Dartmoor gear roundup

I still don’t know when my PC will be mended, but I’ll give you a quick gear roundup from Dartmoor. Forgive the lack of pictures and formatting but the WordPress app on the iPad is a bit basic.

I’ll cover the cuben Duomid and OookWorks hybrid inner in a separate post later.

Carrying: I used my Lightwave Ultrahike 60 when I found that four and a half day’s food was a squeeze for my Mariposa. The Ultrahike is a great pack if you need a bit of extra volume. It is a very comfortable carry. I was also impressed by its water resistance. The main pack material shrugged off rain. The back padding was a bit damp, but that can’t be avoided if any padding is used. I also used a MLD cuben stuff sack for hats, gloves, gilet that I needed to access quickly stowed at the top of the pack. I liked it and will get some more cuben stuff sacks from Sean at OookWorks. As cuben is totally waterproof there’s no worries about damp. The draw string mouth closes almost completely so it’s nearly a dry bag.

Sleeping: I used my Alpkit Pupedream 600 (old style). I was glad I took a warmer sleeping bag. A couple of nights were sub zero and the hybrid inner tent is colder than a solid one. The loft is superb. The only thing that’s not so good is the hood, but the newer models have a much better hood. The thick shoulder baffle was also very helpful for keeping warm. My mat was an Exped Synmat UL 7 (medium) and was superb. Very comfortable and warm. I used the Exped shrink bag and schnozzel to inflate it, which made life easy. The only observation is that it is quite large and tends to dominate the tent. It folds down very small for such a sumptuous mat.

Cooking: as usual, Fuizion Food was superb. The boost of having hydrate in the bag, no fuss food that tastes like real food is a great morale booster at the end of the day. The rest of the cooking system was an Evernew pot and Snow Peak stove, which was faultless. I made a new pouch cozy, which replaced the Outdoors Grub one (it was getting tatty).

Technology: the Tecknet battery extender was brilliant. It kept my iPhone topped up and helped charge my Satmap active 10. The Satmap requires a lot of charge, so I need to be more careful in future.

Waterproofs: I didn’t take Paramo, instead I used an OMM Cypher smock over a base layer and fleece. I only used it on Tuesday morning when there was a strong cold wind and heavy shower, some of hail. I really liked it. I didn’t sweat up (although I deliberately took it slowly uphill). The hood is terrific, perhaps the best I’ve used. It has great adjustment and the combination of a stiffened peak and wire protected me well from driven hail and rain. The long zip is good for venting. I also liked the elasticated cuffs and thumb loops. Being able to mimic fingerless gloves was great for using a trekking pole in one hand and compass in the other. The sleeves are long enough that I could withdraw my hands completely. This system is so much better than a conventional elastic cuff. So the Cypher get a huge thumbs up from me. Overtrousers were Rab Drillium and were excellent. These are the first overtrousers that don’t sweat up and I don’t feel obliged to take off at the first opportunity. While they are a little heavier (240g) than some alternatives, the level of comfort makes the extra weight worthwhile. Lastly I used a pair of MLD eVent gaiters, which weigh only 101g. They were great for the boggy ground I regularly encountered. Again, the fabric makes them very comfortable and doesn’t make you want to take them off when the ground is drier. They also don’t fall down, unlike some other gaiters I’ve used. Recommended. I also used an umbrella on the first afternoon (M&S ultra lite collapsible ), which was really good except the canopy is not 100% waterproof. I’ve ordered an even lighter one (153g) from a German company, which hopefully will be more water resistant. I do like an umbrella when it’s raining but not too windy. It’s just so much more civilised.

Other clothing: most of the time I walked in a base layer (Rohan cool silver T), fleece (Mountain Hardwear microchill) and windshirt (Rohan Windshadow). This was an excellent combination. The cool T is a great base layer, wicking away moisture rapidly and maintaining a good body temperature. The fleece is a good fit and not too thick. The Windshadow is excellent with good water and wind resistance and joy of joys, Velcro adjustable cuffs, so I could push the sleeves up to my elbows when it was hot. It’s a shame the hood is poor. I might cut it off. I had two other new items. A Marmot Drclime Vest (gilet), which is a terrific find. Weighing a measly 187g (M), it folds down small but gives a surprising extra amount of warmth to the torso. It was great in combination with a base layer or on top of a fleece. The other new item was UnderArmour Boxerjocks. I really liked these as well. They have some mesh ventilation at the front, which aids comfort when working hard. I found them bit better than the M&S undies I have been using. My only concern is they are already showing some signs of pilling.

