Tag Archives: Lightweight Backpacking

Notes from my Woodhall Spa weekend

Woodhall Spa Camping and Caravan Club site

First thing at Woodhall Spa – I had early morning coffee at this camp instead of tea

Menu for the weekend

Weight 750g

Tinned Mackerel in Teriyaki sauce
Cereal bar

Arrival at Woodhall Spa Camping and Caravan Club site
Milicano coffee stick and cakes (the warden gave me some milk as they had sold out of 1 pints – otherwise I would have bought some)

Sesame flavoured Japanese noodles
I let the noodles cool down then I added a small packet of mixed pitted olives in herb oil and a salad dressing sachet that Mum had left over from her dinner on Friday
Chinese sesame dessert
Peach tea (cold)
Milicano coffee

Early morning
Tea and breakfast biscuits

Apple Pop Tarts
Dried fruit
Fresh coffee and more tea

Nescafe 2 in 1 coffee
Nutrigrain breakfast bar

2x decaf coffee sticks
Nutrigrain bar
Hot chocolate drink

I also had my Backpacking Brew Kit, packet of glucose tablet and some SiS Go Hydro tablets.

Water Rail Way

lunch in the pouring rain – getting a little shelter under the trees

Chinese sesame dessert

I got this from a local Asian supermarket – there is no other way to describe it, it is black custard. It is very sweet and tastes strongly of sesame. I like it as an alternative to instant custard.

Sesame dessert

Sesame dessert


It was a warm humid weekend so I carried 2.5l of water and used nearly all of it. I carried a pack of SiS Go Hydro tablets, which I made up in my 500ml bottle, which I refilled as required from one of my other bottle – I had three bottles of the electrolyte drink. I made tea at lunch and drank nearly all the rest of the water – and it was probably just enough for the conditions.

Once I was at the camp site I was aware how much fluid I had lost during the day so I made sure I had plenty to drink – stoping to make a drink before I even put my tent up.

I walked until about 1pm on Sunday I carried 1.5l of water. I used one of my electrolyte drinks, made hot chocolate whilst I waited for Diana to arrive and drank most of the rest.

Water bottles

Read about my water choices here.

HTC Wildfire – MP3 player and ePub reader

This is the first full weekend away using this “retired” mobile phone as an MP3 player to replace my iPod Nano. It worked really well. I listened to an audio book all day Saturday and Sunday morning whilst I was walking and at the campsite I read for an estimated four to five hours. The 2.5Ah battery gave out about 20 minutes before Diana picked me up on Sunday, so it lasted the weekend. I had the original 1.2Ah battery with me so I swapped them and carried on reading. If I am away for any longer I will need to take my 20Ah Power Pack with me to charge the HTC. (Read my Backpacking Geek.)

I still used my iphone for my photos, photo editing, blogging, navigation etc, but not using it to read my books on meant that I only used one of my 2Ah emergency iphone batteries. I have used both of them on previous weekend trips.

The weather at lunch time

I took the opportunity to walk to Woodhall Spa today and camp overnight even though the weather forecast was predicting interesting weather.

I walked through three thunder storms of which this one, during my break for lunch, was the most intense. It was close with the thunder rolling on sounding like a jet engine and plenty of rain. But it only lasted twenty minutes and by the time I reached the camp site at least I had dried out.

The wardens at the Camping and Caravan Club site at Woodhall Spa were as welcoming as ever. The site was full – there is a WWII event on in the village this weekend – but they still had space down by the lake for my one man backpacking tent. They even gave me enough milk for a couple of mugs of tea as they had sold out of 1pint bottles.

lunch spot on Memory Map

Star Wars Wild Camping trip to Black Combe – Lake District

Black Combe Wild Camping

This wild camping trip had been planned for months – the only issue was we chose the time over the Bank Holiday weekend when the weather was not splendid! However even with the wet, we had a great weekend.

Wild Camping Black Combe
The Lake District from Black Combe – click on the above image for a larger version

The route and site we chose for this camping trip was one I had checked out last January and it did not disappoint.

