New gear in the Carneddau

Most of the gear I took to the Carneddau was old familiar favourites. However, I hadn’t used my Exped Synmat UL 7, my Rohan Windshadow jacket or my Aquapac phone case before.

Exped Synmat UL 7

I know there are a number of Synmat UL 7 fans out there and I can confirm that this is a very comfortable and warm mat. While I like the POE mats (Ether Elite and Peak Elite AC), I’ve found them a bit cool. The Exped has significantly better insulation which fills the tubes and I think it shows in the level of insulation it gives. While it’s not as warm as the Downmat, it’s significantly better than the POE or NeoAir mats.

I inflated it with the Exped shrink bag pump sack and schnozzel, which I found to be a real boon. It’s extremely easy, taking four to five sacks of air. It also prevents moisture accumulating in the mat, which has been a visible issue in the POE mats (probably also the NeoAir, except you can’t see it). Both the flat inflation and deflation valves worked fine. I think flat valves might be a bit awkward for inflation by mouth, another good reason for the pump sack.

Sleeping was very comfortable, up to Downmat standards and better than the POE mats and NeoAir. There was no problem with deflation in the night (unlike the NeoAir). The oblong shape is quite dominant in the tent. This is not really a problem in the Scarp or the OookWorks Duomid nest, but could be a consideration in a narrower tent.

The material is pleasantly warm to the touch. It is a little bit slippery, so pitching on a slope might be an issue. The oblong shape means securing a pillow with some shockcord works well (unlike the POE mats). The material seems quite delicate, so I’d be careful about guarding it from sharp objects. There is a repair kit included. For packing, it folds down to a surprisingly small size. Weight is 450g.

I liked the shrink bag pump sack, which doubles as a good sized dry bag. I had an Alpkit Pipedream 600 sleeping bag, sleeping mat, air pillow and cover in the shrink bag. By kneeling on it and opening the deflation/inflation valve, it could be crushed down into quite a small package. When deflated, the sack is still quite malleable, so putting it into the bottom of the rucksack is easy. All in all I really liked the Synmat and the shrink bag.

Rohan Windshadow jacket

Weighing 222g, the Windshadow jacket is a bit heavier than many windshirts/jackets. However, it has two significant features in its favour. Joy of joys, it has velcro adjustable cuffs. The ability to have the cuffs cinched tight or loose for ventilation significantly enhances the usability of a windshirt, in my view and makes it more comfortable over a wider range of conditions.

The second feature I like is the material. In contrast to slippery Pertex, the Windshadow uses a a matt material which is slightly stretchy and more air permeable. It’s very difficult to describe, but it feels nice against the skin. It is slightly less windproof than competitors, which may seem like a disadvantage. However, it seems to be less sweaty that the Montane windshirts I’ve used.

In terms of features, it has two zipped, waist level, mesh backed pockets. Not ideal for access on the move, but can be left open for some additional ventilation. There are two chest pockets. The external one opens to a mesh backing and can be used for ventilation. The internal mesh chest pocket doubles as a stuff sack for the jacket. The full length front zip has a draught baffle.

The hood folds away into the collar. It is elasticated and next to useless. I was going to cut it off, but I have modded it with some cord and eyelets so it is now reasonably effective. If it had a drawcord as standard it would be perfect. I’ll do a post on the mod at a later date.

I used the Windshadow in conjunction with a Mountain Hardwear MicroChill fleece (proofed with Nikwax Polar Proof). I really liked the combination. In many ways, it is better than a Paramo jacket as the combination is much more flexible and comfortable. With the MicroChill fleece (240g), it is also lighter at 462g. I also wore the Windshadow over a t-shirt (Rohan Cool Silver) and it was very comfortable.

I think I’m going to take this on the TGOC as it scores in terms of weight, flexibilty and comfort over a Paramo jacket. Although it wasn’t tested with rain, the DWR seems to be very effective if you put it under a tap. It’s a shame the hood design is so poor as it’s nearly an excellent jacket.


I didn’t take a photo of this but you can see it at the Aquapac website. Until now I’ve used a small clear Ortlieb bag. On balance I think I prefer the Aquapac bag. It seems to have better conductivity for the touch screen of my iPhone. The fit is a little tight as I use a rubber protector for the phone. The roll top is very secure although it could do with being marginally taller so rolling it down is not so tight. Being bright orange was a comfort in being able to locate the phone lying on the ground. Overall, I really liked this and it will be my waterproof phone case from now on.

Disclaimer: all gear mentioned was purchased by me. None of it was donated by manufacturers.

16 thoughts on “New gear in the Carneddau”

  1. I saw a mat on a website once and it had primaloft in it! I cannot remember the manufacturer but it sounded pretty good and looked similar with the rectaungular baffles and the colour was the same as that of lemon neoair.

    Rohan looks quite a nice jacket! Robin, do you ever use your Marmot Driclime Jakckt anymore? Have you ever used a Fuera Peak? I have the smock and quite like it. Mine weighs 350grams which is pretty heavy but the hood is superb and the material feels more durable

    On another note: Recenlty I snared a bargain and it turned up today! It’s the ‘Patagonia Down Sweater Jacket’ in Alpha Green which is quite a nice colour! I got it shipped for £80.00 which is a lot less than they retail at! My size only weighs in at 13oz (375g) and it’s 800 fill is Uber warm! The outer feels very rough/matt unlike a Pertex Quantum. With a bit of a wrestle It packs down into the inner stretch mesh pocket but I think I’d get a thin stuff sack for it. Over all and so far, I’m quite impressed with it…

    1. I use the Driclime for dog walking sometimes. The elasticated cuffs are a deal breaker. Shame as in many ways it’s a nice jacket. I’ve got a Fuera smock, which is nice but a bit heavy.

  2. I know what you mean, a Driclime with adjustable sleeves like that on the Teclite would be superb, though it’s still a cracking jacket! My size Fuera weighs in nearly as much as my Patagonia Rain Shadow however the Fuera does feel nice on.

    1. If Paramo used the same fabric as the outer of the Velez light, it would reduce the weight considerably.

  3. Synmat 7UL: The thermal value is 3.1 which I think would not be warm enough for winter use especially on snow. Alastair

    1. Not thinking of winter, where I would use a Downmat anyway. I usually put a 3mm foam mat underneath anyway.

  4. I was interested to see how you got on with the Synmat, sounds like it was pretty good then, May have to start saving the pennies.
    FAO Phil I believe the primaloft mat you are thinking of is the Vaude Norrsken.

  5. Great post as usual Robin! Have you ever tried using aLOKSAKS to store your phone in? Personally I think they’re a great bit of kit; you can easily operate the touch screen on a phone through them, they’re 100% waterproof, balance well between being both lightweight and durable and are considerably cheaper than Aquapac cases.

    (BTW, is there any chance at all that I could get my fledgling blog listed on your page please? (I’m not sure if this is the best place to ask, but I didn’t know which other medium to contact you by, hope this is OK)).

    1. I’ve used them before but found the closure not to be as secure as the Aquapac. Also Aquapac is high vis orange, which I like.

      I’ll put a link to you today.

  6. Thanks for the heads up on the size of the new Aquapac stormproof iphone case. We are a retailer of the product and we love the brand – it’s tough, though, to balance getting the case big enough, without it being too big. What kind of rubber bumper do you have? Is it the simple version – or one of the oversized rugged ones? I am curious to know. THANKS.

    1. Thanks. I have an oversize one that covers the side and the back. I’ve been in touch with Tim at HQ to let him know my experience.

  7. Did you ever do a post on your Windshadow hood mod? Thinking of doing something with mine, but would be good to know what you did and how well it worked…..

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