End of Year Review Year — Looking Forward to 2018

Happy New Year to you all!

Kate and I have just returned from Worcestershire where we spent a lovely New Years Eve with Bob and Rose Cartwright, of the Outdoors Stationed Backpackinglight.co.uk. 2017 was a strange year for all of us. Deaths in the family wiped out our TGO Challenge and Bob and Rose have spent much of the year settling into their new base.

All of us had better plans for 2018 and you’ll be able to hear many of them on the podcast that Bob and I made this morning which reflected on the likely industry trends next year and on how we saw the social media world changing. Knowing Bob this podcast will be up shortly. Some of this subject mater I want to write a bit about but the nice thing about the podcast is that we have now covered much of this ground.

So, the end of year review!


Each year I look back on the last twelve months of the blog. This year has been quite quiet not least because I didn’t have a major walk to focus around. As we move into the New Yea I want to reorientate the blog a bit. I want to write less about gear and more about the experience of being out in the wild, the joy of wild camping and the multi day trend — you’ll be able to hear Bob and I talking about this things shortly.

But what about 2017? I’m always fascinated by more blog posts stats. What do they tell me?

Once again my most read post was The Paramo Problem. This was written in 2012 and I guess its continued popularity is due not only to the interest in the Paramo solution but concerned about the effectiveness of the lighter fabrics being used in lighter gear. The Paramo system is super but as they’ve found themselves caught up in the  ‘lightweight wars’ they have experimented with light and lighter gear. My experience is that this lighter gear simply doesn’t function effectively in bad weather in high mountains. The Paramo system in not a heavy one at all when you consider how it works against the layered alternatives. My advice — for what it’s worth — is use Param at the performance end of the scale (which means the heavier fabrics) and explore other options of lighter backpacking or the warmer months.

This year there has been a noticeable change in my annual ‘charts’ . Gear features less and less which I think is probably a good thing. Posts on planning the TGO Challenge and walking in the Pyrenees are always popular, and they have been again this year. Health posts were prominent, especially  Hiking with Fallen Arches/Flat Feet — it’s nice to know I’m not the only person struggling with this!

Of course, you can’t ignore gear completely and those products receiving the most interest this year include The Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid (top of the pile again). iInov-8 Roclite 295’s, the Tarptent Stratospire and the Evernew Alcohol Stove (which is the alcohol stove for colder weather).

The Changing Face of Social Media

We may now live in the age of social media but it is fascinating to see how things are changing; Bob and I spent quite a long time talking about this both on and off the podcast.  So, what do my stats tell me?

The Static Blog

One way or another I run four blogs and the referral trends that I am seeing are similar across all of them. Facebook and Twitter continue to be the most important referral sites although Twitter seems to be loosing its popularity in one way or another. For those wanting to really build up a social media presence its seems to me that Facebook is now by far the most important media. Twitter is still No.1 on this blog but across the other platforms is is significantly less important and this is relevant because on the other platforms I tend to be more focused on using osical media to get across my message.

Two services have become far more prominent this year. The first is Reddit, which I began to explore thoroughly after the summer. Across the width of my blogs Reddit is now running second to Facebook. If you haven’t use this service before it is used basically to promote web pages and articles. What makes it difference is that users can click on an approve or a disapprove icon. When you log on — and read posts from those boards (or subreddits) that you have subscribed to that material is presented to you sorted by posting dates (most recent first) and by popularity.

I’m not sure whether this Reddit prioritisation is a factor in its success but what is clear is that the service is being used by a younger age group than Facebook and Twitter. If you’ve not used it yet add the Reddit share service too your posts and see how it works. Reddit features all the same subject areas as most other services but the focus on a the under 30 age group gives you (often) a very different spin on things.  If younger people are using Instagram to share their experiences through images (rather than words) they are sharing words through Reddit.

The other service that has suddenly become more prominent is ‘StumbleUpon’ which describes itself as a ‘Discovery Engine’. A must take a closer look at this over the next few weeks.

Reddit and Stumbleupon are followed by PinInterest (which I find interesting given how it works) and all of these sites are now far more important for referrals that Google +.  Google have never really for the hang of social media and it would seem that their competitors are just more effective at their operations.

Individual sites are still important in helping you promote your message _ you don’t just have to rely on the social media giants. I must explore some of these more fully but the most active sites this year (in the outdoor world and excluding backpacking light.co.uk) seem to be:

Norton’s Notes from Chris Norton;


Phreerunner — from my old mate Martin Banfield

I you haven’t explored these sites you it is worth having a good luck. They mist be doing something right!


This remains the real phenomenon as the whole of the world is here. However, much of the content is ‘shallow’. Yesterday Bob introduced me to a whole load of channels where You Tubers were demonstrating hiking and bushcraft products. While these might be visual many of them are completely useless in giving you a feel for the effectiveness of a product over time. Yes, it is nice to know how easy that tent is to put up? But what is it like to sleep in it night after night? What is it like in a storm?

It is clear that there are folks now aiming to drive advertising income through You Tube. Manufactures are using these folks by providing kit for review. But the reviews are very limited and as I said above ‘shallow’. It is time manufacturers thought a little more on how their kit is evaluate, not least as the economic conditions mean that everything is becoming more competitive.


The Outdoor Industry

Bob and I spend a lot of time talking about this inhale forthcoming podcast. But it does seem that we;re in for another difficult year. A few months ago I wrote about one of our major high street chains demanding that suppliers discount their invoices by 25%. A couple of my industry insiders have confirmed that this is happening more and more. The results will be that stores will carry an ever smaller range and that they will increasingly bellowing at price. I think you can see this more and more in the major chains. At the top of the sector — the expensive cottage industry, niche designers — may well continue to thrive as they are selling extreme sign rather than volume. 

The pressure will continue to drive prices down not least as consumer spending is under so much pressure. Whatever you think of Brexit (I tend to think of it as a kind-of mass-economic suicide) the falling pound is now having a real effect in the industry and who knows where we will be in the coming years with trade deals and so on.

I suspect the choice available to us — especially one high street) will continue to narrow not least as consumers become far more cost conscious.


Looking to 2018

I shall be concentrating less and less on gear. Of course, I won’t give up gear reviews and comments completely but I will be only commenting on stuff that I have used over time and can properly comment on. You may think this seems a little puritanical but one of my overwhelming favourite posts is the Great Gear post which simply focuses on stuff that works. Recommendations from people that use Gear are still valued (than goodness).

In the main though I want to avoid banging on about the same old things. I want to concentrate more on the experience of being in the outdoors. As Bob and I were lamenting this morning many of these You Tube sites do not pass on really experience. As our magazines become more limited and as their circulation falls new media becomes a more important source of knowledge.

I no longer post about most of my walks as this can be so repetitive. instead I’ll concentrate again on mire thoughtful content. Over the years I know my readers — at least — have appreciated these more thoughtful posts.


The TGO Challenge

All things being equal, Bob and I will be both walking our tenth TGO Challenges this year. To commemorate this milestone we will both be dusting down the podcast machines once again and we really want to focus down on the people and the personal stories of the challenge. so, if you see us coming on’t run away. Come and have a chat 🙂



  1. The times there are a-changing. The first one now will be later be last

    True in the 1960’s and still true today. I will be nice to look back in 50 years and discuss the good old days.

    Another good post. Keep it up. All the best to you for may years to come. Hope to meet you in May.


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