Monthly Archives: January 2020

Victorinox Mate (above) and Vagabond (below)

Knife chat: Victorinox Mate and Vagabond- are these the perfect multi-tools on trail?

Three Points of the Compass has previously looked at both the Rally series, which builds on the well-known Classic, and the amazingly compact, if over burdened, MiniChamp. There is also an alternative that falls between these camps. Not often found these days in the UK, however I note examples frequently turn up in the US on eBay. This is the remarkable Victorinox Vagabond.

Victorinox Mate, surprisingly compact

Victorinox Mate, surprisingly compact. Sadly, now difficult to find

Victorinox Mate

Tweezers and toothpick are located in the scale on both the Victorinox Mate and later Vagabond

Tweezers and toothpick are located in the scales on both the Victorinox Mate and later Vagabond

The forerunner of the Vagabond was the Victorinox Mate. Built on the familiar small 58mm frame. The Mate has few variations. It has red cellidor scales with useful tweezers and useless toothpick (I have never been a fan of these). It has the small drop point pen blade, nail file with nail cleaner tip and scissors found on the Classic knives, also the effective combo-tool as found on the Rover that combines 2.5mm flat screwdriver tip with a cap lifter. There is no wire-bender notch on this. These knives also come with the unusual ‘cut & picker’ blade with scraper (sometimes called an orange peeler). Perhaps the most useful aspect to these knives however is the addition of another blade. This is a sharp little Wharncliffe blade, usually referred to as an Emergency blade. All this in a 34.4g four layer tool weighing more than the simpler 20.8g Classic but less than a 45.2g MiniChamp. This knife enjoyed a brief production run- appearing in 1995 and probably discontinued within two years.

The Mate features:

  • Pen blade
  • Emergency blade
  • Cut and picker blade
  • Nail file with nail cleaner tip
  • Combination tool with cap lifter and 2.5mm flat screwdriver tip
  • Scissors
  • Toothpick
  • Tweezers
  • Keyring
Victorinox Vagabond and Mate with tools opened

Victorinox Vagabond (left) and Mate (right) with tools opened

Victorinox Vagabond

Vagabond and Mate from Victorinox, two handy little multi-tools

Vagabond and Mate from Victorinox, two handy little multi-tools. Both discontinued but available on the second-hand market

If the Mate led the way, the Vagabond certainly pointed in the right direction. The Mate evolved into the Vagabond around 1997 with a couple of refinements to the toolset that add slightly to functionality with zero deficit. The 2.5mm flat screwdriver tip switched to the end of the nail file while a surprisingly effective little Phillips tip was added to the combo-tool. A wire bender was now also added but I cannot say that this has ever been of any use to me. Some people particularly like the little nail cleaner found on Victorinox knives, and lets face it, hands and nails get pretty grubby on trail, however Three Points of the Compass has found that the little flat point screwdriver tip is almost equally as effective with clearing gunk out. The cap lifter is effective but I wish it were a combination cap lifter/can opener, now that would be useful. Weight of the now discontinued Vagabond rises imperceptibly to 34.6g.

Combination tools compared

Combination tools compared. The little Phillips will handle a wide range of screws, even the small screws found on mobile phones

The Vagabond features:

  • Pen blade
  • Emergency blade
  • Cut and picker blade
  • Nail file with 2.5mm flat screwdriver tip
  • Combination tool with cap lifter, magnetic Phillips screwdriver tip and wire bender
  • Scissors
  • Toothpick
  • Tweezers
  • Keyring
Shapes and size of the two blades found on both Mate and Vagabond

Shapes and size of the two blades found on both Mate and Vagabond

The Vagabond would be a great choice as a small lightweight multi-tool to take on an extended hike. Less so for just a day hike. Is the ‘orange peeler’ blade superfluous? I am not sure. It is for the individual to look at what is required for personal circumstance. At least the useless ruler and coke spoon, sorry, cuticle pusher, as found on the MiniChamp are excluded. Victorinox have produced combinations of tools within both their small 58mm range that I favour, and their larger offerings, that should meet the needs of just about any hiker.

Why would an extra blade be of any use on trail? It can be useful to include such a thing exactly as Victorinox have termed the Warncliffe blade, as an ’emergency’ blade to be bought into use in the event of the main blade becoming damaged or just blunt. I think it more useful to keep a second blade purely for food preparation, using the main blade for anything else- opening packages, cutting tape, trimming skin etc. The narrow pointed Warncliffe blade is great for fine work, so possibly keep that for any possible surgical procedures…

 

campsite on Gran Canaria, closed due to recent fires

Trail talk: Official campsites on Gran Canaria

Three Points of the Compass does like to disappear off to one of the Canary Islands once in a while. Not only are they all a fantastic place for a holiday, be it alone or with family, the hiking is often superb. If I get round to it I’ll try and write a little on this in a future blog. One aspect of the Natural Parks in Gran Canaria that I have yet to experience however are any of the official campsites.

official campsite, closed due to recent fires

official campsite, closed due to recent fires

Three Points of the Compass hiking Cruce de la Data, Gran Canaria in October 2019

Three Points of the Compass hiking Cruce de la Data, Gran Canaria in October 2019

Anyone visiting Gran Canaria soon, possibly to hike part or all of the GR 131, the 560 km (348 mile) that crosses the seven islands, may not have heard of the state run campsites to be found in its heart. You may come across one or two if driving across the mountainous interior but there is surprisingly little to be found on these. Ask in most tourist information centres and they will look at you blankly.

