A Beginners Guide to Surfing

Whether you just moved to the coast or visit frequently, you may want to learn to surf. Now you don’t have to ride huge waves for miles at a time to enjoy surfing. You can enjoy surfing at just about any skill level, and get the most out of your visit to the beach.

Surf Lesson

Not Your Brother’s Boogie Board

Those boogie boards are great for helping to support your weight as you explore the surf, but to truly learn to ride waves, you need a surf board. Sorry, there aren’t any surf boards with training wheels, but there are plenty of different styles to choose from to help you learn to balance and steer.

Performance Boards

Performance boards are actually designed for the more advanced surfer. They are designed to make quick turns and do tricks in the water. They usually are not as stable as the wider beginner boards. If you tried surfing on a friend’s board, and had no success, you may have been on a performance board. Instead, try again with a fun shapes board.

Fun Shapes Board

This isn’t the funny little boogie boards with pictures of Spongebob. A Fun Shape board looks like a regular surfboard. But there are some significant differences between the Fun Shapes and a performance board.
Fun shapes are usually shorter, at 7’2” to 7’10”. They are also narrow enough for you to lie on and still reach the water so you can paddle out into the waves comfortable, but they’re wide enough to be easy to balance on. Usually, you’ll find them to be a little over 21” wide. Generally, a longer board will be more stable.

Long Boards

You can, however, get a board that is too long. Sure, long boards are stable, but they are usually really hard to turn. Some intermediate or advanced surfers may like long boards because they’re great for riding really big waves, but for the beginner, they’re more like driving an old truck with standard transmission and no power steering. These are usually about 8’ or more in length.

Short Boards

Short boards are the Ferraris of surfing. They turn easily and quickly, and can be very fast. This makes them hard to learn on, because they quickly will scoot out from under you.

Build Skills

Beginning surfers have a lot to learn besides balance. It takes a lot of physical strength and endurance to be a surfer. If you’ll start with a fun shapes board, you have a stable board that you can steer. It will develop all of your skills, where if you learn on a long board, you won’t learn to steer as quickly. If you learn on a short board, you may get too tired and can’t keep going. Endurance is a big thing for surfers. Once you build up your strength, you can move to a long board for those big waves, and you can enjoy popping around in the surf on a short board.

Ed Brooke enjoys his watersports, when he isn’t riding the waves or traveling you can usually find him working for his local surf shop.

Citations: Image by Mike Baird

The Beauty and Dangers of Winter Running

Running when the air is cold and crisp in winter is one of the most beautiful times to be out running. The fresh clean air inspires you to feel as if you can run that extra mile, till you reach that extra mile of course. Your body is cool, your nose is frozen and your legs are numb. All symptoms of winter running, but as the weather gets cooler the danger of ice can be a real problem.

snow winter walk

Most of the time you can handle the odd slip here and there but as the winters get colder (as they seem to be doing) it can often seem more of challenge to beat the ice rather than beating your last pace. That’s why last winter I bought some Spikes, or mini crampons as they are also known. Developed from the idea of crampons which are used when mountaineering, Spikes are for the general hiker who needs to handle some ice or snow in winter.

running snowCosting around £50 I was a bit sceptical about how this little device could handle my running however after walking the dog and conducting a little test running I was really surprised. Not only did the Spikes really grip into the ice, it seemed to crush the ice beneath my feet. They really gave me the confidence to hit my top pace when faced with ice and now I have the freedom to run all year. The pair I got are made from elastomer, so you really get a sense of free flexibility in your feet but at the same time feel in complete control.

I would really recommend picking up a pair of Spikes this winter and giving yourself the confidence to reach that extra mile. I even got a pair for my Dad who often finds it hard to get out the house when the pavements are icy. A real freedom giving piece of gear.

