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Foraging and Photography from Le Tour, Chamonix

Welcome to the first Journal post from our family of Utility Archive ambassadors. A couple of weeks ago Ben Adams, Joanna Brigham and friends enjoyed a late summer day of foraging and photography in the Chamonix valley.  ‘We started from Le Tour, a traditional Savoyarde village in the northern reaches of the Chamonix valley, a stones throw from the Swiss border. Just above the village, at around 1600m the valley head opens into a bowl. This is a beautiful expanse of mountain pasture with the higher peaks of Aiguillette des Posettes and Les Grandes Autannes as a backdrop. The views south down the valley toward the Mont Blanc massif are spectacular, some of the best in the region.  Being so...

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Ben Adams

Introducing Ben Adams, part of the Utility Archive family. Originally from Suffolk he now calls the Alps home, ‘Perhaps it’s because I’m from the flattest part of the UK but I’ve always been drawn to the mountains. From my 20’s I knew I wanted them to be a big part of my life. I tried the city, but when you've spent extended periods in the mountains it's really difficult to go back'. Now based in Chamonix for the ‘deep winters and long summers of endless exploration’, Ben is entirely absorbed in the Alpine environment. Seemingly spending every waking hour hiking, skiing, climbing, fishing and alongside all these activities pursuing his passion for photography. Of which you will see much more here. ...

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Joe McGorty

Introducing photographer Joe McGorty, part of the Utility Archive family. Joe is a professional outdoor lifestyle and portrait photographer. He spends his free time, in his own words 'at climbing crags, trekking in the Alps, sleeping in bivy bags and generally being anywhere that feels wild with a sense of adventure'. Here, a photograph from his excellent deepwater soloing project, Presence of Water'. 

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Benjamin Youd

Introducing photographer Benjamin Youd, part of the Utility Archive family. Benjamin is a professional portrait and lifestyle photographer, Dad and outdoorsy type. He describes his work as capturing subtle and natural emotion through observational moments. In addition to his commercial activities he enjoys working on long-term personal projects and is currently exploring plant-based athletes.

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Will Appleyard

Introducing Will Appleyard, part of the Utility Archive family. Will is an all-round adventure professional. A journalist, photographer and published author. His activities are focussed on diving but he also climbs, ski’s, snowboards and paraglides. His first book Discover UK Diving became a best-seller, he also raised awareness of many dive sites through this and his second book "Dorset Dives". Will is a brand ambassador for O'Three wetsuits, a commissioned photographer for National Geographic Traveller and contributor to DIVER magazine and DIVER-NET. His photographic work has also been used in the national press, diving industry-related media and advertising, as well as supplying content for several adventure brands. Photo by Will from a recent Dolomites trip. 

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Wooden Chapel by John Pawson

British architect John Pawson is renowned as a master of minimalism. Wooden Chapel, located on a cycle path in Unterliezheim, Germany isn’t typical of his style but is stunning nonetheless. Standing seven metres tall and constructed from 144 enormous Douglas fir trunks, rip-cut to a flat on opposing sides and stacked. Photo Eckhart Matthaus.

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Lines (57° 59´N, 7° 16´W)

We’re dazzled by this installation by Finnish artists Timo Aho and Pekka Niittyvirta. Located on North Uist, Lines (57° 59´N, 7° 16´W) highlights the effect of rising sea levels on coastal communities. A predicted future high tide mark is illuminated when the tide triggers a sensor. Stunning. Photo Timo Aho.

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Wear testing at Winspit

With fair winds and following seas Utility Archive will launch in September. Not long now. Here, Mrs A putting the 16L Roll Top Pack through its paces, descending to swim at Winspit on the Purbeck coast last weekend.

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Happy Fathers Day. Here, testing the latest Roll Top Pack 28L sample during a visit to Old Hall Marshes RSPB reserve at Tollesbury, Essex. We completed the 3 mile loop around this nationally important wetland area, spotting avocet, egret, tern, lapwing among many others. Finished off with a plate of local seafood on Mersea Island. Perfect day.

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Coruisk to Elgol

Looking back to the Cuillin from the Elgol path. Taken on one of the most memorable days in a fortnight of many, April 2011. Our first Skye trip. Having just finished The Wild Places we took @robgmacfarlane advice and ventured to Loch Coruisk. The Elgol boat dropped us at the mouth of the Scavaig. A short walk upriver and the long finger of water comes into view flanked by walls of black gabbro rising 900 metres to the ridge. This is one of the most spectacular loch-side walks in the country. Low tide allowed us to scramble under the notorious ‘bad step’ and continue back to Elgol via the bay at Camasunary. The tiny white dot on the right is the...

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Andalucian Wear Testing

A long day up and down Mulhacen in the Sierra Nevada. At 3,479 metres its highest peak on the Iberian Peninsula and this was the most comprehensive Utility Archive wear test to date. 

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Inspirational Accomodation

My first memories of Pembrokeshire were seeded in the ‘70’s and it remains magical. Spending time in our De Waard Albatros adds to the experience. It is a beast, not the easiest to transport or fastest to set up, but it is the sturdiest. Every element, from pegs and poles to fly-sheet and guys are heavy-duty. Wonderfully comfortable, even in the less clement conditions frequently experienced across our westerly coasts. Mrs A and I had coveted this tent for a long time. I bought it last year as the ideas for Utility Archive were still swirling. And now the brand is close to formed and this brilliantly robust blend of inspiration and accommodation is serving each of its purposes really...

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Bespoke Hardware Samples

Samples of the new Utility Archive hardware designs in raw aluminium. We wanted hardware with a robust aesthetic, like our archive pieces, but with modern functionality. Also, all hardware should match. Not available. So we designed it ourselves. The full hardware set is aluminium, no plastic on any of our products. We chose aluminium as it’s lightweight, strong and doesn’t corrode. It can also be recycled. We’re working on  recycling - repurposing program for all products and raw materials, more detail on that in the new website, coming soon. Getting a little ahead of ourselves? Not really, our viewpoint on sustainability is woven into the fabric of brand.

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Bespoke Hardware Design

Design and development of a bespoke hardware collection for the first Utility Archive bag collection, and the inevitable desk-mess. Designs are inspired in part by hardware from outdoor and military rucksacks from the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. Slightly oversized, so easy to use when cold or wearing gloves, the dimensions and proportions of each piece match and have a subtle, reassuring robustness. All hardware will be aluminium with a raw finish.

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Wear Testing Backpack 01, Iceland

Wear-testing the first Utility Archive Backpack 01 around the Icelandic south coast. Turns out this trip will include the east, north and west coasts too as torrential rain teases us into chasing better weather.

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