Social Media Courtesy

I  have recently shut down my blogger account transferred and revamped Summituphere? 

My first post on WordPress , was to be on my forthcoming hike up the Great Glen Way and East Highland Way, however I have become disconcerted at some rather unsavoury comments made to fellow outdoor Bloggers.

Being a bit longer in the tooth than some, and the advances in social media outlets, they were initially  a little overwhelming for someone of my background. Now having spent a number of years exploring the Great Outdoors and climbing many of our munros and corbetts I had an unquenchable thirst for the knowledge and experiences of other like minded people. Moving to the social media sites was a slow progression from dedicated magazines.

My understanding had been rightly or wrongly, was to share  knowledge and skills gained from spending time in the mountains, whether it may be hiking ,climbing or wild camping. Over the past number of years I have acquired some great advice from people far more experienced in certain aspects of mountain skills than I, knowledge is priceless.

This leads me onto my main point, we have fellow outdoor enthusiasts out there whom make the choice of sharing their trips and small adventures with us all via Blogs,Twitter, Facebook etc . It takes a certain amount of courage and confidence to put pen to paper for all to critique, however we have to understand that the majority that do are not professional writers and gain no monetary value from it.

You may ask yourself why do they put themselves out there ? could it be for the love of the outdoors and the anticipation of sharing it with us all , or because simply they like to write. For me it is a little of both , but admittedly I have to be in the mood or mode for writing and time can be a factor as well, or as  in this case stirred into what I feel is unjust.

You may not agree with the content of an article or opinion ,fine but that doesn’t give you the right to use foul language or start name calling, we can all put points across in a disagreement or debate, some more eloquently than others, name calling loses the respect I had for your points of view all be it the correct one.

The biggest irritant for me is a fellow blogger criticising someones grammar or punctuation. I am not particularly top of the class on these topics myself and take more time than most to construct a Blog or similar writings. But in defence of all of us not blessed in that department, remember these guys and girls have other skills, skills that you do not have that is almost certain.  If you cannot say it face to face don’t do it behind a keyboard.

I would much rather spend time on a mountainside in the knowledge that my companion has the relevant skills out here to keep safe in all weather conditions than having to worry where my next apostrophe or comma should be.

Take the example of the professional footballer skills in abundance and overpaid. How many of those guys write there own books or journals? not many i would imagine.

To paraphrase a quote from our own Keith Foskett, “persistance and desire can conquer any gaps in skill, knowledge and qualifications” taken from Keiths new book Balancing the Blue a brilliant read.

Consideration please for fellow Bloggers.

Extreme test for the Luxe Hex Peak 2014

Robert Bolton

Extreme test for the new Luxe Hex Peak

Extreme test for this little bomber shelter

This is my first experience in using this hexagon shaped shelter therefore I have nothing to compare it against, my usual accommodation is the Hillberg Atko which I have had for the past three or four years. My initial reason for purchasing the Hex was for the extra room that it provided.

On removing the Hex from its packaging  it was apparent straight away that this shelter could be packed down to a small compact unit inside your sack.

Weight 1.25 kg Si nylon inner nest 8 pegs 2 webbing straps. seam sealer 4 extra mid height guy points all reflective.

My first pitch was in the back garden the instructions state to peg out the four corners first, which are better identified by the location of the tension straps it had taken me around fifteen to twenty minutes to get the shape taught but this is due to my inexperience as stated with this type of shelter. The inner nest erects separately and has an adjustable height slider which hooks onto the peak at the top of your walking pole the other five corners of the tub are staked out and tensioned.

I had decided to camp at Lag Uaine below the summit of Ben Vane, the forecast for the first day was clear and sunny with a slight breeze followed late in the evening with strengthening winds and snow.  My second attempt at pitching was far quicker I used my MSR snow pegs just in case, I did notice after tensioning all pegging points that at the rear tensioning strap there was a bit of a fold running up that panel after a few attempts at trying to readjust the fold was still there, it was probably my efforts at pitching  however after releasing this strap problem solved.

