A number of bloggers have posted on their favourite gear from last year, so I thought I’d better do the same.
Tent: No contest here. I’ve used the Scarp 1 all year and generally been very happy with it. The key to happiness is sealing the pole arch and crossing pole loop, then it is bomb proof. A prime requirement of mine is stormworthiness and the Scarp sheds wind and rain very well. It’s very easy to pitch, even on poor ground and is the most stable one man tent I’ve used. It is a good size with excellent head room and plenty of space both internally and in the porches to store gear. My flooding incident proved that the groundsheet is watertight. It also suffers less from condensation than any tent I’ve used. My only real criticism is the lack of pockets for storage.
Sleeping: The POE Ether Elite has been a real find. It is the most comfortable lightweight mattress I’ve used. It also gives a surprising amount of insulation. This is now being replaced by the Peak Elite AC, which looks even better. I’m very pleased with my new Cumulus Quantum 350 sleeping bag, even if it is slightly heavier than advertised. The silky fabric, high quality down and trapeziodal baffle system all make for a high quality bag. I may experiment this year using a lighter bag (WM HighLite) and down jacket as a sleeping system. I’m not inclined to use a quilt. I did experiment with opening out a sleeping bag to use as quilt, but didn’t find it as comfortable.
Carrying: I tried a variety of packs last year. My favourite has been the Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus, but there were some wear and tear issues. I then used the ULA Ohm pack. While it is a good pack, the hipbelt buckles caused a minor amount of discomfort. Lastly, I used the Lightwave Ultrahike 60. I really like this pack. The extra volume means no stuffing and the frame makes for an excellent carry. My only criticism is that the hip belt caused some very minor discomfort. Hopefully this mod will cure it. I think for longer hikes, this is the pack for me.
Clothing: My favourite jacket has been the Paramo 3rd Element. However, for the last trip of last year, I used a Paramo Velez Adventure Light smock. I was very impressed by its flexibility and the reduction in weight. While it can’t be turned into a gilet, the arms can be pushed up and the two body zips opened to provide superb ventilation, even better than the 3rd Element. I also like the deep collar and roll away hood. Every trip last year I used a pair of Montane Terra Pants. These are the best trousers the I’ve used for walking. Light, quick drying with good venting options. I should also mention my PHD Minmus jacket, which is now my favourite warm jacket. It’s incredibly light for the amount of warmth.
Footwear: Having tried Inov-8 Roclites and AKU NS534s, I returned to my Salomon Fastpacker GTX boots, which really are the best solution for me. They are supremely comfortable and flexible. For a GTX boot, they are also remarkably good in hot weather. Unlike some others, I’ve also found that they grip well.
Cooking: My Snow Peak GST 100 stove has been impeccable and the Evernew 640 pot has been a great addition. However, the find of the year has been Fuizion Food. I’ve been a long-term fan of Real Turmat food, but this stuff is even better. It’s about as close as you are going to get to gourmet food on the hills (although I’ve not tasted any of the US niche brands yet). I should also mention the Super Delios water purifying bottle, which is a step up from the Travel Tap that I had been using in both convenience and weight saving. Thank you Terry for the heads up on Fuizion Food and to Alan on the Super Delios.
That’s a quick summary of the gear that I’ve been most pleased with in 2010. It’s unlikely that much will change in 2011, but I am going to experiment with some lighter options, using my Ohm (I’ve thought of a little mod to the hipbelt), ML Duomid and down jacket/sleeping bag system.