Gear Diary

I’m not going to lie here, apart from the occasional softshell or waterproof I’ve used no gear at all since that last trip up the Kilpatricks. That’s a regular July for me though.
But, there’s gear stuff coming up and some info to be noted.

First up is a bit of news that I’m delighted about, and that’s Harvey’s new British Mountain Map of the Southern Highlands. It’s got Ben Lomond, Arrochar Alps, Ben Lui, Ben More etc I’ll have one to show and tell with as soon as it’s printed, which won’t be for a couple of months yet so don’t don’t start demanding one from your local Millets just yet.

Next up is some new kit from regulars of these pages, PHD. Now I love that orange, but apart from that it’s really good to see the range diversifying at a proper technical level at time when so many folk are targeting the casual wallet.
I’ve had a few comms asking about the new kit, but I haven’t seen it yet. I will be seeing it at the start of August though, I’ve got something a little special coming up: a day in the life of PHD.
I’ll be spending a day at the factory, talking to the folks, seeing how the gear is made and fingering lots of kit. I’ll be taking notes, photies and maybe some short film pieces too. Should be a blast.
Now, if you’re wanting to ask them any questions, or find out anything specific, post it here and I’ll take it down with me.

Also, I’ll be visiting Alpkit HQ, I’ve been promised cuppas and a look at some secrets. Same as above, any questions for these guys, flag it up.

Sooner than that will be Haglöfs 2011. I’ll have the usual in-depth look at the guys and gals kit and bring back the news, be it good or frustrating. Questions for the big H? Post them here.

In-between some of the above will be a day in the Lakes with Montane to see 2011’s gear. The new designer’s drawings have now been transformed into kit, and in their own words, they’re psyched for the new collection. Questions? Wire in.

The KORS show is in August, I’ve got meetings with a bunch of folk familiar and new to the blog. August really is going to be gear apocalypse on here.

Lastly, I have in my possesion (have had for some time if I’m honest), the ansewrs to the X-Bionic Wallaby giveaway. Live next week, with a wee look at some new kit.

But after the increasingly painful gap of the last few weeks, the hills are again top of the list. Kintail as soon as the clouds lift, and then somewhere I haven’t been for a wee while, Assynt. Suilven’s the target, but I’ve got business with Cul Mor as well. I cannot bloody wait.

55 thoughts on “Gear Diary”

  1. Suilven and Cul Mor? Don’t forget you’re still meant to camp out on top of Conival! ;O)

    Are your forays to PHD and Alpkit ‘dash doon in a day’ kind of trips? If the timing was right maybe we could show you some alternative hills…

  2. I’m sure it would come up anyway but while you’re at Alpkit I’d love to know anything you can find out about their new tent range please. I’m a big fan of Alpkit and I could see them doing something interestingly different.

  3. Matt, I’d love to, but I’ve booked everything in on consecutive days and I’m only in Peakland for one night. But, if anybody wants to swing by whatever Premier Inn we end up in (Bobinson is riding shotgun) on the 10th August for snacks and refreshments at the bar, feel free :o)

    Luke, I’ve had a sneaky peak and it’s looking good for the tents, I’ll see what they let me get photies of!

  4. I’ve just returned from a week based in Ullapool. Wet and windy all week. Whenever the rain eased the wind would increase in compensation.
    Still did Cul Mor, Cul Beag, Breabag, Ben Mor Coigach and Stac Pollaidh though.
    Not good enough weather for Suilven which needs to be appreciated at its best.

  5. You could ask Alpkit why their Pipedream 400 always seems to be out of stock.

    Weather, fine and sunny when i have weddings and stag do’s and pish when im free. I give up.

  6. I’m an Alpkit junkie too. I like the value and the attitude of the boys.

    Assynt is fantastic – we had a superb day on Cul Mor at the start of June.

    Looking down on Stac Pollaidh was amazing with all the summer isles in the distance and Suilven dominating the views.

    By the way….I love the new orange team strip….

  7. Hi, first time poster, but I’ve been enjoying this site since you first reviewed the Oz (2008, maybe?). I have to say this is my favourite outdoors blog (by far), even though my main playgrounds (the Pyrenees) are somewhat different from the Highlands.

    Now, since you offered :p , I do have something I would like you to ask the folk at PHD. It is one of my favourite brands and I own several bits of kit made by them, but there’s one omission in their sleeping bag range that puzzles me. How come there isn’t a 0ºC rated bag? It seems to me that the gap between the Minimus and the Minim 400 is too big, isn’t it?

