GG Mariposa new shoulder strap webbing

I visited my mum today. She is an ace seamstress and I persuaded her to replace the webbing on the shoulder straps of my Gossamer Gear Mariposa. Sometimes the webbing has slipped under tension, so I replaced it with a coarser weave webbing, which shouldn’t slip. Very pleased with mum’s sewing. Took about five minutes. 

MYOG rucksack shoulder strap pads

I’ve been making again!

Many moons ago, I made some shoulder strap pads for my Golite Quest pack mid trip because the straps were bruising my collar-bone. While I didn’t have any real problems on Dartmoor with soreness from the Exped Thunder, the straps are a bit thin for my liking. They also wick water badly when it’s raining. If you’re wearing Paramo, this wicks through under pressure. An impervious shoulder pad should get rid of this issue. Thus, the shoulder pad has a dual use.


It was very easy to make. I used a cutoff of a closed cell mat, some Velcro and some Duck tape. Originally I was going to just stick the Velcro on, but I thought sewing it would be more secure. I used wide stitches to avoid pulling through the foam. If I were to do it again, I think I’d sew it onto a strip of grosgrain.


On the flip side, I used a length of Duck tape to secure the Velcro strips.


Despite not being shaped, they fit neatly underneath the shoulder straps. Using Velcro means they can be attached without unthreading the harness, unlike the ZPacks version. It also means it’s very easy to reposition the pad. I’m pleased with the outcome.


About this time last year, I went on a rather wonderful pre-TGO Challenge  “Daunder” in the sunny Chilterns. Today, I had planned to join the 2016 Daunder in the northern Pennines. Unfortunately, my wife is struggling with her health, so I’ve had to stay at home. The weather looks like it’s going to be a chilly and possibly snowy Daunder, in contrast to last year. Even so, I was looking forward to going.  Hey-Ho! So this year, no Daunder, no TGO Challenge. Due to various commitments, the next window for a walk is the end of June. All a bit disappointing ☹️. 

Extremities Trekagaiter

I’ve been using some very lightweight MLD gaiters over the past couple of years. They’ve been really good but are starting to get a bit battered. On Dartmoor, I used a pair of Extremities Trekagaiters. At 148g, they are a bit heavier than the MLD gaiters (101g), but are a bit more sophisticated.

The long Velcro opening at the front means that they can be put on without removing your boots, unlike the MLD gaiters, which are a simple tube. They are really easy to put on. The stiffened front means they stay up well without having to tighten the top shock cord. There’s also some elastic gathering just above the ankle, keeping the material from flapping.

The underfoot strap is a robust rubber strap, not shock cord. The material of the gaiter itself is surprisingly breathable. I had no condensation at all. Although it is quite light, it seems to be reasonable robust as well. At £17.99 (from UOG), they are pretty good value. I’m very pleased with them. Well worth a look if you want a pair of lightweight gaiters.

Disclaimer: I bought these with my own money and have no relationship with UOG or Extremities. 

Rohan Sentry shirt

This is rather nice. Weighs just under 200g. Treated with Insect Shield (Permethrin) insect repellent which should last for the life of the shirt. The material is a polyester/polyamide blend with a seersucker weave so it has an almost silky feel to it. It’s supposed to be very quick drying. I’ve no idea how smell resistant it is, but it should be easy to rinse through regularly. Instead of buttons, it has snap fasteners, so no buttons falling off. Smart enough that you won’t get thrown out of the members’ stands at Lord’s but casual enough to wear backpacking. I like it! Rohan Sentry Shirt

Disclaimer: purchased with my own money and I have no relationship with Rohan. 

Dartmoor Tramping food


Over the past few years, my food menu for backpacking has settled down to a fairly predictable formula. However, for Dartmoor, I introduced two new variants: a proper porridge breakfast and a dessert for dinner. I used Mountain Trails food for the first time. In addition to breakfast and dessert, I ordered a couple of main meals as well, pasta bolognaise and beef risotto. Service was very quick, arriving in two working days. Prices are pretty comparable with competing meals.

All the meals come vacuum packed in robust packaging. They are quite compact compared to some competing products, which would be an advantage if you are carrying several days food. Calorific values are reasonable. There is a choice of sizes, with large portions for expeditions. I chose the smaller sizes.

So what are they like? I thought the pasta bolognaise was quite reasonable, if not as good as the best (Fuizion/Lyo/Real Turmat). The beef risotto was very disappointing. It was almost devoid of taste, like eating sawdust. Alan had a cheese pasta and said it was good. In my experience, rice based meals can be disappointing, whereas pasta is generally a better bet.

However, both the porridge (apple and sultana/cranberry and apple) and the rice puddings (sultanas/strawberries) were excellent. I suppose it’s difficult to mess these up but I really enjoyed having a hot breakfast and a hot dessert. They’ve both got decent calorific values as well. I’d be tempted to get the larger porridge for breakfast which has nearly 600kcal.

A large breakfast, average freeze-dried evening meal plus a small dessert is around 1,500-1,600kCal for around 375g. An average adult needs around 2,500kCal per day, so you’d only need to find another 1,000kCal. Obviously, on a strenuous trek, you’d need more, but you could probably keep your daily food weight down to around 800g and still have enough energy. You could boost it with a large dessert!

The porridge reconstituted really well and was tasty, with full cream milk. I eat porridge every day, so it’s my breakfast of choice. In theory, you could make these breakfasts up a lot cheaper using your own ingredients, which is something I might experiment with. However, the low bulk and convenience is an attraction.

The rice puddings were very good too. They were a nice boost at the end of they day. I will experiment with some of the other puddings as well as, perhaps, using a rice pudding as a breakfast. I might even have a pudding at lunchtime!

The downside of hot breakfasts and desserts, apart from cost, is increased fuel usage. I almost ran out of fuel at the end of the trip, whereas I’d normally been safe with a 100 cartridge. The upside, is more calorie dense, compact and appetising food, with the boost to morale of more hot food.

For my two remaining evening meals, I had Fuizion Food meals and they were fabulous. To my mind, they are still by far the best. It’s such a shame that they appear to be struggling at the moment.

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