4. For a penny under twenty quid you can now turn your smart phone into a GPS unit with the latest entry to the world of digital mapping coming from OS Maps. Download the app, pay the subscription fee and away you go. You can plan your routes on the screen and also choose to print them to (Toughprint) paper. Annual subscription from £19.99 from OS Maps. Of course if you like the idea that a traditional paper map that won’t run out of batteries and might add an esoteric value to your shelves Dash4It are probably the best place to go.
5. While we’re on navigation – headed out with a map but no compass is only half equipped. Silva compasses are renowned for their build and reliability. A good model to opt for will have a magnifying glass (essential for the keen eye – which all good navigators possess) and a romer. A recommended model is the Silva Expedition 4. £21 from Millets.
6. And if you want to push the boat out – buy them an altimeter. It would seem that the watch of choice for this purpose is the Suunto Core. It’s a mammoth of a watch – no budding adventurer could wish for anything else. It’s pure no-nonsense all functionality and usually in BLACK. It is not a GPS unit and for me that’s fine since you won’t be worrying about the batteries going flat whilst out on an extended trip. GPS aside they give you loads of features including a compass, barometer and thermometer too! From Amazon at a very competitive £156.90.
7. For those days when things may go awry, everyone should carry some form of shelter. Personally I favour the Lifesystems Light and Dry Thermal Bivi. It’s a double skinned survival bag that weighs next to nothing and packs down so small it is easily carried even when out for a run in the hills. Insulation and protection from the elements from just from £14 from Blacks.
8. For anyone that goes camping the right choice of sleeping mat makes all the difference to a good night’s sleep (and an inflatable lilo doesn’t cut the mustard in the outdoors). There are these days, self-inflating mattresses to be had. They’re not really self-inflating, but they don’t take much puff to make them a comfortable bed for the night. And trust me, once you spend a night on one of these babies you’ll never go back to roll mats. Unless the user is a dwarf or has an OCD when it comes to counting the grammes – always opt for a full length mat. The Airo 180 looks like a good bet from Alpkit at £45.
9. Time spent outdoors in the UK will inevitably mean a day out in the rain at some point. Keeping your kit dry takes ‘good admin’ a bit of luck and … dry bags! (No backpack is waterproof). There are lots out there and they seem to be getting better and better. You could stick with the original rubble bag (from B&Q etc.) and at around a fiver for a roll of twelve you won’t find cheaper! A longer term solution comes from a reputable supplier. Starting at around £6 take a look at a selection of sizes here at Go Outdoors.
10. Maybe the best present you could give/ask for, is one that will last a lifetime. Two days away learning with the pro’s to rock climb, or to navigate with map and compass, to scramble up a mountain, to overcome a fear of heights (and much more) are experiences that go above and beyond the fleeting moments spent with a gadget. From mountain courses to guided mountain adventures, there’s a load to choose from. Gift vouchers are on sale in multiples of £25 and are available here.
Updated November 2017