Kit that broke, kit that didnae, and other stuff before I forget, IX

More by accident than design, the Ben Lomond night jaunt saw a bunch of stuff make it’s debut, Mostly because it was the first thing I saw when I got home and started packing.

Tha Haglöfs Grym boots got their first trip with crampons (Grivel Air Tech Light) and they did well. The ascent was issue-free, a felt a little loosening, but I tightened the laces before I put on the crampons and all was well after that. The sole is a good one on its own, very grippy, and they Gryms were fine with the “New Classic” plastic cradle binding of the Air Techs. The upper is super tough, so there was no pressure from the straps. I know they’re billed as a trekking boot, but they’re a winter boot for sure.
My feet did get tired on the descent, I’m just not used to boots these days. So odd having no foot movement for all those hours, it really does affect the way you walk.

The Macpac Amp 25 was packed for the first time and I think I like it. Great size, great harness, lots of handy stowing options. The back is narrow to allow free body movement, so it can “float” a little which is a little unusual, but it still feels secure. You can minimise this anyway if you use the compression straps and pull in the top tensioners in (which must be the only time I’ve seen them be effective on a pack with a small capacity)
The reflective logos are rubbish though, they’re peeling off already.

Buffalo Mitts and Windshirt, pile, pertex and purple, and they look like they were made in 1973.
The mitts are great, the XL’s fit over my liners and I stayed warm in the biting cold of the windchill. There’s a good bit of dexterity in there, weight and cost are minimal. I’ll need to fit loops on them or I’m going to lose them, but seeing my snotters freeze on the shell while that thin pile kept fingers warm just a few millimeters away made them best pals.
The windshirt is heavy, has quite a poor cut I think, the stitching is 1st Year Home Economics standard, the collar has that stupid velcro on it for the rubbish hood that no one buys. But, it’s comfy, I’ve always loved pouch pockets and it’s er, purple. So I shall endure when the time suits.

I wore the Haglöfs Lizard Top, and all I can say so far is that it fits well, layers well, and with Chocolate Fish Taranaki merino under neath, the Buffalo windshirt over it and a Montane Flux over that, the only condenstaion I found anywhere despite getting warm on the final couple of km’s back to the motor was on the contents of the Flux pockets, my camera and snack wrappers. Seriously, bone dry underneath. Bloody marvellous.
The Flux itself was brilliant of the move in the bitter cold and high wind. The pockets were used constantly, the hood was up and down and I was warm.

I got my CAMP Corsa Nanotech out for the first time in ages and it was joy to use it again, the home made leash was light and worked fine.
My new flask was a joy. It’s a 500ml Thermos, with a rubber ring on the body so you can grip it with Buffalo Mitts (I assume…) and is anodized a nice bronze green colour (I got in Gaynors, that we extra shop they have round the corner). My cuppas were hot, simply poured without any levers or buttons and plentiful with about six cups worth in there.
My Jacaranda fleece hat again had a starring role, the Mountain KIng Trail Blaze poles were there as ever, I wore Wigwam Canada socks, the biggest socks I have ever owned, duvets for feet.

The main thing was nothing annoyed, or failed or was really noticed, and that was what I wanted. I knew my feet would get tired, and I was glad to get the boots off, but I had no blisters or bruises. I can’t believe how much slower I was in stiff boots and proper long-spiked crampons though, it was like having velcro on my feet.

PS I forgot to mention that Harvey sent me their Ben Lomond map a couple of weeks back, and this was its first trip too. I look forward to their Lomond/Arrochar Alps British Mountain Map.

32 thoughts on “Kit that broke, kit that didnae, and other stuff before I forget, IX”

  1. I’ve been back in big boots this last month (partly for lack of a lighter option that’ll keep my feet dry) but it’s amazing how easily I’ve adapted back to them, and they do have some pros as well as cons in the conditions I’ve encountered. I reckon every bit of footwear is a compromise, often even in a single day’s walk, but it’s good if your feet will adapt and handle a range (my lightest footwear is 450g the pair, the heaviest 3.5kg! ;)… it’s just a shame that so much ‘advice’ is so dogmatic.

    Ah, Buffalo mitts – one of the best bits of kit I’ve never owned…. yet! :)

  2. How would you rate the buffalo windshirt against the montane featherlite?? Apart from the difference in weight of course.

