Mountain Star

It was love at first sight. Those smooth curves, precision crafted from a solid block of stainless steel, the needle-sharp point, the smooth black, fully rubberised, shaft on which big red letters proudly declared:

Stubai — Made in Austria »

Discovering Snowshoes

I have thought about getting a pair of snowshoes a few times over the years, but never did. The copious quantities of snow at the tail end of last year finally gave me the needed nudge. Of course, as invariably happens, all that early snow summarily thawed away on the very day the snowshoes arrived, and I haven't had a chance to play with them until this week. »

Regarding Microspikes

Recently there has been some chatter about using lightweight footwear in the winter hills, and in that context microspikes have been mentioned. As someone who uses microspikes a lot, I'd really like to warn quite emphatically against taking microspikes into the hills as a substitute for crampons -- in some ways wearing microspikes can be considerably more dangerous than just wearing boots without crampons. »

To Eat or not to Eat (contd)

The disillusionment with the M&S curry aside, the biggest factor that forced me to rethink camping food was running. While Scotland's hills provide superb playground from short jogs to long days, it is the linking of multiple days together that opens up, literally, whole new horizons. Alas, none of my previous approaches to cooking was suited to self-supported multiday runs. »

Of Camera Bags

There is no end of acquiring them, the search for the perfect camera bag seems endless. Here are some of mine, and some thoughts on them. »

GPS Accuracy and the Automation Paradox

It's been a busy summer for UK's MRTs. Not a week has gone by without someone getting lost in our hills, without yet another call to learn how to use a map and compass and not to rely on phone apps. This in turn elicits other comments that the problem is not in the use of digital tools per se, but in not being able to navigate. True as this is, the calls for learning traditional navigation should not be dismissed as Luddite, for not being able to navigate competently and the use of digital technologies are intrinsically linked. »

Winter's upon us

It's that time of the year again when the white stuff is covering the hills. This year it's come early and without a warning, one day still running in shorts, next day rummaging for the winter gear (and, typically, by the time I have finished writing this, much of the snow is gone again). Winter hill running is bit of an acquired taste, but taking on the extra challenges is, often, worth it. »

Delorme InReach SE

The InReach SE is a location tracker and two way (SMS-like) messaging device utilising the Iridium satellite network (which means it has a genuinely 100% global coverage). I have been using it for about 2.5 years, so I thought it might be worth saying something about it.

Relying on an Electronic Compass (a Cautionary Tale)

ABC watches are great. Mine is Suunto X-Lander, and I love it. I find an accurate altimeter to be a very useful navigation tool in the hills at poor visibility, and the X-Lander barometric altimeter is just that. Plus, it allows me to get realistic ascent and descent values for my runs, unlike the grossly overestimated values one gets from a GPS.

There is also the compass. Electronic compasses have their quirks, in particular, they are very sensitive to tilt, so some ABC watches have a spirit bubble, and some of the newer models are tilt-compensated. The X-Lander is neither, but I found with little practice it can be used rather effectively. In fact I have got so used to it in the last few years that I rarely take a real compass with me any more. As it turns out, this past weekend I got a stark lesson in how a bad habbit that is, one I will not forget too quickly. »

Dear Inov-8, Can we have the yellow mudclaws back, please?

The yellow Inov-8 Mudclaw shoes, were, I think, a de facto benchmark for a running mud shoe. Up here in Scotland, they seemed to be the shoe of choice for many runners, significantly over-represented at any of the local hill races. This is not surprising, mud is the day to day reality in Scottish hills and the yellows provided excellent grip in the worst of conditions, while being fairly hard wearing. If you were to get just one pair of off road shoes, Mudclaw was the shoe to get.

Then Inov-8 decided to update the shoe for the SS 2015 season, producing the red & blue Mudclaw. »