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Kit Reviews

Snugpack Journey Solo Tent

Outdoors Gear Posted on May 29, 2019 12:56 pm

The Snugpack Journey Solo tent is a one person tent that we think will be good for multi day hiking or cycling expeditions. We’d hesitate taking it on expeditions to harsher climates, as it’s a small tent and if you’re confined to base for a few days it’s not large enough to live in, but that’s just personal choice. To see more about the solo tent and the full range of tents Snugpack produce – we’d opt for the 2-person tent next time – check the Snugpack website out here.

THEY SAY
The Journey Solo is a lightweight, durable single person bivvi tent. Its waterproof fly can be easily removed to allow for you to use the full mosquito net inner on its own, perfect for dry, warm nights for a cooler night’s sleep and a view of the stars.

Constructed with a durable groundsheet in a bathtub style. Supplied complete with a tailored tent footprint to help protect the groundsheet.

WE SAY
I was happy to take this tent straight into the wilderness with me, no need to test it out at home beforehand. I’ve been using Snugpack for years and trust them as a brand. For me, they’re up there with Vaude and Helly Hansen when it comes to reliability. When you buy Snugpack, you know that whatever the item, it’s going to be fit for purpose and do what it says on the box/bag.

I did, however, attach the outer fly sheet to the inner tent at home, as this gave me a chance to give the layout a once over and not have to fiddle with velcro if the conditions were rough the first time I put the tent up when out in the forest.

Which they were! I’d been paddling and portaging through the rivers and lakes of Algonquin all day, it was 6pm and the rain had been coming down for the past 2 hours. I pulled the canoe up on an island as it was getting gloomy, and too dark to safely continue in what were worsening conditions. It wasn’t a pleasant way to break camp for the first night but the tent made things easier. I just threw the groundsheet down – there’s a right way of placing it but in an emergency it didn’t really matter – and then threaded the 2 poles through their loops. Simple, and done in 5 minutes, even with hands that were numb from gripping a wet paddle for the past few hours.

The ground was soft and the pegs went in easy. The only confusion was that the front 2 loops of the inner tent were not big enough for the pegs supplied. I had a few spares, luckily, that were much thinner pegs, and to this day I can’t work out why I had to use them. Very odd that the inner tent would have to be secured with pegs that weren’t supplied with the tent. Unless there was some special trick to securing it all. Which quite frankly I had no time to work out, and because I had the small pegs didn’t need to ponder upon.

Interior space is restricted but I could stuff my main bag under the front outer fly, as you can see in the photo above, between outer and inner, with no effect on the performance of the tent. This freed up space for me inside the tent and avoided having to take a wet bag into my dry inner area.

The rain and high winds continued all night, as they did for 4 of the 5 nights I was to camp on this expedition. The tent was solid during this time. I never felt any hint of the storms and the ventilation was excellent.

There were also a few flies around but they never got in, there’s a nice feature on the inner tent that prevents it. The place where the inner tent zips meet, often a gap develops here as you pull the tent out of shape by either pitching it minutely wrong or just getting in and out of it in a rough way. This gap can be fixed by the reality is, when you’ve fixed it a few times you just get tired of doing it and a little complacent so the flies and bugs start to get in. But on this tent there’s a simple flap of material that sits between the 2 zips that creates an extra barrier to keep intruders out. It’s really simple but it works.

The tent is small for me. I’m 6ft 1″ and had to go in feet first as once inside it was pretty difficult to turn around. Once inside I could lay down comfortably without touching either end, although sitting up was impossible without touching the roof. If I was on expedition in the Alps and confined to tent for a day or so, which I have been at times in the past, I wouldn’t want to be in this tent. I’m confident it could withstand the weather, but I like to be able to sit up in a tent, and I can’t in this.

I’d say it was perfect for stealth camping, but perhaps not with this colour. Unless you’re going rogue in the Sahara. A green or black colour would be a better choice, I imagine, for blending in with the surroundings of Europe, the UK or North America. Also, flies are attracted to the colors orange and yellow, so an orange tent does attract them.

On the plus side, the small size of the tent allows you to camp in places that a larger tent wouldn’t fit. Like a few of my campsites, nestled between tree roots or trunks. I got some pretty sweet sunset or sunrise views from my sleeping bag thanks to the tent’s ability to squeeze into tiny waterside spaces.

So, the Snugpack Journey Solo offers superb stormy weather protection, is light and very well priced. It kept me dry and warm in tricky weather conditions and I had confidence that no matter what state I got in out on the water, once on dry land I could put the tent up in minutes, throw my sleeping mat and bag in there and get myself warm.

If you don’t mind restricted living space then maybe it’s for you. If you like more space in your tent, I’d highly recommend Snugpack as a brand and advise you look at their larger tents.

Check the Snugpack website out to discover local stockists and more info.



Water To Go Water Bottle Filter

Outdoors Gear Posted on May 29, 2019 11:51 am

The Water To Go bottle is a water bottle that also filters almost any water you put into it. We’ve been using it since December 2018 during our expeditions in Costa Rica and Canada. We’ve found it reliable and despite drinking water from all manner of river, water hole and tap, we’ve never got sick, which is the end result we’re all looking for when we’re travelling. Check the Water To Go website for more details, or read on.

