Tag: camping

Why Spending Time Outdoors Can Help You Sleep


Of all the things I enjoy doing, sometimes I think I love sleeping the most. Which is strange, because it’s also one of the things that I most resent doing. I constantly wish that I didn’t need to sleep quite so much, so I’d have more hours in the day to do more “productive” pursuits.

It seems I’m not alone. Many of us wish that we could get by on less sleep. But then there’s the other side of the coin: the insomniacs who would LOVE to be able to get eight straight hours a night. And, on occasion, I’ve experienced that side of sleep too, usually when feeling anxious and stressed about something. There’s nothing more frustrating than being desperately tired and exhausted, but unable to sleep.

And make no bones about it, sleep is essential to life. If we don’t get enough sleep, there are many potential side effects, all of them bad. Our bodies need time to recover and our brains need time to rest. There is a long history of the use of sleep deprivation as a form of torture and tests on animals have led scientists to believe that prolonged sleep deprivation could be fatal.

On a less macabre note, the amount of sleep you get affects your productivity and relationships. If I don’t get enough sleep then I can be grumpy, irritable and generally not very fun to be around. Compare that to the morning after I get a full night’s sleep and I’m a different person.

But it’s not just the amount of sleep you get, but the quality. I’ve noticed a couple of common factors in my own sleep patterns that determine whether or not I get a great night’s sleep. For example, I’ll usually sleep well if:

  • I’m sleeping in our campervan.
  • I’m camping (usually but not always).
  • I’ve spent the day outdoors, particularly if I’ve done a long walk or run. But an evening’s run in the fresh air can often have the same effect.
  • I’ve been reading for a while before bed (unless it’s a really exciting book!).

Conversely, there are a number of triggers which pretty much guarantee me a poor night’s sleep, which include:

  • Too much sugar before bed.
  • Working on the computer late at night.
  • Watching scary movies or thrillers in the evening. Basically, anything that gets your pulse racing or makes you think too much. (Yes, this does make me a very frustrating person to watch Netflix with.)
  • Checking my phone religiously before bed.

These revelations are nothing new and simply corroborate what many studies have demonstrated about good quality sleep. But do I always follow these guidelines? Of course, I don’t. I’m human. My life isn’t just one ballgame where I can go hiking each day, get to bed early every night and never worry about anything. I have work to do, deadlines to meet and occasional bouts of anxiety to deal with. I am even writing this late in the evening (though I promise I’m going to stop soon).

Perhaps it’s a classic case of knowing exactly what I need to do to fix something but struggling to have the disciple to implement it. Probably something to do with my Obliger tendencies

Why Being Outdoors Helps Us Sleep

So, anecdotal evidence aside, what is it about being outdoors that helps us sleep well? There’s been a fair bit of research done on this topic. Here’s a summary of the main points and some of my own thoughts:

  1. Exercising outdoors first thing in the morning boosts our body’s natural sleep rhythm. The daylight activates the light-sensitive tissue in our eyes, encouraging the brain to produce melatonin (the hormone that makes us sleepy) earlier in the evening. If you struggle to sleep, then experts recommend exercising in the morning rather than the evening, particularly just before bedtime.
  2. Sleeping outdoors for a week (without smartphones!) has been shown to reset our biological clock to a more natural wake and sleep cycle, meaning we go to bed earlier and sleep for longer. When it’s cold and dark, our bodies naturally tell us to sleep, and when the sun comes up and it starts getting warmer, our brain tells us to get up. It takes us back to the days before central heating, electric lighting and Netflix, when our lives were much more affected by changing seasons. But if you don’t have a week, even a weekend spent camping can have a positive benefit. As if we needed an excuse…
  3. Sleep is often the first casualty of too much time spent in front of a screen. Presuming you don’t go hiking with your head buried in your phone, this makes time spent outdoors a form of digital detox. Which, most people agree, is a good thing to do every now and then.
  4. Another trigger for a poor night’s sleep is stress and worry. Spending time outdoors has been proven to lower stress levels and help reduce depression and anxiety, leaving us more relaxed and better able to sleep.
  5. Finally, there’s the simple fact that if you’ve been active outdoors all day, you’ll be pretty knackered, physically and mentally, and ready for a good rest. Plus, if you’re sleeping outdoors, there isn’t much else to do once it gets dark!

How To Sleep Better at Night

That’s all very well, but realistically, most of us can’t spend all day every day outdoors. So for those of us with busy lives, how can we help ourselves sleep better at night?