Author – Scott Taylor: Scott Taylor is a young blogger who likes to write about anything involving the outdoors. You can connect with Scott on twitter @Scottthegreat1

Harnessing the Art of Mountain Climbing

A Brief History of Climbing

It was at around the start of the nineteenth century that Man began to climb mountains for sport and adventure. Prior to that time he had done so only for sound, practical reasons – to source food, to hunt or to fulfil a military objective. When he didn’t need to do so he would avoid the mountains, not only because of their hostile terrain but also because they were believed to be populated by demons, ogres and fearsome beasts.

Indeed even today the legend of the yeti persist, a huge hairy creature marauding around the Himalayas, leaving its awesome footprint in the snow and behaving abominably, though its misdeeds remain subject to reliable witness testimony.

Lone Climber

The largest mountains and their most daunting faces were challenges that were risen to and tackled throughout the nineteenth century and beyond. Elbrus, the highest peak in Eastern Europe, was conquered in 1868. Kilimanjaro, the largest in Africa, succumbed in 1889. Then Aconcagua (South America) in 1897 and McKinley (North America) in 1913. Even the elusive Everest, the highest mountain peak in the world, was finally cracked by Edmund Hillary in 1953 after several attempts by others were unsuccessful.

Using Climbing Harnesses and Climbing Ropes for Optimum Safety

Mountain climbing by its very nature is, of course, a most hazardous of sports. Enthusiasts can encounter falling rocks and ice, hazardous weather conditions, volcanic activity, altitude sickness, snow blindness and sunburn as well as the ever-present risk of a serious accident caused by human error. This is why those who engage in it endeavour to minimise the inherent dangers by ensuring that they have all the right equipment and are trained to use it properly.

The typical mountaineer’s kit will include an elaborate array of picks, hooks, climbing ropes and climbing harnesses. Of course, the typical rock or mountain climber will never attempt to climb Everest, but as a general sport every much as a world-beating challenge it is necessary in the interests of safety – always a first consideration no matter how bold the adventurer – to be properly equipped for the task ahead.

When using climbing equipment of any kind it is important that whatever is being used is appropriate to the climber, as well as to the assignment. This is why ropes of different lengths and in different forms, as well as a range of harnesses, is always available from any decent supplier.

Article brought to you by Phil, a keen mountain climber and a firm believer that the right climbing equipment is essential to ensure safety.

Citations: Image by John Brennan

Scarpa’s Mountaineering Boots & Grivel Crampons

Scarpa’s mountaineering boots are trusted all over the world.

Crampon-Compatible for a Variety of Challenges

Scarpa’s range of outdoor footwear includes boots that are crampon-compatible, made to be worn with different Grivel crampons for a variety of mountain activities.

Designed for grip on snow and ice to give extra traction and improve mobility, crampons have evolved since Henry Grivel commercialised the first prototype using re-forged railway ties over 100 years ago.

The oldest company in existence making equipment for Alpinism and climbing, Grivel began as blacksmiths forging agricultural tools in a small, metal-working factory in Courmayeur, near Mount Blanc in Italy, in 1810.

Their crampons are made of hardened steel, lightweight aluminium or a combination of the two – and are graded C1, C2 and C3, based mainly on their flexibility and compatibility with different boots.

Grivel G12

General Mountain Boot

Scarpa’s Manta is a general mountain boot, compatible with Grivel’s G12 New Matic, Air Tech New Matic and Air Tech Lite New Matic.

Ideally suited to hill, mountain and glacier walking on rugged terrain, and the occasional easier Alpine and UK winter climb, the Manta excels in winter walking, especially where crampons are used for extended periods.

At the serious end of the market, the Phantom Guide and Vega – for winter Alpine and altitude use respectively – are geared up for both the G12 Com and G14 Com. The Fast & Light G22 Com is also suitable for the Phantom, and the Air Tec Com for the Vega.

Other famous names within the Scarpa stable include the Mont Blanc for Alpine and mountaineering use, and the Jorasses mixed- and ice-climbing boot.

Scarpa Manta

Extreme Winter Conditions

The Mont Blanc is a blend of modern materials, including the new Gore-Tex Insulated Comfort Footwear lining, and the classic look of HS12 impregnated 3mm suede for weather protection and insulation.

