This week (24th – 30th July 2017) is officially National Parks Week in the UK and it’s time to celebrate the wonderful wilderness on our doorstep!
To help you decide which park is perfect for you and the absolute must-see spots in each of the 15 National Parks take a look at the handy infographic below. It’s the perfect starting point for an adventure in the great outdoors this summer!
Once you leave home and step into the mountains there is an ethic of self reliance. There are no ambulances, no CCTV and if we get into trouble it is our responsibility to solve the problem we have created. There are volunteers in Mountain Rescue teams who will help if we really need them but that should be a last resort.
When we go out into the mountains we need to be equipped so that we can avoid problems and also deal with any we are unfortunate enough to encounter – we need to be self sufficient in some of the harshest environments in the UK.
Temperatures on the summits are regularly about 10 degrees C cooler than they are in the valleys and wind speeds are 2-3 times stronger. Couple that with the ever present threat of rain and we have an environment where staying warm and dry is difficult and super important. If you twist an ankle you could easily be waiting for several hours for volunteer help to arrive and so you need to be equipped to stay warm and dry for that period of time – in any weather. Here is my kit list for a normal summers day walk in the mountains:
Rucksack – 30 litres
Walking Boots and Socks
Hat and Gloves
1 x spare gloves
1 x spare warm layer
Personal First Aid & sanitary supplies
Sunglasses, sun hat and Sun Cream (weather dependant!)
Map & Compass
Mobile Phone – fully charged and in airplane mode to save the battery
Group shelter for escaping the worst of the weather for rests or in an emergency
Blizzard Pack – for use on a casualty to keep them warm in case of a problem
Your Clothing: Avoid cotton. You need a pair of walking trousers and a base layer that will dry quickly when wet and keep you cool in the heat.
I tend to keep everything in dry bags in my rucksack so that it all stays dry – there is nothing worse than pulling out a spare layer of clothing to find that it is cold and wet before you even put it on.
I also use a set of trekking poles and like ones that pack down nice and small so that they can be put inside my rucksack for any scrambling sections where I want to be able to use my hands.
As the summer camping season is well and truly upon us, many of you will be packing up and heading to the great outdoors for a weekend of fun with the family or a week’s holiday in the midst of nature. But when it comes to cooking in camp, it can be a bit tricky to think outside the box with recipes and figure out how to cook a great meal with only a limited cooking area and equipment.
Luckily for you, we’ve teamed up with a few of our favourite bloggers this season to help you find your next great camping recipe! Each of our bloggers has whipped up a delicious dish al fresco that you can cook on your next adventure with ease! Just try to keep the salivating to a minimum ok?
Starting us off we have Claire’s cajun spiced chicken and vegetable skewers. If you love a little kick to your food then this is the recipe for you! Claire has even put together some tasty fruit and marshmallow skewers for dessert, the perfect finishing piece for your camp fire evening. Check out her dishes here.
Munchies and Munchkins
If a savoury treat is your bag then Becky’s two recipes could be just what you’re looking for. Her Cheesy Stovetop Potatoes & Herby Frittata are full of flavour and will definitely fill you up. You can even eat the potatoes straight from the pan to save on washing up, how ideal! Take a look at Becky’s recipes here.
Mummy of Two
For a hearty, warming dish opt for Tami’s Chorizo and Baked Bean Stew. Another great one pan recipe so it saves on all that pesky clean up afterwards! Whip it up yourself with the recipe here.
Another quick, easy and tasty option is Emma’s Sausage, Veggies and Spicy Rice dish. With a few fresh ingredients and a packet of pre-cooked rice this can be done in no time, ideal if you’ve spent the day out exploring and hiking and need a quick hunger fix! Take a look at the recipe here.
Emma Eats and Explores
If you’ve already gobbled up the cajun chicken and vegetable skewers we mentioned before and are still hungry for more, luckily for you we have another delicious kebab recipe courtesy of Emma. This time it’s a Moroccan inspired style with a whole host of spices! Have a nosy at the recipe here.
Simply Sensational Food
And finally to round off this post we have Nayna’s baked apples, a moreish sweet treat to fill up those hungry campsite tums! With a dollop of greek yoghurt and a few crunchy walnuts, these are a sure way to make sure all your fellow campers are satisfied at dinner. Find out how to make yours here.
Don’t forget, this is just a small sample of the wonderful recipes our favourite bloggers are cooking this month around the campfire, so keep your eyes peeled for any other tasty posts popping up in July!
The Mayfly 2 is a lightweight, folding chair from American brand Alite and is perfect for camping and outdoor events when you don’t want to be weighed down with bulky chairs. I took the Mayfly to a recent airshow and was so happy with its performance.
