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

A lot of the kit on the Grey Corries overnighter was the same as the recent Beinn Narnain trip, but there was old, new, and purple too.

Seen above is the Montane Lite-Speed jacket, a fine wind divertor indeed. The unexpected advantage with this was the huge chest pocket, it swallowed my padded gloves (Haglöfs Helix: outstanding) until I needed them. I think the slightly heavier Pertex Microlite does make a difference to the chill factor compared to wearing Pertex Quantum, although I was wearing a few light layers underneath, so as ever it’s a pudding of variables.
Those layers were the Chocolate Fish Taranaki vest, the Smartwool NTS long-sleeve zip neck and a 15+ year old Karrimor pullover. It was a great combo and kept me comfy at all times. The old Karrimor top is made of an early version of Powerstretch and it has a cut, articulation and detailing to shame many modern efforts. I wish I had a new one. It’s purple too, did I mention that?
Doon below were Smartwool lightweight ¾ length leggings which I’ve used for years and they’re great. Socks were my old Bridgedale Summits (are they still called that?), which were nice for a change and were comfy and warm. Dry on Sunday morning too.

The Laser Photon Elite again wondered what all the fuss was about and got on with the job of being a tent. I pitched it better this time on a properly flattened spot and had an easier time of it all in all. The smaller porch is now dealt with, some storage has been moved inside, and I’m feeling more at home. The blue Y-pegs are all I’m using now, they’re perfect for winter.

I used an MSR Windpro stove. Remote canister stoves are great in winter, apart from this one. It drank gas and burned it with a piss poor flame. I’ll check it out again before and during its next trip before I make up my mind and hang it in public.
I used a bigger pot, the Optimus Weekend and that worked well, dinner and cuppa at once, and I could melt big wedges of snow into it.

Sleeping gear was again the PHD kit and NeoAir, but after some prompting by Kev, I packed a single OMM Duomat for under my torso and it seemed to make a difference. Going back to a bulky mat is going to really upset me so I’ll be trying to use the Neoair as long as I can.
Saving my ass in potentially cold situations of course, is the other PHD down kit, all if which was pressed into service. When I went looking for my water bottle it was in baselayers, down pants and down jacket. I was cooked.
It shows you how cold the big mountains are when climbers are still moving while wearing 12″ of down on every surface of their bodies.

I talked a bit about the Kahtoola “moment” in the trip write-up, and it’s good that this happened. I now know when not to pack them, and to be honest I probably would have felt the same had I been wearing my Grivel AirTechs. I really needed to have those big long G12 spikes at that moment after many years of relying on them without failure.
I was relying heavily on my Black Diamond Raven Ultra axe, at one point it was buried in the snow up to it’s head and was taking my whole weight as my feet were scrabbling for grip. It’s outstandingly usable for a lightweight axe.

The Petzl Tikka XP² continues to delight, now fitted with lithium batteries too. It was perfect on the night-time ridge walk and that red LED is brilliant. I was taking photies of the tent and was runing about with my e+lite on as the XP lit up the tent and I was reminded why it’s better to have proper light on your napper up there. Seeing further than you can sneeze is a good thing.

On my hands were a wonderful wee discovery. You know those cheapo liners you get in all the outdoor shops? All the colours of the world and they go a bit bobbly and always look as if they need washed, well if you stick lots of little rubber dots on the palms and fingers they turn into “Horseriding gloves”.
Okay, I bought them because they come in purple and they’re only £2, but as it turns out they’re actually really good. The tiny gripper dots don’t seem to pull on the glove while I use trekking poles (I find that the grips on some gloves sometimes take over, the gloves sticks more to the pole or axe than your hand and gloves feels all loose and rubbish), they grip an ice axe fine, they’re warm, soft, dry quickly, they come in purple and they’re only £2. I’ve just washed them and they’re fine. Brilliant, really. Ebay. I’ve bought more.

And this hat. For when this one below is in the wash. Ah, it’s 1992 all over again…

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

  1. Interesting to hear what works for someone else, as ever.

    I wimped on testing the Neoair in sub-zero at the weekend and fell back on the trusty Downmat, but I have a very thin full-length foam mat with one silvered side (110g) and I really must try it in combo with the Neoair soon.

    Pegs, only the blue Clamcleats Ys surprises me a bit. I can imagine the ground becoming too iron-hard at times to get their profile to penetrate… I reckon I’d always want a mix of those, Ti nails and Ti skewers to ensure that the main pegging points could always have something rock solid.
    (Then again, I’m usually pitching the Superlite Quasar these days and it takes 26 pegs to coverevery available anchor!)

  2. The last two pitches have been in pure snow Matt, even with the pegs buried I never got them near the ground.
    I know Sandy bent a Y-peg at the weekend hammering one into frozen ground, and I did similar thing on rock earlier in the year. So with that in mind I’m still carrying half a dozen nails just in case.
    But the grip those Y-pegs give you on good snow is just outstanding :o)

    The Neoair thing is very borderline, I’m going to take a proper winter mat next trip and see what the difference is.
    If it isn’t vastly warmer I’ll be confused, perturbed and more besides.

  3. Re sleeping mats – have you tried the Pacific Outdoor Equipment Ether Thermo 6? Whilst they’re a little heavier and have a slightly bigger pack size than the equivalent NeoAir (not sure quite why Trail compared the small NeoAir to a regular POE?), I understand that they’re also meant to be a little warmer, so might stretch a bit further into winter? My only slight gripe with the POE was that it was just a little narrow so my arms slipped off the sides if I was lying on my back. I’ve not tried a NeoAir, so would be interested to see a fair comparison with the POE, including their relative warmth.

