Favourite four

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. 

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14 thoughts on “Favourite four”

  1. Bit hard for me right now as I’ve just bought a load of Winter kit but if I were to say for 3-season use: BA Fly Creek UL1 – perfect 3-season shelter for me and at 970g it’s a great weight too. I feel good when I’m in it. Second is my Gossamer Gear Gorilla – it’s so light, durable enough for almost anything, carries superbly and is convenient for stashing various bits of kit at various times (when wet, for example). Next I’d say my WM Summerlite bag. It’s the model of versatility. It’s comfortable down to 0C but with judicious use of an insulating layer, it’ll be better than that. It’s robust for a UL bag and only weighs 580g. It’s cut slim and feels great. It doesn’t have too much in the way of features – just enough. Finally my Scarpa ZG40 GTX boots. There are better boots, but these have been old friends for 3 years and saved my neck more than once. They breathe, always keep my feet dry & I know them. Guess your Fastpackers might occupy this slot if I had a pair (they’d suit me) but old friends, even though they may not be the best now, have a special place on your heart!

  2. Granite Gear Vapor Trail: I have other good, lighter packs but nothing comes close in terms of carry comfort and stability.

    Whitebox Stove: I love it’s simplicity and the fact that its a near perfect meths stove made from another mans rubbish.

    Rab Vapour rise smock: Winter specific but for me the perfect cold weather high activity garment.

    Bivvy Bag: Non specific (MLD Alpine or Terra Nova Discovery, or any other that functions as well) I know this strictly makes two from the big three and is against the rules but I can’t leave this out. The bivvy bag is what got me hooked into wild camping. I love the freedom such a simple, functional thing gives me. Some of my very best moments involve a bivvy bag.

  3. I have found it quite hard to nail down 4 pieces of kit and it’s took a while thinking about it.
    But the items i have chosen are the ones that just get brought out time and again without thinking about it. I have chosen 3 season kit otherwise i would need 8 choices for 4 seasons.
    So here’s mine.
    OMM Villain rucksack, stripped down. still not the lightest but excellent in many ways.

    X-bionic undies. I just find them so comfy, better than any others i have tried.

    Montane terra pants. The bees knees in my opinion.

    Cloudveil koven jacket. Again not the lightest jacket but dependable and thats what i look for.

  4. My favourite four are,

    Tent, Phoenix Phreeranger
    (that’ll surprise a lot of people :-))

    Waterproof Jacket – Marmot Essence
    really light, bought for summer use but I’ve worn it year round. Very breathable as it’s coated rather than a laminate, I can just about use it as a windshirt.

    Rucksack – ULA Conduit
    I haven’t used anything else since I got it, I even sold my LIM 45 which I really liked and my Gregory Z55 which was very comfortable. I do however need a bigger pack for winter.

    Insulation – Montane Flux
    I have warmer jackets, ME Lightline, and Lighter jackets, ME Xero but the Flux is so versatile, it’s had more use than all the rest put together. The DWR needs renewed as it’s been constantly thrown in the wash with everything else, worn almost every day I don’t have time for special treatment. Warm when wet, dries reasonably quickly, a great hood and long enough sleeves.

    There’s other gear that I rate very highly, ME Ibex trousers, MSR Reactor stove and AKU Croda boots to name but 3 but of the above mentioned the Phreeranger, Conduit and Essence are almost always 1st choice when it comes to deciding on what to take.

  5. Montane Lite Speed – superb windproof with hood weighs nothing.

    Montane Terra Pants – very comfortable, hard wearing, good venting options

    PHD – Minimus Jacket, very comfortable, packs to nothing.

    Hilleberg Soulo – Early days, but easy to put up bomb proof tent.
    Mark

  6. I have thought long and hard about this subject and I keep changing my mind, I also have the dilemma that I over the last 7 month I have been buying gear but not been able to try much of it out, I am hoping to use most of my new gear like my Zpacks Hexamid tent, WM summerlite sleeping bag, WM Flash Jacket and Pants and and my Neoair sleeping mat in about three weeks. As mentioned in an earlier comment I have a Ultrahike pack which I like very much but would like to use it again before I add it to my favourites.