Now to the inner nest,  firstly the five corner points of the tub are staked out which go outside the base of the shelter which I  found out to be a bit of a faff especially wearing gloves, these are then tensioned and the top is hooked up to your preferred height. The inner hangs free from the outer fly which I found a problem the nest at the rear had a superfluous amount of material hanging in on top of me . The sides were the same with the walls lying inward at an angle.

This is probably and I must emphasise due to my inexperience of this shelter and would gratefully acknowledge where I am going wrong in this set up. 

I thought that the inner could have done with a full length zip running along the bottom, but evidently this all adds to cost. The J zip door gives you the option of more ventilation and a window to the outside. However on rolling back the door the small bungee stays are a faff with gloves on a small Velcro strip would resolve this . The vent above the door is held open with a velcro rod and has a mesh panel at the rear which I don’t think is needed. Setting out my neo air and sleeping bag there didn’t appear to be the room that I had envisaged, but this is likely to be because of my technique as explained above. Bob from backpacking light will be able to sort me out in that respect. The main porch or vestibule area you just cannot fault there is ample room to store all your gear and cook, I could sit in the nest with my legs fully stretched all five nine of me cooking and watching the world go by protected by the elements.


Double poling in harsh conditions advisable

At ten forty-five that evening its test had really began the wind had picked up and must have been gusting around fifty mph so much so that some of the smaller pegs had become loose. After double pegging these points it was much more secure bearing in mind that the wind was so strong it was taking me off my feet at times. The wind had brought in persistent snow and was hitting the shelter side on it was a case of nylon on head at times. But this little guy was holding its own, as the night wore on the wind became stronger still he stood up my only worry was the bend in my walking pole which is now permanent, although only slight. The snow wasn’t a problem either it shed that with ease.

Extreme test for the new Luxe Hex Peak

this little shelter will give you great piece of mind

The following morning the winds were still as strong but I did notice that there was a bit if condensation on the fly , which with the wind had subsequently wet my gear in the porch and sleeping bag however these were extreme conditions so transference could be expected.

In addition I did not seal the seams before departure but there was no evidence of water penetration at these points.

To conclude in my humble opinion the

Cons are : staking out nest tub longer bottom zip on inner Velcro instead of small bungee door stays. mesh on inside of vent

Pros: great stability in strong winds Watch your pole! Snow shedding with ease. waterproof taking into account I did not seal the seams. Porch excellent for storage and cooking weight and packing size.

Question is this a good shelter? Please keep in mind my inadequacies in pitching inner I shall get this right with practise. Taking into account the price from Bob and his team at Backpacking light UK of £159.00 this is a lot of shelter for little money, a strong robust shelter that has won me over Would I recommend it? without a doubt.


Under the summit of Ben Vane


early morning and its still standing and no damage





calm before the storm

Extreme test for the new Luxe Hex Peak

Winds reaching 50mph+



Early morning ,still standing and no damage.


As you may know from previous posts I have grown to love the LUX HEX PEAK SHELTER I recently received an email from Michael the designer and producer of the Hex regarding points raised on the 2014 model.

He has kindly gave me permission to share with you some of the modifications for 2015 known as the Hex V4 and he shall  be sending me the final drafts shortly after he has them translated.

Firstly the most common problem was the stress points on the inner corners of the tub which were prone to tearing, these have now been strengthened. The inner has been made longer for the taller person adding 7-8cm and weighs in at 620g

Michael has sent out a follow up email regarding the the pole set up which may consist of two poles this is rather sketchy at the moment but shall be clarified later. My thinking is it could be similar to the hex mid.


Draft V4


Draft F4

As you can see the F6 inner the two person version fits the one person V4 giving a much larger sleeping area away from midges and other insects, although it cuts down on the cooking area slightly.


