Tuesday 15 October 2013

The Great Outdoors latest issue: Scottish Watershed gear report, celebrating autumn, softshells review, new gear for 2014, staying warm in winter .....

Autumn in Strathspey
The November issue of The Great Outdoors is out now and I have more than the usual amount of stuff in it, mostly about gear. There's a report on how my gear performed on the two-month Scottish Watershed walk earlier this year. A walk like this really does test gear. I also review 12 softshell jackets, look at some of the new gear that'll be appearing in the shops next year and describe what I carry to keep safe and warm in winter. Away from gear my backpacking column celebrates autumn.

Also in gear Daniel Neilson reviews 13 pairs of softshell trousers (a much better use for these fabrics than jackets in my opinion) and tests a luxurious and expensive merino wool midlayer from Icebreaker and an Arc'teryx jacket in the new Gore-Tex Pro fabric while James Reader tries Hi-Tec's V-Lite SpHike Mid WP lightweight boots (the name's an unwieldy mess but they do look good).

There are some great photographs in this issue including a really dramatic one of Loch Tulla from David Lintern. In words there's Everest mountaineer Doug Scott on My Hills; John Manning talking to Stephen Pern about his 3,482 mile walk round every bothy in England, Wales and Scotland, which sounds a fascinating trip; Hanna Lindon scrambling up rakes in the Lake District, with a great opening shot of the author tackling the crux of Jake's Rake; Ed Byrne joining members of the Cairngorms Mountain Rescue team on a walk up Braeriach;  Ronald Turnbull exploring the drovers roads of Atholl; Ben Lerwill walking Tasmania's Overland Track; and hiker historian Edoardo Albert wandering along the Northumbrian coast.

My thoughts on rewilding in the previous issue appear to have stimulated reactions from columnists Jim Perrin and Roger Smith. In his Hillwalker's Library I am delighted that Jim goes back to one of the key sources for rewilding ideas, Aldo Leopold's superb A Sand County Almanac, a book worth reading many times. Roger is cautious about introducing big predators but I have to say I don't think he quite understands why they are needed for rewilding and the effect they have on habitats. Leopold's books and those of Jim Crumley and George Monbiot I discussed in the last issue are worth reading on this and there's also my post from August and the discussion it elicited.

The Hill Skills section also has some good stuff with a guide on how to identify deciduous trees in winter from Sarah Ryan; Alan Halewood of Glenmore Lodge on avalanches and heuristic traps; and Lindsay Mears from the Met Office on changeable mountain temperatures.

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