This is a bit of a shame as these are invariably welcome and shaded camp sites for hikers, protected from strong sun and occasional strong winds. And they are free to use.

Investigating the procedure, it took me a while to hunt down the municipal offices in Las Palmas where permits are obtained. Once found, everyone was very polite and efficient. Handily pointing out the ticket machine from which a very necessary ‘queue’ ticket is obtained. The official at her desk however was very different- curt and dismissive, there was no way that any permits were being issued for camping, fair enough, I had heard of the fires, but she seemed cross that I would even consider hiking in such areas, as to tie-ing her down to when sites might re-open, no way! The best I got was probably by December 2020. But I can see that some sites have already re-opened.

Be sure to pick up your ticket on entering Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria, it will save you queuing twice!

Be sure to pick up your ticket on entering Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria, it will save you queuing twice!

Ticket machine at entrance to municipal building in Las Palmas

Ticket machine at entrance to municipal building in Las Palmas

The GR 131 stretches 566 kilometres across the seven Canary Islands

The GR 131 stretches 560 kilometres across the seven Canary Islands

While free, a permit has to be obtained to use the camping sites. You are not permitted to simply rock up and use the sites without a permit though sites can be reserved for up to three days. There are wardens and they do visit the sites on a frequent basis. Permits can be ordered online, and picked up in person from the Office of Information and Citizen Services (Oficina de Informacion y attencion Ciudadana) Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria. This is found, with a bit of searching, in Las Palmas.

Campsite near Llanos de Garanon. Facilities at these sites vary from the very basic to provision of w/c's, drinking water, parking and tables and benches, even brick barbecues in places

Campsite near Llanos de Garanon. Facilities at these sites vary from the very basic to provision of w/c’s, drinking water, parking and tables and benches, even brick barbecues in places

Simple but free campsite on Gran Canaria

Simple but free campsite on Gran Canaria

When I last visited (autumn 2019) all Gran Canaria campsites had been closed following recent severe fires. There was also a blanket ban on any fires at all even in the roadside picnic areas. This is not surprising considering the widespread devastation that had resulted. However I note that a handful are beginning to be reopened. If you are planning on using any of the campsites, up to date information can be found online.

Trails mostly remain open following a fire but it can be pretty horrible walking through ash and charred pine and cacti. It is remarkable how one side of a hill will be burnt out while across the valley or over the brow, it hasn’t been touched. In 2019 over 9000 inhabitants were evacuated from more than fifty villages. Edges or more of villages were burnt out and I am sure that some towns and villages will have seen heart wrenching loss of livelihood and possession. However building work springs up, and life, largely, goes on. The tourist pound is important and visitors are encouraged, so long as respectful.

Segregated camping pitches. The ground is mostly hard and rocky and can be hard to drive pegs into

Segregated camping pitches. The ground is mostly hard and rocky and can be hard to drive pegs into

Most sites segregate hikers camping from those arriving in cars and vans. Large boards situated near the entrances explain where you may, and where you may not, camp. There are few officials on site, if any, and arrivals are expected to position themselves on trust. This needless to say leads to some people camping or parking just about wherever they want. Though not usually the locals, they respect the rules.

There are a wealth of hiking trails across Gran Canaria, boards showing many of these can be found adjacent to many of the state provided camp sites and picnic areas

There are a wealth of hiking trails across Gran Canaria, boards showing many of these can be found adjacent to many of the state provided camp sites and picnic areas

There a number of paths that loop out or pass each of the campsites on Gran Canaria, maps are shown on large boards at each site, or simply pick up a copy of David Brawn’s Gran Canaria Tour and Trail map. Paddy Dillon has also written a series of island guides detailing walks. Most recently he has completed a Cicerone guide to the entire GR 131.

Due to recent and extensive fires, all fires were banned in all campsites on Gran Canaria

Due to recent and extensive fires, all fires were recently banned in all campsites on Gran Canaria. This is slowly being relaxed

Note that wild camping is illegal, though you can camp on land with the owners permission. But try and track down the relevant owner of a rocky, tree covered slope, just off a path, as evening draws in! By all accounts, wild camping without permission does occur. Just note that it is frowned upon.

running water at state provided campsite

running water at state provided campsite

Gran Canaria is a great place to hike and Three Points of the Compass looks forward to his next visit to this island. Hopefully the recent fire damage will have been overgrown. It is remarkable how the natural flora bounces back, as do the villagers in their fire damaged abodes. If you do visit, please take care with any fires, it is a dry island and carelessness leads inevitably to further devastation.

