Monday, 22 February 2010

Next trip

On the 20th of March, Martyn's wife goes away to Brazil, so we're headed off up to the Lakes. I'm letting Martyn organise the location due to my typically poor choices for first night accomodation! With conditions how they are at the moment, I'm hoping for another chance to use the crampons- let's hope it stays cold! Whatever happens I'm going to be trying out my idea for a lighter sleep system. The concept goes: PHD minim ultra bag- theoretically good down to 7, GG nightlight torso or neo-air on a cold weather ccf full length mummy cut mat inside a Ti goat bivy under a Gatewood cape. Inside I'd be wearing merino baselayer, micro fleece mid, Down hood, PHD minim ultra vest, patagonia down sweater, my hiking trousers, down inner trousers, thin socks and Goosefeet down socks. Using these instead of my two sleeping bag system means I can fit everything inside the Murmur pack- the total weight savings knocks a kilogram off my baseweight. Using the Gatewood instead of the Laser competition is another 600g saving. I'm a warm sleeper so I'm hoping this works out. I never sleep right through anyway so it's worth a shot. I can always stick my other sleeping bag in the car and hike back if I freeze on the first night!

Monday, 8 February 2010

More Hogback stuff

There were a few bits and bobs on the Hog- clips and buckles and so on that I wasn't sure about-that seemed to have no real purpose. I emailed Tarptent and got a reply. It seems that the Hog is set up for the crossover poles that are available for the Scarp but they won't be making the crossover poles as they don't really support the material and thus have no purpose. There is aslo a grossgrain strap with a mitten hook on the end- you can see it in the photo right in the middle of the fly. This is for another central pole, slightly shorter than the crossover poles that would provide some support for the fly but they're not making these at the moment either. It does offer up the opportunity to run a guy from it over a trekking pole to give some support apparently. I also thought about running a super long guy from the centre of the arch and clipping the fly onto that. Finally, inside the are also some clips which seem to raise the groundsheet up at the head and foot end. I'll post photos when I get the tent up again.

Gear, gear, gear

I’m really the wrong person to be entrusted with the ownership of a blog- I find it hard to get together the motivation to write, plus I only have internet access at work. I’m still half way through a trip report for a trip to the lakes in October-ho hum.
Here’s a round up of some of the gear I used for the Snowdon trip. I spend a lot of time thinking about gear as you might guess and as usual I had a few odds and sods that were new on this trip:
Berghaus Glacier gaiters.
Last year I had a few problems with snow getting into my mid-cut boots. I wanted a pair of low-cut gaiters that would fit trail-shoes and would preferably be waterproof. The obvious choice would be the Integral designs gaiters but unfortunately they were out of stock at Ultralight Outdoor gear. I found the Berghaus gaiters after a bit of trawling and they seemed to meet my needs exactly. They were advertised as 70g- what they actually are is 84g each. I emailed Berghaus who have said they’ll pass it on to their technical team. Otherwise, they do fit my needs exactly. The seal is really tight and nice and low around a boot or shoe, they breath as well as you’d expect, will stand up when the top elastic is loose and attach to the lace with a Velcro loop rather than a hook, which I always found popped off. This means they stay put even when the front zip is undone- I wandered around the gear shops looking like a backpacking nerd in them unzipped and they stayed put throughout. As I’m only planning to use them in the snow, they’re pretty much perfect.
Trekmates gloves.
I started out with the Primaloft filled gloves. Now I’m not really a fan of gloves- my hands are always cold in them and these, despite the Primaloft, these were no different. When activity was low, my hands were absolutely freezing. Whe I was heading uphill, however, I had to take them off because they were now too hot. When I got the new gloves, I chose simple fleece lined gloves. My hands are still too cold when stationary, but I can now wear them when exerting myself. Both gloves fit nicely, the pre-curved fingers were a treat and the finish is good. They both had a decent gripp palm and fingers and I could do what I needed to do in them. Trekmates do a nice range of gear and are bit bit under-rated methinks.
New guys for the Laser.
I’ve fitted longer guys to the Laser with mini linelocks. The supplied guys were a bit of a joke, and the pitch was much tauter with the new guys. As a side note, the loop to attach one of the front guys is pulling loose. It’s going to cost me £20 to fix it according to a couple of quotes. It’s been going for a while, I’m going to have to get it fixed soon!
Going lighter?I always have a think about going lighter on the next trip. The easiest change would be to just use a five season foam multi-mat without the nightlight torso on top. I did it in the past and the nightlight doesn’t add much comfort. That would save 115g straight off. I’m going to try taking the Minim-ultra sleeping bag combined with some down trousers and my two down tops- My sleep system was too hot at first which was not too good. That would save me the best part of half a kilogram. I wouldn’t mind some down socks to go with that though! I might be able to use my murmur if I can get weight and volume down enough- with the addition of a couple of loops, I could carry the ice axe but I’d have to be careful about scratches or holes- that’s another 400g. Otherwise, I had too much chocolate and not enough whisky!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Hogback lands part 2

When I got back, Solomon was pointing excitedly at a brown box. The Hog had landed. As soon as I got it open, he was pulling me to the door and pointing outside. Solomon (18 months) has learnt what a tent looks like in it's package and what to do with it when it's posted to you. You set it up straight away and so as not to disapoint him, I obliged. It was almost exactly the reverse of the mental process of setting up the Scarp-'This is big, hang on, this is really big, wait, I'm going to run out of grass soon, I'm going to have to move it, this is vast!'

I think I took this photo from the wrong angle, because it looks like I've shot it from lower down to make it look bigger but it's actually bigger than it looks on the picture. Even the pictures on the tarptent site don't convey how much space there is in there, I'm going to have to do a video. For me, Steph and Solomon I think there is too much space, but Steph was really pleased- there's about a foot of space above our heads in there, the curve of the pole is shallow enough so that the headroom is not really compromised at either end, and the boxy outer edges mean that all the space really is useable. The porches are fairly non-existant, but there's room for us and gear inside plus room for another kid too. For four adults it's definitely do-able although it will obviously get tighter in there.

I will say it's not particularly aesthetically pleasing-I think it's something to do with the steepness of the slope front to back combined with the boxy edges rather than the more streamlined look of a lower single pole tent or the domeyness of a geodesic. There is an awful lot of unsupported material there, but I'm not planning to take my family out if the weather looks awful. The gap round the bottom is also larger than the Scarp and combined with the full mesh inner, it may get a bit draughty in there- but that's what sleeping bags and insulated clothing were made for. It's when you consider the weight that it suddenly becomes a no-brainer- on my scales it's 1837 grams. 1837 grams is just insane for a tent this size-I'd be willing to carry that as a solo tent, and indeed, it's not hard to find solo tents at that weight. Nothing else at this size even comes close to that weight except the Mountain Laurel Supermid.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Or not

The tent was mighty small as I put it up, I remember thinking about the conversation Steph would have with me about my obsession with weight taking precedence over an enjoyable experience again. I put Solomon in and sat in there too. It was a Scarp one. Perfect size for me and Solomon, less than perfect for a family. Luckily, after a quick email to Tarptent, they have got a Hog flying over on express delivery. Fantastic customer service and hopefully a happy wife!