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

This was my first high camp for a wee while, and my first one in snow for ages, so I did think about what to carry as I wanted to cover all the options, and my arse too in case it all went horribly wrong.
I took test kit on its first trip, but there was a lot of the familiar there as well.

The Terra Nova Laser Photon Elite had it’s first night in the mountains, and getting pitched onto snow was certainly starting off in some sort of fancy style.
I left the daft pegs at home and took a mixture of Y-pegs and titanium nails. The big Y’s are great, you can score a channel through the snow for the guyline to run in, and bury the peg into the snow. This was totally secure, in fact I had to pull the pegs back out with my ice axe. The nails went on the corner bungees, and again were very secure in the hard snow. They pulled out a little easier due to their smaller surface area.
The tent itself went up quick and easy, it’s similar to the ‘comp so it felt familiar. The new guylines and line-lok adjusters make a huge difference to the set up. I adjusted them once after my evening doze, and they were secure until morning despite some strong winds in the early hours. It really was just out of the wrapper here, so I had to tie on the pole cover as well, which I managed with gloves on, well I made sure I did anyway.
The door has a two-way zip which is great, a wee buckle to hold it secure at the bottom too. The first thing you notice is that it’s smaller than a ‘comp. Just a bit, but all over. I found sitting up right on a NeoAir is possible if you stick your head into the porch, which luckily the angles make quite possible. The length is still enough for a six footer, with a little room for kit about my head and down the side. Two racers in here would have to be very close/understanding/tired.
I still got all my gear in the porch, I could still get in and out, cooking was fine with the door shut (hey, it was bloody freezin’) although the smaller area does mean it fills with steam quicker and you have to deal with the condensation, which luckily froze pretty quick on this trip.
I had an issue free night in the Photon, but its early days as yet. Several things strike me though, it’s weight and pack size are frighteningly small, seriously, you get this tent into the map pocket on a waterproof. Given that, it’s going to challenge hooped bivies and tarps in a “What’s the point?” way. Full protection and shelter without a weight penalty? Durability will be a big part of that story, so I’ll be back to this plenty as time goes on.

The newly arrived Petzl Tikka XP²  had its first trip, and both the strong main beam and red LED were used aplenty through the night. The mainly white strap also made it really easy to find in the jumble of crap around my head in the tent. That must be why iPod earphones are white too then…
The button was easy to use with bare hands and okay with powerstretch gloves, but with my padded leather gloves it was like trying to find the sixpence in the pudding (that’s a reference for all the folk my age and over). This is my winter light now, no problem.

I was taking no chances with the cold and went heavily armed with an array of PHD kit.  The Minim Down Trousers and Minimus Down Socks had just came in for test, and I was originally going to sleep with those, my Minimus Jacket and the special issue Minim 300 bag with the short zip. But thinking about it, I decided to take the tried and trusted winter sleepzone of justice: the Minim Ultra and Combi. The extra 230g of the down pants wasn’t even going to be noticed.
The sleeping bags performed as always, superbly. Warm, comfortable and reliable, I can plan winter trips around their capabilities, and that’s what gear should be all about. I think for higher and colder camps, I’ll stick the Minim 300 on the inside and see how that does. Just how warm would that be?.
The down pants would seem to be either an expedition item or a Christmas gift for the “Man who has everything”. Not so, I pulled them on soon after I got camp sorted out and immediately felt the benefit. Softshell is great on the move, but it bleeds heat quickly when you’re standing still and the temperature is dropping. When I was wandering the crags with the camera I had the pants and jacket on and I remained comfortable all the time, so for photographers, stargazers and the like, insulated pants must be fantastic, but for winter campers they’re a dream come true. There’s an element here of allowing you to get out of the tent for longer after hours. The winter nights are long, and hanging about outside or exploring after dark can be bloody cold, so for me these are just the business. Add to that the weight and tiny pack size, and the PHD pants get a free pass into my rucksack. The don’t look weird either (see below), the fit is nicely tapered with a nice high drawcorded waist to overlap with a jacket, even when bending and moving.
The Minmus Down Socks are simple elastic ankled boots, no soles, nothing fancy, just simple warmth for your feet. The pack down to zero and worked perfectly until I got into my sleeping bag. Genius.

