More Scarp thoughts

Static electricity: I’ve noticed that after unpacking, the inner and outer tent cling together with static electricity. Presumably this is generated by the materials rubbing together through packing and unpacking. This is a problem with the roof panel as it eliminates the air gap between inner and outer. Incidentally, this is an issue I had with my Akto as well. The easy way to eliminate this is to wipe one or both surfaces with a damp cloth, which discharges the static. I use a microfibre cloth that I keep for wiping off condensation or mopping up spillages, but a J-cloth is just as good.

Crossing pole clips: I’ve been thinking about the clips for the crossing poles as these are a bit fiddly to put on and particularly take off. I think the solution is to use some Alpkit Clipper mini karabiners. I’ll put a bit of tape around them to stop metal rubbing on metal. The extra weight is about 25g. I reckon they should do the trick. I’ve just ordered some from Alpkit.  I’ll probably take the crossing poles on my next trip to the Lake District in just over a week’s time and report back.



Re-bagging meals

On my recent trip I decided to re-bag my Real Turmat meals. RT meals are vacuum packed, which is good for maintaining freshness, but means that the packs are rigid. The rigidity means that they are more awkward to pack and take up more room. I decided to experiment by decanting them into some Lakeland Soup ‘n’ Sauce bags. To prevent them accidently opening, I sealed the top with a strip of clear tape. I also thought it wise to write what was in the bag 😉 and how much water it needed.

Bag, cosy and base

The Soup ‘n’ Sauce bag is a different shape to the RT bag, so I made a new pouch cosy (above right). I thought it would also be sensible to have an insulated base to stand the meal on while it was rehydrating (above top left and below).

Bag on insulating base

The system was very effective in ensuring that the meal remained piping hot. I usually allow double the recommended time for food to re-hydrate.

Inside the pouch cosy

The Soup ‘n’ Sauce bag has the added advantage of being shallower, so the food is easier to reach.

Ready to eat

I was very pleased with the system It improves packability and it is easier and less messy to eat.

Scarp 1 review

It is early days with the Scarp, but my first impressions are very favourable. You have to put this in the context of not very taxing weather. Every night was quite still and the breeze in the late evening on Saturday could be described as fresh rather than strong. With that in mind I really liked it. The main impression is of stability and space.

Looking good with a nice taut flysheet

The PitchLoc system is a stroke of genius and is the key the Scarp’s stability. The ends of the tent are very strong and stable and help to tension the flysheet across the span of the roof. The third leg is also crucial in keeping the centre line of the fly taut. This means the structural integrity of the tent relies less on the centre hoop than comparable designs. While you don’t have to use the guying points on the hoop, they are important to aid stability if the wind is blowing from the side. The Akto has two guying points either side of the hoop, which makes the hoop more stable. However, some movement might be beneficial in allowing the tent to sway with gusts of wind.

Revised end guys

Another advantage of the PitchLoc system is that the ends of the tent are tensioned by the guys not the flysheet shock cords. Again this is similar to the Akto, but the guys are attached to the top and bottom of the corners, eliminating any need for a pegging point on the fly itself. This means that, unlike the Laser Comp, the Scarp is much less fussy about the ground conditions as the crucial corner pegs can be positioned where the ground is suitable and the guys tightened accordingly. If you go one stage further and use my revised guying system, then you can pitch the Scarp with only four pegs if you want. Personally I would always use six, as I would use the hoop guys as well. While you can do the same with the Akto, the bottom of the flysheet would not be a secure. The contrast with the Laser Comp, which has six pegging points around the edge of the fly (three at each end), is that the Comp can be awkward to pitch if ground conditions don’t allow secure pegging points. Compared with both the Akto and the Comp, the Scarp is a lot easier to pitch well with a taut flysheet. A word of warning though, there is a temptation to over-tighten the end guys, which puts a lot of strain on the pegs and potentially causing them to flip out of ground and prejudicing the structural integrity of the Scarp.