  4. I’d talked to POE about test kit before they got UK distribution which ruined everything!

    Some of their kit is the same as Big Agnes, both are just just branded up, but some does look really interesting.
    I’d like to try it, like you say it could be in the gap between a Neoair and the bigger mats. That would be ideal.

  5. I’ve tried the POE mat, but I’ve gone off them a bit since 3 out of 5 that MoS and I have had have sprung leaks (all in pre UK distribution days :(

    Warmth wise it’s definitely less than a Downmat. I’m not sure compared to a NeoAir – I would have assumed it would win but these recent reports of cold weather Neoair usage leave me wondering.

    For winter backpacking I’m happy to go for the luxury of the Downmat. My interest in alternatives is really for ski touring, for carrying for the eventuality of an emergency benightment / snowhole, so I’m looking for light and compact but effective. I’ve ruled out closed cell mats because of the bulk. For years I took my old Thermarest Lite 3/4 but I reckon I’d have been cold. Then I switched and currently carry a Bozeman Torsolite – notionally warmer, but warm enough? And a devil to stay on top of! But tiny packed and only 290g. Now I’m getting tempted to say ‘sod it’ and carry the Downmat 7 Pump 3/4, which is 630g for assured warmth. But it still niggles as being slightly excessive for something that in all probability won’t be used – hence the curiosity whether a Neoair, supplemented or not, can do the business….

  6. Agree about the Camcleat Y’s but I supplement them with Hampton V’s, TN 5.5g skewers and a couple of nails.

    Regarding mats, I had a POE Ether Thermo 6 but sold it as I didn’t find it particularily comfortable or warm, also have a POE Peak Oyl Lite self inflate which isn’t particularily light (617g) and doesn’t even attempt to self inflate.

    For me the best option is a cheap 2/3 season CCF with the addition of a full or 3/4 Self Inflate in winter. My current self inflate mats are Multimat Superlite 25 full and Karrimor 3/4, the Karrimor was an impulse buy in Sports Direct last week as it was only £10 (weighs 445g which isn’t outrageous at any price) it’ll be used with the aforementioned CCF mat, an Alpkit PD200 and ME Xero duvet jacket tomorrow night.

    Hope it snows :-)

  7. A subject I’ve been considering recently, not so much because of the weight, but the bulk of SIMs takes up so much pack space… besides, my Airic now has a slow puncture, dipping in the bath didn’t reveal anything, will need to try again…

  8. It’s bulk for me as well.
    Carrying all the extra winter gear recently hasn’t been an issue, but the Villain is a slim 45 litres and I’d have to lreave some snacks at home if I took a bigger mat.
    I think I’ll take a bigger pack on the next overnighter, take a big mat a keep my water bottle inside too!

  9. Aye, it’s time to dig out the Mountain Mover. Or the LIM 55 which is deceptively “big” and has huge, and more importantly secure, bottle pockets :o)

  10. Matt – Interesting to hear that. I couldn’t find that many reviews on the POE mats when I was looking to buy, but the ones I did find were pretty positive on their durability. Were all the leaks due to the same issue? Would be useful to know if so. A Downmat is very tempting indeed, but I *probably* can’t justify it at the moment…

  11. As far as we could tell, they all failed at the valve in the end – we certainly couldn’t find any sign of puncture (bath immersion test), and they’d been used ‘carefully’ in the tent only, no bivvying or rough use.

    To be clear, they didn’t fail immediately, probably after a year or so’s moderate use. And then they started to fail to stay up under pressure – they’d inflate and stay up if left, but once you lay on them you’d wake after a couple of hours to find them half-flat. It wasn’t a temperature thing because we tested them at home too.

    Anyway, for us it meant that we moved over to just using our alternatives – Downmats, Thermarsts or Neoairs….

    Oh, one other point (and I’ve heard other folk say it too) – every POE mat we got was 15 to 20% heavier than the weight quoted on theor website!

  12. Yes, I’d heard a few stories that their claimed weights are overly optimistic. However, according to the scales, my long version is 600g, including stuffsack and repair kit, which is slightly lighter than the quoted value on their website. Don’t know if they’ve altered what they claim – maybe I’m just lucky? Let’s hope the same applies to the valve!

  13. I like the thinking on crampons. I am planning some long over due walks in the snow. Have some Kahtoola’s to try and my old Grivel G10s are still there if needed. I need to sus the light boots and crampons thing as that will be new to me. The old boots and G10 combo worked fine in the past but I need to something new.

    I reckon you have ice in your blood as camping that high must be so cold. I love the snow but feel the cold bad.

  14. Truth be told Martin, I feel the cold as well.
    The kit I’m using gives me confidence, I know I could go a lot colder with the same gear. But, I like having that margin, I like being comfortable and being able to fall asleep warm and worry-free.
    My hands chill so quickly, so the down mitts and padded gloves are vital, plenty of gas too for unlimited hot drinks if I do feel the cold creeping in.

    I’ll be trying Plan B with my feet next time, it’s time to get some of those boots dirty…

  15. Interesting feedback on the MSR Windpro. It’s usually quite highly rated. Has your opinion of it changed at all?

  16. Never took it out again!

    I think MSR need to revise their canister stoves, the Windpro and the Pocket Rocket can’t hack it compared to modern equivalents from pretty much anyone else.

    But, I’ll take the Windpro out again and see if I like it any better in summer!

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