The year of gear

As we sit around wondering what to do with ourselves at the moment, I thought it would be a good idea to do a round up of the kit I used over the #projectparkrun2019.

The Klymit Static V insulated sleeping pad has to be the stand out item I have used this year. weighing in at around 560kg it is roughly the size of a 1 ltr pop bottle. Obviously the insulated nature comes at a higher weigh gain but from kipping out in -6 temps in January I have to say it is worth it. The material it self is kind to the body, one that does not make you overly sweaty and the design of the raised platform conforms nicely to the body offering a wide base to rest easily on. It’s R Value (thermal conductivity) of 4.4 means that you get a good nights sleep  in the coldest of temps, most of the heat loss will be from below as the ground sucks the warmth from you so you need to invest in something that will last and do the job well.

Cumlus Quilt 350– there were a lot of doubters out there who felt that a quilt would not provide enough warmth and comfort for a years worth of adventure in all weathers, In the 12 months I have been using it, I can say that I have never felt cold at any time. Now I’m not saying this will be everyone, I sleep fairly warm anyway. It is light, extremely compressible due to the down and offers a pretty good warmth ratio for the design. During January I coupled this with a silk liner and survival bivvy but ended up to hot. It clips onto the underside so provides a snug fit from drafts and has a little foot box for the feet. I worried about condensation and I guest that will depend largely on the type of tent used as well and the ventilation offered, it has been damp on the odd occasions but never caused any significant issues at all.

Tent Ferrino Lightent– I toyed with 2 tents this year, the faithful little one man and the more recent acquisition of Flames Creed 1 The Ferinno served me well over the course of 13 parks but I did feel that it became a little tight inside at times, as the weather changed I was left with no where to cook outside, this meant finding a sheltered spot or cooking inside the rather small porch which is never ideal. To add to this, there is limited height which means that you cannot sit up and end up laying down all the time. I cant really fault it though, having seen out some extreme weather and rain it has held up well and been reliable. Quick and easy to assemble I had it down to an art of only 5min. Its a pitch inner first so if it is raining you have to be quick to get it put together. I have re-proofed it this year, that’s more for my peace of mind than actually needing to be done. This has been a great, low profile wild camping tent that doesn’t cost the equivalent to a small second hand car.

The Flames Creed 1 was a new purchase from Ali Express, at only £100 ish and under the 900kg mark it was a good buy for the weight, these are pretty much knock offs of the far more expensive MSR type brands which retail for rather large sums of money. I only go to use this once of the fated Scotland trip where the rather crazy level of rain put a stop to my adventure. Before leaving I have erected this in my garden at home and applied some proofer to certain point I had read about online. On arriving at camp I set it up but really struggled to get the porch correct and it was a tad limp, but saying that it is roomy, it was a pleasure to sit up inside a tent and cook and be dry. It held up reasonably well in the weather, but where the guy line attach to the tent, water would ingress around the stitching and leaked onto my head and feet. This would be a simple application of sealant to the area but i am pretty happy with its first use.

Jetboil– there are numerous version of the little pot of awesomeness, there are also quite a few knock off versions that I have heard about and read many reviews for. I Have use a Jetboil for over 3 years on different adventures, the only issue I had was with a previous version where the auto lighter stopped working and I had no other way of lighting the stove (don’t worry I went to the Pub), other than this I haven’t had any issues at all. I have read a lot of tales around the melting of them? I’m not sure why this has occurred some perhaps through improper use as you have to use the correct pans etc. It all depends on what you want to cook, I’m happy with freeze dried foods that just takes water to eat, you could cook actual food as you can buy frying pans and so on.

Bags– I used 2 bags during this adventure, the first being my faithful OMM Classic 32l, one which I have used since taking up fastpacking. I loved this bag when I first used it, the fit was second to non and it held well on my back with little movement or issues. I was able to extend the capacity by buying the add on items, such as a compression sack for the front, small pouches on the straps and also other little add on bits can take this up to 45ltr. It holds well but I found after a number of uses the shoulder straps begin to pinch and where hurting, this was remedied by adding some extra padding and it was again comfortable. I did find that at times I seemed to be messing more with packing stuff in and it became a little bothersome.

The other bag I made use of over the later months of 2019 was the Fjallraven Abisko Friluft 35, now it seems daft to exchange the same size for the same size but from having used it, it is far roomier than the OMM. It comes with a heavier weight and the ‘new’ price is scary ( I bought mine second hand), but the fit is unreal, despite loading up with around 8/9kg of gear i cant say i noticed it. the framed back, chest, waist and shoulder straps once adjusted offer an almost floating fit to the back, there was limited movement when running and no worry about trying to fit in all my gear which was just thrown in with room to spare. This has now become my go to bag for future multi-day trips.

Food– through the journey I relied on freeze dried food from various manufacturers, but have seemed to favor the summit to eat ones. I found overall that they all lacked salt and pepper, but they were hearty meals, quick and simple to prepare and the taste was fairly good. You can source them cheaper than the main website if you shop around. Its worth noting that I would eat one of these a day, Breakfast would consist of porridge if I felt hungry in the morning and then snack items during the day such as chocolate, harribo and sesame seed snaps. I wasn’t much of an eater when running and my body adapted to a reduced diet. Over the course of the day, I think I would be lucky to push 2000 calories overall but seemed to have managed well and never really felt massively fatigued.

Clothing– a purely personal choice here, in the colder days I would opt for leggings and short combo with a thermal top. To sleep in would pretty much be the same but clean and dry gear. I cant say I was every really cold, once on Exmoor simply through misjudging the sleeping gear. I took with me an Alpkit synthetic jacket for the cooler nights and sometimes jogging bottoms. Socks were the usual affair with a stint trying out waterproof ones, there ok for a few runs but once washed seem to loose their waterproof ability, but during winter running they keep the feet warm. Waterproofs are always a bone of contention, I used the gear from Decathlon, their trail running jackets and bottoms, but I have learned all waterproofs are only waterproof for a short time and tend to wet out after a few hours of heavy down pours. So bear in mind paying hundreds of pounds wont mean you will get anything more waterproof. I have found the Decathlon gear to be pretty good and reliable, some has lasted well, some hasn’t.

Trainers– One of the most important aspects, I tended to stick to what I knew and ran almost entirely in Innov8 Rocklites through the parks. These were great trainers and remained comfortable through out, the only time I struggled was during the Norfolk Broads where only full on trail runners would of worked in the sticky and slippy mud.

Gear I broke– 12 months of extreme running can have its effect on gear, socks where often thrown away, the smell to much even for the boil setting on the washing machine, gloves were a constant need as the stitching failed from the cold, wet weather. One set of waterproof bottoms went after an unfortunate event with a barbed wire fence, whilst 2 sets of legging wore out or tore. One Jetboil broke and couldn’t be repaired, one pair of trainers also gave way in the usual places. Waterproof jacket mainly as I could’t reproof it fully.

Published by bimblingmike

a hiker, a runner and bearded man

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