New Public Fundraiser for EOCA

As part of its newly-launched focus on plastic clean-up, the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) has launched a public fundraiser to raise money to help reduce single use plastic.  The project, part of Surfrider Foundation Europe’s ‘Ocean Initiatives’ programme will work to raise awareness and educate thousands of people through waste collection and clean-up events.

Plastic pollution is found in mountains, around crags, in rivers and lakes, forests, coastlines and oceans, impacting disastrously on wildlife and blighting every type of habitat and landscape enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts.  It is estimated that 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds are killed every year through entanglement or by ingesting plastic litter.

As an organisation raising money to look after the health and well-being of the planet, EOCA is committed to playing its part in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.  SDG 14 (Life Below Water) is one of those highlighted by EOCA as of utmost of relevance to its own vision and new focus as it aims to “prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution”.

With this in mind, EOCA will work with its members and the European outdoor industry to reduce their use of everyday single use plastics, whist also raising awareness through the organisation of clean ups to educate people on how to stop plastic waste from getting into wild habitats from the summits of mountains to the depths of the oceans.  The headline target is that EOCA and its members will collectively clear 3000km of habitat, trail and beach of plastic waste and pollution over the next 2 years.  That is the distance from the Mediterranean coast to Lapland!  Whilst EOCA’s public vote is now underway to select its first conservation projects for 2019, the association has also launched this public fundraiser to raise further money for and get involved in another vital project.

Since starting in 1990, Surfrider Foundation Europe has placed the problem of marine litter at the heart of its mission. The overall objectives of its ‘Ocean Initiatives’ programme, which has been running for almost 25 years, are to limit new waste generation, promote a circular economy for 100% of generated waste and limit the impact of existing waste in the environment. EOCA funding will help organise at least 1600 public clean-up events, expanding into new areas such as in-ocean cleans, mobilising 60,000 people in 47 countries, and educating 100,000 people. Data on the number and type of collected items from 1195km of beaches, lakes, rivers and seabeds all over the world will fuel scientific research and underpin lobbying of the EU for stricter targets on the reduction of waste and pollution entering our oceans.

EOCA is calling on individuals and companies to donate via their website to fund this ambitious project.  Every €10 donated via EOCA will help fund an area of 50 metres squared – the area of two olympic size swimming pools!- of clean-ups.  Please see the donate button on or .  There is also the option to go onto to find a clean up event to get involved in.

Bridgedale Hike Ultra Light T2

Just put on a pair of Bridgedale Hike Ultra Light T2 boot height walking socks for the first time!

Stripping away the cardboard packaging I realised how light these socks are and wondered how on earth they are going to comfort and protect my feet on a hike?

Putting my feet into these “Fusion Tech” socks made “of the highest quality yarns”, “wrapped with high performance microfibres” I immediately felt the wrap around comfort and support that Bridgedale promised.

First impression is they will be great for walking the Grand Traverse of the Alps in the summer.

Next stage is to put them into my boots and start walking!!!

12 hour heat retention test on 5 flasks

It was the Fire and ice box that set the challenge, HOT 12 HRS COLD 24 HRS so at 7am on Friday 6th April we took five flasks and filled them with boiling water, recorded the start temperatures and left them outside for twelve hours before opening them up and taking the temperatures again. The heat losses are shown in the table below.

The flasks are from left to right

Mizu Adidas Terrex 650ml / 22oz


Hydro Flask 532ml / 18oz (New)

Hydro Flask 532ml / 18oz (Old)


Chilly’s 500ml


Fire and Ice 500ml


Please note that the tests where not carried out in the lab but in the great outdoors!

As Spring progresses here in the United Kingdom we will look forward to a hotter day to test the COLD 24 HRS challenge on all five flasks in a similar fashion.

Both the Chilly’s and Fire and Ice were purchased. The Mizu and Hydro Flask were given to us free of charge for review.

Keen Karraig Mid WP walking boots

Keen Europe have kindly supplied me with a pair of Keen Karraig Mid WP men’s UK size 10 walking boots to trial for the Grand Traverse of the Alps.

It’s great to see that Keen Europe are continuing to support boot manufacture in one of boot making’s traditional heartlands, Romania.

In the coming weeks we will be taking these boots out for a number of test walks to get the feel of them prior to my departure on the Grand Traverse of the Alps and will let you know how we get on.

We’ve just taken them out of the box and this is what they look like and…

Keen Karraig walking boots front elevation
Keen Karraig walking boots tread
Keen Karraig walking boots side side elevations
Total grip Keen Karraig walking boots
Keen Karraig walking boots full frontal!

…we’ll follow their instructions on how to put them on!

Instructions on how to put on Keen Karraig walking boots
Keen Europe logo with link

LifeStraw, bladder or flask?

Two of the major considerations on any long multi day walk are the weight on your back and hydration on route.

