The Beinn Narnain trip a couple of posts below saw a few new bits and pieces getting some proper use. The Terra Nova laser Ultra 1 probably being the biggest talking point. I’ll do a proper in-depth look at it when I get better close-up shots, but a few things are worth flagging up right away.
First off, it’s the easier Laser variant to pitch. The flysheet seems to spring into shape, anyone who’s pitched a ‘comp or a Photon will know that the silky flysheet material needs a little coaxing into a perfect smooth shape, the Ultra just pops up like a, er, pop-up tent. It’s probably due to the low stretch on the fabric, but for tired racers getting into the camp it’ll be a joy.
Inside it feels no smaller than the Photon, and the fact that it’s see-through helps to avoid a cramped feeling. Lying in my sleeping bag looking at the starts through the tent was quite something…
I used the Crux Torpedo 700 which is a sleeping bag of extremes. It’s huge, the biggest sleeping bag I’ve used in years, but luckily not heavy. The eVent shell makes it hard to compress and consequently it took up somewhere between a third and a half of my rucksack. I wasn’t stuff for space, but it is food for thought if I was taking the Torpedo farther and higher.
Unpacked it’s a different story, it lofts itself into a fat tube of joy that just swallows you up. It’s a very comfy bag, and the zip loosened off after a few uses so my initial fear of being trapped inside soon faded. The eVent shell was perfect for the trip as I had anticipated, small tents = condensation, and as the ice on the tent inner above me fell onto the Torpedo and melted I slept blissfully unaware, warm and dry.
The hood’s a great shape, the adjuster cords feel like they’re off a sailor’s kit bag from the 1950’s, but that’s a minor. More of this again when I get the tarps back out.
The Lowe Alpine Zepton was the pack I carried full of the Torpedo. It took the load well, having a nice balance between flex and sold load bearing. The low-profile harness and hipbelt was issue free and I pretty much felt at home as soon as I hit the trail.
The ice axe loops at the bottom don’t have enough webbing, you end up straining the stitching when fitting an ice axe, I’ll be keeping an eye on that. The lid pockets are a good size and the plain main compartment is faff-free usability. I missed having wearer-accessible pockets, but that’s a personal thing rather than a criticism. Looking good.
The Rupert the Bear checked thing I’ve been wearing is a Lowe Alpine Stealth Hoody. It’s a full-zip, single chest pocket affair with a neat hood and it’s cut from a grid-backed fabric, ie strips of the fuzzy inner face have been lawn-mowered out. Or something. Anyway, it’s a killer bit of kit, and as Lowe Alpine clothing is about to disappear for a while, I might get me a spare.
The light I was using on the tent photies for my lightning bolt thing was a Petzl Ultra. It’s a monster, six big LED’s and I could only use it on the low setting as on high the reflection of the snow blinded me. I’m used to bright lights with the Exposure stuff I use on my mountain bike, but never have I felt like my head had been replaced with a robot laser cannon attachment like I did on the top on Beinn Narnain. More on this later.
The Strathfarrar trip saw the Hillsound Trail Crampons, the Haglöfs Col pants, the Vango Ultralight Stove and many other favourites back in welcome action. I was definitely kitted out for Spring. That Rab down jacket seems to have been a constant last week too, the Keen Oregons once again bridged the gap berween boots and trainers perfectly.
While I’m on about the Hillsounds, folk have asked me about Pogu Spikes over the winter. And yes, they’re the same design: Hillsound’s patented design. I spoke to the Pogu folk months ago, and I did ask if the center sections were the same carbon steel as the Hillsounds (folk will happily buy bootlegs, but it’s good to get a handle on the quality anyway) but no reply was forthcoming.
More new gear stuff coming up, Vaude, Wild Stripes, Berghaus, Chocolate Fish, Petzl and more.