Tag Archives: outdoors

#microadventure - the winners

  • Posted by ruben
  • 18 July 2013

Rather than going home to a sofa in front of the TV and a comfy bed after work, last month we challenged people to head out into the great outdoors to spend a night under the stars.

Together with our friend Alastair Humphreys, we took an unusual Trip on The Tube, and then asked people to get out for their own #microadventures, with prizes for the best videos, photos and stories.

Here are the winners as selected by Mr Humphreys:

3RD PRIZE – DAN AND LEO KNAPP CAMPING OUT UNDER THE STARS

2ND PRIZE – CHRISTOPH DRESSLER’S PHOTOBLOG OF HIS MICROADVENTURE

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1ST PRIZE – STEVE COFFEY AND HIS COLLEAGUES’ OFFICE MICROADVENTURE

While the competition may be over, we still think that anyone who breaks their daily routine to go somewhere new and spend a night in a bivy bag with the sound of the sea or the wind in the trees gains something every bit as worthwhile as any prizes.

A Microadventure on the Tube

  • Posted by alex
  • 13 June 2013
Adventure needn't be big, expensive or complicated. Adventure can be found right on your doorstep. In fact it's really easy and it's really fun.

A couple of weeks ago, our old friend Al came down to see us and take us out on some Microadventures. We headed out and spent 2 nights kipping in bivvy bags out in the wild. And now we want you to get out there too.

Adventure needn't be big, expensive, far away or complicated.

You could leave work, head to your local tyre shop, inflate a tractor inner tube and float down the river to cook dinner and sleep on the beach.

You don't need lots of kit either. You can use a survival bag instead of a bivvy, or use blankets if you don't have a sleeping bag. You could even eat a pub on the way so that you don't need a stove or cooking utensils.

Join In With The Summer Of Microadventure

On the night of June 21st (or around then if you can't make it) grab a friend, a colleague, or go on your own. Head for the countryside by bike, on foot, by train, canoe or however you like. Sleep out under the stars and have fun.

Whilst on your microadventure (or when you arrive home), post a photo or video of your adventure on the Microadventures Facebook page, or use the hashtag #microadventure on Twitter, Instagram or Vine.

The top 3 microadventures will win prizes too.

It's as simple as that.

A howies Microadventure on the tube - inflating tubes

A howies Microadventure on the tube - floating downstream

A howies Microadventure on the tube - arrived safe

A howies Microadventure on the tube - time to cook

A howies Microadventure on the tube - fire

A howies Microadventure on the tube - home for the night

Here are some inspirational Microadventure videos from some of you too, from last time we asked to you head out on a Microadventure.

Our New Outback Jacket

  • Posted by alex
  • 11 April 2013
Schoeller 3XDRY water-resistant soft-shell with Merino wool bonded fleece inside - it keeps you dry from the outside, dry from the inside and it dries in a flash.

There's no such thing as bad weather. Just bad clothing.

Most of the weather we get in the UK is neither onething or the other. Some days it's bright and sunny, but freezing cold. Others, lovely and warm but chucking it down with rain. You can’t win.

The Outback jacket is our answer to thesedays. We've set out to design somethingthat feels and performs like a Merino wool base layer, but at the same time is wind and water-resistant.

So we've taken the same soft, itch free, anti-microbial Merino wool we use in our base layers and bonded it with a Schoeller 3XDRY softshell outer fabric. The Merino fleece wicks moisture away from your body, transporting it to the outer shell, which in turn lets it evaporate without letting any moisture in.

The result is a performance weatherproof jacket that keeps you dry from the outside, dry from the inside and dries in a flash.

Perfect for sport, the outdoors and those days when the weather just can't make up it's mind.

Outback-licorice-thumbs

howies Outback Softshell jacket - Men's Licorice

howies Outback Softshell jacket

howies Outback Softshell jacket

We've been putting the Outback through it's paces too. It's fast wicking Merino wool inner sends moisture to the 3XDRY outer really fast and in early spring downpours has kept the rain at bay on rides home.

The jacket is super-stretchy too with contoured panels making movement easier and with two zipped map-sized hand pockets a zip chest pocket with a headphone port, this jacket is perfect for sport, the outdoors and those days when the weather can't make up it's mind. Which around here is most days.

Shop Men's Outback Softshell >
Shop Women's Outback Softshell >

Run Range

  • Posted by alex
  • 10 April 2013

You were born to run. Maybe not that fast. Maybe not that far. Maybe not as efficiently as the 60 year old woman who just overtook you. But you were born to get up off your backside and move. To fire up that those legs, for that simple, energy-giving, blood-pumping, sodium-bleeding, sofa-beating thing we call running.

