Thursday, 23 September 2010

How to Select a Childrens Backpack and Encouraging Them to Hike

I have enjoyed hiking and rambling since I was a young boy. However now I am a Dad and I of course have brought up my two boys to also really love hiking. I was looking forward to buying my kids their hiking gear and in particular - a childrens backpack. However I had a problem of encouraging them to get off their computer games and go on a ramble or hike carrying a heavy childrens backpack, being very tired and having aching feet? We know this as the spoils and challenges of a hike.

However I wanted my kids to want a childrens backpack rather than just giving it to them and selling the positive points of hiking . I did a bit of promoting by suggesting hiking was fantastic fun. You had to be grown up to hike and wear a childrens backpack. Also it was the BIG boys that like to carry the backpack. Not only did I try to verbally encourage them but also what also helped was to be a great example and hike myself. I took them on small local hikes in the area (although it was flat). I found that planning small hikes is the key to ensuring your kids grow with the pastime.

The reason I am writing this is because I have seen so many times on hiking forums that encouraging your kids to hike and wear a childrens backpack is a problem for the best hikers I know.

I also made sure they were involved with outside groups like scouting for boys. My eldest is 10 years old and has just finished a 12 mile local hike with the local scouts. He loved it
I found that by putting all the above into action we not only bought a childrens backpack for him but he cannot put it down and nearly went to bed wearing it – which was of course very amusing. Now of course I am being pestered by my youngest to buy a childrens backpack as well. It will not take a lot of arm twisting to get him a childrens backpack

Also last year I took my kids up the Ben Nevis mountain which is the highest point in the UK. They achieved this being at the ages of 9 and 5 and yes with a childrens backpack. This year we travelled to the Lake District and climbed Scafell Pike and we loved ever moment of it

So if you want to get your children involved and enjoying hiking I suggest

* Positively encourage your children,

* show by example and get them involved slowly.

* This will lead onto more adventurous things

Very quickly you will be proud to buy them a childrens backpack and being as proud as I am even if they have never shown any interest at all. Have a great Hike!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

4 major points to consider when buying women's rucksacks

We all love hiking and rambling and getting out in the fresh air and getting amongst the countryside and of course It does not matter if you are a man or women. However whether you are a man or a woman we all need the same type of gear but there is a problem that can be gender based. Are their different types of gear required?

In particular are there different types of rucksacks required between a women and a man? If so what is the reason and in particular (in the case of a rucksack) what do women need to consider when purchasing woman's rucksacks. This is the particular question I will cover for Women’s rucksacks

I have heard some people say that Women buy more than men and therefore all women's products including women's rucksacks are geared toward a woman's market. I am not sure I agree and believe that Women’s rucksacks are needed for physical reasons and are different from men's rucksacks. It’s a matter of opinion. There are no catwalks in the mountains!

So here are differences and the areas to look for when buying Women’s rucksacks.

1. The shoulder straps are actually on narrower Women’s rucksacks to ensure a comfortable fit however are curved to allow for the bust area.

2. Women’s rucksacks are built with a wider waist belt. Getting a little technical - the waist belt should ideally have a conical shape to it. This conical form is achieved by angling the belt diagonally upwards and by curving the waist belt wings. You can get Women’s rucksacks that contain a frontal adjuster system. This will simplify the waist fitting procedure and will add some value.

3. The rucksack frame is shorter on a Women’s rucksacks than a man's. When choosing a rucksack (for anybody) I suggest going to a recommended hiking and rambling shop and getting yourself measured for the right women’s rucksack.

4. The back of the women’s rucksack are generally shorter. Although just because Women’s rucksacks are shorter this does not mean a women has to buy this type of rucksack. Some Women have longer backs and should look at a obtaining a man's rucksack for best fitting. It really is a personal thing

So there are the main four points which is not clear cut but a good way forward. A man could buy a man's rucksack and a woman could buy a women's rucksack and both could report uncomfort. They could swap and everything could fit nicely. There is no sure thing. However the above main 4 points are the points to consider when buying Women’s rucksacks.

So I hope you buy the right rucksack whatever your gender. More importantly hope you have a really great hike and ramble wherever this may be

What type of travel rucksack should you buy?

So you are out to buy a travel rucksack but there are some considerations when buying a travel rucksack. The question we need to answer is - what are you going to use it for? At this point it can get detailed and I wish to avoid this and keep it simple to buy the right travel rucksack so here are some tips in this article. So I hope it is useful

Your travel rucksack really needs to be fit for purpose. Is it going to be used for hiking and rambling or travelling? You need to know as you need to understand how waterproof and strong it needs to be especially if you are going hiking with your travel rucksack. Taking a travel rucksack on your holidays and just using it for travelling is not so much an issue. However a travel rucksack for hiking does need some attension.

Of course make sure that the travel rucksack is nice and comfortable. Nowadays most travel rucksacks are very comfortable compared to rucksacks years ago. A good travel rucksack now has a breathing system to allow some air to your back and help to stop you sweating. So in my case this is a great idea. In addition the straps are now adjustable to fit not only your shoulders but adjustable so you can wear the travel rucksack high or low on your back. This is useful.

Most travel rucksacks which are large now come with the all important belt. Your hips should take more of the weight instead of your shoulders as this is the strongest part of your body. So make sure that a belt is included. The picture illustrates a travel rucksack belt

You need the travel rucksack to be waterproof. A good feature is a rain cover complete with a zip away bag cover. So that when it does start to rain (which you need to be prepared for) then you unzip your rucksack rain cover and cover the rucksack for rain protection. Again a useful feature. However some hikers do say that a handy top pocket is wasted by the rain cover. I suppose it is a personal trade off – pocket or cover? What is your choice?

What I do is keep my contents of the travel rucksack dry by using a plastic bag in the travel rucksack. Therefore I use this for waterproofing and shy away from the waterproof cover. However some people like it so I have included it. It is whatever you feel comfortable with as both methods are good for keeping a travel rucksack dry.

Another really good feature is a unique movable bio system which means as you bend or twist, the pack remains upright. This means that the centre of gravity remains the same reducing the risk of falling or loosing your balance – nice feature.

I always say – have a large number of pockets in your Pockets make it easy to store and retrieve the smaller but things like map, compass, emergency whistle, pocket knife etc.

