With the summer just ahead and a lot of plans for walking along with a few short camping trips, I’ve recently been depleting my bank account in anticipation of the good times and adventures to come.
It’s quite shocking to look back and realise how much I might’ve spent over the past month… On the other hand, these should be one-time purchases that I shouldn’t have to repeat any time soon.
Breaking down the items from the top photo and you have a list that comprises of the following:
So, the stove was an essential purchase, after borrowing a similar item from a good friend throughout the summer of 2014. I had to ask in store but it only accepts the screw on cannisters which, although being a little more expensive, have the benefit of being resealable. I had considered a larger, rectangular product that was being offered as a bundle with several accessories but I could not get away from the compactness of the Vango stove, after finding a video of it online.
That cookset represents the absolutely basics I am likely to need. What’s more, I can open it up to store the gas cannister inside! So, much of my camping essentials can now be contained within the original box. I have a spork but I somehow scraped through the last summer without a knife. I also keep a supply of ear plugs and thought the eye-mask looked ideal and much softer than the one I bought from eBay last year, which has since fallen apart… In reality, this new mask’s slightly smaller than I hoped and the shaped section around the nose isn’t as curved as it appears in the illustrations. But we’ll see.
Maps are a seemingly inexpensive purchase – and yet, it is never enough for me to purchase one at a time, even with a free postage offer! With a trip to Wales to experience the Brecon Beacons very nearly here, it was essential then that I purchase both maps covering this incredibly vast landscape – I really was surprised, particularly when I found both sheets to be double-sided!! It’s actually quite intimidating. I feel I’d need at least a month off work to be able to explore them fully.
I’ve just this weekend led a walk around Wiltshire and, even though I knew the route quite well, I decided to obtain the appropriate OS map just to be one the safe side (it’s a one-hour drive from Bristol, after all). While the latest Cotswolds map should allow me to compose a route up to and around Cleeve Hill (the highest point in the Cotswolds), which has been on my to-do list for over two-years now.
I can think of a few other maps I’ll likely be buying over the summer as well! eBay is almost always my chosen source for these purchases as even the ‘Active’ maps (with waterproofing coatings that allow you to mark your route and wipe it off later) can be found for just under £10, depending on what you’re looking for.
My previous pair of walking boots (Karrimor Kalaharis) lasted me fairly well, I suppose… They were only £50 back in March last year and, even before they were twelve-months old, I reckon I must’ve covered two-hundred miles of land with them under my feet! I was looking after them better than I had cared for either previous pair of boots (also made by Karrimor) and yet, come January, I’d noticed the material beginning to split on each boot… I ignored it for a time but then, with more vigorous walks recently in preparation for what lies immediately ahead, they’re just about ready to give way.
I took to a walk over the Mendips last weekend with a roll of duct tape in my bag, just in case. They survived but not before my replacements arrived courtesy of Cotswold Outdoor the following day.
I made a journey in to Bristol the weekend before not simply to buy these boots but to get my feet measured properly so that I could feel somewhat assured before forking out almost three-times as much as on my previous purchase of walking boots. Measuring your feet is a service they offer for free and Cotswold Outdoor staff will also advise you on both fitting and lacing of your footwear. I was being a bit fussy in the colour I wanted and so, I had to await a home delivery (free for over £30) as they weren’t in stock at the store – I wanted red because, well, it’s different, I’ve never owned red shoes before and they’re less likely to get switched with someone else’s!
These new boots have now been dirtied on two occasions over the weekend. Initially, I’m very pleased. In spite of regular pains beneath my right foot, these soles are far more reassuring than anything I’ve ever known and there’s a lacing-lock system (unique to the Salomon brand, apparently) that basically prevents your boots from working loose. Almost halfway through the walk yesterday though, I began to feel them just above the ankles. Fortunately, no blisters have formed but I guess I’m not used to wearing boots with full-height ankle support. In fact, I remember having the same trouble when I first started wearing safety footwear at work and that issue soon went away.
These are the Salomon Men’s Quest 4D 2 GTX boots and I don’t remember my others being anywhere near as comfortable when they were first new.
While I was there, I did happen to add a 2lt hydration bladder to my arsenal after some recent deliberation. I don’t always drink enough when I’m walking, let alone stop and take breaks to allow myself to refuel. Having to remove my bag and unpack a bottle is one of the excuses for this – however, now, I no longer have to fuss and the process of re-hydrating myself is almost effortless. I think 2lt will be enough for now. I might’ve gone for a 2.5lt reservoir had I seen them elsewhere but I was also conscious about how big it could be inside my backpack. Worst case scenario, I can pack a small bottle alongside, which would only be required as a backup.
If you’ve seen the price of those boots alone then you’re surely aware that I’ve spent a fair bit these past few weeks! To make things a little sweeter though, I was able to redeem a £20 voucher that I received last year (as a reward for leading five group walks) and on top of that, if you have a Ramblers membership card then they’re grant you an additional 15% off! Although, this is strictly discretionary. They won’t ask you if you have one; it isn’t a Tesco Clubcard and you’ll have to present it with your goods (I completely forgot when I purchased a tent last year). But it’s worth it.
Anyway, thanks for reading.