Useful facilities provided at campsite on Gran Canaria. It is along way to the nearest bin from here....

Useful facilities provided at campsite on Gran Canaria. It is a long way to the nearest bin from here….

Holidaymakers at Conway, August 1958

Organised outdoor activity in the UK- The Holiday Fellowship

To provide for the healthy enjoyment of leisure

To encourage the love of the open air

To promote social and international friendship

and

To organize holiday making and other activities with these objects

T.A. Leonard, a Congregational Church minister from Colne, Lancashire

T.A. Leonard, a Congregational Church minister from Colne, Lancashire

The creation of The Holiday Fellowship is down to one man, and one man alone. Social reformer Thomas Arthur Leonard (1864-1948) was the driving force behind many organisations that sought to give people in towns and cities a taste of outdoors life. He believed that such experience was good for the soul, for health, and ultimately the community by bringing people together in shared outdoor circumstance.

Leonard had formed a rambling club in 1891 and 32 members of the Dockray Square Congregational Church in Colne, a Lancashire Mill Town,  joined him on a four night rambling holiday in Ambleside. Such was the success of this early venture that they became an eagerly looked forward to annual event. The Congregational Minister looked to further ways to get greater numbers in to the countryside. This led to the foundation of the Co-operative Holidays Association (CHA) in 1897. The CHA sought to provide- “recreative and educational holidays“. Laudable that the association was, by 1912, Leonard was at loggerheads with the CHA General Committee who, he felt, sought to appeal more to the middle class than working class. Additionally, he felt that a more international outlook was required. He announced his leaving the CHA to set up the Holiday Fellowship.  

Holiday Fellowship pin badge used by those staying at Newlands

Holiday Fellowship pin badge used by those staying at the Newlands Holiday Fellowship centre- a former graphite mill in the Lake District

Pin badge for the Holiday Fellowship

Enamelled pin badge for the Holiday Fellowship- worn with pride and fond memory, 1950s

A former pencil mill in the English Lake District, known as Newlands, had been leased from 1905, and was later bought, for £1,270 by the Holiday Fellowship. Purchased by three local businessmen in 1989, outdoor activities are still provided, by another commercial venture from the same location today. This centre saw thousands of holiday makers pass through and provided a base for group walks up in to the surrounding hills. Such was the experience that many holidaymakers would set up walking groups on their return home.

Miss Iris Hole paid £1, 9s, 6d for a weeks board and lodging at Derwent, in the English Lake District, in 1937

In December 1937 Miss Iris Hole paid £1, 9s, 6d for her holiday with the Holiday Fellowship. This was approximately equivalent to the daily wage of a skilled workman and bought her a week’s board and lodging at Derwent, in the English Lake District

From their earliest incarnations, both the Co-operative Holidays Association and the Holiday Fellowship encouraged the interaction of sexes, within limits. Accommodations remained separate but sexes met socially for dining, singing, discourse and outdoor activities. This was regarded by many as scandalous and was not the norm. Many other organisations, such as Scouting, Boys Brigade, Girls Brigade, church groups and worker’s societies discouraged such mixing. Early holiday camps were careful to remain single sex or took great steps to prevent promiscuous activity, largely to avoid external criticism and local outrage. Social norms were only now being broken down by the Holiday Fellowship and just a handful of other organisations. Following demand, in 1920 the Holiday Fellowship began Over the Hills, priced at 4d per copy, the magazine was published two or three times a year and lasted until 1982.

Newlands Centre in Keswick, English Lake District. Maud, writing from here to her friend Della in 1932 records:

Postcard showing Newlands Centre in Keswick, English Lake District. Maud, writing from here to her friend Della in 1932 records: “having a good time, weather not too good, have been doing a lot of climbing”

1927 advert of The Holiday Fellowship

1927 advert of The Holiday Fellowship

Flowers on the table and communal dining for those staying at the Holiday Fellowship Newlands Centre

Flowers on the table and communal dining for those staying at the Holiday Fellowship Newlands Centre

Programme for those staying at the Holiday Fellowship centre at Penzance, Cornwall, 1958

Programme for those staying at the Holiday Fellowship centre at Penzance, Cornwall, 1958

“and hear glad laughter and sweet speech

and friendly voices’ cadence reach

the ear in soft, caressing waves, and meet free men that are not slaves

of city toil and city hire,

but know Earth’s call and nature’s fire”

poetry extract from holiday centre programme

 

While Leonard favoured more spartan accommodation in remote areas, he was often at odds on this with his colleagues on the Holiday Fellowship committee, who largely preferred more comfortable facilities. Each holiday centre had a programme detailing the local arrangements and organised excursions. The Holiday Fellowship were well aware of the lives that many of their clients were escaping, albeit momentarily, and extolled the benefits of fresh air, camaraderie and worthy excursions for activities such as bathing, boating, rock climbing and walking. Holidaymakers were advised to bring simple first-aid, rucksack and nailed footwear ‘for safety’. Visitors were also encouraged to bring music if they could sing or play.