Have a really great hike or travel well and enjoy your travel rucksack as its all part of the fun.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

How Ramblers Benefit by Joining a Rambling Club

I know that if you are out hiking I can fully see the joy that ramblers have. You will know how great it is to get outdoors, to challenge yourself to either height or distance and immerse yourself in the wonders of nature. Also of course it is a great way to exercise. Just ask other ramblers

That is whether you hike, are one of the ramblers or just walk often. You may be new to this and not confident to venture out. Or you may be on your own and want more company

However ramblers need to organise there hike. If you do this on your own you will need to work out where you want to go, what route you wish to take, where you wish to stay and who will go with you.

So a really simple solution to these type of problems is to join a Ramblers Club. There are many benefits. When you first join a Ramblers club they usually allow you to ramble with them to ensure you are happy with the club and they are happy with you before joining.

Fitness does come into it but you can ramble at the pace you need to. You must never or allow anyone else to hike or ramble at someone else pace unless you are ready for problems.. A Ramblers Club will take this into account. You will also be with very like minded people who love the great outdoors. Rambler Clubs are usually well organised, will have a list of great routes and do most of the preparation and organisation.

It is a personal choice to join a ramblers club. My personal choice is to hike with friends and family. However other people have different circumstances and a ramblers club might be the thing for them

Looking at the favourite search engines there are many clubs that ramblers use which are very localised to each area. Some Rambling Clubs consist of just a handful of members whilst others are greater in number and who meet regularly for walks, talks and socialising. These groups usually welcome new members as they share a common like for walking and rambling.

The way that clubs are organised is that they have different grades of hikes or walks and It is up to the individual which walk they wish to join. The decision here will of course very much depend on your level of fitness compared to the difficulty and length of the hike and your experience

You can be a rambler on your own and many people enjoy hiking in their own groups. This is what I usually do. After all hiking can be enjoyed however it is organised. If you do not have a like minded group of friends and want to join other Ramblers then a Rambling Club could be a great way to enjoy this excellent pastime.

Hiking Gear You Need to Take on a Ramble Or Hike

OK so we are going to go hiking. Before you do you need to understand what hiking gear you will need to take with you. The camping stores are full of lots of hiking gear that they want to sell you and lets face it – you want to buy (just like me).
However some important things you will need with you and for you to consider when deciding what hiking gear you need.

1. Rucksack. Sounds obvious but you want a quality rucksack when hiking. There are different sizes of rucksack depending on the type of hiking you are planning. You also need to investigate how to pack a rucksack as this is also very important and has a big impact to your positive or not so positive hiking experience. This is really a subject of its own and this is just a quick note to guide you in the right direction. However you need to concentrate on packing the heavy items at the top with easy access to the things you may need first (such as waterproof clothing etc). Also I suggest you go to a camping store rather than buying on line unless you are confident on exactly what rucksack to buy. The camping store will guide you on a one to one basis as deal with all types of hiking gear.

2. Clothing and waterproof gear. You will need to take at least one pair of complete clothing depending on the number of days you are hiking for. Whilst your clothes can get wet they should be resistant to absorbing water (i.e not jeans) and it is better to take a number of thin jumpers than a thick jumper. Also please remember 80% of heat is lost through your head - so a hat to insulate your head from the cold is important. In addition most importantly buy some good quality waterproof gear. A good raincoat (not thin) and waterproof leggings is essential to keeping dry and safe on a hike – this is especially in England where I hike. This hiking gear is very important for a hike.

3. Hiking boots. Essential item to your hiking gear are hiking boots. You need strong boots for the tough trail ahead. Your boots should support your ankles as well as your feet. Make sure they are comfortable and fit well. Also make sure that you wear your hiking boots a number of times before you use them on the hike. This will help prevent blisters - not very nice. If there was one thing you had to concentrate your money on as part of your hiking gear I would say good quality hiking boots.

4. Map, Compass. It is obvious but you need to know where you are going and plan your route and have a map and compass. It is an essential aspect of your hiking gear. It is also very important you know how to use them

Go to my blog on links in this article for a free report on a compass

Get it here

You need to know how to read a map and how to set a map using your surroundings and a compass. Again important part of your hiking gear.
This is not a complete list of all the hiking gear you need to take on a hike however it is a start for the main essentials.

The above hiking gear will help you to prepare for a fantastic and memorable hike. Have a great time!

How to Resolve the Backpacking Tent Problem - The Lightweight and Ultralight Backpacking Tent

As lover of hiking and rambling we love to go backpacking, as it is great to do this over a number of days. This way you get the time to really get into the countryside and away from all the stresses and strains of life and also away from the crowds and the roads. So a 2 or 3 day backpack is great for the sole and also great to develop even deeper friendships with the people who are going with you.

If you are backpacking a number of days you will need a backpacking tent. The problem some people find is that by taking a tent the extra weight in your backpack increases too much. This can cause back problems if not slow you down on a hike. This is not a good way to treat your body or conduct a backpack or hike..

Are there solutions for this problem? Well, of course there is.

Firstly if you are carrying the tent carry for a max 4 of you. If there is a fifth hike you need another tent

Secondly and the main solution here is to buy a lighter tent. There are many light backpacking tents on the market. The 2 types which are the most popular these days is a Lightweight or Ultralight backpacking tent.

An Ultralight backpacking tent is the expoerienced backpackers favourite choice in general. The reason for this is they are lighter than Lightweight tents. The maximum weight is 2kg for an Ultralight tent. Here seems a war on as to who can get the lightest backpacking tent.

Lightweight tents are slightly more heavier but are still up to the job for backpacking and still a good choice. These tents generally will have more space which you may want to consider when buying backpacking tents.

The good news that you would want to here is that both style of tent uses the most up to date technology advanced techniques to make the tent both light and strong. The other advantage is that by obtaining a lighter tent of course this will enable you to travel at a faster speed. Therefore covering more ground. An obvious point but relative to the subject and definitely a positive point.

Of course it is your choice which of the backpacking tents to go for. Either style will be fine and great for backpacking. Your choice whether you go for slightly heavier lightweight tent but with more space OR the lighter Ultralight backpacking tent. It’s a personal choice

So please make sure you have a light but strong backpacking tent to save any aching pains. In addition have a great and memorable hike wherever this maybe and good luck..