Footwear: I took my trusty Salomon Fastpackers. I’m on my third pair now. These are virtually new. Any stiffness disappeared after the first day. After being soaked for a couple of hours they do get slightly damp inside as the sweat can’t escape, but once away from wet ground they dry rapidly and breathability is restored. For me, they are just so comfortable. Salomon have stopped making them, so I bought another pair to keep until the current ones wear out. Socks were Smartwool medium hikers, which I love. I’m getting some more as my current ones are getting worn. Inner socks were M&S silk and merino, which are brilliant but you can’t get them anymore. I also took some Rocky Goretex over socks, which served as tent shoes.

My base weight was 9.5kg, which was a bit heavier than anticipated, mainly because I had a heavier rucksack and sleeping bag. Technology (i.e. camera, SatMap, batteries etc) was nearly 1kg. Food for four and a half days was 3.5kg, which was probably a bit too much, but I am paranoid about running out of food.

It was valuable to have a final trip before the TGO Challenge to clarify gear choice issues. Some compromises will need to be made to accommodate a heavier tent (Scarp), camp shoes and my waders. I’ll need to shave some grams off elsewhere, but mindful of keeping warm and dry. The weather forecast is not great, so I’ll need to be prepared for almost anything, but keep my base weight below 10kg.


6 thoughts on “Dartmoor gear roundup”

  1. I have the Dri-clime Catalyst (1st version) and as you mentioned it would be vastly improved by adding adjustable sleeves similar to that on the Buffalo Teclite.

    I’ve found that the thermal suede lining works superbly with just a base layer however I’ve found there to be great friction when trying to wear over a fleece. The two materials seem to conflict though this really is a problem in the arms!

    I did buy the vest however their sizing was a little different, i.e being a closer cut than the jacket. I like the idea of the vest because the back is unlined which would make it less sweaty with a pack on!

    I must check out this Rohan windproof that you keep mentioning…

    1. The new vest has a lined back. It’s not a problem over a fleece. I can see why putting Driclime jacket over a fleece would cause problems on the arms. It’s not an issue with a vest.

      The Windshadow is a great jacket. However, as I’ve mentioned, the hood is disappointing. Everything else about the jacket is excellent.

  2. Hi Robin,

    Interesting you hit upon the Dri-clime vest.

    I’ve had a Dri-clime jacket for years. Despite using a variety of tops I kept coming back to the Dri-clime and it is, IMO, a vastly underated piece of gear. The vest is just superb. I agree with Phil about the sizing being a closer cut, but, I use mine (and the jacket) as my second layer and the snug fit is just right. Even in very cold conditions, the vest has been all I’ve needed to keep warm while on the move.

    FWIW on last years TGO I used a mix and match combination of L/s merino base, Dri-clime vest, Litespeed and PHD Alpamayo smock. I’ll be doing the same this year, as I was completely comfortable in all the conditions that last year threw up.

    Not long to go now. – TGO. Hope you enjoy it.

  3. I really like the umbrella idea for wet but not windy days, never actually tried it though. If it wasn’t so awkward and heavy, a large golf-style umbrella would be excellent, keeping the rain off everything.
    I’ve yet to find gaiters that I like, probably because I very, very rarely put them on and my search hasn’t been diligent. I still have an old pair of Paramos that perform well but are far too bulky and heavy for backpacking. The problem with all of them is the underfoot strap thingy, never seen a decent one.

    1. The MLD gaiters weigh only 100g. There’s a replaceable length of shockcord under foot. Event breathes superbly. All in all, worth the minuscule weight penalty for places like Dartmoor.

      I’m hoping this euroschirm umbrella is the answer. At 150g it’s trivial and the canopy is only marginally smaller than my M&S umbrella. I rigged a hands free system by jamming it under the sternum strap and partially under a shoulder strap. As you say it would be no good in the wind, but it’s so much more civilised if you can use one.

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