What did you get up to this Easter weekend? Whilst people were waking up this Sunday to go hunting eggs myself & my son were trundling down off a hill where we had slept in bivvy bags under the stars, had rivalled Jamie Oliver with some hot stone cooking (instigated by necessity after the sausages fell off the stick onto a flat stone in the middle of the fire), brewed hot chocolate & had a pretty good laugh. This was the wee man’s first microadventure.
The premise is pretty simple. Most of us claim that we have no time to get away on adventures or get outdoors, that we are time-poor. Alastair Humphreys, the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2012 turns that on it’s head by introducing the concept of microadventuring, that adventures can be found on our doorsteps (he once famously walked a loop of the M25, camping by the side of the motorway) and can be had in the 16 hours between leaving work at 5 and returning at 9 in the morning. 16 glorious hours of freedom. A chance to blow the cobwebs away and recharge the batteries.
But I’ll need loads of gear to do this? With the exception of the will to get out there and a place to bivvy you’ll only really need three things:
- A sleeping bag: one ideally suited to the expected temperature and season. Remember, even if it’s been warm during the day with blue skies, clear skies at night will mean the temperatures can fall to near freezing especially in spring and autumn. Look at Blacks website for an explanation of sleeping bags, seasons and comfort ratings.
- A roll mat: these vary in price from a couple of quid to something inflatable or gucci like a Thermarest. A decent roll mat will keep the damp and cold from leaching away your body heat by separating your sleeping bag, and you from the ground. Garry and I spent a couple of hours comatose on one of these during the Yukon Arctic Ultra, in minus 30C, so they work.
- A bivvy bag: this is in essence a plastic bag designed to replace a tent when travelling light and is slipped over the sleeping bag in much the same way that one, I presume, fits a condom on an elephant. For a full run down on the whole bivvy bag thing check out Al’s post What Bivvy Bag should I buy, and why do I need one?. Personally, I favour Alpkit’s Hunka XL bivvy bag which comes in at £45 and is pretty robust and has seen it’s fair share of races including the Yukon Arctic Ultra, Arrowhead 135 and Rovaniemi 150.
That’s really it. Of course if you want to eat something you might want to bring some food and if you’d like the food hot then some method of cooking it. Boom. Night out under the stars and back in time for work refreshed and with an interesting story to tell around the coffee machine.
Alastair Humphreys was the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2012. His website is a useful resource on all things microadventure.
Alpkit designs and sells equipment for enthusiasts of alpine activities including climbing, mountaineering and trekking.