TLDR: A great (almost) pocket sized tripod/monopod with some neat features. Great for phones and small compact cameras and includes a Bluetooth release. The only negative is that the Bluetooth release fell off its holder and was lost. Weight: 164g. Cost: around £35 (July ’20). The Joby GripTight mount is available separately or as part of the kit. Weight: 20g. Cost separately £22.98 About a year ago I decided to go a bit minimalist with camera kit when out hiking. Normally I’m carrying a Canon 70D DSLR, a couple of lenses, a mini tripod, lots of batteries, a waterproof cover for the camera and an external microphone for when I’m recording video. I wanted to try using a small weather-proof camera and my phone. Hiking alone and wanting to include myself in shots inevitably means some kind of selfie Stick plus I wanted some features of a tripod. The Joby JB01549-BWW TelePod 325 Telescoping Tripod, Extendable Monopod, Selfie Stick with Ball Head – to give its full name, is a very versatile bit of kit. It weighs in at 164g and extends from 190mm (7.5″) when folded to a maximum of 535mm (21″).
Folded down, the rubberised legs fold together into a really comfortable hand grip with a wrist strap for a bit of security. In this configuration it makes a great camera grip for both normal use and as a short selfie stick when talking to camera when on the move. There should be a clip on one leg holding the Bluetooth remote however I have removed it due to the loss of the trigger. I believe the bracket holding the remote has a design fault as it fell off way to easily and was lost. luckily a quick google found me a replacement.
Fully extended to a full height of 535mm (21″) the tripod is a little top heavy however this can be remedied by pushing a tent peg through the slot at the bottom of each leg of the tripod to anchor the tripod and create quite a stable platform for filming pieces to camera. I have also used releasable cable ties to anchor the tripod to fence posts and tree branches and of course the cable ties go back in my pack when I am finished. My Lumix DC-FT7 weighs in at 320g and its perfectly at home sitting on top of the ball and socket mount.
As a selfie stick it is simply a case of folding in the tripod legs and as can be seen in the picture at the top of this article, the ball and socket head is fully adjustable to ensure your camera or phone is at the correct angle. The telescope sections can be opened as needed with a simple twist to lock them in place.
I purchased this Joby GripTight bracket separately however it is available as part of a kit including the tripod and bracket. You can see it extended and holding a phone in the headline picture above. The bracket extends, it is spring loaded and holds any device up to 75mm (3″) wide and folds flat for easy storage and transport. The mount is a standard thread fitting any tripod or monopod. The bracket weighs in at 20g and costs £22.98
When you are hiking, keeping energy levels up in the form of an easy to eat, no prep-time snack l is really important. I have probably spent more time sampling different trail snacks than meals – which probably explains why my built-in base layer is so efficient lol!An idea snack meets some critical needs; It has to taste good, give you a burst of energy, be easy on the bank balance and be fairly small and light.There are some fairly common ingredients including oats, sugar, honey, dried fruits, nuts and chocolate. Many of the commercially available snacks are vegan and vegetarian and nut free options are available.I have got 5 different snacks together for a bit of a comparison against the traditional staples of M&Ms and Mars bars. With the exception of the Outdoor Provisions bar, all are available from supermarkets, in fact the fruit mix came from our local corner shop. null Ve – Suitable for vegetariansVg – Suitable for vegansAllergens: All products should be checked for allergens The final column in the table shows the amount of energy per gram for each snack. As you can see there’s not a lot of difference across the range however, there are cost differences. Recommendations? All are tasty, and I do love throwing M&Ms into my trail mix. For those who are concerned about what they put in their bodies, the Outdoor Provisions and Nakd bars have the fewest, most natural ingredients with the Nut Butter Cups (sadly) having the most complex recipe including palm fat. I will be throwing a few of the Bars for Breakfast into my food stash to try as an alternative for my usual granola or muesli breakfast to make striking camp a little quicker.
