Here’s a quick round–up of some of the gear I used for the Monadhliath Meander.
MLD Trailstar/OookStar. This was the first time that I’ve used the Trailstar/OookStar. In the event it was only for one night, so this is only a first impression. I was quite impressed. Pitching was relatively straightforward, although I spent a lot of time tweaking it. I’m going to swap to flicklock trekking poles rather than the twist locks I use at the moment. Flicklocks are easier to adjust and there’s no chance of slippage. The OookStar is surprisingly roomy. It’s also draught proof and cosy. The porch space of the a Trailstar is huge. The only downside is the footprint is large but in most situations it should be ok. Getting in and out requires a bit of crouching but it wasn’t as inconvenient as I thought it might be. The stability is impressive and I think it should be able to cope with almost anything. I took a combination of MSR Blizzard pegs, Easton blue pegs and titanium pins. Although the MSR Blizzards were overkill for our pitch, I think at least three hefty pegs are a good idea for the rear pegging points. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the TS/OS combo. It’s a toss up between this and the Scarp for the TGO Challenge.
Sawyer mini water filter. This was another piece of new gear that I took. If you’re looking for a water filter, this is the one! It weighs only 38g and fits my Source liquitainers. The flow rate is good and I prefer the cap to the push/pull stopper on the larger Sawyer filter. What else can I say? Just works perfectly and with next to no weight penalty for peace of mind. Fabulous.
Berghaus VapourLight zip short sleeve base layer. I’ve been experimenting with base layers recently. In many ways I like merino, but once it’s really wet, it takes an age to dry. I found the new Lowe Alpine Dry Flo disappointingly smelly. On the other hand, the VapourLight seems to resist body odour quite well. It’s very light and wicks moisture away rapidly. I really like it, so I’ve bought a t–shirt and a long sleeve zip shirt as well.
Paramo Vasco jacket. It’s a shame that Paramo discontinued the Vasco as it’s a great jacket. The floating yoke and arm vents mean it vents really well. In cool showery conditions as we encountered, it was ideal. It is quite heavy, but I really like it for walking in. It obviates the need to wear a hard shell most of the time (although I took a OMM Cypher smock as well). I’m fairly sure I’ll be taking the Vasco on the Challenge.
Montane Oryx fleece. I’d forgotten how well this combines with Paramo in cool conditions. The thinner side panels means you don’t over–heat in it. It looks like Montane have stopped making it, which is a shame because it’s a great lightweight (231g) fleece jacket.
As Tucas balaclava and wind trousers. The Sestrals balaclava is excellent instead of a hood for a sleeping bag. The material is pleasant to the touch and the insulation gave the right amount of warmth without overheating. It’s also very usable instead of a hood with a duvet jacket. At 45g it weighs very little and is a definite for most trips for me. The wind trousers (now a stock item called Millaris Pants) were brilliant as well. At 72g, they are probably the lightest wind trousers you’ll find. Again the material is pleasant to the touch. They can be worn on their own or over thermal leggings. Naturally, they are (very) windproof but they also shrug off light rain. I love them. They are exactly what I’ve been wanting for years. Brilliant. Another permanent fixture.
Sleeping gear. I was going to take my modified Rab Neutrino SL 200 but I didn’t know whether it would be warm enough, so I took my Alpkit Pipedream 400, which, yet again, proved what a great sleeping bag it is. I’m still toying with taking the Neutrino on the Challenge. For my sleeping mat I used the Nemo Zor, which was fine for warmth but was quite hard when we slept in the bothy. I’m considering using a Thermarest XLite for the Challenge.
Disclosure: all items mentioned were purchased with my own funds. I have no formal or financial relationship with any of the companies mentioned.