how to choose a backpack

How to choose a backpack: a beginner’s guide

Our beginner’s guide on how to choose a backpack will help you make the best choice for your backpacking needs, ensuring comfort and reliability.

Whether you’re on a day hike through gently rolling hills or an extended expedition crossing an ice shelf, knowing how to choose a backpack most suited to your trip will make it infinitely more enjoyable. There are myriad options available and it can be a confusing affair, but getting it right will ensure comfort and reliability day after day. Continue reading

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15 best hiking apps

Hiking apps have never really featured in my outdoor adventures, but times are a changing. I take a look at some of the best hiking apps available.

I’m a bit old school, so whenever I plan an adventure in the wild, it always begins with laying my OS maps across the floor and marking out possible trailheads, routes and campsites. However, now that I have access to reliable wifi and a decent smartphone again I have started to download a host of useful hiking apps. Continue reading

best-selling camping and hiking gear

Best-selling camping and hiking gear of 2017

We take a look at popular outdoor retailers’ best-selling camping and hiking gear of 2017.

In general, I don’t tend to spend much money on clothing and non-photography related gadgets. I am comfortable enough loafing around in jeans and a t-shirt. On top of that, I hate shopping with a vengeance. If I really focus, I can avoid shopping malls for most of the year, succumbing only in the lead up to Christmas. Continue reading

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A complete travel photography gear guide

I’ve been involved in film or photography throughout my career: initially as a camera operator, video editor and AV engineer, later as a teacher in digital media, and now as a travel blogger. I’ve sold stock images for several years on Shutterstock and iStock by Getty Images, and my photography plays a prominent role throughout our travel blog and social channels, particularly Instagram. Continue reading

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Power play: how to charge your gadgets in the wild

Knowing how to charge your gadgets in the wild could be a matter of survival or (more likely) avoiding boredom during a rainy day spent huddled under canvas.

Let’s face it: even if you’re a hardcore survivalist, a compass and map simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Whether it’s tracking your route with a hiking app, triangulating your position using GPS or letting your loved ones know you’re safe, adventurers these days rarely leave home without at least one electronic device. Continue reading

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Hiking first aid kit: an essential checklist

Peter and I have a running joke that I’ve fallen off my bike in the most beautiful places in the world, from Bora Bora to the Galápagos Islands. The worst fall happened when cycling through the quiet country lanes of our tiny French village.

I hit the ground first with a knee, then a hip, then my head. Stupidly, I put my dirtied fingers into my mouth to check if I had lost a tooth. I hadn’t but there was plenty of blood. Later, I paid the price for this mistake. I spent the afternoon not only shaken by the accident but throwing up whatever nasty substance I had drawn into my mouth.

Thankfully, I’ve managed to avoid similar incidents while hiking but it’s likely a matter of time given that we at Atlas & Boots enjoy things like climbing Nevis Peak unguided and trekking active volcanoes. As such, I’ve put aside my complacency and put together a hiking first aid kit, perfect for those who wander outdoors. Here’s what’s in it. Continue reading

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Wild camping tips: a beginner’s guide

Recently, as I prepared for a hiking and wild camping trip to Dartmoor, I wrote a post on the layering system and how to prepare for the capricious weather that comes with springtime in the UK. How pleased was I that I prepared well? Very.

I found myself on an ominous moorland landscape just as Storm Katie arrived in Britain bringing chaos to large parts of the country. Within two hours of hiking I found myself battling high wind, torrential downpours and hailstorms. As lightning flashed overhead and the third hailstorm hit me head on, I decided I wasn’t going to make much progress that day and hurriedly pitched my tent in the most sheltered spot I could find. Continue reading

The ultimate guide to packing light

I started our big trip across the South Pacific and South America with a 45-litre backpack weighing 13kg. Over the course of the trip, I managed to drop a fair bit of weight and get my bag down to 10kg. Evidently, I had failed in packing light from the start.

In some ways, overpacking is a rite of passage: you have to do it to learn how not to do it. Of course there is an easier way. By gleaning advice from other travellers and being strict with yourself, packing light will become far easier. Here’s where to start. Continue reading

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The layering system: how to layer clothing for the outdoors

Springtime is finally upon us and with it come the capricious weather conditions that define the season. Mark Twain once said, “In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.”

