Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Gear used along the Nordkalottruta

The following comments are my reflections on the use of the gear over the 11 day period of which 9 nights were spent camped out.

HMG Porter Pack

The HMG Porter is an excellent pack, and it carried the 16 kg weight well. I used a ZPacks Multi-Pack as a chest pocket for my camera and added a set of MLD hipbelt pockets for snacks and essentials. The pack also included the new HMG Stuff Pocket, which was perfect for holding the items that I may need during the day.  The pack fabric is water resistant, and I have also seam sealed the seams but I always use pack liner as well. The lack of absorbency of the fabric means that you will get a sweaty back, and if that is of concern, then careful choice of a shirt is important which is why I prefer merino. The ladder straps on the outside provide ideal attachment points for tents mats etc. as well the roll top closure is perhaps the best I have used, all in all a very good pack which will become my go to pack.

  View towards Geatkkutjavri, HMG Porter

Tarptent Notch

The notch kept me dry, mosquito free and warm. I became better at erecting the Notch as the trip progressed and as long as it is pegged down thoroughly it can withstand strong winds, though there will be some deflection of the side panels. I will write more about my experiences with the Notch later, suffice to say I feel it is an excellent shelter and can handle above tree line conditions but will have its limitations on extended trips especially in severe weather.
  Camp above Buntadalen

Pacer Poles

I use alloy pacer poles which were excellent. However, during the trip when attempting to cross a river on a log, the log broke, resulting in me getting wet after which I noticed that the middle section of one of the poles had a nice bow to it. With some careful straightening I was able to get it back to shape. This served as a reminder of the importance, for me, of using alloy poles (instead of carbon fibre poles) especially when the poles are also used as the shelter support.

Clothing worn

Rab Boreas

The Boreas was worn as a windshirt, midlayer and as a shirt. In each case it was ideal and as a consequence it was worn every day. I also found that it is the perfect physical barrier against Lapland Mosquitos, YMMV (Your Mosquitos May Vary).

BPL.com boxers

These have been my goto boxers for long trips but sadly they did not last the trip out. I then turned to my Macpac merino boxers which I found to be cooler and equally comfortable, especially with their gusseted crotch.

Defeet Wooleater socks

I wore the same pair of Defeet Wooleater socks for the entire trip, rinsing them out every day or so. Most days they were wet, and even when wet these thin socks kept my feet warm. The warmth provided was especially evident after crossing icy rivers with my almost numb feet quickly regaining feeling once I started walking. I also found that the socks would often dry overnight in the vestibule of the shelter.

The picture below shows the socks at the end of the trip. There is still plenty of life in them.

  Defeet Wooleater socks

Inov8 Roclite 315

These shoes now have about 400 km on them, 200 before Lapland and 200 in Lapland and I am very happy with them. The sole has lasted well and the stitching on the uppers appears to be holding. Shoe choice is a personal thing and I will leave the final comment to a Norwegian hiker who looked at my shoes;

and said "water in water out"

I replied  "yes I find it quite good".

He shook his head and walked off.

  Roclite 315

Suunto Core

Previously I used the Suunto Vector but for the last 12 months I have used the Suunto Core primarily for it's barometric function when out hiking. In particular I watch for large changes in barometric pressure indicating a significant change in the weather. Normally I set the reference altitude in the evening which then allows me to detect any likely change in the weather pattern the next morning. The Core performed admirably.

Dirty Girl Gaiters

They were certainly dirty, but were very effective in keeping out sticks, stones etc. The gaiters are easy to take on or off and once fitted to they shoe stay in place.

  Dirty Girl Gaiters

Etrex 10
The etrex 10 is a simple non mapping gps. I use it for position finding, recording distances and heights. On long trips I use lithium batteries for their weight saving and longevity. On this trip one pair Lithium AA batteries lasted 8 days, 180 km, or about 70 hours. Which is very impressive. The batteries can be affected by the cold, however. Note that I always carry a complete set of paper maps of the area, as well as a simple compass.

Overall, I was happy with my gear list but may consider more carefully my choice of stove and shelter for future walks in Lapland.