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  • Stretch fleece clothing
    use this type of fleece all year round as my main warm wear in summer and as a base layer or mid layer in winter When it s really cold I often wear two stretch fleeces a more versatile combination than a thicker single fleece I also like stretch fleece because it s lightweight and fairly low in bulk and so takes up little room in the pack adding very little to a backpacking load DESIGNS S tretch fleece doesn t lend itself to complex designs All those tested are simple pullover styles A few have small chest pockets but other than that there are no features at all I prefer fairly loose hems so I can tuck the garment into my trousers without it riding up and pulling out I also like sleeves that can be pulled up when it s hot which requires very stretchy or adjustable cuffs Other points to look for are flat seams especially over the shoulders and in garments that will be worn next to the skin and sleeves that don t ride up when you extend your arms as when scrambling or using trekking poles The last are surprisingly hard to find FABRICS

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/stretchfleece.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Tents and how to choose one
    to driving wind and rain or snow But any scale of season usage may also point to other factors like porch space and the amount of ventilation important in cold or damp weather where condensation is more of a problem Watch out for mozzie nets too Cheapo stuff isn t midge proof and bad designs often find zipped mesh panels on the inside of inner tent doors logic dictates it should be on the outside Durability v Weight A s the technology of tent materials improves the direct correlation between weight and durability becomes more blurred At the budget end of the market heavier may still mean stronger but at the top end high tenacity fibres and aircraft alloy poles means you don t have to sacrifice strength for light weight it comes out of your wallet instead A decent 2 man tent should weigh around 8 pounds real lightweights go down to around 5 Fabrics C otton tends to be hard wearing but you pay for it in terms of weight It s less susceptible than synthetic fabrics to degradation by sunlight but having said that the better known name manufacturers Saunders Terra Nova Omega etc use flysheet fabrics with UV inhibitors which slow down the process which nature employs to turn tough ripstop nylon into tissue Most modern lightweight tents are made from nylon or polyester usually with a waterproof PU coating on the flysheet Silicone elastomer proofings are more durable and more water repellent and usually found on high performance tents such as those made by Saunders and The North Face Silicone elastomer not only repels water it repels glue and is thus impossible to tape seams Terra Nova reckon they ve cracked it with their Watershed flysheet fabric a nylon base fabric with a highly water resistant silicone elastomer coating on the outside and tape glue friendly PU on the underside Manufacturers have experimented with breathable coatings to see if they offer any advantage They don t Some bivvy tents are made with Gore Tex panels although for British conditions you re much better off with a double skin tent Inner tents are made from a light breathable fabric and even synthetic flysheet tents sometimes have cotton or polycotton inners They re warmer to the touch and so make a tent more comfortable particularly on long trips Inners are generally treated with a light fluorocarbon finish to repel any condensation which may drip off the underside of the fly Groundsheets N ot just sewn in groundsheets should be stitched together so the material extends up the walls a few inches to provide good protection from wet ground Generally made from nylon fabric they can be coated on one or both sides with PVC polyurethane or neoprene PVC is heavy but extremely robust whilst PU offers good waterproofing for its weight but needs a little more care Several manufacturers offer neoprene coated groundsheets as options on their tents somewhat heavier than PU coated nylon but more durable

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/tents.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Travel clothing for the hot places
    widely available weight best suited to a broad range of temperatures is the 200gms sq metre fabric epitomised by Polartec 200 The heavier weights are better for very cold conditions or inactivity in less extreme temperatures while the lighter ones are useful for warding off the chills of a summer evening or as an extra thermal layer On its own fleece isn t windproof In many situations with high activity a certain amount of air permeability can be an advantage If you do need windproofing you can either wear your waterproof on top or a lightweight windproof layer made from poly cotton or microfibre synthetic Windproof fleeces made with a laminate sandwiched by two thin layers of fleece fabric are available and while they do an excellent job it is at the expense of flexibility in an overall layered clothing system Waterproofs T he buzzword these days is breathability Most will have heard of Gore Tex the best known microporous laminate but there are also microporous polyurethane coatings and there are also coatings and laminates which are hydrophilic They work by different mechanisms but the effect is the same Moisture vapour on the inside gets transmitted through the membrane or coating to the outside They work best when there is the greatest difference in both temperature and humidity between the micro climate inside your clothing and the air outside In other words cold and dry will see the best performance While there are differences in performance between fabrics and even different versions of the same fabric what s probably more useful is to concentrate on the design of the jacket If you re after the most robust you ll probably aim for one of the laminated fabrics in a 3 layer configuration good performers but not necessarily the best for looks if you want something a little more general purpose Here the 2 layer laminate with a separate lining comes into its own and indeed all but budget jackets made from polyurethane coated nylon or polyester will come with a drop lining as well The advantage is they feel softer and jackets using this kind of construction generally look smarter The main zip needs protection to stop water getting through A storm flap is what you need but the best will have a double storm flap either Velcro or press stud fastened and the inner flap will be slightly oversized to form a gutter so any drips that manage to infiltrate that far can run down to the bottom hem A good hood is essential A walking jacket may have a fixed hood but more and more these days are coming with rollaway hoods which stow in the collar simply because people want jackets to be multifunctional certainly better suited to travelling The drawcord adjuster should bring the hood snug around your face without too much fabric bunching up and it should allow you to turn your head from side to side without your face suddenly disappearing inside the hood