New running range for Men and Women.

howies run range

howies run range

howies run range

howies run range

howies run range

howies run range

howies run range

howies run range

If I can bicycle, I bicycle

  • Posted by alex
  • 4 April 2013
  • howies Leadout Bibshorts

We bike to work and home again, evening rides and weekend jollies.
Getting covered in crap, cuts and grazes and aches and pains.
We love it. That's why we do it everyday.

Funny thing is, we've never really got around to making any serious kit for it...
Until now.

Our new Slipstream cycle jerseys (available in long sleeve and short sleeve) and our Leadout Bibshorts are made using seamless circular knit technology, meaning that they are precision built to fit your body, just like your own skin. They provide a snug fit that will go virtually unnoticed as you wear it.

The specialist machines are capable of knitting yarn into a single continuous tube shape. This means we make body panels in one piece, minimizing the need for seams - seams that could potentially cause irritating friction or chaffing on longer rides.

The circular knitting machines are also capable of varying patterns in the fabric as they knit too. This means that we can have different weaves on the same panel and precisely tailor them to match specific parts of the body. For instance, we have integrated lighter breathable panels in sweatier areas like the underarms and back, and woven more compression in around hems and places where you need a tighter fit. All this without the need for separate panels, seams and stitching.

This makes a truly comfortable, form-fitting garment with a minimalist design. Just like us humans.

howies cycling details

howies cycle range

howies cycle range

The Outsider

  • Posted by alex
  • 6 July 2012

Outsider T-Shirt of the Month

Do you ever experience feelings of discomfort and dread when in large crowds?
Do you ever have an unquenchable desire to get away from it all?
Do you sometimes feel like you just need to escape?

Are you prone to bouts of uncontrollable happiness whenever you do your sports?
And do you ever experience cravings for high speed and peril?

These are all symptoms of an Outsider.

There is no cure.

But then again, who would want one?

The Outsider, Men's T-shirt of the Month and Women's T-shirt of the Month.

Rest Less Success

  • Posted by alex
  • 27 March 2012

Last weekend the Rest Less Ride took riders across the whole of Wales from beach to border overnight. The roads were riddled with pot-holes, sheets of gravel and barrier-less hairpin bends, dropped into deep dark valleys, through forests and over 25% climbs in a race against the sun on the night the clocks went forwards.

The ride was born out of a story that writer - and friend of howies - Rob Penn, shared from a chance meeting on the road with a passing cyclist, reminiscing over night-long club rides in the late 1950's; the quieter roads, the lack of traffic, and the peloton pushing one another on through dawn.

The roads back in the 50’s aren’t too dissimilar to the country lanes in Wales, so only one question remained; "When shall we do it?"

On Saturday, 16 riders set off from howies HQ to Abergavenny, all that led the way were small road markings, the faith in the peloton and the promise that no-one would get left behind in the wilderness.

The pack was made up some of Rob's and our riding friends, who had come from across Britain, to take on this incredible adventure. A last supper gave time to go over the route, fettle bikes and exchange names with the riders who would help carry one another across the entire country in the dark.

Barely 10 minutes into the ride, a disturbed badger darted into the pack, causing a tumble. The sound of bikes hitting the ground and cries in the night halted riders in front. Once turned upright, we re-grouped and pressed on. What other dangers waited for us in the dark?

Winding out of the Teifi valley, the stronger legs set a steady pace along the undulating road to Lampeter. The hills began to get steeper, breathing deepened and gears simultaneously jumped in the dark to bigger cogs.

The descents made up for the climbs and soon everyone seemed settled, taking to the 40mph bends, down over humpback bridges, free wheeling to allow the legs to rest for the next inevitable climb.

At Lampeter we left the safety of the A roads and towns, heading into the wilderness. The quiet back roads were brown and green down the middle, with fractures to test skinny tyres and fords to test nerves; a surface barely ideal in daylight, let alone in the dark.

These country lanes were bound for the lake at Llyn Briane, up winding valley passes and through pitch-black, potholed hairpins. Chatter in the pack slowed as concentration increased to keep wheels in line over the rough surfaces and spotting markers to keep on course - we had not seen a house or car for miles and rumbling over cattle grids. There would be nowhere to go if you gave up here.

News of the coming halfway stop for hot soup refreshed tired minds. Eager stomachs wound up the pace and soon everyone was huddled around a 2-ring gas burner awaiting some real food. Passing round bread and stretching, we noticed the time, 3am. With darkness all around, we were halfway from nowhere and nowhere near somewhere with an handful of hours 'til dawn. The race against the sun had begun.

