Batteries not Included

One of the things I hate carrying but always carry extras of “just in case” are batteries. And while they can be recycled, usually they end up in bin in a trail town and we can get through quite a few.
My camera needs AA as does my GPS device, ah but my head torch needs AAA and the kids headtorches need those funny flat ones that are like the hearing aid batteries but a bit bigger. Oh, and I need a USB battery pack for the phone. And Hazels phone. And AA batteries for her camera too.

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Field Dressing a Wound In your Jacket.

For some strange reason the kids can’t seem to wear anything without ultimately destroying it. Just check out Lil’s boots from our last trip. Ok they weren’t brand new when she got them and she did easily put another 100 miles through them so it shouldn’t have been a surprise really.

Just before we headed off on that trail we found a huge tear in the sleeve of her waterproof and not having the time to sew it up, or the money to replace it we went about fixing it with gaffer/duct tape. And it only went and worked!

So when, after the trail, we found some small tears in her insulated jacket, probably from the brambles she just had to run through, we set about fixing that in the same way only this time we photographed the process to share with you.

Pay Attention now, it’s very complicated.

Step 1.
Locate the holes in the jacket and pop any loose stuffing back inside with a finger.
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Step 2.
Cut a big enough bit of tape to cover the whole. REMEMBER Measure Twice. Cut Once. If you can’t find scissors use your teeth.

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Step 3.
Place the tape on the hole and make sure it’s stuck.

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Step 4.
Wear your newly repaired jacket with pride. A taped up jacket not only looks cool but you can do that “lets compare scars” thing like in Lethal Weapon (Only with less kissing!)

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Step 5.
Start making pre-taped jackets and sell them on the High Street like those jeans you can buy brand new with holes in them. Once you’ve made enough money you can place that order for a new Patagonia puffy.

In all seriousness though it’s a really important way to help reduce our impact even further. We often use Reduce, Reuse and Recycle but how many of us actually Repair. At the end of the day a bit of tape will help Lil’s jackets get through another winter so surely it’s worth spending those 5 minutes to save both the money for a new coat and the resources needed to make it and get it to the shop.

And she gets to look really cool too!

Review: SIGG Water Bottles & Flasks.

*I bought this product with my own money.
The post contains an affiliate link so if you choose to purchase this product from that provider, we will see a small kickback if you use the link provided.
We have also included direct links to the manufacturer if you prefer to order direct.
Rob.

 

IMG_0848It seems it’s really hard to review a water bottle. I’ve been sat here for ages, typing a bit, deleting, starting over. How do you review a bottle. It holds water. Done. What I think I’ll do is try to tell you why I like these particular bottles so much. And if that helps you in the decision making process, I’ve done alright.

  1. They feel solid. These are the metal ones and feel really durable. We’ve bought cheaper alternatives before and once they’ve been dropped a couple of times they split. These bad boys have already been dropped numerous times and wear their scars beautifully. Also the lids fit well while on cheaper ones there’s always a fear that the seal will go or the lid will get cross-threaded, not on these.
  2. The Hot and Cold bottle does exactly what its supposed to do. The heat retention is amazing. I take one with me for work everyday and because I work so, so hard, I can make 300ml of black coffee last all day. And it’s still hot, not warm but hot. In fact, after making my coffee at 7 am, it’s just about cooled down enough by lunchtime. The instructions say to warm the flask before filling but unless you like your coffee at the temperature of a thermo-nuclear war you may want to skip that step.
  3. sigg-trinkflasche-colour-your-day-black-touch-orange-06-l-8536-90They look good! For once I’m not the guy on the trail or at the climbing gym with a scrunchy plastic water bottle. People have even commented on the coolness of my SIGG bottles (the black & orange one especially) and believe me as I near 40, cool matters!
  4. And this is probably the biggest factor. I use them. Maybe it’s my subconscious justifying the extra money spent on these bottles but I’ve always got one nearby, so I drink more water, which I’m told is good.
  5. As we’re yet another blog taking on single-use plastics with our Zero Waste Hiking plans, I need to mention this. Any reusable water bottle, even the cheap ones are better than their single use alternatives but by spending a little more cash on a simple item, we look after it better. The chance of it getting left behind is reduced as is the risk of dropping off a ledge, and while these seem to last longer than others, if you do lose a lid, SIGG actually sell spare parts!

So thats 5 reasons we love our SIGG bottles and once our children’s plastic bottles for school get lost/broken/chewed we’ll be in the market for a few more.

View the range of SIGG products on Amazon UK*

Review: OrganiCup

*I bought this product with my own money
Hazel.

A few years ago, in a previous life (before the kids came along), at an outdoors expo/trade show type event, I was approached by a rather enthusiastic man selling menstrual cups. I had never thought of using one before, and to be honest I hadn’t since. The gentleman in question went into almost graphic detail about its use, including a demonstration involving a the pouring of a red liquid which I hoped was Ribena, and as you can imagine, put me off entirely.

