Category Archives: outdoor stuff

A genius fundraising idea for a great cause

mmto logo
Alana Hurd started a project called “My Million To 1” & got in touch a month or 2 ago to ask if I was interested in submitting some free adverts to the site
I’ll let you read her story on the link below & just say for now that it’s a project to raise money to fund an orphanage for some kids she met in Africa on a gap year. A great & inspiring story! And it should be of interest to outdoor types
 
The Story behind My Million To One
 
The My Million To One site launching soon
 
[edit] It seems some people aren’t believing that MMTO is genuine for some reason. Maybe it seems too good… Not sure why the disbelief but it is very definitely genuine!

Satmap Active 10 – final thoughts

Satmap Active 10 final impressions

Satmap active10 GPS unitSo, it’s a bit late, but I thought I’d better finish off the review.

Positives first:

  • Ease of plotting a route. For mountain bikers a big selling point is the ability to go out & explore, then plot a route back home from wherever you happen to be. This is great for MTBers as you can cover more ground on a bike & exploring will get you ‘lost’ more quickly than on foot.
  • Many people like to use a GPS to log their progress which the Satmap seems to do accurately. If you want a GPS for this purpose you might find the other features unnecessary,  but you might become convinced by the value of the map display
  • A major plus for bikers is the replaceable screen cover. There’s a fair bit of peace of mind knowing that if it gets scratched a replacement is cheap & available. I only used the unit in the dry, but someone who owns a unit told me that in the wet, moisture gets behind the cover making the display harder to read, so maybe some better sealing might be needed?
  • The unit has a tough feel to it which is big plus for MTBers.

Negatives:

  • The main negative I found is the battery level display. It shows as maximum for ages, but when the batteries run out there’s very little warning. A rechargeable is available and comes as standard if you buy the MTB kit.
  • As far as I know the screen on the unit is good in comparison to others, but I still found the display hard to read in sunlight. This is the case with most GPS units but one of Satmap’s selling points was that it was easy to read in sunlight.
  • Once or twice the map didn’t orientate correctly. On one route it caused a wrong turn.
  • I didn’t find the menu system that intuitive – although I got used to it. I guess that’s just me admitting I don’t like to read instruction manuals!
  • A minor was the bulk of the unit. It would be nice if any future versions were smaller or thinner. Crashes are inevitable at some point when mountain biking, and it’s not always possible to mount the unit in a way that would avoid damage in a fall. For some bikes maybe putting it on the top tube would work.

Personally I could see the attraction, but I actually quite enjoy map reading & I like to keep the skills up to scratch so I’ll stick mainly with paper maps. However a GPS unit is great for new routes where time is tight & you can’t afford to retrace your steps. They give you a definite position with no workings out.

If you’re after a GPS with OS Maps I’d say this is a good one to go for, some of the other similar models from other brands have some major disadvantages like no option to change batteries so if the rechargeable one runs out you’re stuck. Many just have to many dissatisfied owner reviews on the net.

Satmap Active 10 GPS – update

Satmap Active 10 GPS unit – review update

Satmap active10 GPS unitGot one of these through the post end of April by Special Delivery from the UK distributors. They were after feedback about the unit from a mountain biker’s point of view. There’ll be a full review after it goes back at the end of June, but here’s a few comments:

Battery power seems to be easily good for a day & a bit – so far hasn’t lasted 2 whole days with high capacity alkalines. If I owned the unit I’d go for the rechargeable battery (you can always keep AA’s as backup).

As with any device with a backlit LCD screen, the brighter the default setting the shorter the battery life. Also the longer the screen stays on before sleep the more battery drain …obvious to some, not so obvious to others. So far I’ve left the screen on a mid setting & about 30 seconds until the screen switches off. In bright sunlight the map is quite hard to read, but the waypoint pointer is much easier. As far as I can gather this is the same with all brands.

One thing I need to have a play with is the speed setting at which the compass switches modes. Sometimes at slow speeds, like on a steeper climb, the map flips 180 degrees or the waypoint goes a bit random. This can be a bit of a pain sometimes & send you the wrong way, but not for long. Still annoying though if you end up having to double back & it’s uphill… I have a feeling that altering the afore-mentioned mode change speed might sort this.

To me the unit is useful as a ‘get you home’ device. If I want to explore randomly, I can then switch the unit on to plot a route back. The route maker is easy to use & by all accounts the Satmap Active 10 is the only current unit with a decent one.
For a pre-planned route I still prefer to use a traditional map although I may be in the minority soon!

That’s all for now, more later.