Programme of walking excursions at the Freshwater Bay centre on the Isle of Wight in 1957

Programme of short walking excursions at the Freshwater Bay centre on the Isle of Wight in 1957

'Holiday Songs' produced by the Holiday Fellowship. This is a revised edition of their first songbook- 'Songs by the Way'. Published June 1935

‘Holiday Songs’ published by the Holiday Fellowship in June 1935. This is a revised edition of their first songbook- ‘Songs by the Way’.

In common with the Co-operative Holidays Association (not surprisingly, as it was also created by Leonard) group song was a large feature of life with the Holiday Fellowship. So much so that, right from its foundation, small songbooks were both published and purchased in large numbers. Songs included: Jerusalem, John Peel, Oh dear! what can the matter be?, Early one morning, Dixie Land, Clementine and On Ilkley Moor baht ‘at.

“don’t start a sing-song with a new tune; have two or three well-known songs first, just to open the pipes… If a lack of interest is shown, stimulate the company by introducing a competitive spirit, men against women, or half the room against the other half “

Flying in the face of outward prejudice, the Holiday Fellowship encouraged house-parties to form into groups of new friends- regardless of class, creed or colour.

Enamelled pin badge. The rucksack emphasises the organisation's walking ethos

Enamelled pin badge. The rucksack emphasised the organisation’s walking ethos

1960's Holiday Fellowship button badge

Cheaply made Holiday Fellowship button badge with the HF logo introduced in 1961

Published in June 1935, the song book illustrated above is a revised edition of the second produced by the Holiday Fellowship and contains 78 songs or part songs including rounds. Certain songs had fallen ‘out of favour’ hence the revised edition.

Walking arm in arm through towns and country, singing loudly, much to the occasional annoyance of locals, groups of Holiday Fellowship walkers enjoyed access to beautiful parts of the countryside that dour magazines and newspapers only hinted at. Badges and patches proclaimed their allegiance to not only their new-found comrades but an outdoor life that they often embraced long after their week away.

Appearing quite spartan and reminiscent of an internment camp, the accommodation sheds of the Holiday Fellowship camp at Conway were, nonetheless, a welcome respite for many, 1922

Appearing quite spartan and reminiscent of an internment camp, the accommodation sheds of the Holiday Fellowship camp at Conwy were, nonetheless, a welcome respite from the workplace for many. Photographed in the early 1920s

Alongside Newlands, the Holiday Fellowship also had another centre when it started up. Their headquarters was situated at Bryn Coarach near Conway, in North Wales. Leonard was General Secretary of the Holiday Fellowship until 1925 when headquarters relocated to London,

Surrounded by mountains, the associated holiday camp at Conway provided a wonderful opportunity to escape to the hills in the company of like minded souls. Many of these ramblers were enjoying a paid holiday as only a recently granted privilege.

“The centres are chosen with an eye to local interest and surrounding beauty, whether by mountain, lake or sea and, as well as the beauty and quiet of the natural scene and the attractions of local arts and crafts and local history and customs, there will be a genial welcome from the local inhabitants- all factors conducive to an atmosphere of relaxation, tolerance and friendliness among members of the house-party enjoying an H.F. holiday”

HF winter holidays brochure for 1951/52. Cover shows Windermere in winter, Kinder Scout above Edale, the gardens at the Glasbury Centre, and Derwentwater

HF winter holidays brochure for 1951/52. Cover shows Windermere in winter, Kinder Scout above Edale, the gardens at the Glasbury Centre, and Derwentwater. HF logo introduced 1939

The Holiday Fellowship also catered for those seeking more strenuous activity than that offered by a simple coach tour

The Holiday Fellowship also catered for those seeking more strenuous activity than that offered by a simple coach tour

Leonard’s influence with many walking and outdoor organisations is largely unrecognised today. He doesn’t even appear on the Wikipedia page for Colne, the birthplace of his radical social reform. When the YHA was formally founded in 1930, Leonard became one of it’s four vice-presidents. He was also a founding member of the Friends of the Lake District in 1934. The Grey Court Fellowship, with Leonard as president, was founded in 1935 to provide holidays for the unemployed and disadvantaged workers and their families from north-east Lancashire. He was president of the Merseyside Ramblers’ Association, first chairman of the National Council of Rambler’s Federations and first president of the Rambler’s Association. Leonard was awarded the OBE in 1937 for his work in outdoor activity, no doubt this also took account of much unsung work, such as his founding of the Family Holidays Association set up after the Second World War to make former training camps available as holiday homes.

