Monthly Archives: February 2015


“More power”

Jeremy Clarkson

While I am no Luddite, I have never tended to carry much in the way of electrical equipment with me on hikes. An ipod usually goes unlistened, camera battery is supplemented by a spare battery. I have broken more Kindles than I am happy with and until recently, a simple pay-as-you-go mobile has been sufficient to carry as emergency back-up, never required thankfully. I don’t carry a SPOT device but may reconsider this decision.

However I do realise that I am in a period of transition. I am looking at purchasing a new Android phone, I have my eye on a particular ruggedised one. While I will continue to put my faith in map and compass, I am certainly looking to also start using Viewranger or similar. The phone I am considering can be charged via mini USB.

Another small change I recently made was in choice of headlight. I now have the superb Black Diamond ReVolt. This can run on three AAA batteries, alternatively it can be recharged via mini USB as can the Kindle.

There is a pattern emerging, that of devices that can be charged via USB. It was time to look at power banks. The interesting Brunton Core doesn’t seem to have permeated the market sufficiently well to make it a viable option. Solar chargers just don’t cut it in the gloomy UK. Likewise, putting all my faith in a wood burning BioLite stove would be equally as daft.

I could have gone down the traditional route (traditional!) and simply purchased the latest, greatest external battery power bank, the Ankers seem to be what everyone is raving about. However these also need to be recharged at some point, there remaining the requirement to hook them up to someone’s plug point. Not something most tents come supplied with. So I remained on the lookout for an alternative.

That was when I came across an intriguing project on Kickstarter. Launched by German geniuses  eXelleron Inc. in January 2015, the Kraftwerk mini fuel cell looks as though it may provide what I am after. It converts lighter gas into electricity. Weight and size are easily comparable to battery packs. Kraftwerk weighs 160g empty and 200g full. It is filled in three seconds from one of the small lighter-gas cylinders you can buy in just about any supermarket and other shops. A single charge is advertised as providing enough power to charge an iphone 11 times. I have done the math and if I am right a charged Kraftwerk will provide enough power to recharge a 2600mAh 3.7v battery 5.8 times, optimum conditions I realise. Or in other words, an 8oz gas bottle providing 32.7 charges of the same battery. Enough to separate me from the grid for a while.

Each cell measures 3.94″ x 2.95″ x 1.18″ and has a single USB outlet. There are loads of other stats and I am sure that there will be faults that remove some of the gloss. Likewise, the next generations will also likely provide more power with more ports, but nonetheless, I am sufficiently intrigued by the project to have become a backer. Even though it means that I won’t get my own ‘Pioneers’ edition delivered until February 2016.

I am only one of over 10,000 backers, the project is funded so will proceed, there is only a week to go, I am just a tad excited…

Arm warmers

Rapha arm warmers

I am little surprised that these haven’t been adopted more widely by the hiking community. Developed primarily for cyclists, these are arm sleeves that work equally well for walking. I like to use a short sleeve merino top for most of my hiking, either a short sleeve T or polo. The latter because I just feel a bit smarter. However early mornings and evenings can be a bit chillier and this is where these sleeves really work. As soon as things warm up they can be slipped off without stopping and stuffed into a pocket, hip belt or similar. An excellent way of helping thermoregulate.

The ones I use are pretty high quality Rapha sleeves which are not cheap. Obviously others are also available from other manufacturers. They are well made with no loose stitching. Size Large, they are made from 95% merino and 5% elastane. They hold up well with no slippage at all due to the silicone gripper. They can feel a little tight around the upper arm at times, but this doesn’t really bother me. Weight: 69g for both.


Rapha merino arm warmers

Rapha merino arm warmers

Map highlighters

Sharpie Highlighters

Sharpie Highlighters

Highlighters, which one is best?

I had reason to pop into Staples yesterday. While there I browsed the shelves and found these, only two quid a pop. I believe that maps are working tools and in addition to removing covers before I insert them into a map case for use on the trail, I have no compunction in drawing lines, making notes, ringing interesting places or anything else I wish, on my maps. I also like to highlight my route. I find it helps to quickly locate the path or route in question. However I always have a problem in selecting a colour that works, mostly because Ordnance Survey do a grand job of using much of the colour pallet when indicating the various classes of road and path, notwithstanding contours and rivers. Pink tends to work for me best but there must be a better colour out there somewhere, thoughts?

Packs of Pitted Olives

Packs of pitted green olives are a handy and ‘off the shelf’ way of supplementing the diet

Possibly an ideal addition to the ‘healthy camp’. These little packs of pitted olives are convenient, especially with their resealable packs. Each contains 70g of loveliness and there are other varieties too. Around 175kcal/100g. Pretty high in salt but that is no bad thing when exercising. A handy way of getting veg in to the diet. Try adding to one of those staples- couscous or noodles for a bit of variety. Now all I have to do is sort out the red wine