There was a suitable parking spot reasonably nearby – with a short walk from there to the start of the path, some care has to be taken as there is not footpath and the road is narrow. There is a car park at the actual start of the path, which is much safer for both the walker and the car driver, but unfortunately the local parish council prefers to see it empty overnight.

Wild Camping - Black Combe

The view on the way up.

Black Combe Wild Camping

The first look at the trig point on the summit of Black Combe.

Black Combe

We found an excellent area to camp, over from the trig point towards the edge of the summit.

Wild Camping Black Combe

From here we had great views across to the summits of the Lake District.

Wild Camping - Black Combe

Wild Camping

click on the above image for a larger version

However once we had taken some time to photograph the view and get a group shot at the trig point it started to spot with rain. This rain became heavier and the visibility dropped to a couple of hundred meters. We each retreated to our one man tents for the evening – conversation was then shouting at each other.

The visibility was no better at sunrise.

Food and Water

As I had to carry all my water up with me for this wild camping trip, I chose my menu so it needed no water in the preparation. All the water I had with me was used for drinks or hygiene. I had planned to take up 2l of water but at the last moment I added an extra 500ml bottle of water to which I added two SiS soluble electrolyte tablets. I am glad I did this as I used this drink on the way up. I made a much faster pace to the summit than the other two, with barely a stop and only one quick photo opportunity. They on the other hand took the much more sensible way up with plenty of rests and photo stops. When I got to the summit I was very hot and I needed the extra water/electrolyte drink.

For my evening meal I made spicy sardine sandwiches with the Warburtons Brown Sandwich Thins which was a great success, I shall use this bread again. It comes pre-sliced which is convenient but even better it resists the inevitable crushing that food suffers in the backpack. However my crackers and breakfast biscuits did not survive so well when Richard turned my pack upside down.

Alpkit Kraku Stove

I needed the wind shield for the stove because of the wind

Even in the flapping, windy conditions it was quite safe to boil water for my drinks in the porch of my MSR Hubba tent.

POP tarts and breakfast biscuits make an easy, filling breakfast with fresh coffee and tea. It is something I can prepare whilst still in my sleeping enjoying the view! The only thing to improve on my menu was the bacon bap Richard cooked and brought over to me in the morning, complete with Heinz tomato ketchup.

Two litres of water was enough for this trip – I had planned to have six hot drinks and some water for the walking. This worked out and included using a little water to clean my spoon, pocket knife, plastic mug and teeth. I also used KFC wipes and anti-bacterial hand cleaner for my hands and face.

Star Wars Day

After breakfast we packed away and left no trace of where we camped – inspecting the site carefully for wind blown litter or “lost” kit.

Heading back to the car on Star Wars Day – the visibility only improved once we were below 300m

Other posts about this wild camping trip:


Forest walk

Cream Tea


Backpacking gear I packed for the weekend

Food for the weekend

Sea to Summit Travel Day Pack

The Sea to Summit Travel Day Pack has, since last summer, become my walking day pack of choice.

Sea to Summit Travel Day Pack

It packs away into a keyring size package making it excellent as an extra bag for backpacking, holidays and travelling. I started using it as my day pack to simply save weight.

Sea to Summit Travel Day Pack

In use Scotland August 2013

The 20l capacity provides enough space to carry my:

  • Waterproofs
  • Pot, stove and mug
  • Lunch and water
  • Extra warm clothes
  • First Aid Kit
  • Emergency equipment
  • Sit mat (back padding)

Sea to Summit Travel Day Pack

In use Scotland January 2014

The only time this is not my “go to” day pack is when I need to carry a walking pole. For short walks I can slide my lightweight pole in between the small of my back and the pack, letting it ride on the bottom of the straps. For more technical longer walks with a pole I use another bag.


With such a light backpack there are some issues with the comfort – but these are not so great to stop me using it.

