Are you an outdoors snob?

With complex hierarchies, obscure heroes and indecipherable lingo, the outdoors community is more daunting than it should be.

Many years ago, before the prospect of camping became a real and constant threat in my life, I was a city girl through and through. I had never slept beneath the stars, never bathed in a lake and never answered nature’s call in, er, nature.

During this time of high heels and pricey meals, I had a conversation with an outdoorsy friend of mine ahead of his Three Peaks Challenge. Mike (let’s call him) was searching for a driver and remarked that “most climbers rely on their girlfriends for transport”.

He rolled his eyes. “We call them ‘crag girlfriends’,” he said with an arrogant smile. Continue reading

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15 best books about Myanmar

We wrap up our series on this extraordinary country by browsing through the best books about Myanmar and the insights offered within their pages.

Before I visit a country, I like to read a book or two about the destination to get a sense of the place and culture. For Myanmar, it had to be George Orwell’s Burmese Days, a dark and fascinating insight into British colonial Burma and the disgust Orwell felt towards the system he was a part of.  Continue reading

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10 best outdoor magazines

Outdoor magazines are a well-deserved indulgence for those who love hiking, camping, climbing, wildlife and the great outdoors. We list our favourite below.

One thing I dearly miss from my less-nomadic life is magazines. In the age of internet clickbait, printed publications still have an allure that a computer or smartphone screen just can’t replicate. Whether through fascinating features on the latest first ascent, a thru-hiker’s account of a long-distance hiking trail or stunning photography from the world’s protected lands, outdoor magazines have always piqued my imagination. Continue reading

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Go the distance: 25 best books about hiking

We take a look at the best books about hiking, from thrilling adventure stories to technical trail guides and everything in between.

We’ve used Amazon and Goodreads’ bestsellers lists along with some personal favourites to put together a list of what we believe to be the best books about hiking.

Ranked in no particular order, the list includes a mix of hiking memoirs-turned-feature-films, gear and field guides, and inspirational tales of adventure. Continue reading

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Safari photography tips: how to shoot wildlife (with a camera)

Having spent a considerable amount of our travels in jeeps on game drives, I’ve managed to photograph some beautiful and rare wildlife over the years. Along the way, I’ve picked up some indispensable safari photography tips be it through trial and error, talking to expert rangers, or just comparing photos with other enthusiasts. 

Here are some essential safari photography tips to help you get the most out of your wildlife experience. Continue reading

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10 easy ways to travel green

Travelling green takes a little extra effort at first – but can soon become second nature. Here are some easy ways to travel green which will save you money too.

We at Atlas & Boots strongly believe that travel is a force for good. However, when you consider the environmental impact of commercial aviation, the overwhelming numbers flocking to sensitive ecosystems and the tourist-driven strain on resources, travel doesn’t look quite so pretty.

Whether it’s an appetite for low-budget air travel, air conditioned rooms or fully charged smartphones on the end of selfie sticks, the compulsion to travel takes a heavy toll on our planet. Continue reading

How to photograph the northern lights

How to photograph the northern lights

We enlist some expert advice on how to photograph the northern lights. 

I’d been hankering after a Nikon ever since ruining mine in the Maldives a few years ago. Stuck with a clunky second-hand Canon, I often found myself fiddling with settings instead of getting the shot I was aiming for.

So, ahead of our trip to Norway, I bit the bullet and bought a new Nikon D610 along with a wide-angle lens. I also spent some time learning how to photograph the northern lights. I knew I may only get one chance and I wanted to be ready. To maximise my chances of getting the shots I wanted, I booked a tour with Andrei, an experienced photographer from Enjoy the Arctic. 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 Britai

n 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

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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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25 best books about survival

Books about survival demonstrate what humans are capable of when pushed to their limits. Whether it’s the treacherous slopes of a mountain in hurricane force winds, being cast adrift in the middle of the ocean or a hellish trek through arid desert, the challenges described within illustrate the true strength of the human spirit.

To help you choose your next read, we’ve put together our favourite books about survival, filled with true life tales that will compel readers for years to come. Continue reading

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25 best-selling expat books of 2015

Over the last 18 months, Kia and I have been away from home either on the road or holed up in our tiny French village. As with many people, our reading habits changed to reflect our lifestyle which means we’ve worked our way through a rather eclectic mix of guidebooks, adventure travel books and ‘expat books’, tales of leaving behind ordinary lives in pursuit of something new. 

With Christmas fast approaching, we decided to take a look at some of the best-selling expat books of 2015 – perfect gifts for those living away from home or contemplating the leap for 2016.

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25 best-selling adventure travel books of 2015

My bookshelves and Kindle are filled with tales of against-the-odds Antarctic survival, deathly mountaineering endeavours and Hemingway-esque journeys that change lives and shift perceptions. I know what I like and adventure travel books unfailingly engross me from cover to cover. 

With Christmas fast approaching, we take a look at Amazon’s best-selling adventure travel books of 2015 – perfect gifts for would-be adventurers like me. 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

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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

Beginners' French: language hacks for word endings

Beginners’ French: language hacks for word endings

Once our journey around the world officially ends, we’ll be heading to France for a few months before finally returning to London. With only a short-course French qualification to my name (from my school days nearly 17 years ago), I need to improve my French quick smart. So far, I have been tackling the task digitally with a combination of Duolingo and the Michel Thomas Method. I’ve been using Duolingo for Spanish throughout South America with mixed success, but the Michel Thomas Method is a promising new approach for me. Continue reading