An unexpected member of the team was the Thermarest NeoAir (it was already packed, and I didn’t really think about it). Now it has no “real” insulation as such, and the floor of the Photon is the same fabric as the ‘comp’s flysheet, so there really wasn’t helluva much between me and the snow. But surprisingly, it was okay. It only struggled when I lay flat on my back, on my side where I lie most of the time and where the contact points are minimal it was fine and my sleep was undisturbed.
I probably won’t take it regularly through winter, but it’s good to know that it’s possible.

Last piece of joy in the bedroom was the Exped inflatable pillow which I picked up at the KORS show. Lighter and smaller packing that my old Ajungilak pillow, it works inside and outside the bag. A magic thing, now standard kit for future trips.

Baselayers were all Chocolate Fish Taranaki Merino. I wore full length leggings, long sleeve zip-neck and the ace in the pack, a singlet/vest. A wee vest is a great boost in winter, no bulk or weight, but it’s extra help for your core and seems to keep me running at an even temperature for longer. It holds off chill and the need for extra layers for a little longer. A zip-neck is a must over it though, for there is potential for overheating there. Comfort in abundance was available all night.

On my feet were Keen Growlers and steel Kahtoolas. Bendy, light and totally capable of taking my bumbling frame up a winter mountain. I’m now bored of arguing the point about whether or not this kind of gear is appropriate for our hills. Increasing amounts of people have been proving that it is. You can wear big boots or not wear big boots (I’m about to wear big boots once again), the choice is yours to make. Anyone who says otherwise it an idiot, hasn’t tried it, has tried and doesn’t like and thinks that nobody else should like it either.
The Growlers are grippy on their own, and are lovely and warm. The flexibility keep my toes moving too, that adds to the warmth as well as comfort.
The Kahtoolas stiffen the Growlers up, and they feel more like a “winter boot”, on steep ground the combo works well, but on mixed ground is where they excel. Frozen ground, bare rock, ice, snow, the short spikes of the Kahtoolas roll over it all, where a standard length spike would have you turning an ankle.
The straps are a pain in the tits, but nothing’s perfect.

The Black Diamond Raven Ultra ice axe is light, great in the hand and does it’s job. The current version has a smaller head and a lightly textured anodised shaft where mine is gloss painted. It’s great kit. especially as it just feels like a tool, not a lightweight tool.

Other stuff got its first use, the Jetboil Spoon (which they gave me because I couldn’t get the purple Jetboil until next spring and I was having a tantrum) which is stronger than it looks, a purple Buff which was a joy, the Raidlight Chest Pouch which is bigger than OMM’s but has an incredibly faffy attachment system, and the purple MK Trail Blaze which are wonder and a joy for life. Other kit included the Brunton Flex stove which I really like, Haglöfs Omni II pants which are brilliant in winter over merino leggings and have huge thigh vents, the OMM Villain (of course), my SnowPeak mug, the much missed and discontinued Haglöfs Gemini hooded microfleece and a hundred other things.

Cuddly toy? Didn’t he do well…

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

  1. So they manage to put a two-way zip on the LIGHTER Laser but not on the standard Comp?! That would make cooking in the porch easier!

    The Growlers look really good. I think I’m over my disappointment with my previous Keens (Targhee IIs). I know the liners failed on those but nothing I’ve tried since has been as comfortable.

  2. The Growlers look a bit like Targhees, but the construction is completely different, the sole unot too.
    Mine are eVent lined and I relly hope they last, they’re my comfiest winter boots.

    The Photon’s double zip is a must with that smaller porch, mind you, it was so cold I was trying to keep it shut and I was sitting in a cloud of warm steam. Which was actually quite pleasant!

  3. Pretty sure my Comp 09 has the two way zip and the wee buckle at the bottom, certainly the buckle. I’ll go and check…

  4. Yep – two way zip is on my Comp, just never felt the need to use it… must be why i moan about condensation haha

  5. My ’08 sample still has the one-way, and once you’ve tried the new zip there’s no going back.
    Is it worth getting the zip installed on the ‘comp… ?

  6. NYE is a night on Cadair Idris with the bridesmaid but we’re using her TNF Merlin… that’s 1.5kg EACH! I’m already moaning and even contemplated getting her to get me a Shangri-La 3 for chrimbo. At least we know it won’t blow away ha

  7. Just a quick one, how is Chocolate Fish kit fairing in the durability stakes? I’m after a new base layer and like the look of the zip top with its long sleeves, but worry that it won’t last long.

