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

The magic trip to Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan saw a bunch of new kit see its debut.

The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 was pitched properly for the first time in the rain at 1100m or so, and it presented no real issues. Some rain got onto the inner before the fly went on, but none penetrated and the inside stayed dry from both that and any condensation that dripped onto it from the fly during the night. I probably should have untied the guy lines before I left though, they’d been tied into tight coils at the factory and I was trying to undo them wearing Paclite mitts. I pitched it on crappy ground, so I’ll have a better idea about it next time, but I was quite happy in it.

I used the Brunton Flex stove for the first time on a proper trip, and it too was without issue, fast boiling, small packing, orange… After the first use the folding legs jammed at their pivots, but they loosened and stayed loose with subsequent uses. The dissimilar metals settling in?
I had my big long titanium spoon from Tibetan back from Trail and I don’t care how long and awkward it is to pack, it’s the best utensil I’ve used for eating out of a bag.

Night of the Living Marmots the trip could have been subtitled as I had all the Marmot test kit with me. The powerstretch gloves and pull-on served as well as before, but the Nano Paclite jacket and Atom down bag were having their first trip beyond the Kikpatricks.
The Nano had some surgery before I left, the velcro hood adjuster is rubbish, so I “fixed” it. It now has a bungee cord with a captured cord-lock. I just need to figure out how to tell them…
The Atom is light and very packable, even with a full-length zip, but that stitch-through construction was something that was on my mind. I went to bed, and I went to sleep comfy and warm. I didn’t notice any cold spots at all, even with bare legs and arms. I thought about this in the morning as I waited for something to happen outside, I ran the back of my hand down the inside of the bag and I could feel the warmth reflecting back onto my hand where the down tubes were, and I could feel that the seams were noticeably cooler, but when I was in the bag it was all soft focus delight and Christmas mince pies (the shortcrust pastry ones, not the fluffy pastry ones, I’m not so keen on those).

The Neoair? Is fine, I know why there’s been failures, and why there should be no more. I am not worried.

Chocolate Fish’s Taranaki merino top and bottoms, Haglöfs LIM Barrier Pull-on, Montrail Hardrock Mids, OMM Villain, Mountain KIng Trail Blaze poles were all well used regular faces, but one thing really stood out and that was Harvey’s map. If you’re heading to this way, Harvey’s Knoydart British Mountain Map really is the only one you need, it’s miles better than the pink or orange efforts from OS.

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

  1. “The Neoair? Is fine, I know why there’s been failures, and why there should be no more. I am not worried.”

    So then, is the reason for failures something you can share?

  2. Er, you know I’m not sure if it was off the record or not. I’ll hedge my bets and avoid being sued by saying it’s not a fault in the design, materials or construction. It was a process/handling fault in the early days.
    Aye, that’s okay I think?

    Interestingly they can’t make enough of them and they can’t increase production either.

  3. It really is an enduring mystery why the OS can’t use plastic paper like Harveys :)
    (or actually why double sided maps. Really practical on the hill!).

  4. I actually sat and read the map for ages in the tent, looking at my route, it’s so user friendly and easy on the eye.
    I realy want the whole of Scotland done in this format. And on Tracklogs!

  5. Any examples of their maps anywhere, I can’t find any and would like to see what they look like.

  6. That’s the one I was using aye.

    I don’t have any shots of the map, and oddly enough there doesn’t appear to be any shots of it anywhere else either. I wonder if that’s a copyright no-no?
    I shall read the small print, I’ve no wish to offend as Harvey’s gave me the map to use!

    Basically, it uses colour much more than OS, making it incredibly easy to read unfamilair terrain quickly and translate it, it also has great detail, real man walking and taking notes as he goes stuff. The look is maybe even a bit old school, and it feels very “natural” for somke reason.
    This probably isn’t helping!