The climb past the lake, invisible in the dark, led to fantastically smooth tarmac lining the valley as it wound through the hills and over barrier-less summits with steep drops into the dark.

Approaching the pine forest, a broken chain tore apart Alex's derailleur, demanding some roadside repairs. Stopped in the silence, it was obvious the damage was irreparable. Cut down to a single speed, the best attempt to limp on, wasn't going to get the bike over the 25% climb of the Devil's Staircase and certainly not onto Abergavenny. It was game over for Alex.

The Devil's Staircase is famed for it's 25% walls levelling out briefly before the next step upwards. The set of short, sharp climbs marked the midway point through the wilderness. A series of sketchy but exhilarating hairpin descents to the valley floor followed. Mist collected between the hills as the road bounced along, mimicking the bed of the river until finally a junction and another short rest.

Signposts pointed through a dark forest to Builth, where the pack regrouped. The dawn chorus had begun, and the promise of daylight was in the air. The quiet A-roads were smooth and wide, with street lighting easing the dependence of lights which would surely be near the end of their battery life. These roads gave the pack their best chance yet to work together, forming a train of tired legs each taking turns out front to break the cold air.

Crossing the river, heading for Hay-on-Wye, the B-roads were foggy and felt chilly without the climbs to keep the body warm. Staying together for company and warmth, the pack pressed on in the mist.

Leaving Hay behind, daylight finally broke over the hills of the Black Mountains where the final - and hardest - climb of the ride came into view.

Every rider stopped to shed weight, jettisoning surplus layers and water bottles. Feeling sore and empty, the beauty of the scenery laid out in the early morning sun was enough to make the riders forget their tired legs. The end would soon be in sight, with a 15 mile whooping descent though the Llanthony Valley to breakfast. And it would be the best breakfast ever, in soft chairs with hot food.

The ride forged friendship through adversity; sharing the experience of digging deep when you’ve got nothing left, feeling sick, delirious and weary but pushing yourself and fellow riders further than you could possible ride on your own.

Despite the grueling climbs and rapid descents over tarmac laced with gravel and pot holes, 14 of the 16 riders completed the challenge - 124 miles, over 3000 meters of ascent with only one final question remaining; "When shall we do it again?"

A short video of the ride is here.

Winning Microadventurers

  • Posted by alex
  • 28 October 2011

After much deliberation, the long-awaited winners from our Microadventure competition are named and famed below.

A huge thanks to everyone who took part and we hope you had as much fun as we did.

Microadventures let anyone plunge into a world of cheap Credit Crunch adventures. Adventures that are close to home, which are fun, affordable, easy to organise and designed to get you doing and experiencing things that would normally pass you by.

This competition was a great reason for howies to invite Alastair Humphreys up for a Microadventure of our own and if you missed it, the video is here.

We asked you to get out there and do your own Microavdenture and send us your story. For us, these four stories really captured the spirit of Adventure and we've thrown in an honorable mention to the good folk in Japan for their unique video approach.

Enjoy - in no particular order:


Tom Allen - Zone 1 Microadventure


Luke & Brooke - London to Lewes


Simon Edwards - South Downs


Ariel & Emma - Belfast

Runner Up

Rob Thomson & Co - Sapporo, Japan

If you're one of our winners, please drop us a line on info@howies.co.uk to claim your prize.

How-To: Microadventure

  • Posted by alex
  • 15 August 2011

howies microadventure
Last Monday, Alastair Humphreys came down to see us in Cardigan. We'd arranged to go on a Microadventure - an adventure close to home that is cheap, easy to organise and most of all, fun!

So, what if you're new to the world of adventures? Alastair's got a few tips for you mind out of the daily grind and taking the plunge into the world of Microadventures...

It's been more than fifteen years since I began enjoying sleeping in wild and wonderful places. I guess I've spent about a thousand nights sleeping outdoors. Out of all those probably only about ten have been in a 'proper' campsite.

I've slept on top of England's highest mountain on New Year's Eve and on the northern tip of Britain in midsummer week.

I have also spent many nights without a tent -bivvying- and these are often the most magical of all. (Not always, mind!). I've bivvied on hill tops, seashores, even on a swimming platform out at sea and in sewage pipes (clean ones) on three continents!

So I know how easy, safe, simple, fun, rewarding and invigorating sleeping wild can be. It is one reason why I came up with the idea of microadventures to try to encourage people to give these things a try. But I completely understand how someone who has never done it might think otherwise.
Therefore I hope that this article will help encourage wild-campers to give a microadventure a try by explaining how to do it all, and answering a few common worries.