Here in the UK, spring weather so often described as “mixed” or “unpredictable” essentially includes anything from perfect hillwalking conditions with blue skies, sunshine and a cooling breeze to treacherous conditions laden with mud, stormy skies and gale-force winds.  Continue reading

5 multi-purpose products to help you pack lightly

I have a rule about restaurants: if one offers two markedly different types of cuisine, I won’t eat there. Think Thai restaurants that make pizza, or British gastropubs that offer Indian curry. More often than not, instead of doing one cuisine well, these multi-purpose restaurants will do two cuisines badly and are simply best avoided.

For a long time, I applied the same philosophy to multi-purpose products. But then I started packing for our trip.

Continue reading

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Photo backup: how to keep your memories safe

It was in the Cotopaxi region of Ecuador that we met Michael, a fellow backpacker who had spent the previous weeks on a surfing trip of a lifetime. Earlier in the day, Michael’s GoPro had dislodged from its extender during a jump into a waterfall and sunk to the depths below.

“All my photographs are on that camera,” he told us, face still pale from the hour he spent searching the ice-cold water.
“You have backups, right?” I asked.
He shook his head. “I kept meaning to but… I just never got round to it.” Sadly, his memories were lost forever. Continue reading

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Ultimate camping checklist

After years of packing and re-packing in preparation for various expeditions, I’ve finally got it nailed – to the point where I have a spreadsheet with all my gear listed alongside its weight (full and empty) so I can predict how heavy my pack will be. Most campers are likely far less pedantic, but there’s no denying we all feel pride in getting our kit just right.

To help campers get their gear in order, I’ve put together the ultimate camping checklist – intentionally comprehensive so that everything you need is listed, whether it’s for a weekend backpacking trip through the wilderness or a longer family break. Continue reading

essential gadgets for safe travel

8 essential gadgets for safe travel

Having five sisters like I do is wonderful. On your travels, you get lots of messages checking on your whereabouts and wellbeing. And then you get some more messages. And then you get some more.

Soon, this turns into real-time updates of potential hazards in a 6,000-mile radius. “You’re camping on a beach in Fiji? Did you hear about the couple who got hurt on a beach in Thailand?” “Didn’t you just leave Vanuatu? There’s an earthquake there now.” “You’re in Chile? What about that huge volcano?”

Of course, it’s natural to worry about loved ones when they’re away. Occasionally, that worry is warranted.  To help set minds at ease, we’ve gathered eight essentials for safe travel, from emergency SOS systems to staying healthy while on the road. Continue reading

The best water purifier for travel

We’ve stayed in some pretty basic places during the course of our trip so far. There was the Fijian camping site in Taveuni with rather sketchy commode, the Samoan beach fale in Savaii which didn’t have walls, and the Colombian campsite in San Agustin with drinking water that ran a brownish yellow. In all these places, we’ve been able to drink the tap water (hose water in one case) because we’ve been able to purify water on the go. Continue reading

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7 useful travel gadgets

When packing for any trip, space and weight is always at the forefront of my mind. With Kia at little more than five feet tall and weighing in at just over seven stone, I’ll usually carry the lion’s share of the kit (roar).

Regardless, there are certain electronic luxuries I don’t want to be without. I want to listen to music, watch Game of Thrones, keep abreast of my friends’ Facebook statuses and keep track of Norwich City’s sliding league position (a form of self-harm I’m sure). Continue reading

Travel Essentials

10 travel essentials

Here are ten travel essentials I never leave home without. From waterproofing to a friendly smile, these items are a must for every backpacker.

1. Waterproofing – stuff sacks and electronics

Trekking across Scotland is the best way to learn about waterproofing. In Scotland, it rains. You can have a good run and believe me I was having a good run but eventually, in Scotland, it rains. And after six days of glorious sunshine, on the final day of an eight-mile trek out of the Highlands, it started to rain. Really rain. We didn’t make it out the Highlands that day – the going was too slow and too miserable that by mid-afternoon we called it a day and set up our tents in the downpour.

My sleeping bag was soaked through. My camera, by some miracle had survived the drenching. It was a cold and damp night’s sleep that night. Before I travelled or trekked again, I bought some waterproof stuff sacks in a range of sizes for my sleeping bag, clothing and electronics, which have been invaluable. Continue reading