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/travelbags.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Trekking Poles
    you ll need a longer pole but if you want to stow the pole on your rucksack you ll want one that s as short as possible Shaft grip W hen trekking over rough terrain between boulders it is not always possible to plant the tip on the ground and maintain a grip on the handle unless you have really long arms It is therefore necessary to hold the shaft of the trekking pole instead of the handle To make this firmer warmer and generally more comfortable manufacturers are now starting to apply rubber grips to the shafts Basket T hink how easily a stiletto heel sinks into the ground or your back compared with a walking boot The basket on a trekking pole increases the size of its footprint to help prevent the pole sinking into soft mud snow or earth Most poles come with standard mud baskets which are of medium size In winter a larger basket is better for soft snow But if you use one of these in summer it ll no doubt jam in every crack and snag on undergrowth The ultimate is an interchangeable set of baskets for different terrains Occasionally a removable basket will remove itself when you are trekking so either carry spares or make sure spares are readily available Tips T he pointed end which provides the grip on the ground Most are made from hard wearing tungsten carbide for durability and these can sometimes be replaced once they have worn down Lesser poles have plain steel tips that cannot be replaced as easily Anti Shock Device W hen walking on rocky terrain a considerable amount of jarring can occur to the pole and arm each time the pole strikes the ground This is uncomfortable over long periods so some poles

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/trekpoles.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Water Carriers
    to the weight of a backpacking load Luckily there s never any need to carry that much in most places and certainly nowhere in Britain Dry camps away from water sources often high up on mountain ridges or even summits might require three or four litres of water but often this can be picked up late in the day so it only has to be carried for a few hours On day walks most people of course carry water or other drinks with them In case this isn t enough it s still advisable to know where water sources are on your route In the hills this usually requires little thought as there are plenty of streams and pools in most areas However rocky ridges can be dry for long distances It s easy to get parched in the Cuillin on Skye There is of course the question of whether water is safe to drink Clarity is not necessarily an indication of purity However water in the hills away from habitations farmland and grazing stock is generally okay In lowland areas I d avoid drinking from streams and pools There s too much likelihood of them containing industrial agricultural or domestic waste Finding water from a tap or buying drinks isn t a problem in most places of course Water can be filtered and purified but this isn t always necessary in Britain Containers W ater containers used to be simple items There were small rigid bottles for use while walking and large compressible bags for use in camp Now in addition to these we have small soft containers that take minimal room in the pack when empty and hydration systems with long tubes on which we can suck while we walk ensuring an effortless drink whenever we want There

