Monday, 3 August 2009

Jotunheimen Gear

Gear selection for a trip is based on many factors such as weight, fit, appropriateness, colour, whether we look good in it as we hike as well as many other factors.

The list of gear I used for this trip is given below, following are some comments on the gear used.



The "big three" used were Terra Nova Laser Competition tent, Haglöfs LIM 45 pack and Nunatak Arc Alpinist Quilt.

Terra Nova Laser Competition: A lot has been written about the tent and blogs such Blogpackinglight and backpackingbongos will provide a lot of information. My opinions of the tent are mixed, the major benefit of the tent is that it is light and can be packed small if the poles from the inner are removed. The challenges are that it can be fiddly to set up if the ground is uneven, removing the poles to make packing easier creates more hassles when setting it up. I had no problems with the tent flapping in the wind this trip, but others have reported this. I am not tall standing at about 178 cm, but using a Neo Air in the tent (with a Montbell Pillow) means that my head is close to the tent inner when laying down which could be a little claustrophobic for some. Having said that it is a good tent for its weight provides good protection from the elements.

Haglöfs LIM 45, like Holdfast I took an untried pack on this trip though I had read about the pack on PTC's site and along with actually being able to try it in a shop I decided that it would work for this trip. (Interestingly the shop, in Copenhagen, sold this pack as a large day pack) The pack is made of what appears to be light materials, though after 6 days of hiking and a few scrapes here and there the pack showed little signs of wear. The pack has an interesting design with the shoulder straps connected to the base of the pack and the frame has an interesting shape which could be best described as an inverted U shape with a narrowing around the lower back as shown here.



The adjustment for the back length comes from moving the back pad in relation to the shoulder straps using velcro. I found this system to work quite well and once set it did not move. The hip belt is a reverse pull similar to Osprey, a system I like and I found the hip belt to work quite well and the adjustments allowed the weight to be shared between the shoulders and the hips, The pack fully loaded weighed 13.5 kg, which in my view is probably about its limit, though at no time did I find it uncomfortable the shoulders, back or hips. I am a fan of roll top closures and the Haglöfs pack has perhaps the best I have used, it has a 2 cm wide strip of stiff material on each side and when folded twice and cinched down form a very secure closure, this was an aspect of the pack I really liked. Another aspect of the pack that suits my style of hiking is the side pockets and front pocket which are easily accessible and will hold a lot of gear. The front pocket I used for waterproofs, lunch etc. whilst one side pocket carried tent poles and tent groundsheet the other side pocket carried a small amount of water in a platypus and was easily accessible without removing the pack. My two niggles about the pack are there were times that I felt the straps were slipping when they were damp and I noticed some stitching on the roll top lid had come away and whilst repairable in the field ideally should not happen. I have contacted Haglöfs about this.

In summary this is a pack I will continue to use for trips up to 5 days as I like the way it carries and the usability of the pack.


Nunatak Alpinist Quilt
. My down quilt is my go to quilt and I use it on almost all trips, However, with its 340 gms of down I found it a little warm when combined with a Neo Air and the tent, got me to thinking that when considering sleep systems one should consider the shelter along with mattress and sleeping bag. In my view in a tent (such as the Laser Comp) a bag with less down may work depending on the expected night time temps, clearly when planning a trip the sleep system should be considered as a system and not just individually. I am now considering other down sleeping bags, which will work with as part of a sleep system depending on the anticipated temperatures.

Wet weather gear:
I carried a Montane Lite-Speed jacket, Montane Featherlite Pants and Haglöfs Oz pullover. And to be honest there was very little rain to test the gear. However, after reading Chris Townsends BPL (You will need to be a member) article on wet weather gear, there were times on the trip where I wore a silkbody base layer combined with the Lite-Speed and the OZ pullover on the outside. I was very impressed, the arrangement kept me comfortable, but not hot. This is an arrangement I want to explore more as it means that I carry less weight in my pack if I am not wearing them.