    Here is my list (not in order)

    Goilite Jam2 (old version) lightened, 585g, my jam2 is less than half the weight on of the Ultrahike, I mainly use the Jam2 for the warmer hikes where I carry a maximum of 8kg, I have found at that weight the Jam2 is comfortable and has held up to some tough scrub bashing conditions that we do experience in the Australia.

    Hat

    In Australia hats are a very important piece of bushwalking gear, the sun is very strong here and we have the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. My hat was made by a New Zealand Company called Gurney Gears, unfortunately they no longer make these hats, the hat was made for white water kayaking, it is light 83g, it has a wide water proof brim, it floats can be scrunched up and shoved into a pocket, the top is not water proof but it breaths well.

    Darn Tough socks Vermont

    These are one of Roger Caffin’s favourites, I have used my original pair of Darn Toughs winter and summer for about three years, (I have recently got a second pair), and they still look and feel like new, in summer I do a bit of flyfishing where I can spend many hours walking in streams, the Darn Toughs have held up to being wet plus many hours of walking with them wet, in winter they are warm and are warm even when wet.

    The fourth choice is a hard, I was going to put my Burghaus extreme bushwalking pants but will go a bit sideways here.

    Tenkara flyfishing rod (Japanese fly rod)
    The Tenkara rod is a telescopic rod with no reel, the line is just attached to the end of the rod, I have two Tenkara rod a Yamame and BPL Hane, the Yamame collapses to 54cm and weighs in at 120g and is my favourite rod, on one trip to a very remote location I caught fifty trout in an afternoon. The Hane is even shorter and lighter at 41cm and 77g, they both easily can fit inside my Jam2.

  7. Some interesting selections. It just shows how personal gear preferences are and that they change over time and according to circumstances.

  8. First thing: your link to BloggerZed doesn’t work, it’s a null URL despite the address shown in the hovering tooltip.
    What are the big three?.
    I seldom think about gear seriously, much of it doesn’t really matter to me and what I have works fine – I just use it. It just happens that there are three that really do matter: footwear, pack and tent.

    Footwear – Montrail Stratos Mids. By far the nearest thing to perfect backpacking footwear for my feet. No longer made, sob…

    Pack – Golite LiteSpeed (old model). Almost but not quite perfect. Solid backpad and still light at 1.1kg.

    Tent – LaserComp, despite initial frustrations (which were heightened by comparison with our very simple Voyager). Easy to pitch once experience is gained and ~1kg.

    I can’t think of a fourth, unless Trackster Treks count…

    Incidentally I tried on those Salomon Fastpackers last week. I was in a hurry and just walked briefly up and down the shop, but I was really surprised. The fit was very promising and they flexed well at the forefoot, but the rear 2/3 felt like they had a rigid shank. I was expecting a little flexibility at the rear. As they are, I could feel a rocking motion as I walked along, which is not a good idea, at least for me.

    1. Sorry, Geoff, it worked on preview but obviously something went awry. Now fixed.

      My interpretation of the big three is tent, rucksack, sleeping bag.

      The Fastpackers soften quite quickly. Mine feel like running shoes. All down to personal preference, however.

  9. I too use the Snow Peak GST 100A stove. I enjoy it more when I’m camping with friends and want to heat drinks while sitting around the fire in the evenings. When I’m hiking solo I fall back to alcohol or wood stove.

    I saw the photo of your Snow Peak GST 100A stove with “windscreen,” this is one I haven’t seen before and I don’t find it on the SP website. I would like to try and make one, but I can’t tell how it attaches to the stove. Would it be too much to ask for photos, post here or email to me.

    many thanks
    JJ

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