Wednesday 27 July 2011

Latest TGO - Trail Shoes, Hike Your Own Hike, Packing a Pack, Litehouse Solo Tent

The latest issue of TGO (September) is in the shops now. My gear pieces are a review of sixteen trail shoes and a test report on the Litehouse Solo tent. In my backpacking column, entitled Hike Your Own Hike, I have a bit of rant at those claiming moral superiority for ultralight hiking. Elsewhere in the Hill Skills section I describe how to pack a large pack, illustrated with a series of photos that were taken on a calm day with many midges! I also contribute, along with others, to a feature on planning your own long distance route. And to show you the result of doing this there's a piece by John Williams on an alternative to Wainright's Coast-to-Coast route. Elsewhere in the magazine Roger Smith has a go at the ugly Trailblaze boxes that have been appearing on National Trails; Cameron McNeish considers our relationship with the landscape and goes for a walk in the Carneddau in Snowdonia; Carey Davies tries paragliding and walks up Ingleborough by a route I remember as one of the best in the Yorkshire Dales; Ed Byrne tries scrambling on Tryfan; Paddy Dillon explores Sardinia, an island I remember looking at from Corsica and wondering if it was worth a visit - Paddy has convinced me it is; Edoardo Albert looks at archaeological walks in Northumberland and Dave McFadzean laments the damage being done to the Galloway Hills by quad and trials bikes. In his outdoor books column Jim Perrin praises Peter Matthiessen's wonderful The Snow Leopard, which I last read on a trek in the region the book describes. Visually the outstanding feature is a photo essay called Nature of Scotland by leading wildlife photographer Laurie Campbell, which has superb pictures of squirrels, eagles, frogspawn, sundew and much more. In Hill Skills there is advice on avoiding navigational mistakes plus tips on bushcraft, choosing a tripod, heat exhaustion, dealing with blisters and much more. In gear as well as my pieces Judy Armstrong reviews 15 women's waterproof jackets. And right at the back of the magazine is arguably the most important feature of all - a piece by mountaineer Doug Scott on his work for Community Action Nepal, a charity dedicated to helping mountain people in Nepal to help themselves.

The pictures shows the view from the Litehouse Solo tent during testing in the Cairngorms.


  1. I look forward to my TGO fix each month, Chris, but they do seem to be coming out earlier and earlier! It's July and September's issue is out?

  2. Bizarre I agree. I think it's because there's now going to be 13 issues a year.

  3. Chris, well said in your article hike your own hike. I like my 1 kg 2 skin tent and don't feel cut off from nature for being in one. I know what I would prefer during midge season in Scotland ! Each to his own.

  4. Second go at getting this comment to work.

    I stopped buying the TGO a while back Chris but the new look is superb. In fact so good there is so much to read and now we have another issue.

    Totally support the rant on the ULA issue. I am all for going light but it's not about a stupid label and saying you are this and that because you have a base weight one pound either side of some ones opinion on what it should be.

    After all its all about getting out there and not thinking you are doing it better because you carry 5lb and the other person 15lb. Look forward to the new TGO which I shall get ASAP. Just one issue is the last two superb issues are still being read.

  5. Love the new look and the wider variety and more universal content. I actually put Trail down before TGO for the first time in a few years this month!

    Brave rant but so true! I have to say I was one of the obsessed a few years ago until I realised I was spending more money and time on caring about gear than I was about actually getting out in the hills.

    I was looking through some old photos from several years ago and realised then I didn't care what I was wearing, as long as it was suitable, and I was having a better time as I was just getting out!

    I only replace gear these days if the original is completely broken and when I replace it I put comfort and longevity before lightweight, though obviously it still comes in to the equation after that.

  6. Aaaahh... it's so refreshing to see a high profile outdoors blogger putting the ULA hysteria into perspective. I find it a bit odd that a whole swathe of people who are supposedly fixated on the outdoors spend so much time worrying about the weight of this and that bit of gear and whether or not they can shave off a gram.

    I swear they must also spend more time in shops or browsing the internet retailers than they do out walking. And how on earth do they afford it all? I'm not poor, but I can't afford to replace my knackered waterproof jacket with the cost of medium weight, three layer eVent being what it is these days ;-)

    I have to admit, I only buy TGO intermittently because the magazine is often guilty of riding the ultra lightweight bandwagon. Good to see you're taking a more sensible stance from within its pages Chris.

