I thought I’d share my latest adventure with you and tell you how good the Swazi Back-40 Shirt is at the same time – although you might already know!
It started as three mates and I headed out to Norway from the UK with a weeks kit and a thirst for adventure.
At bleary eyed o’clock (or more accurately at 4.30am) we headed to the airport and talked about how exhausted we were going to be later on – after traversing some Norwegian mountain in search of our first pit stop with 30kg packs. Each of us was secretly looking forward to the challenge and the chance to head off into the unknown. We knew we were in for a great week, with not only a chance to be serious and hone some of our skills, but also the inevitable fun, messing around and joking that occurs when four good mates go on tour.
Arriving in Bergen, Norway we headed to the local shops and stocked up on essential items such as magazines and hamburgers ….. sorry ,I mean maps and rations! We then set off out of the city, and a few hours (plus a bus, ferry and taxi ride) later, we were out in the sticks, surrounded by mountains, fjords, waterfalls & pine forest.
“That’s it guys, just up that ridge and along the peninsular, won’t take long!” I said grinning and pointing to the dot about 4K away in the distance. We knew we were in for a bit of a yomp, but that’s half the fun!
It was beautiful and untouched. I knew for sure it was untouched when I disappeared thigh deep in decades of layered moss. But there was no reason to panic on my part, as my mates would of course effect a gallant rescue……. once they’d finished laughing themselves silly! Justice was just around the corner though and I took great delight over the next couple of hours watching them one by one come a cropper in the ‘quick moss’. Norway’s forest floors are like giant springy carpets of moss and pine needles.
Our endeavour to find a suitable base camp came to an abrupt end when we arrived at a 100 foot drop which wasn’t marked on the map (probable landslide). It was such fun going back up and nobody swore either…..!
As we broke the crest of the ridge a voice in a deep Norwegian accent said “What are you doing?” It appears we were in the middle of his garden…. a house just appeared from nowhere. Gives a whole new meaning to the term rock garden I can tell you!
After a short conversation about “Why are you not at the Olympics? How is the Queen?” Armed with essential information and tips on hand to hand combat with the infamous Norwegian man eating mosquito, we headed out again this time avoiding his petunias!
Eventually, several hours later we finally walked the route into our new home…… pine trees, streams and the ocean gently lapping at the edge of the Fjord. Fantastic!!
It was getting rather chilly as early evening drew closer and the sun started to retreat across the horizon – at this time of year sunset isn’t far off midnight. On with my Back 40 Shirt….. I haven’t had it long, but I’m already very fond of it. “That’ll keep the chill out while we set up!”
Hammocks up, it was time for a brew.
While swinging gently, I fell asleep watching the last of the sun dance across the water. I always sleep so well outside, especially in a hammock during the summer. It’s like your mother rocking you to sleep. In this case Mother Nature – fresh air with creatures and critters running around…. love it!! I awoke to the dawn chorus and fish jumping and splashing at high tide, which was now literally 20 feet away.
We spent three glorious days fishing, tracking and exploring. With only an hour of torrential rain we were very lucky. Apparently Norway has more rainfall than Scotland.
On day four we thought we’d take some time out of the forests and fjords and visit a glacier further north.
Whilst my mates were busy moaning about the wind cutting through them, I sat quietly smug. At sea level earlier in the day I’d been told, “your going to melt in that, it’s the summer you know even up there.” They were of course referring to my trusty Back 40.
Although it was true to say it wasn’t freezing, the wind did have a real bite to it nonetheless and the comments soon changed to “ok so how long did your Swazi take to arrive after you ordered it, were the shipping costs worth it? Are you not a little bit cold?”
I simply answered, “About 10 days, very reasonable and do I look cold to you?? Nope I’m as snug as a bug in a rug”
It got even better for the next evening. Having unsuccessfully fished from the rocks all week the dream of BBQ-ing fresh fish was diminishing, until we were offered a boat to hire. We proudly set sail, well rowed actually, into the middle of the huge fjord. Instantly we were kings amongst fishermen, pulling in mackerel and pollock. Then it started to rain…. not torrential but that really heavy, really wet drizzle.
This of course was much to the amusement of the lads… “Bring your waterproof did we?” They joked with big smirks. Yes I’d left my Tahr on the shore and the only way to retrieve it with my mates blessing was by swimming! Being ever the optimist where the weather is concerned I sat fast in the boat for over 2 hours with just my Swazi Back 40 for protection. The shirt got really, really wet… On the outside, not the inside! I was bone dry and was so seriously impressed I wrote to Swazi as soon as we got back to say so!
I’m not easy to please where kit is concerned, in fact I’m very demanding of it and I am often referred to as ‘Tackleberry’ due to my love of good kit, in particular clothing systems. This shirt really is the business. The dog’s danglies!
Two of the lads have said “I’m getting me one of those, when we get back!”
I give my kit some serious abuse and believe fully in the ethos of using it for the purpose for which it was meant. So with Swazi being the most durable outdoor clothing in the world, this is going to be the best fleece top ever!
I’ve also just bought a pair of Steevo Pants and I’m really looking forward to putting them through their paces on my next adventure.
So guys and gals the bottom line…….
Norway is beautiful and if you haven’t been you should go and if you have a Back 40 shirt then treasure it and pack it to take with you. If you don’t, buy one now, or borrow your mates one.