Restoring the original end guys for strength

You are probably wondering if the revised guying system is worth the effort. I like it, as it enables me to peg out the Scarp with two less pegs in ideal conditions. If conditions are less than ideal, then the centre guy is easily restored, which is what I did at Llyn Llugwy when it was quite breezy. The sail rings (see above picture, left hand guy pegging point) are also worthwhile as they make it easier to tighten the guys, eliminating the friction of the guy line against the peg. They also prevent the guy flipping off the Easton pegs as the ring is smaller than the top of the peg. The Easton pegs themselves are very good. I think the long pegs are worthwhile as the structural integrity of the Scarp puts a lot of strain on the corner pegs.

I didn’t use the crossing poles. I have used them in the back garden. I think they make a very strong tent that should stand up to severe mountain and winter conditions. However, they are probably overkill most of the time. I can’t prove it, but I expect the Scarp to be better than both the Akto and the Comp in severe conditions without the crossing poles.

Ensure the threshold cord is looped around the PitchLoc strut

One area of controversy is the threshold cord. I know I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about this, but it is a key feature of the Akto, so I don’t understand why similar designs don’t have them. It takes away the stress on the door zip when the flysheet is tensioned. I think the Scarp also benefits from this tweak. However, be sure that the PitchLoc end loops around the PitchLoc strut (not the band that joins the struts) and at the centre pole make sure it loops around the end of the pole. When it’s set up like this, it really helps relieve the strain on the door hem and maintains the structural integrity of the tent when the door is open.

The system to raise the edge of the fly is very effective, but I prefer my tweak as it makes it neater. I was very impressed by the lack of condensation on two nights and a much reduced level on the night where there was a slight frost. I think the high level opposing vents are the reason for this. Again this shows good design.

A huge amount of room

The inner tent is a joy. It feels airy and spacious, particularly compared with the Comp. The ends are taller than the Akto. I can easily sit up without touching the inner at the mid-point of the inner. The height at each end is noticeable when lying down compared with both the Akto and the Comp as it doesn’t feel at all claustrophobic. Sometimes the Comp feels like sleeping in a coffin. Even the Akto feels a bit constricted.

The oblong floor plan makes gear storage much easier. I stored most of my gear inside the inner, which is slightly ironic as there is plenty of space outside the inner with two porches. The porch depth is not as great as either the Comp or the Akto, but plenty big enough for cooking on a gas stove. I like the idea of having two entrances to allow for changes in the direction of the wind and two porches so that wet gear can be stowed in one, while the other can be used for cooking. I also like the facility to string up a line along the ridge to hang clothing or a light.

With Akto footprint

I tried both the team io Akto footprint and the Tyvek footprint. I think the Akto footprint is probably overkill. The reason I use the footprint in the Comp porch is to extend the useable space. There’s so much space in the inner in the Scarp, that this is not necessary. The Tyvek footprint is very neat and probably worthwhile if ground conditions are rough. Otherwise it is probably superfluous. In fact it is probably better to carry a sheet of Polycro instead as it’s much lighter. The seam sealant non-slip stripes proved very effective and worth using with any tent with a slippery groundsheet.

Second porch useful for storage

All is not sweetness and light, however. The supplied pockets at the base of the doors are far too small to be of use. Larger mesh ones at each end would be more useful. The inner door tie backs are poor. I don’t know why Velcro wasn’t used as it has been on the flysheet. However, my mod worked well. I’m in two minds about the inner door shape as well. I think an inverted “T” would be better as the whole side of the inner could be opened. The current configuration makes it awkward to reach part of the porch. I’m also not sure why zip pullers are not supplied as they make it so much easier to use the zips.

