Well today is New year’s Eve or Hogmanay if you’re up here in Scotland, and you could say 2016 has been a funny old year. I could write about the celebrity deaths over the past 12 months, or even Brexit and Donald Trump. I could even write an article on my beloved Hibernian FC winning the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years. But this is an outdoors blog, so I’ll stick to just that.
2016 was the first year that list ticking would not dictate my decision on where I hiked. Instead I focused on spending more nights out on the hills, mostly wild camping but also bothies and car camping. It helped that I made some new friends this year who also enjoyed wild camping and bothies too, they were all also in the early stages of their Munro bagging careers, so it was great to go back and visit some of my favourite areas like Glen Coe, Kintail and the Cairngorms.
The biggest change in 2016 was my choice in shelter for wild camping; my trusty Hilleberg Akto that I spent many a night in would be replaced by a lighter and more stable shelter, in the form of the MLD Trailstar tarp. I won’t bore you with a review, as these tarps have been out for a while now and are well covered with excellent reviews.
During a Facebook conversation someone was looking for recommendations on their first tent. Some contributors suggested a tarp and I was quickly shot down in flames when I suggested tarps would not be able to handle poor weather. The seed was planted!
I started getting itchy feet with the Akto. I never really got the greatest sleep in it, as I found it quite flappy even in the lightest of winds. Plus I hated being closed in, not aware of what has happening around me. I started looking into getting a tarp. I kept finding blogs and reviews on the Trailstar, I was initially put off because you need to seal them yourself, but in reality it’s not difficult at all. I eventually went for it and purchased the Trailstar in April and took my girlfriend on the Trailstar’s first outing on the Isle of Mull in May.
We both instantly loved the Trailstar, it was spacious, loads of room for both us and all our gear. Most of all, the open view at any time was a joy. The Trailstar is so easy to pitch, nothing fiddly and a tight pitch achieved every time.
I’ve had the Trailstar out a few times since its debut on Mull, and in varying weather conditions, including high winds and heavy rain. It stood up well every time. I think the Akto will be going up for sale in 2017.
The second significant change was the switch from a gas powered stove, to a meth burning equivalent. Again, I won’t give you a full review but if you’re interested, I went for the Speedster Stoves set up, and my review can be found here. Whilst meths is slower to boil water; It is more stable, reliable and environmentally friendly.
2016 saw 6 summit camps; 2 in the Akto and 4 the Trailstar. 3 bothy trips and some camping in Glen Etive, Glen Coe and Kintail. Walked several Munros and Corbetts and a few Grahams too. Not to mention a fantastic tour of the Outer Hebrides.
For 2017, I’ve only gone and got myself a place on the TGO Challenge! I hope this gives me confidence to go on more solo adventures and open up long distance routes such as the Cape Wrath Trail. Outwith the TGO Challenge, I hope to get many more nights out under my belt, solo and with good company. Some more wildlife sightings along the way would be an added bonus too.
I hope you all have a happy new year.