    Anyway, enough kit chatter for now, I really must get out and use my Combi S.

  8. Camping with the bridesmaid, Alright!

    More-On, The Chocolate Fish stuff has been issue free. It’s been worn and washed dozens of times (I wear it to work on cold days as well, like today!) and it’s looking good.
    The only damage is to the first crew neck I got where my metal belt buckle sawed through it in an effort to reach the waist buckle on my Villain. I tuck-in these days.

    The only merino I have durability issues with is Icebreaker, the fabric is piss-poor these days I think. Dale, Smartwool, Howies etc have all been absolutely fine.

  9. Soularch, I think the regular MK snow baskets would fit, but I haven’t tried them. It was in the back of my mind that the baskets would unbalance the poles as they’re so light. I’ll maybe have to try it and see.

    Vorlich, it’s a bugger isn’t it?
    There’s so much good kit out there that I’ve found has a positive affect on my time in the hills, and it’s all a little quirky like the the items you’ve listed there.
    That’s the best thing about the internet, mass market appeal has no bearing on whether it makes the page!

  10. Re 2-way zips: Terra Nova want £30 to fit a new flysheet zip. I assume these can be 2 way?

    You’re not helping with my next tent choice PTC! Returned to my securely pitched Laserlite on Tuesday night to find it flattened by just 4″ of VERY heavy wet snow & with a broken pole (fortunately at an end-section joint enabling me to repitch it minus one piece, considerably lowered). Both my TN pole repair sleeves were at home, of course.
    I’ve been considering a replacement Lasercomp but this (my 2nd) pole failure has me reconsidering & I’m aiming to get through the rest of winter with my old Akto while waiting for a looksee at the Vaude Scutum. Then you do a trip like that with a Photon & it’s all back in the melting pot!
    I know TN tents well & still feel the Lasercomp fits most of my 4/5 day, lightweight, solo, all-year trips, which normally only involve really high camps outside winter. I’m beginning to think that Laser range tents are OK in bad weather if you’re there to keep an eye on them but I occasionally want to leave the tent pitched for unladen daywalks. It’s a balancing act: the Soulo’s bombproof but too heavy & I don’t know if the Hubba HP or small, mesh inner, Big Agnes models fit the bill space-, strength- & protection-wise.
    Based on your testing (& anyone else’s experiences), any recommendations for THE current robust all-year one-man tent under 1.5 kilos? As a long shot, has anyone tried to double-pole a Lasercomp for heavy snow (maybe using the pole hood/ties)?

  11. Reading all these wonderful gear tests that have been so well written up is really helpful to my now intermittent work in the store. X-bionic, bendy-boots-and-Kahtoolas, PHD – all these things I might not know about otherwise. Great stuff.

    Couple of comments: your Growlers are eVent-lined but the ones on the Keen website are Keen’s own membrane? Interestingly I don’t remember seeing any returns for Keen ever, but I’ve not sold Keen when they were using eVent. Hmmm.

    Have you ever tried using some of the warmer X-bionic kit (energy accumulator, I guess, which apparently comes in an “extrawarm” version) in winter? BTW, I am totally addicted to my running shirt, I now can’t exercise in anything else. I’m getting the running pants and hopefully Santa will get me another shirt. Thank you so much for this recommendation – X-bionic is the current love of my life. Whew!

    This PhD stuff is clearly the dog’s bollocks. Such a pity they don’t sell through retailers, this is exactly the sort of thing we should be selling at EB. Our current down range just looks a bit shite in comparison. And I could use a new sleeping bag…hmmm…

  12. Vorlich, you mean I’ve just agreed the CT? Help ma’ Boab!

    I just had lunch with Bobinson and we were looking at the torches in EB at the Xscape in Braehead (where I ordered a new thing, yes, money and everything, but not as much as Bobinson spent…), and the Tikka XP2 and the Black Diamond Ion (I think?) look like the best options. Changed days from bigger lamps were better.