  7. That’s a reasonable wee snapshot there. The new British Mountain maps are slightly different to their other maps, clearer, easier to read.
    It’s interesting the differences I found doing the Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan route with different maps, I’ve been in there with Landranger, Explorer and Harvey’s this year!
    At times it’s like they mapped three different areas.
    But, if I’m going anywhere in that area I’ll take the Harveys map over an OS route-specific Tracklogs printout every time.

  8. Hi thejtk

    That’s an interesting one, they’re very different tents. The Copper Spur would be great to spend a lot of time in, it’s roomy, but it’s still very light. Night after night on a long trek, it would be fantastic. Its weal spots would be l;ack of guys points and its performace in high winds on an exposed pitch.

    The Fly Creek is much smaller inside, I think after a few days I’d be desperate to be able to sit up straight. But it’s very light, it’s great in bad weather and for a couple of nights on the hill it’s perfect. I’m happy pitching it ridges and tops.

    Pick one though? Not easy, I’ve got great minimalist tents already, but nothing with the room and comfort of the Copper Spur. So for me, the Copper Sput would be the one. But take away my Lasercomp and it might be a different story.

  9. “I just need to figure out how to tell them…”

    You took care of that in a fine way – you can now delete that very diplomatic email you wrote ;)

  10. I find maps are like languages: a new one is never as easy and natural as the first one you grew up with, no matter how good it might be in principle.
    Harveys are very good in principle, but I find it hard to ‘read’ a landscape from them. For the areas they cover I often use them to peruse the fine detail though, I have them running with mapping software so I can switch back and forth between OS and Harveys.
    For anyone interested, here is a sample image I exported from the program and uploaded to my site (PTC: one is allowed to show small samples to illustrate a product, also it’s good publicity!):-

  11. aembleton – I always use Harvey’s if there is one available for the area I’m in. Much more detailed and easy on the eye. Also more durable and waterproof. And they show bothies as well as OS do. They sell them in Waterstones and Borders in Edinburh at least so get and have a browse if you are interested.

  12. Actually, its because the Harveys maps have less info on them that they are clearer (putting to one side the familiarity issues); they only show stuff that is relevant to mountain folk (climbers, fell runners, walkers etc), so their maps are not “cluttered” with irrelevances such as parish boundaries. Also the contours are every 15m (compared with 10m on OS 1:25,000), so in hilly areas have less contour clutter. I find this (coupled with their use of colours) makes it easier to generate a mental 3D image. I also find that the colour coding of contours between brown / grey to distinguish between grass and rock very helpful.

    The final point for me is that the actual maps you buy (as distinct from electronic mapping, for example I have both on Anquet) cover sensible areas, eg the Harveys BMC map of the Lakes covers pretty much all the interesting area, but the OS 1:25k requires 4!

    No surprise that vote for Harveys from this corner!

  13. Yeah. There’s a lot of 1:50k die hards out there, but I really think the new 1:40k is a real step up. Glenmore lodge forced me to buy a 1:50k OS even though I had the BMC with me! I also use the 1:25k where possible as I personally find visualization of the landscape easier with a Harveys. Doune lads as well, that’s got to be worth a few more votes!!

    On a separate note, I’m looking to really get into this wild camp stuff next year, and am thinking about tents. Looking for a small (and very light) 2-man, as I will occasionally be taking the kids/wife up for wilderness walks. Laser or Big Agnes?

  14. I have been using the BMC(Harvey) Mountain Map for the Lakes for a while, its great but I have found that repeated folding and unfolding has caused the map to wear through at a couple of the 4 way folds in the middle of the map, obscuring the detail at that point. A paper OS map takes much longer to get to that stage but I presume that’s because a paper map lives in a map case and does not get refolded so much, whereas the BMC mountain map tends to just live in its sleeve and therefore gets folded and unfolded far more often.

  15. Oh, the other thing about the 1:40k BMC maps is make sure your compass roamer scale (if you use it) has 1:40k as well as 1:25k and 1:50k. Older ones don’t.

