3/ Comparing notes on Kit. Archived 04/02/10

This is an archived gear banter page. There’s good stuff down below you know.

500 thoughts on “3/ Comparing notes on Kit. Archived 04/02/10

  1. Hi all,

    Has anyone got experience or thoughts on the Aarn Marathon Magic rucksack 20L and the whole centered load approach?

  2. Kiff, I’ve only briefly tried them, but I know folk that have tested them in races and what I’ve got is that the carry is good, but some of the features are quirky and getting them on and off is a pain in the arse.
    Splitting the load is a great idea. I’ve used OMM pouches for years, and I’ve got a bigger aidlight one here to try on the next overnighter.
    Worth a look.

  3. I am planning a bicycle tour to Norway with a group of friends from the Dutch Cyle Touring Club. Chances are, it will be wet. So what do you guys who live in such a similar climate wear under or over your bike helmet, to keep your head dry? I used to take a Goretex helmet cover, but with modern aero helmets that no longer fits. I don’t worry about light rain, but with pouring cold rain the story is different.

  4. Cheers PTC for the advice…

    Forever the outdoor encyclopedia.

    I saw one at a shop in Lake District last week and my wallet started to twitch. I’m not one for impulse buying, I like to do a little research first.

    I have the OMM Marathon 32L, so the pouch would fit OK.

    I’ve just looked at the Raidlight website and they very good.

    I look forward to find out how you get on and how it matches up to the OMM pouch.

  5. Are you sure you can’t get a Goretex helmet cover to fit? I’ve got one that fits over a Giro e2 helmet even with the front peak attached. Is you helmet’s shape even bulkier than that?

  6. I’ve got a Paclite jacket with a hood that’s designed to fit over a helmet, probably okay on the road, but a bit disconcerting on the trail!
    I wear a Buff as Phil says, but again putting in the miles on a wet road would see you with water running down your neck. There must be proper kit out there somewhere?

    Kiff, the Raidlight pouch is a lot bigger, so I think I’ll use if differently.
    It fits fine on my OMM packs as well, it’s got a clever attachment system. I’ll get some stuff up on it soon enough. I’ve just got my “Trail Route” details in and West Highland Way race or not, I’ve mountains to climb and deadlines looming again!

  7. The hood of my new neon yellow Packlite jacket is smallish, and will not fit over a helmet. I had a hood over my helmet with my old heavy TNF jacket, and that did indeed protect me very well against the weather, but it was also a bit disconcerting because you cannot easily look sideways.
    I do indeed use a buff in cold weather, but it does not keep me dry in real rain. And no, my Goretex helmet cover does not fit my Giro XL helmet (I have a big head). The shape of the helmet is too elongated. Maybe there are other helmet covers.
    Waht I can think of is to use one of these more or less disposable transparant plastic raincaps you see elderly women pull out of their handbags when it starts raining, or alternatively some waterproof skulcap. With the latter, water dripping into your neck seems a real issue.
    I think I need to be properly prepared for this. Last time I was in Norway it rained almost non stop for three weeks. Part of our tour will be at altitudes of 1000-1400 meters, and you do not want to get soaked at those temperatures. It happened to us on a previous trip, in the Pennines, and that was no fun.
    I will bring a waterproof jacket and trousers, Goretex spd cycling boots and waterproof cycling gloves, but I still need to find a solution for my head. The hood will be fine on the campsite, and when it gets cold I will have my buff underneath, but how do I keep my head dry while riding?

  8. A couple of things have come to mind. One is that there’s waterproof balaclavas for motorcyclists, that might be worth a look?
    The other was the OMM Kamleika smock, it’s a stretch waterproof. Cut the peak off the hood and it should fit under a helmet. Maybe the old version can be had cheap as the new one is hitting the stores right now?

  9. The old ladies rain cap isn’t a bad idea either, you could make one our of breathable fabric quite easily.
    I should really be thinking about this stuff as well for the West Highland Way race in a few weeks. I can see that being very wet.

  10. I have been googling a bit in the meantime. There seem to be many US offerings. My problem is that many are one size fits all models – but probably not mine. I will go and have a look in various local road bike stores, as they should get them in now for the winter season. I really need to try one with my particular helmet. Fortunately many are in neon yellow, a good idea for the rainy season. I will keep you posted.

    As for my earlier post about by PHD Minimus bag that was too light: I returned it and it tuns out I was not sent a wider size by mistake. So they will widen it, and probably add some extra down. I have now also ordered a synthetic combi bag with Dryshell from them (also cut wider) to keep me warm in Norway. I did not think the Minimus would be warm enough on its own camping in Norway at 1000 meters: even in summers the nights can be freezing cold there. The bad news is that all this cold weather stuff will make my load heavier on these steep bike trails.

