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'Nearly all the problems facing society today cannot be attacked by single disciplines.'

Dr Alexander King

This blog contains hundreds of original articles. 


And book a talk and buy my new book MICROMASTERY

"I couldn't stop telling people about this book. Wise and joyful, it genuinely changed the way I thought about learning - and it left me bursting to put it into action."  - Tim Harford, author of Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy

"Micromastery is a triumph. A brilliant idea, utterly convincing, and superbly carried through." Philip Pullman.



Go and get it from a bookshop.

Or Buy online! Micromastery - learn small, learn fast and find the hidden path to happiness is published by Penguin books (UK) in May 2017. It will be published in China, Taiwan, USA, Germany and South Korea in the months after that.

You can get it at Wordery- click below

Or for those amazon junkies click this one:



walking man #1

As a boy I loved army gear and as a teenage climber I thought the world of any gear tested to destruction on K2 or Kanchenjunga, but as a walker I can see that these ancestral gear-parents (climbing, the army) are worse than useless, in fact delinquent; source of many false, but widely accepted, ‘truths’ about outdoor gear.

Take rucksacks. Climbers have rucksacks because they need their hands free and they don’t want gear swinging around and destabilising them. Soldiers only have rucksacks when they have a ton of gear to yomp across some empty space. But walkers always have rucksacks- why? No reason except the brainless need to copy the mountaineering pattern. If you like bending down and picking up stones, looking at flowers, examining dead badgers- as I do, then a rucksack is your worst enemy. By bending you are putting yourself into a top heavy position – uncomfortable and unstable- so what you actually do is keep walking and simply admire stuff from a distance. Nuts to that. Wear a bumbag or waistbag, get the biggest size, and if you need to carry extra water carry it on a shoulder strap hung water bottle. I have great insulation covers that take a standard 1.5 litre evian type bottle- dead light and it stays cool- unlike the clearly mad camel back system.

So lose the small rucksack- walking the Pyrennees I saw that shepherds carried a bedroll slung over one shoulder and water bottle (probably full of wine) over the other. Some had the bedroll slung from their waist. And these were men walking all day long. Unless you have a big load- ditch the sack.

And ditch the heavy sack. Army Bergens are designed for carrying ammo in a war zone. They’re way over engineered for a non-combat role. If you need a backpack for multiday hiking get the lightest one you can find. The best ultralight sacks now weigh in at under half a kilo.

I did just buy a rucksack- a one kilo Berghaus 45 litre Arete climbing sack. I use it for training hikes and two or three day backpacking hikes. It’s OK, pretty light and has some nice features such as open pockets at the back you can stuff stones you find into without taking the pack off, but I still prefer a bum bag and separate water bottles for a long day hike.

Traditional peoples the world over make packframes when they need to carry a big load-and this is still a great way to shift bulky odd shaped loads. I have an old aluminium Karrimor packframe and hipbelt that is way, way lighter than the latest crappy bells and whistles backpack. Mainly of course you don’t want ever to be shifting loads more than 15kg but if it happens a packframe is a good way to go. Buy them on ebay or at car boot sales.

I wonder if the real attraction of a rucksack is that, on a solo hike, it becomes like a companion. I can recall walking into strange mountain villages being glad I had my big rucksack on. It vouchsafed my serious purpose for sure but it was also comforting, a home from home, a pal. Solo climber Reinhold Messner reported weeping when he ditched his rucksack on Everest, his mind wavering from lack of oxygen, causing it to focus on the emotional reality of the situation- he was saying goodbye to his last friend.




sands of death

Robert takes a look at the book Sands of Death by Michael Asher, which describes Paul Flatters' doomed attempt to become the first European to cross the Hoggar mountains and reach Timbuktu, for The Daily Mail,


A New Route Across Egypt's Sahara

Robert goes in search of a new route across Egypt's western desert to the cave paintings of Gilf Kebir, for the Times Online,


Canoeing and Rivers

Robert talks with Sandi Toksvig about about his epic expedition across Canada by birchbark canoe, for the BBC radio show 'Excess Baggage',


bring me the Glass Eye of Cretan Lawrence

Robert discusses the book The Rash Adventurer by Imogen Grundon about the life of archaeologist, guerilla leader, scholar and athlete John Pendlebury, for The Daily Mail,


hello darkness, my old friend

Robert describes Cairo nightlife after 1001 nights of living in the city, for CNN Traveller,


Wind, Sand and Stars

Robert talks about The Explorer School and the skills needed for desert exploration, for CNN Traveller,