Leonard remained the Holiday Fellowship’s International Secretary until 1930. On his retirement in 1932, the Holiday Fellowship gave him a house in Patterdale, eastern Lake District.  He became their President in 1938. Ever one to look at opportunity, Leonard lent Goldrill House to the YHA as one of its first hostels. He died in 1948, the organisations he had founded continued.

The 1962 brochure from the Holiday Fellowship advertised a wide range of European Centres where holidaymakers could stay, alongside walking and climbing tours, coach and specialist interest holidays

The 1962 brochure from the Holiday Fellowship advertised a wide range of European Centres where holidaymakers could stay, alongside walking and climbing tours, coach and specialist interest holidays. HF logo introduced 1961

The Holiday Fellowship always had the aim of promoting social and international friendship and their number of UK based guest houses quickly expanded beyond their initial two at Conwy and Newlands, by the 1960s they owned 32 Centres in the UK and dozens more based in hotels or pensions in twelve countries across Europe.

Button badges from the 1990s/2000s

Holiday Fellowship button badges produced from 1973 to 1987

In common with many other organisations (other than the YHA which remains an anomaly), the Holiday Fellowship underwent a rebranding exercise in 1982 and is now called HF Holidays. It remains one of the largest providers of outdoor holidays in the UK. Proudly stating that they remain the UK’s only co-operative holiday provider, HF Holidays continues the outward ethos propagated by Leonard and arranges international holidays, encouraging comradeship across borders.

1962 advert for canoe camping holiday in the former country of Yugoslavia

1962 advert for canoe camping holiday in the former country of Yugoslavia

Three Points of the Compass has never holidayed with HF Holidays, it is not particularly ‘my thing’. I much prefer independent travel, or to at least make my own arrangements when ‘on the ground’. However, since its inception, this organisation has facilitated over five million people in getting outdoors, experiencing new found comradeship and international travel that they may never had enjoyed otherwise. It is to their credit that the company continues today, albeit as a commercial model in direct competition to the many hundreds of rival providers that have followed, quite literally, in their footsteps.

2019 brochure from HF Holidays advertising walking and activity holidays

2019 brochure from HF Holidays advertising walking and activity holidays

There is a timeline of many of the other most important or influential UK outdoor organisations over on my main website. I will occasionally write on a few more of these over the coming months.

Holiday Fellowship holidaymakers at the St. Edmunds School, Hindhead, Surrey

Holiday Fellowship holidaymakers at the St. Edmunds School, Hindhead, Surrey. Probably photographed between the wars

Simple to use, the little wheel is trundled along a line on a map, clicking every quarter mile

Map measurer of the month- the Velos ‘Clicker’, model 1460

Velos 'Clicker' map measurer

Velos ‘Clicker’ map measurer

“All 3 styles count the miles

on Mainroads, Coastlines and Byroads”

This is an oddity. Very little like it has been produced by any other manufacturer. It is as though the person who devised it had never come across a map measurer in his life and, with a clean sheet, came up with something new that, well, just kinda works.

Velos Clicker, model 1460, with protective chrome cap covering the measuring wheel

Velos Clicker, model 1460, with protective chrome cap covering the measuring wheel

British Industries Fair advertisement for manufacturers of 'Velos' Products, 1947

British Industries Fair advertisement for manufacturers of ‘Velos’ Products, 1947

Frank Pitchford and Co. were established in the early twentieth century. By the 1930s the company was called Rees, Pitchford and Co. Based at 72-74 Victoria Street, London, SW1, they registered the brand name Velos on 14 March 1946.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The prominent ‘V’ appeared on a wide range of products made by the company. General Velos office supplies included glass inkwells, erasers, rulers, pencil sharpeners, staples and staplers, hole punches and date stamps. Their bakelite range included desk tidys and inkwells, ashtrays and stamp wetters, and the Velos Clicker map measurer.

The distinctive Velos 'V' brand appeared on a wide range of office products from the company

The distinctive Velos ‘V’ brand appeared on a wide range of office products from the company

Simple to use, the little wheel is trundled along a line on a map, clicking every quarter mile

Simple to use, the little wheel is trundled along a line on a map, clicking every quarter mile

The side of the Velos Clicker, shown above, shows the English patent number- 422611. This was issued in 1935 and the drawing that accompanied the patent application shows well how the little wheel, when pulled along a line, would click as it rotated. The little wheel measures exactly one inch in diameter and clicks four times with each complete rotation. With a one inch to the mile map, this means that every quarter mile will be indicated with a click.

First versions of Model 1460 simply had a cambered wheel slid on to a pin mounted in the end of the handle. This could occasionally sashay rather than studiously follow a contour and the introduction of a small spring to the pin went a long way to calming its motion.

