from Sunderland, past Parkhead Station and terminating at Whitehead, or even Inverness if you are Highlands inclined.

    Most people on the Weardale patch will use these tracks as part of a C2C trip - and there are some fine pitches for a tent or two you can find if you have the nose for that sort of thing. The arena for the lightweight camping equipment displays and the like is at Stanhope Showground, with hills either side, a river that burbles and all around nature at its very best.

    There is also a poster with details of the whole weekend which can be downloaded from HERE.

    Saturday, 9 April 2011

    A little walk




    Hobbit Hole

    Cockney Horses


    River Quaggy

    Sunday, 20 February 2011

    Standing out

    On Friday I was lucky enough to be invited to the Panasonic Convention 2011 here in London.

    This show is about highlighting the new equipment that will be appearing in the shops over the next few months; and although most of the equipment on show was home entertainment of some sort, TV's, Blu-ray player, Home cinema there was a big selection of cameras and video cameras which held the biggest interest for me.

    Over the last couple of years there has been a big upsurge in 3-D films and 3-D televisions, this was noticeable at the show plenty of 3-D TV's on show, including a 150 in one!!!

    So what's this to do with the outdoors, I hear you ask. Well Panasonic are introducing cameras and lens that are capable of taking 3-D pictures.

    3-D this is nothing new as we have fads of it back in the 50s and cinema has always dabbled in it, I even have some stereoscopic pictures that go back to the 1860s.

    Panasonic are not only making lens for their G Micro cameras but also for their video cameras too, which means that amateurs now get the chance to make 3-D movies.

    I had a play with both the G2 and the GH2 with the 3-D lens attached and was really surprised at how good the results were, although these were viewed on a 50 in TV.

    The 3-D lens for the video cameras also seems to process good video.

    Obviously these new lens come at a fairly high price but it is good to see the ability to capture 3-D is coming to the digital amateur market.

    1903 stereoscopic print