Sunday 5 June 2011

New Style TGO

The July issue of TGO is just out and it’s something of a surprise. I knew there were changes on the way but I was still startled at how different the magazine looks. It’s all positive too, with more pages, a larger format and higher quality paper. Photos look brighter and sharper – some of them are quite stunning. The magazine has a spine now and feels thick and substantial. Overall it looks like a magazine that’s decided it’s finally time it flexed its muscles. Congratulations to editor Emily Rodway and her team. (In case anyone’s wondering I’m not involved with the production or editing of the magazine, I just write and photograph stuff, so I haven’t been involved with this new look).

The content has changed too – there’s more of it and it looks better. There’s a whole new Hill Skills section, for which I’ve written a piece on fitting a pack. Also covered in this section are scrambling skills, the many uses of duct tape, map analysis, weather fronts, how to deal with midges (accompanied by a fetching picture of Cameron McNeish hiding under a midge net) and much more.

In the Gear section I review ten single hoop tents, look at Colin Ibbotson’s ultralight packs and test a Ventile cotton/Nikwax Analogy smock from Hilltrek and vauDe’s new Norrsken insulated airbed. John Manning reviews 13 waterproof jackets costing under £100 and finds it hard to choose a Best Buy. There’s also a Best of the Tests page with recommendations and Best Buys from previous issues.

My backpacking column is about my summer long round of the Munros and Tops as it’s the 15th anniversary of this walk. On this day back in 1996 I crossed from Glen Lochay to Crainlarich over Ben Challum, my 71st summit, on the first dry and sunny day for over a week.

Picking out a selection from the rest of the magazine I’m pleased to see Roger Smith giving a page to Alan Sloman’s Wake for the Wild requiem for the Monadh Liath during the TGO Challenge (see Alan’s account here). Carey Davies visits Stanage in the Peak District and tries rock climbing for the first time – which reminded me of the few times I climbed there, my main memory being of how abrasive the gritstone was. New columnist comedian Ed Byrne also heads into the Pennines, but to learn some navigation skills rather than rock climbing. Andrew Terrill, whose pieces are always inspiring, spends a stormy midsummer’s day and night in the Cuillin on Skye and illustrates his dramatic story with some equally dramatic images. Speaking of fine images there’s a wonderful photo essay on the Patagonian Andes by Dougie with some mouth-watering images that made me want to be there – now. Also lovely are the paintings of Welsh mountain artist Gwyn Roberts, with whom Emily Rodway spends a day. Away from pictures to words we come to Jim Perrin. He often quotes from his favourite outdoor writers in his column. Now he’s going to write specifically about them, with an introduction in this issue. In the Highlands Torridon is one of my favourite areas and I enjoyed Cameron McNeish’s piece on Beinn Eighe and two lower but still fine Torridon hills, Ruadh-stac Beag and Meall a’Ghuibhais.

There’s much more in this impressive issue. If you haven’t seen TGO in a while do pick up a copy and have a look. It really is different.

The picture shows two single hoop tents pitched on the Cairngorm Plateau.


  1. It is indeed fab. Picked up my copy the ither day and gave a tweet on it.
    Writing thison phone.
    It was good to read your sections.

  2. I'd always pictured Cameron confronting midges head on, Claymore in hand, rather than hiding under a net.

  3. Chris

    totally agree - the new design is fantastic. The magazine looks much more professional and it has maintained the quality writing. Emily has done a fantastic job indeed. Definitely bursting into the 21st century

  4. I agree Chris the new TGO is much better, Emily and her team have done a great job.

    The layout is far clearer, and for the first time in ages I can read 99% of the text and most of the maps.

    I'm pleased to see the gear tests still retain the same informative layout, which enables the easy comparison of a whole host of facts.

    And joy of joys the silly coffee stains have gone!

  5. I'm a bit behind some of you on account of my habit of still picking the mag up from a local newsagent. It's not the quickest (or cheapest) option, but they seem to be struggling to stay afloat and it's just part of my limited contribution to the cause.

    I agree with Geoff about the side-by-side layout for gear tests; nothing beats it for easy reference. One thing I'd be interested in, just as an occasional feature, would be a comparison between gear from a few years back and some up to the minute equivalents. I still use a Sprayway Commanche as my bad weather staple (purchased back in the days when it would still sometimes be referred to as 'lightweight') and although you can probably get equivalent performance for half the weight now I still see the Commanche as an excellent all-rounder. I've been tempted by newer, lighter jackets, but I couldn't justify junking such a still good item of gear.

    Just one minor thing on tgo: I hope Jim (Perrin) isn't going to become space-restricted. Overall though, good content and good value.

  6. Still not got hold of my copy. I'm a newsagent surfer like Byeways and haven't had a chance to pop into town for a while.

    I'm curious to read about the ventile jacket. I know lots of people who swear by it in other leisure pursuits - particularly bushcraft / tracking / wilderness photographers / naturalists / hunters as it's rustle-free. The combination of Nikwax Analgoy is quite intriguing!

  7. Chris, say goodbye to your fans outside of the UK who read your articles in TGO. Without notice to its paid digital subscribers, TGO has ceased publication in June of its Internet edition, which was previously available on at a reasonable price. In the U.S., a 2 year subscription to the TGO on paper now costs £119.95, and a 1 year subscription costs more per month. The publisher must be living in the stone age, as the trend has been to make periodicals accessible over the Web.

  8. David, thanks for letting me know. I didn't know that. I shall take it up with the editor. In the meantime I expect it's something to do with the change of publishers.

  9. Yes, I'd also noticed that about Zinio. I had a print & digital subscription which expired with the July edition. I didn't receive the latter (though paid for it). Notice that Zinio are still advertising TGO but have nothing later than June 2011.

    And, to add to this, having allowed my subs to expire (the publisher isn't good at chasing up) I'm hoping I'll get the Aug copy having today renewed the paper version.

  10. Hi David and Phil,
    Sorry to hear about your issues with the digital service. We have changed provider and the digital magazine is now provided via Page Suite. Perhaps you could drop me an email at if you are interested in taking out a new digital subscription and I can make sure this is followed up.

  11. Emily
    Have just found this out. Used to pay little attention to the emails from Zinio but clicking through from the most recent message I found the missing editions.