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!):
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
I’ll do some more gear observations in another post.