Monday, 8 December 2014

MRT Prize Draw cont'd

The draw continues for another week, as I said in yesterdays post. I wasn't able to give the draw the final push I wanted to get to the fundraising target.

So it will now be the 14th December. So lets get donating, I really want to give back to the men and women of our fine Mountain Rescue who volunteer their time to make sure we can feel safe on the mountains.

Donating £10 will first off all will support the teams financially in a small way, this image is a rough cost for personal kit only (the picture comes for Lomond MRT twitter page). There is still training, vehicles, insurances, the volunteers time and many other things on top of that. But they risk their lives coming to get us.
I have been fortunate enough never to have used their services but I know there are peaple out there that have. And I also know MRT are at the end of a phone if I need them.

Secondly it will put you in the chance to win some of the prizes below. They will be split into a male and female prize pot and the winner will receive their goodies.

New to the draw -

An exclusive 20l pack from lightweight designer Jep Paks. It has been sent to me all the way from Los Angeles! It's got to be worth a donation on its own.
The next pack is another exclusive, not only it is a fantastically built Osprey Flap Jack Pack, the version I have up for grabs is also embroidered with a Teva logo. There are not many of these about.
Then there was all the gear already listed in the original post

Brynje Base layers from NordicLife

An exclusive framed print from Stewart Smith Photography, below is an example of how stunning his photography is-
A variety of first class outdoor books from Vertebrate publishers, Chris Townsend and Alan Rowan (aka Munro Moonwalker)

 A bottle of whiskey by Scottish Mountain Rescue sponsors, Isle of Skye Whiskey

Enough headtorches to get you through the dark winter from True Mountain and LED Lensers from Scottish MR and myself.

Two water bottles from True Mountain

 Last but certainly not least a one hour white water rafting experience contributed by Outdoor Pursuits Scotland at Pinkston Watersports Centre in Glasgow for 4 people.

So please donate to the the mountain rescue teams, it doesn't matter to which one but both the Scottish Mountain Rescue and the Mountain Rescue England and Wales need our support.

Lets get it done!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

MRT Prize Draw: Update

First of all thank you to all have contributed prizes to the draw and to those who have donated to the draw.
Today was the day that the draw was supposed to take place. I took the executive decision not to do it and postpone the draw for 7 days.
The main reason for this is my intention was to push the fundraising on the last week heavily to maximise the amount raised for the UK Mountain Rescue Teams. I wasn't able to do that because of work commitments. So I don't feel I've done the fundraising justice.

The image below shows what it costs for an individual MRT member in equipment. We need to ensure they are able to equip themselves so that when we need them they can get to us.
The draw will now be on the 14th December 2014. I promise. There are more prizes to update the list with the current list is here.

I hope everyone understands, I just want to make sure I can raise the most for the brave volunteers of the MRT.

Donate for a chance to win...
 Donate to Scottish Mountain Rescue
Donate to Mountain Rescue England & Wales
Good Luck!

Friday, 14 November 2014

Mountains of Technology

Today I had a think, dangerous but it happened. Technology is what instigated it, am I a robot? Obviously I’m not, as my 128k Spectrum was smarter than me never mind the quad processor phone that fits in the watch pocket of my jeans.

My daily reliance on tech however is what made me ask the question. The day starts with my phone as my alarm clock, quickly leading to the checking of messages, email, social media; a laptop is my connection with work, the news and on the go TV; a tablet is my book and magazine. At work I try not to print off anything and use purely electronic documents (or soft copy, which is a really uncomfortable term for me). My little bit to saving the world. (I do try other ways of environmental conservation.) If it wasn't for spell check I would be compared to preschool age spelling level, including grammer (spell check highlighted my poor spelling of grammar, I have left if for poetic symbolism).
So what distinguishes me from a machine now, when my day no longer operates without a thingamajig running my life? So, I switched my thoughts to my outdoor life. “I go to the mountains”, I tell myself “I don’t need technology when I’m in the fresh air, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature!
I have an OS map and a Silva compass and I’m free from the ties of technology”
Then I think “Apart from my phone, in case there’s an emergency and I need to contact the emergency services, but that’s okay that’s to keep me safe.”

This then led to the bubble bursting like the Hindenburg! 