    Rant over!

  7. I bought the very first TGO for 40p back in March 1978. It inspired me so much to travel further afield.
    I bought it then for 25 years until i realised that almost everything i was reading i had read before.
    Although i stopped buying it i still picked it up occasionally to see if anything had improved but sadly i only purchased the odd one to this day.
    Then i picked up the August mag and was staggered at how good it was. At last TGO has been reborn and in some ways gone back to it’s roots.
    Well done to everybody involved.
    I am not sure about the paper size at this time and also if there are going to be 13 issues a year how can this be a monthly?
    What is the 13th going to be called?
    Septembers will have to wait a few weeks yet, i still have some of August to read.

  8. It is another good issue. I am impressed with how the relaunch has gone and that the standard continues to be maintained.

  9. I stopped my TGO magazine subscription before the relaunch so haven't read your 'rant', but I imagine I'd agree with every word.

    The relaunched version is a credit to Emily and her team, and despite only buying gear when I need it, I always enjoyed your reviews and backpacking column.

  10. I will have to pop to my local shop tomorrow, how did I miss this lol.
    I will look forward to reading what is said.

  11. I live in the states and the TGO mag is the only decent printed backpacking monthly I can find. I used to subscribe to the online edition, but much prefer the airmail printed version now and the new design is tops. Well done.

    I haven't read your UL rant yet Chris, but I probably agree with you. I'm fed up with the lightness for lightness sake mantra and very expensive gear that makes lightweight hiking a privileged hobby for the Land Rover set.

    Give me a simple old silnylon tarp and I'll show you 2 dozen different ways to pitch it. It's about developing self-reliant skills and wallowing in the pleasure of being outdoors for me, not fantasy fabrics. Get out and walk, eh?

  12. Thanks for your comments everyone.

    Philip, get out and walk indeed. That's what it's all about.

  13. I was out in the hills, and hadn't read the mag before i read the comments here. I was worried that Chris had gone all 'heavy' on me! :)
    After reading the mag, i relaxed. A sensible piece on enjoying the actual hike, and the gear only being a tool to that end.
    The extreme UL guys are doing everyone a big favour though. If they weren't pushing new technologies and fabrics to the limit, mainstream manufacturers wouldn't be producing lighter gear.
    Would Terra Nova be producing Cuben gear if it wasn't for the guys at 'the sharp end' of UL backpacking?

    I'm surprised Mizuno didn't supply you with the Wave Harriers, Chris. I've been using them for a couple of years, and the lugs on the sole are ideal for typical Scottish hills. They are a great fit for my wide forefoot.

    Mike fae Dundee

  14. Mike, I agree the extreme UL designers are doing everyone a favour. Gear has got lighter overall. It's the "superior philosophy" side of UL I don't like.

    The Mizuno Wave Ascends they did supply are excellent, especially for the price. The sole has a great grip.

  15. I've never understood 'superior' in any form, Chris. I prefer the 'community' aspect that outdoor folk (should) share.
    The US folk may have 'Hike your own hike', but i much prefer the older Scots, 'We're 'a Jock Tam'sins bairns'.*

    'We are all John Thomsons children', for the uncivilised amongst us. :)

    Mike fae Dundee.

    You can pick up last years Mizuno Wave Harriers for around £30 if you search.

  16. Well done to the whole TGO team for producing three issues of the highest standard. And Emily was worried about the reception the 'new look' might get when I saw her in Montrose after the TGOC!
    I couldn't agree more with your ULA article, Chris. Having said that, it may be time to replace my trusty but heavy Phreerunner, and the LiteHouse Solo may be a possibility, especially after my worn out Quest rucksack may be replaced with something smaller (and hopefully more durable). My most regular kit concern has nothing to do with weight - but with comfort, specifically relating to warm hands....
    Your new book is a bargain buy from Amazon, btw; I'm looking forward to receiving it.
    Martin B

  17. Although a walker of many years experience, I've never backpacked in the true sense of the word. Your article on how to pack a rucksack was just in time for my first backpacking trip! I packed my GOLITE Quest following your guidance resulting in a comfortable well balanced pack. Everything remained dry (despite 2 mornings of heavy rain) and I always knew where to find somethin