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Blogging Awards 2015 – Please Help!

By Phil 2015.04.29 in General

I have been shortlisted for the Simply Hike Blogger Awards 2015 in the Hiking & Walking category and need your help!

The winner is the one with the most votes. Voting closes on the 31st of May.

I would be so grateful for your help, by clicking HERE or the image below and choosing my blog: Phil Your Boots in the Hiking and Walking list and Submit, as shown in the image below.

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Many thanks in advance!

Blencathra and Fairfield Horseshoe

By Phil 2015.04.26 in Lake District

Last weekend I headed to the Lakes with some friends to do Blencathra and the Fairfield Horseshoe. It was a cracking weekend and we were blessed with great weather. I’m not going to waffle on about the whole weekend, so will just let the photos do the talking.

Blencathra

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Fairfield Horseshoe

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Fjällräven High Coast Wind Jacket Product Review

By Phil 2015.04.26 in Product Review

Last weekend I got to try the new Fjällräven High Coast Wind Jacket during a trip to the Lake District and here is my review of the product.

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The jacket is made from a waxed polyamide and organic cotton material and is very light and breathable. As the name suggests, this is a windproof jacket as well as being shower poof so will keep you a little dry should you get caught in light rain showers.

My first use of the jacket was during a hike up Blencathra. It was a clear day and quite warm when I started the hike, but as I got higher up the wind started to pick up and started to feel a little colder, so on came my High Coast jacket. The jacket certainly did its job of keeping the wind off me and help maintain a comfortable body temperature.

Although it was windy as I got closer to the summit, my Aclima LightWool merino baselayer top was damp with sweat in the usual places where you sweat when on a hike, however I was surprised how quickly my baselayer seemed to dry under my High Coast jacket and how breathable the jacket actually was when wearing on top of a damp baselayer. I often find when hiking that you always seem to be taking layers off or putting layers on in order to get the right body temperature based on how strenuous the hike conditions are, I was very pleased with the combination of my baselayer and jacket and just pulled down the jacket zip if I felt I need to cool down or let more air to my upper body.

When I finally got to the summit and stop for lunch, it was a lot more windy and cooler, yet I didn’t need to put any extra layers on, I just zipped up the jacket and hood and pulled the chords to tighten the hood around my head.

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The jacket has a single zipped chest pocket on the left and two zipped hip pockets either side. The cuffs are elasticated and the hem of the jacket can be tightened by hidden chords at either side.

I continued to wear the jacket for whole of the descent and I just unzipped/zipped up the jacket as and when my body temperature dictated it. I also wore the jacket for most of my hike the following day in warmer, yet more changeable conditions while doing the Fairfield Horseshoe, both times the jacket protected me from the wind when needed and helped maintain my body temperature at all times.

The biggest thing that impressed me with the Fjällräven High Coast Wind Jacket was its breathability. I have worn lightweight windproof or showerproof jackets in the past and one thing what always happened was condensation/sweat inside the jacket. This never happen once with the High Coast jacket. Even when the temperature increased as I got lower down towards the start of my hikes, I never once felt condensation or sweat inside the jacket. I was actually amazed how dry the jacket was inside when I took it off.

Although I never got caught in any rain showers during the weekend (which makes a change for the Lake District), I’m sure the High Coast jacket would keep me dry in any light rain when the time comes. The waterproof level of the jacket can also be enhanced a bit by waxing it with the Greenland Wax as used on the other G-1000 based Fjällräven products, though I will wait to see how the jacket performs in light showers before giving it the waxing treatment.

I would thoroughly recommend the Fjällräven High Coast Wind Jacket as a perfect jacket for Spring or Summer adventures and look forward to putting it through its paces more over the coming months.

