Managing Equipment On Multi-Day Trips – Brief Thoughts After #BareFootLeJog Part 3

Kit laid out ready to pack the morning before the day after.

Kit laid out ready to pack the morning before the day after.

Solving the problem of gear to carry is pretty simple.  First your decide on your tipping point between comfort and weight, then you work out what you can afford.  The more you go towards weight, the more uncomfortable you’re going to be at the start of your journey, and the more comfortable you are the harder it will be to carry all your equipment.

I saw a young lad, I think his name was Duncan, on his way to Helmsdale from JOG.  it was his 3rd day and he looked distraught.  The first thing he said when he found out I was on my way to JOG was “Where the hell is all your equipment?”, since my neatly packed Fastpack 20 was less than a 3rd the size of his gear.  I had the advantage of having planned for the lightest weight pack with comfort, although after my finely tuned foam mat blew away, I had to add 200g to my pack weight with my backup blow up bed.

That small pack held everything I needed to survive on a day to day basis.  There was even enough room to add a few things!!

That small pack held everything I needed to survive on a day to day basis. There was even enough room to add a few things!!

My kit ended up coming from 3 sources,  self funded purchases like my MSR titanium kettle, LifeStraw water filter, Ricoh GR digital and the Ultimate Direction FastPack 20, borrowed like my sleeping bag and blow up bed, or kindly donated by BackPackingLight (which included the Vaude Lizard GUL tent, a thermatex blanket, a Syphon alcohol stove and a Ti Pocket Stove).  I’m all for minimal amounts of writing, so I’ll stick be as to the point as I can with each review.  I did test the equipment before I set off on numerous occasions, and it paid off since I didn’t have any equipment problems.  The only thing I did end up having to do was buy a new water proof.  The Inov-8 Ultra shell began to fall apart after 29 days and was no loner waterproof, so to get me through the rest of bonnie (wet) old Scotland I purchased a Montane shell.

The weather was poor at the start and poor at the end.  It didn't matter though.  I'd said that I'd finish on the 2nd and that's what I was going to do.

The weather was poor at the start and poor at the end. It didn’t matter though. I’d said that I’d finish on the 2nd and that’s what I was going to do.

Packing of the kit became an art!  Sleeping bag, blow up bed, waterproofs and warm layer  would all end up being layers along the back end of the pack and then the extra bits and bobs (spare batteries for camera, cables and chargers etc) would end up in front of these. It gave a pack a nice supported back and kept the profile as slim as possible.  The mesh section of the pack got a hammering, with anything from food to my hat would just get shoved in there.  The tent was small enough to sit happily in the side mesh pocket, with the poles along side it.  The bungee cord that seemed to be pointless when I got the bag did a good job of keeping the tent poles in place while I bounced along day after day.  The opposite side to the tent held a 500-750ml bottle of water, with another 500 ml bottle in the bottle pouch on the left strap.  The UD fastpack 20 was the perfect pack, although it would be awesome if it was fully waterproof.

Right!  Time to review…

Vaude Lizard GUL Tent

I love this tent so much that I am going to do a full on review of it.  It kept me warm and dry for so many days that I feel I need to do it justice, but in the mean time, here’s a fairly concise review.

This thing is incredible.  The total weight of the pole, pegs and both layers is 706g and I could pack it small enough to fit it in the side stretch pouches of the UD Fastback 20.

Now, it’s not the cheapest of tents, but it’s versatilely, ability to pitch it in the most ridiculously small spaces and sheltering from the strongest winds and from serious rain make it well worth it.   And did I mention it’s a 3 season tent that only weighs 700g?

The night before reaching Cheddar.  Great little hidden spot and a glorious sunset.

The night before reaching Cheddar. Great little hidden spot and a glorious sunset.

Finding Sleeping spots became easier, and on some nights you'd bump into kind people who'd recommend a glorious spot like this one (thanks Keith)

Finding Sleeping spots became easier, and on some nights you’d bump into kind people who’d recommend a glorious spot like this one (thanks Keith)

Thermatex blanket

Three out of the 38 nights were cold enough for me to really have to use this miracle of clever thinking.  It does exactly what its supposed to and keeps you warm when you need it.  It’s a fairly low tech piece of kit since its a blanket with one green and one silver side.  The science is as follows:

Silver is a poor emitter of heat, so you have the silver side facing out and are amazed at the warm that is absorbed by the green internals and then emitted back at you.  Kind of like a Polar bears skin and fur combo.

