Friday 31 December 2021

My Photography In 2021: A Favourite From Each Month

January: The Cromdale Hills from Tom Mor, a little hill close to home

Like last year, for 2021 I'm choosing one favourite image from every month. Also like 2020 I never left the Scottish Highlands once and didn't undertake any long walks - four days was the longest. Many of my photos were again taken not far from home. Maybe 2022 will be different. All these photos hold memories for me. I hope you like them.

February: Clouds over the Cairngorms

March: Birches, Craigellachie, above Aviemore

April: Cairgorm Weather Station

May: Dotterel

June: Corrag Buidhe & Sgurr Fiona, An Teallach

July: Beinn an Eoin & Baosbheinn

August: Clouds over Strathspey

September: Sgurr nan Clach Geala, Fannaichs

October: Glen Feshie, Cairngorms

November: after sunset, Cairn Gorm

December: Creag Meagaidh from the Moine Mhor, Cairngorms

Thursday 30 December 2021

Favourite New Outdoor Gear of 2021

Sea to Summit Ultralight mat, Sea to Summit Alto TR2 Plus inner tent, & Jetboil Stash stove, plus some old favourites - Alpkit Woodsmoke shirt & Tilley Hiker Hat

Here are my favourite new items of gear for 2021 after another year testing gear for The Great Outdoors. As in previous years they don't necessarily replace old favourites and they're in no particular order. More detailed reviews of some of the items can be found the TGO website.My online reviews were suspended for a year due to the pandemic but returned last March. I've given links to these reviews. For other items the link is to the company page.

Black Diamond Highline Stretch Shell

This is a functional, lightweight (375g) waterproof jacket with a superb long-lasting DWR treatment. The fabric is soft, comfortable and breathable. There are pit zips and roomy pockets.  The DWR is what makes this jacket stand out.





Osprey Talon Pro

Stable, comfortable, lightweight (1.12kg) and with water-resistant zips and plenty of pockets the 30-litre Talon Pro became my most-used day pack of the year. The material is tough too and it looks like it will last well.

Merrell Moab Speed Trail Shoes 

I wore these shoes for just about every hill walk and backpacking trip from spring to autumn. They went all over the Cairngorms plus along An Teallach  and up many other NW Highland summits. They fit me perfectly and are very comfortable. The grip is good and they've proved very durable with much life left in them. At 624 grams for my size 9s they're lightweight too. 

BAM Graphic T-Shirt

Available in various designs this colourful T-shirt is made from bamboo viscose and organic cotton and is superbly comfortable in hot weather.  It doesn't smell after several days of sweaty walking either. 

Hilleberg Anaris 

Pitching with trekking poles this transverse ridge tent is very light for the space - just 1.4kg. It's designed for two but light enough for one. Stability is good, as is ventilation, and there are two big porches. 




NEMO Riff 30 

Moving away from the standard mummy shape this down sleeping bag is hourglass shaped with more room at the elbows and knees. There are two long front zips with uninsulated fabric behind them for ventilation too. I loved the freedom of movement and found this bag very comfortable.

Motorola Defy Rugged Smartphone

I love smartphones that don't need cases or special care. The Defy is waterproof, shockproof, dustproof, and functional. It's tough and does everything I need. It has a massive 5000 mAh battery that lasts for hours. It's low cost too.
Photo by Alex Roddie
The NanoLite is an ultralight waterproof jacket, weighing just 225g. It's ideal for summer and for long-distance walks. It's unique feature is having the waterproof layer on the outside, which means no DWR is needed. It works fine and has proved durable so far.

Coffee bags are the simplest way to have decent coffee in the hills.Most are fairly small however. Faff coffee bags are much larger than others and make a decent size mug.. The coffee is tasty too.




Montane Prism Jacket

Filled with recycled Primaloft this lightweight (440g) insulated jacket is comfortable and functional with a much better hood than found on many similar jackets.

Atom Packs The Mo EP50

Made in the Lake District this ultralight (925g) this 55+ litre pack is designed for long-distance hiking. It's made of tough materials and has excellent pockets. It carried comfortably and is stable.

Julbo Shield Reactiv Performance 2-4 lens

With lenses that turn darker or lighter to match the brightness these glasses are good when you go from sunshine to shade and back again. They have removable side shields and comfortble curved arms. I've found them excellent on snowy winter days and sunny summer ones.

Sea to Summit Ultralight Mat

Sea to Summit's unusual dot-weld patterm of interconnected chambers makes its sleeping mats very comfortable. The Ultralight is the lightest of these mats at 392g. It's great in warm weather and with a closed cell foam pad under it when it's cold.

Jetboil Stash Stove System

I've always liked Jetboil stoves for the fuel efficiency due to the heat exchanger on the pot and also for  the ease of use. I didn't like the weights though. At 200 grams the Stash changes that. It's ideal for one and just big enough for two. 

Big Agnes Sidewinder SL20

The Sidewinder is another sleeping bag designed for those of us who don't sleep on our backs. It moves with you when you shift from side to side. I find it very comfortable. I like the centre zip too.

Spektrum Ostra Optical White Goggles 

In flat light and white-outs goggles with orange or yellow lenses give better contrast and clarity than ones with dark lenses. They also protect the eyes from spindrift and driving snow. I always carry a pair in winter. These Swedish ones are superb. Very comfortable to wear and with good ventilation.

The Ventus is a midweight (515g) waterproof jacket suitable for year-round use. It has an excellent hood and roomy pockets and zips and drawcords that can easily be used when wearing gloves. The fabric is soft and comfortable. In a blizzard it's excellent.

With two porches, a spacious inner and good headroom due to the unique upward curving ridge pole this is a great tent for solo or duo use. It only weights 1.4kg too.