Other gear: round up

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.


13 thoughts on “Other gear: round up”

  1. Wondering if the Delios would be better for winter as the hose, unless insulated, on my platypus hosed might well freeze. The Delios would enable me to keep the whole bottle in my pack to avoid this.

  2. “I thought it might be overkill to have a down jacket”

    A thought I recognise. It rarely turns out to be so. Down has such a wide comfort range it’s very forgiving and I find, at times, I feel colder than the conditions would suggest especially when I’ve worked hard all day. Besides, the weight penalty, even if not used much, is worth the extra security.

    On the subject of Paramo. I’ve resisted until now, largely because I can’t see it in the flesh over here, but you’re starting to talk me into it.

    1. I’ve just shelled out over £500 on Páramo kit for the winter in Scotland (and the Alps for over 3000m) and, although I have yet to use it, I immediately appreciate the quality, the comfort and the features. It’s worth having a look at, Dave. I think my Aspira stuff might be too much for some of the hikes I’ve read you doing, but if you were to do the Rondane or Seiland in winter, for example, it might be worth thinking about.

    2. The VAL is the same weight as the RAB Vapour Rise stuff, so you can think of it as a more water resistant and flexible mid layer.

  3. IIRC your Quito suffered from water ingress underneath your rucksack straps in heavy rain; do you think the VAL will be any different?

    1. My 3rd Element jacket suffered from this in conjunction with my Exos pack. I think this was due to the shoulder straps on the Exos having mesh and holding water. I didn’t have this problem when I used my Mariposa which has waterproof shoulder straps. I don’t expect this problem with the Ultrahike. I doubt that there’s much difference between the VAL and 3rdE. In my experience Paramo is highly water resistant rather than totally waterproof. In very heavy rain it can get overwhelmed. The VAL is the same weight as a RAB Vapour Rise but much more water resistant so even if you are not confident about Paramo’s claims, it still makes for a very good mid layer.

  4. Is the Adventure Light as good as the 3RD Element when it is pouring down all day? I just wonder as the 3RD is rather good. Be using mine again now it is cooler and do wonder if an AL wold be ok in summer? I do like Paramo a lot.

    1. I can’t answer that as I’ve not used it in rain. I see no reason why it should be any different as the pump liner is the same. The one drawback I can see compared with the 3rd Element is that the sleeves are slightly shorter. The VAL is a slightly baggier cut. The ventilation with the two vertical zips is better on the VAL, but the 3rd Element can be used as a gilet. I think it is swings and roundabouts. I still like the 3rd Element very much.

      When I go to the Outdoors Show, one thing I’m going to ask Paramo is why they don’t make some windproofs in the lighter material. It seems barmy to continue using the heavier weight material.

  5. Totally agree with you on The PHD Down Jacket – mine is just great, low weight and I have used the hood with my sleeping bag.

    Interested in Paramo, if Paramo is used in winter time as opposed to now, is weight a problem if you are wearing it all day rather than carrying it – where weight is an issue. In other words is it better to have the normal weight Paramo if wearing it all day? I am thinking that I will not swap until late Nov/Dec from lightweight Montane gear and change back spring.

    1. I would go for normal weight if you are wearing it all the time. More robust and a greater choice of jackets.

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