Here’s a quick summary of how some of my other gear performed on my recent Lake District trip.
Paramo Adventure Light Velez: I’m really impressed by this smock. The outer material is soft but close woven. It is much smoother than the conventional Paramo material. This might be an issue with some hip belts, although it was not a problem with the Ultrahike. I don’t think the material will be as durable either, so some extra care might need to be taken. The roll away hood is great and means that the collar is deeper than the conventional Velez, which I like. The side vents are brilliant for venting and the lighter material makes it easier to roll the sleeves up. Is it better than the 3rd Element? I think it is different rather than better or worse. The big advantage is the lower weight (560g vs. 740g ) and greater packability.
PHD Minimus Jacket: I though it might be overkill to have a down jacket, but it proved to be a great piece of gear. It was useful for warmth both early morning and in the evening. It is significantly warmer than the Haglofs LIM Barrier smock. I like having hand warmer pockets (which the LIM Barrier lacks). The Minimus packs down small, yet lofts very quickly when unpacked. The back is a bit short, so it rides up when bending over. I liked the microfleece inside the collar. The hood is OK but I would prefer a drawcord. I used the hood instead of my sleeping bag hood one night and found it to be very effective. At 362g for the jacket and 54g for the hood, the Minmus is a very weight effective way of keeping warm.
Integral Designs Hot Socks: For a bit of luxury in the tent, you can’t beat these. They keep your feet nice and warm. At 120g, there is very little weight penalty and they can be worn inside your sleeping bag if its very cold. I think they are better than down bivvy boots as they are not as badly affected by damp, resist compression and are warmer under your feet.
Rohan Ultra T-shirt and Boxers: This stuff is so thin, it feels as though it will fall apart. However, it seems quite robust. The T-shirt weighs 62g and Boxers 37g. The material feels like silk and is very comfortable to wear. They don’t hold much moisture as they are so thin. It seems to evaporate almost immediately. The T-shirt was more comfortable than the Montane Terra T. I might try the slightly heavier weight Rohan T as well. Smell was not an issue either.
Salomon Fastpacker GTX: It was a relief to return to these after experimenting with Inov-8 Roclites and AKU NS 564s. I’m glad I resisted using the Salomon Quests as the Fastpackers were supremely comfortable. For me, these are just the best boots ever. I can’t understand why some people claim they have poor grip. For me they seem to have great grip on grass and rock, wet or dry. I only had one minor slip all trip. I know some don’t like Goretex linings, but the ones on the Fastpackers seem to work really well. My feet remained dry and never over heated.
Cumulus Quantum 350: This bag has superb loft and is lovely and silky to the touch. I like the trapeziodal baffles, which seem to prevent cold spots. My only criticisms are that the down collar could be a bit fatter and that the zip baffle should be wider at the shoulders to prefer the zip dangling in your face (mod on the way!). Apart from that, this is a great bag. I used the Aplkit Pipedream 400 at base camp. I don’t think there’s much to choose between the two bags in terms of warmth, but the Quantum definitely packs down smaller and feels more luxurious.
Super Delios: Worked perfectly and is definitely easier to use than the Travel Tap. It is great to be able to put the purifier cap on Platypus type bladders (I use Source ones). The only criticism is that one of the plastic retainers for the cap has snapped. I am going to reinforce this with a bit of tape.