    Thinkgreysky, I can remember continually knocking snow off my Laserlite during the night a few years back to stop the roof coming down. It seems to be fine if it builds up on one side, but a soft fall from above will flatten it.
    I hadn’t thought about double poling, I wonder if it would just transfer a weight related failure to elsewhere in the tent, snap a carbon rod or something? It’s an unknown that one.
    One tent for all year and conditions? That wouild probably the as-yet unmade Soulo-Lite!
    I think you have to compromise somewhere, either weight, internal space or wind resistance. The tent test I did last year just proved to me that there’s no perfect solution, and the ‘comp really did come out as the best all-rounder.
    Future developments will hold the answer I’m sure!

    ACS, I’ve been lucky with Keens, I wore the soles off my first pair of Targhees and they were still waterproof. But they were lined withEntrant DT (which is what they’re using again I believe, just rebranded).
    I wonder about application of eVent in footwear (and sleeping bags for that matter), eVent tell you to wash your kit frequently to maintain it’s performance. Lets see you acheive that in a pair of boots.
    I haven’t tried any of the heavier X-Bionic kit, and not very usefull I know, but it does look very cool! I wonder how it would be comfort wise on winter overnighters? I’m guessing good. I don’t have any synthetc longjohns, hmmm….

    PHD? I was talking to them after my night out this week and it turns out they were out testing the same kit as me on the same night in similar temperatures, including MrPH from the PHD name. You’ve got like that.

  13. What kahtoolas are you using alloy or steel Pete. Can’t make my mind up what to get to use with my Raichle Sierras, Steel ones or microspikes or the new Grivel monte rosa. Seeing as snow is not as popular with the hills as it used to be the kahtoolas are looking favourite at present. Ref torches above i think you saw the Black Diamond Spot, great bit of kit as i ditched my tikka plus for one and it, well knocks spots off the tikka.

  14. I had the steel kahtoolas on this week coops, and they’re fine withy bendy boots. I use the aluminiums as well.
    They are a pretty different, the steels have longer spikes, and the more forward-pointing front spikes.
    The aluminiums are brillinat for super-patchy conditions, and just icy paths with just trail shoes on.
    The Monte Roas’s have a simpler strapping system, and they’re more like a regular crampon too.
    The Air-Tech race that I’ve got are another option.

    Good lighweight choices out there now.

    I’ll check the torches again when I pick up my “thing” next week. I wasn’t concentrating!

  15. Magic stuff. When did you head down? I did the Cobbler on Tuesday setting off about 9am up the zig-zaps. Regards the crampons, after considering my North Face trail shoes or Scarpa leather boots, plumped for the trail shoes, and wore my G10s New Classics on them for about 2 hours higher up, no problems at all. Snow started about 12 and was white-out by the afternoon! Brilliant day but lesson learned: take the ski goggles in winter!

  16. Re X-bionic – I’ve been using the Running Pants as underwear for cycling for a few weeks and they do seem very toasty, most of the time. If anything I think I may have been overheating a little, and then there is one part of the fabric weave at the rear which seems to hold the sweat and feel a tiny bit cold. It soon dissipates once I stop though. I’m certainly going to try them as winter hill underwear and I reckon they could displace my M&S Sports stalwarts for Norway this season – we’ll see.

    I’ve got a pair of the new Hiking Pant Long as well, thinner than the running ones but also very comfortable – it’ll be interesting to see which version works out best. One thing though, after only a couple of days out, one leg of the hiking pants is showing signs of some bobbling, hopefully only cosmetic.

  17. Hi petesy,

    Magic stuff indeed. One of your all time greatest reports!

    Now, funny what you say about the faffy Kahtoolas. I used them today for the first time (got them in March I think) and they were great! Putting them on was a piece of cake. So, I’d read your report just before heading out this morning and I thought what’s pete on about, these are a lot easier to put on than the Grivel 10. Was pleased as Punch about how they performed too, really comfy, never got stuck or trip in the points, great. Then when I went off the snowline and took them off (it was badly iced up today in Breadalbane, but the clearest of winter days you can imagine), I couldn’t for the life of me undo the buckle at the back! I ended up loosening up the strap and taking them off like that. It looks as if when they ice up the buckle doesn’t release any more. Apart from that, they’re great.