Contemporary drawing that came with the instructions on how to use the Velos Clicker

Contemporary drawing that came with the instructions on how to use the Velos Clicker

There was no risk that a user wouldn’t know how to use the instrument. Instructions were included on the box, information sheet and the side of most Clickers. Though there is a variant where the instructions were left off for some reason.

Four variants of the bakelite Velos Clicker. The development of the small wheel is apparent, as it the later inclusion of a small spring to keep the wheel steady and not swing out of position when moved along a line on a map.

Four variants of the Bakelite Velos Clicker, model 1460. The development of the small wheel is apparent, as it the later inclusion of a small spring to keep the wheel steady and not swing out of position when moved along a line on a map.

The Velos Clicker shown here also incorporated a ‘paper cutter and envelope opener’ at the other end. Rees, Pitchford and Co. actually produced at least four variants of the Clicker. The cheapest at sixpence was Model 1458 and combined the Clicker with a propelling pencil, a simple cap covered each end. For ninepence, you could purchase Model 1459. This was similar but had heavier caps, eraser, pocket clip and was chrome plated. The classic model however was Model 1460. Costing one shilling, this Clicker has a bakelite handle with letter opener at one end and Clicker at the other end. Complete with new style wheel and spring and protected by a chrome plate cap when not in use, large numbers were sold. Another robust model later appeared. Model 1461 again combining the Clicker with a propelling pencil. Models 1458, 1459 and 1461 are rarely encountered today.

Velos Clicker- Model 1460. Black bakelite handle

Velos Clicker- Model 1460. Black bakelite handle

Instruction leaflet for the Velos Clicker

Instruction leaflet for the Velos Clicker

Velos Clicker- Model 1460. Brown bakelite handle

Velos Clicker- Model 1460. Brown bakelite handle

So what happened to the Velos brand? Sadly it is rarely seen today. In 2004 the trademark was assigned to ACCO brands as just one of many that periodically appear on a myriad of office supplies. You can still come across examples of the Velos Clicker today on auction sites. One of those shown here was recently acquired for me by a work colleague as he rummaged through an auto-jumble in deepest Norfolk. Knowing my interest in such oddities he paid the grand total of three quid for it. Not that it is much use on modern metric maps though.

The Velos Clicker, ideal for measuring distance on older Ordnance Survey maps

The Velos Clicker, ideal for measuring distance on older Ordnance Survey maps

If you want to see a little more of one of these delightful little measurers, one of my favourite YouTubers- Wood & Graphic, took an affectionate look at the Velos Clicker here.

 

What power bank, charge leads and plug I take with me depends on the number of days I am on trail

Gear talk: Smaller power banks, plugs and leads on trail

Nitecore F1 and F2 battery charger/power banks

Nitecore F1 and F2 battery charger/power banks

Small power banks/chargers

Like most hikers, Three Points of the Compass takes a number of electric devices when backpacking- phone, camera, LED light, occasionally an MP3 player. Other hikers may be carrying even more devices. Only three years ago I made the total switch to rechargeable headlamps, first to the Black Diamond ReVolt, that can run on either standard AAA or rechargeable AAA batteries that can be charged in the headlamp. Then I switched out to either the Olight H1R Nova, with proprietary rechargeable RCR123A battery, or the Nitecore NU25. The former is for longer winter hikes or where more night hiking is planned, while the NU25 is perfectly adequate for the remainder of the year.

The H1R Nova has a single rechargeable 3.7V 650mAh RCR123A battery. This has built in protection. A spare could be taken so as to swap out with ease. However I just take the one. Each battery weighs 18g

The H1R Nova has a single rechargeable 3.7V 650mAh RCR123A battery. This has built in protection. A spare can also be taken so as to swap out with ease. However I usually just take the one as the battery can be charged while in use. Each battery weighs 18g. Note the excellent build quality of this light and fitted rubber O ring to prevent water ingress

For shorter hikes where I am also carrying a power bank, I may carry either a Nitecore F1 battery charger or the double sized version- the F2. These will take many Lithium-Ion batteries including the 18650 batteries I favour. The F1 is a simple, minimalist charger with Micro USB in-port and USB out-port. It has a nifty little LED array that identifies the voltage of the battery inserted and informs degree of charge and the F1 allows through charging, so it is possible to charge the battery at the same time as charging a device.

Powerbank, charge lead and plug for short walks of a couple or more days.

Nitecore F1 power bank, charge lead and plug for short walks of a couple days

The Nitecore F1 charger weighs 34g including two ranger bands which hold a battery securely in place when in use though I often only take the one. The F1 is not the swiftest of chargers and is not suitable for a brief halt in town of an hour or two and expecting to quickly charge up, but is fine for an overnight stop where there is access to mains power for a few hours. There are a lot of these little battery chargers and power banks available and a little care needs to be taken when choosing one, do your research because a few are downright dangerous. The F1 is a great lightweight option for a day or few, however I feel that the F2 is more suited to longer treks as it gives a greater degree of flexibility and functionality.