Designing the V4


On the outer fly weight 660g, are an additional 5 tie out points at the base for optional stability, the stakes slightly longer at 18cm weighing 64g.

The footprint of the V4 as the photo shows is larger than the 2014 model. Weight therefore will be compromised a little, however that should not factor to much for a quality shelter.

Comparisons in weight    2014:                                                                               2015
                                          outer 620g                                                                      outer 660g
                                          inner 495g                                                                      inner 620g
                                          stakes 83g                                                                       stakes 64g
To conclude this is the sign of a good designer and manufacturer, one whom is prepared to listen and act upon the needs of guys that review kit. In my opinion, I think that this could be one of the top shelters of 2015.
Production starts shortly on the new V4.

Summer 2014 I remember it well? Part 2

Home for a few days

Hi many thanks if you have come back for part two . I have to confess I am not a professional journalist and do not endorse any products related to my blog I am however open to SCARPA, MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT, SNICKERS. MARS BARS, LUXE, MLD, GOSSAMER, RAB, MONTANE. anyone one needing unbiased reviews for free gear? you know where I am! 😉 😉

Summer 2014 I remember it well? Part 2.

Ben Lawers

In my last post I told you of the three days spent on the Tarmachan ridge and the little event on the” Bad Step” below Meall Garbh.

Well it is now early June and I’m back In Perthshire on the Lawers range this time spending a few days on the summits of Meall Greigh, Meall Garbh thats the other one with the same name  that rises above Lochan Nan Cat from there over An Stuc, and onto Ben Lawers.

Now that was the plan and you know what they say about the best laid plans! The initial approach was from the Ben Lawers hotel through an overgrown woodland path, now considering the temperature was in its sixties in old money and you could barely see the path from waist high ferns it made a rather trying start to the journey.

However once out of the dense woodland I had reached the boundary fence to the nature reserve and the upcoming ridge walk opened up in all its golden glory. Time now I thought to rehydrate as I did at the stile that would take me into the reserve. Having re hydrated and wiped my overheated brow I was once again on my way towards Meall Greigh.

In awe at the sun reflecting, what looked like signal mirrors bouncing of the surface of the Lawers Burn to my left and having to squint at nature’s trickery I suddenly realised that I had left my rather expensive sunglasses lying on the stile about two kilometres back down the path. “Bugger” excuse the French so there I was removing my pack and disgruntled trudged back down to retrieve those bloody glasses lessons learnt buy cheaper glasses for someone else to pick up.


In the picture above you can just make out the woodland below where I had left those bloody glasses, although I did not walk back from this spot.

Summer 2014 I remember it well? Part 2.

With a little reluctance it was time to move onto my next summit of Meall Garbh  which lies in the shadows of An Stuc, it was only a short wander with plenty of time on my hands so decided to collect water and take in some of the other sights along the way. That’s the great freedom you can enjoy time doesn’t matter when the sun is shining and you have your bedroom on your back.

Further along on a small top I came across two elderly gentlemen , whom I shall affectionately name Statler and Waldorf  if you recall  were characters in the Muppet’s.

They were sitting having lunch  and as I passed I overheard them arguing over whether they were at the summit of Meall Garbh or sitting on a false summit, they subsequently asked me if I could settle their argument Statler was adamant they were on the summit of Meall Garbh whilst you could see that Waldorf was desperate for me to agree with him that they weren’t.

I could see that this relationship was of many years in the making as both were desperate for my accreditation  however being forever the diplomat, I decided to play the stupid one in this little scenario.

Knowing full well that they were on the wrong summit I then gathered them around my map and pointed at the summit of Meall Garbh  stating that this summit which was only 500 metres away could well be part of the summit they were sitting on, in essence a dual summit “see where I am going with this yet” both looked up at me at the same time, with looks on there faces as if to say whats he on about, dual summits! he obviously hasn’t a clue.