Nepal Trekking, Prevention and Dealing With Altitude Sickness

Nepal Trekking is a famous and popular part of the world to trek, ramble and hike, however there are dangers:

The country of Nepal is situated quite high in South Asia. The giant mountains that are situated quite near to Nepal reach over 20,000 feet. In fact the top 8 highest mountains in the world (including of course Mount Everest) are positioned quite north of Nepal. So this ia quite a special place. In addition Nepal itself is situated over 15,000 feet above sea level.

Another fact is a medical one. Hikers and trekkers suffer from Altitude sickness at heights of over 8000ft. Taking a look at these height figures it should be no surprise then that people suffer with Altitude sickness a lot when they go Nepal Trekking. So when you go Nepal Trekking Altitude sickness is a real problem that needs to be dealt with and prevented.

The problem with Nepal Trekking is that you are climbing high and as you trek higher and higher the amount of oxygen remains the same but the air pressure falls preventing the right levels of oxygen to the body. This situation causes you to get altitude sickness which is mainly a feeling of being unstable, headaches, and also feeling very tired and sick. If this gets so bad the body can even fall into a coma (not good). So you really need to watch yourself when you are Nepal Trekking.
Here are the following actions you can take either to prevent or deal with altitude sickness

1. Be physically fit before you go Nepal Trekking. You know whether you are or not. With me I use to be but not any more so if I was to go back to Nepal and trek and would be in the gym a lot more.

2. Try and avoid this by taking acetazolamide before you go Nepal Trekking. However as usual you will need to consult a doctor to determine the amount to take and to ensure this is medically right for you.

3. Make sure you are fully hydrated before and during Nepal Trekking.

4. Ascend slowly to avoid these problems

5. Try and reduce your food intake if you start getting the symptoms

6. Painkillers will help

7. If you feel sick try and descend to lower levels of the mountain.

Of course if you do fall sick and need to exit the mountains – when you have recovered Nepal itself is a great place to be. Whilst Nepal is very spiritual (being the birthplace of Buddha) there are also things you can do. Try and visit one of the many festivals or take a flight over the mountains or enjoy a cycling trip.

So the rewards for Nepal Trekking can be out of this world, however so can the dangers of altitude sickness. So enjoy your trek but also be aware of the many dangers including altitude sickness when you go Nepal Trekking.

Hiking Equipment - Which of the Three Types of Hiking Stoves Are For You?

Overnight hiking is great fun but is does mean you need to take more hiking equipment and one of the extra pieces of hiking equipment you need will be a hiking stove. In fact you don’t need to be going overnight – a hot chocolate on a hike is very welcome even during the day. Therefore you will need a hiking stove as part of your hiking equipment.

So what hiking stoves are available and which ones do you need to take on a hike. I will recommend three types of hiking stove as part of your hiking equipment to go in your rucksack.

Firstly, liquid fuel hiking stoves. This type of hiking stoves will require quite a bit of effort to get going. The stove requires a pumping action (as a plunger primer) to ensure that the fuel tank is pressurised allowing a vapour to be ignited. However the positive point here is that these are more efficient and give out a lot of heat when they are in full flow. My suggestion is that liquid fuel hiking stoves are more for the seasoned and experienced hiker than a beginner hiker as part of your hiking equipment.

Secondly, taking a look at gas canister hiking stoves. These are very quick and easy and provide instant heat. These are more popular and used in most circumstances because they are easy to use for hiking equipment. The disadvantage is that once the canister has run out of gas then disposing of the old canister is not easy. My suggestion is that this is great for the beginner hiker and a good part of your hiking equipment. I guess the seasoned hiker will have a choice which stove to use.

Thirdly there is a combination of the above two types. They are called multi fuel stoves which is another consideration to your hiking equipment. These types of stove can run on either liquid fuel or gas canister. Again this is for the seasoned hiker. As there are different types of liquids and canister around the world this type of stove can be used anywhere in the world.

I will add a few safety tips here as well.

Never light your stove in a tent as stoves can easily be knocked over and tents can easily catch light to your tent and your hiking equipment.

Plan where you are going to place your stove. It should be located on flat ground and away from trees and other fire hazards.

Have a great hike and eat with hot food and drink with your hiking stove - an essential part of your hiking equipment

Walking on your own? Take a Guided Walking Holiday

I have just had a great time from a walking holiday in the Lake District. This type of vacation I am familiar with and I simply can not get enough of it.

However it may be a different scenario for you. You could be in the position where a walking holiday is something you really want to do but you will have some challenges. A walking holiday could be for you but this may mean going on your own and you would rather go with a group of like minded people. Or maybe this is something you have never done before and the prospect appears scary.

If this is the case then maybe a guided walking holiday is for you. This involves a group or a guide taking you and a team of like minded individuals up the mountains on a walking holiday. So this would be a guided walking holiday. There are a number of benefits of this type of holiday can bring and these are

1. You meet other people with similar loves and desires that you have including fantastic scenary, the climbing challenges and the great funny stories that you can share as a group of individuals. The chances are you will get to feel very welcome and very at home with the type people you meet. They are in general not nerdy but fun people to be with

2. You don’t have to worry on a guided walking holiday. Your guide will be responsible and give you the quality time in the areas they believe will be best for you. The reason for this is that they will want you back next year – and of course your money.

3. They will provide assistance with the personal gear you need to take on a walking holiday. Again the worry is taken out of this type of walking holiday.
I have to say this will need to be balanced with the extra cost of a guided walking holiday.

The prices do vary of course depending on whether you just require a guide or it is a complete package of accommodation etc. Nowadays you can pick up a guide in the UK for say £100-£200 per day. Self package guided holidays I have seen for over £1000. However it is a personal view as to whether paying for piece of mind is worth the cost of a guided walking holiday.

My advise on this is that if you are nervous for the first time or want to be with other people – give it a go for one hike and see how it goes. Nothing ventured….
You can easily find these types of walking holidays on the internet. You can use some key search terms such as:

"guided walking holidays" Greece

...If Greece is where you want to visit.