Firstly, you don’t have to spend long outdoors to reap the benefits. I find that even a half hour or forty-five-minute run can be enough to tire me out and get me ready for bed. Rather than going to the gym in the evening, try going for a run or a boot camp session outdoors instead. And if you find that exercising in the evening wakes you up rather than sending you to sleep, see if you can switch your training sessions to the morning.

Switch off in the evening. Don’t go for your evening run, only to come home and spend two hours in front of your computer or mobile phone. You’ll undo all the good work you’ve put into helping you sleep. (And yes, this is the guilty voice of experience talking…) Try and schedule your day so that all you need do after exercising is have some dinner and relax, perhaps by reading a book or spending time with your family.

If you always have a hundred thoughts jostling for attention in your head, then try meditation or yoga before bed. It can take a bit of discipline (particularly with meditation!) but switching off your mind before bed will certainly help you drop off to sleep quickly. I often use the Down Dog app on my phone to do a short, gentle yoga session in the evening. It helps me relax, stretch out my muscles after a day’s work and wind down from the day,

There are lots of different views out there on whether there’s a link between sugar and sleep. Some people say sugar before bed will keep you awake, others say it’s a myth. Chances are, like many things, it’s down to the individual. What I do know is, if I have a lot of sugar in the evening it will almost always stop me sleeping or leave me feeling groggy the next day. I love puddings, so this makes me pretty sad. But I think on balance, I love my sleep more. So while I may sometimes give in on the rare occasion I eat out, generally I’ll try and limits my portion size on puddings, have home-made puddings that contain less sugar or (shock horror!) have no pudding at all.

You don’t need to camp out for a weekend or a week to adjust your body clock to be more in tune with nature. It just takes a bit more of that dreaded word, discipline! At home, there are many distractions that can stop you going to bed early: household chores, television, socialising or even work. But there’s a reason why we tend to feel more awake in the summer when evenings are longer, and sleepier in the winter when evenings are short and dark. Rather than beating yourself up about wanting to go to bed early in the winter, why not listen to your body and let it tell you when to go to bed, and when to get up? (Though that doesn’t give you an excuse to be late for work just because it doesn’t get light until 8 o’clock in the morning!)

I think I’ll always slightly resent needing a good eight or nine hours sleep a night to be able to function properly when other people seem to do just fine with six or seven hours sleep. But I also feel grateful that most of the time I can have that much sleep. I have a warm house, a cosy duvet to snuggle up in and a husband to warm my feet on. I’m in a much better position than many people out there.

We all have different requirements and different struggles with sleep. But we owe it to ourselves to give our bodies and brains the rest and recovery time they deserve.

Exploring The Best of Gairloch and Poolewe

Photo of Charlestown harbour with mountains behind

North-west Scotland is one of my favourite places in the world. I haven’t explored nearly enough of it yet, but one place I keep returning to is the area around Gairloch and Poolewe. Nestled between Torridon and Ullapool, it’s a family-friendly haven of beaches, mountains and lochs.

While some parts of the Highlands are arguably becoming overwhelmed by tourists during peak season (hello Skye!), so far Gairloch and Poolewe seem to have escaped this fate. Its remoteness probably helps this, along with the dreaded Scottish midge, but those who do make the journey will be rewarded with some of the most stunning scenery Scotland has to offer.

Gairloch and Poolewe: The Lowdown

Where is it?: Gairloch is part of Wester Ross on the northwest coast of Scotland, around 70 miles west of Inverness.
How to get there: Gairloch is about four and a half hours drive north of Edinburgh. Unfortunately, Wester Ross isn’t the most convenient area to navigate by public transport. The nearest train station to Gairloch is Achnasheen (connecting trains from Inverness) and there’s one bus a day to and from Inverness.
Where to stay: There’s plenty of accommodation in the area, including camping and caravan sites, B&Bs and self-catering cottages. Many campsites back onto beaches, including Gruinard Bay Caravan Park and Sands Caravan and Camping Park. There are also more basic (but beautiful) sites at Mellon Udrigle and Firemore Cove. We travelled in our campervan and spent most of the time wild camping (which is legal in Scotland). There are hundreds of beautiful spots to park up for the night – just make sure you follow proper wild camping etiquette.
When to go: Thanks to the nearby Gulf Stream, Gairloch and Poolewe typically have a milder climate than their northerly latitude would suggest. That said, this is Scotland, so if you go in the winter, don’t expect to be sunbathing. Being Scotland, it can also rain a lot. May–September are the best months to visit, but it’s pot luck as to whether you hit a sunny spell or a rainy week.
What to bring: A waterproof, sun cream and lots of midge repellent. Oh, and a camera, to capture the beautiful views.

