Monday, 29 July 2013

Gear Reflections: Nordlandsruta 2013


A quick summary, 13 nights out of which 3 were spent in huts, distance covered 335 kms, with a total ascent of 10 000 m. Conditions were generally wet, windy with a mixture of wet and rocky ground.

I have already written elsewhere my thoughts on the inov-8 315's.

Rab Demand Smock and Rab Drillium pants kept me dry the whole trip, I had re DWR'ed them with Nikwax before leaving and after about a week the DWR on the smock around the pressure points (shoulder straps, backpack) had worn off. But even on the last day when it was dripping water and with no wind I was still comfortable inside and would have been happy to continue. I partnered the Smock with a Patagaonia Capilene 2 long sleeve top and I was impressed, I was comfortable and did not overheat in the conditions. The question on mind was why hadn't I done this before? Would I use the smock and pants again, yes, however given the unavailability of the smock I am concerned that there is no obvious replacement on the market.

Jetboil, I have used a Jetboil on every trip up north and chose this time to replace my pot as the original was showing corrosion (oxidation) in the heat exchanger, sadly the new pot fared even worse and whilst it still works I would prefer not to use it in future. Instead I will either take an alcohol stove, where the pot can also be used with open fires, or a top mounted canister stove.

Montbell Tachyon Smock, when not  wearing the Rab Demand, I was wearing the Tachyon (see photo below), with a weight of 69 gms. it is one of those items of clothing that should be packed for every trip. Overall I felt that it was very effective as a wind shirt, as well as a mosquito barrier. One annoying feature is the hood which has no way of being secured when not in use as a result it can flap in the wind, though, I did find I could tuck the hood down the back of the shirt and this solved the problem. Would I use Tachyon again, yes.

Outdoor Research - Ultra Trail Gaiters in wet and muddy conditions these gaiters are a vast improvement on the Dirty Girl Gaiters I have used in the past, they stayed attached to the velcro much longer than the DirtyGirl ones and I suspect using David C's suggestion of a 2" square of velcro on the heel these gaiters are not likely to move. I did not use any attachment string under the foot but this would undoubtedly help with the maintenance of a secure fit over the shoe. The gaiters are orange, which helps when locating your feet in the bottom of a bog. Would I use these gaiters again, yes.

Boulder field below Lønstinden

HMG Porter 4400, last year I used the Porter 3400 and found it to be an excellent load carrier, which is also true for its larger brother. However, unsurprisingly, the pack is not water resistant as stated by HMG, I am not talking about the seams or where other attachments have been stitched I am talking about areas of fabric, which when exposed to either hard rain or persistent rain, water will seep through. Given that this pack had only been used for 6 days prior to this trip it was perhaps a little surprising but not unexpected. My guess is that the laminating had broken down with all the rolling and folding. But having said that the pack was excellent and it was pleasing to see it able to survive the rigours of baggage handling without recourse to an extra carrybag. Would I use the pack again, yes.

Tarptent Moment DW, last year I used the Tarptent Notch and was generally pleased with its performance, the weather was dry and for the most part not too windy. However, this year I wanted a shelter with a little more structure and not being dependent on walking poles, thus I chose the Moment DW.
Moment DW beside Kveppsendalstjønna

The conditions this year were wetter, windier and generally less pleasant than last year. The Moment DW stood up well to all the challenges presented to it, I would have preferred a solid inner when camped near Lønstinden as a strong cold wind blew in one side of the innr tent and out the other.  Whilst the night at  Kveppsendastjøna where wind blown rain hit the tent for most of the night, on this occasion I lowered the outer down on the windward side and with the protection of the judiciously placed rocks no moisture got into the shelter and in each case I was warm and dry thanks to my Western Mountaineering MegaLite bag.

The side panels do deflect in the wind, but with the crossing pole deployed the general shape of the Moment is not changed, I would always use the crossing pole in exposed environments. One of the new features in the DW is the ability to move the inner to make a larger vestibule on one side which also narrows the inner. In wet conditions this option is a real advantage as the vestibules can be made big enough to handle wet gear while the sleeping compartment is better protected from spray on the outer.

Adjustable inner

However, I do have some concerns. The Moment is dependent on 2 pegs (stakes) 1 at each end for structure and rigidity and it is these 2 stakes which also make it it so fast to erect. Thus requiring firm anchoring points  and if finding firm anchoring points is difficult then the shelter can or may become a "kite in the night". On two occasions the ground appeared okay and one peg could be fully inserted but the opposite end was more problematic, in each of these situations I double pegged (see below) as a work around. Part of the problem in my view is a consequence of the larger Easton peg being lifted out of the ground by the crossing pole, I was using the CF pole which according to Henry Shires is more rigid, than the alloy pole.

Two Pegs

Over the years I have found on many different brands of shelters that tags, velcro tapes and other connections to the seams wick water through the seams to the inside of the shelter, the Moment is no different, so the velcro tie back loops on the outer were wicking moisture even after they had been excessively seam sealed at home, a partially solid inner would have limited the drips entered the inner sanctum.

Would I use it again, for a long trip probably not, because I would like a little more space for dealing with poor climatic conditions. Don't get me wrong it will withstand anything you would normally expect up north at this time of the year, but if your tent bound or want to erect a shelter to get out of the wind or rain during the day then a mid would be a better option.