So a guided walking holiday may be for you particularly if you are on your own or want to take the worry out of what could go wrong

Whether you arrange a walking holiday on your own or you do choose a guided walking holiday - have a great walking holiday.

Camping stores: there are other – cheaper places to get camping gear

When a child walks into a sweet shop or toy shop you know that they could easily spend your cash. The same thing is for me when I walk into camping stores. I could literally end up buying the store and get carried away and maybe buying stuff that is not needed!

You do however need the right gear whether it be hiking or camping. Whilst hiking or camping is not really an expensive pastime compared to others, it is very easy to get excited and spend many dollars in camping stores buying all sorts of items. Of course you will be paying the top prices in general and therefore this of course can be a problem.

There are a number of ways you can get cheaper deals other than camping stores.
Firstly consider department stores selling camping equipment at the end of the season. They market their goods on a season by season basis. Therefore at the end of the summer season they will be focused on summer stock clearances to make way for the new season gear. This therefore presents opportunities for deals on camping gear working out cheaper than camping stores. So may be some good opportunities here.

There is then the obvious option of buying hiking and camping gear online as it will be cheaper, however you need to be careful. There are some gear that you need will need to try on and get expert advice I will say should be avoided on the internet unless you know exactly what you are buying. Especially items like rucksacks and in particular hiking boots I would never buy online. The process of choosing these items is a whole separate subject however I strongly suggest you buy these items from camping stores where you can get the best personal advice of which is the best for you. Buying all other item types online is great.

There are also options where you can borrow such as a tent or stove. Other equipment you can even hire if you are not going to be hiking or camping again. Some people have a bit of fun and hold private parties for camping gear instead of buying from camping stores. These options may not be the common ways of buying camping gear but certainly cheaper than camping stores.

So in summary you just need a bit of sense when buying camping gear. Some items you need to buy from camping stores however you can reduce the cost by simply using other methods mentioned in this article – so go out and get some cheaper stuff!

I hope this has been useful so have a great hike or camp whether you are buying from camping stores or finding the cheaper ways

How to Choose a Campsite to Pitch Your Tents For Camping

You are planning to go out in the countryside and take the people that you know for camping, you know you are in for a really fantastic time. So you have you own process and bring your camping gear including your tents for camping.

Normally you would be OK if you are going to an organised camp with everything put on – water on tap, a designated area to pitch your tents for camping and a shower block.

However you may be in the middle of no-where and you need to decide where you are going to pitch your tents for camping.

So where do you pitch?

Firstly pitch your tents for camping in an area that looks flat. Years ago our Scout leader that had a strange sense of humour. He decided to pitch all tents on a 45 degree hill and nearly all the boys ended up rolling out the tents at night. This is one thing for boy scouts but not good for most people. So look for a flat area when deciding where to pitch your tents for camping.

You need to also make sure that the flat area you have chosen to pitch is not at the bottom of a hill. Why? This is where all the rain water collects. Of course all the obvious signs are any boggy parts around the area should be avoided.

You need to be as near as possible to a water supply when are pitching your tents for camping. On a campsite this could be a simple tap – may even be a tap per pitch. However in a remote area this could be close to a nearby stream. Also make sure the stream is fast running giving you the best chance that the water is as pure as possible. When you collect the water it must not be in a stagnant part but a fast flowing small waterfall will be great! I drink mountain water all the time however check with the local authorities that there are no local issues using mountain water when pitching tents for camping.

Also try and make sure that you are protected by the wind as much as you can. I know wind can change – it’s a case of doing what you can at the time
So hopefully you have a better idea and set some useful points when starting a camp and pitching your tents for camping (especially in a remote area).

How to Choose a Campsite to Pitch Your Tents For Camping

You are planning to go out in the countryside and take the people that you know for camping, you know you are in for a really fantastic time. So you have you own process and bring your camping gear including your tents for camping.
Normally you would be OK if you are going to an organised camp with everything put on – water on tap, a designated area to pitch your tents for camping and a shower block.

However you may be in the middle of no-where and you need to decide where you are going to pitch your tents for camping.

So where do you pitch?

Firstly pitch your tents for camping in an area that looks flat. Years ago our Scout leader that had a strange sense of humour. He decided to pitch all tents on a 45 degree hill and nearly all the boys ended up rolling out the tents at night. This is one thing for boy scouts but not good for most people. So look for a flat area when deciding where to pitch your tents for camping.

You need to also make sure that the flat area you have chosen to pitch is not at the bottom of a hill. Why? This is where all the rain water collects. Of course all the obvious signs are any boggy parts around the area should be avoided.

You need to be as near as possible to a water supply when are pitching your tents for camping. On a campsite this could be a simple tap – may even be a tap per pitch. However in a remote area this could be close to a nearby stream. Also make sure the stream is fast running giving you the best chance that the water is as pure as possible. When you collect the water it must not be in a stagnant part but a fast flowing small waterfall will be great! I drink mountain water all the time however check with the local authorities that there are no local issues using mountain water when pitching tents for camping.

Also try and make sure that you are protected by the wind as much as you can. I know wind can change – it’s a case of doing what you can at the time
So hopefully you have a better idea and set some useful points when starting a camp and pitching your tents for camping (especially in a remote area).

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

What to Wear When You Are Outdoor Hiking - From the Top Down

Well its great to go on an outdoor hiking experience. However like anything worthwhile there are problems to overcome. The problem I have seen many times is that people that are going on an outdoor hiking experience for the first time, do not wear the correct clothes. Or they just don’t know what to wear.

Wearing the right clothes does not mean you have to get the credit card out again every single time. However it is important for safety reasons and for comfort reasons for wearing the correct outdoor hiking gear. You just need to follow some simple steps. So I have out together something that I wish I had for the first time and I believe will be useful – what to wear on an outdoor hiking experience from the top down.

1. The top - your head. A lot of your body heat is lost through your head so wear a thick woolly hat to keep you warm.

2. Your torso. People believe they need a nice thick jumper when you are outdoor hiking. This is not the best idea. To insulate from the cold you need to wear a number of thin layers of tops. The reason for this is that you can have some form of heat control (take off or put on layers until you are at the right temperature).

Also and more importantly the air between the thin layers will act as a heat insulator and will keep you warmer when you are outdoor hiking. In summary a number of thin layers is better than 1 thick jumper.