  16. Like Soularch, would like to pick others on here re tents:

    Have just come back from a wild camp trip with 9 year old #3 son, and the TN Laser Comp was just too snug to be used for 2 people outside of Mountain Marathons and other competition.

    Therefore need a bigger lightweight tent that can accommodate 3. What would people recommend?

    For what its worth, so far (given limited research) the Hilleberg Nallo GT3 would seem to tick most of the boxes.

    All input much appreciated.


  17. Well, I do have a Nallo GT3, as it happens. I’ve only used it once (usual spiel: convincing the wife that camping is great is never easy…). The porch is huge. Actual weight of tent + poles is 2648g. The additional groundsheet protector/porch footprint is another 500g or so.

    It’s a beautiful tent, sturdy as hell, very easy to set up (goes up all in one go).

    As I see it, there are two disadvantages: price (cheapest on the net is £481 at Alpenstock); footprint is quite big, the tent is very long and the guylines are long too, so it may take a while to find a pitch big enough. It all depends where you want to use it. In most cases, even when summit camping, it’s not too difficult to find good flat bits.

    I may be persuaded to part with my Nallo. I want to buy a Soulo (my 5th Hilleberg) and I can’t justify keeping a tent that I’ve only used once and that I may never use again (the wife keeps dropping hints about holidays in Greece and the like). I’ll be away until Friday night, let me know if you’re interested.

  18. I spy something trimmed in orange! Very nice kit to play with. Its a hard job, but someone has got to do it:)

    My NeoAir is impeccably behaved with no faults – fingers crossed that is.

    My Old Marmot Atom is still technically mine as my mate still has not paid for it. It was good but I found it very wide around the chest and don’t mind a bit of room, but not that much. Still the hood was good on it and Marmot make some very nice kit.

    Harvey maps are good on a hill. Rubbish for finding the path out of town. I use them now if I can. The 1,40K is the way to go for me. Lots area on the map and good detail. Plus the OS are so uppity with all their: don’t use our maps on your blog and the like.

  19. Jeez, lots of good points there.

    Good to see that Harvey’s are finding favour, OS shouldn’t have a monopoly.

    Tents are such a big topic, so easy to get wrong, so expensive to fix it. This is just what the internet was made for.

    I forgot to mention the hood on the Atom bag, is does indeed fit like a big fat balaclava, hoods are Marmot’s strong point I think.

    Neoair, expensive yes, but tougher than expected and surprisingly not overhyped.

    You know, I was floating on a wee loud after this trip and forgot all about the gear, that’s why I didn’t write it up. That’s a good sign :o)

  20. Another vote for Harveys maps from me. I must admit when I first saw one I wasn’t keen having been brought up to believe the only proper map was an OS map! But once you’ve used one you realise just much clearer they are especially in mountain areas.

  21. The point about irrelevant features on OS maps is a good one, stupid wide boundaries that obscure features and lochans where there might be much needed water. Ach!

  22. “stupid wide boundaries that obscure features and lochans where there might be much needed water.”

    I SO agree about that. Why on earth do they leave the boundaries marks on *hillwalking* maps? Folks who need to know where the boundaries are can buy another version of the maps (‘maps for sad people who need to know where the boundaries are’).

  23. The OS will only make available the flattened raster map image, which contains all the boundaries and everything else, and is supposed to be all things to all people. Their own software has all those features on separate layers, if they would make those available to mapping companies we could get the mapping in a layered form too and switch them on and off.

  24. I wonder if OS are happy with their products? Surely there must be folk in the team saying “We can do this, it would be great…”.

  25. Puff pastry should, with the exception of the Apple Turnover, only ever be used for savoury. Fact.

    Map-wise, I havnae used an OS one on the hill in years. Harveys every time. Even that Highland Emergency programme on Five uses them. Nice bit of advertising that.

  26. I like that programme, it seems mostly just that story as it happens, noy so much forced drama maybe?

    Puff pastry on a steak pie, layered thick and moist on the bottom with absorbed gravy…

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