Gairloch and Poolewe Highlights

You can find the ‘official’ highlights of what to do in Gairloch and Poolewe here. This is my unofficial guide, focused on the outdoor stuff you people love!

Badachro and Red Point Beach

Red Point Beach

Red Point Beach lies nine miles down a dead-end road off the A832. There are actually two beaches – one on either side of the headland – from which you can look across to the Isle of Skye. It’s a great beach for swimming (if you dare brave it!) and seal-spotting.

Badachro Bay

Back down the road, stop in at the Badachro Inn, a great pub located right on the harbour. Good food, good beer and great views.

Fairy Lochs

Fairy lochs

Fairy Lochs are a small group of freshwater lochans that lie in marshy ground in the hills behind the Shieldaig Lodge Hotel. They’re also the site of a wartime plane crash. An American Liberator bomber, flying back to the United States via Iceland crashed with the loss of all 15 crew and passengers. The strewn wreckage remains on the crash site as a memorial to those who lost their lives.

A pleasant 6 km circular loop takes you up to the lochans and back via Loch Braigh Horrisdale. Be warned – it’s boggy!

Wild Camping on the Beach

Wild camping

If you can brave the midges, the area around Gairloch and Poolewe has some of the most beautiful wild camping spots in the world. A campfire, hot dinner and the sound of lapping waves make for a perfect evening. If you’re new to wild camping, here are some tips.

Gruinard Bay

Gruinard Bay

There are many, many beaches to explore in this area. But Gruinard Bay is one of the most spectacular. It’s actually a series of bays, with a huge tidal reach that can catch out unsuspecting sunbathers. You can scramble back to the car park above the high tide line, but I wouldn’t recommend it. (Voice of experience…)

An Teallach

An Teallach

Of all the Munros and other hills in this part of Scotland, An Teallach is the most intimidating. The full ridge is a Grade 3 scramble and a great day out. We started at Corrie Hallie and dropped down into Glas Tholl Corrie to give a circular route without too much road walking. It’s a popular day out and if the sun is shining, you’ll need to get there early to grab a car parking spot.

5 Steps To a Wild Night Out

People camping by lake

This Saturday, people across the UK (and possibly further afield) will be taking to the hills, woods and fields for a night of wild camping. If this is the first you’ve heard of it, it isn’t too late to join in the fun.

Just follow these five steps to plan your own wild night out.

Step 1: Find a Friend

Don’t get me wrong. Wild camping solo is one of the best experiences you can have. (And in some cases the most nerve-wracking, but let’s not go there.) But if you’re new to wild camping then you may enjoy it more if you bring along a couple of friends.

If your friends are proving to be less than willing (what? Miss Casualty?) then it may be time to find some new ones. Fortunately, there are plenty of places to do so. Legendary adventurer Anna McNuff has been rallying women to meet up in various locations across the UK. You can sign up here. (Guys, you’re just going to have to organise your own fun for the night.)

Step 2: Decide on a location

Time for some research. As much or as little as you want. Decide how far you want to travel and how you want to get there. By train? Bus? Bicycle? On your own two feet? Anything goes.

Bear in mind the weather when you’re planning (currently – fingers crossed – looking dry!). You may get a beautiful view from a hilltop, but if it’s a windy night, you may also have a cold, sleepless night. If it’s looking like rain, then pick a spot in or near a wooded area to give you a bit of shelter if the heavens open.

Step 3: Organise Victuals

I love the word ‘victuals’. It makes me think of the Famous Five and lemonade, hard-boiled eggs and freshly-picked blackberries. But basically, I’m talking about food and drink.

A nice country pub is the easy option and a good starting point if you’re meeting people for the first time. Even if you eat at the pub, it’s always nice to have a hot chocolate before bed so be sure to pack a stove.

Step 4: Get Your Kit Together

You don’t need much to go wild camping. A sleeping bag and mat and either a bivvy bag, tent or hammock. That’s about it. A wee nip of whisky is always nice. As is hot chocolate. (Or chocolate full stop.)

If you’re not sure what to bring here are a few ideas.

