Trail, February and March ’09

There’s a few bits in the February and March issues. And on the LFTO site you’ll see the coverage of the rather nice Crux Halo pullover I have on test. Part #1 and Part #2.

My February “Lighter” column was all about clothing, basically that I don’t really care how much the clothing that I’m wearing all day weighs. Wearing Paramo and Furtech hasn’t been a hardship at all. In the text, the sentiment that if your trousers are too heavy you have to get down the gym is one I stand by.
The lightweight feature that I got so many comms about isn’t aimed at experienced light packers, it’s aimed at your sceptical Trail reader, and although it doesn’t go too far down the road, if it gets folks interest up, gets them looking at their kit and wondering “Why?” then that’s what it’s all about.
The PTC v GT gear section is quite funny. It shows some different kit that’s possible, and some of GT’s selections are lighter than mine, but not necessarily so small packing. 
A few extra grams here and there on small items might mean carring a smaller capacity rucksack and that could save you 600g in the end.

Test pitching before taking them oot

Test pitching before taking them oot

In the March issue my column is all about bits and pieces, lightweight accessories and the accidental assassination of the Lowe Alpine Mountain Cap.

Also my review of 16 one-person tents is in there. Some real winners, some slightly disapppointing and a couple of howlers.

45 thoughts on “Trail, February and March ’09

  1. Wasn’t inspired to buy Feb’s issue, but I say the new one at lunch time and couldn’t resist the one man tent test.

    I remember saying somewhere about the Lightwave that an inner first tunnel might provide the worst of both worlds. it seems I was right!

    Is the Microlight really 1995g? I thought macpac had it down to 1.8kg.

    BTW – The Readers’ Wives day sack review is a stupid idea.

  2. Aye David, the Lightwave was horrendous in high winds. It’s so well made and performed so badly, I was really disappointed. Pitched tail right into the wind or on a more sheltered pitch would have been fine. I’d like to try another non-tunnel Lightwave for mountain top stuff.
    The Microlight I thought was about 1800g, I weighed some and GT had to weigh some when they went down for the photies because I’d either lost the figures or forgot. (The logistics of testing 16 tents is quite convoluted, I was lucky it went as well as it did). It does feel heavy when it’s packed though, and too low inside, but again really well made.
    I’ll have a read through when my copy appears and remind myself what I said about what.
    I’ll need to see the Readers Wives review section also ?!

    Holdfast,I usually put them on the “6/ Trail Columns” (centre column at the top) an issue or so after it’s been published, but I think I’ve slipped behind a bit. I’ll sort it out over the weekend.

  3. Pete, on a completely unrelated matter, well, not quite completely. Forecast for tomorrow is fine-ish, apart from the small matter of 50mph gusts at Munro level. I’ve never been in a tent in that sort of winds, though I’ve often walked in those conditions. Thinking back at your scary night near Stob Ban, what’s the comfort wind speed for pitching a tent (say, a good, winter-worthy Hilleberg) on an exposed pitch? It’s my 50th birthday tomorrow and I’d be tempted to go to a nice place I know by a lochan off Beinn a’ Bhuirdh, about 850m height, but fairly exposed. I’m sorely tempted, but I wonder how one can put up a tent in that sort of wind. I’ve got a choice of a semi-geodesic (the Unna) and a tunnel (a Nammatj). Both supposedly fit for polar expeditions. But the ‘Gorms in a bad mood seem to me to be a tougher beast than the Swedish outback… Any thoughts??

  4. Many happy returns for tomorrow, 50 is a special one, I hope you have a cracking weekend :o)

    Pitching in wind can be a hassle depending on the tent, inner first pitching, freestanding, as-one etc all have their quirks. Once it’s pitched, getting it tight and even is another task, and if you don’t get it looking like the catalogue it can leave it more exposed and vulnerable to the weather. That was part of our Stob Ban trouble, the ground and darkness and gusts led to poor pitching.
    As a rule, in the wind I try to get the pointy end of any tent attached to the ground and work my way forward from there. Throwing your pack on the tent might help, but once the poles are in you have to keep the tent on the ground yourself and it can get pretty mobile if it’s really windy. Part of the Lasercomp’s attraction for me in this situation is it’s size, it’s more easily managed.
    If it was me I’d take the Unna after seeing how well the similar Soulo fared in winds and snow, a tunnel tent is just asking to get buffeted about and give you grief.
    Just have your kit ready for evacuation, or a quick dash ourside to secure a guy line. And on that, keep a spare peg opr two in the tent. I’ll be doing that from now on after losing one onto the scenery last time.
    Anyway, if you get there and it’s looking iffy, just camp somewhere else. Whatever, you’re still out there doing it :o)

  5. Andy I’ve had my Laser Comp in 70 mph gusts (confirmed with anemometer) and it took it well although it was noisy.

    The Stob Ban trip you mention, I walked up to where PTC and Bobinson were camped with a few others others from OM and the wind was so strong we were being blown over when it gusted.

