Just about every family holiday we took over the last twenty-odd years involved camping, often in Cornwall. BC (Before Children) Sue and me backpacked – now, with the kids doing their own thing, we can get back to enjoying the freedom that walking and wild camping gives.

An old bloke, like me, realises just how much equipment has improved over the last 20 or 30 years. Gore-Tex and eVent with proper layering means keeping warm and getting less of a soaking than wearing a hard-wearing, bombproof nylon waterproof, with nothing more technical than jeans and a tee shirt. The weight savings, too, are impressive.

Some old things though are hard to beat. Our Saunders Backpacker II tent must be over 30 years old now and (frequent re-proofing) has never leaked despite dire weather. The fly appears unaffected by UV, too. It is a good two-man tent at under 2 kilos. That said, I think it will be up for replacement as storage space is limited and we could do with a little bit more headroom. The old Meta 71 stoves, too, provide a quick, hot drink for next to no weight, though you don’t seem to be able to get hold of original Meta tablets. Speaking of cooking, our Trangia is still going – but then what is there to go wrong with a Trangia?

Now our packs for a couple of days winter backpacking on the moor weigh under 10 kg – great. While trying to keep the weight down, but not ultralight; volume is just as important and there are always compromises to make along the way. The Trangia, for instance, is not as fast as gas, maybe a bit heavy and it’s an awkward shape; but it is unaffected by the wind, you can get meths anywhere and it does not spoil the peace of the surroundings.

One serious point to consider, the pursuit of low weight and low volume can mean spending a lot of money!

Well, this first post has set the tone – I’ll be back.

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