Monday 4 February 2013

New TGO: Long Distance Trails, Water Resistant and Ethical Down, Day Packs

The Mach issue is out now. In my backpacking column I look at the creation, development and maintenance of long distance trails from the Pennine Way to the Appalachian Trail. On almost all the long distance walks I've done I've carried a down sleeping bag and on many down clothing as well. Recently there have been questions about the ethics of down production that have had me, and I'm sure many others, wondering about using it. Down also has the problem of not performing well when wet. I looked at both these topics for an article on down and discovered that many companies are now taking the ethical question seriously and that the use of water-resistant down is increasing. I was already impressed with water-resistant down when I wrote the article. I'm even more pleased with it now, having just returned from a ski and igloo trip that suffered somewhat from a rapid thaw (of which more in my next post) and during which my water-resistant down jacket became very wet but still kept me warm.

Also in the gear section I review 15 packs in the 25-35 litre range while Daniel Neilson looks at four GPS watches. Daniel also reviews the Arc'teryx Alpha SV Gore-Tex jacket and Cameron McNeish has a look at the Yaktrax Pro Ice Traction devices and the Montane Nitro down jacket.

Elsewhere this issue includes Dan Bailey's selection of eight winter ridge walks, which range from the Riggindale Ridge on High Street in  the Lake District to Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis, a grade 111/1V climb. Cameron McNeish visits Norway and discusses its hut system and the country's outdoor life philosophy. Carey Davies wanders along the rather snowless for winter Grey Corries and then finally finds a use for ice axe and crampons on the indoor ice wall of the Ice Factor in Kinlochleven. Roger Smith writes about the Honister zip wire controversy in the Lake District and calls for tighter restrictions on developments to protect places like the Lakes. Jim Perrin's book this month is Barry Lopez's Crossing Open Ground, a book I haven't read, though I have read Lopez's wonderful Arctic Dreams.

The Hill Skills section has an informative piece by Glenmore Lodge's Chief Instructor Ian Sherrington on avalanches, an important topic at present, especially in the Highlands where there have already been several avalanche accidents this winter.  Also covered are scrambling, navigating by the sun and how mountains affect the wind.

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