This in turn had the effect of deflecting the argument towards my deficiencies where upon they both came to the amicable decision that the true summit was indeed 500 metres away. I had to giggle to myself when Waldorf then said “come on son you better follow us”.



Having made my farewells to Statler and Waldorf I pitched up in the shadows of An Stuc and Ben Lawers then went for a quiet nap before dinner. The weather as you can see was excellent and my stomach was telling me its time to eat, which I did spaghetti bolognese followed by creamed rice.

I now had my domestic duties to fulfil by rearranging the vestibule area it was then when I heard a sudden loud rush of air and the shelter wall push in towards the inner quickly looking out I could  hardly believe my eyes, there in front of me was a glider about 30 metres away literally buzzing the Hex like some oversized wasp. By the time I tried to dig my camera out from the pile of gear in the porch he was up up and away.
As a little insight into the workings of the mind, well mine at least that night i had a dream that Statler and Waldorf were the pilots of the aircraft I had seen but the difference was it was fitted with machine guns mounted on both wings and they were out to get me!

The following day I awoke completely refreshed and ready for the day ahead the sun was high in the sky and a small breeze rippled over the ridge  the distant call of a raptor could be heard echoing in the silence of the glen below, this was going to be an exceptionally hot day. My plan for the day was to explore some of the outcrops just below the summit of Meall Garbh and An Stuc and indulge in some minor scrambling

An hour later breakfast consumed, domestic duties attended to and I was on my way. This has all become a great part of my enjoyment in addition to wild camping to try and literally feel the mountain I am by no means a botanist nor geologist, however its diversity in all these aspects never cease to amaze me not just on good day such as this but those wild windswept days bring something different in textures and shapes of rock and fauna combined.

 This is quite a rare plant which can be found near the summit of Ben Lawers. 


Summer 2014 I remember it well? Part 2.

 The common black slug was very prominent this year I lost count the amount of times I ejected these little critters from my shelter one in particular had a great attachment to me so much so he hitched a ride all the way home squashed to the bottom of my sock, and here was me thinking my boots leaking.


This day in particular was very memorable for the wildlife weather and the hand to rock fun that was had. Around 5 o’clock my stomach  was, to coin an old phrase thinking my throat was cut, I hate that  turn of phrase however its written now and it stays. So time to head back the three or four kilometres to the shelter and partake of dinner which consisted of meatballs in a spicy sauce accompanied by pasta and garlic bread, yes ………….Garlic bread.
 After dinner which was thoroughly enjoyed it was time for a nap when you get to a certain age these little siestas are crucial although it was still pretty hot I did manage to doze for a short while.
Now the evening was wearing on and not to waste this beautiful evening sunshine my light camp shoes (hi Tech zoots) were donned and off I disappeared over a nearby ridge to sit and watch the sunset over the glen below.  

 The perfect spot was chosen between two rock, a soft moss covered slab and large boulder as a backrest made the ideal big chair, the light breeze that had cooled the fevered brow all day had now gone the silence was bliss overhead a large crow flew and broke the gentle silence with each beat of its wings, the distant occasional bleat of sheep calling their young was the other only sound in this golden hued glen, time for reflection and serenity, thoughts of long days of childhood and distant laughter lost an age past where this passion was formed  the ghosts of friends long shadows cast down the glen.


To spend an hour with my past childhood friends in such glorious surroundings the mind wanders and flits in and out of reality, time has stopped, this is all mine then movement, far down the glen a huge stag lifts his proud head to survey his herd, beyond him two more stand sentry my minds eye now starts to distinguish the shapes below grazing unaware of my presence stood over one hundred deer a sight to behold and one that I have not witnessed in such numbers.


Time past in an instant and the golden glow of sunset through a blanket across the mountainside, slowly disappearing over a distant ridge the sun silhouetted two adult deer and their two young walking slowly up the ridge, a very rare sight how good this night has been a long day and a perfect end, coffee and a cosy sleeping bag await as the night mountain air becomes decidedly chilly.

the end 
Summer 2014 I remember It well? Part 1.