  3. Aye Matt, that’s the message that folk should hear, that you don’t have to wear boots, or trainers, or whatever, but you can wear any of them any time you want.
    And the good thing is, the exclusive grip that all the biased established sources have had on readily available information is loosening all the time. The truth is out there these days, all over the place in fact, what did we do before the internet :o)

    Hi Stujbro, the Buffalo is twice the weight, but you do get enough extra stuff to justify it. The cuffs are velcro for usuable venting, side zips for venting as well, the big pouch pocket is brilliant and the thicker fabric makes a difference in winter winds.
    The Featherlite is a little boxy shaped, the Buffalo is quite sculpted, it tapers into your waist for a better fit under a pack or harness. That does mean it might not fit the fuller figure so well though.
    There’s no winner as such, the Buffalo is much better to use right now, but I’d rather pack the Montane in better weather.
    Both fabrics are great, and I suppose the extra features justify the hike in price of the Buffalo, but the finishing is poor in places so they’re making them fast to keep a good margin on them as they’re still made in the UK.

  4. Them Macpac Amp Race are great sacks, I have both the older style ones, the 25 and 45, never liked the look of the new ones with all that reflective stuff on board, so good to know it peels of! Great pack’s for mountain biking too.

  5. Aye, the Amp’s have always been good I think. The 25 is much the same, the changes are mostly just cosmetic I think.
    The Amp 40 is a bit different though now though.
    In fact there’s a parallel here, as the OMM Villain is just a big Jirishanca, now the Amp 40 is just a big Amp 25, single buckle lid and all.
    I’ve got one coming in for test so I’ll get some detail up soon hopefully.

  6. The Montane Flux, I bought mine about a year ago and it’s without doubt the best bit of kit I own. I’ve bought other kit thats works great, bought some that was good but didn’t suit me and bought some crap but the thing about the Flux is that it’s good outside of it’s intended use. I wear mine more than any other coat I own just as general wear. It’s reasonably light for synthetic, a great fit (long arms) a great hood, not bulky but surprisingly warm and it doesn’t need to be treated with kid gloves. Brilliant

    What Matt said about footwear, I totally agree, there’s no need for fanatacism, wear what you think will suit you best at the time.

  7. Aye, informed choice is the only way. TGO and Trail being at either extreme has never helped anyone.

    The fit of the Flux is brilliint, I like its low profile as well, too many synthetics are shapeless horrors.

  8. Interested to saee your comments on the Amp 25 (is this the Amp Race)? I’ve had the same thing with the reflective text peeling off my Amp Race 25 – but a great pack with a reasonably long back, unlike so many small packs. The hipbelt pockets are amongst the best – they are ‘sort of separate’ from the hip belt which means they don’t loose capacity when you tighten the hip belt.
    Did you manage to fix an ice axe on the single loop OK – my experince was that the axe head tended to flap around a bit (and I don’t have covers for the sharp bits! Its a good winter pack size (very large litres here I think – I may try it for an overnighter with camping equipment some time), but the mesh pockets can fill up with spindrift (well, I was out in pretty hideous conditions).

  9. Aye sorry, I missed the Race bit out, it’s the same pack as yours.
    Agree with all the points you make, the detailing and design are mostly outstanding, but I’m going to fit a new cord lock for the ice axe on the upper bungee as soon I stop writing this so I don’t forget, the existing one is too wee.
    Two mates of mine used to camp with their Amp 25’s regularly, they are big for their size (oh, that doesn’t sound right does it?), and the external storage options are great.
    I’m going to enjoy using an Amp again, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the 40.

  10. Of all the packs I’ve had I always go back to my Macpac Amps. Got both sizes and they handle everything from day jaunts to wildcamps. My 25 is needing new side pockets which may well be the excuse I use for getting a new one ;-)

    I’ve had no problems attaching my Camp Corsa to the pack though I usually just shove it down the back of the pack these days

  11. Buffalo mitts do indeed read ‘genius’ on the warmth-to-weight-ometer. (Their booties arn’t too bad either, or rather the Needle sports equivalent).

    Regarding boots, I keep promising myself a pair of lightweight boots for ‘proper winter’ (i.e. non Terroc and Rocky socks conditions), but only after my Scarpa SL’s are finished…

    …which should just be another 250,000 years.