3. Your trousers. Need to be light and strong and also need to be non absorbent in case they get wet from the rain or falling in a stream (not Corduroys or Jeans). I always wear army greens as they are very strong, dry very quickly and are light. In addition army greens have many pockets and handy to keep the small essential items when you are outdoor hiking. So look out for these at the camping stores. However jogging bottoms should be OK.

4. The bottom - your feet, most important. Of course you need good hiking boots but also 2 pairs of socks, one thick pair and one thin pair. This will help stop blisters as the socks rub together and not your skin. The thin pair should be worn first.

Of course make sure you have the right waterproof gear. So you need a waterproof top, trousers and gaiters for your feet. Also make sure this is very handy for the sudden downpour – not at the bottom of your rucksack when outdoor hiking

Finally when you are outdoor hiking make sure you have at least one change of extra clothing. If you are outdoor hiking for 2 days take clothes for 3 days and so on. You absolutely never know what Mother Nature has in store for you especially on the mountains which attracts the rain very easily and quickly

….. and - have a great outdoor hiking adventure.

The points to consider when purchasing mens walking boots

I have just returned from the Lake District with my best friend and my kids. We all hiked up Scarfell Pike – the largest mountain in England – it was great. It was great to be surrounded by the great summits in the area.

However before we went we had to plan to ensure we had the right walking gear. However in my view the most important walking gear that men will purchase is mens walking boots. The reason for this your foot is the part of the body that makes contact with the ground, takes the weight and therefore needs the protection required.

So if you are going to spend some cash is best to spend your hard earned money on mens walking boots. What do you need to consider as you want to ensure you get the best value for money?

Firstly you need to consider the sort of walking and hiking you are going to embark on. If you are walking in rough terrain you will need a hiking boot with an ankle support. If you are just going for a long walk on a flat surface (road or tarmac path) which means you do not need an ankle support (in fact some people hate the ankle support). To be honest your mens walking boot should be nearly one size bigger than your normal shoe size.

The reason for this is you need to be wearing 2 pairs of socks with one of them being a thick pair. The reason for the 2 pairs of socks is to prevent blisters. You prevent blisters by your 2 socks rubbing together rather than your skin on your foot. Always wear your thin pair first when wearing mens walking boots

Secondly, you need to go to a hiking store rather than shop online. This is to ensure you purchase the right boot for you. So you need to be able to try the mens walking shoe on and make sure it is a very comfortable fit. The hiking store will give you the best professional advice. You know your foot should not move inside the boot otherwise you could end up with blisters.

Thirdly, to have a better chance of buying quality you need to buy a well known brand of boot.

I mention a mens walking boot as this is very much different to women's walking boots. The main differences are women have a smaller cartilage area and a smaller narrower heel. The boots are not different because they are smaller. So make sure you view and purchase the right type of boot.

The last point is to make sure that you wear the boot a number of times before going walking in the hills. This is called “wearing in” and needs to be done until your foot is virtually a complete mould for your mens walking boot. You will not regret doing these simple things as your feet will be nicely protected in your mens walking boot

So have a great walk after you have purchased, with socks, worn in the correct mens walking boot.

How resolve a Kids hiking problem – mosquitoes

For those who love hiking - we of course want to pass this on to our kids and watch our kids hiking and get the buzz that we do. However before you do there are problems to resolve.

When you take kids hiking you sometimes need to tackle things in a different way to adults. One of these problems for kids hiking is mosquitoes.

During your hike you need to make sure your kids are fully protected by mosquito spray. I know I cannot trust my kids to put on the spray correctly themselves and fully so I always do this myself or I get an older child to do it for me.

So get them to stand still in their kids hiking gear, with their feet nicely apart and their arms stretched out to their sides. See the picture above to see the pose required.

Yes they would need to close their eyes. Now hold the spray about 12 inches from their body and spray all over - hands, arms and torso. Legs and feet are most important as this attracts the other bugs from the ground. Next you need to protect their necks and ears. So get your kids to put their hands out and spray into their cupped hands. You then need ask them to rub behind the ears and neck so that the solution in their hands are spread very well in these particular areas.

You have now given the best mosquito protection for kids hiking during the hiking day. Of course do not forget to spray yourselves as well – and other adults.

Once your hiking day is completed – you have come off the mountains and you are ready for camp you will need to ensure you are all protected during the night by a mosquito net. This is really important for all of your hiking team but especially for your kids hiking protection.

There are many types of net you can buy however I normally use a Dome or Self supporting net as I find these the best for camping for kids hiking.

One thing of consideration here is to consider the mesh size. This will depend on the where you are hiking in the whole and the size of mosquitoes in the area. So look this up to buy the correct net

So always protect you and your kids from mosquitoes by spraying correctly and using mosquito nets when taking your kids hiking

How To Determine And Use A Grid Reference On A Mountain Map

When you are using a mountain map there are a number of advantages to using grid references. They are great for pin pointing your location on a mountain map.

Think about it. You are stuck on a mountain and you look at your mountain map and find a grid reference for where you are and call the emergency services and they can rescue you directly because you have pin pointed you reference. So a very useful thing to learn and not really difficult.

There are mainly two types of grid reference, a four figure which gives you a square for your location and a six figure grid reference which gives you any exact location on your mountain map.

If you look at an ordinance survey mountain map you will see a full grid of squares on the actual mountain map. The actual grid squares are made of grid lines (normally light blue) that are labelled both as a vertical and horizontal. The vertical lines run from the top to the bottom of the map with each line being marked with a number 01, 02, 03 etc. This is as you would expect.

Similarly the horizontal lines run from the left hand side to the right hand side of the mountain map and are labelled on both sides in the same way 01, 02, 03 etc.
When you use a 4 figure grid reference on a mountain map you will simply reference a square in the grid as mentioned above. This is determined by the horizontal reference (lets say 06) first and then the vertical reference (lets say 10). It is always in this order. How is a good way to remember this?

A good way to remember this I have found is the words "along the corridor (horizontal) and up the stairs (vertical)" - on our mountain map. So in this example for these numbers the 4 figure grid reference (which is a grid square on the map) is 0610.

