Winter Wild Camp

Frozen ground. Long dark nights. Minus temperatures. There are many reasons why most of us pack away the tent come winter. But what about the positives; no midges, more cups of tea and 17 hours of darkness for a lie in! In all seriousness, there is something magical about sleeping outside in winter – the adventure kind of feels more adventurous.

This last minute camping plan arose texting back and forth with my mum on a Saturday night. We felt we hadn’t been doing enough outside, we were fed up of the dark, all the usual winter moans. So I pitched the camping idea to mum, who laughed – and then realised I was being serious.

Neither of us are overly experienced in winter conditions, but we were confident we had the correct kit and with good weather on the cards, it was the perfect night to be outside.

For us, Glen Coe is the perfect halfway point between our homes. Initially we planned to walk partially up a hill to find a scenic spot with a view – but with snow starting to fall and the temperature dropping as the afternoon went on we decided sleeping lower in the glen would be more enjoyable and less freezing.

Pitching the new tent caused confusion, and a lot of hilarity. Our hands were freezing, and guess who forgot to pack the instructions? Or even read them! But we worked it out, set up camp and got a fire lit in the last hour before darkness. It’s true that energy is burnt much quicker when you’re cold, neither of us had eaten much during the day; and by 3pm we felt the effects.

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Having a real fire was such a treat, credit to mum who brought all the fire lighting bits and pieces. I was all for a jet boil dinner, but once the fire was going I was so grateful for the heat. By this point the hunger shivers were intense, so we melted marshmallows and scoffed them while our sausages cremated themselves on our fire.

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We were both worried we wouldn’t sleep, as the last log burned through and we were left in complete darkness the temperature was at -2. Not incredibly cold, but cold enough! The feeling of fullness certainly helped us to feel sleepy, and with no light left we climbed into the tent, layered up (again) and tried our best to get cosy.

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I’m not convinced I did actually sleep. I must have dosed off a number of times, but it was broken and it felt like a long night. I was neither cold or warm, I had plenty of thermal layers on, and I didn’t feel the cold of the ground, or any chill from the tent (big thumbs up for the new tent) – but it felt as though I had a layer of cold trapped on my skin that I couldn’t shake. My mum said the same, and a few times throughout the night we squeaked ‘are you still awake’ to one another. So, not much sleep to be had, but I can’t say I ever sleep that well in tents even in the summer.

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But – we did it! We made it through the night! Unzipping the tent to the view of the mountains, and River Etive was quietly satisfying. No big fanfair, but the sense of a small accomplishment felt really good. Although we zipped the tent straight up again and boiled up water for porridge before the hunger shivers returned.

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After we packed down the tent, we followed the river to the head of Loch Etive – which is one of my favourite spots on a calm day. It’s rare to find a sea loch that comes so far inland and being surrounded by sky scraping mountains; the most incredible reflections are created on the water surface.

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And, what’s the best way to round off an adventure? Of course, we had to go for a (very quick) dip.

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In collaboration with Vango – my tent and sleeping bag was gifted. 

F10 XPD 3 tent & Ultralite Pro 200

 

 

Anatom Q2 Ultralight Hiking Boots

Forecast said blue sky, light cloud cover. What did I get? Zero visibility and unforgiving rain. Standard. But, on the bright side I took my new boots for a spin and tested their maximum waterproof-ness and durability in dreich conditions.

I haven’t had a new set of boots for 7 years – my old kicks were completely knackered, no longer watertight and so worn through it was becoming impossible to walk a mile without getting blisters.

So here they are - the shiny new boots

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After a summer of running around hills in trail shoes, I was dreading the return of clumpy heavy boots. So my main concern for new boots was to find something as lightweight as a trail shoe but waterproof and robust (hopefully to last another 7 years).