Overall I found the Scarp to be an excellent tent and the many advantages, particularly space and stability, trump the modest shortcomings. I was pleased with all the mods that I made. I think the Scarp is a better tent than the Akto and the Comp. However, the Comp is lighter. Henry has shown a willingness to modify the tent with regard to the flysheet. He might want to consider incorporating the mods that I have made as well. One further modification might be to make the doors diagonally opposite, making it easier to sleep either way round according to the slope.

Suggestions for improvement:

1) Diagonally opposing doors.

2) Change inner tent doors to inverted “T” with velcro tie backs.

3) Threshold cord for flysheet doors.

4) Zip pullers.

5) Bigger inner tent pockets located at each end.

6) Longer shock cord links between inner and outer tent corners.


Onwards and upwards

Strictly speaking I’m not retired yet. I’m working three months notice. However, I am not required to go into the office much so I’m as good as retired. So that means….a lot more backpacking. In three weeks time I’m going to do a five-day backpack around the western side of the Lake District. I’ve more or less decided the route, which will be mainly high level. I will be taking the Scarp again. This time I might encounter more testing conditions. I’ve started to write a preliminary review, which I will post over the next few days, but the real test is likely to come in the future. I’m also toying with the idea of walking all or part of the South Downs Way in June.

A nice secluded pitch somewhere in the Northwestern fells


Carneddau wander part 2

Sunday April 11th

I woke several times in the night, still with a migraine. Although I’ve suffered migraines all my life, it is very unusual to have one for 24 hours. I started to worry that it might be something more serious like a brain tumour.

Morning at Llyn Llugwy

In the tent, the night time temperature didn’t fall below 6c, although it was probably lower outside. Again I felt a bit cold, so I put my LIM Barrier smock on. With some relief I felt my migraine starting to ease. By the time I rose at around 7am, it was a lot better and after breakfast I took the last of the ibuprofen. My previous doctor told me the best thing for migraines is two paracetemol and one ibuprofen tablet. After trying everything else, this is still the best treatment I’ve found, but I’m always careful about taking ibuprofen.

Llyn Llugwy


The group that was camping on the wall of the dam left quite early, so by the time I had finished sorting my stuff I had the place to myself. I took the chance to have a look around and take some photos. The group had pitched in the best place with good flat ground, although it was quite exposed if there was a strong wind.

Llyn Llugwy

By 9.30am I was off. Last year, I remember the climb up Craig Llugwy being a bit of a pull. To my amazement, it only took about half an hour and I didn’t feel particularly tired. As I went higher, the wind freshened, so I put on some layers. Just before the last climb through a boulder field, I stopped for a bit of sustenance.

A quick break

Crossing Bwlch Cyfryw drum, I encountered a few modest snow patches, but not serious enough to use my Kahtoola Microspikes, which was slightly disappointing. I took the final climb up Carnedd Llewelyn steadily as I didn’t want to generate too much sweat in my hard shell jacket. I think I will be reverting to Paramo in the future as for 90% of the time it’s the best system.

The ridge to Carnedd Llewelyn

I made the summit just after noon. The whole ascent had been quite leisurely. There was a stiff cold wind and I sheltered behind one of the summit rocks and ate lunch. I tried a bit of tripod photography, but the wind blew the camera and tripod over. Fortunately the camera landed on the LCD screen, which was only slightly scratched.

View south-east from Carnedd Llewelyn

Although I met several people on the top, they all seemed oddly reluctant to exchange greetings. As it was cold, I didn’t hang around for too long. My original plan had been to walk the ridge to Drum, but the cold wind persuaded me to cut down to the ridge between Melynllyn and Llyn Eigiau. I put on my gaiters, as I remembered last year it was very wet on this descent. I was glad I did, as I had to cross several snow patches and some marshy ground.


Lower down the wind became lighter and the sun became stronger, making it pleasantly warm. I met I very nice couple going in the opposite direction and had a chat. Their friendliness was a contrast with the frostiness of the fellow walkers on Carnedd Llewelyn.