    I’d say both your tents are more than capable. Just be carefull while pitching…..stick rucksack on top of tent body untill its pegged to prevent any embarrasing/expensive “kite” moments. Fire poles in quick and then guy out. Should be fine I’d say.

  6. I dunno if its that impressive really, that chap seems to be standing there leaning into the wind quite fine without being blown about.

    From experience I’d say its the “gusts” that really do the damage to a tent (and blow people around).

  7. Aye, it was single gust that did boths tents a mischief recently.
    The lesser gusts loosen everything with the vibration, pegs, guys, stitching and then the big one just flattens you.
    But it’s the nature of the game, I’ve had enough calm starlit nights on the tops to know that I deserve a few wild ones (and now I’ve had a few, let’s go back to the old version…).

  8. Cheers guys, that’s all good advice. I’m still mulling over whether to do it or not. I’ve done a lot of summer summit camping, but in winter I’ve never yet dared to camp anywhere… I’ve got all the kit, winter sleeping bag, the lot. And I’d like the first time, er…, to be special, nice starry night, croaking ice on the lochan, that sort of thing. But I also like a challenge! And I love stormy weather on the hills…

    There’s another thing which is worrying me. The Nammatj has got a good porch, the Unna, you can detach the inner and make as big a porch as you want. But I wonder about using a gas canister stove (MSR WindPro) in a tent with gale force wind, if that’s dangerous because the flame will be unstable etc. So that’s another worry.

    But I think you’re right, Pete. The Unna is probably the better bet. It’s no faff at all to put up, goes up in one go, two minutes and you’re fully pegged (if the wind hasn’t take it away.

    Good idea about putting the rucksack on top, although when I last was in 60mph gusts, that too would have taken off…

    Anyway, many thanks for all the wise words and yes, 50 is a bit of a special date. Whether or not I go tomorrow, mid-February is supposed to be more settled weather with plenty of snow, so I’ll be off every week with my Unna and report back! I might still go tomorrow, mind ya…

  9. Happy Birthday when it comes andy, I’m sure you’ll have fun.

    The worse the weather, the more vivid the memories!

    PTC* I’ll bet it does, I’ve got luminous yellow ones with glow in the dark linelocs on mine.

    I’ve been eyeing up a yellow tent recently and I reckon the first thing I’ll do is replace the guy’s with the “hot pink” ones from Team IO…….I really need to get out more!

  10. Aye, frankly. It’s a great design, just heavy.
    It’s dark inside it as well, a lighter coloured outer would be another good update.
    It was good to find out that there’s a lot of choice out there, it’s definitely not all about Akto versus Comp :o)

  11. you’re right Pete.

    Forget the Akto. The Laser Comp is king! I havent read the article yet but will do today. Still waiting for that blizzard to really test the Soulo though……

  12. Terra Nova are constantly developing the Comp, it’s had tweaks for ’09 and it’s a little lighter again.
    The Akto is the Akto is the…. It’s frustrating that they don’t develop it and make it lighter.
    A sub-1kg tent from Hilleberg would be quite something.

  13. Hi Pete,

    Just seen the Trail review and see you didnt include the Akto at all ?

    Its not all about LC vs Akto but thought the review was a little unbalanced without it and the Akto conspicuous in its absence.

    Any reason why it wasnt included ?

    (Im an LC owner by the way…)

  14. Hi Dave

    The Akto hasn’t changed in years, so the reasoning was that a new review would be the same as an old review.
    The Comp has modifications every year that affect its performance, so that was valid (in fact the one comimng onto the shops this month has had more tweaks and it’s a wee bit lighter).

    I actually quite pleased, I know the Akto well, but the Soulo was an unknown and it’s a fantastic tent.

    I’ve been asked already, but if the Akto had been in the test it would have got three stars. There were plenty stronger, lighter and more comfortable tents in the test. I want to see an Akto II.