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Why did I choose the Anatom Q2 Ultralight?
  • They really are ULTRAlight
  • They feel soft and flexible – I didn’t need to break them in at all
  • The insole and midsole is shock absorbent and comfortable
  • They contain a waterproof and breathable membrane to keep the foot dry
  • They have well positioned eyelets and laces with good grip
  • They have a narrow heel area to avoid feet slipping around (common blister area for me)
  • They have a reliable tred – ideal for wet conditions

16km of rugged inclines and one boggy decent later – how are the boots doing? Overall – really good. My feet are wet, but that is no fault of the boot. Water got in over the top – so gaiters are a must next time. I have NO blisters, which is a first for me – I didn’t have to re-tie my laces at all and my feet are actually feeling really fresh and unharmed.

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If you are in the market for a new walking boot or shoe I would recommend looking at the Anatom footwear website. All footwear is designed, made, tested in Scotland and built to last. www.anatomfootwear.co.uk

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Theme of the day – map out, map away, map out, map away. Bad vis all morning, but made the 16km stretch feel a bit more adventurous. 3500 calories down, very soggy and no views to vouch for… but happy with my new boots and feeling pretty satisfied with my two dinners tonight – so that 5am alarm was 100% worth it this morning.

Thanks for reading – keep up with recent adventures @ronamcmillan

Rheign Clothing Review

I first stumbled upon Rheign on Instagram a few months ago when I saw a picture of someone wearing that incredible aqua blue half-zip top (which just happens to be my favourite colour). After checking out their website I realised Rheign is in fact a really small independent company run by designer, owner and model Hazel Whatley – and all of the products are designed in Scotland. Fast forward to now… and I’m dressed head to toe in Rheign with another 7 items in my online basket!

Technical Half Zip - Pale Aqua

Since this top arrived last week I’ve worn it on three separate occasions. I wore it alone on a hill walk, I wore it as a base layer (for extra warmth) out on rescue boat duties last Sunday and I’ve worn it out for coffee – because as well as being technically brilliant for outdoor activities, it just looks really good.

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Best features

  • Flexible fabric – the top has a four-way stretch system for maximum movement
  • The technical fabric is breathable and took moisture away from my skin which kept me cool while walking, and warm on the boat.
  • Quick dry formula – always handy
  • Sewn with flat-seams for anti-rub
  • Thumb holes to retain sleeve position during wear – I think this would be so handy for skiing
  • Long body and sleeves – which is such a saviour for 5ft10 me!

I ordered a size small (which would fit anyone who is a size 8-10 on top).

Also available in many other colours – Technical Half-Zips

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Leggings - Grey/Aqua

I generally find leggings are not that flattering on me – I keep them for the gym and usually wear shorts or walking trousers when I’m outdoors. My other issue with leggings for the outdoors is that they stick to you when your sweaty/damp and because they’re usually made with non breathable fabric they just rub away at your skin. My point is, these leggings are made in the same fabric as the half zip so they take away that moisture from your skin – keeping you cool, dry and comfortable. And not to blow my own trumpet, but I think these are actually flattering on me.

I also got these in a size small – and they fit perfectly around the waist. They’re maybe a tiny bit short on the leg for me, but I don’t mind that at all.

Also available in lots of other lovely colours Leggings

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Supersoft Crewneck - Aqua

And finally, the snuggest jumper to cosy up in post adventure. This crewneck is as it says on the tin, it really is SO soft. Fleecey inside, chunky and warm. It’s the perfect thing to put on after you’ve been out in the cold all day – you get back to the car, strip off all your damp kit and snuggle up in this. Sounds good doesn’t it?

Again I got mine in a size small – it fits perfectly and I’m thinking about ordering one in a larger size too for slouching around in. Does anyone else do this? Shop Crewnecks.

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The price point for Rheign is incredibly reasonable – for a quality product from a small company I generally expect to pay a bit more, and I wouldn’t say any of these products are overpriced. I am a strong believer in ‘getting what you pay for’ as well as ‘buy less for more’ and it will last longer. Overall I am really pleased with the design and quality of my Rheign items and after wearing them this week I feel they are robust enough to last me years.

Thanks for reading - 


Rona x

Keep up with my latest adventures at @ronamcmillan

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