The Mayfly 2.0 is a hybrid of the Alite Monarch and Mantra, which has a removable bar at the front for stability. Removing the bar allows you to rock back and forth but also means you can easily sit on slopes and rocky ground without capsizing. I was on fairly even ground so found rocking forward for nibbles from the picnic basket really easy.
The chair is 720g (520g without the front bar) and pretty compact in its own stuff sack which makes carrying easy. Poles are made from lightweight aluminium that are already strung together meaning they just need clicking into place. The two front poles are colour coded to match the ripstop fabric seat so is really easy to assemble.
The back of the chair has two large ventilation areas so you won’t feel clammy on hotter days and I love that the back comes up a fair way making you feel fully supported and actually able to sit back and relax.
This chair takes up to 250lbs of weight, which is pretty impressive considering its size. The low seating is great for stability but might be a challenge for those less mobile.
Not getting a good night’s sleep is a sure way to dampen anyone’s spirits and spoil an otherwise great trip outdoors. Ensuring you get your allotted 40 winks is dependent on several things, but ultimately a good sleeping bag is key. With the huge array of sleeping bags available, how do you know which one is right for you?
Sleeping bags are often grouped according to a season rating, used to indicate the ideal time of year or temperature for which they are best suited. These are best used as a guideline as season temperatures will vary depending on weather and the country you are camping in.
Late spring to early autumn use
Autumn and winter use
0 to -5°C overnight
-5°C and lower overnight
Expedition use (arctic or mountain conditions)
-10°C and lower overnight
Obviously the better equipped a sleeping bag is for colder conditions, the bigger and heavier it will be. This is important to take into account when packing for your trip. You can also get more use from your sleeping bag with a sleeping bag liner which adds additional warmth and allows you to use your sleeping bag in cooler temperatures than it is designed for.
As well as a season guide, sleeping bags usually come with a range of temperature ratings, often listed as a ‘comfort’, ‘limit’ and ‘extreme’ rating. The comfort rating is exactly as it says, the temperature that you will feel comfortable at when using the sleeping bag. The limit rating (sometimes there is an upper and lower limit) is the temperature at which you will start to feel cold (or warm) using the bag and the extreme rating is the very limit at which the bag will prevent you from becoming ill from the cold (due to hyperthermia or even frostbite). This lowest rating should not be considered when purchasing a bag as it is not intended to be used at this temperature.
These ratings are intended for guidance only and what one person may consider to be a comfortable sleeping temperature may differ to another person.
Mummy or Rectangular?
Or extra large? Sleeping bags come in a range of shapes and sizes but most are divided into the classic rectangular bag and the cocooning mummy bag. Generally rectangular bags fall into two categories; your more basic, entry level sleeping bag and more luxurious sleeping bags designed for car and caravan camping. They are less effective at keeping in heat and tend to be bigger and heavier but allow more freedom to move around.
Mummy bags trap in more heat thanks to their more fitted shape and pack up smaller and lighter thanks to the reduced material. Often available with a hood for additional warmth, these bags are better suited to backpacking and more minimal camping as well as colder weather conditions.
Sleeping bags may also be available in longer length and extra wide options or women’s and children’s specific versions (that are designed to be warmer), all depending on your personal preferences for comfort.
Synthetic or Down
Sleeping bags will either be filled with a synthetic, man-made insulation or natural down. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so to decide which one is best for you (remember to consider what you will be using your sleeping bag for and where you will be using it) take a look at our comparison chart designed to help you make your choice.
Synthetic insulation retains heat well, especially the more technical fibres designed to mimic the heat retaining properties of down, but ultimately synthetic materials do not insulate as well as down and are less effective in colder temperatures.
Down is naturally an excellent thermal insulator. When buying down you should look out for the fill power, the higher the better, as this indicates the level of insulation provided.
Synthetic insulation, however, is much better at retaining heat when wet and dries much faster than down, making it ideal for damp and rainy conditions.
Down loses the ability to retain heat when it becomes wet and although new technology has resulted in water repellent down options it is not as effective at trapping in warmth as synthetic filling and takes longer to dry.
Synthetic insulation is heavier and less compressible than down meaning sleeping bags are generally bulkier.
Down has a very good weight to warmth ratio and is very compressible, making it ideal for trip when you are limited on space and weight.
Synthetic sleeping bags are usually easy to care for and do not require any special cleaning.
Down requires a little more care when cleaning and should be stored carefully to prevent its performance from being affected.
Synthetic insulation is not as long lasting as down, however it is often hypoallergenic, more breathable and prevents odours for longer.
Down, if looked after properly, is durable however they may become more allergenic as they age, which is something to consider if you suffer from allergies.