Summer 2014 I remember It well? Part 1.


Early spring on Culter Fell

It has  been a while, as you may see since I last posted a blog  my excuse work commitments and not being in writing mode or mood.

It had been quite an eventful winter in 2013 great snow conditions and some new kit to test.

As with the seasons we all have our favourites for different reasons winter is mine, however I do look forward to spring and summer for the longer daylight hours that allow me to spend longer days in the mountains on the move. Not one for keeping a diary or putting my thoughts to paper on a daily basis I am very grateful for the invention of the camera which helps to keep my memories fresh and is going to of be of some assistance in my dotage.

Well how is everyone? I sincerely hope all you outdoor aficionados had a whale of a time I personally thought the summer was kind to us this year didn’t get wet to often or suffer from hypothermia, as we know very well up on those big mountains in the UK half the time you don’t know what to expect.

I will try not to haver to much and get to the points of my summer in 2014 but please bear with me as my good lady would say in certain words “you do ******* haver!

Late March you would have caught me ascending one of my favourite places the Tarmachan Ridge  to spend three days wild camping near the summit of Meall Garbh, and exploring its nooks and crannies incidentally the name Tarmachan means ptarmigan in gaelic, but you probably new that already.




The Bad Step on Meall Garbh

I was fortunate on my first mornings camp to be greeted with brilliant sunshine and spent most of the day playing about its flanks taking pictures and scrambling on some outcrops, its amazing what you can get up to when know ones watching well within reason I drew the line at going back to my childhood and acting out a game of cowboys and Indians, well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
On a more serious note the following morning  the weather had turned to a grey damp day and my plan was to walk to the far end of the ridge over the “bad step” which involves minor scrambling for the experienced walker. At the foot of the step I was taking a couple of minutes to adjust my pack and   secure my walking poles before ascending. It was then that I heard a young girls voice coming from atop the step followed by a male voice whom I assumed was her dad, the young girl sounded hesitant as her dad persuaded her to take the first steps on descending. 
I began to make my way up and reaching half way came across the pair at this point the terror on the little girls face was evident she was around nine years of age and wearing inappropriate clothing and footwear flat treadles shoes on damp rock. Her dad wasn’t any better prepared and he to lacked confidence on the descent where he literally got stuck and couldn’t decide on the next move. 
Not wanting to embarrass the dad I made a light hearted comment that he had taken the most difficult route down especially in these wet conditions however I was seething underneath that a “responsible adult ” could put himself and more importantly, his daughter in such a perilous situation. As there were no phone boxes nearby I discreetly donned my red cape and went to there rescue slowly guiding the little girl down first then her dad whom by this time was rightly so embarrassed and ashamed of coming onto the hill so unprepared.
Having shown him a safe route down from the bealach  back to the track, I continued on my way but still angry at what I had witnessed.

Me on the pointy bit of Meall Garbh

I’m sorry but I did warn you I do tend to haver on now lets get back to the mountains and the beauty and solitude they offer personally I now prefer to stop and spend time discovering the mountains for their diverse terrain and geology not taking into account weather patterns and cloud formations, clear unpolluted night skies all of these make for memorable experiences that last a lifetime.


Sunset over Tinto



The photograph above was taken from Culter Fell I must have spent the best part of two hours sitting watching the different hues and cloud formations develop. This picture is as natural as you can get from a digital camera no photoshop has been introduced.


Summit of Ben Vorlich



Taken in mid April you could be forgiven to think this was a winter picture  the stuff lying at my feet doesn’t belong to me it is part of the gear from a student group I had the pleasure to meet on the ascent, four girls and a young man, they kindly asked me to join them on the final push to the summit to even up the gender imbalance which I gladly accepted damsels in distress and all that!

Summer 2014 I remember It well? Part 1.

