With more and more races on the calender, Adventure Racing is fast becoming a popular sport in the UK. Consisting of multi-stage events such as hiking, swimming, kayaking, trail running, mountain biking and more, teams compete in races that may last over several days. Examples of races held in the UK last year are the Nokia Coast to Coast Race in Scotland and the Adidas Terrex Race in the Lake District. To compete effectively in Adventure Racing gear choice is vital. Your kit must be lightweight yet rugged enough to stand up to extreme punishment as well as being fully functional.
One of the biggest names in the sport is 5 times Adventure Racing World Champion, Mike Kloser, with whom we were luck enough to interview last October. With such an enormous amount of experience Mike knows exactly what is needed from each piece of kit and has set about designing and producing his own brand of Adventure Racing gear under the label Out There!
Through years of testing and development, we’ve incorporated state of the art materials and features to offer the highest quality products on the market. Mike Kloser.
The AS-1 is a 30 litre rucksack with an additional 10 litres of storage in external mesh pockets. Its dimensions are 50.8cm x 30.5cm x 15.2cm and it weighs in at 1kg. It is made from lightweight, durable, water resistant, ripstop nylon.
Plenty of Pockets!
As you would expect, the AS-1 is fully featured, with much thought given to ease of access to gear while on the move. There are 6 easy access high volume external mesh pockets, 4 easy access shoulder strap mesh pouches known as “Beaver Tails”, 2 removable zippered waist belt pockets/pouches, mesh water bottle pouches on both hips, 2 pockets on the top of the rucksack and a storable mesh cover for securing your helmet on the back of the pack. There is also a large map pocket at the back of the rucksack. With all these pockets it is easy to be very organised and to have quick access to your gear as soon as you need it. There is certainly no need to waste time rummaging through you pack trying to find things. All you have to do is remember what you put in which pocket! But even this is not too difficult since many of the pockets are mesh and therefore see through.
Access to the main compartment can be gained as normal through the top of the rucksack but also through a zipper at the side/back of the pack. Again handy for saving time.
For external gear storage there are ice axe / trekking pole loops and attachment straps, webbing loops on the bottom for storing camping gear, such as your ultralight tent, and side compression straps which double as ski or snowboard attachment straps.
One feature specific to adventure racing is the bungy tow line. This is useful for towing your team mate along and is stored in a pouch a the back of the rucksack.
Back System, Straps and Hydration
An ergonomic, comfortable fit is vitally important when running, climbing and mountain biking. To this end, the rucksack back system is a well vented with padded airmesh panel strategically placed contacting with your shoulder blades and lower back.
The shoulder straps are also very well padded with airmesh to help cushion the load. They are fitted with easy reach & adjust shoulder strap suspension system load lifters, i.e. straps to pull the weight off the towards your back or release it away from you. Releasing the weight helps your balance if you are going downhill and pulling it towards you helps if you are going up, or if you need the rucksack to be close fitting when you are climbing or mountain biking.
Naturally both the shoulder straps have a loop for securing hydration tube sleeves. Incidentally, there are two separate pouches so that you can store two separate bladders in the pack. One pouch is accessed through the main rucksack compartment whilst the other has direct access from the back of the pack.
The hip belt has an easy adjust suspension system with compression straps which help to stabilise the weight of the pack. As you would expect, there is also an adjustable chest strap with integrated whistle.
I would use this pack again on a long adventure race or other expedition. The up-front pockets and stash areas are the biggest advantages. Stephen Regenold.
The Out There! AS-1 is a fully featured rucksack designed for adventure racing. With plenty of pockets and straps it’s possible to carry plenty of gear which is always easily accessible. The ergonomic fit, airmesh padding and comprehensive set of adjustment straps mean that it remains comfortable and secure whilst participating in multi-disciplinary events.
The AS-1 will be available in the US from May 2011, and will hopefully be on sale in the UK before too long.
Other rucksacks recommended for adventure racing include The Berghaus Octans 40, OMM Classic 32 Marathon Pack, The North Face Enduro 30, Inov8 Race Pro 22.