TLDR: A great lightweight and comfortable alternative to a day pack for a short day if conditions allow. It has 4 pockets along with two side pouches for the two 500ml bottles supplied with the pack.
Provides a total of 6l of storage.
Water resistant but as the seams are not taped and the zips are standard, sensitive gear needs to be in a waterproof bag.
The Montane Featherlite 6 is a recent addition to my kit cupboard. I wanted something as a light day pack for shorter hikes where I need minimal kit without a full pack on my shoulders – no matter how small.
As the name suggests this is a 6 litre pack and it comes with the two 500ml bottles as shown.
This is the only pack I own that fits on the kitchen scales and it weighs in at 430g.
The harness utilises Montane’s “Air Mesh Plus” system on the harness with i wide belt with two straps each side terminating in a single belt clip.You can also see the top loop which along with the 4 loops on the front of the bag provide attachment points for other items such as a waterproof jacket in a stuff sack.
Once adjusted properly this pack sits on the hip very comfortably and in my opinion it is more comfortable than a traditional small day pack.
In addition to the two elasticated pockets for the water bottles, which have a neat elastic retainer to ensure the bottles stay in the pack, there are two pockets in the main body and a pocket on each side of the waist strap.
A USB battery goes in the front pocket and there is still room for more small items.
I use the main top-opening pocket to hold tech, snacks and a map / guidebook. Last time out that included a wrap, 2 snack bars and a bag of trail mix and one of the bottles as I used one of the bottle pockets to hold my Joby TelePod and Rode VideoMicro microphone. Even with my pocket First Aid kit in the mix too there was still a little space to spare. At the back of the main pocket there is a slip pocket a little larger than a passport. This pocket also has a key clip. The left side mesh side pockets on the belt has a zip, I use this for my Panasonic Lumix DC-FT7 camera (it’s everything proof). On the right there is an open mesh pocket which is great for a Silva Compass. Overall I like this bag, as I said earlier it is really comfortable to wear and the pockets are reachable without having to take it off. Whilst it is “heavily water repellent” to quote the response I had from Montane Customer Service, it would really benefit from some kind of rain cover – it’s a little niggle I happily ignore.
Here’s my summer lowland walk load out for this pack, the only addition is a waterproof jacket which packs into its own pocket and hangs off one of the kit loops on the pack via a small carabiner and the packet of peanut M&Ms I ate setting up the shot (oops!).
I was glad to wake realising I was half way up Huntingdon Hill. It has been a very windy and wet night and the rain continued so after breakfast I waited to see if there was a break in the weather to strike camp so it was about 9am before I finally headed out but the wind was still up and the rain restarted. Walking up the hill into a strong headwind I was glad of my walking poles as I really needed the extra stability. By the time I got to the top my hat had blown off and at some point my pack cover had blown off too. Oh.. and it was muddy!
I read a lot of arguments online about boots versus shoes and I happily use both but where and when I am walking determines what I wear. On Dartmoor it is ALWAYS boots and ALWAYS gaiters. Part way up the hill and following the Two Moors Way route on my map, I sink into a bog to mid-calf. Again I am grateful for my walking poles to make getting out an easy task. Whilst the rain continues I prop myself up against the wall by Huntington Cross for a snack.
Given it was now around noon I decided to aim for the 5:04pm train from Ivybridge as my backup and the 3:03pm train as my target. I retrace my steps back to the Clapper Bridge, again the mud and rain make the walking vrey interesting, especially the steep slope up from the Clapper Bridge. At the top I followed the faint path and passed the Two Moors Way marker and I was soon back on the old road heading towards Ivybridge. Of course, being out of the valley I was back in the wind and driving rain with the path flooded for a couple of miles. Until now I had not seen anyone, but I saw a lone walker appear from the mist ahead of me. We stopped for a quick chat and we updated each other on what each of us had ahead. I had the better journey, and I was glad I was not heading towards Huntingdon Hill.
With the weather clearing and Hartford Moor in the distance, it looked like I would make the 3:03pm train so for the first time this trip I pick up my pace but I was conscious that walking down a significant slope can have its dangers.