  11. I’ve actually had experience of those ‘old ladies rain caps’, NOT because I’m an old lady – they were all the rage in the 70s, when I was a kid, and used to be given out as presents at things like children’s parties. Like buffs, they had all sorts of designs on them. I suspect that squashed between the head of an active cyclist and their helmet, it’d get very hot and sweaty in there, and if you’re cycling, you might get the drips down the neck anyway.
    But I like the idea of cyclists going around in old ladies rain caps ;-)

  12. Cheers PTC, no worries you’ve got plenty on ya plate. I look forward to seeing the feedback and pictures in the future.

    Good luck with the WHW race… Don’t burn your legs out before the race.

    Willem, have you looked at ASSOS, they specialise in quality cycling gear. I used to do a lot of road racing at one time and their kit was the brand to have… Just a thought.

  13. Willem, glad you’re sorted out with PHD. Looking forward to hearing how you get on with it on your trip.
    Weight versus comfort/performance is always a difficult balance.

    I can see a retro-fashion resurgence here Kate.
    I’m sure the forces have a head-cape thing. Knowing my Sunday morning thought processes it’s probably just WW2 naval gunners that wore them though?

    Kiff, I meant that I’ve got to get out and backpack sooner than I planned, that’s no great hardship though :o)
    I’ve got to do a route based from Eilean Donan castle (it’s a movie-themed issue, I picked Highlander!), so I think I might head down Glen Elchaig.
    It’s now been too long since I was out with a tent, and I’m totally stoked for it!

  14. Yes Norway will be an interesting challenge. The cycling will be demanding, with 80-100 kms a day, and quite a few steep climbs straight from sea level to 1000-1400 meters, and as much trails like the Rallarvegen as possible. So we need to be as light a possible. At the same time the weather can be tricky, with possibly a lot of rain, and freezing night time tempratures. In two weeks we will have only one rest day to wash and dry our clothes. So we will need to bring some colder weather gear like a down mat and a warmer bag, and some clean dry stuff. It will be a fine line – I guess a bit like doing this in Schotland….

  15. Does anybody know if any of the manufacturers make a lightweight fleece out of powerdry. I have an extremities powerdry fleece hat which weighs nothing, folds up really small and fancy the equivalent in a long-sleeve top for use as a “thermal” layer in mountain marathons.

    Any guidance would be appreciated.



  16. Aye, Montane.
    The Oryx they send me last year is made of a heavier weight Powerdry. It’s a nice bit of kit, but it has a full zip and a wee pocket, so not very minimal for racing.

    There’s bound to be others out there though.

  17. Right then, changing the subject, and because I wasn’t sure where else to put this….
    Just seen today, posted by someone ‘in the trade’ on OutdoorsMagic:

    “Without going into too much specifics, it would be worth noting that OMM has actually recently changed hands. What this will do to the range (and possibly the quality) we don’t know, but as things might be in a state of fux for a bit…”

    So, is there anything you can tell us about this, ptc*? Any inside knowledge, noises of reassurance etc…?

  18. I was just keeping a dignified silence – I hate to ‘see’ grown men cry ;-)

    Look on the bright side, this might mean more/longer back lengths…

  19. I know exactly what’s been going on with OMM. I’m not saying anything about it as the folks involved with OMM are people I regard as colleagues and indeed friends.

    What I will say though, is that the range as it is, and future development will continue. I know what’s on the drawing board, and I’ve been testing samples for months.
    Also the evolutionary line started with the Whillans Alpinist isn’t at its end either.
    So don’t worry folks.

  20. Good news then. I’ll be interested to see where the ‘new’ Alpinist line looks like (and if it/they will fit).

  21. Question: has anybody here handled a Barrier Windstopper hoody? Any can give me any idea of the pack size?

    The background is that I’m after big bloody winter insulator. And this looks like a good option. I’m a rough bastard with my kit and synthetic has better trash value, and the warmth looks about right (150g of Thermolite in the body, 100g in the arms and hood). So, assuming Thermolite has an insulative capacity similar to Primaloft, that’s 250 percent warmer in the body as my LIM Barrier Pullover, and 66 percent warmer in the arms (have I done my math right? And am I talking bollocks? I’m not the best technically on things warm). Plus, it’s Haglofs so I know t’will be good quality, good fit, good colour, yada yada yada. And I quite like windstopper, certainly for legwear and I can see the potential value in a belay jacket.