Recently our family have made a commitment to reduce our impact on the world. We practice “Leave No Trace” on the trail so why not at home. So after researching plastic free alternatives and zero waste practices I was reacquainted with the menstrual cup and thought now would be a good time to give them a try.
After the initial shock at the size of of it (I’m a size B after 3 children), I found it quite liberating. My period was no longer a pain. Changing it twice a day was no hassle and you don’t notice it’s there. But how would it fair on the trail?

I used it on the Isle of Wight Coastal Path,  with good access to toilets with a sink so cleaning it was no trouble. On a more remote hike I would probably take some wipes, as the ease of this would outweigh the small amount of plastic. I would definitely recommend this as a zero waste and minimal hassle alternative to traditional sanitary products.

Have a look at it on Amazon

3 Easy Ways to Reduce Plastic on the Trail

I should call this “3 Bloody Obvious Ways” to use less plastic, but to be quite honest, the amount of these types of litter I see on our local trails makes me wonder sometimes.

Swap a plastic bottle for a good one.

sigg-trinkflasche-colour-your-day-black-touch-orange-06-l-8536-90Spend some money on a proper, durable water bottle. The number of “Spring Water” bottles that get either chucked or if we’re being generous “left” on the trails is obscene.
Just don’t buy bottled water, there’s no need, especially in the UK.
We’ve topped up from outdoor taps in churchyards, farm yards and gardens (with permission, if we’ve found someone to ask). Failing that, I’m sure no one will say no to filling a bottle if you ask nicely.  Failing that, carry a water filter.
Also if it’s a decent bottle that has cost you a little bit you’ll retrace your steps if you forget it, or the next person along will pick it up and keep it for themselves. At least it’s less likely to stay in the woods.

The kids use their school ones which are plastic but last a year or more, usually. Next time they’ll be replaced with a metal one like mine from Sigg.

Use Dry Bags instead of Carrier Bags

78431302_4plInstead of relying on plastic bags to organise stuff in our packs we use dry bag stuff sacks. As well as the usual things like spare clothes and sleeping bags, we’ve started keeping other things in them too.
For instance, we use one for breakfast and dinner foods but a different one for snacks/lunch so we don’t have to get everything out for a handful of peanuts.
We carry one each for wet stuff or dirty clothes and the “toilet” equipment is kept in another (Nothing worse than damp toilet paper)
We always have one dedicated to rubbish which gets emptied when we find a dustbin.

We got ours fairly cheap from sports direct and there’s a variety of sizes. I know they’re more money than a bag for life but some of ours are 4 years old and still going strong.

Paper Bags and Bulk Bought Snacks.

jelly-beans-children--plain-1-820x532We go for a hike which lasts 5 days, there’s 5 of us. On an average day we consume:
5 packets of instant porridge
5 packets of instant noodles
10 cereal/chocolate bars
1 pack of Tortilla Wraps
1 pack of Tuna

To be honest that’s probably a minimum but that’s nearly 100 bits of plastic over the duration of the hike. That’s just not good enough so we’re trying to change that. And you can help by leaving your advice, ideas and tips in comments below.

For our last big hike, I went to our local weigh shop and bought various nuts, dried fruits and sweeties for the trail. These were packed in paper bags which we then put inside a drybag to protect from the rain. We topped up with fresh fruit when we could or bought plastic free extras along the trail.

 

Going Plastic Free on the Trail

I’ve given Rob a challenge. While I have the monumental task of making our household free from single use plastics, at a manageable budget, I want our hiking trips to be just as ethical. So he’s in charge of that!

His first reaction was that it will be easy, by the time we pay the extra for plastic free alternatives, there won’t be any money left for long hiking trips. However, we’ve made a solid start at home and he’s starting to plan how to get rid of single use plastics before our next trip.

Just Up The Trail, saving the world, one cereal bar at a time!!!

The biggest worry is food, because our usual staples of noodles and pasta snacks are usually wrapped in plastic as are our go to snacks of jelly beans, cereal bars and beef jerky. We may need to get creative. We may need to bake. We may need a dehydrator. We will need a bigger pack. And while tupperware is the easy option for storage/packing, its just not that great in a backpack so solutions for that will be necessary. We could use foil, or wax paper but won’t that get squashed/torn/wet? Research definitely needed.

Other than food packaging I can’t think, off the top of my head, of much else where we rely on single use plastic. We do have those silicon pop up bowls and plastic cutlery but those have already lasted 3 or 4 years and when they die I’ll try to get a replacement from another material. The kids have plastic water bottles but we already intend to replace them with metal bottles like Rob’s SIGG when the time comes and I can’t remember the last time we bought bottled water, anyway that’s why we have the filter.

So if anyone has any tips on packaging hiking food in non-plastics, any plastic free snacks or if you want to share some delicious recipes with us, leave them in the comments below.

I’ll check back in on the plastic free mission between now and our next big hike, which will probably be at Easter, and let you know how we’re getting on.