Gear stuff part 1

It was a bit naughty to write the previous post hinting at some gear issues and leaving you lingering! I’ll write up the actual trip notes a bit later, but I thought you would like some feedback on gear related issues. It’s worth putting this into some kind of context. From around 3 p.m. on Tuesday until 6 a.m. on Wednesday it rained a lot and was quite windy. It was particularly bad overnight. Here’s a picture of the River Esk, before and after.



Scarp 1. Generally the Scarp held up well to the wind and rain. It was much more stable than the Comp (or indeed the Akto), even without crossing poles. I had no problem with “misting”. However, there is one area of weakness. The loop that secures the crossing poles at the apex of the arch wicks water into the interior of the tent. It drips down onto the loop that secures the inner tent and then into the inner itself. I disconnected the link at the apex and left the apex hook connected to one of the vent hooks, so any drips fell on the inner fabric, not the seam.

I’ve been in correspondence with Henry about this and it appears that I’m the only person to have suffered this. It was heavy, horizontal rain, like having a hose directed at the tent. I think the issue is with the loop rather than the whole pole arch. Nonetheless, I am going to seal the entire pole arch inside and out and work some sealant into the loop and see whether this cures the problem.

Let’s put this into context, it was an inconvenience in some severe weather and not a major problem. It was annoying as I have never suffered on single drop of water inside the Comp (proving the pole hood works!). Hopefully a bit more sealant will cure the problem. Overall, I’m still really pleased with the Scarp. It’s very stable and I love the amount of space and two porches. All the mods worked. Under the groundsheet I used a space blanket weighing 50g. To me this seems worthwhile protection against stones and moisture. To others it will seem superfluous.

Inov8 Roclite 320s. I really tried to like these, but they just don’t suit me for this kind of walking. It is worth emphasising, that I’m not criticising the quality or functionality of the shoes themselves, just how they affect me. Firstly, the good points: lightweight, flexible, and breathable. Now the bad ones (for me!):

  1. Insecure grip going downhill or contouring. Although they grip well on grass, they don’t feel anywhere near as secure as my Fastpackers. They are terrible for contouring and not very secure on loose rock. They also have poor grip on wet rock. Consequently, I was a lot slower and more cautious about going downhill than I normally am.
  2. Sloppy heel cup. I found my heel sliding around on uneven ground. A couple of times I went over on my ankle because of this. I had ascertained that they don’t work well with Superfeet before leaving.
  3. Wet feet. I hate them. I really didn’t like getting my feet wet. I found myself trying to pick a way around marshy ground, which slowed me down. On the second day, I used my Rocky Goretex over socks, which worked really well with my Chocolate Fish Merino/Possum wool socks, but I still preferred the Fastpackers. The one time I was grateful for them was when I had to ford a stream. Unless you are on a completely dry path, they don’t really dry out either.
  4. My feet ached. On rough paths, I found they made my feet ache much more than the Fastpackers. However, my feet weren’t bruised, just felt a bit battered.

I’m going back to my Fastpackers. For me, they are much more comfortable in just about every way. I will use the Roclites again in more undemanding territory as they are generally quite comfortable. I’m glad I tried them out, but they are not the right solution for me.

Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus. While this is a really fabulous pack, comfortable to carry and holds a surprising amount of gear, some of the stitching is coming away on one shoulder strap and there is a hole in one of the mesh pockets. The stitching is not critical as the vertical stitching appears to take the load. Nevertheless I’ll see if I can get it repaired. It is almost inevitable that the mesh pockets would be vulnerable. I probably should have taken more care. I am now wondering whether to get a more robust pack. The ULA Ohm looks the most likely candidate.

Shoulder strap

Pocket mesh

Marmot Thor. What killed the Thor? As Jeff pointed out, it’s built like a tank. Unfortunately I had a pole failure which led to a rip in the outer tent. I closed the inner door and there was a loud crack. The pole had splintered. In trying to release it, the sharp edge pieced the outer tent producing a 5cm rip. I patched it up with some duck tape. Ironically, even without the pole, the Thor is still amazingly stable. Had I not ripped the outer, I could probably still use it. However, it is an excuse to buy another base camp tent. Even though the Thor is massively over specified for my use, I love it and might get another. I’ll have a look around and see what alternatives there are.

Pole failure

The patch

 I’ll do some more gear observations in another post.


22 thoughts on “Gear stuff part 1”

  1. In relation to the Scarp, the same thing happened to me with Moment, which I noted on here a while back. Fortunately, I realised this fault after testing it in the garden with the hose pipe on. Thankfully, plenty of sealant around the hood and the top loop solved the problem. Hope it does for you too.

    1. Thanks, I forgot about that. I just assumed that because there is no exposed stitching around the pole sleeve it would be OK. I’m pretty sure the loop is the problem. When the weather gets a bit cooler I’ll put it up in the garden and seam seal the pole sleeve and the loop.

  2. O, and I let Tarptent know about this fault too (but to be fair Henry was off Trekking round Scotland at the time) as I have asked them to seam seal the Scarp as a result.

  3. Sorry to hear about the Thor Robin.
    I must admit that i never noticed it on Wednesday.
    I had a quick look around the exterior on wednesday morning after that dreadful Tuesday night.
    There wasn’t even a peg loose then as far as i could tell.