Nitecore F2, with plug and charge lead

Nitecore F2, with plug and charge lead

The Nitecore F2 has 0.5A USB 3.0 Micro-B input and two USB outputs, giving 1x 2A or 2x1A. The F2 charger/power bank weighs 47g, 54g with two ranger bands. The little 170mm charge lead that comes with it weighs 12g but I normally carry a more robust longer lead.

Powerbank, charge leads and plug for walks of a week or more

F2 power bank, charge leads, plug and extra battery are sufficient for trails of a week or more, unless opportunity for charging presents additional problems, in which case extra cells could be carried

Depending on the length of trip, I often carry one, two or three Nitecore Lithium-Ion rechargeable 18650 batteries. 3.7V 12.6Wh. The 18650 batteries from Nitecore (and Olight that I have also used) are both built on the Panasonic NCR 18650B, with additional circuitry. The ones from Nitecore each weigh 48g and have built in PCB/IC protection (short circuit and battery overcharge protection and discharge protection circuits) so are a little longer than most other 18650 batteries being 68mm long instead of 65mm. Mine are the 3400mAh batteries which give the best size/weight/power ratio for rechargeable batteries. Though in truth they probably deliver no more than around 3200mAh. When not in use, or in the charger, I keep each 18650 battery in a 6.4g silicone sleeve. This removes the danger of any shorting out while packed. If you have any doubt as to the efficacy of 18650 batteries, it is worth noting that Tesla has been using Panasonic 18650 cells in their Models S and X cars since 2013. Their most common battery pack originally contained 7104 18650 cells, more recently 8256 cells.

Phone, mp3 player, headlight and power- Little was required

Electronics carried on the Icknield Way in 2017, there is an excess of charge leads here as three different electronic devices had three different connectors

 

Another good charger that can also act as a power bank and has attracted a lot of interest in recent years is the Miller ML-102. There have been a number of versions of this USB charger produced and some earlier models introduced a few faults, however at the time of writing (January 2020) the current version- the 32g ML-102 v9, seems to have reintroduced a reliable charger to the market place. However these will only work with unprotected 65mm long 18650 cells, it won’t accept the longer protected 18650 cells, so I cannot use this on trail with my favoured Nitecore batteries. Unprotected cells should not be left unattended when charging for obvious reasons.

Using the Nitecore F1 as an 18650 battery charger

Using the Nitecore F1 as an 18650 battery charger

Tiny Photon Freedom microlight is frequently attached to one of my packs zip pulls

Tiny Photon Freedom microlight is frequently attached to one of my packs zip pulls or my Z Packs chest pouch

In the eventuality that the battery/power bank does give up and all my 18650s are drained, I usually have just a little backup for light. I often carry two of the fantastic little LRI Photon Freedom Micro button lights. One has a red beam to preserve night vision, or to be just a little more discreet and less conspicuous if wild camping where I ought not. The other has a white beam. I have written elsewhere about these great little lights, but for just 10g each, including battery, you can’t go wrong with these. Spare button batteries are carried for any Photon carried (CR 2016 or 2032 depending on if white or red LED). I also have a light on my phone but better to keep a phone battery charged for emergency use. Finally, I have a minuscule USB LED light with dimmable facility that can be plugged into either my power bank or a room wall plug.

For any hike of a week or more I am usually carrying an Anker PowerCore II Slim 10 000mAh power bank. This weighs 209g, so is the heavier option but I swap out for this for one reason- convenience. With a charger that can only charge one (F1) or two (F2) 18650 batteries at a time, I would need to keep swapping batteries to keep them all charged. Not what I want to be doing. I want to be eating, drinking, washing and resting, not hovering over a charger. With the Anker, I can stop overnight somewhere, plug it in and leave it plugged in until fully charged.

Charge leads and plugs

Leads

Charge rate can be severely affected by the cable used. Both internal cable structure and length will alter the charge rate. Also, the quality of the end pins/plugs is of concern, the last thing you want is the end pulling off while on a hike. To ensure I don’t end up totally scuppered, I carry at least two USB/Micro USB charge leads with me. My main charge lead is usually a 900mm 28.4g USB / Micro USB Anker Powerline. This is a good quality charge lead made with Aramid fibre and double braided line. It will take a lot of the wear that charge leads are subject to.

If I have my iPod Nano mp3 player with me (I have no other Apple products), then I include a tiny little Micro USB/Lightning adaptor. It is only 20mm long and weighs 1.2g. However, it is much more likely I will be carrying my little SanDisc player. This has a built in rechargeable battery, the USB/Micro USB cables I am already packing will work with this.