Satmap Active 10

First Impressions of the Satmap Active 10 GPS unit

Satmap active10 GPS unitJust received one of these through the post by Special Delivery this morning from Satmap. They were after feedback about the unit from a mountain biker’s point of view. I’ve only had a quick look so far as I’m waiting for a map-card to show up. First impressions in no particular order:

 
Likes:

  • Replaceable screen covers
  • Easy to plot routes on the unit
  • …which allows it to be used without a PC
  • Personally I like the button control as opposed to touch screen
  • OS mapping
  • Really solid bike mount
  • Decent carry case
  • Appears to have good battery life, will report more fully later on

Dislikes:

  • so far, not much. The buttons do need a firm press though

howies merino base layer – NBL natural base layer

howies NBL base layer

howies description: “Superfine Merino that can be worn on its own or as part of a layering system when it’s cold. Wicks naturally, resists build-up of odours, regulates temperature and is itch-free so it feels real nice next to your skin. 100% Zque accredited Merino wool”.

Brands generally want you to believe their products will somehow enhance your quality of life. Apparently if you drink the right kind of Cola you’ll have more friends and become rich & cool… MTB marketing isn’t usually at that level of fantasy, but it’s often difficult to know which brands have a quality product and which rely more on a huge marketing department. If you’ve got a product that does the job it’s all a bit more straightforward, for company & customer.

The howies stuff I’ve owned does usually seem to match the marketing. I hesitate to use the phrase “does what it says on the tin”, it’s a bit cheesy, but there genuinely isn’t that much to add that howies haven’t said above. Except that I’ve owned a long sleeved & a couple of short sleeved versions for nearly 3½ years now, and they’re still going strong. When new, I was concerned that they were so comfortable that I’d grab one to wear off the bike far too often! Well, I’m still doing that now, so I reckon they’ve proved themselves for quality.

[edit] I was complaining the other day (July 2014) that my 2 NBLs were wearing out & why doesn’t stuff last very long these days. Then I found this post & realised they were 8 years old…

On the bike, I wear a long or short sleeved howies merino base layer as the only top layer on warm summer days, and you can get away with just the base layer & one of the warmer jackets like an Endura Stealth in the winter on all but the coldest days. When it’s cooler but dry in the autumn I usually wear a howies mid layer on top

It’s often claimed that natural materials out-perform synthetics. In my opinion this is often true; it certainly is with merino. For many, the cost will seem a bit high, but I reckon they work out at good value seeing they last so well. The fact that they refuse to smell used is a plus if you’re away for a week or weekend as you don’t need a base layer for every day. Another advantage is that merino stays almost as warm when wet, so if you sweat a lot or just get caught without a waterproof the ride doesn’t turn miserable. It also soaks up a huge amount of moisture before it even starts to feel damp. Make sure you follow the washing instructions as it will more than likely shrink in the tumble drier. They dry quick enough not to be tempted, so no excuses there.

Paramo Velez Adventure Light Smock – pt2

Paramo Velez Adventure Light Smock – longer term review

OK, a short re-visit to the Paramo. In short, great. As I mentioned before, I’d have the arms slightly longer, but there’s not much in it & with the wrist tabs done up everything’s comfortable & stays put<./p>

The big question; ‘has it stayed waterproof?’ – yes. And Paramo are one of the very few that always reproof properly when they need it. Good on & off the bike & seems much more resistant to dirt than most fabrics. Got splattered with Dalby mud the other day, the sort you’d think might not even come out in the washing machine, and it just didn’t soak in.

If you really don’t get on with smock designs, unfortunately they don’t have much else that works for biking. [edit] Now they do… I wasn’t 100% convinced that it would be as good all round as the eVent it replaced, I went for it because I wanted long life (from the Paramo, it doesn’t make you live longer..!) Now I’ve used it for a few months it all makes good sense.

Another plus for the ’10 version is the choice of a few more colours.

Paramo Velez Adventure Light Smock – pt1

Paramo Velez Adventure Light Smock – First Impressions

Paramo Velez Adventure LightThe Velez Adventure Light is a new waterproof from Paramo, IMO it’s their 1st one that’s not too hot for biking (in the UK at least!).

[edit] – since this was originally written, Paramo have released other waterproofs that are very suited to mountain biking

So far it’s all good. I find it’s best worn with just a base layer; with all the vents closed it’s warm, open the vents and it cools down enough not to have to remove it except in warm weather, when you’d not be using this kind of garment anyway

For me, the best thing with Paramo waterproofs is that the waterproofing doesn’t wear out. It doesn’t use a membrane – the layering system does the main waterproofing, and you just reproof it with Nikwax every so often. Because there’s no membrane, you can reproof it indefinitely, so they work out quite reasonable value. Also, they’re among the most breathable outdoor waterproofs available

Downsides? Sleeve length whilst OK could be a bit longer for me, and it replaced an Endura eVent jacket that I lost at Dalby (don’t ask…)