THEY SAY
Our Water Bottles use a Unique 3-in-1 Filter Technology
The filters used in our BPA free water bottles are created based on technology originally developed for the NASA space programme.

Three different (1 traditional and 2 nano) technologies are forged together in one filter to remove over 99.9% of all microbiological contaminants in water.

The three technologies used in a Water-to-Go filter are:

Mechanical filtration; a very small pore size which stops contaminants passing through.
Electrical (by a positive charge) which reduces the pore size even further and attracts the contaminants like a magnet would, trapping them inside the filter.
Finally, our filters use activated carbon but instead of using adhesives to glue the carbon particles together, (which vastly reduces the carbon’s efficiency) it is contained within the membrane, helping to reduce contaminants whilst eliminating bad tastes and odours. Try filtering water from your domestic filter and taste the difference!

What impact does drinking bottled water have on the environment?
Unless it has been incinerated, every piece of plastic ever made still exists; Reason? Plastic takes over 500 years to degrade!
Over 70 billion (seventy thousand million) single use plastic water bottles are consumed annually in the US and Europe alone; National Geographic estimate that a maximum of 20% are recycled. That means that over 50 billion bottles go into landfill or end up in our oceans every year.
Fill up your bottle with oil to a fifth of its capacity to witness how much oil is used in manufacturing the bottle and shipping it to you!
For every 1 litre of bottled water in your local supermarket, 3 litres have been used to make and ship it to you.
Bottled water is commonly more expensive than petrol or diesel, at £1 or more per 50 cl bottle, compared to petrol and Diesel at £1.40 or 1.40 per litre!
By consuming bottled water you are contributing to killing over 1 million sea birds and 100,000 mammals annually, who die by ingesting or becoming trapped in plastic waste.
Get the taste and convenience of bottled water at a fraction of the cost.
Get water where you are certain of the quality by filtering it yourself, help reduce plastic waste and preserve natural resources by using a Water-to-Go reusable bottle and filter!

WE SAY
This is an easy to use and reliable water filter. To activate the filter lid, you follow the instructions that come with the bottle, which are basically you soak it in water for a short while. Then you screw it into the bottle and you’re ready to go.

We’ve taken it to water holes in rural Costa Rica.

To the beach in Costa Rica, where we drank from estuaries emptying into the ocean.

To the lakes of Canada, where we filled up whilst canoeing along.

And we filled up from the lakes and rivers that we camped beside.

At this stage, you may play devil’s advocate and say, well what’s the point in all that. Why risk possible contamination from agricultural pesticides, or other diseases? Why not just buy bottled water at a local shop? You save the risk, and you input money into the local economy.

Well, there’s too much plastic in the world already, as the stats listed above in this article highlight, and if we can find a way to stop buying single use plastic water bottles then we will. And also, I’ve been travelling for over 30 years and if I had to give you a dollar for each time I’ve seen a shop owner collecting used water bottles, refilling them from the local tap and then gluing lids back on to make them seem like they came from the factory, man, you’d be rich. Full marks to the shop owner for recycling though! Many don’t like to believe this sort of thing goes on, it’s not nice to think such things. But I’m less interested in being politically correct than I am in avoiding extended stays on the toilet, so I figure it’s worth speaking up about.

There’s also the matter of weight. Instead of having to take kilos of bottled water about with me I just took the Water To Go bottle and filled up as and when. True, the water wasn’t always cold when I wanted it to be, but this ‘existing in the modern world’ thing isn’t all about me, is it. The same as it isn’t all about you. If you’ve got to drink warmish water when you’d rather cold water, in order to help save the world from being enveloped in plastic, well, it might be personally uncomfortable but it’s a small price to pay and we’ve each got to do our bit.

Aside from this, I like to do business with companies who are trying to create positive change in the world. Water To Go give a lot of their profits to decent charities, so in my eyes they’re a company worth supporting. Click here to read more about their charitable work.

Additional points to note are:

The bottles are very good value and will save you a lot of money over bottled water.

The bottles are sturdy. If you throw them into your kit bag or rucksack alongside sharp objects such as tent poles or pegs, or cooking kit, the bottle is safe. It’s not likely to puncture or break.

The bottle is meant to be used in a very simple way. You fill the bottle up, you replace the lid then you suck the water out. Don’t try to squeeze the water out into a glass, you’ll have a hard time doing it, the bottle isn’t made for that. This is important to understand for hygiene; if you’re a couple who share everything you can get by with one bottle but if you’re travelling with your mates you’ll probably want a bottle each.

The filter lasts for about 3 months. The exact time will depend on how much you use it. Refills are well priced, starting at around $15 for a single unit.

Having used it in varied conditions over a 5 month period, we’re happy with this bottle and recommend you check it out if you’re going on a wilderness expedition or just on an adventurous holiday where the local tap water has potential to cause upset, as it is in certain Central American, North African or Asian destinations.

For more info and to buy, see the Water To Go Website