Small adaptors mean that the number of cables carried can be kept to a minimum. The Micro USB/Lighting adaptor is 1.3g and the Micro USB/USB-C adaptor is 2.6g. Depending on which USB LED light is carried, these can be as little as a gram

Small adaptors mean that the number of cables carried can be kept to a minimum. The Micro USB/Lighting adaptor is 1.3g and the Micro USB/USB-C adaptor 2.6g. Depending on which USB LED light is carried, these can be as little as a gram. Three Points of the Compass carries the larger, touch sensitive LED light shown here that weighs just 3g

Other charge leads carried are a very short, silicone coated lead, just 67mm in length and 5g in weight made by Lifemall. Again, this is USB/Micro USB. It originally had a loop for hanging from a key chain but I removed that. Output is 2.4A maximum. Carrying this little extra charge lead means that I am not left bereft should the longer main lead give up the ghost. The very slight weight penalty is acceptable to me.

A rather nifty feature on the Olight H1R is the simple, magnetic tailcap to which the USB charge cable connects. This means that, if need be, the headlight can be charging while being worn. So if I am carrying the Olight headlamp rather than the Nitecore NU25, I also carry the magnetic Olight charge cable for the HR1 Nova head torch. This weighs 14.5g. The tail glows red when charging and switches to green when fully charged.

In the past, the necessity of carrying one particular charge lead has been a source of annoyance. My Olympus Tough TG-4 camera cannot be charged via normal Micro plug, instead, this requires the inclusion of a proprietary connector. This extra 700mm lead weighs 48.5g. However if I am carrying a camera these days, I am normally taking my Sony RX100v, which can be charged with the standard micro USB.

The 14g Olight charge lead is a handy little addition. It attaches magnetically firmly to the base of the Nova.

The 14g Olight charge lead is a handy little addition however it does mean an extra lead and extra weight to be carried. It attaches magnetically and firmly to the base of the Nova.

Folding Mu plugs

Folding Mu plugs- 14mm thick

Plugs

Three Points of the Compass has a liking for the ingenious folding plugs from Mu (Greek for small or micro). It is not only weight that can be an issue in the pack, but bulk too. The 51.1g Mu Duo has double USB ports with a fixed split of 1.2A per port. Input: AC 100-240v, 50-60Hz. This accompanies me on shorter trips up to a week. For longer trips I have the 50.4g Mu Tablet, this has a single USB port with a DC 5V 2.4A outlet and AC 100-240V, 50-60Hz input. It may seem counter-intuitive to take a single outlet plug for longer trips but it is the higher, faster charge rate that I want then. Though of course, this is nothing compared to the newer connectors coming through as I write this. There is, for example, a Type-C connector Mu plug available.

The higher output single and dual port Mu both measure 73mm x 55mm x 14mm when folded, there is also a lower 1A output Mu that is a little smaller at 60mm x 55mm x 14mm. This is the open white one shown below.

Mu folding plug, plus international version that can have a number of different socket heads fitted

Mu folding plug, plus international version that can have different socket heads fitted

The above leads mean that I can be charging two 18650 batteries in the Nitecore F2, while simultaneously through charging my phone and Olight or camera. If I have the Nitecore F1, I will also have the double port Mu plug, so can charge a single 18650 battery and also the phone, Olight or camera from the second port.

Aulola folding USB adaptor is a cheaper alternative to Mu plugs

Aulola folding USB adaptor is a cheaper alternative to Mu plugs

Mu folding plugs are not cheap and I have used the cheap ‘n’ cheerful TH31 folding dual USB adaptor from Aulola in the past. This has a 5v 2A output, but that is split across the two ports. Slightly larger at 67mm x 49mm x 20mm, these weigh 57g.

I recognise that while I have been slowly bringing all my electronics in line with each other, utilising micro USB charge ports, the wave of change is sweeping by and I shall have to make a further change in the future to keep up as micro USB is eventually going to become obsolete.

The size of power bank carried on a hike, or rather the amount of mAh, is very much a personal choice and should be influenced by a number of circumstance- cost, weight, availability, bulk, number of electronic devices carried, opportunity for recharge, duration between said recharge opportunity etc.

Charging phone on trail with Nitecore F1 battery charger/power bank

Charging phone (literally) on trail with Nitecore F1 battery charger/power bank and mini charge lead

When Three Points of the Compass completed his 2000 mile hike across the UK in 2018, the lightweight Nitecore F1 was carried for the first 800 miles as there was opportunity to recharge every day or two, by the time Scotland was reached, with far less opportunity to charge a power bank, I had switched out to the larger 10 000 mAh Anker which was completely adequate for the remainder of my hike. The longest I went without opportunity for a partial recharge was five days.

Electronics carried on my five month 2018 hike. A larger 10 000 mAh power bank was carried for the final 1000 miles

Electronics carried on my five month 2018 hike. The large 10 000 mAh Anker power bank shown was carried for the final 1000 miles