Gear Diary

What the kit’s doing, random stuff, thoughts on this , that and the next thing.

I kitted out four and a half folk with gear on the recent National Park trip, everyone brought their own kit as well, but it was interesting to see how the guys got on with the unfamiliar, as good a test as any.

My kit’s above, pretty much regular issue, Lasercomp, Neoair, Jetboil Flash, Montane Flux. The sleeping bag was a PHD Minum 300 with the short zip, making it’s first appearance of the year and was a comfy down filled delight. I’ve enjoyed the past couple of nights in a tent using a zipped bag, it’s nice to have a little freedom sometimes.
The pack (better view below) was the Macpac Amp Race 40 which I didn’t manage to fill, it’s definitely bigger than advertised. I carried a water bottle on the bungees on the left shoulder strap and the strap rubbed a bit, so I won’t do that next time to see if that was the cause. Otherwise, it’s a cracker. Good size, flexible but supportive of the load and great storage without cramming. The Montrail Streaks had their last hurrah, the Haglöfs Rugged Mountains Pants vented when required and carried the camera in thigh pocket with ease. Wigwam trail runner socks were good both wet and dry.
I had some new Chocolate Fish merino kit on the go, as did a few of the boys. I’ll do that in more detail soon.

Other tents I supplied were:
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1. Grant Moir used this, and he pitched it quick without help. It still looked good and tight next morning. He seemed pleased with the weight when carrying it and as a home for the night.
Force Ten Helium 200. Geoff Miles hads this, he pitched it pretty well and found the room in the 200 was fine for hiim, so I’m looking forward to using it now.
Terra Nova Laser Photon Elite. Bobinson had this, and he noticed the size difference right away. His comment that good pitching is vital is a lesson for anyone using one of the Laser family.
MSR Skinny One. Long enough for Craig McQueen, it’s a single-skin oddity but pitched tight it was fine. DSoaked with condensation in the morning though.
From elsewhere:
Big Agnes Copper Spur. Stuart MacInnes slept in this, it’s the same one I tested last year, great tent.
Argos ProAction. Chris Sleight’s tent, looked a bit wrinkly, but it’s orange so it’s a winner!

Sleepmats, I took an Exped Synmat 7 Basic for Geoff,an Exped Airmat for Grant and a Big Agnes AirCore for Craig. There were no complaints, and as it was a warm enough night there were no cold ground woes reported over breakfast.

Sleeping bags I supplied were:
Alpkit Pipedream 600. Geoff has this, I knew he’s be warm enough in whatever happened. No reports of cold and no complaints about the slim cut.
Alpkit Pipedream 400. Grant used this, he was fine, he’s camped in the hills plenty.
I wanted to use the Alpkit bags to contrast some of the top end stuff on show from Phil, Stuart and me (PHD and Big Agnes). Wild camping isn’t about logos, and light doesn’t have to be expensive either.
Marmot Sawtooth. Huge heavy down bag, way too warm, but the only one I had that would fit Craig. Even if he’d said he was cold I wouldn’t have believed him.

Miscellaneous Kit:
Optimus Terra Solo and Weekend pots, Snow Peak Twin Wall titanium mug, Lifesystems and Karrimor stainless steel mugs. Optimus folding spork, Light my Fire sporks and Firesteel, torches brought Petzl Tikka XP’s and an Alpkit Gamma.
Craig wore the Rab Super Dru at camp and Geoff was glad of the Haglöfs Oz he didn’t notice in his pack.
I took a bunch of food, Travelunch, Expedition Foods and Mountain House. Success was reasonable, but Stuart found that his needed frying, something to check in the shop folks, I know I didn’t.
I gave the boys a mix of Nalgene and Camelbak bottles. The wide mouth is easier for filling, much as I love my Siggs.
Poles were Mountain King Trail Blaze and Expedition Carbons, and Leki Makalu Carbons.
Stoves were an Optimus Crux Lite, Brunton Flex and Markill Peak Ignition. All impressed with their simplicity and weight.

I printed out and laminated maps which were used, GPS’s were used to tell us what we already knew. Bless ’em.

Now, the biggest thing here was the complete lack of problems with the kit, the guys just got on and used it quite intuitively. I was super-pleased about this as I wanted the guys to have a good time, or at least have a trouble free time, and that’s what we got.
The kit was pretty basic, and fit for use anywhere I would normally go, more that capable for the time of year in fact. Oh, I feel like shouting at the outdoor establishment again. Damn their outdated dogma, go light people.