However to pinpoint this location on a mountain map a more accurate 6 figure grid reference is used. We actually still use the 4 figure grid reference with another 2 figures or numbers. This will pin point the location within the square of the 4 figure reference.

Firstly take the Horizontal grid line 06 and look at the next horizontal line 07. You should imagine the space between 06 and 07 as split into 10 more grid lines and set an estimated figure from 1-10. So horizontally if you believe the location is a quarter way between 06 and 07 then the horizontal ref is 062. If you believe the location is a third from 06 to 07 you could say the horizontal ref is 063 etc. Let us say that it is 063 on our mountain map.

Next you do exactly the same on the vertical grid lines. The vertical ref is going to be between 10 and 11 in our example. You should imagine 10 small grid lines between 10 and 11 and allocate a number where your location is vertically 1-10. Let us say you think it is about 4. So our vertical grid ref is 104. Now put the 2 grid refs together - again "along the corridor (horizontal) and up the stairs (vertical)". So our 6 figure ref on our mountain map is 063104

By using a 6 figure reference we can accurately pin point where a location is on the mountain map.

Again the benefits are vast. For less dramatic example you can use this to start and finishes of hikes. Scout hike patrols are given a 6 figure reference to start and finish. They then make their own route between these 2 references. It is a great exercise.

Have a great mountain hike with your mountain map.

Hiking Camp Organisation and Pitching Hiking Tents on Bad Surfaces

So hopefully you are planning a hike over the next few days of weeks. You may be hiking as a group and so at least one of you will be carrying your hiking tents – for a maximum group of 4.

After a long day of hiking you have progress off the mountains into the valley and are ready to set up camp for the evening. No doubt the group will be quite and hungry and ready to settle for the night.

You may be tempted at the time to start chilling out and slowly end the day – however this is the very time to continue to work as a group and get yourself organised. It is most important at this time for the group leader to set some tasks for some individuals to cook the evening meal and others to put up the hiking tents. The reason for this is that you may be getting cold as you have stopped and you want to chill out slowly. Also you need food as quickly as possible – do not delay these activities.

Other group members can be collecting water etc. You always need a group leader and it is ideal to take it in turns to be group leader. Its good for the group morale to change your leadership and of course the individuals

Practise at home putting up your hiking tents and therefore you will know how to do this without reading the instructions on the hike. You can also make this fun by putting up your hiking tents blind folded or in the dark - either way it is great practise for putting up hiking tents.

However you may find that the surfaces you are putting up your hiking tents may vary from camp to camp as it will not always be the same type of soil when you are hiking. For surfaces that are hard you will need to use Needle tent pegs. These are strong, light in weight and very thin. They are ideal for staking in very hard and rocky ground.

However for surfaces that are very soft then an Angled tent peg is needed for putting up hiking tents. These type of tent pegs have V shaped ridges that help grip the ground for a much better grip in soft conditions. However for either hard or soft surfaces if you are really stuck and you just do not have the correct hiking tent peg (for the surface required) you can do other things and here is an example.

What you can do to support your guy line is use a big rock or boulder. Also you can tie the guy line to a tree or anything solid connected to the ground. There are always many ways to secure your hiking tents

So work as a team when you stop for camp by sharing out the tasks but make sure you have a group leader and change this person over the hike. When putting up your hiking tents make sure you know how to put it up and take different types of tent pegs for different pitching surfaces. Above all have a great hike and a relaxing camp at each night stop.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

How to Pack Your Backpack Gear

Now you have all of your backback gear all ready to pack. All you want to do is to get out to the countryside and start hiking. The only thing left is to pack your backpack gear. What do you need to consider? How do you do this? What things do you need to look out for?

Initially this can look quite confusing. However when you pack your backpack gear it is relatively simple and please don’t be blinded with science by all the so called experts on some internet sites.

So just before you start packing, lay all of your gear on the floor or table so you know how much to pack – the same way you pack the trunk (boot) of your car. You can see the scope in front of you that you need to pack.

So you need to make sure that your backpack gear is kept dry. To do this I still put a large plastic bag (or rubbish bag) in my backpack and pack everything in this. I have done this for years and have found that this keeps everything in the plastic bag dry. This is simple and if you get your rubbish bags free then this is free as well.

Also you need to ensure there is as little air as possible in your backpack after it is packed. This is to ensure you get the most packed in the space you have available. I recommend using fold dry bags. These are great as they are small bags where you can pack individual items and then easily draw the air out. Of course you can get these bags from any camping store or even online, Your backpack gear then consists of pre-packed dry bags. This also helps to keep your gear dry. Also these fold dry bags enable you to keep things organised, dry and pack well as your backpack gear. Believe me these are very useful.

Another important point is how you distribute weight when packing backpack gear. I go against the grain a little and put the heavier items nearer your body (i.e. spine) and nearer the top of the backpack. I find this helps to keep the weight to your centre of gravity. Other so called experts say that you should have heavy items at the bottom. I would hate to do this to my back! I also make sure that I keep the backpack balanced so the backpack and backpack gear is not pulling you on one side.

The next important point is to ensure you have easy access to the items you need in a hurry. For example when it is raining you need to have easy access your rain gear so you can change into this gear quickly when it starts to rain. Your rain gear needs to be packed to the top or a side pocket again easy access.

So some important points to consider when packing backpack gear. So hopefully you can see that it is not a complete science

So when your backpack is fully packed and you are ready to go - have a great hike!

How To You Improve Your Climbing Fitness

I normally go hiking and rambling and I am currently planning my next mountain hike. The thing is that I have put on a few pounds and will be ensuring I am fit enough for the hike.

However recently a friend of mine took me rock climbing but before he did he said to me that I needed to improve my climbing fitness. He advised me that rock climbing is a very strenuous activity and you obviously need to be fit and obtain climbing fitness. He then taught me the best ways to improve my climbing fitness. These points really helped me and I thought I would right an article so that we could all share this information. So here we go

Rock climbing whether it is indoors or outdoors requires:

1. Upper Body Strenght: Your upper body strength and pulling power in order to use your arms to pull you to the next position on the rock face. You can perform any pulling exercise in the gym to improve your upper body strength and so to increase your climbing fitness. A good example of one for climbing is what is called “pole pulling exercises”. For this exercise you need to hold on to a pole or beam in the gym and keep pulling your whole body up and down. This will increase your pulling power for climbing fitness.