    1. It broke on Thursday afternoon when I zipped up the inner door. I was always confident that it would be the last tent standing. It’s seen some serious weather in its time.

  4. I sealed the pole arch and the rain overnight in Dartmoor stayed outside the tent. Seal it and that should be the end of the problem. Stable tents as you are finding out.

    I am getting on well with the 320. Dartmoor, Lakes and Scotland and been fine. The bottom line is do they suit your feet and walking needs. For me yes. One issue is the sole on wet rock. Seem ok but my new 310 seemed to cope worse on wet rock than the old pair. Like I said before is Inov-8 changing the compound on their soles? One last point on the 320 is with a gore-tex sock on in the rain they seem a bit tight vs the 310. Look forward to the trip report.

    1. It was a mistake not to seal the pole sleeve. I still think the crossing pole loop is the problem.

      The Roclites don’t work for me on Lake District type walk. It was good to test them though.

  5. Maybe soaking the crossover loop in sealant will help fix the problem? No water penetration will stop it wicking water. I have had no issues but will do this as a precaution. Also once you seal the pole sleeve you should not have any problems.

    1. Perhaps you haven’t had horizontal rain 😉 Soaking the base of the pole loop is a good idea. You can now see the thinking behind the Laser Comp pole hood.

  6. I bet that GG will resew the pack for you if you send it back. They’ve offered to fix my torn mesh (I own 2 Mariposa+), but I’ve never bothered to return them. Instead I just thread thin cord through the surrounding mesh holes and that stops the spread of the tear. Personally, I find mesh pockets to be indispensable, despite their fragility. On the other hand, I’m on the market for a lightweight bushwhacking pack, which can’t have mesh because it will be torn too quickly.

    1. It’s a long way to send it back and not cheap. I’ll see whether I can get it done locally.

  7. They need to change the material of the loop to something that doesn’t wick water.
    I had a similar problem with a Berghaus hood. The hood tensioner on the back kept wicking water into the hood lining and then it just spread. It was damn right uncomfortable.
    I emailed Berghaus but they didn’t want to know.
    What i did to resolve it was quite easy.
    I purchased a short length of thin walled lightweight surgical tubing. Slit it length ways, put it over the cord and then seem sealed it.
    It never leaked again.
    I know its a different scenario to yours but it might work better than just sealer.

  8. Thanks for your comments on the Roc-lites. They are the only type of Innov-8s I could find here in Tokyo and they really didn’t fit well. I thought maybe I was missing something…I’m hoping to try some other types next time I’m in the states, but for now I think I’ll just stick to runners.

    1. Fit is the most important criteria. Second is function and the Roclites just don’t work for me on rough terrain such as the Lake District. On moderate surfaces they are fine. It’s good to know the limits of gear.

  9. Sorry to hear about the Thor. I have the Asgard which is similar to your Thor, so it will be interesting to know if you have any conclusions as to why the pole broke. I noticed from your photo that it looks like the spigot that fits into the pole looks short so possibly making it a week point. If that is the case its something to check on the other joints, possibly the spigot over time slides back into the pole shortening it.

    1. I think you are right about the length of the join. Had I been more careful about disengaging the pole I might have avoided the rip, but the pole is under a lot of tension. The Asgard looks good as well, although possibly not quite as strong.

      1. When I did my research, the info I found said that the Asgard was the same as the Thor but with a higher hydrostatic head, so more designed for UK weather. You could just see what a new flysheet for you tent would cost, especially if your thinking of buying a replacement.
        It looks though from your experience that pole joints need to be checked to ensure the spigot hasn’t been pushed back into the pole when being assembled, I suspect that’s an area that is generally overlooked.

      2. I’ve had the Thor for over six years and used it quite a lot, so I think I’ll just replace it. I expect and new pole and fly would be almost as much as a new tent. I’ve noticed the flysheet has become more “crackly” which suggests it was starting to deteriorate. The Asgard has a different pole configuration and is slightly larger. There’s no hurry so I’ll have a look around.

  10. As others have said moisture through loops on the outer of tents is not uncommon, I have experienced on the MLD trailstar, BD Betalight and Stephensons tent, it is necessary to ensure that there is plenty of seam sealant around any outside/inside loops.

    Gear repairs in the UK I have found Scottish Mountain Gear to be excellent.

  11. I got a hole in the mesh pocket of my Mariposa Plus as well. I’ve done a lot of bushwacking through forest with my pack and I actually expected more damage than this little hole. I just closed the hole with some thread and a needle myself. Not worth sending the pack to the US for such a minor issue.

    I also had a seams coming apart where the shoulder straps are attached, but that occurred after I carried over 20kg in the pack which it isn’t designed for. Again I fixed it myself with my sewing machine. 5 minutes work. You don’t need a pro to do that. Overall I find the seams of GG packs to be of good quality.

    Concerning the Inov8 Roclites I also have an issue with the heel cup. I also find it to shallow for my feet. In practice this wasn’t a big problem for me on our Vålådalen trip, but it might be for longer trips. If I had had an opporunity to try the Terrocs instead I would probably bought them instead.

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