Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

From walker to backpacker?

25th April 2007

Even though I am an avid hillwalker, my trips to date have either been day excursions or a case of basing myself somewhere and exploring the local area from there, a series of day trips if you will. At times, I have even done some base-hopping but I would never consider it backpacking per se. The idea of walking the last section of the Pennine Way, between Byrness and Kirk Yetholm, has been challenging this status quo. And the long sections of the Southern Upland Way, recently completed by Aktoman and related in his usual quizzical fashion, have done nothing to detract from this challenge.

First, I need a spot more education, yes, even with my reading of TGO. Last Friday after work, I was in the Manchester’s Deansgate branch of Waterstone’s looking for an Oracle book and had a look at other things too, trying not to get too carried away with impulsive buying. The result was that I came away with a copy of Chris Townsend’s The Backpacker’s Handbook; next steps are to read the thing and make good use of the contained sagely advice.

In the meantime though, I am keeping an eye up for lightweight sleeping bags. PHD‘s Piqolo has in the past caught my eye with its 395g payload and the 465g Minimus is another option from the same stable. By default, they come without side zips but you add them for an extra £24. Roman from Lighthiker’s World favours Western Mountaineering‘s 541g Summerlite bag. Only Snow+Rock seem to sell Western Mountaineering bags in the U.K. and do not feature the aforementioned article on their online store. Nevertheless, they do offer the 454g Highlite which is another lightweight option. Aktoman uses a bag from another British manufacturer, Criterion, and its packed down size seems very impressive indeed. These all appear to be worthy contenders but I’ll learn a bit more before coming to a decision.


  • John Hee says:

    Chris Townsend’s ‘The Backpacker’s Handbook’ got a lot of us started, or just better at it. Plenty of good advice, well put together.

    My thoughts:
    1 Start simple.
    2 Don’t spend lots.
    3 Make sure its a balance between weight & volume. No use having the lightest gear if the pack’s too small.
    4 Try a single night, with the car/bus nearby so if it goes wrong you can bug out.
    5 Build your confidence slowly.
    6 Make lots of mistakes – you get better so much quicker that way!

  • John says:

    Thanks for the insight, John. I was definitely planning to start simply, possibly with overnighting in a bothy not too far from humanity. I’ll learn a bit more before then…

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