2. Flexibility: You need good flexibility to ensure that you are able to reach the next handhold which could be quite a stretch away which happens many times I can tell you from experience. Also you may need to stretch your leg very high for the next foothold. So you need to be able to get into all sorts of difficult positions on the rock face. So all stretching exercises either in or out the gym are great for climbing fitness. So stretch and then hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds to ensure you are stretching beyond your comfort zone.

3. Stability: Hip and ankle stability is important for your balance on the rock face. A great exercise is where you stand on one leg and bend your leg so your body bends down to your foot. You can also use a dumb bell for better and greater intensity when you improve with this exercise. This will help train your stability and balance.

Of course going climbing itself is one of the best forms of improving your climbing fitness. This means that you may want to train in an indoor climbing wall using various climbing routes which is good when the weather is bad. This will be good training and climbing fitness for the actual climbing at a later date. This will ensure that you use all the techniques required.

Some great training for the kids in the gym is climbing up a rope that has knots at various heights. This makes the exercise fun (i.e being Tarzan) and helps the child to enhance their climbing muscles and co-ordination on the rock face due to kids climbing fitness.

This of course is not the full list of climbing fitness exercises but a sample of some which will be useful

Have a great climb but please be fit and prepare your climbing fitness.

6 Main Problems and Solutions to Deal With When Trekking India

If you were to visit any trekking India website and you are confronted with great views and even better hiking treks.

India is a country located in South Asia and is surrounded by the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal. India is 30% the size of the USA with a population of 1,173,108. However the famous trekking India locations are of course in the Himalayan mountains in the North. This is where you will find your locations for great trekking India hiking and rambling routes

However with all the wonderful things that come from trekking India there are also the challenges come with it – as always. The challenge of the Indian Mountains needs to be met with caution. It is very easy to take for granted the comforts that we enjoy in our own world and assume this is repeated in India – not true. There are problems that need to be resolved and when and before trekking India. So if you plan a trekking India trip, the following health problems need to be considered and planned for. Some are obvious and some not so obvious

1. You will be weak from your incoming flight. Your flight into India is likely to leave you tired and weak which has the potential to be a problem. So you will need to gain some strength. So climatise before you start trekking India and taking your challenge to the mountains.

2. There is the highest risk that the natural waters you encounter whilst being nice trekking India are not safe at all to drink. Again this is a problem and includes everywhere that water exists - the lakes, streams and rivers. However both snow and boiled water are safe. So during your trekking India be aware, and know what water is safe and take plenty of water with you. So a few solutions to get over this problem

3. Diarrhoea can be a real problem you can experience when you are trekking India. The best solution here is to drink large amounts of water and also bring from home some diarrhoea medication that can be prescribed by a doctor in your country.

4. The Khumbu Cough. This is caused by breathing excess quantities of dry cold air causing problems to your chest area. One thing that can help are throatlozenges that will help with this problem. So take plenty with you while trekking India.

5. Leeches reside in the Indian forests. They are known to get through socks and gaps in your hiking boots. So to remove those leaches use a butter knife to ease the leech off your skin. Ignore what you see on the films when trekking India which is burning leeches off your skin. The butter knife is the best.

6. Also consider altitude sickness. This I have written a specific article just on this alone which you can find here
So again I have tried to look at some health problems and provide solutions when trekking India. Once these solutions are in place - have a great hiking and trekking experience. Also please let me know how you got on.

Yosemite Hiking Up Half Dome Mountain - The Yosemite Hiking Challenges and how Prepare For them

Yosemite National Park is situated within the central Sierra Nevada of California. The Yosemite Valley is a large glacial area and is about 8 miles (13km) long and up to 8,000 feet (2,400 m) deep and forms a great hiking venue. Yosemite hiking is an adventurous pastime however one of the more adventurous and most exhausting and of course rewarding is the climb up Half Dome Mountain.

Firstly lets talk about the rewards first. To put it simply the climb is fantastic and has every hiking element you can expect to experience when you are Yosemite Hiking including great waterfalls and steeping climbs than you can probably walk. However without getting too carried away there are some problems and some challenges that you will need to prepare for to complete this epic journey.

This actual climb involves a 5000ft climb and takes over 16 hours to complete – so maybe an overnight stop is in order. You start in the Yosemite Valley. There is more than one route up but the recommendation is to hike the John Muir trail.

One of the reasons this hike is so great is that it takes you through great mountainous views over the Yosemite Valley. This Yosemite hiking trip takes you past a vast waterfall that could quite literary be out of this world. The final stages of the hike is bare rock and appears to be a 90 degree climb (it is not - but steep). However the climb up the rock does require man made steel cables to use as hand rails to pull yourself up. Many hikers have stated that this Yosemite hiking experience up Half Dome Mountain is a once in a lifetime hike.

Well that’s the glossy “lets do this bit” Now the problem areas you need to take notice of and prepare for.

1. It is a long strong hike and going to take at least 16 hours. So you should be aware how fit you are and act accordingly (i.e get hiking fit). Make sure you are fit so you do not put yourself and others at risk. Apart from normal fitness one of the best ways is to measure yourself on smaller hikes. It is only going on hikes you can really measure yourself as youuse difference muscles in your body and they need to be exercised.

2. Take lots of food especially when going Yosemite hiking. This is true for any hike in the Yosemite valley. This will of course keep you hydrated and keep energy levels up

3. Make sure you have adequate footwear and clothing. Ensure your boots are supported by an ankle support with a sewn in tongue.

4. The cables on the last stretch can be a problem for hand blisters. So take some gloves to prevent hand blisters

5. There is sometimes a problem at high season around the cables getting congested with long waits to get on them. So maybe Yosemite hiking up half dome should be tackled at off peak times.

6. Another big problem is that the natural water from the mountain contains Giardia, which will cause diarrhoea so take a water filter pump and sterilising tablets or just boil the water on this Yosemite hiking trip.

So hiking the Yosemite Valley and up Half Dome Mountain is a real lifetime experience filled with wonders of nature. However be prepared and use the 6 steps above to ensure your Yosemite Hiking experience is fantastic and safe.

