What entertainment can you want on a walk across the Swiss Alps? Well, very little to be honest. But for the journey in and out I’d go mad without a book. Also under this heading I’m including a couple of other items that are to be used along the way that aren’t strictly necessary and so seem to fit here best.
I’m not planning to take a real, paper book this year. I’ve bought some audio books on CD and have created MP3s from them to listen to on the phone’s MP3 player.
That way I save the weight of the book and replace it with just headphones. It also means I can potentially take more than one book.
We dug up some audio books that both of us would like to listen to so LB is going to have one earphone and I the other. We’ve got to get seats on the plane together!
Apart from playing things, my phone records better video than the little camera that LB carries. The occasional video can convey quite a different flavour of a place to a static photo, I’ve found. They help give someone who’s not been there a sense of the place as well.
Also it can record voice, so instead of a written log, which I must admit to being too lazy to fill in most of the time, I’ll be using it to record some notes as I go. Nothing likely to make it on to here, just for my own memories.
The Alps are big. I know it sounds obvious but if you’re used to wandering about in the UK mountains then the scale of them is something that takes a bit of adjusting to. Because they’re so big, things that are just across the valley from you can remain as puzzling dots even if you have good eyesight. A pair of good binoculars can be really useful for letting you experience that bit more of the Alps than you would do without them. And for deciding if that thing that’s moving across the way is a person, or a Land Rover.
I would reconsider taking them if I was camping but since we’re going hut to hut the weight seems justified – just.
An alternative is to take a monocular, mine weighs only 62gms. But I have a choice between a very cheap and not very good monocular and a very good pair of binoculars. Even at 288gms I think the binoculars might have the edge.
The Kestrel 3500 is an anemometer, thermometer and barometer. But it also works out things like wind chill and heat stress to tell you what the weather feels like as opposed to what the thermometer is saying.
This really isn’t necessary and I can see why a lot of people wouldn’t consider carrying one for a moment. But I really enjoy knowing what the temperature and the wind speed is.
The 3500 is a pretty accurate bit of kit. It comes with all kinds of certification about the accuracy of the sensors and you can send it back to be re-calibrated if you like
I like the way the thermometer is exposed through a hole punched through the case meaning that it responds very quickly indeed to changes in temperature. It’s also waterproof so it doesn’t need to be wrapped up in a bag.
There are one or two suppliers in the UK but I found Red Oaks Trading in the US to be cheap enough that it was worth paying the import duty on since it still worked out about £35 cheaper (50€/70$).