  15. Having now got my hands on the aforementioned issue of Trail I thought I’d throw in my tuppence.

    As someone who has used a Lightwave tunnel (T0 Trek) without the large porch in winds I measured at 65mph I can only say the porch must make all the difference (in a bad way). It must be said that the other thing about my (heavier) Trek version is that it costs less than the Wild Country one man and weighs about the same.

    As you can gather I really like it, but that won’t stop me looking at a Laser Comp in the long run ;-)

    I have one questions on that front. My Lightwave can cope with quite a lot of snow before it goes ‘flat’ – can the Laser?

  16. I was woken up one night with a loud Shoofff! when I was in the Lasercomp and that was built-up snow slipping off. So, I’m confident that it’ll take some weight, it’ll be when it’s windless vertical snowfall that the real test will come.

    The XT version of the Lightwave was a nightmare in the wind. I think you’re right, the porch loosens the tent up and makes it more mobile. I’ve still got the regular version here, but I haven’t had it in high winds. I’ll have to do just that and see what happens.

  17. Do let me know what happens – assuming you don’t get blown away never to be seen again!

    Seriously though I will be interested to see what you think as I’m beginning to think I’m the only person who likes the tent. Either I’ve been very lucky or I can actually pitch a tent well or my ear plugs are so good I cannot hear the mayhem occuring all around ;-)

  18. It’s the same for me with the Comp.
    I spend my time looking at folk adding this and that onto theirs to make it better and stronger and I’m just thinking “Just pitch it properly” :o)

  19. PTC* I agree, mine doesnt have anything on it that yours doesnt. The only real mods I’ve made are longer Guy’s and I think the effect there would apply to all tents.

    What I dont understand is how people can strugle so much with the pitching of the comp? it really isnae that hard. They’ve even got a video explaining it ffs.

    The other one that gets my goat is folk complaining that its not strong enough, stable enough, durable enough for high mountain use in all weathers. What I’d like to know is

    A. Do any of these people actually own one or have they ever used a Laser Comp?

    and

    B. Have they ever used it in “exciting” conditions and if so, then show me you shredded unsuitable excuse for a tent.

  20. Well, for those who remember me asking the question about pitching in high winds and the like: I didnae go out on my 50th birthday (last Saturday), the weather was too wild for a high camp and I don’t like pitching low. But I went out on Thursday and Friday this week and had a glorious high camp at the back of Glas Tulaichean. I had hoped I could reach Loch nan Eun and pitch there, but the drifts were just horrendous and there was no way up the little pass, and it was getting late too (I had hit the track at noon). So I pitched a few hundred yards down from the loch, but still past the 750m mark.
    I dug a pit for my Hilleberg Unna and built up a snow wall but the winds were really wild overnight and I didnae get much sleep. But it was great!

    So, thanks for all the advice and encouragement. It was tough, but it was brilliant.

    I was toasty warm all night long, really toasty. Set up was: Downmat 7, Rab Quantum 400 (rated to -5), Rab Survival Zone. I was wearing the PHD Yukon Pullover, merino baselayer top (no long johns), Paramo Explorer shirt, Paramo Aspira salopettes (the new model is light and very very comfortable and incredibly warm) and Exped Down booties. I had put the foot end of my bag inside the Paramo Aspira Smock (the jacket had been wearing during the day. The Unna is very warm inside. I got ice and frost on the inside, but not too much. The wind blew the entire night and it snowed (horizontally!) most of the night and well into the morning. But I was SO comfortable in my gear that at no time was I concerned.

    I could post a picture of my snowhole if I knew how to do it!

  21. Like the snow rampart and ditch!
    Never mind, ptc*, there are worse things to do than watching Star Trek re-runs. And think of the contribution you’re making to the development of Holly’s immune system!

  22. Sorry to hear you’re stuck in. So am I, but at least I had my mid-week treat!
    Do get well soon. On the positive side, the forecast looks encouraging for the next week or so. The snaw ain’t going to melt that quickly this time…

  23. Oops, I’ve mucked things up on my flickr page so all the pictures of the walk-in, blue skies and all, are gone. The pictures of the tent and of the walk-out are still there though… I’ve exceeded my monthly upload limit (in one day!), so until March I won’t be able to upload the walk-in photies… Sorry. [blushes and disappears in the dunce cyber-corner…]

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