    Actually I don’t mind or notice the SL too much. Well on lengthy track walk outs I certainly do, but not on the hill.

    It’s probablly more a pleasant surprise putting trail shoes back on again in Spring rather (than an umpleasant one going back to boots in winter) A postive rather than a negative, I suppose.

  12. I found the trouble on descent as well, my feet were wanting to move normally and couldn’t. I also had a brand new set of Sole insoles in the Gryms, so I really can’t complain considering how well my feet fared.
    The positivity of the big boot/proper crampon combo was very enjoyable at times.
    Next time will be easier too.

    I’ve been thinking about this, where are Buffalo getting their fabric? It’s either huge rolls of ancient stock, or it’s some kind of exclusive supply/made under license affair.

  13. Thnking about it – it is with leg irons on that I find the SL’s most knackering (but then I have G12’s, so its not surprising)

    On a complely unrelated topic, how water resistent is the MX material on your PhD ultra down vest (obviously not for sitting out in hoolies, but for slipping over a damp to wet primaloft jacket for example)?

  14. I’ve avoided getting the MX fabric wet, I suspect it’s a bit like Quantum, it’ll take so much and then just suck it in like a sponge.
    I could be wrong though?
    In saying that it’s been fine on the Ultra sleeping bag. I’ll observe closer next time.

  15. Another +1 or rather 2 for buffalo mitts,me and the girlfriend both use them, she has the same purple affliction as you ptc ;-),and they are very purple indeed.I can layer a liner and cheapo fleece under my sized pair. I read they’ve been used to pretty cold temps when 2 pairs layered, i can imagine.We both suffer from reynauds syndrome so warm pinkies are a must.

  16. They really do have a cult following these mitts.
    I wonder what kind of review they’d get in the mags?

    Purple is not an affliction, it’s a way of life :o)

  17. One mag might suggest that I leave the mitts and home and just use the pile and pertex booties as gloves…

  18. David,I have actually used the mitts as booties ! Don’t fit over the ankle obviously but will warm the tootsies at a push.

  19. One possible query about the Amp 25 – I wonder of the lid buckle (the bit on the lid itself) might wear through the fabric eventually? It looks like it might, but only time will tell. And is it just me who finds the operation of this buckle counter-intuitive?

  20. Aye, it should be onto a laminated, stitched or stiffened tab, on the plain fabric as it is makes it harder to use that it needs to be.
    Which takes me to the second point, it is a little odd, aye. But there’s a few packa with “reverse” buckles these days, I suppose we’re just used the other way. Like some US kit having the zip-puller on the other side.

  21. Actually Buffalo’s fabric is interesting – the stuff on my recent mitts has a much glossier finish. Very noticeable if I put them next to my older pair. The shirts and stuff I’ve seen in the shops seem to be the same.

    No idea what (if anything) it means mind. Perhaps their ancient stockpiles finally ran out :)

    Montane are also using P6 in the extreme stuff?

  22. Aye, that’s a good point about Montane.
    I’m meeting them again later this month, I’ll see if I can get the lowdown on the old-school Pertex.

  23. Another Buffalo mitts fan here. So warm for such a simple design, great at drying damp liners too. I’ve already added a couple of tiny loops for ‘idiot cords’. Just wish Buffalo would add a burlier palm fabric for those of us that use ski/hiking poles all the time. While they’re at it can we have a one-handed drawstring closure too? A case for an ‘alpine/guide’ version?

    Fussy bastard…

  24. Hi PTC*, do you have a standard solution to replace the rather ineffective bungee cord that is used to fasten an ice axe (or trekking pole) to most rucksacs. You mention replacing the ones on the Amp 25 above (they are captive but awkward to use), and they are no better on other packs (eg the OMM cords can easily be lost). Is there an ingenious solution I’ve missed – even the old bulky buckle arrangement as on my old Hot Earth is more fit for purpose than the arrnagements found on most modern packs.

  25. As well as getting some diamond shaped type spring locks I found these:

    These work really well on the attachment points on my Jirishanca and are the most effective and easy attachments yet (they work with an ice axe or couple of trekking poles). The attachment worked easily with gloves today on a trip up Sharp Edge and Blencathra – proper winter conditions in bright sunshine.

  26. Looked like a lovely day to be out, good place to be as well!

    Those axe retainers used to coma s standard on some Berghaus packs, neat wee device.

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