    The Photon: it’s really interesting what you say and I had been thinking myself that it is serious competition for hooped bivis. Two things though: one is that the hooped bivis will always been stronger in wind. You can pitch them anywhere regardless of weather. Second, you can do something about durability (careful pitch site selection etc.), but the one thing that worries my is hydrostatic head. For a multiday trip in the summer, or even a single day when there’s risk of heavy showers, you want a tent that doesn’t leak badly. That’s the only worry I would have about getting the Photon. Having said that, I’ll probably get one for the summer.

    Finally (Long blether I know but I hadn’t commented for months…): where the heck can one get the Growlers in the UK? From what I read they’re much better than the Targhee II, but these are the only ones you can get in the UK (webtogs). I’m not sure about sizes, I hover between 7 1/2 and 8 and with boots I always go one size up, but I wouldn’t like to get the wrong size all the way across from Canada (with C&E present as well).

    So, any chance of getting a pair in the UK as far as you know??

    Thanks for any info, as ever.

    Although you always cost me more money than the wife… Who needs those down trews… Aye right…

  18. Del, we must have passed each other, there was a whole bunch of folk on the way up when I was going down. Did you pass anyone going down the way, that would have been me!

    Good point about the goggles. Most trips I’ve been with folk in winter, I’ve been the only one with goggles. The Julbo glasses I’ve got on test are a good half-way house with the oversize lenses.

    Matt, interesting about the bobblng, I’ll watch out for that.
    I like the idea of the longs then if you’re having good results.

  19. Hi Andy

    The straps freezing up is the major issue! Then tidying the loose ends away, which gets worse with age as the rubber loops get all worn. Getting them set right before you go out is the real problem solver though.
    Worth the hassle though :o)

    Good point about the wind and a bivy, the low profile and footprint size is unbeatable. I remember pitching on the summit of Aonach Air Chrith in the Big Agnes bivy, I couldn’t go any further and even in the wee Photon I’d have been screwed for pitching it.

    Growlers? Good question, I’ll give Keen a shout next week and see what they say. I’m due some test kit in anyway.
    They are a great bit of kit.

    Get that wallet back in your pocket!

  20. Ta, Andy, it’d be great to know from Keen who’s stocking the Growlers around here. Maybe there are some shops who don’t trade on the net or something. I’ve had enough of lugging them Mantas up the slopes… Today I also used for the first time the Camp Nanotech (bought last year too). Great piece of kit and plenty adequate for your standard day on the hills.

  21. Definitely didn’t pass you Petesy, or anyone else coming down. I’d have known your well-kent face. Might have been 10 past 9 by the time I left the carpark, a car was just pulling out when I drove in – that was probably you. I’ll bump into you one day soon enough I’m sure in the OK’s as I’m up there regularly enough at weekends.

  22. Oh by the way, for the guys with the single-zip Laser Comps, you should consider looking out for a good deal on a new 09 or ’10 model then ebay the old one. I did exactly that earlier this year – bought a new Laser in the F&T sale, Ebayed the old Comp and was still about £10 up after paying the selling fee. Crazy old world of Ebay.

  23. I said ‘ta, Andy’ but I meant ‘ta, Pete’, but it’s that as I was typing it I was thinking ‘I’m turning into petesy’s clone. I’m practically buying all his gear’… I’ve still got a few distinctive items, probably, but today I was using a Jirishanca, the Kahtoolas, and the Camp axe… I had a pair of Chocolate Fish merino gloves, but I can claim to have used Chocolate Fish before you (or maybe not… maybe I heard about them here… Not really sure). And all the PHD stuff of course… Hmm. That reminds me I mustn’t buy those down trousers for Christmas. I cannot possibly have any use for them, can I.

  24. Good call Del!

    I figured out the typo Andy!
    The gear mentioned is all good, that’s the main thing. It’s funny how a lot of us click with the same kit, but there’s plenty kit I’ve had on test that no-one has ever mentioned again.