    The only qualm is the pack size, I don’t want to be saddled with a monster. Any ideas how, roughly, this would compare with the pack size of my LIM Barrier? Or in relation to whatever big piece of fruit you can think of?

  22. The Windstopper version is both warmer and a little bigger packing than the regular version.
    I pack the regular one regularly in the winter in a packs from 20L to 35L, but I’m not carrying a rack or ropes these days.
    Small pumpkin maybe, turnip sized?

    I actually wish I’d asked for one to test this winter. Ach.

  23. Question about vest lengths. (Great site by the way!)

    I’m 6′ 4″, slim build and looking for a vest, synthetic rather than down, but willing to consider both. My difficulty is finding a vest long enough given my height. Does anyone have centre back length measurements (size medium) for the Haglofs Barrier vest, Marmot Cauldron vest, Rab Generator vest, or anything similar?

    I understand the Haglofs is quite a good, slim fit but I’m concerned about the length (or lack of!).

  24. Cheers!

    I’ll measure my Barrier vest tomorrow (it’s in the car and it’s raining…). I know from memory that the Rab one is a little longer, but marmot no idea.

    More later!

  25. Much obliged.

    I see in other postings you’re a fan of the LIM Barrier Pullover – if it’s not too much trouble (last request, promise) I’d be hugely grateful if you could take front/back length measurements of this also? I’ve got emails out with Haglofs and various other companies but not sure how soon they’ll reply.


  26. Winawer,

    I use a large Rab Generator Vest. It is 74cm long in the centre of the back plus 8cm collar. However, I have just noticed it is a bit of a droptail shape. I use a large size of this product even though everything else I have got is medium because I find it useful just to wear it on top of any of my other things for lunch stops, etc. The stretchy openings fit quite snugly even if you are only wearing a base layer and stop it getting draughty even though the garment looks a bit floppy on me when worn over just a base layer. In the winter I use it to boost up my PHD Minimus jacket for camping because it is not quite warm enough for that time of year.

    PTC, talking about sizes, I think Montrail’s international shoe size chart is wrong. I just bought some Continental Divide GTX’s that were on cheap. They are labelled as I ordered at UK9.5. However the label says Mens US10.5; EUR44.5; UK9.5.

    According to my investigation, the other two sizes equate to UK10. The shoe also feels like a UK10. This problem stems from Montane’s sizing interpretation that UK is one full size smaller than US men’s. It is my understanding that the difference is a half size. Am I right or wrong ??


  27. No. From memory inov8, and most others, give the UK size as a full size smaller than US sizing, and I’ve even see a size and a half a couple of times. US 10.5 would normally be a UK 9.5.

    However, European 44.5 would not normally be UK 9.5. I’m an EU 44 and always UK 9.5. 44.5 = UK 10 normally.

  28. Measurements coming later!

    Montrail sizing is slightly off the normal aye, US10=UK9=EU44.
    I always go by the US size, because the test kit comes from France and dealing with European footwear distribution has taught me to stick with that as it’s the biggest print on the box!

  29. Thanks chaps,

    Anyway seeing as I wore them outside and they are not quite clowns feet I will stick with them and see what happens.


  30. Righto

    Barrier Pullover, size large, back collar seam to hem: 29 1/2″/ 750mm

    Barrier Vest, size large, back collar to hem: 28 3/4″/730mm

    Catching up…

  31. Thanks PTC* – much appreciated. Going with the Barrier Pullover – probably more closely fits my needs and is slightly longer. Cheers.

  32. PTC,

    I am just posting an ‘orange’ alert for you in that RAB on their website now seem to have introduced a Vapour-rise Trail Jacket in orange. I thought you might be interested. Unfortunately, it does not seem to have any skulls on it.

    Speaking of the La Sportiva boots you are about to try out, you viewers might be interested in some wimins Trango Extreme Evo boots on theoutdoorshop.com that they are trying to sell at £150. They look to be worth a try for cold weather stuff and I tried to get my girlfriend interested but apparently she would prefer a small sculpture for crimbo.
    Hey ho, I don’t understand some peoples priorities…

  33. Mike I saw the orange vapour Rise, and to my shame the colour alone had me trying it on for size :o)

    I suppose it depends on what kind of sculpture it is that’s trumping the outdoor gear? I have a nice wee Heironymous Bosch figure (it’s the tree-man from the Garden of Earthly Delights triptych’s “Hell” panel) that does beat synthetic underwear in desirability and scariness, but that’s about the limit!