Step 5: Choose Your Spot and Settle Down for the Night

Wild camping can be a fickle thing. You’ve spent hours pouring over maps and choosing the perfect spot for the night, then you get there and, well, it isn’t all that great. But don’t be downhearted. Sometimes your perfect spot is just around the corner.

A couple of things to bear in mind when choosing your spot:

  • The direction you’re facing so you can watch the sunset or sunrise (or possibly both).
  • The likely wind direction. It’s worth checking the forecast before you set out as the wind direction can sometimes change overnight. (Yes, that is the voice of experience talking.)
  • How visible you are. You may not be bothered by early-morning dog walkers or locals coming across you, but it’s worth remembering that in most of England, wild camping is technically illegal. If you’re a guest on someone’s land, it can pay to be discreet.

Wild Camping Tips

You can find out more about the legalities and practicalities of wild camping in this post. But the most important thing is to have fun and respect the environment. And don’t forget to share your adventures on social media with the hashtag #microadventures if you want to be in with a chance of winning a prize in Alastair Humphrey’s 2017 Summer Solstice Challenge. You have until the 9th July to enter.

Everything You Need to Know About Wild Camping

Wild camping in front of mountains

One of the best things about wild camping is the view from your front door

Wild camping season is here! The days are drawing out, the sun is shining (sometimes) and the countryside is a million shades of green. If you haven’t already dusted off your tent or bivvy bag, now is the time.

Whether you’re new to wild camping, or just looking for a few new ideas, here’s the lowdown on everything you need to know about wild camping.

What’s the Difference Between Wild Camping and Camping On a Site?

This may be a dumb question. (But there is no such thing as a dumb question, right?) It’s pretty obvious that camping in the wild is going to be a different experience to pitching up in a serviced campsite. There are no showers for one thing. Or toilets. Or other people. If any of these things are essential to your love of camping, then you may want to give wild camping a miss.

On a more serious note, whereas you may pitch your tent in a campsite for a weekend or week-long trip, this is not the done thing when wild camping. The unwritten rule is ‘dusk ‘til dawn’. Pitch up late in the day and move on early the next morning. You’re a wanderer. An explorer. If you pitch up twenty metres from your car and spend the weekend relaxing in your folding chair next to the barbeque, you’re kind of missing the point.

Is Wild Camping legal?

This depends on where you’re looking to camp. In Scotland, wild camping is permitted as long as you follow the Outdoor Access Code. Leave no trace, follow the ‘dawn ‘til’ dusk’ guidelines and don’t get in anyone’s way and you’re unlikely to have a problem.

In the majority of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you have no legal right to camp wild and technically you should ask the landowner’s permission (except for Dartmoor where you’re allowed to wild camp for one or two nights on open land). However, in many remote areas, wild camping is tolerated as long as you pitch up well away from roads and farmland.

Essential Kit for Wild Camping

Wild camping kit can be as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it. At one end of the scale, you can have a perfectly good night with a cheap plastic bivvy bag, a sleeping bag and a pack of sandwiches. But if you’re planning on making a regular habit of wild camping, or if you’re backpacking then you may want to invest in some specific gear.

Here are the main essentials you’ll need for Wild Camping:

  • Bivvy bag or tent – bivvy bags are perfect for microadventures and single nights out, but if you’re doing a long trip then a small tent can be worth its weight in gold. Particularly if it’s raining.
  • Sleeping bag – even in summer, you’ll have an uncomfortable night without your bag.
  • Sleeping mat – ideally a lightweight, blow up mat such as a Thermarest.
  • Warm jacket – always worth carrying a spare layer, especially if you’re likely to be sitting around in the evening.
  • Torch – to be fair, at this time of year, it’s light late into the evening. As long as you don’t need any night-time toilet stops you may get away without one.
  • Stove and pan – something small and light is ideal.
  • Lighter – you will regret forgetting this. Take two, in case one doesn’t work.
  • Water bottle – if you’re planning on filling up from streams, then one with a wide neck is ideal.
  • Mug – not your best china.
  • Spork – the only implement you need for eating.
  • Food – see below for ideas.
  • Insect repellent – you may consider this optional until you’ve been attacked by the dreaded midge. No one wants to wake up with a face full of itchy bites.
  • Fold up trowel – for your DIY toilet.

You should be able to fit these into a small rucksack, particularly if you’ve taking a bivvy bag rather than a tent. If you’re planning on camping in the woods, then a hammock and tarp is a great alternative to a tent.