Comfort is guaranteed in extreme winter conditions, keeping your feet warm and dry in the cold, rain and snow.

The Jorasses Pro GTX, named after the Grandes Jorasses in the Mont Blanc massif, is a versatile mountain boot suitable for long winter approach walks, general mountaineering and ice climbing.

Hiking and walking footwear from Scarpa includes the Ranger 2 GTX Activ and Terra GTX hiking boot, the men’s Crux and Vortex and the ladies’ Vortex and Enigma walking shoe, and men’s and women’s versions of the ZG 65.

Their legendary climbing shoes include the Thunder XS Edge, Vantage, Force and Vapour.

Nicki Williams works for outdoor and sports specialists Gear-Zone, where she writes about climbing and mountaineering from the depths of Norfolk – one of the flattest counties in England!

Citations: Images by Gear-Zone

Snow and Ice Climbing

Climbing on snow and ice is a totally different sport to rock climbing, with a whole new set of challenges, rules – and equipment.

Ice Climbing

Techniques for snow and ice climbing vary depending on the conditions encountered. From 8000 metres up in the Himalayas, to an Alpine ridge or Scottish pitch in winter, experiences will be very different, and the equipment required more specialised.

Crampons and ice axes are a given, whether traversing a glacier or scrambling up a frozen ice cascade.


Scarpa – renowned for their rock climbing shoes like the Force and Vantage – are also specialists in tough, crampon-compatible mountain boots designed for the most difficult conditions underfoot.

Scarpa - Phantom Jorasses-Pro W-Mount-Blanc

At the top end of the scale, the Scarpa Phantom 8000 is one of the most practical, durable boots around, aimed at serious high altitude use and built specifically for the Himalayas.

Along with the Jorasses Pro and women’s Mount Blanc, the Phantom Guide is made on a shared technical last for what has been called the highest level of comfort ever achieved in high performance mountaineering boots.

With a toe shaped for rugged mountain climbing and an improved forefoot shape for a precise fit, the Phantom Guide is the crème-de-la-crème of mountaineering footwear.

Other Things to Consider

  • When climbing in winter, it must always be remembered that daylight hours are limited, and thought must be given to extra emergency equipment.
  • Always carry a head torch with charged batteries, a spare crampon strap, a good pair of UV-rated sun glasses to protect against the glare of sun on snow, and bivouac equipment in case the worst should happen and you become stranded overnight.
  • A thermal blanket rolled up tight and packed at the bottom of your rucksack could save your life in extreme temperatures.
  • A helmet should always be worn, whatever type of climbing is being undertaken. Falling rocks are an ever-present danger, not least from those kicked down by climbers above you, and in the case of a fall a helmet will help lessen the risk of serious head injury.


On mountain cliffs and Alpine routes where stone fall is common, helmets are essential – and snow and ice routes should never be attempted without one. Lumps of broken-off blocks of ice can be just as dangerous to a climber as loose rock raining down from above.

Wild Country - Alpine Shield Climbing Helmet

Petzl, Grivel, Wild Country and many other manufacturers have ensured that the heavy, cumbersome climbing headwear of yesteryear has been replaced by low-profile, lightweight helmets with built-in impact liners and comfort padding.

Nicki Williams is a keen outdoor pursuits enthusiast who writes for Gear-Zone. She loves Scarpa, but is based as far from the mountains as possible – in Norfolk!

Citations: Images by schoeband; Gear-Zone/Scarpa

What is an Urban Survival Kit?

Survival kit isn’t a catch-all phrase anymore like it used to be. These days, there are any number of different types of survival situations a person could find themselves in, and each requires a separate set of tools, equipment, and skills. There’s cold weather survival, desert survival, general outdoor survival, and urban survival, to name a few. What is different about urban survival? There are a lot of things that are required for urban survival that you might not necessarily need in the great outdoor wilderness.

