I'm very pleased to say that our massive guide, the Outdoors Magic 100, is up on site and ready for browsing.
For this year’s edition I wanted to find a location for the video and photo shoot that would demonstrate Britain at its most rugged and atmospheric; to get us gritting our teeth in the pictures and have the waterproof jackets soaked good and proper. The Cairngorms National Park was the first place that came to mind for this. I’d crossed through Kingussie and Glen Feshie two years ago on a backpacking event called the TGO Challenge and the area's wildness had certainly stuck with me.
It so transpired that we’d caught the Cairngorms right at the start of what must be its longest sunny period in years. So instead of getting wild and windy we got sunny and pleasant for eight days straight. What are the chances of that? It was perfect weather for a family holiday, not so perfect if you want to show Gore-Tex membranes at work.
The sunshine worked in our favour in the end anyway as it turned the area we were in into a place resembling the Yukon, with the shimmering lochs, and thick green pine forests blanketing the valley floors. After all, the Yukon isn’t that much further north in terms of latitude.
One particular highlight was Uath Lochans, where you can climb up a short hill to stand on a cliff edge and look down on the four lochs amongst the Caledonian pines.
Along with a great location to showcase the products in this year’s Outdoors Magic 100, we also had a quality testing team throughout the whole process of putting it all together.
This time, we didn’t just rely on our own expertise, but recruited a number of people in the world of outdoor and adventure to put the kit through its paces. It included Ian Finch, one of the most exciting UK adventure photographers around at the moment; Jake Thompsett, a professional mountain guide, climber and trail runner; Athena Mellor who’s the founder of a hiking website called Ramble Guides and Eilir-Davies Hughes, a Snowdonia-based photographer who genuinely seems to spend every night above 3000ft.
Together we’ve looked to cover plenty of bases when it comes to gear to suit different types of outdoor pursuits, and while we’ve profiled plenty of rugged boots and jackets – expedition type stuff – there's also a very strong 'fast & light' theme to it all this time round. So expect ultralight tents, jackets that are virtually lighter than air and packs that you can depend on when moving quickly over difficult terrain.
It’s a satisfying moment hitting that ‘Publish’ button, and now that it’s out there on the big wide web ready for your browsing, I’m in need of some serious hill time. On the cards: a 4am drive to Snowdonia on Saturday for a climb of Moel Siabod then back for business as usual at Outdoors Magic on the Monday!