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/water.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Water filters and filtration
    100 microns Removed by filtration or allowing suspended particles to settle out BACTERIA Cholera Salmonella Escherichia Coli Typhoid 0 2 10 microns The list of nasty things you can pick up from bacteria is as long as a roll of toilet paper Pneumonia food poisoning intestinal fever and dysentery are just some of the delights in store for those who drink untreated water Removed by microfiltration boiling or chemical treatment PROTOZOA Giardia Cryptosporidia Entamoeba 5 15 microns Undoubtedly the most infamous is the Giardia cyst responsible for the majority of water borne illnesses in North America It survives as a tough walled cyst for months in water Drinking as few as six can cause infection and when they reach the gut they rapidly break down to produce up to a million baby parasites within 10 days The classic symptoms are abdominal cramps diarrhoea vomiting and what the Americans politely call gas both ends Removed by microfiltration chemical treatment or boiling VIRUSES Polio Hepatitis A 0 004 0 1 microns The smallest nasties to be found in water and undoubtedly the most dangerous If you re travelling in third world countries where these diseases are prevalent then you d be unwise not to have been immunised But there are other water borne viruses which can cause diarrhoea flu and fever Removed by though they often attach themselves to larger hosts the smallest can t be guaranteed to be removed by filtration They have to be killed off either by boiling or by chemical treatment chlorine or iodine CHEMICAL POLLUTANTS Pesticides fertilisers diesel fuel heavy metals from mines More likely to be found in lowland areas but not exclusively so Removed by activated carbon will remove organic chemicals by adsorption where the molecules stick to the carbon but not dissolved minerals WHY FILTER B oiling kills off all water borne pathogenic organisms Trouble is you have to maintain the water at a rolling boil for 5 minutes an extra burden on your fuel supplies It s further complicated by the fact that boiling temperatures decrease with altitude dropping 5 degrees C every 5 000 feet At 15 000 feet not untypical for some Himalayan treks a boiling temperature of 85 degrees C won t guarantee to kill off hardier bugs Apart from the resultant taste chemical tablets work fine but they don t clean the water and they do need to be left long enough to work properly Filter purifiers are the best option for speed and convenience THE KIT Some companies make gravity fed filters but their flow rate can be painfully slow compared to the pump action models featured here The flow rate figures are variable dependent on the quality of raw water available Suck up water from a pool of sludge and you ll do your filter in very quickly If on the other hand you re selective taking water from a clear source using the float where provided to keep the intake tube out of any sediment you

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/waterfilters.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Waterproof clothing
    dry inside when I was working hard Some performed worse than others Denise Thorn who tested the women s jackets doesn t produce heat and moisture in the way I do She can stay dry wearing two fleeces under a waterproof when I m sweating with half that amount on didn t have any problems with breathability Women s Jackets A ll the women s jackets tested were specifically designed to fit women rather than being small size unisex or men s jackets They were tested by Denise Thorn who at 5 feet 2 inches tall and with a very short back doesn t expect even jackets designed for women to have waists in the right place But she does prefer sleeves that aren t too long and looks for roomy hip pockets pointing out that for women with more than a small bust chest pockets are not much use Other likes are mid thigh length jackets that fasten with Velcro rather than studs and have a hood with a wired peak and good side vision She also prefers semi elasticated cuffs as these still allow for ventilation when undone without being bulky when fastened round her narrow wrists Detachable hoods aren t liked as there s no point in taking a hood off for hill use They re distrusted too as they could detach accidentally in a strong wind for example or when fumbling with studs with cold fingers and tugging on the wrong one Oddly five of the six women s jackets tested have detachable hoods while they appear on only one of the ten of the men s jackets Why do designers think women want detachable hoods Denise also doesn t see the point of zips for attaching fleece jackets for hill use Men s Jackets N

    Original URL path: http://www.bluedome.co.uk/beginners/waterproofs.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Waterproof clothing guide
    size range generally have padded backs and padded hipbelts Many have internal frames or framesheets as well Back systems like this add to the comfort but they also mean that the fit is important A bag with shoulder straps and perhaps a padded back and thin waist strap will fit most people Once a frame and a padded hipbelt is added a more precise fit is required For that reason I measured the back length of all the rucksacks tested The range is from 41 5 to 58cm 16 23 inches enough to make a considerable difference to the fit This means that trying a pack on with a bit of weight in it before buying is a good idea Many of the packs have top tension straps which can be used to vary the back length slightly but none has an adjustable back and only one comes in two sizes The North Face Freefall Pockets Straps Flaps P ockets are useful for quick access to items like snacks flask hat and gloves Most rucksacks have a top pocket some also have side or front ones Sacks without side pockets are often called climbing sacks as the idea is that side pockets could get in the way The advantage for the walker is that the side straps that normally come with such packs can be used for attaching items such as trekking poles or for increasing the capacity with detachable pockets You can also tighten the pack round a smaller load with these straps for better stability That said for most uses a pack with side pockets is perfectly adequate Some packs have expanding side pockets and side straps a useful combination Ice axe straps are essential and all the rucksacks tested have at least one set Ideally they ought

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