    I would really like to know what their view is regarding this…

    Greetings from Spain, and thanks for this oasis of sanity in the middle of so much dogma :-)

  8. Awesome photies Chris, I missed that one first time around. Jeez, I hope I get some of that weather…

    Talking of which, as you guys say, it’s back to driech normality again.

    Hi gfonso, thanks for checking in!
    I’ll ask them, and funny enough a 0deg bag is a requirement for many adventure races, so it’s a good point to bring up.
    Cheers.

  9. There will be bikes too! and… how come Bobinson gets to go everywhere? And can you ask PHD if I can get a refund on the as yet unused sleeping bag I bought last year? It’s in that well cool grass green colour too! (I kid, i kid).
    But (shameless begging) can you ask Montane & Haglofs if I can get some gear? to test of course, I wouldn’t just beg for free stuff, oh no I wouldn’t do that! I’d quite like a Prism from Montane if there is a women’s one. Not if it’s in the ugly berry/maroon colour though – yuck, we want a proper red, green, electric blue (not pastel blue). Just if they’re doing one mind. They might not be of course. That’s all :o)

  10. PHD’s 0-rated bag is the Minim 300 (and it’s wonderful :)

    However, it’s only usually available during their summer and winter sales, at a very good price, or at other times via their Design-Your-Own service at a not so good price…

    I do wonder why it isn’t available all he time – it’s really versatile. I wondered if I could justify plugging the gap between the Minimus and the Minim 400, but having got it the Minim 300 probably sees more use than either of those.

  11. Ditto Mattc’s comment. My summer bag is the Minim 300. Less than 600g and fits into a 4L dry bag. IIRC, they are about £150in the sale(s) – eyes peeled :-)

  12. Not apparently a problem for you PTC, but can you raise the question of the sizing of the Minim/Minimus bags with PHD? While I too find my Minim 300 ideal for summer, I’m on the large side & find it uncomfortably restrictive. I’m sure I’m not alone in preferring the comfort of extra room over total thermal efficiency, even if it weighs & costs a tad more.
    I’ve now invested in a Minim Combi which is ideal for me -roomy, but a little too warm for summer use with the short zip option.
    The DYO approach seems a prohibitively expensive solution to a common problem & I’m aware of several prospective customers who very reluctantly went elsewhere as a result.
    I’m sure PHD could apply their existing Combi cutting- patterns to the Minimus/Ultra bag shell at reasonable cost. I’d be first in the long queue for a simple “wide option” at a small premium.
    Incidentally, I was interested in bob’s “less than 600g” Minim 300. Mine, admittedly with Drilite(+27g) & a full zip (+120g) weighs in at 787g.

  13. Aye – got a Minim 300 as well, just about fine in summer as I have a full zip to keep it from getting too warm but I had it down to -10 last winter, with a big phat down jacket on.
    Synthetic Combo bag over it in winter and I’m good to go anywhere.

  14. thinkgreysky – my minim 300 weighs 704g with full zip but no drishell and as far as I was aware, the zip added just over 100g… so under 600g for a bog standard bag sounds about right.

  15. Just weighed mine again in case my memory was playing tricks: 587g – no zip. I did have PHD add extra helium though when they put it together…

  16. So it seems the drilite weighs a fair bit more than 27g… worth it I guess if you spill drinks a lot!

  17. Cue drmatic music: da da daaaaa….. My bag is supposed to have (i.e. that is what I ordered) a Drilite outer on it…. Mebbies they were a bit stingy with the down….

  18. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You’d know if it’s drishell because when ya gets in it… it fills with air first! My normal fabric phd does nothing of the sort

  19. Just “designed” my existing Minim 300 on PHDs DYO site. The DYO bag to the same spec as my sale bag produces a weight of 695g, (or 675g with an M1 outer) compared to 787g for mine. Maybe I’ve got some of bob’s down?
    If the extra weight in mine is all down, I’m only a few grams off owning a Minim 400. A bit frustrating when I went for a lightish bag but got one less than 100g lighter than my drishell, short zip Combi.
    Still, the DYO price for a 300 was almost £100 more than I paid for one in the sale, so I’ll just struggle along somehow. They’re still the best around.

  20. Well I’m happy enough. Just did the DYO challenge and a Drilite outer/MX inner, 300g fill Minim bag design comes out at 575g. Mebbies I got an extra 12g of down ‘FOC’. The calculator came up with £251 though so that’s ~£100 more than I paid for mine. Keep yer eyes open for the sale is the moral of the story….

  21. Out of curiosity I just weighed my Minim 300 – sale model from I think 3 years ago, standard length, Drilite outer, M1 inner, no zip – 630g for the bag plus 25g for its stuffsac. I’m happy enough with that.