UPDATE 7th May 2015: Last weekend I got to test this jacket in more wet and windy conditions. Last Thursday I got caught in strong winds, hail, snow and light rain for nearly 2 hours during a hike in the Lake District. The jacket held up very well in the light rain, snow and hail showers, in that the jacket kept my Aclima LightWool merino baselayer completely dry. Two days later I was caught in much stronger winds and heavier rain while on another hike for a period of over 5 hours. This time the jacket did become a lot wetter than previously in lighter showers and shorter time. The jacket was wet through but I was wearing it on top of my Keb Loft down jacket. Although my Keb jacket was damp on the outside, it still kept my Aclima LightWool merino baselayer completely dry. So basically the High Coast Wind Jacket certainly does its job in more moderate conditions over a shorter period of time, but if caught out in more heavier rain and for longer periods then the jacket will get wet, but it’s not designed for such conditions and would be best with a more heavy duty waterproof jacket.

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The Lang Weekend

By Phil 2015.04.09 in Lake District

Last weekend I decided to head to the Lakes without a plan and just play it by ear and let the weather dictate. I packed all the essentials such as my Fjällräven Abisko Lightweight 2 tent, maps (and compass this time), guide books, 3 bottles of red wine, stove and some freeze dried food meals.

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The weather on the Friday wasn’t great, with light showers most of the day but was forecast to improve over the weekend, so I decided to chance it and headed over to the Langdale Nation Trust campsite. I managed to arrive at the campsite fairly early and just before the long Easter Weekend rush of people and found myself a good spot to pitch my tent.

Not Playing By the Book

When I woke the next morning the whole valley was covered in clouds with the sun trying to break through. I could see it was going to be a good clear day once I got up the fells.

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Although I had maps with me, I decided to do a route from the new Lakes Walks guide book my friend Rhiannon had bought for me. The route was Bowfell and Crinkle Crags which I could start right from the campsite. After I viewed the route, I thought it would be a better idea to end the walk closer to the nearest pub, the Old Dungeon Ghyll, so I decided to reverse the route detailed in the book. How hard could it be!

As I headed up the fells away from the campsite, the clouds soon cleared and the sun appeared with crystal clear blue skies. Spring had certainly arrived.

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My first summit of the day was the Pike of Blisco (705m). I was surprised that I was the only person doing the route I had chosen on such a stunning day, as I didn’t see another person until I reached Pike of Blisco, which seemed a perfect spot to have my lunch.

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After lunch I headed off towards Crinkle Crags (859m), where I started to see a few more people coming from the opposite direction. As I got closer to Crinkle Crags there were a few patches of snow about, though not enough to require any winter boots of crampons.

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After a short break on Crinkle Crags I headed to my next and highest summit of the day, Bowfell (902m). Again as I got closer to Bowfell there were more patches of snow and a few more people coming and going.
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When I reached the summit of Bowfell I found three guys there drinking a bottle of beer celebrating their 214th and final Wainwright summit, as they took it in turn to hold up their 214 Wainwright banner and posed for photos. You could also still see the summit of Scafell Pike and the hordes of people who had decided to ascend the highest summit in England.

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I started to descend back to Langdale and thought I had better check my map & GPS to make sure I was heading in the right direction, as due to the snow around Bowfell I couldn’t really see any distinctive path. Sure enough I had gone off my supposed route back down. So I headed back up towards Bowfell and headed towards Hanging Knotts as described in my guide book. However I had gone a little too far and ended up towards Esk Pike and at the other side of Angle Tarn. Despite my little setback in getting slightly lost, it didn’t really bother me as the sun was still shinning and made for some stunning photos around Angle Tarn. Once at the tarn it was easy to pick up the path along Rossett Gill all the way back to Langdale and the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub.

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I finally arrived at the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub dying for a nice cold pint. Arriving at the pub felt like reaching another summit. The guide book said the walk was 14km in distance and would take 6 hours and 20 minutes. Well thanks to my little detour it took me just over 8 hours and was 20km in distance. Still it was worth it and the drink soon made me forget about the extra time and distance. Despite the detour, it was a cracking walk and would certainly do it again, though next time I may play it by the book and do it in the direction described.

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The photo above of my 4 summits of the day. Can you guess which was my favourite!

Haway the Lads/When Philly Met Jilly

After my epic hike the day before, I decided on having a rest day and a bit of shopping before heading back to Langdale for Sunday lunch and a few beers at the New Dungeon Ghyll while listening to the Sunderland v Newcastle match, which Sunderland won 1-0, which was their 5th win in a row over Newcastle.