Urban Survival

Let’s define the situation first: Urban survival is a situation in which you must survive for an unspecified length of time within an urban environment, such as a city. The specifics of the situation could be any number of things. Sometimes the buildings will be torn down or reduced to rubble, sometimes most people have evacuated but the buildings have been left standing, and other times the city is just as filled with people as it was before, but all water, electricity, and public services have been shut off – the most dangerous situation of all.

Survival Kit

Your Kit Depends on Your Situation

If you’re able to reach your home and shut yourself in after a disaster, that’s the most desirable situation to be in. But what if you are caught outside your house and have no way of getting back for at least a few days? An urban survival kit is specifically designed to facilitate travel, defense, and nourishment in an urban environment.

For one thing, food is usually plentiful in the city, although you may not always have immediate access to it. Grocery stores are a good example of this. They have all the food you need, but likely you will either have to force your way in or contend with other people who want the exact same thing. A crowbar is an excellent tool for forcing entry, and can be used as a defense weapon in a pinch as well.

Besides a crowbar, some of the tools you might want in an urban survival kit include:

  • Multi-tool or multi function knife
  • Approx. 50 feet of good nylon rope
  • A sewing kit
  • Safety goggles
  • Dust masks/gas masks (urban cities are prime targets for terrorist attacks, which could involve airborne nerve agents)
  • Leather work gloves

These tools will let you get over, around, into, or through just about anything in your path. A small tent works as far as shelter is concerned, but depending on the situation, you may have a choice of buildings in which to pass the nights.

Other Necessities for a Survival Kit

One thing you always want to be sure you have enough of is water and medical supplies. Standing water in the city is extremely likely to be contaminated and should never be drunk. Likewise, there are plenty of opportunities all around you to cut, scrape, bruise, break, or otherwise hurt yourself when you’re working your way through concrete, asphalt, and steel.

Lala Johnson encourages the application of survival kits during emergency situations and has years of expereince in this field.If you are interested in Lala’s survival kit articles or if you would like to find out more on her survival kits blogs, visit her website.

Is a Fixed Gear Bike the Right Bike for Me?

You’ve seen them at stop lights, weaving in and out of traffic, and likely cruising through the park… they look like any other ten speed or mountain style bike, at least at a glance, but you’ve probably noticed many of them don’t have gears or a derailleur and they appear to have no hand brakes either. They’re called fixed gear bikes – fixies, singles speeds, track bikes are all known aliases as well – and they’re all the rage. They were once almost the exclusive domain of bicycle messengers, but in the last decade or so they have come to be a staple of urban culture and lifestyles. Thinking about getting yourself one? Be aware, these aren’t quite like any other bike you’ve ridden and it takes some adjustment to get used to the challenges of these unique two wheelers.

Big Shot - lodo2

At a Glance

A fixed gear bike looks like a ten speed, but look closer and notice that the rear hub only has one sprocket, and not the multiple sizes set-up most ten speeds and mountain bikes have. This means that the bike will always move in the direction the pedals are going – no coasting. Stopping on a fixed gear bike is a bit tricky too – initially, you have to learn to slow the bike momentum by applying force to the pedals. And since you only have one chainwheel and one sprocket, the chain tension is absolutely vital to the correct operation of the crank.

The Ease of Maintenance

Now, not having a derailleur with multiple sprockets on the rear hub means changes in how you ride, and how riding feels, but it also means a cleaner look for the bike and a mechanical advantage of sorts too – without the shifters and multiple chain rings there is a lot less to maintain and fix, making a fixed gear a great economical choice for those looking to avoid having to spend time working on their bike, or spend additional money to replace extra parts. Generally, fixies are brakeless too – this is another area where a track bike can save you some time spent on maintenance as well as save you some money (although you may find your back tire needs replacing a bit more than usual). Less time spent on maintenance, save money by using fewer parts and get a great workout for your legs in the process!