    When I had lunch with Bobinson today we were talking about how the down trousers could change what we do on winter trips, because the extra warmth and comfort I found let me wander about happily after hours instead of sitting in the tent and nipping out with the camera now and again.
    Maybe it’s luxury, maybe it’s unnecessary, but I definitely had extra fun because of the pants. It’s one of those things I would never have risked the money on, and it’s why being able to test kit brings me such joy, it’s the discoveries and it’s being able to pass it on.
    Magic :o)

  25. Aye, that’s what makes those trousers appealing. Once I’ve gulped my food, I usually have a wee wander around camp and then it’s inside for the night precisely because of the cold. Those trousers just open up new possibilities. I’ve only got one worry: that if you’re wearing crampons because the pitch is all iced up, you must really be careful, because they look quite easy to tear apart (wouldn’t get my crampons nowhere near my down sleeping bag…

  26. That was very much on my mind pitching the Photon for the firts time while wearing crampons.
    All was well, no perforations…

  27. Cheers for the merino update. Looks like it will be Chocolate Fish for me as the only stuff I can get in shops around me is Icebreaker! Although I do keep coming back to HH as I have some of their long johns and the tops are half the price of CF…

    With regard to X-bionic I too have bobbling(!) on my energizers, only superficial at the moment but a possible worry. Shredding your undergarments mid climb might detract from the experience!

  28. The fit of HH is excellent, I’ve got several tops.
    Why they put the merino on the outside face of their hybrid kit is a total mystery though.

    I put my hand through some well worn Smatrwool boxers once, resulting in a bare arse for a day, and I did the same to an Icebreaker top trying to dress hurridly in the tent.
    Expensive and inconvenient!

  29. Just another thought about the down trews (yes, I’m still deliberating whether that Christmas list could be made a little longer…): obviously, to put them on, you have to take off boots and crampons? They look pretty close fitting on the PHD website, not the kind of overtrousers that you can just pull over your pointy things? I’m asking because in trying to visualise how I’d go about it, I don’t entirely fancy having to sit down, take boots off (undoing possibly frozen laces etc.) and put them on again. It’s bad enough having to do that in the morn…

  30. Aye Andy, these are zipless and tapered for warmth and lightness. There’s not a hope of getting them on over crampons. The shot second from bottom, with the me looking in the tent with the moon behind, gives a good idea of their shape.
    I never tried with boots as I was in the tent with in my socks, I shall try and report back, I think with big boots it’ll be a no-go.
    Frozen boots in the morning? I take my liner full of kit in beside me and leave the pack in the porch, sticking the boots in your pack helps a lot most times. But, I slept with my Growlers beside me this week, just in case!

  31. Andy, I suspect you might be unlucky in trying to get the Keen Growlers in the UK. They are not listed on the Keen Europe Website, though they are on the US site.

    I was trying to obtain another model in the range earlier in the year and through some correspondence with Keen it became apparent that only part of the range is available in Europe.

    Good luck – I guess an order from the US is possible?

  32. Aye, it looks like there’s no joy on the Growlers.
    I did find the Blackcombs in the UK, and they’re very similar.
    Trying them is the thing though.

  33. I still haven’t had a chance to road-test my PHD down trousers, but the thing that I felt let them down (geddit? ;-) ) on trying them on was the shock-cord that holds them up at the waist – it’s really thin, thinner indeed than the shock-cord on my cheapo fleecy trousers from Go Outdoors. I need to replace mine with something a wee bit thicker – more comfy.

  34. I see. I did some deep googling and nothing showed up in the UK, but I was still hoping some stockist might have them.

    Yes, I suppose I could order them from Canada/US but the thing is I found a review where the guy says the boots run a bit tight, and really without trying them on I can’t risk ordering the wrong size. And given that the chances of getting pinched by Customs are fairly high, if I had to return them I’d be pinched twice, ouch…

    Pity, because they look the ticket, whereas the Targhee II don’t seem as solid for winter use.

    I’ll look into the Blackcombs then but don’t they look a little less fierce (lower ankle cut and the like)?

  35. Kate, I never spotted that, but I did think the drawcord was “soft” for unstragulated sleeping, so must be the same thing. I must say they didn’t slip down when I was cutting about, but I’ll watch the cord for stretch and consequent builders bum.

    Andy, Keens tend to have a reputation of being a little short for their size, so it is a gamble ordering blind, and customs raise the stakes even higher.
    The Blackcomb’s are a little fancier on the outside so maybe not so good for winter hill use. I’ll need to try and find a pair to have look at.
    The thing about the Growlers is that there’s nothing quite like them.
    It’s a bugger.