Pick Your Perfect Wild Camping Spot

Perfect camping spots rarely appear just when you need them. It’s worth having a rough idea of where you want to camp before setting out.

A couple of things to bear in mind:

  • Popular spots tend to be, well, popular. If you head up to a classic wild camping spot with a beautiful view on a summer Saturday in the Lake District, then you’re unlikely to have it to yourself.
  • Look at the weather forecast before heading out. If it’s due to get windy overnight, you might want to avoid camping on an exposed mountaintop.
  • But if it’s looking calm, an exposed location may help keep the midges at bay!
  • If you need to collect water for cooking or drinking, then plan to camp near a reliable water source. If it’s been a dry summer, small streams may be more of a trickle near their source. If in doubt, fill up your bottles before heading to high ground.

Once you’ve found the area you’re going to spend the night it, spend ten minutes walking around to find a good spot. If the ‘perfect’ spot you picked on the map turns out to be a man-eating bog, then be prepared to look again. Sadly, maps can’t tell you everything.

Cook Up a Feast

Cooking over a campfire can be the epitome of wild camping. But you should only light a fire where it’s safe to do so and there’s no chance of you starting a wildfire. Seriously, wildfires are a big deal. Don’t be the idiot who accidentally starts one. If you do build a fire, make sure you clear it up afterwards. Leave no trace, remember?

Cooking on a stove may be less romantic, but it’s much more practical. And just because you’re wild camping, doesn’t mean you’re restricted to instant noodles. If you’re out for a single night, then pick up some sausages or cheese to include in your feast. Packing for longer trips requires a bit more thought, but there are lots of tasty meals you can cook up in a single pan. If you’re looking for inspiration, the Dirty Gourmet blog has some great recipes.

When Nature Calls

If you’ve grown up in the outdoors, then you can probably pass over this section. But if you’re new to wild camping and spending time away from ‘real’ toilets, then there are some things you need to know.

Firstly, choose a toilet spot well away from water – at least 30m.

Secondly, leaving toilet paper littered around is the ultimate no-no. I see this all the time when I’m out hiking and it really gets on my nerves. There’s no excuse for it. Ideally, bag up toilet paper and sanitary products and take them out with you. Alternatively, you can burn them VERY CAREFULLY (see point above about wildfires) and bury the ashes, or in a worst case scenario, bury them in a hole in the ground.

Finally, if you’re going for more than a wee, dig a hole. What if you’ve forgotten your trowel? Use a stick. Or a rock. Or your bare hands. Just bury it somehow. Got it?

Wild Camping is Supposed to Be Fun

Ok, so camping in the middle of nowhere with no pub or toilets isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. But I suspect if you’re reading this, you’re at least willing to give it a go. If you’re in need of a break from the hectic world of work, people and social media then I can recommend spending a couple of nights wild camping to recharge your batteries.

Of course, this being Britain, the weather is never guaranteed. And to be honest, if it’s lashing rain then camping in any situation isn’t that fun. So keep an eye on the forecast and if it’s looking bad be prepared to change your plans. If you’re determined to go ahead anyway, then check out my top tips for staying dry when camping in the rain.

So, is there anything I missed? Anything else you want to know about wild camping? Drop me a line, or come and hang out on Twitter and let me know. Until next time, amigos!

Why You Should Invest in the Outdoor Gear You Love


Just some of my much-loved outdoor gear that’s over a decade old

I was rooting through my hiking and camping gear today and came to a shocking realisation. I could find barely any gear that you can still – right now – buy in the shops. This isn’t because I don’t have much gear (trust me, we have a loft, garage and climbing room full of the stuff), but rather that most of the gear I own, I bought a long time ago.

So am I hobbling around in tattered clothing, with an ancient, creaking rucksack that’s about to spill it’s cargo of holey tents and rusted metal stoves? Not at all. I’m not adverse to buying new kit, but I only tend to buy things when I need them. Though admittedly that hasn’t always been the case.

The three gear-buying personas

In my eyes, there are three approaches to buying outdoor kit:

  1. The fashionista / outdoor shop worker: Changes colour with the seasons. Always on trend and hankering for the latest piece of shiny kit. People who work in outdoor shops also fall into this category. As you’re surrounded by beautiful kit all day and have a nice staff discount to play with, this tends to translate into frequent gear purchases. (I know, I used to work in one.)
  2. “It’ll do for now”: Buys what they need, when they need it. Ever budget-conscious, these people always have an eye on the sale rack, never mind if the down jacket is two sizes too big and canary yellow.
  3. Buy what you love: Justifying expensive purchases by calling them an ‘investment’, these people have an eye for quality and a passion for research and comparison tables.