What is a bivvy bag and wild camping?

A bivvy bag (bivouac bag) is a waterproof outer layer for a sleeping bag. If you live somewhere it doesn't rain (ie Not Wales) then you don't need one, and you can just lie out smugly in your sleeping bag. For a one-off bivvy microadventure a cheap orange survival bag is fine (your sleeping bag will get a bit damp on the outside from condensation). That's what I used on our howies microadventure last week. A better option is one from Alpkit for about £30.

Wild camping is camping away from a proper campsite, out in the wild.

Is wild camping legal?

It's completely legal in Scotland and, elsewhere in the world, nobody has ever complained, told me off, arrested me, or been in the slightest bit concerned. In the same way that nobody would mind you having an afternoon snooze on the beach, nobody minds wild camping, so long as you're not on private land, near someone's home, or otherwise being annoying.

Is it safe?

Assuming you are out in the countryside, away from people then a night out under the stars is about as safe as a night can be. I will admit to the occasional night when strange noises in the woods have spooked me a little, but that is only the fault of an over-active imagination and a youth frittered on late-night horror movies! This goes away after a couple of nights. If you're out there with a friend it's even easier.

Where will I sleep?

Finding spots to wild camp is an art form! It's also all about compromise: sheltered in an old barn or under a cliff in case of rain versus a full canopy of stars out in the open if it doesn't rain. Getting out of the wind will keep you much warmer, so if you're bivvying on a hilltop (my very favourite place) then consider dropping just a few metres down the leeward side. If you're sleeping on a beach sleep above the high-tide mark or else you might win a Darwin Award.

You can find safe, snug wild camping spots surprisingly close to towns and villages too. Follow a footpath just a short distance away from a road then nip behind a hedge or a clump of trees. You'll feel very open, conspicuous and slightly silly as you lie down to sleep but you'll soon relax and enjoy the novelty of being right out in nature.

How do I use a bivvy bag?

Shove your sleeping bag into the bivvy bag. You can, if you wish, put the sleeping mat in there as well, but I find that's too cramped. Snuggle in and sleep. If it rains in the night just snuggle even deeper, pull the bag over your head and leave just a little hole for your mouth otherwise you end up getting way too hot!

What do I need to take on a microadventure?

The whole point of microadventures is that you do not need much time, money or specialised equipment. The trip I did with howies is a perfect example - we left their office at the end of the day's work, rode out of town wearing small backpacks, had a great adventure, and were back at the office ready for work the next morning. Granted, not every workplace will allow you to ride your bike round the office or wear merino cycling stuff as you work, but these are minor problems! A bundled up suit makes a great pillow...

Here then is an idea for a microadventure and the stuff you'll need:

  • Leave work
  • Cycle / walk / run / paddle / swim, even drive (if you must) out of town
  • Climb a hill / go to the beach / find a lake
  • Eat
  • Relax
  • Campfire (where appropriate)
  • Sleep
  • Wake up
  • Find a lake / river / lido / ocean for a quick skinny dip.
  • Cycle / walk / run / paddle / swim, even drive (if you must) back into town
  • Greasy Spoon cafe
  • Back to work
  • Ask your colleagues if they did anything interesting last night

 Basic Kit List

  • Bike
  • Rucksack
  • Sleeping bag
  • Cheap orange survival bag
  • Cheap foam sleeping mat
  • Torch
  • Rain coat
  • Wooly hat
  • Warm clothes for night (use a spare jumper as pillow)
  • Food and drink that doesn't need cooking
  • Water bottle
  • Toothpaste with toothpaste already applied and wrapped in clingfilm
  • Matches to light a campfire
  • Notebook - even if you never write a diary this is a really good chance to jot down a few observations, thoughts, resolutions
  • Camera - for smug self portrait

 Next Step Up: take all the above plus...

  •  Camping Stove
  • Pan
  • Pasta and sauce / pesto, Super Noodles, Pot Noodle etc.
  • Spoon
  • Proper bivvy bag (instead of orange bag)

Luxury Additions: take all the above plus...

Even if you have never cycled or walked ten miles before, even if you have never wild camped (or even if you have never camped) I really urge you to give this a try on a nice warm, dry summer's evening.

The very worst thing that's likely to happen is that you get back to work the next morning a bit tired. Far more likely is that you will be thrilled to discover wildness, nature and beauty on your doorstep. You'll probably enjoy it so much that next time you'll take the whole office with you as well!

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