I use a website to plan my routes. I have an etrex GPS in my pack for the (un)likely event of being geographically misplaced. Sometimes I have my tablet tucked in my pack tracking my walk off-line on Viewranger, to later upload to Social Hiking. Introducing further electronic dependence when I return home. My camera, can that be included? Yes, as when I’m sat on the couch with the laptop saving my pictures on the hard drive, with the TV on in the background, then uploading those images on to Twitter orFlickr the electrical enslavement continues.

So I control my breath a little better and calm down. I am a gadget geek, I don’t know how the magic works but I try and learn the basics. I have just looked at upgrading my tablet recently. I’d love one of the new GoPro’s, what I do with it I’d need to try and figure out but I still want one. I have no real need for these extras and I am the first to admit it.

Am I going to change my life because of my minor panic attack this morning? In a word, No. What I will (try to) do is minimise my exposure time to the cyber world. I have just bought this stunning book The Great Mountain Crags of Scotland by Guy Robertson and Adrian Crofton, published by Vertebrate Publishing. It’s a beautiful book and I need to have a technology time out to take it in.
I totally understand the way everyday life is heading. I know my daughter whilst going through school will likely gradually have less and less involvement with books and writing. Which is a shame but her nursery were using the fruit based tablets so where does it go from there?

What else can I do? What do you do to minimise it? Do you minimise it or do you just accept it and embrace the change?
I will have to think more on this whilst in a calm environment. Probably during some outdoors time…

Monday, 3 November 2014

Roll Up, Roll Up...

I've not taken part in much charity stuff recently, I put money in the the little boxes I pass but nothing on a bigger scale. So I have come up with an idea and have been formulating it behind the scenes, you may have seen hints of it on Twitter or you may have received an email from me as part of the planning process.

So here's the plan - 

A Prize Draw in aid of Scottish Mountain Rescue and Mountain Rescue England and Wales, two worthy charities which support all of us outdoor goers when we need them. They are on call 24/7 on a voluntarily and they help hundreds of people on a yearly basis. They recently assisted a friend of mine that is a very experienced mountaineer, so it's not just the jeans and t-shirt brigade that benefit from their skills.
This image was kindly donated by @csbradders
For the measly sum of £10 you will be entered into a Prize Draw that could give you the chance to receive a load of outdoor gear and paraphernalia, think Gadget Show just less techy. In fact there will be two separate draws. One male and one female, this is because I have a couple of things that are gender specific. How the non specific stuff will be split up will develop over the course of the month. 

I have a small pot of things at the moment but there are companies and individuals that have expressed an interest in donating. As these are confirmed I will post them.

Nordiclife has donated a male and female mesh base layer. With winter on it's way these will be invaluable.

Vertebrate Publishing has donated two books: Echoes by Nick Bullock and Hanging On by Martin Boysen. Two award nominated books well worth a read.

Ian Macloed Distillers have donated a bottle of Isle of Skye 8yo Blended Scotch Whiskey. Isle of Skye Whiskey sponsors the Scottish Mountain Rescue, a wee dram to keep them warm when they are out on on a cold Scottish  night. (Disclaimer: they probably aren't as they are professionals)

The amazing photographer that is Stewart Smith has promised one of his beautiful prints of your choosing in A3, framed and signed. The print will be one of only fifty that will be put to high quality photo paper. Below is an example of the ability of Mr Smith and an image of this caliber could be hung pride of place on your wall.
The man that is Chris Townsend has been in touch and has donated four of his very own, both written and owned, books. I may also chance my arm and ask him to sign them. The books are:
  • The Great Backpacking Adventure
  • High Summer: Backpacking the Canadian Rockies
  • Crossing Arizona: A Solo Hike Through The Sky Islands and Deserts of the Arizona Trail
  • Grizzly Bears and Razor Clams: Walking America's Pacific Northwest Trail
As a look forward Mr Townsend is putting together a list of gear he has tested personally, surely it is worth more tested by him than it is off the shelf?

The truly British outdoor company True Mountain have included two water bottles and from their sister company two Suprabeam V5 head torches.

From my own gear cupboard I have put in an LED Lenser head torch. The H7.2. From the site it has "a new upgraded CREE LED light chip, new multi-function Dynamic ‘wheel’ Switch and the addition of Smart Light Technology to work alongside the world renowned patented Advanced Focus System optics are just a few highlights of the many innovations integrated into this stunning Head Lamp."

