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  • Ice Axes
    lost your footing A steeply angled pick would be more likely to snatch out of your hands so the walker s version is almost perpendicular to the shaft with just the merest curve designed for safe progressive braking Mountaineering models may have a slightly more pronounced curve and teeth handy for steeper terrain where putting the pick into the snow can give you a useful handle to help you up THE SHAFT Axes for walking mountaineering come with longer shafts than climbing axes providing a certain amount of security as a third leg Held by the head this is the way it ll spend most of its time in your hand The easy way to determine the length correct for you is to hold the axe by its head arm loose by your side The point of the spike should be around two to three inches above the ground Any longer and it ll be unwieldy shorter isn t recommended for beginners although you may see more experienced mountaineers with shorter ones Sizes range from around 50cms stepping up in 5cm increments to 70 or 80cms sometimes more depending on the make GRIPPERS Budget axes or purely walking models may not necessarily have grippers those that do will have a moulded rubber or plastic sheath on the lower part of the shaft either texturised or ergonomically shaped to provide some grip when you re holding that end LOOPS OR LEASHES Some use loops to remain attached to their axe in the event of a momentary slip of the hand some use longer leashes others prefer not to but there are plus and minus points for each Sliding wrist loop Pros Enables you to stay in contact with your axe whether you re holding it by the head or shaft Cons

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/iceaxes.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Knives for the outdoors
    long way since 1921 Does Kephart s warning still apply or do modern appliances work better than those of yesteryear And even if they work how useful are they to the backpacker and hill walker Impressive though they may look many of the functions found on these tools pliers screwdrivers saws are not really much use for walking and backpacking The ones I use most are scissors for everything from cutting open food packets to trimming finger and toenails and a small knife blade for cutting and spreading various foodstuffs When car camping or if there s a shop nearby then a can opener might be useful along with a bottle opener or corkscrew Tweezers can be useful too for removing splinters or ticks and picking up very small items Of the other tools screwdrivers could be useful for repairing everything from eyeglasses to stoves though you need to be sure that the ones on your knife are the right size and shape Most multi function tools are heavy and quite bulky They re no more necessary for most camping than the sheath knives of old And like them they usually come with a holster so they can be worn

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/knives.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Light fleece clothing
    more versatile than one thick one It s also particularly good for backpacking as it s low in bulk and doesn t add much weight to your load Lightweight fleece garments can be worn as base layers in cold weather indeed some are designed to be worn this way and have a wicking treatment applied to the fabric Fleece for next to the skin wear should fit quite closely for

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/lighfleece.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Lightweight waterproof clothing
    vents of different sorts are often provided More Than the Fabric T he performance of a jacket depends on more than the fabric it s made from The overall fit should be snug but not so tight that you can t wear an extra warm layer under it when necessary Sleeves shouldn t be so long they hinder use of your hands nor so short they expose your wrists Cuffs should be wide enough to allow for ventilation but should also close neatly when protection is required Length is a personal choice though it s worth noting that with short jackets you ll probably end up having to wear overtrousers more often Whatever design you choose try it before you buy it and check the different features Does the hood fit Is there a map pocket And is it big enough It s best to find these things out in a shop not on the hill Head Pro A good hood should protect against wind and rain and move with the head to allow for good sideways vision Some do this but a surprising number don t A hood that flops in your eyes and stays put when you turn your head so you find yourself staring at the inside might keep the rain out but will drive you nuts and could affect balance on steep terrain A volume adjuster at the back can be useful for reducing the size of a hood A stiffened peak protects against wind driven rain and sleet but it must be stiff enough A peak that flaps madly in the wind is worse than no peak at all Hood drawcords should be easy to adjust some can be operated with one hand and shouldn t lash you in the face when it s windy

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/lighwaterproof.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Mid layer clothing
    to hold the water and feel uncomfortable Self cuffing sleeves is another option Here the material is simply doubled over at the end to form a soft and comfortable cuff which uses the natural stretch of the fabric and like the rest of the jacket won t take up lots of water in rainy conditions Bottom Hems Often use the same form of gathering as for the cuffs either elasticated trimmed with stretch nylon or with knitted cuffing But quite a few designs employ elasticated drawcord with cordlock adjusters Getting the gauge and elasticity of that drawcord right is something that a good few manufacturers have failed at dismally Spindly shock cord with too soft a stretch ends up as yards of tail hanging either from the sides of your jacket or even more ridiculously from the front Pockets Given that a fleece top is made to keep you warm it follows that the hip pockets should do that for your hands Manufacturers have to balance a line between using fabrics for pocket linings which don t add greatly to the overall bulk around the hips which is what can happen if the main body fabric is used throughout and using thin pocket lining fabrics which don t perform well The best compromise without doubt are the thin single sided microfleece fabrics which feel warm and soft to the touch without adding too much bulk to the garment Zip Ins The idea of zipping a fleece into your waterproof jacket is I have to say nothing more than a gimmick It doesn t make your clothing setup any more effective than wearing the two layers separately and it means that you re paying extra for the second zip in your waterproof Windproof Fleece There are several varieties of windproof fleece

