Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Gear Observations: Gendarmstien

For this trip I was expecting snow and temperatures in the range of -15 to -5 degrees C with possibly some snow falls and mild winds, which turned out to be correct. Some of my gear reflections follow.

Sealskinz gloves

The biggest surprise for me was the Sealskinz gloves, the air was cold and along the coast windy but there was no rain, however, I often had my hands in the snow. These gloves whenever worn kept my hands dry and warm even when used to remove snow from the signs, benches etc. occasionally I combined them with Goretex overmitts which further helped to deflect wind and keep my hands comfortably warm, not uncomfortably numb. Though the outers did get damp during the day they felt drier the next morning having formed part of my Paramo Vista pillow. For those considering these gloves in my view they are worth a look, with the caveat that I did not use them in rainy weather.


For this trip I wore my old pair of Innov8 390 gtx boots and I was very happy with the grip they provided on most surfaces, they were partnered with Bridgedale liner socks and Seakskinz socks, for the most part my feet were kept dry and warm. The Sealskinz helped to form a waterproof layer as well as providing some insulation from the cold. Some water did seep through the socks but at no time were the liner socks more than damp (possibly from sweat). Under similar conditions I will use this arrangement in the future as well as trying the sock combinations with my Terrocs for summer, an arrangement used by Colin Ibbotson as well as described by Jörgen Johansson in Smarter Backpacking

Shangri La 1

I have always been interested in this shelter, especially as it reminds me of my first shelter many years ago, though I was always concerned with entry and exit with the pole located in the centre at the front, however, I found this to be less of a problem than expected especially when the front pole is angled away from the inner slightly. The shelter is easy to set up and is spacious inside especially if you pull the centre side tie outs out a little which does reduce the head height in the middle of the shelter as shown in the following picture. The inner net is a little more problematic, it seems the best option is to attach it before erecting the shelter, I prefer not to do this. I am also surprised given the attachments for the floor why attachments have not been fitted to the inner net to allow fixing to the shelter. Having said all this I found the combination of the outer and inner to work well in the conditions which were well below zero and without any wind it was evident that inside the innernet and shelter felt warmer than being outside when the temps were below - 10 C. Overall I was very happy with the shelter and felt that for the conditions it was used it it was an ideal shelter and seems ideally suited to long distance treks where a small footprint may be required.

Primus Express Spider, I used this stove to boil approximately 600 mls of water 2 times a day. Often the water had some ice floating in it and whilst not recording the time taken to bring the water to a boil it did not seem excessively long. The average fuel consumption for the trip was 24 gms of gas per litre boiled using Primus power gas which is a mixture of 25% Propane: 25% IsoButane: 50% Butane which as shown by BPL (Membership of BPL required) is more efficient at lower temperatures when compared with the standard 30% Propane: 70% Butane mixture.

Moisture in sleeping bags, I used a Nunatak Arc Alpinist (with Epic outer) for the trip and each night there was some condensation in the foot, partly caused by my desire to dry my damp liner socks. Over the course of the 3 nights the sleeping bag gained 40 gms in weight (or approximately 5% of its weight). There was also some loss of loft but I remained comfortably warm at all times without the need for my Western Mountaineering Hooded Flash Jacket.

Aarn Featherlite Freedom, this was my first trip with this pack and I was happy with it and felt that the harness more suited me than perhaps the Mountain Magic did. There was ample space in the pack with the Sports balance pockets (10 litres in total) on the front. The interesting feature of the pack is the internal divider in the waterproofliner, it can provide some challenges packing until you become used to it, but otherwise it is an easy pack to load with an excellent roll top closure. I will write more on this pack once I have used it a little while longer.