9 thoughts on “Gear Diary

  1. What was the verdict on the Argos tent? I bought one last summer in a sale – it was up for £17.99 or something daft and I’d seen a few positive reviews – but I haven’t used it yet. I carried it with me on a couple of overnighters last year, but only as insurance if the bothies were full.

  2. I think I *need (lol)* to check out some of the Chocolate Fish stuff. I’m hooked on Arc’terx RHO LT Zip base layers at the moment, but I love to have the option of buying British if I can; so I’ll look forward to your detailed look at your new Chocolate Fish gear :)

  3. Interesting shot of your kit there Pete, as you say it’s not just about having the lightest stuff but being comfy with what you carry. That sack is not so light (I have the 25), the Jetboil is officially a bloater but I love mine and it makes the mug redundant… yours is still there? Must be the colour it’s in that saves it! It really is about getting a combination of gear that you are happy to carry and at some point of the day increase your enjoyment.
    About carrying a drinks bottle on the strap – I picked up the Inov8 attachable bottle and holder for the trip to Skye last week (met up with Elaina whilst there… showing off her new Icebugs in the brightest red ever!) and got to say, a bottle there annoyed me an aweful lot but it was worth a try.
    Those Montane LimEdt Pants got a good beating on the Ridge but took everything in their stride, that fabric is pretty hardy. Just got a mass of dirty clothes to wash now!

  4. … and got home to find Mr Ronnie James had died. It knocked me sideways more than anyone else famous dying ever has. Rainbow were the band for me when I was a 15 year old and On Stage and Rising still hit the spot even now.

    RIP Ronnie James ‘RareBlare’ Dio

  5. Glad you’ve got the Alpkit bags on test, been using my Pipedream 400 now for four years, can’t be bothered replacing it as it is perfect. Would love a 600 for winter and one of those 200’s for summer. They are excellent value for money and I really don’t see much difference with ones costing double what thy are.

    Got myself the Optimus Terra Solo pot yesterday, love that instead of a 100ml shallow frying pan lid, which there is absolutely no use for! Instead the lid is 300ml in volume and can be a mug. Fantastic weight too.

    Still don’t feel 100% confident in my Neo Air and other blow up mats, God they aren’t half comfy but I’m still constantly thinking, crap what happens if it punctures. I used mine last night in a single skin shelter with no groundsheet and it was on bare grond and didn’t pop so maybe me just paranoid! At least with the old TR self inflating they had foam in.

  6. Chris, the Argos tent went uncommented upon. To me it looked fine, but a little “loose”, but I don’t know if that’s pitching or design!

    Gordon, the Rho Zip is a cracker, I love wearing it.
    I had Chocolate Fish top, bottom and socks on for my trip this week, very good indeed. Write-up soon.

    Chewy, I went mugless for years, and came back again. It’s mainly so I can boil up or melt snow while drinking my cuppa, and the cup itself is a great wee storage device. Weighs F/A too :o)
    Glad Skye went well!

    To add to the musical passings, Slipknot’s bass player Paul Gray just died as well. Just a young fella, sad.

    Jamie, the wee lid in the original Terra Solo didn’t make as much sense as the one on the Weekend, other than as somewhere for your used coffee bags :o)
    Great pots though, best handles out there and mine have worn so well.
    I slept on an upside down Neoair on Monday night, that’s the thin side down, no problem, I stopped worrying about it long ago. But, I do have the means to patch it should it all go horribly wrong…
    Alpkit? The kit is decent enough, but the future is the interesting bit. With Pete Dollman designing in-house for them it’ll be fun watching who they piss off next.

  7. Pete,

    Whats the eVent compression sacks? Are they swapsies for the standard Alpkit Comp’ Sacks? If so… where can us ‘civilians’ get some???

    cheers!

  8. The orange and blue eVent sack is a POD one, the smallest size they currently do. Really light, but tough too, definitely recommended.
    Lots of shops have them, basically anyone who has Rab kit as it’s the same company.

    The yellow/pale grey one is a Sea to Summit, a bit beefier both in fabric and compression, it has webbing, the pod has cord, another great bit of kit. Should be findable in the shops as well.

    My Neoair has been solid so far, I know a lot of folk have had issues but mine’s been fine. The word from the manufacturer was that the first batch did have some quality control quirks, but after they dealt with that they’ve all been spot on.
    Who knows though, but no, it shouldn’t deflate!

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