  22. Can you ask PHD what a minim 300 inside a Hispar 700 (-25 rated) would bring in combined rating? I was interested to see they’ve come out with a Hispar combi, but given the broader cut of the Hispar compared with the minim, I’m wondering if combi-ing that way would be better.

    And please ask Montane if they’re going to bring out some of their really nice blokes’ stuff in girlies’ fit (like Prism, and Dynamic Stretch Pants). And also, could they please take an inch off the sleeves of the girlies size 14?

  23. Kate – is the Hispar 700 a ‘sales special’ and, if so, do you mind me asking what the weight and price are typically?

    I’m considering getting a Hispar bag for some winter use but can’t decide at moment whether to go lighter or warmer….

  24. Genaa, my HISPAR was a special. I emailed PHD for advice about my winter sleeping bag needs (I sleep *extremely* cold), and had a correspondence with Peter Hutchinson who offered me a very good deal ‘for cold sleepers’ on a HISPAR before they were available for sale back in early ’08. I don’t know if they’d decided on their ratings by that point, or if I got extremely lucky and they made me up a DYO HISPAR.

    So I’ve got a 700, which is rated to -25 (though for me, that means I’m snug at -10 with minimus down trews on!!). It weighs just over 1100g, which is awesome as it opened up winter camping for me without the weight penalty I’d otherwise have had to take. It means I can get both light and warm, but I did pay a lot less than a 600 goes for these days.

  25. @Genaa and MC
    MC may recall I asked a similar question of her a few months ago. I ended up with an Hispar 500 to replace an ME Lightline. Both bags are ~500g fill though the Hispar is claimed at -15c whilst the Lightline is a more typicall-9c. I have a number of other bags for use from about -10c to -30c already and wanted a decent overlap with the Minim discussed above and the warmer bags.

    The Hispar is a cracking bag and fills that temperature slot perfectly. I had mine made with a full zip as it is just too warm in temps above zero.

    They are vastly expensive but ~900g and -15c is a compelling combination just be ready to sell a kidney (or kid) :-)

  26. Hmmm, yes the Hispar 500 might just be the sweetspot if made with a full-length zip..

    I wonder what the impact of wearing the Yukon would be on the Hispar 500 temp rating.. and for that matter on the Ultra minim? I’m hoping that between the two bags, that would give me adequate coverage for pretty much anything I’m likely to do in the foreseeable future…

  27. Get em to make the Hispar a bit bigger and put the Minim inside it. That’ll be an 800g down bag good for at least -20c I would have thought.

  28. …..which takes me back to my query for PHD. I’d like an Ultra or 900-fill Minimus but won’t order “off the peg” because they’re a touch too narrow for me. For a while now I’ve seen talk of PHD bags being made slightly wider than standard without having to follow the expensive DYO route. What is their policy on this? I’m quite happy to approach the company for a one-off wide cut but I do fear that they’re losing custom by not offering a simple “wide option” at reasonable extra cost when they already hold suitable shell patterns ( in the Combi?)

  29. A few weeks ago I posted a comment about Hamish Brown’s Munro round tent (which I can’t find – the post, not the tent) which had a tray-shaped groundsheet so that condensation would just run into the floor, and how that idea would be great if it could be midge proofed. I think I also mentioned that the Tarp tent moment wasn’t far away.

    But it now appears that we have a British contender, courtesy of Ultralite Outdoor Gear’s new own brand.

    http://www.ultralightoutdoorgear.co.uk/gram-counter_gear_litehouse_solo_single_skin_backpacking_tent.html

    Any chance of you getting one to test?

  30. I wear my Yukon inside my Hispar, but sometimes I’m better off not actually wearing it, but just draping it on top of me in the bag. It does push the temp but because of my very unusual personal temperature rating, I couldn’t say by how much for ‘ordinary’ people.

    Just popped the Minim 300 inside the Hispar 700 – fits fine with no constricting of the loft of the 300 because the Hispar is cut wider. I only stayed in about 10 seconds cos it was obvious even I was going to melt! Don’t forget PHD have just come up with a Hispar combi, which is cut wider still than the standard Hispar.

    I’d certainly say it was worth contacting PHD yourself, thinkgreysky, they were incredibly helpful with me.

  31. Hello PTC,

    You must be very excited about the visit at PHD HQ. I’m looking forward to all you can view and write about them.
    They do have an ethics page on their site, but I still don’t know about the lifes of the geese. After all, they’re the suppliers of that soft, light and warm wonder of nature called down. They’re the real heroes! Can you ask them about it, are PHD in control of that, can they demand things or is it that they just have to rely on the supplier(s) and/or on accasional visits? What guarantees do we have that the geese have a good life, to provide ús a good life out there in the cold as well?