Starting Out

It would generally be recommended that riders who are new to fixed gear bikes should begin with a low gear ratio as this will make learning to ride up and down hills a bit easier during the transition to your new bike. Also, it is highly recommended that newbies have a front brake while learning; much the same way you required training wheels when you first learned to ride a two wheeled bike as a child, a brake can be removed once you’ve mastered the bike and feel comfortable. Having a brake lever to pull will also ease you into brakeless riding a little more smoothly – you may find yourself instinctively grabbing for it if you immediately jump to riding brakeless (note – some bylaws require a brake for all bikes, so check your local bylaws regarding bike safety standards and regulations first).

Big Shot Fixed Gear Bike

Because of the way a fixed gear bike must be ridden – with much more attention paid to the actual riding experience – you may find after a while that it feels far more natural to you, and more natural than a freewheel driven bike. Having to remain more focused and aware during the ride and adapting to the brakeless and gear-less experience will feel like you’re learning to ride a bike all over again, but once you’ve adapted to it, you may never ride a standard freewheel bike again.

Build your own single speed bike at BigShotBikes.com! Create unique fixed gear bikes for an affordable price. With Big Shot Bikes you can design and customize your own fixie just the way you want it!

Citations: Images by Big Shot Bikes

CHICKENHEADS & COW’S TAILS – Rock Climbing Terminology


Chickenheads, cow’s tails, Camalots, slugs and Flexible Friends – and not those of the credit card variety – are all part of the lexicon of climbing, as confusing to the uninitiated as attack points, arm locks, sprags, rock-overs and flakes.

As climbing began to become more popular in the 1930s, and dedicated equipment started to appear, so too did the technical terms develop into a language almost of its own – a literal A to Z of terminology from Alpenstock to Z-Pulleys, Arête to Zdarsky sacks.

Along with helmets, harnesses, chockstones and crampons, one of the more universally-known entries in any climbing dictionary is ‘climbing shoe,’ aka rock shoe, a fundamental part of any enthusiast’s equipment.

Scarpa Vantage

Lightweight, Flexible and Grippy

Where heavy, hob-nailed mountain boots were the norm in the early days of climbing, today’s equivalents are lightweight, flexible and grippy – as personified by Scarpa with their high-tech Force, Vantage, Helix and Vapour Lace rock shoes, amongst others, designed for multi-purpose routes.

When you’re living life on the edge, whether jamming in a straight-in crack or pitching a horizontal flange, the shoes on your feet are as important as any climbing equipment you use.

Today, Scarpa are at the forefront of the outdoor footwear industry, with not only their world-renowned climbing shoes, but also with a highly-technical range of mountaineering boots including the Phantom 8000 designed for high altitude expeditions to the Himalayas, and – for those who prefer to say closer to sea level – approach shoes like the Vortex GTX, Enigma GTX and Scarpa Crux.

Climbing - Pulling the Lip

Glossary of Terms

Alpenstock – Forerunner of the ice axe

Arête – Narrow, almost knife-life ridge

Arm Lock – Hold in a wide crack formed by the arm bent at the elbow and locked in place by outward pressure

Attack Point – Easily located feature used as a point from which to navigate

Camalot – Similar to a Friend, with flexible wire frames and double axle

Chickenheads – Rounded, protruding lumps found on igneous rocks used for holds

Cow’s Tail – Short sling used during resting

Flake – Thin slab of rock which is detached or partially detached from the main face

Friend – Trade name for original spring-loaded camming device

Rock-over – A very high step onto a foothold

Slug – Device with spring which holds nut in place until loaded

Sprag – Hold in a crack where the thumb pushes one way while the fingers pull in the opposite direction on an edge

Zdarsky Sack – Bivouac bag

Z-Pulley – 3-in-1 hoist

Neil Park is buyer and blogger for Gear-zone. He has over 20 experience climbing and in the outdoor industry.

Citations: Image by mariachily

Top Tips for Buying a Helmet for Motocross

Motorsports can be very dangerous especially bike related activities such as motocross as the riders are more exposed to the elements. As a consequence it is vital that riders ensure they have the best protection possible in order to safeguard and reduce the chances of serious injury in the event of an accident. One of the most important piece of protective equipment is of course the helmet because protecting your head is not only important, but also a basic criterion while racing. There are various types of helmets available in the market, and choosing the right one can make a world of a difference. Here are some guidelines to ensure that you buy the right helmet.