I realise that utilising any container to carry fluids will add considerable weight to my pack so have looked at ways to avoid this where possible.

In the main the Grand Traverse of the Alps passes through a landscape that will provide plentiful opportunities to re hydrate. It is only in the last few days in the Southern Alps where there is a need to carry sufficient water to last the whole day.

Given the geography of the route I have decided to use a LifeStraw for water on the majority of the walk as it is both light compared to a full flask or bladder and more compact.

The size is 212mm x 28mm dia including solid sealed caps at either end that protect both the entry and exit of the water.

The only difficulty I have in using it is my own physic! You do need to get close and personal to the water source from which you attempting to drink!

One other aspect of using the LifeStraw that only became apparent on first use is that the water you are drinking can be very cold when it hits the back of your throat.

I will be taking an empty flask or bladder to use on the last section because of the rarity of natural running water there.

EOCA Conservation at ISPO: Fundraising and Forwards to the Future

Munich covered in 25cm of snow proved to be the perfect platform for EOCA as it launched its new 2 year focus and raised €19,000 for conservation during ISPO 19


Thanks to the generosity of EOCA’s members, the Conservation Fundraiser boasted its largest number of items yet – with offerings from hammocks to skiwear, mugs to climbing harnesses and everything in between.  In addition, Bergans of Norway, Klean Kanteen and Ternua held fundraisers on their stand to benefit EOCA.  With a generous top up from ISPO, EOCA was delighted to raise a total of €19,000 during the 4 days of the show!  100% of this will be spent on the conservation projects EOCA supports this coming year.

In addition, EOCA was delighted to welcome four new members into the Association. Premsons based in India who are proud to say that they make the world’s largest range of zero carbon footprint sports bottles, Tarrago who creates high tech products to maintain, clean, waterproof and care for outdoor apparel and footwear, Brettschneider Fernreisebedarf, who sell mosquito nets and repellents including mosquito nets from recycling polyester and MIZU selling reusable stainless steel bottles, mugs, cutlery and straws all designed to reduce single-use plastics – ‘protecting where we play’, all signed up during or shortly after the show.   EOCA looks forward to working with them to benefit conservation in the coming months and years.

During the show, EOCA was also delighted to launch its new 2 year focus: Plastic Free, Mountain to Sea.  The focus, which will run alongside the Association continuing to fund a broad range of conservation projects worldwide, will enable EOCA and its members to play their part in addressing the critical issue of plastic pollution in the great outdoors.  The headline target for the focus is that EOCA and its members will collectively clean 3000 km of habitat, trail and beach of plastic pollution over 2 years.  The focus was launched during the show to members at an extraordinary meeting, to the wider industry during the EOG industry breakfast, and to the press at EOCA’s happy hour. 

“The focus was received extremely positively during the show” said Catherine Savidge, Joint General Manager of EOCA. “We had a new company, Premsons, sign up to EOCA membership before the show had even started, having learned of the new focus.  In addition, we had a range of companies come to the EOCA stand over the course of the show to discuss membership specifically because the new focus resonated well with their mission and they agreed with the urgency and relevance of the issue for the outdoor industry.  We very much look forward to welcoming new members into EOCA in the coming months to work with us and our existing members to deliver this work.”  Existing members also approached EOCA with exciting initiatives to support the focus.  One example is the plan of Walkingontheweb to walk the Grand Traverse of the Alps (GR 5), cleaning up litter on the way.  You can follow their progress on Twitter @walkingontheweb and their blog at

First practice walk with full pack!!!

OK not totally full, limited clothes and no sleeping bag but I did have the tent, cooker, food, air bed, spare socks, Rab shorts and body cleaning fluid!

Start of first full pack practice walk
Further south towards Bilsdale Mast
Looking North towards Teeside and Roseberry Topping
Heading East towards  Round Hill
Cairn guiding the way
Looking over to the incline
Approaching Round Hill summit
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Start and finish Clay Bank, North Yorkshire grid reference NZ573036

Approximately 11 km with 400m of ascent and descent. 5km section of the Cleveland Way and Coast to Coast on the edge of the North York Moors. Great workout descending the incline and steep, wet ascent up Jackson’s Bank.

It was a beautiful day and I was alone for most of the walk which was a shame. OK there had when rain the previous day and it was a little windy but that just added to the pleasure in my mind.

The outdoors is such a fantastic gym and in the main it’s Free!!! I wish more people would step out of their comfort zone and experience more of our green, brown, blue pleasant lands.

Osprey Atmos 65litre pack contained a Snugpack Ionosphere single person tent, Therm-a-rest airbed, Primus stove with gas and five packs of Summit to Eat dehydrated meals, Bridgedale and Darn Tough socks, Rab shorts, Hydro Flask, Lifestraw and SeaToSummit wilderness wash. Supporting me was a Leki Softlite trekking pole.