    Many thanX!

  32. Bloomin ‘ell. 1000g of PHD down. That’s got to be good for -25c to -30c. No wonder it was a bit warm for you at the mo :-)

  33. Mixed fortunes there. It’s s nice jacket, good fabric, good cut, but my pre-production sample had a few issues with the construction.
    I was meant to get a in-the-shops version to update, but we never got a round to it.

  34. Nah, it’s quite common for samples to be a little rougher around the edges that the production version. On the Dyno is just some finishing, at the other end of the scale, one of the Karrimor pack samples started to come apart!

    I’m seeing Montane soon, I’ll get an update.

  35. I’d find it fascinating just how much of a difference the internet has made to them/how they survived without it. Hard to imagine them (or the world!) without it now but starting in ’98 does leave a bit before it really got big.

    Just checked an old e-mail and width fittings do seem to be via DYO only. Not such a big premium over standard (non sale!) prices.

    Must not be enough demand to do it as a standard option, but very nice that they can still offer oddities. Like M waist, XXL leg down trousers :)

  36. Martin, when PHD began I’m sure they sold through independent outdoors retailers – I bought a Minimus in about ’99 or 2000 at Ouside in Hathersage, and another a few years later from Braemar Mountain Sports. They also did ‘trad’ mail/phone order with a small printed catalogue. I’m not quite sure when the website started, certainly by the early 2000s, and for a few years it co-existed with selling through other retailers/webtailers. Was it 06 or 07 that they withdrew from supplying other outlets, 06 iirc?

    I guess the biggest difference the web has made to them isn’t the actual sales channel but the fact that google and blogs and forums have made it much easier to find out that they exist and produce great kit!

  37. i’ve had some durability issues with the haglofs viper II; namely, pilling on both inside and outside of the jacket. that’s why i’m a bit concerned about the durability of the dyno.

  38. Matt, that timeline sounds about right. I remember fingering PHD gear in Aktiv8 in Edinburgh in the early 2000’s.

    Holycow, I was at Haglofs yesterday and there’s a new fabric for an updated Viper (it’ll be the Bora I think?).
    The pilling on the this type of fabric is something I’ve seen in the past, I’ve see Schoeller grow spiders webs inside from fibres being pulled loose.
    I think of a ll the softshells I’ve got just now the Arc’teryx one will last the longest with it’s harder outer and least amount of stretch.
    I’ll keep my eye on the pilling, I wear one of the softshells pretty much every day.

  39. Interesting stuff this on the softshell. I’ve just had a weekend in Chamonix and had thought I really need to get some softshell trousers as my current legwear just cannot cope wih the different climatic demands of the Alps. So my question for most of the companies above is, what have they got in softshell trousers thats good/new/exciting/useful (and why should I buy theirs over everyone elses)? Another thing is, why does no one produce a windproof with a helmet compatible hood and adjustable cuffs except Paramo? The dyno, alpine pull-on etc. all look good, but fall down on cuffs that trap in the heat which surely defeats the object of the ‘new’ more breathable windproofs. The only other thing that comes to mind is what are the new Alpkit jeans going to look like?

    Anyway, look forward to the gear apocalypse you’ve promised…

  40. It’s started :o)

    Haglofs 2011 up later in the week with a competition to wind a LIM35 rucksack.
    And, Wigwam socks with about a dozen pairs up for grabs.
    Alright!

  41. thanks for that, pete.

    i’ve got a pair of mammut pants, the courmayeur, which showed pilling on the inside after my very first wear!

    also have the ME astron hoody, which hasn’t shown any pilling on the face of the fabric. the fleece backer, on the other hand looks pretty ragged, and attracts all sorts of stuff just like velcro does.

    the patagonia rock guide pants, despite the continuous use, hasn’t shown any signs of wear at all! i exaggerate. there was an mishap with a pocket knife that went through the fabric like butter, after the initial resistance.

    regarding the rab alpine pull-on, the elasticated cuffs are loose enough to allow them to be rolled-up; unless you have popeye-like forearms, and the venting is great!! but i’m unsure as to the durability of the fabric.

  42. hi pete,

    the arc teryx softshell you have, is it powershield or something with hardface tech or both?

    the astron uses powrshield lite, which seems to be very durable. but the perforated membrane does seem to reduce ‘breathability’.

    thinking about the pilling issue, i’m speculating that the internal pilling could be a consequence of the fabric weave used to promote ‘wicking’, because both the viper ii and the cormayeur pants have a wicking inner surface, and therefore, a less dense weave than the fabric face. but this doesn’t explain the face pilling of the viper ii.

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