  • Because the bag has no structure I have to pack the it carefully so the items stay in place and so nothing sticks into my back.
  • To help with the above problems I have cut a section from an old sleeping mat so that when it is fitted into the back of the day pack it helps with giving some shape to the bag and pads my back a little.
  • The shoulder straps are unpadded so from time to time whilst walking I have to flatten them out and reposition them on my shoulders to support the weight.


I have added a couple of small caribieners to the ends of the very thin shoulder straps. This has stopped the straps being pulled back into the buckles, which happened a lot when walking with the pack with even a moderate load in it. Once the strap was back in the buckle it was then very awkward to adjust the shoulder straps for comfort and there was also a risk of the strap being pulled right out if the buckle.

Sea to Summit Travel Day Pack

I have also added a caribiener to the double zip for security.

Sea to Summit Travel Day Pack
Inside you can see an 8l dry sack – this is essential as the pack does leak in heavy weather

Wear and tear

The Sea to Summit Travel Day Pack is made from rip stop Siliconized Cordura® and the pack itself is very well made, making it extremely tough and strong. However I use the bag (particularly in the winter) well packed and this has led to some abrasion damage. When well packed the material is tight, with no give in it and when it had dragged against rough rocks it has been damaged. At the moment none of the damage is serious but I expect it to happen regularly and to eventually ruin the bag.

Sea to Summit Travel Day Pack

Sea to Summit Travel Day Pack

Sea to Summit Travel Day Pack

The shoulder straps now have permanent heavy creases in them through use.

Sea to Summit Travel Day Pack

A bag for work

A few weeks back I used this pack for an overnight business trip. It easily held the clothes, wash kit, paperwork, iPad, charger, cables, small toolkit and portable hard drive I needed for the job. I added to that a bottle of water and a snack or two for the journey.

With the mat slipped in the back it was comfortable to carry and easy to store on the train as well as being smart enough to turn up with at a client’s office.

Conclusion – Sea to Summit Travel Day Pack

For me the Sea to Summit Travel Day Pack is a great day pack and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a light, strong day pack. But remember it is a simple no fuss design, no extra pockets or straps and if you use a hydration bladder the crinkling tube has to come out through the zipper. Because of it’s packed away size and weight it is especially useful to carry as an extra bag when travelling – if needed I add it to my backpacking equipment to be used as a shopping bag.

The minus points have to be mentioned:

  • The bag has no structure – if I carry my iPad in it I have to take extra care not to damage it due to bad packing.
  • if the bag is packed full and tight it is susceptible to abrasion damage.
  • There are no external fittings for a walking pole.

If (when) I ruin this bag I will buy another.

More Weight Saving

I packed some of my lightweight backpacking kit for this trip – to use whilst walking – and to review with the idea of saving some more weight for this year’s backpacking trips.

Wind shield, chopping board and stove board

My current stove wind shield is a commercial aluminium model that I cut on half. It works well with my meths stove but was useless for my MSR Pocket Rocket as it was too short and not quite tall enough for my new Alpkit Kraku stove.


I decided to replace this wind shield with something taller and ideally something lighter.

I bought two platters, made from heavy duty aluminium foil from a pound shop (2 for a £). Once I had cut off the lip I could flatten one of them out and I cut a 15cm x 30cm panel. To make it a bit more rigid I folded a small lip around the edge. I then folded this into a four panel wind shield.


Weight saved
Old wind shield 81g
New wind shield 26g

I use a small wooden board under my meths stove. When I originally cut the board I also used it under my Crusader stove, which is larger. It was time to cut the board to the right size.

Weight saved
Old board 38g
New board 23g

I was using a cut down plastic wall tile as a cutting board, I swapped this out for a plastic lid from a pot of fruit. It is about 9cm in diameter and the lip is useful to stop bits rolling off when I use it.

Weight saved
Old cutting board 18g
New cutting board 4g

I am no longer going to carry the case that I used to store all three items in – another 9g saved.


Total weight saved 93g – every gram counts.