I wore a Craghoppers fleece over a T Shirt, pair of Rab walking trousers and on my feet I had a pair of Keen boots.

Very happy with my first practice walk. Answered three valuable questions

Do I need to take a large rucksack? The answer is yes and I was certainly comfortable with the Osprey and the weight of its content.

Do I need two trekking poles? No, I definitely need one hand to hold a camera so one trekking pole will be sufficient.

Do I need to take the Lifestraw? Yes, certainly on at least the first half of the GTA as this has such a weight benefit when you know there is copious amounts of running water to tap into.

Bridgedale Summer Socks

Following extensive research, Bridgedale has identified a growing demand for non-wool warm weather socks. Building on this research the focus from Bridgedale for Spring 19 is the non-wool Warm Weather Hike collection

Adding to their hugely popular Hike Lightweight Coolmax Comfort style, made by combining Coolmax with Cotton yarns, Spring , Summer 19 will see the introduction of new Coolmax styles, giving Bridgedale a complete and comprehensive range of wool, non-wool and waterproof socks 

Bridgedale Hike Ultra Light high ankle

‘Coolmax™’ is well known as one of the very best warm weather yarns being quick drying, highly breathable and boasting excellent wicking, & thermo regulation properties.  The socks also have an incredibly soft feel making them extremely comfortable all day long.   Fusion Tech from Bridgedale brings together Coolmax™ with technical synthetic fibres in a knit to provide a thin, close supportive fit with targeted T2 padding, balanced insulation and outstanding durability.  Making it the ideal choice for walking and trekking in warmer climates in lighter footwear.

Bridgedale Hike Ultra Light low ankle

Bridgedale are suggesting that the socks will be suitable for tackling hikes similar to the Coast to Coast, Camino de Santiago,  or the Appalachian Trail (AT) so I’ve suggested they’d be good for both my practice walks and the Grand Traverse of the Alps (GTA) itself, so there’s a pair on it’s way to me to trial and review.

The new styles include Lightweight and Ultralight with men’s and women’s specific FIT.  Highlights include the men’s and women’s Ultralight Boot length HIKE Lightweight T2, Coolmax Performance, Boot length, and men’s and women’s Ultralight Low Cut – HIKE Ultralight T2, Coolmax Performance, Low cut.

Bridgedale logo

Will they Last?

Currently I have two choices of footwear for the main event, a wonderful pair of Zamberland’s and a much lighter pair of Keen boots “Made in Europe”.

Because I have punished both pairs over time I do wonder whether they would last the 38 days I plan to take on my Grand Traverse plus the many practice walks I intend to complete prior to my departure.

I my contemplating a new pair but still unsure what to go for? I do feel secure in a heavier boot but am aware they may soon start to feel too heavy wearing them day after day.

I need to make a decision on this vital piece of kit fairly soon so will keep updating on my progress.

Think I’ll ask the question of a few of the retailers out there and publish my findings. Will be interesting to see what influences their answers!


First litter pick practice walk

I set off today from Cowhouse Bank above Helmsley on the North York Moors on on of  my practice walks.

With my Salomon Sky 38 litre packed with gear I headed West along the escarpment towards Clay Bank and the footpath that steeply descends to the right clinging to the edge down through forestry to  terminate at a T junction with a forestry track.

One item of gear I took to review was a Hydro Flask. It did keep the water lovely and cool on a nice hot February day.

 Turning right onto the track / bridlepath I continued my descent through Cowhouse Bank Wood ignoring the track to the right for a further descent heading for a small group of cottages at Old Ford and on to tarmac close to a ford.

Amazingly at this stage I hadn’t found any litter to pick up but I did find a temporary sign that seemed to have become permanent? Maybe the local authority could look at removing it!

After crossing Cowhouse Beck I utilised the tarmac to take me back up to the forestry at the bottom of Cowhouse Bank before turning left along the bottom edge of the woodland. where I found my first piece of flotsam. A small metal object!

Continuing the traverse of the bank I entered Riccal Dale Wood and headed for the junction with the Tabular Hills Walk where I turned right up the very steep path that leads to the top. This section can become very difficult in wet, muddy or snowy conditions!

Once at the top the “litter” picking began in earnest with sadly detritus from the aftermath of shooting., empty shell casings and plastics.

I continued along the Tabular Hills Walk to cross the minor road and after 200 metres turned right again and followed paths North and came across a squirrels dining table?

With the warmth of the day I checked the first ant hill I came across to find a hive of activity. The week before all the hills were dormant.

Further North and 9 kilometres later I arrived back on the bank.

Below are the efforts of my first litter pick walk! Not to bad and yes it is a “Police” incident tape!!!

Hope this is the kind of effort the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) are looking for?

eoco logo