My intention had been to camp at Melynllyn but it didn’t look very inviting and the ground would probably be quite wet. I was also intrigued as to where the path I was on would meet the track below. I continued to almost the end of the ridge until the path dropped on the western side to meet the land rover track.

Back at Maeneira

I went back to the car to ditch a few bits and pieces and pick up a new gas cylinder as the one I had been using was almost spent. I headed back to the delights of Maeneira. When I arrived it was like a summer’s day. The Scarp went up quickly as I was now used to pitching it. I had a quick wash in the stream before dinner, which was Pasta Provence. The sunshine flooded through the tent door. It was a truly special moment to a trip that had no real purpose other than to have a wander and do a bit of wild camping (and to test my Scarp, of course).

Monday 12th April

The night was a bit colder and when I got out of the tent there was a light frost. This time there was some condensation in the tent, but nowhere near as much as I have suffered with other tents. I ate most of the remaining bits and pieces for breakfast before packing the tent.


Back at the car park I arrived just as group of youngsters and their instructor were getting out of a minibus. I waited until they had departed before a quick change of clothes and then home.

A frosty Scarp

Even though I had a migraine on the Saturday, I enjoyed my little wander. I didn’t use a map at all, although I carried one. It was nice to just have a wander without trying to do serious distances. All in all it was a very relaxing time.

Carneddau wander part 1

Friday 9th April

Apart from the heavy traffic and the occasional brief stoppage, the journey up to North Wales was uneventful. My Satnav tried to take me an odd route, but I ignored it as I basically knew where I was going. My first attempt at lunch at Norton Canes services was thwarted by a queue at the roundabout and a full car park, so I decided to carry on a bit further. I had a late lunch at Keele services. I arrived at the parking place near Llyn Eigiau at around 4.00 pm to find it nearly full. Fortunately there was one place left.


After a faff around changing clothes and rearranging gear I was off. I headed for Maeneira, passing some other walker on route. I passed Maeneira and followed the track for another five minutes to the flood defences by the Dulyn hydro-electric power station where I camped last August. With only a slight breeze the noise from the power station was more noticeable than I remembered so I decided to go back to Maeneira.

It was a beautiful late afternoon with hazy sunshine. Descending the slope to the abandoned pasture was easier than last summer as the bracken had died off. I was a bit concerned there might be some midges as the breeze had dropped, but there was only the occasional fly.

Me and my Scarp

Now it was time for the big moment: the first wild pitch for the Scarp. I’ll do a more in-depth review later, but it was much easier to pitch than the Laser Competition and I achieved a nice taut flysheet with little trouble. Unpacking my gear, emphasised how incredibly spacious it is. I was able to put most of my gear in the tent, hardly using the porches.

In the Scarp

Not surprisingly, dinner was another Real Turmat delicacy: Wolffish Casserole, or more accurately Wolffish Pasta. After boiling the water to rehydrate my meal, I started to boil some more water for my post-dinner cup of tea. Disaster! I had left the tea bags at home. I drink a lot of tea, so I was concerned that I might have tea withdrawal symptoms on the next day. The Wolffish Casserole was very tasty and satisfying, but my body wasn’t fooled by the hot water without a tea infusion and I started to crave tea. After a bit of a poke around, I decided to go to turn in.

Saturday 10th April


 I woke up at first light with a migraine, probably down to the lack of tea! I took some paracetamol in hope rather than expectation. Although it was not that cold over night (min. 6c), I felt a bit chilly. This was strange as I’ve used the Pipedream 400 down to freezing before. Perhaps I’m getting old. I had to answer a call of nature and took a picture of the dawn. I kept on the LIM Barrier to keep warm  in an effort to have a further doze as I thought it might help with the migraine.

I didn’t finally rise until 9.00 am, which seemed a bit decadent. I had to wait another hour until I could take some more paracetamol, so I did some chores and then had breakfast so I could take some ibuprofen as well.