  36. Bloody hell how much have kahtoolas gone up in a year about £30 to £110. Thats extortion in my book. I think for £100 with a bit of bargain sniffing i can get the Grivel monta rosa and a pair of kahtoola microspikes. I know the grivels weigh more but the flexibility of both sets gives me more options and like you and a few others mention the straps freezing up on the kahtoolas puts me off a bit to. This will no doubt be the start of my winter buying dilemas and the will it won’t it snow debate (as we all don’t live in Scotland, lucky peeps)

  37. £110? Bloody hell, I didn’t know that.
    I love the Kahtoolas, but if they’re going to put the price up they need to putting some development in as well and give us an updated model.
    The bugger is that all the other options are either still very trad crampon style or they’re microspikes or those instep horrors.

  38. Well afte a fantastic high pressure forecast, I’ve just had a couple of days finishing the British 2000’s up near Keld.

    Cue the Laser Comp, Neo Air, a 25 year old ME Lightline and minus 7ºC overnight temps. Yikes!

    Luckily I also had a Hagloffs Barrier pullover (courtesy of your recomendation) which made things bearable…

    Fantastic clear sunny conditions for both days and not a single other person on the hills…bliss.

    However, I feel another PHD order coming on to replace the Lightline. I’m torn between the Hispar 400 or 500. I already have a 300 Minim, an ME Snowline and an ME Redline so the warmer and colder stuff are taken care of. Just not sure how accuarte PHD’s temp ratings are when things get sub zero.

    Any suggestions?

  39. It’s a difficult one that. I’ve been toast in the Minim Ultra and Combi paitring from PHD the past two camps, Beinn Narnain last week and at 1078m last night in the Grey Corries.
    The thing is the temperature rating of this pairing is a little on the unknown side. But with only base layers I’m super comfy.
    I know Metric Kate who posts oh here has the Hispar and rates it.
    I know PHD can be a little vague in their descriptions like they are with down weights, but the ratings seem accurate to me, with me factoring in the fact that I sleep just a little cold so I can knock a degree or two of of all sleeping bag ratings.

    The Hispar does look like a cracker though.

  40. Sorry for the delay in replying, I’ve been off Cambrian Waying or trans Wales if you prefer. Now I know this may be a bit of a shock, but they have hills in Wales too you know :-) This little brute was 120 miles of off road MTB touring from Knighton to Machynlleth c/w the usual backpacking kit… Short days, luggage on an MTB and off road conditions, ya bugger…. Mebbies summer would make more sense…

    Anyway back to the plot… I thought of the Combo but I think my Minim 300 plus the Combo outer makes up another Snowline in terms of capacity so I really want something from ~+5 through ~-10, hence the Hispar thoughts… Oh well, there goes a kidney, apparently we don’t need both anyway :-)

    BTW, how do you keep everything dry on multi day stuff in winter? I find there’s so much condensation in the Lasers everything is soaked by day 3.

  41. Good job getting out and getting the miles in!

    Funny you should mention condensation, it’s something that’s on my mind. The Laser Photon, being smaller, has the potential for forming more condensation and also easier transfer onto my kit (believe it or not, I’ve never had an issue in a ‘comp), and now that Holly is a bit older I’m thinking about some longer trips again and keeping the kit dry will be important.
    So, no answers yet but it’ll be something that’ll be coming up in the next couple of months.

  42. You know how things go through your mind? Well there I was chuntering on (internally) thinking ‘why’ve I got condensation and he aint’? (or words to that effect)….

    Well…. WIND… From your recent posts you seem to be getting your fair share of wind on your overnights and most of my recent activity has been in a dead calm with very high humidity (i.e. rain/mizzle/mist). That’d explain it. Phew!

  43. Aye bob, higher, cooler camps do seem to make life easier that way.
    More air flowing through, less extremes of temperature as well most times.
    Camping high always wins for me, the only downside is lack of accessible water.

  44. Hey ptc, I was wondering if you could offer some advice on the sizing of the minimus socks? Do you find their sizing reasonably accurate? – I’m a bit confused by the comparison table which gives the same numbers for men’s UK and US sizes. I know PhD say they’re “roomy and soft”, but how wide a range of foot size can they accommodate without eg stressing the seams too much or being too sloppy?


  45. The large is good on my size 9 feet with a thick sock on there, and I dare say they would take a 10 as well.
    The fit is good, just right for me as they don’t get compressed and aren’t sloppy either, so stay on me feet inside my sleeping bag. Until I wake up with hot feet and try and kick them off at 3am.

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