I arrived at the station with just enough time to get out of my waterproofs before the train arrives.
2:30am, I was woken by the weather; luckily a wind and rain lullaby soon had me back to sleep but not before I wondered how well the X-Mid would cope with an exposed Dartmoor night. By the time I woke, the rain had eased but the wind was still blowing. After a favourite breakfast of raspberry granola that had cold soaked overnight, and having checked none of my gear was wetter than it was the night before, I used the wind to dry out my groundsheet and tent before heading back into Holne. I passed the tree at the top of the post the day before and felt it a good picture to head this post. Like many trees on Dartmoor this one looked like it has had a real fight against the elements to establish it’s place in the environment and again, like many trees it is covered in a mantle of moss.
Walking back down into Holne I rejoined the Two Moors Way and passed the Church House Inn which due to the COVID-19 pandemic was closed but just before it there’s a community shop and tea room that would be opening that morning. I continued on my original route and soon find my way back onto footpaths and into Holne Wood, which sits on the walk down into the Dart Valley.
Given I had been walking over open moorland with what few trees have managed to survive being fairly stunted and twisted, descending into the Dart Valley I walked amongst the most amazing autumnal deciduous trees. The path here is fairly steep and when I got to the bottom I chose to take another detour and followed the River Dart upstream, one of my bucket-list locations and with my schedule already shot to pieces I am no longer thinking about the destination. After two nights I’ve shifted down a few gears, I am relaxed and thinking about nothing more than the moment.
Like the other rivers I have seen so far, the Dart was pretty full but wider that the others. The noise was like a waterfall as the water tumbled at speed over the rocks. As I walked along the riverside path I was aware of the river but for a while I was well and truly in lost the woods.At this point I was tempted to head towards Dartmeet but I was really valuing the time I had to myself but I wanted to follow the path a little further.By now it was mid morning so I planned to stop for a break and a snack when I next met the river.Ahead of me I could see the path starting to ascend and the river coming back into view so I decided to find a spot to take a break.
It was time to make the call regarding the rest of the week. I was now at least half a day behind which meant upping my pace towards Oakhampton so I can get home as planned. As I stated in an earlier post, it’s the journey that is important so I decided to stay chilled and not focus on catching up. Instead I used this place and this moment as my destination. Decision made. It was time to turn around and retrace most of my steps and head back to Ivybridge with one, maybe two stops on the way.Retracing my steps back up the side of the valley I returned to Holne and found the shop and tea room are open so I decided to stop for a coffee and maybe a snack.
For anyone walking in the area, Tom and Tina’s Tea Room is a MUST. Tina and a colleague run the cafe and Tom cooks all the food and makes the cakes. “Coffee and a Cake” turned into a large pot of tea, homemade cottage pie with Tom’s take on a cross between a Brownie and Millionaire’s Shortbread washed down with a cold drink. Tom and Tina are great hosts, they took the cafe over in July of this year and they have such great ideas using as many local ingredients as possible. When I arrived the cafe was really busy and shortly after I arrived, every table was full. It was really great to find somewhere that is so popular. By the time I left, it is quieter and Tom told me of their plans for 2021. I will be back.
On leaving the Tea Room I followe my footsteps out of Holne. A steady rain is now falling and I am thankful for my waterproofs. The colours and smells seem so much more real as I walk in the rain.