Suomy Monster 2012

Size Matters

It is very important to know the exact size of the helmet you need before buying it, especially when doing so online. Major manufacturers usually have charts that list helmet sizes in inches. Apart from the right size, the front to back and ear to ear measurements are as important as the helmet helps protect your ear in a case of a crash. Your head is best protected with a helmet that fits snugly.

Certification is Important

Since you are going to use the helmet during races, it is extremely important to make sure that it is certified by an authentic organization. If it is certified by a body that regulates transport, for instance the Department of Transport, in the event of a crash you will be helped by the department. It is advisable to opt for a helmet that complies with all safety standards. Although certified helmets are a little more costly, they ensure complete protection.

Material of the Shell

Helmets are available in a variety of sizes and materials. Find one that fits your head properly and is lightweight. Heavy helmets can cause a strain on the neck with prolonged use. Make sure the shell size varies across sizes and one size isn’t used across all by padding it. Also, ensure that the shell is durable and offers the required protection to your head.

The Face Shield

Look for a helmet with a removable visor. A helmet with a face shield that facilitates the use of glasses or riding eye ware is best. The material and size of the face shield should also be taken into consideration.


Most helmets come with a users’ manual, at least the good ones do. They also have a warranty that takes care of damages within a certain time period.

POA Racing are Motocross specialists who sells a wide range of Motocross sports equipment like Suomy motocross Helmets, boots, clothing and accessories like Fox motocross goggles.

Marathon Des Sables, the Ultimate Challenge

The mere thought of running just one marathon would be daunting for even the fittest people, but for the hardcore of the running world, completing 26 miles is no more than a stroll in the park. The biggest challenge to be faced is the intensely difficult Marathon Des Sables, which takes place annually in Morocco.

Marathon Des Sables

What is Marathon Des Sables?

It is perhaps wrong to refer to the event as a marathon as it is in fact a series of 6 marathons, or a total distance of 151 miles. The race is completed over six days. The route of the race is entirely in the Sahara desert, so runners accustomed to exercising on paved streets or a gym’s treadmill often find the terrain the hardest challenge. In addition, all competitors have to carry with them everything they need for the race, including water, change of clothing and any other supplies they require. All these factors combine to make the Marathon Des Sables something that only the hardiest and most experienced runners even contemplate.


As everything has to be carried with the participant, most travel light and take with them the bare minimum to see them through the race. A typical kit for the Marathon Des Sables will be a sleeping bag, clothing, food, medical supplies and a rucksack to keep it all in. The choice of footwear is perhaps the most critical decision, as a poorly fitting or cheap pair of shoes will not last the distance and may cause lasting damage to the feet. Although the most appropriate choice may appear to be something like the Altberg Desert Microlite boot, it is probably better to opt for a well-made pair of running shoes. Visitors who are planning on seeing a bit of Morocco before or after the race should keep their Altberg Desert Microlite boots for then rather than carrying them with them.


Entering the Marathon Des Sables is not cheap at an average cost of £2,500. This entry fee covers the cost of the organisation of the race, medical support and transport for those unable to continue. Most participants in the race are competing for charity and there are also sponsorship deals which can lower the cost of the registration fee considerably. For the true elite runner there is the chance to win some prizes, but the prize money is generally only equal to the registration fee. People running the Marathon des Sables are doing it for the challenge rather than the potential prizes.



It goes without saying that only the fittest should even contemplate the event, and mental preparation is as important as physical preparation. Blisters and sore feet can affect even the most experienced competitors, and participants in these sorts of extreme events have to start to prepare their feet for the race at least six months in advance. There are many forums online for people interested in extreme racing, and these can be a valuable source of information and support for inexperienced runners.

Altberg Desert Microlite boots are perfect for harsh desert conditions and everyday use and are available online at Trekitt.

Citations: Images by timothy.barker.