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Following Sunderland’s great result over our local rivals I decided to stay out for a few more celebratory beers and headed along the road to the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub which is a little closer to the campsite and easier to stumble back to my tent.

While there I finally met up my friend Jilly and a few of her friends and who now lives in a Tipi tent as well as running a Tipi rental business in Langdale called Base Camp Tipi. You can also read Jilly’s blog about her amazing cycling adventure where she spent two years cycling around the world, taking in five continents, though 30 countries while surviving on just £5 a day.

Jilly had just got back from doing Bowfell for the 11th time as part of her personal mission to do Bowfell 100 times via as many different routes as possible. When I asked her why do Bowfell 100 times, she told me: “Why not!” Which is a good enough answer after seeing the views from Bowfell for myself the previous day.

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Celebrating Sunderland’s victory over rivals Newcastle

Sharp Edge Take IV

Once again I woke to the valley covered in clouds, but my plan was to head away from Langdale and attempt Blencathra (868m) via Sharp Edge for the 4th time, hoping the weather was better than my previous three failed attempts.

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Luckily when I arrived at the foot of Blencathra the weather was perfect. The sun was shining, hardly a cloud to be seen, clear blue skies and no wind. It was certainly the day to give it another go.

I decided to unpack all my unnecessary gear from my rucksack, like tripod, walking poles and other gadgets, so they wouldn’t get in the way or add unnecessary weight on the scramble across Sharp Edge.

I don’t think I will ever get tired of the view of Blencathra as you head towards it. It’s a stunning sight as I quickly made my way up towards Scales Tarn. I usually stop at the tarn for lunch, but had made such good time and just wanted to get on with tackling Sharp Edge.

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The weather really was perfect for doing Sharp Edge as I scrambled my way across it behind three others, stopping occasionally to let some people past who were coming in the opposite direction. It was tricky in a couple of places where you are exposed and would certainly not want to get caught by any wind or doing it in wet slippery conditions and risk falling on either side.

I finally made it to the top and was great looking down on Sharp Edge as well as seeing Scales Tarn from the opposite side. I then carried on to the summit of Blencathra for lunch and to chill in the sun for a while before heading back down via Scales Fell.

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It was great to finally do Blencathra via Sharp Edge. I would do it again, but only in similar near perfect conditions and I will certainly never tire of doing Blencathra.

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I had a great weekend going solo with no real plans and was great to get my first camp of the year under my belt, as well as being good practice for this year’s adventures, with one confirmed and a few other in the pipeline… Bring on the next one!

Fjällräven Keb Gaiter Trousers Product Review

By Phil 2015.03.30 in Product Review

I bought my Fjällräven Keb Gaiter trousers last April from my friends at The Sporting Lodge and have used them for many activities since then and in various conditions, so thought I would write a review.

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So far I have put my Fjällräven Keb Gaiter trousers to test during the Fjällräven Classic, Atlas Mountains in Morocco, Snowshoeing and Ski Touring in Norway and many weekends in the Lakes and Scotland in both summer and winter conditions.

The Keb Gaiter trousers are trekking trousers made from a breathable stretch fabric with G-1000 Eco and G-1000 Heavy Duty (HD) used in the places which need the most protection like the backside, around the ankles and the front of the legs and knees. They also have side leg ventilation and large thigh pockets making them an excellent choice for all year round trousers in any weather conditions.

The heavy duty gaiter part of the trouser can be unzipped to slide down the leg and tighten via the drawchod around the calf to help protect boots and ankles and at the same time allowing ventilation to your legs or just to keep them in place around your ankles for easy access should you need to attach them back to the rest of the trousers should the temperature change suddenly. In the warmer climates the gaiter part of the trousers can be zipped off completely to make them into a pair of shorts. Both these features were most useful when trekking during the Fjällräven Classic and Morocco last year where the temperature can change dramatically.

The side ventilation zips from hip to knee allow excellent ventilation when wearing as shorts or full length trousers.