Salomon Fastpackers:
I have completed over 100 kms in these boots, 70 km of which were in Jotunheimen. My experience with the boots was very positive especially given the snowy conditions early in the trip. In summary I find these boots have good grip in loose gravel as well as on dry rocks, though the grip is reduced on wet rack. In extended downhill sections it may be that toe volume is compromised. There were times where I felt the more robust Alan Sloman's slippers may have been appropriate. All in all my hiking footwear for the future will be selected from Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra, Fastpackers or Quest ... depending on the expected environment.

There was no gear that I would not take on the next trip, though I may consider placing the DSLR in my pack for trips where the scenery warrants it.

14 comments:

Holdfast said...

Ooooh, Nunatak quilt! Very nice Roger! I know what you mean about using a double wall tent, I think you can get away with a much lighter sleeping bag.

The rain-shell over a wind-shirt is something I've been doing too. I hardly ever take a mid-layer on 3 season trips. I find them too warm to hike in and in camp I'll just wear an insulated jacket. It's a much simpler, lighter system.

Nielsen Brown said...

Thanks Holdfast, I was lucky, when I worked in the USA I was able to get a quilt, and you are correct that a lighter one will work.

For 3 season wet weather gear and a windshirt is definitely the go, for winter Paramo for sure.

Hendrik M said...

Nunatak quilt! Wow, good stuff. I was looking at them, though I fear the customs might charge me once again unreasonable amounts of money for importing one. Probably will get a GoLite Ultra 20° if I get a quilt.

Nice gear list and thoughts, Roger.

Nielsen Brown said...

Hendrik, I strongly recommend quilts and Nunatak in particular. In Denmark we also have the same import duties (25% including postage plus extra charges) but for special gear I am happy to make the investment.

Alan Sloman said...

Nice kit report Roger. It's the way of things - in the end it comes down to how much food you carry. That's always my heaviest kit!

James Boulter said...

I have to agree with what Alan has written. Food is always the heaviest thing in my pack these days. I eat too much and take a little bit too much extra just in case. I need to start noting what I actually eat next time I backpack and resist all those 'extras'!

Nielsen Brown said...

Thanks Alan and James, and the amount of food determines the size of the pack and to some extent the weight of the pack.

Maybe if we don't eat we can travel with lighter packs, hunter gatherer comes to mind :)

Dave Hanlon said...

Think our pack weights were pretty similar if you allow for your two days extra food. Notice you carried quite some clothing that wasn't used but I guess I would have been inclined to stuff some extra layers in the bag had I been heading into the Jotunheimen with the worsening forecasts you had.

The LIM pack looks interesting. After Rondane I'm definately thinking framed packs are the way to go for me and 45l is the perfect size for what I do and my kit (for teh moment at least).

Nielsen Brown said...

Most of my clothing did get used at some stage and there were times during Day 5 that I was cooling down in the wind during rest breaks.

As for 45l packs I would suggest you look at the Lim, if you can find one, though it will be another 12 months before I will have enough trips with it to recommend its longevity. You could also look at the Gossamer Gear Gorilla, as it is one of the few framed packs under 1 kg as far as I am aware.

Happy pack hunting

Dave Hanlon said...

Got the wrong end of the stick. I now realise the column "Worn YES/NO" refers to clothing on your back rather than not used. Doh.

Good tip. I have to confess (with a blush) that I'd not heard of the Gorilla. And there I was thinking I new all the gear off by heart.

MartinH said...

Did you use your AA torch much in july in Jotunheimen?

;-)
Martin

Nielsen Brown said...

Thanks for your question Martin, no not really, that is why I carry a small torch just in case, it does not weigh much and if necessary I could walk at night with it.

I assume you are planning a trip in the area.

Enjoy

Roger

Dave Hanlon said...

Got the wrong end of the stick. I now realise the column "Worn YES/NO" refers to clothing on your back rather than not used. Doh.

Good tip. I have to confess (with a blush) that I'd not heard of the Gorilla. And there I was thinking I new all the gear off by heart.

Holdfast said...

Ooooh, Nunatak quilt! Very nice Roger! I know what you mean about using a double wall tent, I think you can get away with a much lighter sleeping bag.

The rain-shell over a wind-shirt is something I've been doing too. I hardly ever take a mid-layer on 3 season trips. I find them too warm to hike in and in camp I'll just wear an insulated jacket. It's a much simpler, lighter system.