Garden camping

As we are all in lockdown and no idea of when we will get out, I decided to follow the example of a fellow blogger, Matt (https://backpackartist.com) and camp for a night in my back garden.

Normally camping in our back garden would require earplugs to cut out the noise from traffic and aircraft. However, at the moment, everything is eerily quiet. The only thing that disturbed me was the noise of some cats fighting at about 3am.

I used my new Scarp. It reminded me of what a fabulous tent it is. The only problem I had was finding a spot in our garden that wasn’t sloping too much. Just for old time’s sake, I used my Alpkit Pipedream 600 sleeping bag. It was a bit too warm to start with so I used it like a quilt. As it got cooler I reverted to sleeping bag mode. It was nice to sleep outside for a night. Who knows when we will get an opportunity to do it in the wilds.

Tread Lite Gear tent can

We all need a bit of cheering up! I was browsing through the Tread Lite Gear website, as you do, and I spotted this beauty. Organising storage in a tent can be a bit of a challenge. This attaches to a trekking pole or tent pole to provide some convenient storage, keeping stuff off the ground. It can also double as a stuff sack, although it’s not watertight. In the picture, it has a full length Thermarest X-Lite inside. It’s simple to attach to a pole with hooks and silicone bands. It weighs 27g. As with all Paul’s stuff, it’s top quality. Well worth a look.

https://www.treadlitegear.co.uk/dcf-cuben-fiber-pole-mounted-tent-cans-366-p.asp

Disclaimer: I have no relationship with Tread Lite Gear and paid for this product with my own money.

Coronavirus and small businesses

Two weeks ago I was joking with friends about doing elbow bumps. That now seems like a different world. Now we are in lockdown for who knows how long. Søren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”. That’s well worth remembering before we rush to judgement on how the crisis is being handled. Everyone is trying their best with imperfect information.

Economically this is going to be painful, with a very sharp recession in the next 2-3 quarters. However, if productive capacity is protected, the likelihood is that the recovery will be strong, as productive capacity will not have been destroyed.

Small businesses, particularly one man bands, are the most vulnerable as generally they have less financial cushion to survive. If you know someone who is self employed and you can use their service or buy their product, if you are able, now would be a good time to give them some business. We are all in this together.

Atom Packs Mo 50L and Roo

There’s a bit of a story to this pack. In December, I mailed my Mariposa to a friend to convert the top to a drawstring closure with a Y strap. Parcel Force lost it in the Christmas rush so I made a claim in January (it was insured) and ordered the Mo as a replacement. Late February, my Mariposa was returned to me claiming that it hadn’t been collected from the depot, which was a joke as my friend had phoned them to find out what had happened to it and gone through the Parcel Force complaints procedure. What a farce!

Anyway, by the time I got my Mariposa back, my Mo was being made. The 50L has a capacity of 45L in the main body and 5L in the side pockets. I chose VX21 fabric in grey, with two shoulder strap pockets and two hip belt pockets. At the same time I ordered a Roo waist pack. Details on the Atom Packs website.

The quality of the workmanship is superb. Faultless. The VX21 material feels very robust and is waterproof, so there will be no need for a pack cover. The back panel is tough 500D nylon. I’m impressed with the robust feel of the mesh, which feels much more sturdy than most, so hopefully it will be more resistant to snagging. The side pockets are a good size and tents and bottles fit easily.

I like a Y strap at the top as it’s more secure when stowing things on top of the pack. The hip belt has two adjusters on either side, which gives a great fit. Load lifters on the shoulder straps mean the fit can be dialled in and the pack hug your back better. The hip belt pockets are a good size. I’ve added zip pulls as the metal ones are quite small. I love the stretch shoulder pockets.

The frame sheet has a single strut firmly secured on an HDPE sheet with a separate foam spacer. I bent it a little more to give it more curvature. It works very well and the overall carry of the pack seems good (I won’t know for sure until I use it).

As you can imagine, I’ve already made a mod! I’ve sewn a couple of grosgrain loops on the inside and added a glove hook. Together with some thin shock cord, it I can secure a piece of folded thin foam mat inside the pack. I always take some to boost a sleeping mat and as insurance in case of puncturing an air mat.

I packed the Mo and the Mariposa with sleeping bags to make a quick comparison. The Mo is definitely a bit smaller. It’s about 3-4cm narrower and maybe 1-2cm less in depth. Additionally, the Mariposa has more volume in the pockets.

I also bought a Roo waist pack. Again, it’s superbly well made. It’s a little larger than the two Alpinelite belt packs I own. It has a handy organisation sleeve inside. It should be great for a camera and a few bits and pieces. The outer mesh pocket should be handy for a snack bar or two. I added a zip puller as, again, the metal one is a bit small.

Weights are c.950g (inc. pockets) for the Mo and 70g for the Roo. Overall, these are both very good products. The Mo should be great for most trips where bulkiness of gear and food is not an issue. For me, I suspect the Mariposa would still be my choice for something like the TGO Challenge as it has a bit more volume for food and gear. Having said that, the Mo would certainly work with some careful planning. It’s good to see small British companies like Atom Packs and Valley & Peak producing such high quality specialist products.

Disclaimer: I bought these products with my own money and have no relationship with Atom Packs

Mountain Equipment Kinesis Trousers

I was in two minds as to whether to blog about these but they are so good, I thought I would. The Mountain Equipment Kinesis trousers (I refuse to call them pants!) seem to be almost impossible to buy, but I was lucky to get some half price in a sale from Needlesports . They are incredibly lightweight at 225g for my size Medium. The outside material is a lightweight 30D nylon material, which, while not robust, doesn’t feel fragile either. They have a modest amount of stretch. The lining is a very lightweight fleecy fabric called Octoyarn. Combined, they are amazingly warm and windproof and very comfortable to wear.

They have two fleece lined hand pockets (they pack down into the right hand pocket) and separate leg vents, which are great to prevent overheating. The fit is quite slim with an elasticated waist band. I suspect will mainly use them as an insulation layer around camp, but in cold, windy weather they would be great to walk in, especially as they have zipped vents. They would also be comfortable to sleep in if necessary. I can’t wait to take them on a trip.

Valley & Peak X-Mid draught screen

A little while ago, I asked Mark and Mary at Valley and Peak https://valleyandpeak.co.uk/ to make a draught curtain that I designed for my X-Mid. It weighs 31g and is made out of their bivy top material. It attaches with mitten hooks and lineloks with shock cord. It can be left in place and can go at either end. The corner near the trekking pole can either be pegged or attached to the trekking pole.

I’m really pleased with the way it’s turned out and the quality is top notch. There’s no price yet but V&P will probably put it into production soon. It’s a partial solution to the lack of on a solid inner, especially if you don’t want to buy the Ultra Bivy and want to use the mesh inner.

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