The only thing I would say as a negative, is that the silver coating rubbed off fairly easily, which is combatted by folding the blanket with the silver side inwards.  Now this small problem is supposed to have been sorted on the new versions, so you needn’t worry about the silver completely rubbing off.  The other thing I liked about the blanket was that I could trim it down to size and then sew it into a neat little sleeping bag.  The other nice thing is that it performed better than a silk sleeping bag liner (I did a quick comparison whilst out on LeJog)

The blanket is huge enough to wrap round the average person one and a half times and weighs 210g.  If you need to have a warmth backup then this is going to be the thing to get.

Syphon Alcohol Stove and Pocket Stove Combo

I have no idea why I ever used a gas burner!  This 1.5″ high and 2″ wide cylinder weighs in at less than 20g and is efficient enough to boil around 500ml of water in less than 5 minutes!!  Admittedly, you need to couple it with the Pocket Stove, but that means you have a full cooking solution that is under 200g including 100g of alcohol.  I didn’t use it every night or every morning, but it was great to have.  My whole cooking setup was no bigger than my MSR titanium Kettle (everything fit neatly inside the kettle).  If you fancy being lazy, you can use the stove with a trivet.  Things take longer to heat up, but when your wild camping and travelling on the road, I’m to sure that having super fast cooking times is that essential.

 

Compact and perfect for cooking

 
The perfect cooking kit combo.  Everything takes up no more space than the MSR titanium kettle and is less than 400g in weight!

The perfect cooking kit combo. Everything takes up no more space than the MSR titanium kettle and is less than 400g in weight!


The LifeStraw water filter

Not much to say about this thing.  It’s around 30g, it filters the nastiest looking water and stops you getting those nasty stomach bugs and its blue.  This thing saved me the hassle of carrying litres of water and meant that I could drink water anywhere I saw water.  I even tested it out before LeJog in a pool of standing water that was teaming with aquatic life.  It was so teaming that I was expecting to have to cut a run short after drinking the water through the straw.  Needless to say, I was fine.  The other great thing is that the company uses profits to supply the LifeStraws to places that need them.  So, not only do you reduce your pack weight and have pretty much limitless drinkable water, you also get that hazy warmth knowing that you are buying an ethically minded product.

Yeti sleeping bag

I had never heard of Yeti before I was loaned the sleeping bag.  Now, I think I might have to buy me one!  The sleeping bag kept me warm on almost all the nights, until the temperature dropped to around 5 degrees.  Then I had the Thermatex as a back up.

It’s a down filled sleeping bag that packs down to about the size of a can of beer.  I shouldn’t believe how small it packed and it weighs in at 400g with the stuff sac (which is actually more than big enough for the sleeping bag).  The only thing was the lack of a hood, but it is an older model.  The newer version has a hood built in and is around 50g lighter.

I slept each night on a small, inflatable bed.  It was around 350g in weight, inflated quickly and did what it was supposed to as a bed, holding the air for a whole night without the usual deflated feeling in the morning.  The only thing I would say about blow up beds is this…   Get enough air into it so that it stays level.  The majority of our mass is near our hips, so I found in the mornings I would have slightly aching hip flexors, or an aching lower back if I didn’t get enough air into the bed the night before.  The reason was the folding effect your body will have as you lie flat.  It was easy enough to fix, but it took me a few days to work out I needed to really get some air into the bed, before going to sleep on it.

Really, I think the equipment I ended up with is likely to be my standard fastpacking kit, since it is all light and functional.  The only thing I will have to invest in, is a sleeping bag and a replacement foam mat.  I’m more than comfortable on a foam mat, since the comfort part comes from the choice of pitch site, as apposed to the material you sleep on.  There seem to be some super light and super cheap sleeping bags available on-line, so will wait till payday and treat myself.  It would be great to be able to get out in the winter months and get some multi-day mini adventures done.