Why Lake District Walks Should Be Car Free and example Lake District walks

I think out of all of the walks in the UK my favourite are Lake District walks. In my view this is the best part of the UK if it is not wet.

However there is a problem in this area. The problem is that to travel to the start of Lake District walks you need to get the car out. In the Lake District there are many traffic problems (highlighted below) to get to when you are visiting Lake District walks. In addition it is not great polluting the environment by using your car.

So why not go on a lake district walk that does not need the car. Why not arrive at your lake district walks car free?

So some advantages of arriving at your walk - car free!

• Use local transport which is great for the lake district area as a whole in terms of revenue for the area and keeping it well managed.

• Also if you are not using a car you will help to reduce the congestion around the lake district area. As the lake district area is so small congestion is a big problem.

• You will reduce carbon emissions by not taking your car on Lake District Walks

• What happens is that people park in the car parks at the start of famous walks. Let me tell you these car parks are quite expensive especially if you are hiking for the day. By not taking the car you can start your walk away from car parks and therefore spread the walking congestion around the area and save money in your pocket.

Here are 2 of the top Lake District walks that are car free

Lowland walk: A Walk to Easedale Tarn
This is a very nice short walk and starts at the lovely village of Grasmere where William Wordsworth lived. This is one of the lovely Lake District walks which routes you past a waterfall to end at Easdale Tarn. This is where you can have a picnic – very nice and very car free.

Mountain walk: A walk from Ambleside to Fairfield Horseshoe
This is one of the Lake District walks that starts at Ambleside which is at the top of Lake Windermere. From Ambleside you start to climb and routes you around Fairfield Fell and around the Lake District walk fells. There are really great views around Lake Windermere and the surrounding mountains.

Another very popular area is Ullswater. The lake is 7 miles long with a number of lowland and highland Lake District walks that are around the Helvellyn mountain range. You could make a holiday in this area and there are local buses that route up and down the lake. Some of these walks include boat journeys. The links in this article link back to these great lake District Walks.

So as they say "forget the strain take the train" or bus or even bike. I hope you enjoy and are proud to progress to many car free Lake District walks. This helps solves the problem of traffic and you will feel you have done your bit for the environment.

So have a great set of Lake District Walks – car free!

How to Prevent Wet Feet When Walking UK

I enjoy most of my hiking and rambling in the United Kingdom (UK). Places to walk such as the Lake District, Scotland and Snowdonia are my favourite places to go on a really challenging hike. These places are great. There is however a known problem when you go walking UK.

The problem is bad weather (i.e. rain). Walking UK is different to most places around the world as you never know what the weather is really going to do. The weather can change very quickly changing a great sunny day into suddenly low cloud and unstoppable rain. The weather produces boggy areas and these areas can give you wet feet.

There is absolutely nothing worse than wet feet. As well as not feeling comfortable wet feet can lead to cold feet and possible infections such as "trench foot" when walking UK.

So here are the actions you can take prior to and during walking UK. Of course you can use this anywhere there is wet and rain. However the UK is one of the best examples where there is repeated rain.

1. You need to ensure that you have good quality hiking boots that sit high on your ankle. You should not be walking with trainers. On my last hike I saw a young girl wearing trainers while I was hiking in the Lake District up Scafell Pike and she was in trouble coming down the mountain and was taking twice as long Your hiking boots should also have a sewn in tongue to keep the water out when walking UK and help prevent your feet getting wet.

2. Wear waterproof gaiters. These are great and keep out the wet from your boot and feet (especially walking UK). Waterproof gaiters have the added benefit of fitting from your hiking boot to just below your knee so the lower half of your leg will be protected from the damp and wet. I have used gaiters a number of times and found then to be very useful.

3. Always carry spare socks. Of course if your socks get wet whilst hiking you will want to change them. When you get to camp you can dry your wet socks in a jacket while you are setting up camp and cooking dinner. This will prevent wet feet the following day. Nice tip!

4. At hiking camp keep your hiking boots inside and stored away in a dry place. I have mad mistakes before by forgetting about them and leaving them outside in the rain. Your hiking boots can then also be dried out if needed. Put newspaper inside your hiking boots to draw out the wet and therefore keeping your feet dry for the morning and therefore prevent wet feet when walking UK.

So follow these steps and avoid wet feet when you are walking UK. Above all have a great walking UK.

Monday, 6 September 2010

How To Discover and Plan Eastern Europe Walking

I love hiking and rambling and walking. Right now I am currently planning my next trip with a twist. There is so much in the natural world to view and so much great scenery to take in and really discover.

I have been hiking and researching the usual places like the Lake District in the UK, Grand Canyon and many walks in the USA (you may have seen my blog posts) and the many walks in Europe etc including the Alps in Austria etc.

I have been looking on various websites and hiking discussion forums on the internet and I have found that there is a lot more than the usual famous places. So I am looking now at Eastern Europe Walking. Is it not exciting to discover somewhere new.

I did not realise that the countries around this part of the world are so beautiful. Yes it is true that I have not yet actually been to these countries however they are now definitely on my life planner from now.

The countries for East Europe walking I have looked at are Bosnia (Sutieska), Montenegro (Durmitor), Romania and Bulgaria.

Let us take a look at Romania as a starting point. It appears that Sibiu, Sighisoara and possibly Timisoara are a great base for East Europe walking. Sibiu looks great as I am told it is a Saxon city with great beauty. As for hiking areas, the Fagaras, Retezat or Bucegi mountains look very impressive however the research will continue. As for accommodation it appears the best overnight stays are mountain huts. In Retezat the mountain huts are very basic but are very large and homely. The largest is a Pietrele hut and very impressive

Another country for East Europe walking is Bulgaria. I am told that the great walks are in Rila, Pirin or Rodopi mountain ranges.

East Europe walking costs change between countries. Croatia seems the most expensive. This is closely followed by Montenegro. Bulgaria is a bit cheaper and I am researching Romania and will update content on this later.

Again this is a short report to what I think is a great place for East Europe Walking. I am really on a discovery mission to learn a lot more and will be discussing this in various hiking forums.

However have a great hike. If it happens to be in East Europe I would be particularly interested to hear your story.