Look what I found in the attic

Early days of Trail Walker & TGO

Last weekend I started on a herculean task of sorting out the attic.  You know the sort of thing:

“I need to clear out all the kids’ toys, twenty years worth of the wife’s old clothes before the ceiling in our bedroom collapses sort of cleanup”

Anyway, I come across some old magazines – old copies of Trail Walker (now just Trail) and The Great Outdoors (TGO) from the early 1990’s. It gave me a good excuse to have a break to flick through and have a look at what we were wearing and camping with.

As you can imagine there has been quite a few changes in the last 20 years.

Here are a few things that caught my eye

  • Everyone seemed to be wearing red, pink and mauve clothing.
  • Big leather boots and Ron Hill’s everywhere – no trail shoes to be seen
  • Walking trousers tucked into red socks
  • Fabric boots, mainly Line 7 – (I had a pair of those)
  • Sympatex, Aquafoil, Cyclone, Cascade, Texapore waterproof jackets
  • Graham Thompson looking about 12 years old – well 18!!
  • Every backpacking shot showing a bright yellow Karrimat hanging off a large rucksack – was there any other mat in the UK?
  • A Sony GPS system looking like something out of Star-Trek costing £650. Did anyone own one of these?
  • Lots of badly laid out black and white adverts
  • But in amongst this, lots of great routes and articles.
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13 Responses to Look what I found in the attic

  1. R MacE says:

    I’ve got a few of those myself, GT has been around for a while and although he comes across (to me anyway) as in constant awe of the latest kit from the major players he’s certainly seen a lot of stuff over the years.

    The advertisements and group tests are interesting though, some great kit and the vast majority was made in the UK. You’re right about the Karrimats though almost everyone used them apart from those who could afford a Thermarest which were really expensive back then and they all seemed to manage just fine. Of course while everything else has changed since then the routes are just as good today.

  2. Alan Rayner says:

    Hi Mark,
    I did similar last year. I had good intentions to clear out but i kept putting stuff to one side and saying that will come in handy. You have to be strict with yourself.
    I ended up throwing out 25yrs of TGO mags and about 5 yrs of Trail.
    I kept the 1st year TGO because they were so good. So much better than they are now.
    The word lightweight also had a different meaning.

  3. Martin Rye says:

    There was a great route published in one Trail mag years back for Ben Lomand to Ben Hope. If you find it be sport and photocopy it for me. Its nice going down memory land sometimes. Better still to make to forge new paths and tales.

  4. swanscot says:

    Hmm, I still wear big leather boots (Zamberlan’s) and I have Ron Hills (for cycling)! I remember mauve walking gear in the 1990 – it was a change from the cerise and turquoise from the 80s! And £3 Karrimats were fine when I was young and could sleep on 1.5 cm of closed cell foam without my back creaking and groaning in agony.

    I remember when TGO was first published; it was a brilliant mag. Before that, all that we hillwalkers had was the Climber and Rambler – which I really liked – but it was mainly about, and for, ‘big hairy mountain men’! 😉

  5. alan.sloman says:

    I still have bits of my Karrimat from about 38 years ago, which I used as sit-mats until quite recently (it became porous from all the closed cell bits being punctured with years & years of use!)

    I also still have my old 1 pint Primus stove in it’s red & gold tin box (still works) and my Blacks of Greenock “Tromso” down sleeping bag – which must be 40 years old now!

    My old “Arctic Guinea” tent actually fell to pieces though… sigh…

  6. Wonderful, the memories come flooding back. My father’s old Primus stove, my backpacking trips along the South Downs when I was 14/15 with my best friend and his father’s Arctic Guinea tent !!

  7. GeoffC says:

    Ron Hills forever!.
    Those rollmats are bloody awful, I think they dish them out to the DofE lot as a rite of passage before they know any better. I still see quite a few on the popular trails (and red socks tucked in too).
    My pink/mauve windshell dates from that era, still going strong if a bit faded.

  8. Geoff, I had one of those awful mats 30 years ago – but times move on – seriously uncomfortable to lie on.

  9. Alan says:

    Hi Mark,
    The first years of TGO were so inspiring. The walks and expeds were made to feel accessible and very informative. Even though the paper wasn’t great and sometimes the printing was a bit iffy the writing was brilliant. It got better when the paper changed and it went colour throughout and brought the landscape pictures to life.
    I bought 25yrs of it so they must have been doing it right. Then i remember getting a copy and flicking through it there was nothing of real interest, i thought it was just a one off so i didn’t buy it. The next one was the same and also the walks i had read before. I think it became like the wheel, what goes around comes around again.
    I stopped buying it all together and later bought a few Trail which seemed to be a generation better.
    Now i don’t subscribe to any on a regular basis but buy the odd ones if i like what i see on the shelf. Reading blogs is far better.

    • I got a year’s subscription for TGO as a Christmas present, I still enjoy it. I guess however that there will be a time when I will see as you have done a recycling of trips and articles.

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