There were only a couple of totally new bits of gear I used. One was the Salomon X Ultra Mid GTX boots. I was very impressed. I’ve been a long time user of the Salomon Fastpacker boots, which have now been discontinued. I reckon these boots are even better. I found the lacing system more positive. Generally the grip was better with a more aggressive sole pattern. They were slightly slippery on wet, slick rock, but the rest of the time they were very secure. I used Superfeet green insoles and they were incredibly comfortable. The toe box has slightly more wiggle room than the Fastpackers. The outers got damp but my feet stayed dry. I would expect that when they are saturated that breathability will suffer. I did spray them with Duxcoat but it didn’t protect them for long before the toes got saturated (which is no different to every pair of fabric boots I’ve owned). I shall definitely be using these again.
The other new item was the Exped Air Pillow UL. At 45g, it’s nearly half the weight of the standard Air Pillow. It uses a lighter weight material which feels slicker than the standard version. Whereas the standard version can be used on its own, for comfort, I used a buff as a pillow case. The other difference is that it only has one valve for inflation and deflation. It was as comfortable as the standard pillow, especially with the buff pillow case. I find the Exped pillows give me the best level of support and are the most comfortable I’ve used. I will definitely be using this one again as well.
I ought to comment on the Vango F10 Nitro Lite 200. This is the third time this year I’ve used it. Now I’ve ironed out most of the quirks, I’m starting to really like it. The extra rear pegging point, using double guys on the side and the rear vent closure system have all made a difference.
The efficacy of the vent closure is a bit difficult to judge but I think it should be effective against all but the strongest winds. The double side guys make a huge difference to the stability of the hoops and I can’t see any reason not to use them all the time. I’m amazed at how few tents use double side guys on hoops (Hilleberg seem to be the exception). Lastly, the extra rear pegging point has cured the problem of the fly touching the inner.
On the last night, I added a further tweak by introducing a short loop of cord between the fly and the rear corner pegging points on the inner (shown above). I noticed that these were under a lot of tension. This extension eases the tension and further widens the gap between the fly and the inner.
I had very heavy rain on the last night. The Nitro proved completely watertight. The Nitro is a typical tunnel tent in wind: very stable end on, but flaps a bit side-on to the wind. Even side-on, it’s pretty stable. I’m tempted to do a mod and fit a third pole in the middle. It shouldn’t be too difficult to do and would only add just over 100g. It would help to support the fabric in the middle of the tent and stabilise it. Just to put this in context, any flapping is reasonably well controlled and not in the same league as a Laser Comp.
I really love the amount of space in the Nitro. It’s like a palace. There’s plenty of space for all my gear and loads of mesh pockets. The porch is very roomy for cooking and storage. It’s also well sheltered for cooking. Venting is good and condensation is kept down to a tolerable amount. The inner is easy to unhook to wipe off any excess damp before packing. It is slightly annoying that a couple of the bungee connectors keep coming undone on the rear hoop.
I had some qualms about how thin the groundsheet material is, but it’s proved robust so far and I didn’t bother with a groundsheet protector. I’d still be careful of rough ground though. The fly material seems robust, despite how thin it is. The inner is also holding up well.
I thought about taking the Trailstar/OookStar, but was glad I took the Nitro instead. On a couple of the pitches the more compact footprint of the Nitro made selecting a pitch easier. Overall, the Nitro is a really good tent and I’m increasingly confident about it. However, I still think the Scarp edges it on stability and ability to shed wind in any direction.
This is the third time I’ve used the Nemo Zor self inflating sleeping mat this year and it’s excellent (sorry I don’t have a picture of it from this trip, above is in my Duomid). I find it really comfortable to sleep on. I wonder whether the dual cores (horizontal and vertical) make it adapt to body shape better. As with my Dartmoor trip, I used my silk cover. This makes it feel really nice and adds a significant amount of insulation. This may sound odd, but it feels more comfortable and supportive than an air bed. I like not bouncing around when I turn over or when I’m sitting on it. This is going to be my sleeping mat of choice from now on.
Lastly, I used a Lifeproof Fre waterproof case for my iPhone 5. I bought one in a rather striking lime green colour as I thought lime would be more visible than the black case I already have.
I can’t say I’ve tested it by dropping it in water, but it seems pretty water resistant and shockproof. It adds very little bulk and weight. It actually seems to improve the responsiveness of the touch screen. I think it’s a great case for an iPhone, albeit quite expensive.