Montane Medusa Pack
The Medusa pack is Montane's first addion to it's rucksack range. I have been using this pack for about a year now, and have to say I'm impressed. It is a very light and comfortable carry, has all the features I like, and very few that I don't.
The pack is light but in no way feels delicate or flimsy; this particular example has been used and abused while out with groups and shows no sign of wear. The Raptor TL fabric that the main body is manufactured from certainly appears to be tough and durable. The bottom panel is made from Raptor UTL, which is ultra tough and prevents abrasion. The straps and waist belt are of good quality, are comfortable, and also appear durable. I particularly like the stash pocket on the right side of the waist belt; why don't more manufacturers include one of these? A gear loop is on the left. There are side pockets, which I am pleased to say are deep enough for items not to fall out of easily. They are also stretchy, which is useful. As you would expect, the pack has a lid pocket, and an inner pocket. A nice touch with the outer pocket is that the zip is on the outside, making it easier for your "buddy" to access it on your behalf. The lid also has a stretch skirt which enables a close fit when closed. The chest strap has a clip, and easily fastens using one hand. The pack is hydration pack compatible, has compression side compression straps, and has a "Dual Tool" ice axe/walking pole attachment system. The pack is rated as having a 32L capacity, but I have no problem packing everything for a day out with a group, and imagine it could hold all you need for lightweight backpacking.
My only real gripe with this pack is the "Comfort Back Pad". It is comfortable, however I would have preferred it to have been a little stiffer. After using the pack for a while, the back pad has started to bend inwards, resulting in the pack resembling one with an airflow back system. This of course could be as a result of not packing correctly! More experimentation needed.
Overall, this is a cracking pack, which has been well designed, well thought out, and is great value for money. Now looking forward to checking out the Torque 40 L pack.
Walks from Wooler by Geoff Holland
Another cracking little book from Trailguides. This one however, is a little different. It is essentially an update of a book of the same title, written by W. Ford Robertson, and published in 1926.
This version is written by Geoff Holland, author of numerous walking guides to the North of England, and contributor to various magazines.
The book has the same clean layout of the other Trailguides publications that I have seen, inside and out. The introduction explains how Geoff came to write the book, and also contains sections devoted to: how to use the book, information and history of the area, access, weather, and accommodation to name a few.
Wooler is a town in Northumberland, situated on the edge of the Cheviot Hills, and gives easy access to large chunks of the National Park. It is a popular destination for walkers and cyclists.
There are eight walks contained within the guide. Distance, terrain, and time are included as you would expect, grid references to key points on the route are also given. Each walk is then broken down and described in great detail, accompanied by numerous photographs taken by the author.
Don't expect up to date OS mapping, with the route marked: that is not Trailguides' style. What you do get, are clear diagrams based on old OS one inch maps. All the information required is there, however a little work is expected of the reader. Which can be no bad thing!
Contained within the text are numerous quotes from W. Ford Robertson, which add to the entertainment value provided by this book. It really is a good read, a great introduction to a beautiful part of the country, and a useful addition to the bookshelf.
The Dales Pack 2 by Peter J. Beresford and Jim Rubery
The Yorkshire Dales is a beautiful area which was designated a National Park in 1954, and on a personal note, is a favourite destination for me. I never tire of its landscape, and many unspoilt villages and pubs. Did I mention the pubs? The area lends itself perfectly to a day, weekend, or even longer out, with some fantastic walking to be had, over and among its rolling hills.
The Dales Pack 2 is the perfect guide to accompany the visitor. This is one of a series of packs covering various parts of the UK including: the Lakes, North Yorkshire Moors, Peak District and Snowdonia. This is my first experience with these publications, and I have to say I am impressed. The Dales Pack 2 comes [as do the other packs] neatly boxed, containing a user guide, a card holder, and laminated walking cards.
The user guide has several sections containing useful information on topics such as: weather, clothing, safety, map reading and the country code. The twenty walking cards cover walks ranging in length from five to fifteen kilometres, and are graded from easy to difficult. The grading however, is subjective; one man's easy is another man's hard etc. Nonetheless, many people find this useful.
Each card is packed with detailed information, not only on the walk itself, but also of the surrounding area, and other places of interest you may choose to visit. The walks are broken down into legs, which are then described in great detail. On the reverse of the card, the route is clearly highlighted on OS mapping. Useful stuff. However I am pleased to say that the authors stress that a FULL map should be carried, and they include some handy tips for the novice, on reading a map and using a compass. Again, useful stuff.
The walks themselves are a nice selection, with something to suit all tastes, and time constraints. An afternoon round Brimham Rocks? A longer day on one of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks? Or how about Arkengarthdale from Reeth? I am familiar with most of the walks in this pack, the ones I am not so familiar with, I will most certainly be checking out soon.
All in all, this an excellent, and slightly different slant on walking guides. Recommended.
Walks around Reeth and Upper Swaledale by Keven Shevels
This book is published by a North East company by the name of Trail Guides. The aim of the company is to produce guides that are user friendly, informative and in an easily readable format. On the evidence of this book, they have hit the nail firmly on the head.
First of all, for anyone looking for a guide containing OS mapping, look elsewhere; this book has route diagrams based on old OS maps. It has however, been updated by numerous field trips and site visits by the author. The lack of mapping is not really an issue to my eyes, as the diagrams are clear, well drawn, and contain as much detail as is necessary. My view on this is that it encourages a little research on the reader's part.
The introduction contains useful information, with sections devoted to access rights, weather, maps and accommodation within the area. Each walk is then introduced with some background information, such as local history. This is followed by a rough guide to the route, including time, distance, terrain and grid references to notable features on each leg.
The walks are then described in detail, with great clarity, and have clearly been well researched by the author, who guides the reader step by step, from start to finish. In fact, the routes are so well described, that I found myself building up an accurate picture of exactly what to expect.
Numerous photographs are also included, not only of the landscape variety, but also of interesting features you will encounter on the walk.
All in all, I found this to be a great little guide to a wonderful area, and a very useful addition to the bookshelf. I look forward to reading many more of Trail Guides publications.