Sunday, 13 May 2007

Trail June 2007

"Lightweight gear is revolutionising what we can do in the outdoors, so if the idea of walking further, faster and getting more out of your hill time appeals, this issue of Trail is your essential hill companion." (p4, Matt Swaine, editor)

My comments below. Nailing my colours to the mast: Trail was the first outdoors mag I bought, and Ronald Turnbull's "Book of the Bivvy " was the first outdoors book I bought. For me, Trail is a fitness mag, and I still subscribe to it as such.

Get Into...Wild Camping (p12)

6 of the best lightweight stoves (p20)

The Philosophy of Lightweight (p26-39, but 9 pages of text by Matt Swaine, 2.5 col inches by Claire Maxted)

  • Lightweight gear lets you go further and faster - at a price.
    I have heavy boots that were recommended, caused me blisters, cost more than lighter boots, and more than trail shoes; I have sleeping bags that are big and bulky, total the price and it comes to more than the down bag I use all the time now.
  • Ronald Turnbull's advice:
    I cannot comment on this, as I haven't seen it written in the two books of his that I have, I recognise item 2 though, and his likeness of fig rolls and pubs, but hike your own hike:
    1. If you want to go out really light, then simply leave stuff out.
    2. Always buy the second cheapest bit of kit in the shops.
    3. Eat at pubs then live off pork pies and fig rolls on the hill.
    4. Swap tents and sleeping mats for bin bags and bubble wrap.
    5. Walk late into the night and get to the summits for dawn.
  • A warning that lightweight could mean a very cold night's camping.
    On the planet Zog maybe! In the photos, there is snow and ice on the ground, yet Matt is in a 0'c rated sleeping bag, and on a thin OMM mat. My down bag is also by Cumulus, slightly heavier, but is rated to -3'c. I've already blogged about the sleeping mat, and have yet to try the OMM mat because I don't go adventure racing and so got it to try out one of these days.
  • By leaving stoves and extra food in the car, I reckon we knocked about a kilo off our pack weight. And by taking in some of the best walkers' pubs in the country we would eat well, fine-tune our route over a beer or two, then head out into the night...
    Alcohol and a cold night. Duh! But each to their own. I certainly couldn't do that as I'd be too tempted to just ask for a room for the night. Strangely, Claire's kit includes a Primus Micron - perhaps for a civilised brew or proper breakfast that Matt seems to be foregoing in some masochistic purge.
  • I might have been backpacking with a rucksack smaller and lighter than my regular daypack, but I would have carried twice that weight and bulk if it meant I could get a solid hour's sleep.
    Cumulus Ultralight 350 = 0.765kg. Therm-a-Rest Prolite 3 Short = 0.37kg. I make that 0.4kg extra for a good night's sleep. But hey, each to their own.
  • Tom, who'd made few conscessions to the world of lightweight, was sleeping soundly in his hooped bivvy and 3-season bag.
    So, a hooped bivvy and a warm sleeping bag isn't considered lightweight?
  • "That's a good 20 miles we've covered today," said Tom... "That's got to be a good advert for lightweight backpacking," said Claire. ... If I'd been better equipped, my pack might have weighed more but staying out for the night wouldn't have been an issue.
    So, for an extra 0.4kg, Matt admits that he could have stayed out longer. For the difference in weight between a big heavy pair of Scarpa SLs and lighter Scarpa ZG65's. I'm not sure what big boots Matt is wearing in shot.
  • ...just to finish this rant...Why head out onto the hills with a talismanic rucksack that almost defies gravity when shedding some flab and boosting your aerobic capacity would deliver real long-term results and cost you absolutely nothing? Why are we so happy to throw money at a problem that doesn't really exist ... and far too lazy to tackle the real root of the problem: the fact that we're simply not as fit as we'd like to be?
    Now, I found this insulting. This diatribe against using your intelligence to look at kit and think "do I need a big, heavy stove when a lighter one will suffice". It isn't a "problem" if you are happy to be sold 70 litre packs for a weekend in the hills by a salesman in Blacks, or heavy 4-season boots for the West Highland Way.
    After years of going to the gym, I lost 1 1/4 stones in 15 days on the Southern Upland Way. A walk I'd never have dreamed of tackling if I continued to traipse to the gym on a weekly basis. One of the reasons I get out doors is to get fit. Just watch my Bennachie times.
  • ... the great lightweight debate kept going right up till last orders.
    I can't be bothered defending an intelligent approach to hiking against such nonsense. I'm off to the Lakes in June - I hope it is similar weather to the Trail outing. But then, I don't do 6kg of base weight, as I'm not that proficient at lightweight hiking - and neither, I would guess, is Matt Swaine.
    As to the debate, it is just a shame that Claire Maxted's points were left to such a paltry afterword, and much was re-quoted from Louise Alexander. Personally, I'd have preferred to see Claire's side of the mission written alongside Matt's rant. She's in the lead in most shots, and smiling.

Light Routes (p40-44)

Setting up a bivvy bag (p57)

Sub-2kg tents for two (p67-72)

Make yourself lightweight (p80-83, part of the Trail academy)

  • Top-end lightweight gear is great, but before you spend a fortune why not learn how to walk faster and lighter for free...
    See comments above on this idea that going lightweight is all about gear. Oh, and there is nothing in the article about learning "how to walk faster"


John Hee said...

That piece got the goat of almost eveyone who's read it

Check the OM thread involving ptc - he's gone into battle on the TRAIL forum

AktoMan said...

Aye, John, I've made comments there. Like I said there, the Net is a bad place for 'debates' as people get entrenched behind their keyboard. Fair doos if someone wants to investigate lightweight walking, but a rant by the editor of Trail can not be considered unbiased. IMO (not humble at all) Claire should have been given her say in a balanced manner. But, life isn't balanced and fair.