Kicking back after 12 mile hike



How many times do you relish these moments you have twelve mountain miles under your belt found a perfect pitch made coffee and time out here doesn’t mean anything plus I have my new shoes on.


Nightime selfie



Its one in the morning  there is a chill in the air the night is ear shatteringly still the sky is clear and studded with a spectacular display of heavenly bodies who in there bloody right mind gets up at that time in the middle of nowhere. ME


My favourite water source

This beats going to a sink to draw water I honestly cannot remember where this waterfall is located but do remember pitching nearby on a through hike over multiple summits and wakening to the sound of running water which in turn turned out to be a desperate departure from my sleeping bag to pee!


Is this bloody timer on!



Well folks that was just a wee snippet of my summer 2014 part1.  In part two I shall continue to bore you with my holiday snaps and mild adventures, take a look at my favourite kit, and a wee mention of  inspirational people I have met on social media and why and anything else I think may be of interest.

 The End

Final evaluation of The Luxe Hex Peak

Been a bit busy of late hence the delay in getting this report on the Luxe Hex Peak to print
over the Easter holiday I undertook a 4 day trip through part of The Southern Uplands as part of my final preparations for the West Highland Way and later the Southern Uplands way.

Having purchased two new shelters to update and lighten my kit for the coming year my choices were the MLD Trailstar and The New Luxe Hex Peak however over the winter period my choice of shelter was mainly the MLD Trailstar. The Hex Peaks first outing is documented here on a previous blog Extreme Hex.

Weather conditions for most of the 4 days were very favourable brilliant sunshine all day and cold crisp clear nights. The trip report shall follow this blog when I can make time.

Back to the Hex my initial findings on this shelter as a whole were very hopeful  however the one drawback was the inner it was of poor quality and design the stress points at the corners of the tub were poorly manufactured and started to tear after a couple of overnight camps this could be down to poor quality control a rogue inner that’s slipped the net.

I also found the design could have been more user friendly it cannot be pitched as one with the outer fly and having to peg the inner to attain a taught pitch is a bit of a pain I would imagine after a long days hike in the pouring rain  and then having to go through this exercise could become a little tiresome. The inner would also have been more accessible with a full length zip running across the bottom of the nest.

I had contacted bob @ backpackinglight regarding the flaws on the inner  however as I was going to do some mods of my own I decided not to post it back as requested. Firstly I strengthened the corners and replaced the mini tub poles with something more substantial the reflective guy lines were changed with a slightly thicker 2.5mm line  left over from the Trailstar  this gave me a more secure bite on the locks without fear of slipping, or having to tie off with a half hitch. I also found that the inner was better staked on two corners inside the fly as opposed to using the outer stakes. Another point here is the height of pitch for the fly which inevitably gives the inner the taught side walls you require.

Gladly the quality of the inner is not reflected on the outer fly all guy points and seam stitching are of high quality it maybe the inner was manufactured at another factory or some wee wify makes them by hand at home!

This is all consequential on my part  as I prefer to use a bivvy and leave the inner at home, to use the Ti Goat Kestrel Bivvy to its full potential I attached 5 loops to the interior seams to elevate the head area of the bivvy keeping it away from the face and head. I feel this is less restrictive and gives you more options on sleeping positions my only luxury here is a groundsheet. I am currently working on a customised lightweight groundsheet that can be pitched and packed along with the fly.

Using the Hex with fly only has the advantage of a very quick pitch I can have the shelter pitched and my sleep system ready in just over 5 minutes the bivvy and bag pack as one  therefore no need to be faffing about with an inner.

The big plus point for me on this one is the large door I would only close this if driving rain was compromising the interior otherwise it remains open day and night for the excellent views it gives. My only gripe here is the storm flap that covers the zip if the door is left open and the slightest wind blows across this small flap it reverberates sounding like a manic drone the solution was a small piece of velcro to fasten the storm flap around the zip. The other is the door tie it’s rather small for big hands or gloves resolved again with velcro.
I stand at 5ft 9 ins  and have bags of room  no pun intended both for comfortable sleeping and changing clothes. Even with a 50 litre pack stored inside there is plenty of room to cook safely and sit and watch the world go by.