Morning at Maeneira

I was pleased to discover no condensation at all in the Scarp. While a light breeze helped, I suspect the high vents also helped. I took mine time packing so I didn’t leave until around 11.00 am, absurdly late, but, hey, I’m retired now! There is something magical but sad about Maeneira. The ruined cottage with hearth still intact adds to the air of abandonment and desolation. The pastures are gradually returning to coarse grass and bracken. Yet, this must have been home for someone. It’s difficult to conceive of a more beautiful setting. It is a wonderful place for a wild camp.

My original intention had been to head to Drum and then along the ridge to Carnedd Llewelyn and down to Llyn Llugwy to camp. Because of my migraine I decided to reverse the route and go to Llyn Llugwy via Llyn Cowlyd.

The famous tree on a rock

On the way back to the car park, I tried to send a blog post. The first failed but the second succeeded. As I was blogging a guy passed by and asked whether my pack was a Golite. No, Gossamer Gear, was my reply. He seemed interested, but I refrained from boring the pants off him with my encyclopaedic knowledge of lightweight gear. The next passers-by were a family with the husband striding out, leaving his wife and two young sons trailing in his wake. Looked like they wer going to have a fun day, not.

At the car park I had a quick clothes swap (Montane Terra Pants for my Berghaus Equilibrium Pants, which were too warm). I headed for Llyn Eigiau, pausing at the dam to consider whether to head up Cwm Eigiau. However, my migraine was still bad, so I headed to Eilio, with the intention of taking the easy route along the shore of Llyn Cowlyd and the leat to Llyn Llugwy.

The crow (or possibly a Raven)

Just before Eilio, I stopped for lunch. Just after I sat down, a crow, wings iridescent in the sunshine, swooped from behind my right should to land on a ridge about 50 metres away. I’ve never considered crows to be particularly attractive, but this one had a rather regal look to it. After a few minutes it flew off again.

After lunch I passed Eilio. Although it’s in better condition than Maeneira, it looks worse with rubbish strewn around and broken down doors. I had considered camping here last summer but was put off by the detritus. On the uphill pull from Eilio I met a large group of walkers. The numerous “hellos” added to the strain of the climb! It was OK for them, they were going downhill, I was huffing and puffing uphill.

Track down to Llyn Cowlyd

On the way down to Llyn Cowlyd, I encountered the sad sight of a recently deceased lamb with its entrails pecked out. That set in train a slightly morbid line of thought, which was reinforced when I saw a dead sheep half way along the reservoir. Thoughts of the fragility and preciousness of life kept coming into my mind.

Me looking back down Llyn Cowlyd

Near the end of Llyn Cowlyd, I started to find some litter on the path. In best Womble fashion I picked it up to pack out. When I reached the leat that runs on the northern side of the Ogwen valley, the wind freshened and the sun became hazier. I stopped for a quick break and then continued along the leat. This is great “long” short-cut as it contours around the mountain making for rapid progress. The hillside below was full of sheep and lambs. I tried not to dwell on the imminent fate of most of the lambs in a few week’s or month’s time.

“Wild life”

I reached the Llyn Llugwy road at around 5.00pm. Although not steep, it was a bit of a pull up the road. Nearing the top I could see a group had occupied the flat area at the top of the dam. I investigated a pitch near a large boulder where I had seen someone camping last year, but it was not very appealing. Finally I settled on a pitch near a wall which was a bit more sheltered than some other areas. Although not strong, the breeze was quite fresh.

Pitch at Llyn Llugwy

Pitching the Scarp was straightforward despite the stony ground. I was glad that I had taken the thin titanium pegs as they penetrated the stones to give a secure hold. I slightly regretted not taking the crossing poles (left in the car) but even without them the Scarp seemed solid.

I still had a migraine, which was a bit worrying. After Game Casserole, I got in my sleeping and hoped that a good night’s sleep would get rid of my migraine.

Another Scarp picture