I also own a pair of Fjällräven Vidda Pro Winter trousers which I usually wear for winter hikes, but this winter I decided to try my Keb Gaiters to see how they compared. With part of the trousers being made from the breathable stretch material, I wasn’t sure if they would be suitable for winter conditions, but I was very surprised how they performed during my recent trip to Norway. They certainly kept me as warm as my Vidda Pro Winter trousers and the heavy duty G-1000 material used around the ankles in the gaiter part of the trousers was most useful when snowshoeing through deep snow.

The large thigh pockets are large enough for storing a map and other accessories you want easy access to, as well as two small hip pockets.

The leg endings also include boot hooks for connection to your boot laces to help keep the gaiter part of the trousers in place and protecting your ankles and boots from snow or wet conditions.

I find the Fjällräven Keb Gaiter trousers an excellent all year round pair of trousers and would seriously recommend to anyone looking for such trousers. I’m surprised I haven’t seen more people in the UK wearing these as they are perfect the British climate and the changing weather conditions we can often experience when in the outdoors.

I like my UN Blue pair so much that I’m planning on buying a black pair very shortly.

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Aclima LightWool T Shirt Review

By Phil 2015.03.29 in Product Review

I recently received an Aclima LightWool Merino wool baselayer T-Shirt from Nordic Outdoor in Keswick and this is my review of the product.

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Previously I had used Icebreaker Merino products, which had served me well in the past, but since being introduced to Aclima products last year while on Fjallraven Polar, I have now switched to using Aclima for all my baselayer products. I use the WoolNet and WarmWool products for winter as and the LightWool for warmer spring/summer conditions as well as the DesignWool products for more casual use.

Merino wool baselayer products certainly are the best for all outdoor activities due the various unique properties and so much better than any synthetic baselayer I had used before I discovered the benefits of Merino wool. Some of the key properties are:

  • Highly absorbent and can hold about 30% of its weight in moisture before it feels damp on your skin
  • Quick drying properties
  • Breathable in both hot and cold climates, yet still keeps you warm in the colder weather
  • Merino wool is a natural antimicrobial, which means it deters bacteria and the subsequent odour generated from your body – No stink!
  • Comfortable on your skin. People think wool irritates your skin. Merino wool is significantly finer than traditional sheep’s wool and feels more like silk against your body
  • Insulating and ventilating

There are many more properties of Merino wool which makes this an excellent choice for baselayer’s and socks, so if you have yet to experience Merino wool baselayer’s then give it a go now. You will never go back.

The Aclima LightWool T-Shirt is more fitted than the Icebreaker I used to use, but not in a body hugging/fitting way, as I prefer to still have a little room in my baselayer. It just feels more fitted and more comfortable than the Icebreaker equivalent I used to use. The Aclima baselayer’s also seem to keep their shape a lot better after washing then Icebreaker. Some of my Icebreaker’s became a lot more baggy after a period of time of use and washing. I have used Aclima products for nearly a year now and this has yet to happen and any of the products I own.

So if you are looking for baselayer product then I would thoroughly recommend checking out the full Aclima range at Nordic Outdoor as they have an excellent range of their products. I’m amazed that the brand isn’t as well known in the UK as it is in other parts of Europe.

I also have the LightWool long sleeve version and already have my eye on the LightWool Hoodie long sleeve, as I think the addition of the hood is an excellent idea and most useful in summer, yet windy conditions.

You can use the Aclima product guide below to find the most suitable product for your activity:
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Welcome

Welcome to my blog about hiking, trekking, Fjällräven Polar 2014, in fact anything where you require boots and the outdoors.

My name is Phil, and following my outdoor epiphany which started in the summer of 2012 I’m now hooked on everything outdoors. So far my biggest treks have included the 250km Cathar Way, the 170km Tour du Mont Blanc and best of all, winning 1st place to take part in the Fjällräven Polar in April 2014.

I plan to use this blog to write about all my adventures, which will include my personal goal of becoming a Munroist (completing all 282 Scottish Munro mountains), summer treks, weekends in the Lakes and many more.

I like to try and make my blog posts humorous so I hope you enjoy reading and that I can put a smile on people’s faces while showing you some amazing places.

If you have any questions about the blog or the places I'm writing about, don't hesitate to contact me on: phil@philyourboots.com

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