Trail Magazine, April ’09

Big fat issue this month with that Gear Guide stuck in the middle, a bit like finding a paving slab in your roll instead of a slice of lorne sausage.
I’m there or thereabouts inside, one thing I’d forgotten about was the West Highland Way feature. It covers the top half from Bridge of Orchy to Fort William and I recount some thoughts on the Orchy-Ba Bridge section with a few photies (the one I took of the Devils Staircase sign has me wondering if I should go up and see if it’s still there, two years ago it was attached to the signpost, one year ago when I took the photie it was lying on the ground, nowadays I wonder…?).
When we were talking about this it was interesting to note that I can still remember every detail of the route, almost every step. It’s a nice piece with other contributors covering other sections northwards, a lot of detail and a lot about the opportunities for bagging the glamorous peaks along the route. I hope that angle doesn’t confirm the notion in many folks minds that the WHW is rubbish. I was once in that camp and now I know better.

My regular column was inspired by the tent collapsing incident a few weeks back and the subsequent voyage of peg and guy line discovery, the accompanying photie is a fistfull of tentpegs and made me smile when I saw it as I’d fotgotten about it. Obsessed as I was at the time, my first version of the column was a bit one dimensional and I rewrote it to cover some other stuff and went in a different direction as well. I’ve pasted on the original version below and anybody that reads the printed version will have an idea of the severe editing and shoehorning that goes on to get as much info in as I can every month (no sympathy requested, I enjoy it).

I seem to be doing a bit more for Trail & LFTO these days, there’s more review stuff and wee bits and pieces in the works, and I’m happy to say that I’ll be doing some routes as well. It’s great to get a chance to expand on just talking about gear and share some words and pictures of what’s my motivation for all this stuff: getting oot!
If I don’t screw it up, they’ll be in scattered over the second half of the year in Trail.
On that subject, the one person tent review from the last issue of Trail is on the LFTO site here.

Lighter Column, Take #1

Compromise and cost are two things that always come up when talking about lightweight, and they’re the two most common points raised on the LFTO forums.
While lightweight gear might not be compromised in design or construction, some of the components might be cut as thin as possible to give an impressive packed weight or to keep retail costs to an acceptable level.
Tent pegs and guy lines are a favourite for this corner cutting, so after a recent trip where gale force winds bent pegs and frayed guy lines, it was time to look for alternatives. Not heavier, but lighter and stronger.
The guy lines I’ve replaced with Dyneema cord and Line-Lok mini adjusters. The weight is negligible, the bulk is reduced and performance is increased; Dyneema is stronger than steel for its weight.
The pegs I’ve replaced with a mix of Vargo Titanium Nails in two weights, 16g and 9g. I’ve also got a few 16g aluminium Y stakes from Camcleat, these are anodised in bright blue for easy location in grass or snow. The large surface area presented to the ground by the Y’s means supern security. All these pegs came with cords attached for easy withdrawal when breaking camp. Pegs packed with tents rarely have this detail as it’s an unwanted manufacturing cost.
But, all these items added up to the cost of a budget tent on its own, and this is where personal choice plays its part. My lightweight tent was expensive to buy, but it’s bombproof and giving it a “service” by replacing worn parts was perfectly acceptable as it’ll give me years more hard use. I see this as an investment in quality and reliability, I’m making no compromise. But by buying the heavier budget tent, I think I’m compromising my enjoyment.

51 thoughts on “Trail Magazine, April ’09”

  1. Ah good lad, my “Petesy/PTC” thing was thrust upon me twenty odd years ago as an apprentice.
    I’ve gotten used to it now!

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