On leaving the Tea Room I followed my footsteps out of Holne. A steady rain was falling (yes, really, more rain!) and I was yet again thankful for my waterproofs. The colours and smells seem so much more real as I walk in the rain.As I pass through Scorriton the rain is really coming down but just as I get to the now defunct phone box, I see a concrete bus shelter hidden by ivy. Whilst I love the rain, the chance to shelter from the relentless downpour is really welcome.Once the rain had stopped I headed back out of Scorriton and followed the wide byway back to the River Mardle. Given the steep ascent up from the river to the top of Huntingdon Hill I was in two minds as to where to camp. Once I crossed the river I was back in Wild Camping territory, so at 3:00pm I was thinking perhaps a camp by the river would be the best spot. I scouted several likely spots but I decided to start the ascent and find somewhere either on the way up or at the top.The weather was now is starting to clear, and when I estimate I am half way up the hill I start looking for a suitable spot to pitch for the night. Whilst the clouds were clearing, it was getting windy with more clouds looming in the distance. A checking of the forecast told me it was going to be a very wet and windy night.Given the wind and weather as I pitched, I did not get a chance to get any pictures. I also double guyed the windward side of my tent to provide a bit more stability and back-pegged the guy lines on the windward side.Having had a fantastic lunch I did not need to cook but the nightly M&M ration was most welcome as I watched a movie. The wind was definitely getting up , so yet another test for the X-mid. For day 4, see here.
TLDR: A planned week on a wet and windy Dartmoor had me testing some new kit, making an unplanned detour or two, ponies, a “lost” dog, a cupcake, a bucket list tick, yummy food and three very wet and windy nights as the weather and unplanned delays change my plans.
30 miles walked with a total ascent of 3749 feet over 3 days
Day 1: Monday 26th October 2020
With the summer rush at the end of the first COVID-19 lockdown long on and Autumn well under way, I took a few days off to return to Dartmoor with a plan to walk from Ivybridge to Oakhampton following much of the course of the Two Moors Way. I also wanted to test some new 3 season kit in what I was sure would be some typical five-seasons-in-one-day Dartmoor weather.
I am a big advocate of public transport, so rather than drive to the Moor and leave my car somewhere I got the train to Ivybridge. Like with most of the towns and villages around the edge of the moor, the walk up from the centre of Ivybridge to Hartford Moor is an assent of around 500 feet in the first mile and then another 1,000 feet in the next 7 miles. By walking directly from the station, you give the first 400 feet of road walking a miss passing the original start to the Two Moors Way close the the park marker at the top of this post. Like my last visit prior to lockdown, I arrived late morning. My goal for this trip was to be pitched up by the first Clapper Bridge on the Two Moors Way some 8.5 miles from my start point before night fell. Again, like my last trip it started as a bright day as I followed the Two Moors Way. On this trip I was trying out some new lightweight kit but I still managed to start out with a total weight of 16kg (35lb) for the planned 4 day trip which, while within 20% of my body weight, it was above what I had hoped and over the ideal limit for my pack. I will post reviews of the kit separately and add links here but the main new elements were:
Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 pack
Dan Durston X-Mid1P tent
Rab Mythic Ultra 180 sleeping bag
Esbit solid fuel stove
Home made hotbag
First stop was a windy Hangershell Rock and a sit down for a snack. The bright morning faded as the clouds were starting to thicken up and darken but I have never let a bit of rain stop me enjoying my time on the moor.
Carrying on along the very well defined path it was clear there had been a fair bit of rain, and given my knowledge of the path ahead of me towards the end of the day made me glad I’d chosen to wear boots and gaiters and that if things got really bad my waterproof socks would prove handy. The path so far had been fairly mud free and solid underfoot as the track is an old roadway.What you see on the left is not a leet, it’s that same old roadway a couple of miles after Hangershell Rock with water laying 2-3″ deep for a good mile or so. At this point I really did think I should have packed a wetsuit. Mebe next time eh? As I came to the end of the path i arrived at what I really think of as the moor proper: Tussocks of grass, bogs, animal poo and the merest hint of a path to follow after a “2MW” stone marker. From this point I had to start checking my map a little to make sure I was still on the right path. By now there was just an hour or so to sunset and the sky was turning grey. Goodbye Mr. Blue Sky. I planned to camp in a valley cut by the River Avon a few hundred yards from where it falls into the Avon Reservoir. At this point, I should point out that “avon” is a corruption of the Welsh word “afon” meaning “river” so by referring to the Avon as “River Avon” it’s a bit daft as it means “River River”. Welcome to English language 101 :).
