Blogger Zed challenged me to name my four favourite pieces of gear. His stipulation was that one must be from the big three. However, I have too many permutations for my big three and haven’t fully decided what my ideal combination is. The nearest to selection would be my Scarp 1, which I think is a very good tent, but if I could find something similar which weighed 1kg, I might switch. The Ultrahike is also a candidate, but I need to use it more to be certain. So with that in mind, here’s my selection:
Salomon Fastpacker GTX boots. It shouldn’t surprise you that I’ve selected these. For me, they are ideal. They are as flexible as a trail shoe, but give the extra protection of a mid boot. In the past, I’ve been critical of GoreTex boot linings, but the waterproof lining works very well with these boots. In spite of keeping water out, they are very breathable and my feet don’t over heat even when the weather is hot and sunny. I don’t like getting wet feet, so a membrane is essential. Some users have complained about the grip, but I’ve never had any problems, even on my death defying scramble up Coire Dhondail. As with all membrane boots, they have a limited life. I’m now on my second pair.
Fastpackers and 3rd Element
Paramo. I’m cheating a bit here by selecting Paramo generically rather than a specific jacket. Until my last trip, I would have selected my 3rd Element jacket, without hesitation. I like the versatility of being able to use it as a jacket and a gilet. It is a very comfortable jacket to wear in a wide variety of conditions. However, the Velez Adventure Light is also superb. Although you can’t break it down, the ventilation through the two vertical zips is actually better than the 3rd Element. I like the roll away hood and the collar is deeper. It is substantially lighter and more compact. The only downside is that I miss the two chest pockets of the 3rd Element. If I really had to choose, I think I would go with the Velez Adventure Light.
Velez Adventure Light and Inov-8 Race Pro 4
Inov-8 Race Pro 4 belt pack. This selection might surprise you, but it’s been on every trip since I bought it. I reverse it, so the pack body is at the front. I much prefer it to hip belt pockets. It makes access to things like my camera much easier. In fact, it’s one reason why I take so many photographs. My camera is always to hand. It also holds some snacks, my iPhone, a notebook and pen, maps, a Silva ADC, a head torch and a whistle. I wish it were a bit more waterproof, but otherwise it is ideal. One feature that makes it much more comfortable to use in combination with a normal rucksack is that the buckle on the belt is on one side, which means that it doesn’t dig into your back when you reverse it.
Snow Peak GST 100A
Snow Peak GST 100A stove. This stove has also been another constant since I bought it. It is no longer in production, but the stainless steel version is still being made. Roger Caffin reckons this is the gold standard for gas stoves and I have to agree with him. It is superbly engineered. The pan supports are very solid. It has one of the lowest carbon monoxide emissions of any stove. Apart from safety considerations, this means that the gas is being burnt efficiently. I did have to repair the piezo ignition once as the plastic starter button came loose, but it only took a few seconds. It’s never let me down. I love it.
So there you are: my four favourites. Perhaps other bloggers want to follow on and tell us what their four favourites are.