Rich Romano, one of the leading climbers in the Shawangunks, was injured in a serious accident last summer. This event, sponsored by the Access Fund and The Cliffs climbing gym , is to help raise money for his medical expenses. More information can be found in the "Help a Climber" thread on this site.
Admission will be a $10 contribution for members and $16 for non-members.
On the 17th February, the government announced that it was to perform a
u-turn when it abandoned plans to sell 258,000 hectares of state-owned woodland in England. This would have been a total of 85% on top of the 15% they are already allowed to sell off, when in the public need. This announcement came from Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman in the House of Commons, a speech in which she admitted to being wrong and apologised. A good many walkers and outdoor enthusiasts were then able to breathe a huge sigh of relief! So, are we out of the woods yet?
Mary Creagh MP
Following on from our recent interview about the British woodlands with Arlene McCarthy MEP, we have been lucky enough to talk to Shadow Secretary for Environment Mary Creagh. We asked Ms Creagh whether the campaign is continuing, what the prospects are for our forests from this point on, and also about other issues that matter to outdoor enthusiasts, including the Big Society and CRoW act.
Where do we go from here to ensure that DEFRA and the government recognize the importance and necessity of the Forestry Commission and the vital work it does?
The government are still committed to selling the 15% of the PFE they are allowed to under current legislation. They have already cut the FC budget by 25%, putting hundreds of jobs at risk. There are key questions the government must answer:
Who will sit on the new panel of experts being set up to examine forestry policy in England?
How will the government guarantee the independence of the panel?
Will the panel meet in public?
How can the Government deliver better woodland access and biodiversity when the Forestry Commission is cutting its staff by a quarter over the next three months?
In January the Government announced a new regulation taskforce to look at promoting competition in the forestry sector. Ministers have not said how the taskforce will relate to their new independent panel, particularly when it will look at improving protections for our forests. What role will this taskforce play alongside the independent panel?
Is it possible that this section of the bill could return in another form after the “independent panel” has given its feedback?
No. Any legislation which gives ministers carte blanche to sell off our forests would be unacceptable to Labour and to the hundreds of thousands of people across the country who have been part of the save our forests campaign.
Do we know how this panel will be made-up, will it include research experts on the areas and volunteers of the forest, those who ran campaigns etc?
The government have yet to make an announcement on who will be on the panel. In the House of Commons Caroline Spelman said “The Panel will advise me on the future direction of forestry and woodland policy in England, on the role of the Forestry Commission, and on the role of the Public Forest Estate. The Panel will include representatives of key environmental and access organisations alongside representatives of the forestry industry. I will shortly publish its membership and terms of reference.”
It is essential that it is truly independent and made up of experts. I would also want to see representatives of friends of forests groups and community activists involved. I would also want to see senior staff in the Forestry Commission allowed to give their views openly and honestly without having to seek approval from the Secretary of State.
Lots of people have already taken part in the consultation, will their views be considered by the panel?
The consultation received over 10,000 responses calling on the government to think again. The u-turn by the government, in which they withdrew the forestry elements from the Public Bodies Bill and halted the consultation, was a victory for people power. These views are strongly held and must be taken into consideration by the panel. Labour is pushing for the consultation responses to be made available to the panel. A non aligned “people’s champion” sitting on the panel may also be a way to ensure that respondents’ views are taken into account.
Can the public do anything to ensure that this part of the public bodies bill does not return in another form? Will the public be able to continue giving feedback and have it heard by the panel?
The campaign is continuing. I would urge people to visit our campaign website www.thislandisourland.org.uk and my website www.marycreagh.co.uk which will continue to be updated on the campaign to save our forests. I’m sure that campaign groups will continue to be active in opposing any measures which would compromise access rights or biodiversity in England’s woodland. I hope people will use World Forestry Day on 20 March to show their support for the save our forests campaign. I will be asking the Secretary of State to give an assurance that the end of the consultation does not mean that the public will not be listened to on the forestry issue.
