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 www.walkingtheGR5.co.uk

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?

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The European Outdoor Conservation Association’s (EOCA) future vision 2019

I am and will be supporting EOCA’s vision whilst out on practice walks and on the Grand Traverse of the Alps and reporting on the amount of litter I find on the way.

EOCA’s vision: The outdoor sector and the millions of people who enjoy the great outdoors are active champions for the conservation of nature and wild places is about taking responsibility for our planet’s environments and being involved in looking after them.  Since EOCA started in 2006, the environmental, political and social arenas have changed drastically and created an era of global uncertainty.  It is therefore vital that EOCA evolves accordingly, addressing the environmental issues facing the outdoor sector.

The outdoor industry is a values-led industry, which needs to define very strongly what it believes in and how it is working to achieve that.  In terms of conservation and sustainability, the industry must make a stand and speak out for the protection of landscapes and wild places, which are not only its enjoyment and passion, but also its livelihood.  This is a central part of the outdoor industry; this is what EOCA stands for and EOCA believes it is its responsibility to act – with and on behalf of the outdoor industry.

As part of this evolution to become a more prominent organisation and following on from the success of the 2 Million Tree project – which set itself the ambitious target of raising enough funds to plant 2 million trees around the world – the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) is delighted to be launching its new focus:  Plastic Free: Mountain to Sea.

300 million tonnes of plastic are produced annually globally, 8 million tonnes of which enter the oceans each year.  80% of marine plastics originates from land sources – impacting on all habitats and wild places and threatening wildlife, food safety, human health and contributing to climate change.  The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) considers plastic marine debris and its ability to transport harmful substances as one of the main emerging issues affecting the environment.

Plastic pollution is found in mountains, around crags, along and in rivers and lakes, forests and beaches impacting disastrously on wildlife and blighting every type of habitat and landscape enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts.  Ultimately, a lot of the plastic waste will find its way to lakes and rivers and ultimately end up in the oceans.  100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds are killed every year through entanglement or by ingesting plastic litter.

With this in mind, EOCA will work with its members and the European outdoor industry to clean up plastic waste from habitats from the summits of mountains to the shores of the seas, whilst also reducing their use of everyday single-use plastics.  This will be in conjunction with educating and inspiring outdoor enthusiasts to get involved to combat the issues.

The spring 2019 round of projects funded by EOCA will fund conservation charities to carry out waste clean up projects around the world.  Meeting EOCA’s usual funding criteria, these projects will raise awareness about the issues of plastic waste, educate and train people to reduce their use of it, work with local communities to address a specific threat caused by the plastic waste, have a link to the outdoor enthusiast and leave a legacy once EOCA funding comes to an end.  Not just cosmetic exercises, these projects will have longer lasting impacts, changing attitudes and behaviour.

EOCA will coordinate a calendar of clean up events and activities that companies are organising themsleves, and that companies and consumers alike can get involved in.  These could be general beach cleans or clean ups targeted at specific activities such as mountain races, trails to climbing crags or rivers and lakes used by paddlesports.

Working with its members and the outdoor industry, EOCA will provide guidance to companies wanting to reduce their everyday single-use plastics – in their offices, at trade shows and by individual employees.  Companies will be able to sign up to pledges to commit to reducing their in house plastic waste.  This work will complement that being done by the Single Use Plastics Project being run under the umbrella of Retail Meets Brand an initiative of the EOG, looking at single use plastics in supply chains, as well as the EOG sustainability group and its work on microfibres, to make sure all areas of single use plastic are covered but not duplicated.  Meetings with ISPO on reducing plastics during the shows there are also planned with the Messe itself and a number of brands.

Engaging outdoor enthusiasts is another strand to this two year focus, which will be covered by the creation and communication of guidance to encourage the reduction in use of everyday single-use plastic in outdoor spaces and at home:  picking up litter when out in wild landscapes and getting involved in clean up events local to them.  EOCA will also work with IGOT and other organisations to promote ethical excerice, combining exercise and clean up actions, as well as relevant events through their communication channels.

As with EOCA’s 2 Million Tree Campaign, a public fundraiser will be launched to enable the public and brands to raise money and awareness of a specific project from EOCA’s current funding round, giving outdoor enthusiasts and the outdoor industry ownership of a particular project to donate to or fundraise for.

Finally, following on from the international bodies (such as the UN Declaration on Forests, The Hague Principles on Earth Trusteeship) interested in the work being carried out by EOCA on its 2 Million Tree Project, EOCA will work with and endorse a number of other organisations and initiatives during the 2 year focus to generate and share relevant information, increasing the impact that the outdoor industry has on this issue, raising awareness of what the industry is doing to address it and giving EOCA a louder voice on this global issue.

Just in case you haven’t heard of EOCA this is who they are

The European Outdoor Conservation Association is an initiative from the European outdoor industry with the objective of protecting the wild areas it cares so passionately about.

Designed to harness the incredible power of the outdoor industry and to raise money to donate to grassroots conservation groups, the European Outdoor Conservation Association is funded by membership and other fundraising activities within the outdoor industry. 100% of membership fees go to the support of projects. Membership is open to anyone that can demonstrate an involvement in the European outdoor industry.

From January 2015, a select group of ‘Sustaining Members’ have pledged their support to EOCA by committing to fund the sustainable growth of the organisation with an extra €10,000 per year for the next three years, over and above their annual membership fee.  This money will be used to finance the running of the Association and support its sustainable growth, also enabling a move to 2 funding rounds per year.

The seven EOCA Sustaining Members  are: OutDoor (Messe Friedrichshafen), Pertex, KEEN Footwear, Nikwax, ISPO (Messe München), Patagonia and the European Outdoor Group (EOG), which is also the Founder Member of the Association.

To find out more about the Association please go to: www.outdoorconservation.eu

Local training ground

I have choosen Clark Bank on the southern edge of the North York Moors above Helmsley as one of my local training circuits and can now be seen most weekends going down the bank, then up the bank, then down the bank, then up etc etc until I’ve descended and ascended at least 1500m whilst taking in what I regard as one of the most beautiful views across the moors.

Recent snow made the circuit almost alpine in nature and the slope down the bank was particularly challenging!


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