Saturday 31 December 2022

Favourite Photographs I Took In 2022

Cairn Toul & Sgor an Lochain Uaine

Going through the 3500+ images I took in 2022 to find my favourites is a pleasant if time-consuming task. It's a useful way of analysing my photography too and considering if any themes or changes from past years emerge. Looking at the photos selected I see an interest in complex cloud landscapes and tree details. I wonder if this will continue next year!

Clouds & ridges above the Lairig Ghru

All the images were taken with my Sony a6000 camera and Sony E 18-135 lens. Looking at the data in Lightroom I obviously like the longer end of the zoom lens, with none of the images having focal lengths below 43m  (64.5mm full frame equivalent). I like zooming in! Maybe next year I'll think more about wide angle images.

Oak tree

In previous years I've chosen an image from each month. This year I haven't done this as it meant omitting some photos I really like and also a sequence of five images from just one evening. 

Split sky with Bynack More

These are the images I like because I can see new details every time I look at them. I like the complexity. I did take many  conventional landscape images - the sort I'd submit for magazine articles and guide books - and I do like many of these. They don't affect me in the same way as these images though.

Autumn forest

I also took many photos of camps and people. Some of the first can be seen in my post on favourite camps of 2022. One of these, the first in the post, could have featured here.

Clouds in the Lairig Ghru

All the images were taken in the Cairngorms National Park, four of them in woods near home, the rest in the mountains. 

Dark & Light

The Lairig Ghru


Birch in autumn


Oak tree

Clouds in the Lairig Ghru


The final five images are a sequence taken from Ben Macdui of the crescent moon over Cairn Toul. They bring back memories of a wonderful, wonderful evening.

Wednesday 28 December 2022

Favourite New Gear of 2022

Rab Generator jacket, Vango Heddon 100 tent


Here's my annual favourite new gear of the year review following another twelve months testing gear for The Great Outdoors. As in previous years they don't necessarily replace ones from previous years or old favourites and they're in no particular order. More detailed reviews of some of the items can be found on the TGO website - I've given links to these reviews. For other items. most of which appeared in the print magazine in trip reports or comparative reviews, the link is to the company page or a UK retailer.


 Garmin inReach Mini 2

This satellite communicator is superb. It's lightweight (100g), tiny, and tough. As well as SOS signals in an emergency you can send messages to contacts, track your route, find your position (grid reference) and altitude and more. It can also be linked to a smartphone to make it much easier to send texts and emails. 

Rab Generator Alpine Jacket

Synthetic insulated jackets warm enough for winter conditions in camp and at rest stops are usually heavy and bulky. The Rab Generator is an exception. It compresses well and weighs 590g. In my review I wrote "this is the first thick insulated jacket I can see myself carrying and wearing regularly due to the weight and the packed size." The design is good too with a wired hood and big pockets.


Black Diamond R Series Headlamps

The R-series of Black Diamond headlamps all have adjustable lighting models and rechargeable batteries plus controls that are easy to use. I think the 70g Spot 400-R is the best for year round use and the 105g Storm-R the best for long winter nights and multi-day trips as it has the most powerful light and the longest lasting battery.


Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite & XTherm sleeping pads

Neither of these sleeping pads is new and I've praised both of them before. However the latest versions are a big improvement on previous ones as they are warmer for the same weight and are far less noisy.


Helly Hansen Odin 1 World Infinity Shell Jacket

With a recycled fabric shell and a polypropylene membrane made without use of chemical solvents the Odin 1 is an environmentally friendly jacket. It's designed for the worst weather and the fabric is quite substantial. The hood is very protective and there are pit zips and roomy pockets. At 455g it's lightweight for a jacket suitable for winter conditions.


 Vango Heddon 100  

Tents that erect with trekking poles make sense if you use the latter and it's good to see more and more of them appearing. The Heddon 100 is a good solo model with masses of room. At 1670g it's not that light but the fabrics are substantial, especially the groundsheet. The flysheet is made from recycled polyester. The offset transverse ridge design copes with strong winds well. 