It is vital that the public remain vigilant about what this government wants to do. It’s not just the forests. I am deeply concerned about the 28% cut to our National Park Authorities (NPA). NPAs are already being forced to consider closing visitor centres, restricting public access and increasing parking charges to make up the shortfall. We could easily see more restrictions on public access and a decline in biodiversity in our National Parks as a result of this attack by the Tory led government. I hope the public will join me in calling on Caroline Spelman to rethink her policy on National Park funding.
Can you provide any advice to help walkers, climbers and outdoor enthusiasts to benefit from David Cameron’s Big Society?
I recently visited Chopwell Woods in Gateshead and attended a public meeting against the forest sell off in York. I met with Forestry Commission and National Park Authority staff who are the Big Society in action. They work in our communities every day to protect and maintain our countryside. Defra’s 30% cut in the CSR, the abolition of the Sustainable Development Commission, cuts to National Parks and the debacle on forests send worrying signals that this government does not value nature, and does not understand the needs of rural communities or people who enjoy our countryside.
Is there any information to suggest that the Countryside Rights of Way act (CRoW) has been effective in improving the general public’s access to the countryside?
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act brought in the long-awaited Right to Roam, opening up about 1 million hectares of some of the finest landscapes in England and Wales. I think it has been a massive success and is testament to groups such as the Ramblers Association who campaigned so effectively to open up access to the countryside to the general public.
If you would like to know more about the forest sell-off, both the Guardian and the Independent have been following the story.
Over the coming months we will of course be keeping a keen eye on any developments around our forests or access to our land, and if anything happens we will update you where possible. We won’t be reporting everything, but a good source for outdoor enthusiasts to get the latest news is OneVoice.
Just before we close-up this article, I would like to thank every one who took part in the recent consultation and also campaign group 38 degrees who were at the forefront of the public action. Without such a mass movement to the consultation and the petitions around the country, these sales could have continued with an enormous loss for British wildlife and the outdoor loving public. So on behalf of both CheapTents and our other readers (yes, we are sure they want to thank you too) Thank You.
And finally, I would like to thank Mary Creagh for giving up her time to talk to CheapTents, and her team for helping to organise the recent campaigns. With Mary and the Labour Party fighting the #SaveOurForest campaigns into the future we can be assured that our rights as British public to access our lands are safe.
The design is fun with the camping ninja character appearing across the website. Since I was not sure what the connection with camping and ninjas is, I e-mailed them for clarification, to which the reply was:
ninja’s are stealthy and fast (which is what we are trying to be), ninjas are generally considered to be pretty cool, and, “ninja” is the same in every language….!
It turns out that the exciting story of the birth of campingninja.com involves a picnic outside Farnborough library, a very glitzy industry dinner in Park Lane and a suitcase full of cash!
Camping ninja is focussed on enabling you to book the campsite through themselves. Other campsite finders seem to be more directory based leaving you to go and contact the website yourself.
N.B. At Campingninja we do not charge any booking fees for you to make a booking. You pay the same price as you would direct.
Finding A Campsite
Initially you can search for campsites located within a certain distance of a place, or you can search for pitches on a specific date by tent, campervan or caravan. There is also a comprehensive advanced search feature. Using this you can select the options from a menu, clicking the tick to select, whittling down the number of campsites to obtain those with your criteria. It is easy to use and has many options for selecting campsites which have the facilities that you require. You can also search for camping sites which have particular activities available and attractions in the local area.
At the time of writing this post, when searching for a campsite there were only 130 campsites listed for a nationwide search. Whilst looking at their blog posts from the time the website was first set up, there was a post stating that they had 3000 websites listed. However this number has been reduced to include only campsites that can be booked via Camping Ninja. This number is increasing all the time though.
Camping Site Information
Clicking on the campsite name gives you a short description and the opportunity to click through to the full details. These include the address, a detailed long description, photos, green initiatives taken by the campsite, reviews, a handy ticklist of facilities, nearby attractions and a map. It does not include the phone number, although this is shown after you have made a booking, along with the e-mail address and other details. These are obviously important things to know since, for example, if you are likely to be late arriving at the campsite you might want to give them a ring, in case the owners decide to give your pitch to someone else!