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/midlayer.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Bluedome
    that area I ve used sacks with thinly padded belts which after just a few hours have badly bruised my likewise thinly padded hips The better rucksack manufacturers also make their hipbelts conically shaped so that once adjusted to a comfortable fit a heavy load won t make the belt slip down Shoulder straps don t want to be too thin either If you re down to a T shirt a lot of weight pulling on thin straps can be most uncomfortable Most of the quality rucksack manufacturers now provide chest straps as standard They re especially useful at keeping the shoulder straps from slipping sideways and does away with the need to latch a thumb behind each shoulder strap to keep the rucksack comfortably up against your back without over tight shoulder straps The better ones are either completely elasticated or have a short elasticated section so there s a bit of give There s usually a choice of positions for chest straps and it pays to get the most comfortable so you don t get it so tight it impedes your breathing A good rucksack is one of those things which becomes a friend on a long trip It s part of you moves with you the real traveller s life support system But even so the nicest feeling is always at the end of the day when you take it off Fabrics Good bad and even completely lousy rucksacks are generally made from nylon or polyester The more you pay the better the quality the fancier the name and the more abuse it will take Although the fabrics are waterproof the seams usually are not So always pack everything into a liner inside the rucksack Lid The lid should completely cover the main opening of the rucksack to prevent gear falling out and rain falling in Some lids work well when the rucksack is full but let water in down the back when the sack is half empty There are usually pockets on the lid that are ideal for maps and guidebooks so make sure these items will fit Volume For backpacking and camping you need tons of gear including a tent sleeping bag food spare clothing and a stove for wich a sack of around 65 litres is ideal But on outings where more than a couple of days worth of food will have to be carried then look for a 75 litre rucksack Longer trips demand even bigger packs To account for every eventuality some rucksacks have variable volume If you re not sure what you are going to get up to this summer one of these could be the best choice Snow extension Under the lid there should be a long snow extension to provide double protection from the elements This will help keep the snow and rain out of the main compartment particularly when you start to overload your rucksack which you surely will one day Side pockets Side pockets allow for a

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/rucksacks.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Sleeping bag guide and resources
    only 10 C 2 Late spring summer early autumn 0 C 3 Spring summer autumn 5 C 4 Spring summer autumn winter 15 C 5 Expedition below 15 C Most manufacturers will quote the suitability of their bags in terms of minimum temperatures some even giving the figures for what s comfortable and what s tolerable a distinction worth bearing in mind And although they are good indicators they need to be balanced against your own metabolism What s comfortable for one person may only be bearable for someone else Neither do such figures take into account the differences in comfort levels for any given temperature at different levels of humidity You ll probably already know whether you re the kind of person who feels the cold easily so take that into account when you make your choice Alternatively stick with a lightweight bag providing minimum insulation and simply uprate your bag by wearing extra clothes Whatever you end up with the golden rule is make sure you go to bed warm Have a hot drink just before you turn in or go for a quick jog around the tent to get the circulation moving Packability To an extent this comes down to the kind of insulation in your bag but the amount of space which your sleeping bag commandeers in your rucksack can have a significant bearing on your total load One useful advantage of having two ultra lightweight bags is that apart from simply using one when the weather is kind enough if you use them doubled up you can still pack them separately Some amazingly lightweight bags aren t so much lightweight because they ve been made using some new space age insulation they ve simply been cut small to use less materials You don t have to be 6ft 5 and weigh 16 stones for this to be a problem either so pay attention to dimensions and always take the opportunity to try the bag for size in the shop Features To Look For Shell Materials Lightweight densely woven fabrics are the norm as down and even synthetic insulation fibres can percolate through even quite close weave fabrics A degree of water repellency is an advantage stops any condensation drips from the tent getting too far Linings vary depending on the weight and intended use of the sleeping bag Cotton feels comfortable next to the skin but for the same reasons that cotton underwear has long been abandoned in performance situations it s now very much relegated to budget bags Polycotton is a reasonable compromise whilst lightweight bags will often use a variation on the shell material Pertex is probably one of the most widely used Zip The majority of sleeping bags come with full length zips these days and the better ones will have two way pullers to enable you to ventilate the bag at the foot without completely undoing it Bags like this will usually be available in left and right hand zips so

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/sleepingbags.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Camping stoves
    stoves a wide berth and opt for the ease and convenience of a gas stove On the other hand if you take off to wilder parts of the world you re really governed by what fuel you can actually lay your hands on for much of the third world paraffin will be the most readily available Meths Pros no messing about and no mess too Meths methylated spirit is the absolute foolproof fuel requiring no pressurised burners valves or anything which might break down or clog up The best example of a meths burner is still the Swedish made Trangia with its integral windshield pot stand Meths is volatile and it s easy to clean up spills Cons the flame is difficult to see and it tends to be rather smoky so expect blackened pans You can reduce the effect by mixing a little water around 10 with your meths makes the fuel go further too Meths isn t always so easy to get hold of and you may even have to sign a poisons register in some places before they let you have it Parafin Pros burns in a pressurised stove not the same calorific value as petrol but it s a good performer nonetheless If you re trekking in third world countries this is likely to be your best option as this stuff will be available even in places where you might find it difficult to get hold of petrol Cons needs a separate fuel such as meths or alcohol paste to light the stove initially unless it has a built in wick Needs care when lighting as like petrol it can flare up until the fuel flowing through the delivery tube is vaporising properly Doesn t evaporate readily and it s rather smelly so don t spill

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/stoves.html (2016-02-10)
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web-archive-uk.com, 2016-10-28