Additional items that have been contributed to the cause(05/11/14) -

The Munro Moonwalker, Alan Rowan, has donated his 5 star rated book Moonwalker: Adventures of a Midnight Mountaineer, tackling Munro's in the middle of the night.
The great guys at Scottish Mountain Rescue had a couple of LEDLenser torches ready to contribute for the winter nights coming. The H14.2 headtorch and the P14.2 torch. (You can never have enough torches:D)
Outdoor Pursuits Scotland have put up this fantastic opportunity for a 1 hour white water rafting experience for four people at Pinkston Watersports Centre in Glasgow. I know it might be a bit far for some but you can come stay at my house, no problem!
One more for the pot (11/11/14)...

The passionate outdoor sports company Vaude ( has contributed this fantastic Cheyenne 500 down sleeping bag. The mummy cut has an 80/20 quality down fill and is ecologically manufactured in line with the bluesign standard.
Image taken from Vaude website
As I said there has been other people expressing interest in the prize draw so I hope this bounty will grow through the month. It will be divided closer to the time of the draw into two bundles. And if there is enough stuff that comes in I can try and split it again giving more chances to win.

You can enter as many times as you like increasing your chances of winning but more importantly donating more money to the Mountain Rescue teams.(eg £30 = 3 entries in the draw)

So how we going to do the donating. This has probably been the most annoying. It was my hope to have one online charity donation site that would split it between the charities, however, it hasn't worked out like that. The way I have sorted it is to have a separate page for the Scottish and English & Welsh teams. So it might instill a bit of competition and raise more money, d'ya think? 

Click on the appropriate link below the logo and lets raise some money for these committed teams - 
Donate to Scottish Mountain Rescue
Donate to Mountain Rescue England & Wales

I've set the targets quite high and I hope they are manageable. 

The draw will take place on the 7th December 2014. This is to let the people who have kindly donated and myself get the winners stuff to them before Christmas (yes I am thinking that far ahead). It will be done on a proper "name out the hat" basis and will be completely transparent. Please put enough details in your donation so I can get back in touch with you if you are lucky enough to win.

If anyone knows someone who can help or you can help yourself to expand the haul then please get in touch with me. Leave a comment or through social media.

I hope everyone can get involved and good luck!

Disclaimer: There will be people I know personally that will enter this draw and they will be treated equally to everyone else that donates.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Berghaus Freeflow 25 + 5 Pack

I've had a freeflow pack for a long time. In fact it was one of the first generation versions and I used it for a long time. It's still in the gear cupboard it's just been superseded by my gear obsession.

The current version has changed slightly but the concept hasn't changed. The mesh grid along with the curved panel allows the ''free flow" of air to the back meaning less material pressing on the back whilst you get hot during activity. 

The 25 + 5 version you see here has a lot of nice additions - netted pockets, vented "EVABREATHE" shoulder straps and a hydration pocket to name a few. 

The pocket on the flap has a bigger opening with a curved zip opening.
The biggest addition I can see is the BIOFIT system which is an adjustable back height. It has 5 settings from XS to XL allowing it to sit correctly around the waist which it does. It sits comfortably over the shoulders and around the waist. I did find the waist belt loosened off a bit but nothing too serious.
I find that between the mesh and the curved panel is good for stashing my map whilst walking.
The additional features do add to the weight of what is an already weighty system. Granted its not the lightest but it carries well, so a balance is struck.

There are walking pole attachments which can be bastardised to accommodate an ice axe.
I was a bit concerned about the white straps getting filthy but after several lanes on the hill it has returned still white. Obviously just aesthetics.

There's also a rain cover, which I always completely forget about.
I do have difficulty with the volume of the pack. the knock on effect of the curved panel is the main area has to curve too. lt doesn't however have an adverse effect on the packs centre of gravity. What it does affect though is how the pack holds its contents. To me it feels restrictive, the curve seems to impair access to the depths of the sack. Not majorly but enough. And it doesn't feel like it's the full 25 litres.

It doesn't make it a bad pack. Actually its very comfortable which is the main thing. It makes a good summer and pre-winter pack.The side pockets, which I assume are the + 5, are really handy. Normally I keep a water bottle in one and water proof trousers in the other so they're handy.

This model isn't in production anymore it seems. There is a 25 litre and a 30 litre version on Berghaus's site along with all their other products here