I mainly used old favourites like the Scarp 1, Gossamer Gear Mariposa, Alpkit Pipedream 400 and Ecco Biom Hike Mids. All of which performed to the high standards that I expected of them.
The only new piece of gear that I used was the Paramo Fuera Ascent jacket. At 400g, it’s heavy for a windproof, being more than twice the weight of the Montane Litespeed jacket and heavier than many waterproof jackets.
However, it does have some advantages over other windproofs. The massive venting zips, which run from the upper arm to nearly the waist are excellent for controlling body temperature. This was especially noticeable on my first full day of walking when it was sunny, but with a keen wind. By opening and closing them, it was easy to disperse the build up of fug that you can get with most windproofs.
Part of the reason for the heavier weight is the material is a lot thicker than the Pertex used by most of the competition. Although not really tested this time around, I’ve found the Fuera more water resistant than competing jackets, which gives more flexibility in changeable weather conditions.
The sleeves are wide enough to roll up for ventilation and have Velcro adjusters so they can be cinched down if necessary, which is far superior to the elasticated cuffs normally found on windproofs. The hood is also excellent with a proper volume adjuster and a wired peak. The two chest pockets are a good size for phone, compass, hat and gloves.
The only thing I didn’t like is the usual Paramo dangly cords. It’s a shame they don’t make a version in the lighter fabric they use for the Velez Light, as the weight would probably drop to 250-300g. I also have the Fuera smock, which is lighter, but I think the Ascent is better, because of the venting zips.
Underneath the Fuera Ascent I used a Patagonia R1 fleece pullover with a Rohan Ultra Silver T or an old Berghaus Xstatic T. Although the R1 is a shade heavier than competing fleeces, I’ve found it much better at regulating body temperature. The grid inner face of the fabric seems to be responsible. The Xstatic T is no longer made, but the Rohan Ultra Silver T is still available. The Ultra is very thin and feels like silk. It wicks and evaporates sweat rapidly, so that you rarely feel damp. It also seems to resist body odours well. I was very pleased with the Ultra/R1 combination under the Fuera Ascent.
On my legs, I was wearing my Mountain Equipment Ibex trousers. I think I’ve finally found the perfect soft shell trews. Everything about them works well: the fit, the pockets, the thigh vents, wind proofing, ankle zip. I really can’t fault them. Occasionally they verged on being too warm, but the thigh venting zips and mesh pockets helped keep things under control. In summary, these are great trousers for cooler conditions.
It was the second outing for my Nemo Zor self inflating sleeping mat (short version). I really like the Zor. It feels warmer to the touch than competing mats, although I still used my home made fleece cover to add a bit of luxury. On flat ground, it’s certainly very comfortable. On the last night, the ground was more uneven. While I was comfortable, I certainly noticed the difference compared with an air mat.
The Zor packs smaller than comparable mats and requires less blowing up than an air mat. It is also the lightest self inflating mattress in its class at 285g. The Zor is now my mat of choice for backpacking. I’m very happy with it.