Outdooractive or OS Maps. Which app is best for walking route planning?

There’s a walk out there to suit all my moods. Whether I want to stroll along the coast path, stride across Dartmoor or find a quiet spot for wild camping, all I need is a map to find the best walking route.

Navigation apps can make life easier

I’ve been planning walking routes for a long time now and before the days of navigation apps, we had to measure all the distances (sometimes with string), work out the height gain (by counting contour lines), and calculate section times in our heads.

I’m still proud of my ability to write (and rewrite) a traditional route card but it is a time consuming process.

So these days I often use a route-planning app to speed things up.

Continue reading “Outdooractive or OS Maps. Which app is best for walking route planning?”

Breaking news! You don’t need a changing robe for outdoor swimming.

It might be a shock, for anyone who has recently visited a UK lido, beach or riverbank, to hear that outdoor swimming is entirely possible without a changing robe.

Scandalous I know!

Sea swimming skies, Fi Darby

As my toes are ably demonstrating above, when it comes to swimming, all you really need is some water.

But the pull of the change or drying robe is strong. So strong that the number of manufacturers supplying them appears to increase daily.

‘The best swim robes: 20 options.’ (220 Triathlon)’

’13 best changing robes.’ (Glamour Magazine)

Which must surely be contributing to the 140 million pounds worth of clothing sent each year to UK landfill.

Continue reading “Breaking news! You don’t need a changing robe for outdoor swimming.”

Sustainable outdoor knitwear. How long will my new Finisterre jumper last?

Just before Christmas I was gifted a merino wool outdoor jumper by Cornish fashion-sustainability pioneers Finisterre. My mission was to try it out, and share my findings on my social media channels.

I loved the jumper and it suited my outdoor lifestyle so it got a really positive review.

How long should a jumper last?

A few weeks on, the jumper has been everywhere with me, and is clearly a piece I’m going to get a lot of wear out of.

So much so, it’s given me an idea for an experiment in sustainability.

Reading the comprehensive environmental impact information on the Finisterre website, I became interested in the idea that, from its start to its end, I could trace the whole life of my jumper.

Continue reading “Sustainable outdoor knitwear. How long will my new Finisterre jumper last?”

Are outdoor gear ‘essentials’ too expensive?

What kit do I need for a DofE expedition?

The topic of outdoor gear essentials has, in the past, been a favourite of mine. From Ten Tors kit lists to wild camping tent recommendations, I have been just as keen as the next outdoor expert to insist people need certain kit to take part in certain outdoor activities.

But this year, as I faced my first group of 2024 Duke of Edinburgh’s Award trainees, I realised how much my thoughts on the topic of essential outdoor kit have changed over the last 20 years.

Continue reading “Are outdoor gear ‘essentials’ too expensive?”

Walking boot review – the KEEN women’s Zionic waterproof

These walking boots were given to me in return for an honest review here on my blog and on social media.

Description: The KEEN women’s Zionic waterproof hiking boot is a lighter-weight walking boot that is as comfortable and attractive as trainers but has the technical features to take you as far off-track as you would like to go.

Stars: 4 ****

Pros:

  • Very lightweight and flexible
  • Surprisingly supportive
  • Brightly coloured and attractive
  • Waterproof and breathable
  • No PFAS (‘forever’ chemicals)

Cons:

  • Slightly slim for wider feet
  • Shorter tongue bellow

Summary

This is a lightweight walking and hiking boot that bridges the gap between a trainer and a more substantial leather walking boot. With a flexibility of use that is lacking in some more traditional boots, the KEEN Zionic hiking boot will take you happily from town pavement to muddy field footpath but perhaps not through winter upland bogs.

Continue reading “Walking boot review – the KEEN women’s Zionic waterproof”

Plus size outdoor clothing models – where are they all?

Plus-size sports gear

Back in 2019 Nike caused a stir in the sports gear and fashion worlds by placing plus size mannequins front and centre of their flagship London store.

Well done Nike.

Plus-size walking trousers

Three years earlier in 2016, over on the Two Blondes Walking blog, I challenged Cotswold Outdoor to find me a pair of walking trousers that fitted my larger (but actually average) size. At the time they rose to the challenge and helped me to understand some of the issues surrounding plus size outdoor gear.

Continue reading “Plus size outdoor clothing models – where are they all?”

Gear review – Isobaa’s Isosoft merino blend top

Isobaa asked me to review some of their merino gear in exchange for the items reviewed. I was more than pleased to say ‘yes’!

What do you wear in bed?

It’s a bit of a cheeky question isn’t it. But the question I really meant to ask was this one.

What do you wear in bed when you’re camping?

Continue reading “Gear review – Isobaa’s Isosoft merino blend top”

How to write a gear review

In the twenty or so year’s I’ve been working in the outdoors, outdoor gear products have proliferated. There are so many tents, jackets, stoves and ‘useful’ gadgets on the market it’s hard to see them all, let alone choose which one you want to buy.

Just one reason outdoor gear reviews have become so popular.

Continue reading “How to write a gear review”

Would you trust a tent review written by artificial intelligence?

Can AI write outdoor blog posts and articles?

I recently wrote a post about copywriting and artificial intelligence. It’s an interesting topic. One I’ve been keeping an eye on for a while now. One that represents a slightly disconcerting situation.

Because the software is already available that could put me out of business.

Continue reading “Would you trust a tent review written by artificial intelligence?”

What’s even better than recycling? Repairing your old outdoor gear of course!

Exciting news. It’s Earth Day today.

I know, I hadn’t heard of it either.

But once I’d investigated I really liked the idea.

There’s plenty of environmental concern out there but Earth Day is an opportunity for us all to celebrate the good things that are happening in the world of environmental awareness.

And of course, do our bit to make a difference.

Continue reading “What’s even better than recycling? Repairing your old outdoor gear of course!”