This trip did not grace me with high winds as before but after my first experience with the Hex in high winds I resorted to using my older Leki poles which are far more stable than the ultra lightweight poles I normally use. In extreme conditions you could of course double pole and use the mid guy lines staked out for added security.

The only extremes that befell me were a couple of nights of frost I had spent a number of hours in the Hex during the trip and had no issues whatsoever with condensation.

I must admit I have become rather fond of this shelter very lightweight spacious- packable quick pitch- stands firm in high winds- sheds snow with ease. A few minor adjustments to the inner and in my opinion this could be a top shelter. Its total weight comes in at 1.25kg and a mere 620g fly only. You will have to seam seal it with the tube of sealer supplied I have found the best and quickest way to do this is to squeeze a small amount of sealer into an aerosol lid and slightly dilute with white spirit then apply using a small artists brush Luxe suggest you do this on the inside however I applied the sealer on the outside without any problems.

Bearing in mind the cost £159.00 from @backpackinglight you just cannot go wrong with the Hex.

I honestly thought the Trailstar would be my first go to shelter but my recent trip and experience with the Hex  has left me in two minds for both walks the Trailstar or the Hex?

LUXE REPLY to the issues of the aforementioned.

I kindly received an email from Michael at Luxe he started of by apologising for his English however he translated his thoughts on some of my points quite clearly. Firstly he was kind enough to thank me for the issues raised in the blog and that it would help in the development of 2015 model. He states that he immediately went into the sample room to look at these problems first hand and spent two weeks renewing the technical specifications for the 2015 model.
Michael goes on to mention that he had a previous meeting with Bob @bpl_uk with the prototype Hex.
As for the inner he agrees that the quality has to be looked at and the inner could become tiresome setting up after long days on the trail. So the user friendly aspect is being dealt with.
The reason for the inner being as complicated he says was, that he had many requests from people wishing for a professional adjustment system he now acknowledges that it could be better designed.
For 2015 he is producing a two man version of the Hex with a rectangular inner set in the middle supported by two trekking poles and dispensing the need of a centre pole. This will also be slightly longer to accommodate the taller person

A big thank you has to go out to Michael and the staff at Luxe for their consideration in responding in detail despite the language barrier.

All pictures were taken on a four day hike over Coulter Fell and surrounding hills.


Testing and preparing new kit.

Now that winter is almost behind us and the happy memories of record snowfall in 2014 will linger long for most it was time I gave my attention to testing out the new kit that I had recently purchased reasons for were to get the pack substantially lighter and update worn and dated systems.

Normally at this time of year my attentions are focused on adding to the list of my Munro’s, but having missed out last year on some of the longer thru walks in the UK due to illness and injury my priorities lay with attaining hill fitness and gear selection.

The  walk I shall be doing will be the West Highland Way , having done WHW a few years ago  with a friend whom against my wishes I may add wanted to Bed and Breakfast all the way through. This time being a traditionalist I shall be wild camping to Fort William. The WHW will also play a part in giving me the opportunity to look at my set up and new kit for durability.


Over the past few weekends I have been spending my time on the hill committing to two or three night stays to decide on my preference of shelter and sleep systems in various different locations and weather conditions. It is best to find out now what suits your needs than two or three days into a walk.

My preference on shelter for the WHW is the Trailstar a large footprint that gives you sleeping options whether it be near the entrance or tucked up at the rear and more than enough space for kit the trekking Poles are my old Leki Thermo lites  I did fancy changing these for the now popular pacer poles but that may be for a later walk

The new sleep system takes me away from the conventional way I used to camp I have opted for the Ti Goat Kestrel Bivvy,  Rab neutrino 200 sleeping bag and the Thermorest neo air.

