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Written by George Fisher

Image for article BASE CAMP

As I write, it’s the time of year when the weather is pretty miserable and you need to start making plans to raise your spirits. I’m looking to make 2016 a year when I get out camping much more, but if I don’t plan for it, it just won’t happen. I’ve been eyeing up a few of the UK’s long distance paths; the West Highland Way, Hadrian’s Wall and The Ridgeway, and considering what I might need to pack for a week-long trip, as opposed to my normal night or two under canvas. What tent to choose has been high on my priority list, and luckily we have a good range to look at in store.

The Niak 1.5 is Hilleberg’s new one-to-two-person tent. It sits in Hilleberg’s Yellow Label or ‘3 season’ range, which includes the Anjan tunnel tents, Rogen dual-entrance tent and Enan lightweight one-person tent. If you’re familiar with the Hilleberg range then the Niak is quite similar in shape to the existing Unna tent, but with the addition of a porch. Two 9mm poles cross in the middle and anchor in opposite corners, giving an elongated dome shape, with the porch extending on one side. Using Kerlon 1000 fabric, the weight is decreased versus using the Kerlon 1200 or 1800 fabrics seen in Hilleberg’s Red and Black Label, 4 season models. Although slightly less durable than these fabrics, Kerlon 1000 is still tougher than most competitors’ fly sheets. Like other Yellow Label designs, the flysheet does not reach all the way to the ground, allowing improved airflow through the tent, and reducing condensation. Interestingly, the flysheet does curve down at each corner, so it does provide greater protection from wind driven rain than its Yellow Label stable mates. At 1.7kg the Niak weighs the same as Hilleberg’s popular Akto one-man tent. However the Niak has nearly twice the floor space, and has slightly more head room than the Akto, giving a much roomier feel for one person. This makes the Niak 1.5 an ideal single person tent for those that feel the Akto is a bit coffin-like, and aren’t going to be camping in the worst conditions. Pop in to the store to see one pitched in our basement Camping Department.

If the Niak doesn’t sound like the right tent for you, then we have plenty of other options. 2016 will see our largest ever Hilleberg range in store, all of which we are happy to pitch in the basement to give you a real feel for the tent. We will also be continuing to stock the excellent MSR tents, which offer great value, 3 season options.

Other new products that may appeal to backpackers are the Osprey Atmos AG 65 and Aura AG 65 rucksacks. We were impressed with the popularity of the 50-litre versions (men’s and women’s respectively) and so have added the larger versions for this summer. Their popularity is down to the new ‘Anti-Gravity’ back system, which is the first back system to incorporate a ventilated hip belt as well as ventilated back. This might not seem like a big step forward, but the hip belt really ‘hugs’ your hips and transfers the load of the pack extremely comfortably. Feel the difference for yourself by trying one in store.

Osprey has also incorporated the Anti Gravity back system into its revamped Poco Child Carriers. The back system is adjustable to fit parents of most heights, and definitely makes carrying little ones less of a chore. Both styles of carrier are fully equipped for Lake District weather with rain covers as well as storage for spare clothes, food, water etc.

We also have a variety of new daypacks as well as these larger offerings. Lowe Alpine has revamped its popular AirZone range of ventilated day packs, giving a more comfortable fit and some vibrant new colours. As always, packs are about fit, so alongside these we have welcomed Deuter packs back into the store. With typically German quality, they are robust and comfortable. Pop into the store to see which brand fits you best.

Millican is a new brand to George Fisher 2016. This Lakes-based company approached us a couple of years ago with prototypes of its new Maverick Collection. This brings together the build quality of Millican’s urban bags, with rugged outdoor fabrics and features. The end result is bags that are practical for work, but also perform whilst walking up a Wainwright. Read more about the eccentric inspiration for the bags, the ‘Professor of Adventure’ Millican Dalton, in our article on page 23.

Hydro Flask is another new brand to George Fisher. Our staff have been testing these insulated, stainless steel bottles since Christmas, and we have all been very impressed. They have kept drinks cold for the gym, and hot for the hill, all without any taint or aftertaste. A variety of bright colours makes each bottle as vibrant as they are durable. We think these are definitely bottles for life, not just for Christmas!