I have been each of these people over the years, but much of my kit that’s still going strong today was bought when I was in a ‘buy what you love’ frame of mine. This happily coincided with my student days, where I was dedicated enough to survive on kidney beans and chopped tomatoes for weeks at a time, in order to invest my student loan in beautiful new outdoor gear. And I had the excuse of climbing trips to the Alps and expeditions to Iceland and Greenland, all of which required KIT.

Yes, they may be a bit worn and tattered (though my down jacket’s in such good nick no-one ever believes it’s over twelve years’ old), but these pieces of gear are like old friends. Take my Macpac Pursuit rucksack. It’ll carry any load without complaint and somehow manage to balance it perfectly on your hips. It’s been dragged up rock faces, dumped in snow and once had a rather wobbly, overloaded trip on a mountain bike. I’ve used it travelling in New Zealand and on multi-day hikes in the UK. On every one of my mountaineering adventures, it has been my constant companion.

It wasn’t the cheapest rucksack at the time, but it has repaid the investment ten times over. So why did I choose this rucksack, when I was a skint student and there were many cheaper models? Because I loved it. And because it was about the roughest, toughest alpine rucksack around at the time.

Why you should buy things you love

Having experimented with various philosophies of buying, I’m now convinced that buying what you love is the best option for you, the environment and your bank balance (all things I care deeply about). This can be hard when money is tight and option two (“it’ll do for now”) seems to be the only viable route. But I know, from bitter experience, that if you buy something that’s merely ‘ok’, said item will rarely be used and is likely to end up lurking under your bed gathering spiders.

If you buy something you love on the other hand, you will cherish it, wear it often and, most importantly LOOK AFTER IT. This is why my down jacket still looks shiny and new. And yes, I admit I can be a bit pedantic about not chucking my stuff in the dirt. But even my very dear friend (who shall remain nameless) who attracts mud like a headtorch attracts mosquitos, has taken such great care of her beloved new coat that it still looks almost new TWO years after buying it. Which, for her, is something of a record.

It’s a no brainer: looking after your gear will help it last longer. So rather than buying a sleeping bag every three years, you may buy one every ten or fifteen years. Which means you’re actually making a saving by buying more expensive gear. And it’s better for the environment. Less waste, less energy and non-renewable resource use in manufacture, and fewer carbon emissions from transporting goods.

5 outdoor gear companies I love

What gear you love and what gear I love may be quite different. But, if you’re interested, these are my favourite outdoor gear companies at the moment.

  1. Patagonia: Fondly referred to by one of my friends as Patagucci, Patagonia kit is definitely at the more expensive end of the outdoor gear spectrum. But it does last – my R1 fleece still looks good today, eight years or so after I bought it. Compare that to other fleeces which go bobbly within the year, and well, do I have to sy anything more? Plus, they do a lot of environmental work and campaigning and let their staff go surfing.
  2. Macpac: A New Zealand brand, Macpac make, hands down, the most durable rucksacks on the planet (in my honest opinion). I’d beg them to bring back the Pursuit Classic into their range, but quite honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever need to replace the one I’ve got.
  3. Alpkit: Alpkit is proof that quality kit doesn’t have to have a super-high price tag. I can still remember the murmurs on the outdoor scene when this British company broke into the market, and they continue making waves (so to speak) today.
  4. La Sportiva: The La Sportiva Nepal Extreme were the alpine boot of choice back when I was actually doing alpine climbing. They’re a bit on the heavy side now, but I still love my old, battered pair to bits. They are also my favourite company for climbing shoes, though if anyone from La Sportiva is reading this, you need to sort out the rubber delamination issue and PLEASE stop cutting the Miuras so high round the ankle bone.
  5. 3rd Rock Clothing: This small, British clothing eco-company is single-handedly responsible for the resurgence of ’80s style fluro-patterned leggings at the climbing wall. They’re made from recycled material though, so I’ll forgive them. Plus I absolutely love their comfy, durable clothing and environmental ethos.

What’s your favourite beloved old bit of kit that’s still going strong? Get in touch on Twitter to tell me all about it! If anyone would like to send me gear to review, please get it touch. Especially if you’re one of the companies listed above. 🙂