With the light fading fast as it was the first weekday after the clocks went back, and after a pretty steep and slippery decent into the valley, I found a flat spot to pitch for the night. As the valley is sheltered from all but the worst winds I was able to pitch facing the river so after food I was able to listen to the somewhat fast flowing river swollen by the recent rains below me.The rain started in earnest during the night but the X-Mid proved it was not only easy to pitch but also watertight even with the roof vents open to help keep condensation to a minimum. Lookout for a separate write-up on the tent, it’s fast becoming my default for any trip. With the Mariposa’s pocket arrangement I was not carrying my usual 2 litres of water in bottle pockets each side of my pack. I was testing a new regime where I have 1-2 litres in a bladder in my pack with added electrolytes to drink via a demand valve and 1 litre in a Nalgene bottle in pack side pocket for my dinner and breakfast needs. On this trip I know I would not have to worry too much about keeping the Nalgene bottle full so I’d already saved 1kg/2.2lb from my original pack weight. This regime served me very well for the week and meant I would not need haul water all day as I find a litre is enough water for dinner and breakfast with at least one cup of tea.
On the subject of dinner, I was testing an Esbit solid fuel stove this trip. It’s a very simple pocket sized folding stove that uses solid fuel tablets. At £15 or less it is around 10% of the cost of my Jetboil and combined with a 500ml pot and enough fuel for 5 nights the total weight was just over 500g.
Getting set up to cook I hit a problem. My (until now) trusty Turboflame lighter let me down. I filled and tested it before leaving home however it appears to have a leak as it had zero gas so it was time to break out the UCO storm matches. One match soon had the tablets burning and the water heating for tonight’s Butternut Squash and Sweetcorn stew. Whilst my Jetboil would have a litre of water boiling in a couple of minutes, the Esbit takes an amazing 8 whole minutes to get the water hot enough for my meal and a cuppa. That’s an outrageously long 6 whole minutes longer to heat half the water. Reality check time, I didn’t need a whole litre, and saving 6 minutes? Really?
Behind the pot, the wind shield is also a hotbag. It’s made of garage door insulation which if you’ve never seen it, it is like metallic bubble-wrap. I used silver duct tape to tape the edges and some Velcro to seal a fold over top flap. It is great as a windshield and once the water is boiled, it keeps my food hot whilst waiting for it to fully rehydrate ready for eating. A separate post will be appearing with a how-to.
I settled in for the night with a couple of movies played back on my phone. Bliss.
This site now has a new home on WordPress. After a period of illness and subsequent introspection the site is coming back to life with the original content arriving first and new content following after.
If my ramblings inspire just one person to get out more, this site has met one of its key goals.
Here’s a view of the Bourne Valley just outside Salisbury. I get this view every morning if the weather and time of year allow, this is early o’clock on a May morning.
I have worked from home for around 20 years and have 3 dogs so a good 2-3 mile walk sets me up for the day. Living on a modern estate on the edge of Old Sarum means some of this walk is through the boring streets of suburbia but I get to walk past ancient earthworks, the historic Old Sarum airfield and see the listed wartime hangers and some of the larger aircraft from the Boscombe Down Collection. For much of the year we see the happy souls gathering to throw themselves out of a perfectly good aircraft at Go Skydive.
I also see lots of wildlife; a huge rookery, hares boxing, pheasants, shaded woodland and what will be a “proper” chalk downland Meadow once the builders of a neighbouring development finish clearing it up.
Hi! My name is David, I have been hiking since the 1970s starting as a Scout, and via the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme at school I learned a fair bit about hiking in all weathers – which is pretty much what you can get in a single day somewhere like Dartmoor.
I took a break from serious multi-day hikes whilst my children were growing up. After a mental health challenge and some major life events that have made me re-evaluate my life, I am now enjoying the moors, hills and mountains I love at least a couple of days each month.
I hope you enjoy my musings, I’d love to hear from you.