The problem I had with my Fizan pole not locking properly precludes giving a definitive judgement, which will have to wait for another day. It definitely needs either a fixed length pole or one with a secure locking mechanism, like a flick lock. The fly puts a lot of downward pressure on the pole. It also needs good pegs. I used Easton golds, which were recommended by Colin. Some worked loose during the night. I think this was a combination of poor ground conditions (stony ground) and the flysheet flapping because of the pole problem. Cuben has no give (unlike silnylon) so the pegs take a lot of strain. I’d be tempted to take some MSR Blizzards for soft ground.
Tramplite at Rigg Beck
In terms of pitching, it’s very easy to pitch and get a good wrinkle free set on the flysheet. Attaching the inner is simple. Threading the toggle through the apex loop is a little fiddly, but only a minor issue. I’m attaching a small plastic Vango hook to make things easier. The inner is quite roomy and having access to the gap between the fly and the inner through a long zip is a great idea. There was plenty of room for my Mariposa rucksack.
The porch area is quite open as there is a significant gap between the hem of the fly and the ground. This means you need to be careful not to store anything there that might blow away if it’s windy. I lost a small stuff sack. In future I will store more in the inner and the rear porch.
I pitched it on the camp site to show David and he was suitably impressed. I had intended to use it on the Challenge but now I’m not so sure. I’m not concerned about its stormworthiness but I would prefer to have a completely enclosed porch in adverse conditions. On that basis, I’m thinking of the Scarp again or maybe the Nitro Lite. It’s nice to be completely protected from the elements at the end of the day. Both the Scarp and Nitro Lite put less stress on the pegs, so ground conditions are less critical.
Marmot Essence Jacket end Overtrousers
Both the jacket and trousers are incredibly light at around 170g each. The jacket is a good fit. The sleeves are just long enough to hide your hands. Although the hood is quite basic, it works surprisingly well. I was concerned the brim might be a bit floppy, but it was fine, although not as good as the OMM Cypher. Breathability was very good. When we were in the cafe and I took the jacket off, there was hardly any dampness on my fleece or the inside of the jacket. That was after two hours on driven rain. By contrast, David was quite damp under his ZPacks Challenger jacket.
Marmot Essence Waterproof Jacket and Trousers (photo courtesy D. Williams)
There was no ingress from the zip. Because the material is very thin and breathes well, it did feel a bit cool at times. I was wearing a Rohan Ultra T and Patagonia R1 (old style) fleece underneath. On the way back I added a Paramo VAL smock under the Essence and felt very comfortable.
The overtrousers were also very good. There was a slight dampness around the upper thigh area. They are not quite as comfortable as the Rab Drilliums, but still very good. I think you’d need to be a bit careful in high abrasion situations as they don’t feel very robust.
One day out in poor weather doesn’t represent a comprehensive test, but the Essence jacket and trousers performed well enough for me to have confidence that they can do the job. I think I’ll go back to the OMM Cypher and Drilliums for the Challenge as I’d like something a bit more robust for a two week trip. I do like the hood on the Cypher as well. However, I can see that the Essence jacket and trousers will be ideal where weight is a primary consideration and in summer, when a robust shell is not required.
Western Mountaineering Ultralite
As I get older, I definitely feel the cold more. When I saw a second hand Ultralite for sale, I snapped it up. I was very pleased with the level of warmth that it gave. The shoulder collar helped seal the warmth. Loft is excellent. The zipper doesn’t snag and the zip baffle works well. For such a warm bag, it compacts nicely in the stuff sack. There’s not much more to say other than its an excellent sleeping bag. I’m tempted to take it on the Challenge for a bit of extra warmth.
Laufbursche Hip Belt Pockets
I used these over the hip belt pockets on the Mariposa as they give a bit of extra volume and are more water resistant. Although not water proof they don’t allow much damp in. They fit surprisingly well. I put my Sony RX100 camera with a dry bag in one. In the other I had my iPhone, compass and some chew bars and sweets. They worked very well and I’m tempted to make them a permanent feature on my Mariposa.
Mariposa with Laufbursche Hip Belt Pockets
Colgate Folding Toothbrush
I found this in Superdrug when I was buying some travel size toothpaste.
Unlike many travel toothbrushes, it opens out to make a sturdy brush with nice grippy handle. The bristles are not soft and floppy either. The brush folds neatly back into the handle. It’s the best travel toothbrush I’ve used.