Book campsites online with Camping Ninja
Booking A Campsite
The facility to book a campsite is straight forward. You choose the number of pitches required, the date of arrival and the number of nights. Once you have got a date you can proceed with the booking. You can choose to set up a camping ninja account or continue without one. Then its a case of entering your personal details and paying the deposit online.
There are a couple of points worth noting:
campsites may only allocate a certain number of pitches to Camping Ninja, so if you cannot book a particular campsite through Camping Ninja it would probably be worth containing the campsite direct,
there are some campsites that do not ordinarily take advanced bookings, but they do take advanced bookings through Camping Ninja, e.g. The National Trust Campsite at Great Langdale.
Campingninja have a big focus on campsites environmental credentials and are supported by The Green Tourism Business Scheme:
At Campingninja we are not just about enabling people to find the right campsite and book it; we are passionate about encouraging campers and campsites to reduce their carbon footprint whilst having a great experience. Whilst allowing any campsite to sign-up to our website (it’s free), we are keen to promote those which are focussing on creating and running a sustainable business.
Some campsites offer a discount for people arriving on public transport or their premises may have solar power etc, and these things are highlighted by the Camping Ninja.
Campingninjas has a facility where you can login, save campsites in your favourites and join their community.
There are no adverts on this website.
www.campingninja.com – summary
The main feature the Camping Ninja has over most of its competitors is that you are able to book campsites easily online. At the time of writing this article there were not many campsites listed. Once Camping Ninja becomes more established, with more bookable campsites in their database, it should become a great website and useful resource. The advanced search works effectively, the information provided is good and they are helping to encourage to promote sustainability which is commendable.
The next website to be reviewed in the series is www.ukcampsitefinder.co.uk.
What is the best way to find a campsite? If you’re thinking about going camping and do a search online for campsites + location you will invariably be faced with a selection of search results for websites aimed at helping you to find a camping site. Given that there can be a vast array of campsites and holiday parks in the area where you thinking of holidaying, campsite finder websites can be a helpful tool for choosing and booking a suitable site. So which is the best website to use when looking for a campsite? We decided to review some of the websites on offer and will post our findings over the next couple of weeks.
Which camping site finder is best?
Review of Best Camping Site Websites
The websites that we chose to review are as follows:
Also on our list was www.lovecamping.co.uk which looked pretty good, but it started redirecting to www.ourwedding.co.uk – a wedding planning website! Although it does appear it be back online again, it has unfortunately missed the boat this time around.
www.lovecamping.co.uk - its turned into a wedding planner!
The criteria that we considered to be important and that were under consideration in these reviews are as follows:
General appearance and usability
Ease of search
Number of campsites found
Advanced search options
Quality and information about each campsite
Other useful information
Amount of advertising
Before kicking off with the first review, I have a little gripe! Many of the websites that I looked at have advanced searches where you can select “Adults Only” as a search criteria. Yet when I selected “Adults Only” campsites the search results often showed campsites that accepted both families and accepted adults only. OK, so maybe you’re welcome to camp at the site even if you don’t have kids, or maybe the campsite is very large and has separate family and adults only areas, but generally speaking if you’re looking for a campsite that is adults only it should not welcome families. Gripe over.
The first site to be reviewed in this series is www.find-a-campsite.co.uk. This particular website is a basic directory and hence the review is quite short.
The bright green background is quite garish, as are the adverts. Nevertheless the layout is clear and uncluttered. The main feature of the page home is map of the UK where you can choose a region. There is a list of the Top 20 Areas, including the Lake District, Snowdonia, South Downs etc. You can also select from a list of counties.
find-a-campsite.co.uk - a no frills campsite directory
If you click on area on the map you are automatically zoomed in. You can then click on a county in that area. From here there is list of campsites, listed alphabetically by town. Also displayed is the postcode and telephone number. Some of the campsites have links to their own websites, which are available at £25 per year. Other than that there is not any information about the campsites or their facilities.
On the homepage they state that they have over 2200 campsites listed, and each county that I clicked on does have a substantial number of sites listed.
This website is very basic, using a simple directory listing. If you have a particular town in mind where you intend to stay and do not have any specific requirements or criteria that the campsite must fulfil, then find-a-campsite.co.uk is worth using.