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.

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

Cicerone guides

Thank you to Cicerone Press for supplying their wonderfully detailed guides to “The GR5 Trail Vosges and Jura” and “The GR5 Trail through the French Alps: from Lake Geneva to Nice”. They will be my constant companions throughout the walk together with their 50th celebration year notebook which will be essential on route.

In search of walking shorts

I have been trying to find the right pair of walking shorts for the Grand Traverse of the Alps and set my sights on a pair of Rab Oblique shorts in Mimosa yellow! Rab don’t have them on their website anymore so I thought I’d search out their factory shop, what an aladdin’s cave it turned out to be!

Sadly no shorts, but I did manage to purchase a pair of Oblique Pants in the same colour for just £25. I think they are a bargain and first time out on a walk were superb.

My advice if you intend visiting their factory shop is do your research before hand as you may well be overwhelmed by the choice and check the opening times as they are restricted

Starting to select the gear

In order to start the practice walks in earnest I need to select the gear I’ll be taking with me. No use going on a practice walk with an empty rucksack!

In my mind the obvious item to start with is the rucksack as that will then determine how much gear I can take with me and to that end I’ve currently chosen to trial an Osprey Atmos 65 litre sack and my old favourite Salomon Sky 38 litre sack, although the latter is now a little battered after excessive use over the years.

Restricting myself to a 38 litre rucksack still enables me to pack in a one man tent, a 3 season sleeping bag, sleeping mat, cooker, sandals and a limited amount of clothing and food as well as essential toiletries and first aid equipment.

The real game changer would be the tech that I choose to carry! If by the time I depart I have a drone as well as the GoPro, mobile phone and charging device(s) then I my well need to upgrade to the 65 litre sack?

Going to practice with both, just in case!

Please note that both rucksacks were originally supplied free of charge by the manufacturers