Synthetic insulation is man-made and as a result is much more affordable than down.
Down feathers come from duck or geese and Simply Hike only stocks responsibly sourced down. This is reflected in the price of down products which are more expensive than synthetics.
You can shop our full range of sleeping bags here.
The camping season has just started and we’ve got a brand new range of family camping tents for 2017 from a wide range of brands. To make it easier to select a great family tent we’ve summed up the highlights of our top 5 picks for the summer.
Outwell Flagstaff 5 Tent
Deluxe Collection Video - UK | Innovative Family Camping - YouTube
Ambassador bedrooms are 250cm in depth allowing bedside tables and room to stand up next to an airbed.
2 bedrooms to sleep 3 and 2 people (1 king airbed and 1 single)
Universal inner allows you to change room configuration depending on your requirements.
Cable entry access to bedrooms as well as living area
3 zone living; sleeping zone, living zone and wet zone extends living space out and flows outside space in
Additional Side door access
Both doors have a full mesh door for keeping bugs out and allowing for good air flow throughout.
D shaped door on front rolls to the side
Collapsible entrance removes trip hazard for you and the kids.
All windows are tinted meaning you reduce glare, adds privacy and is stylish!
A softshell jacket is a highly breathable yet wind resistant garment that is designed to be worn during high intensity activities in cold and windy environments. They are great layering pieces that can be worn under a waterproof jacket if needed as they don’t have taped seams so they’re rarely fully waterproof. All softshells offer some stretch making them great for climbing or scrambling.
Softshells can either have a stretch woven construction or be membrane lined.
Stretch Woven softshells rely on the woven nylon face fabric to block wind and is the most basic form. These stretch, weigh a little more and have increased breathability and durability. Dry air enters the shell, picks up moisture from sweat and then leaves keeping you dry. The thickness of the weave provides wind resistance too. Some brands apply a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating on the outside of the garment to provide some water resistance.
Membrane Lined softshells have a membrane laminated to the inside of the face fabric to provide wind and water resistance. These types of softshell are great at blocking weather but aren’t as breathable so moisture is more easily trapped. If the face fabric gets wet this further hinders breathability. GTX membranes will provide wind and waterproofing.
Hybrid softshells use more weather resistant fabrics on certain parts of the garment such as front and arms and are combined with a more breathable fabric in areas like under the arms to increase breathability.
Some softshells come with a fleece lining for comfort and extra insulation but this isn’t always included so look out for this. If you’re hiking in milder temperatures then choose a non insulated version. Bear in mind that you can always add a fleece or base layer underneath if needed.
With this in mind we’ve listed our top 5 best softshells below from a variety of brands to suit your budget.
Jack Wolfskin Muddy Pass
The Muddy Pass is a sporty hybrid softshell with a lined, fully windproof front for heading into prevailing wind. Made from Flex Shield, this Jack Wolfskin softshell is highly breathable with 2 way stretch and water resistance. Includes a light hood that stows away in the collar if needed and 4 pockets.
Montane Sabretooth Softshell Jacket
The Sabretooth is a membrane softshell with a tightly woven face fabric for excellent abrasion resistance. A Polartec Power Shield membrane is able to block 98% of wind and allows for great breathability and water repellency. Inside is a brushed fleece backer for warmth and breathability. This is a mountain Softshell so has alpine features including adjustable hood, venting pockets and a tailored fit as well as articulated arms.
The North Face Nimble Jacket
The Nimble has been around for years as it’s very popular with hikers. This softshell is made from The North Face’s own Windwall fabric which provides high wind resistance on the mountain. There’s plenty of stretch for movement and a DWR coating provides water repellency in light showers.
Berghaus Ben Oss Jacket
The Ben Oss is a windproof stretch woven softshell and is blocked with a micro fleece for comfort, breathability and added insulation. A great budget option, this softshell comes with 3 pockets, adjustable hem and thumb loops for a great fit.
Montane Alpine Equaliser Jacket
The Alpine Equaliser from Montane is a windproof, stretch, lightweight softshell with Thermo Plexus brushed microfleece lining for added insulation which also makes it fast drying.
This mountain softshell jacket is packed with mountain features such as helmet compatible hood with stiffened peak, tall collar for face protection and two A line pockets positioned clear of a backpack harness.
Caring for your Softshell
To prolong the life of your softshell we recommend washing at 30 degrees Centigrade on a gentle cycle with a non biological detergent or Nikwax Tech Wash. We suggest not using a fabric softener and to give the garment an extra rinse. Allow the softshell to drip dry.
To re-proof your jackets DWR coating we suggest Nikwax SoftShell Proof after you have washed the item. This product can be used on wet garments.