Taking up an outdoor activity for the first time?

I know from experience what a shock it is when you first decide to take up a new outdoor activity.

And the shock is nothing to do with the activity itself…it’s the price of the equipment!

It just doesn’t make sense to spend hundreds of dollars on equipment when you may just change your mind on the first trial.

But never fear, help is here….in the form of a superb rental scheme set up by MEC, suppliers of outdoor equipment.

Rather than spend hours listing it all, just click here to see what is on offer for you.

😉

 

 

 

A little about Mountain Equipment Co-Op in Vancouver, BC

A lot of readers have emailed me to ask am I linked in some devious way to MEC, the mountain equipment company!

I did mention this at the very beginning of my blog here that the only reason I endorse products that are carried by MEC is because I use their store regularly, and it is through doing this that I have learnt what a great place it is. saying that, I guess it would be kind of nice if they paid me something everytime I mentioned them, but that’s not the point of this blog!

The whole point of this blog is to endorse stuff from any supplier, and MEC currently are at the top of my list for supplies, service and customer satisfaction……numero uno! Why? Read on…..

Let’s face it, we’ve all been to stores, not necessarily mountain supply stores, but any retail establishment basically. You walk in the door, browse around a little, see some of the store Staff mooching about behind the counter, hoping that one will walk over to you and ask if you need any help, right?

So you wait and wait…and wait a little more, but nobody comes. It’s around that time when you start worrying maybe you have some incurable disease, so that’s why they won’t come anywhere near you?

Well, I’ve seen that so many times, it’s beyond counting. Cut a long story short, you will never, ever get that at MEC, period.

All of the time I’ve been there, there has always been at least one, if not more, attentive member of Staff who will come over and ask politely if you need any help, and if so, would you mind if he/she helped you make your mind up.

And yes, I know what you’re going to say next….do they tag along with you all through the store as well, with you wishing that they’d leave you alone?!

No, their Staff are so well trained, they know exactly when the customer needs to be left alone to browse further, and once they’ve shown you whatever you professed an interest in, they walk away, giving you the option of asking them if you need any more help later.

Now, isn’t that something? Tell me which other store you get that? It’s getting rarer than hen’s teeth, I tell you!

That’s what swung it for me. The first time I went into MEC, I was greeted and virtually chaperoned along, and when I asked about a particular item of mountain gear, the guy who told me about it was extremely knowledgeable, and I knew that this man is a seasoned mountain guy, from the way he was talking. Certainly his spiel was exemplary. And I found that MEC Staff tend to be experienced in many different disciplines, too…..if you’re a walker, there’ll be somebody specialising in that….ifyou’re high altitude climber, there will be someone there who is one, too…..if you’re a cyclist, yep, there will be a cyclist member of Staff. How can you not be impressed by that?

So for this new year, while I plan where and which walks I will be going on, all my supplies will be coming from MEC for sure. That’s not to say there won’t be a mention of other places, no…..let’s be fair, there are other stores around, too and a selection of the best ones deserve a mention throughout this blog.

Where do I plan on going? Well, this year, I’m going to be a stick-in-the-mud as they say in England! By that, they mean a person who generally stays within his comfort zone! And my comfort zone happens to be BC for this year, so it will be a selection of walks in BC, perhaps one or two in the Yukon, too. Keep it here!

What are my hiking plans for the New Year?

Good question!

Today is the 28th December and we don’t have long to go before we see in the New Year, and all that it will bring.

So if you haven’t yet decided what your hiking plans are, myself included, well, we’d better get on with it and decide real quick.

Living in BC, I’m blessed with a wonderful choice of hiking; I can either choose to hike locally or strike out miles away from civilisation, as there so much land here. and most of it is uninhabited.

For the coming season, I think I’d like to go much further north, way up into the Yukon if I can, as my heart hankers for some lonesome walking, amongst snow and ice, rather than the forest and woodland I have been accustomed to.

Though it seems a nice thought, once you are in the true north, you have to be ultra careful, as help will be many, many miles away, if available at all.

And that will mean kitting myself out with as much fail-safe equipment as I can afford to carry.

As we all know, my kit will consist of those essentials that can mean the difference between survival or death, should the unforeseen happen. That means food, first aid, clothing/bedding, fire-starting equipment, cooking apparatus and anything else that I can think of.

I will be camping out in the open, so a good, solid, easily assembled/disassembled tent will be an absolute must.

Talking about camping in cold regions just reminded me about arrangements for a person’s, shall we say, daily ablutions? Normally, experienced hikers and walkers usually rely on a rough hole in the ground, which can be quickly filled in with soil etc when the job is finished. But in cold areas, where the ground is either frozen due to permafrost or is just too hard, digging holes in the ground can become laborious.

So what is the best way to take care of this very necessary task? Well, it all depends upon how long you are planning to stay in that particular site. Myself, if I know I’m going to be camped in one area for more than a week, I usually dig myself a proper “loo”, as it’s no fun sitting over a hole in the ground in the open air, with a cold, biting wind blowing all around your “undercarriage”, not to mention down your neck, too!

And believe it or not, there are certain rules you need to follow if your toilet in the open is to be properly managed. Again, depending upon the temperature, you will notice that after every visit, the waste products will freeze almost straight away. So what happens over time is that all your waste will tend to build itself into a very large icicle, albeit a rather very smelly one!

If you don’t manage it on a daily basis, that icicle will soon reach your nether regions and the only way to control it will be to chop it down to a smaller size with an axe or something. Of course, being what it is, that will inevitably leave small chunks of it on your clothing or hands, meaning as soon as you get back to your tent or shelter, all those chunks will melt, releasing an obvious, and very noxious smell, and one which you will never get out of your clothes until you get back home…to be avoided at all costs!

How do you construct the shelter around your loo? I’ve used whatever is close at hand. If in the woods, you can use a quick shelter made of twigs and branches, or if you are in very cold terrain, a shelter made of snow blocks is again very easy to construct.

What you should be doing daily, is to take a look down the hole and see how high the icicle has become….soon as it gets over 6 inches high, knock it down with a large stick or branch. That way, you can spend your time in your toilet in peace, knowing that once the time has come to move on, the hole can be filled in with snow or soil.

 

Have a browse through my top equipment supplier

Over the years, I have used clothing and equipment from many different suppliers, some good, some not so good!

In the end, I settled on just one, and that is MEC, an organisation that is second to none in customer care and service.

Suffice it to say, that MEC are the only wilderness equipment supplier in Canada, possibly the whole world, who actually love what they are selling you equipment for!

By that I mean, simply, they’re not just in it for the money, period! Yes, I know, businesses exist in order to make money, but this place is different. From the way they manage the business, to the way they fund conservation projects, right down to how the place is owned and run as a co-operative…in other words, the workers own the place. And because of that, you will find that the Staff at MEC bend over backwards to help you get just the right stuff for your particular uses.

Words alone aren’t enough to truly express the service you get there; go visit them and see!   This is where they are.