Rab Hut Down Slippers

For cosy warm feet in camp in cold weather these are wonderful. They are filled with 700 fill power recycled hydrophobic down and have a recycled Pertex shell and soft fleece lining. The sole is non-slip and insulated. They pack down very small and weigh 198g. 

EDZ Merino Wool Plaid Flannel Shirt  

This traditional style wool shirt is soft and comfortable and works well next to the skin or as a mid layer. Warmth is about the same as a lightweight fleece. It's very breathable but has a tight weave that makes it surprisingly wind resistant. 









Klattermusen Raido 55L

With a rigid external frame and more  attachment points than I’ve ever seen on a pack before this is an unusual design. It carries well though and stability on rough ground is excellent.The fabric is recycled and tough. Entry is via a roll top and there are two huge side pockets. The capacity of 55 litres is fine for three-season backpacking.


Columbia OutDry Extreme Mesh Waterproof Shell Jacket

The latest jacket in Columbia's OutDry range, which has the waterproof layer on the outside so there's no need for a DWR treatment or reproofing, has a mesh layer on the inside for greater comfort. OutDry works well and the mesh feels soft and nice against the skin. The jacket also has a better hood than previous ones. It's lightweight at 365g and good for three-season walking, especially on long trips where reproofing garments isn't feasible.

Danner Panorama Hiking Boots

These low-cut boots have a suede upper, a wide PU coated leather rand, and a waterproof membrane. They're quite flexible but still provide good support when traversing rough terrain. The outsole grips well on a wide variety of terrain and the underfoot cushioning is good. I find them very comfortable. They come in two widths and the wide one is perfect for me.


Big Agnes Kings Canyon Ultralight Quilt

At 430g this quilt really is ultralight. It's filled with Primaloft Silver synthetic insulation and has a footbox and poppers for turning it into a simple sleeping bag. It kept me warm at 8°C just draped over me. It's very comfortable and packs really small. For summer it's ideal.




Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT Hoodie

This synthetic-filled jacket is comfortable, and very warm for the weight of just 315g. The recycled fill mimics down and is very soft. It's a great jacket for three-season wear, especially when backpacking due to the light weight and the low packed bulk.


Sierra Designs High Route 3000 1

Designed to be used as a two-skin tent or a tarp this shelter is lightweight - 1010g complete, 675g for flysheet alone - and very roomy. The shape is assymetric and there's a long offset ridge for good headroom. It pitches with trekking poles. I think it works best as a tarp. 

Granite Gear Crown 3 60

This lightweight (1200g) pack hasn't had a review yet but I thought it worth mentioning here as after a three-night autumn trip in the Cairngorms I'm impressed. It was stable and comfortable with the 16kg load and I liked the adjustability and the big pockets. There'll be a review in The Great Outdoors in 2023.










Henri-Lloyd Mav Lite Shell            

This is a very environmentally friendly waterproof jacket as it has a recycled polyester outer and a bio-based Susterra waterproof/breathable polyurethane membrane that’s petroleum-free, non-toxic, and sustainably and renewably sourced inside. Excellent! The 2.5 layer fabric is soft, flexible and quiet. At 465g it's quite light. For three-season and all but the worst winter weather I think it's a good jacket.







Snow Peak Titanium Backpackers Cup               

This tiny 322ml 37g cup is my nostalgic indulgence of the year! It's a titanium version of the aluminium Sierra Cup I read about in Colin Fletcher's books when I started researching backpacking in the USA before my Pacific Crest Trail hike. It works much better in titanium - no burnt lips - and is great for dipping water out of streams.


Ridgeline Helvellyn Coffee Bags

I like real coffee in the hills but not the hassle of making it. Coffee bags are a good compromise and these ones are fine. They're easy to use, the coffee is Fairtrade, and the packaging recyclable.






Oppo Find X5 Pro

The Find X5 Pro has the best ultra wide and wide angle cameras I've used in a smartphone. It also has 5-axis image stabilisation, which is superb for handheld video and low light photography. The battery is big and lasts well. It's waterproof, dustproof, and tough and so suitable for outdoor use.