Using the Trailstar and bivvy I wanted to try and have as much of the outside  inside midgies and all if you get my drift. The Kestrel bivvy is a nice piece of lightweight kit at 6 ounces that packs down to the size of an apple it is water resistant  with a substantial tub floor and midge net that can be hooked up away from the face there are no concerns over condensation build up however its only use is with a shelter but I dare say that if the weather was fair it could be used occasionally as a stand alone.  I know that this does not give you that full bivvy experience but this is something that I want to progress to maybe on shorter trips to start with. I have enjoyed using the bivvy in the Trailstar it saves time over a nest and feels less restricted for positioning. The Kestrel and sleeping bag can be packed as one with ease.

I just cannot get away from the Jam 50 this is always the first pack I turn to and with  half a dozen to chose from the Jam always wins hands down. I suppose to some they might not find it functional on longer trips but I have been using this for years mastered its packing  and find it comfortable to the point I sometimes forget that its on my back. It has the added use as a day pack to so if you wish to wander off and grab a Munro which I intend to be doing, it can be cinched down to accommodate your needs for the day.

Cooking is done using a ti gas burner for convenience on the WHW however I will be looking at the new Gel4 . The Evernew solo is my cookware of choice most of my meals shall be of the dehydrated variety apart of the odd occasion I may force myself to visit a nearby chippie en route.

The only other addition to the shelter and sleep system is a Tyvek  groundsheet purposely for keeping clothes etc. from becoming damp during the night.

Now to the more personnel of choices we each make to suit our  body conditioning of running hot or cold I have tried many different types of base layers but the one that does it for me is the Helly Hansen Dry Revolution long sleeves. The HH has excellent fast drying performance I have found by the time I have pitched up sorted bedding and made preparation for a meal my base is just about dry and no need for a change. The mid layer will be the Montane Fury Hoody which can be worn without the need for a base if the weather is fine accompanied by the Montane Featherlite Endurance Windproof it will be a case of on the day adjusting these three layers to suit the conditions. I am still contemplating on my choice of waterproof the latest addition to the kit list the Karrimor Phantom Elite three layer Event however at 760g I feel it may be on the heavy side therefore may look at something lighter and packable.

The important bottom half will be adorned with Craghoppers Bear Grylls trousers these have been in my wardrobe for three years now and have never felt uncomfortable in all conditions they are light and dry very quickly the knee and backside panels are very stretchy and strong they also have the advantage of multiple pockets. Underneath Paramo boxers.

Footwear are the new North Face Hedgehogs gtx with a base liner sock. I may look at the inov8 terrocs  for the only downside of the Hedgehogs are obviously drying if the inside is overwhelmed in crossing water.

As I have stated in previous posts kit choice is an individual matter what may do for one person will be totally alien for another. This is one of the aspects of Hillwalking and backpacking that I really look forward to planning and packing the full list or thereabouts follows I haven’t included weights but my pack is around the 9.8k mark

Golite Jam 50
Tyvek groundsheet
Kestrel bivvy
Thermorest neo
Rab 200 sleeping bag
silk liner
Evernew Ti solo pot
Ti gas burner/2x100g gas canisters (re stock en route)
Foil windshield/fire steel
Three days provisions (re stock)
Sawyer water filter / 2 x 1 Lt pouches

Helly Hansen .Dry Revo
Montane Fury Hoody
Montane Endurance Windshirt
3 Buffs/peaked cap
Craghoppers Bear Grylls Trousers
Paramo boxers
Rab down Gillette
Long johns
2 Pair base liner socks
North Face Hedgehogs
Midge head net
The usual toiletries First Aid Kit, Maps, compass, Sylva Headtorch, Nexus 7, Camera DSLR? sunglasses!!!………………………………………………. oh and bus fare home!

If there is something you think I have missed let me know.

The End