  34. PTC,

    I don’t recall you testing a VR trail jacket previously although I am fairly sure you must have had a close look at the smock at some point. IMHO, it is one of the few items I use for walking that I would replace with minimal consideration of current alternatives.
    It is not perfect. The waist elastic on mine bust within a year where it is attached in the hem of the jacket near the zip. But the elastic is still useable a further year later after tying a couple of basic knots in it. Also, like most garments that people reckon you can get an OS map into the ‘cavernous’ front pocket of, when you actually try with say a real world Ortlieb map case on, it just to say doesn’t fit. Also, this garment is for walking, not leisure time as it is basically to be worn over a base layer or directly on the skin unless you want risk ripping out the inner fleece or alternatively buying an oversize jacket. But all of these minor niggles aside, the jacket is a great compromise between weight, windproofness and warmth. Also, on my neck the collar with the hood stowed is the best neck gaiter / scarf I could ever hope to come across. Brilliant.

    BTW, the sculpture Deborah has chosen is a leopard watching over it’s young whilst they drink out of a puddle. This is because she loves cats. Maybe not my cup of tea, but still slightly preferable to Hilda and Stan Ogden’s flying duck wall ornaments. To be honest, the only sculpture I currently own is my Aku Croda in Anthracite with orange laces. They are my idea of art. The boot equivalent of a Ferrari F430 (n.b. obviously these boots still have compromises like every other reasonable lightweight product).

    Sorry I am a bit talkative, but I am in a good mood as I have just been down the local town hall for a few drinks watching a folk band. And to cap things off, I have just checked the forecast and it looks alright for the weekend for a bit of car camping across the Lakes with Deborah and our little dog.

    Best wishes everyone.

  35. I wouildn’t mind testing the VR stuff, I supposes it’s half way between regular kit and the Extreme smock I’ve got on test.
    It’s good that there’s so much variation available these days. It used to be wooly jumpers and coated nylon jackets not so long agao, we’ve never had it so good!

    I’ve seen the Croda’s, nice bit of kit. I quite like Aku, they do their own thing regardless.

    Talkative is good, and live music puts me in a similar frame of mind. Getting out to a couple of gigs recently after a the big gap since Holy was born was just fantastic.
    There’s a huge gulf between musician and celebrity and good to know we’ve still got musicians plying their trade and the world’s not gone completely X-Factor!

  36. Now you’re back out and winter is here… what do you for a winter sleeping mat?
    I have an Exped sim light which isn’t going to cut it – neither I suspect would the Fat Aric but I’m not going to even think about carrying that more than 10yards from the truck!
    Have considered the Exped syn and downmat’s especially the 7 short, to save weight and money… but it still seems awfy lots of money.

  37. I nearly cried on Friday when I saw how big my Synmat was folded up, so I went back to the NeoAir and took a single OMM Duomat for underneath it.
    I was fine camped in snow at 1000m+, but I do think it’s on the limit and it does bleed heat when it’s out of contact with your body which can be noticable, but it hasn’t woken me up yet.
    I’m going to try other mats again on the next trips and I’ll update as I go. The warmest is probably the Big Agnes Two-Track. More soon!

  38. Yeahhh. I’ve got a Duomat – as the doggie’s bed, and you’ve saved me the probably cold experiment.

    The two-track looks slightly heavier (depending on who’s figures you believe!) but quite a bit cheaper.

    Hmm. Maybe I should get another duomat and layer up, as it were.

    I’ll be looking at your mat reports carefully!

  39. Beth, there’s a good deal on the Downmat 7 Short at Action Outdoors just now :))

    We had ours out on Saturday night, not on snow but the overnight temp dipped to -4 according to the thermometer in the side pocket of the tent inner… we were toasty.

    The packed size is very reasonable and the weight is a ‘mere’ 630g now that it doesn’t need the extra pumpsac.

  40. Thanks Matt! That’s a very good deal. That would solve all my non-summer sleeping mat requirements. Hmmm.

  41. My sim light is a short and although it is a little short it’s not enough to be a problem, I curl up a bit anyway. Kind of object to carrying a mat that’s built so a 6footsomething can use it.
    Qualifies for free carriage too. Ooops. :)

  42. I pulled the Big Agnes Aircore 2 oot from under the spare bed at the weekend. I think it’s been on a steady diet of pies since I saw it last :o( Dead comfy tho’.

    Short mats are great but once you’re over the 6ft mark, as I am, there’s a bit too much hanging off the end for comfort. Bearable in the warmer months but in winter, not so much.

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