 

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Luna Origen Review – First Impressions

It’s no secret I’m a bit of a Luna addict, so it’s no surprise that I have yet another pair of Lunas to run in. There are other Luna sandals that I’ve looked at and not considered buying, but when I saw the Origen, I was suckered in. They are actually made, in part, out of tyres! So, last Wednesday I decided I’d waited enough, visited LunaSandals.com and ordered a pair.

By Friday, I was amazed as always, as to how quickly they arrived from the US. Then I got them out the FEDEX envelop and first impression was their weight. They’re heavier than any of the other sandals I own, but then I flipped them over and grinned.  

There’s something oddly rad about having some tyres strapped to your feet when you’re running, so the day after, despite feeling a little ropey (virus induced as apposed to alcohol!), I headed out to one of my favourite trail routes.
The route is actually a great mix for testing shoes out, with a mix of sharp rocks, polished limestone, mud, concrete and gravel trails, so the Lunas were strapped on, adjusted and it was time to have a little gentle trot.

All strapped up and ready to go

The first thing you’ll notice if you’ve ran in any other Lunas is how bouncy these things are. They seem to flex and mould to any and every bump and groove in the trail, but they gave enough protection so that no sharp bits of rock stabbed the sole of my feet. I did notice the difference in weight in these sandals, and I started off being a bit more sloppy than I should be usually. Now, I’m not sure if this is because of the density of the tyre rubber, the weight or just bad form on the day, but after a few minutes of running they got quieter.

As soon as I got off the road leading to the trail, I knew the sandals were awesome. They handled everything the trail had to offer, giving just enough grip in the mud, just enough ground feel on the tricky technical sections and surprisingly good grip on the wet polished limestone rocks! This last bit surprised me as there is nothing known to man that can grip polished limestone. So after 6 miles, I’m a fan.

They seemed to grip everything from mud to polished limestone trails!

Testing the flex in he sandalss on a rocky river bed. they seem to flex and mould to the terrain tge way your feet would.

What are the sandals like in comparison to other Lunas?
I’d place them at the perfect midway point between the Oso and the Leadville Pacers. I think they have the same foamy rubber mid section as the Mono (or at least the top feels like the same rubber), so I’m going to presume they will mould to my feet as I put the miles in, and I’m actually looking forward to giving them a baptism of fire on the gnarly terrain of Mordoresc Crib Goch and Tryfan in Snowdonia at some point very soon.

Getting more to the point, they are heavier and more protective when you compare them to the Leadville’s and I think they are going to mould better and quicker, but they are more flexible and match the form of the trail better than the Oso, feeling a little less stiff from the off.

Only more miles will tell if they are going to be a repeat purchase in the future, but first impressions are that these are going to be a favourite for most of the trail runs I do, the Leadville Pacer’s have been relegated and the Oso will come out for those days where I want to feel the extra responsiveness that the stiffer Oso give.

Support Package Curtosy Of Backpackinglight – Big Thanks To @bpl_uk For The Support

Package arrived at work today and inside was some donated camping gear from backpackinglight.

First surprise is how light the box is!  Surely they forgot to post the tent?

Inside was a nice hand written note, a packet of Skittles and then some camping goodies.

Here’s what Bob from backpackinglight sent:

  • Vaude Lizard GUL – ultra light 3 season tent weighing in at 690g!!
  • Titanium spirit burner – super light way of getting a warm mean cooked.
  • The Pocket Stove – titanium multi-fuel stove that’s going to really come into its own along the moors and the highlands.
  • Thermatrex blanket – these light blankets will reflect 75% of your body heat back at you.  Effectively I can up the warmth of a super light and thin sleeping bag without adding lots of weight to it.
  • Skittles – essential fuel, except this hasn’t made it past the first 5 minutes!

I can’t thank them enough for this equipment, but I also have to say a big thanks to Peter Ambrose for initiating the communication with them.  If it wasn’t for his initial email, the following conversations and then offer of support just wouldn’t have happened.  

Approaching the 3 week mark 😊