Zzzzzzz, I was in two minds as to whether to publish this. However, it might be of interest so here goes.
Essentially it’s the same as last year, with some changes in clothing. I felt that my gear last year performed really well, so there was less incentive to change things around. In particular, the Scarp was great. Ok it’s a bit heavy, but it’s quick and easy to put up. There’s next to no fiddling to get a good pitch, even on poor ground. It’s got plenty of room and you can sleep safe in the knowledge that it will cope with anything that the weather can throw at you.
The Gossamer Gear Mariposa is perfect for me for the Challenge with plenty of capacity and flexibility while being quite a light pack. I’ve added the Laufbursche hip belt pockets as they are far superior to the existing ones on the pack. I was tempted to take a warmer sleeping bag but I’m sticking with the Rab Neutrino SL 200. Now that I have some As Tucas Sestrals insulated trousers, I can boost the temperature rating significantly if necessary.
Last year I took a NeoAir short, this year I’m taking the Xlite short. The Xlite doesn’t deflate like the NeoAir. I wish it was rectangular, but the compensation is that it’s lighter. As usual I’m supplementing it with a thin 150cm closed cell foam mat, which folds into my Mariposa back panel. This provides not just insulation but backup if either the Xlite punctures or the GG Airbeam back pad fails.
My cooking system, wash kit, first aid kit, toilet kit and repair kit are all basically the same. I’ve slimmed some of them down a touch as they had got a bit bloated. I’m taking my new Sony RX100 camera, which is double the weight of the WX100, but takes much better pictures. I’m taking the Tecknet iEP360 battery extender, which is better than the PowerMonkey one I took last year, so there’s a slight increase in weight under Technology.
Under miscellaneous, I’m taking the same as last year. I’ve got at least three proper stream/river crossings, so the waders are coming. TBH, it’s not the wet that gets me, it’s the cold. For a small weight penalty, they just make wading so much easier. The brolly is coming as well. The weather forecast looks quite benign, but a brolly is great for showers and heavy rain (if it’s not windy). I’m taking my venerable Nike Mayflys as spare shoes. Unlike the lighter alternatives, it is possible to walk in them with a pack for a decent distance, if needs be.
In terms of clothing, I’ve swapped a number of things around. Instead of my Paramo Vasco jacket, I’m taking my Velez Adventure Light, which is a bit lighter and more packable. I liked my Marmot Essence jacket and overtrousers in the Lakes, so they are coming instead of the OMM Cypher and Rab Drilliums, saving a bit of weight.
Although a windproof is not strictly necessary, I found last year that it added some welcome flexibility for not much weight. The Arcteryx Squamish has become my favourite and is going instead of my MontBell Dynamo. While the Motane Oryx jacket is a good fleece, I was disappointed how smelly it became and it wasn’t very durable, so, instead, I’m taking an old Mountain Hardwear Microchill fleece.
For base layers, I’m taking two Rohan Ultra T’s and an old Montane Sportwool Terra T. Strictly speaking I only need two T’s but the Rohan Ultra T is so light, I thought the flexibility of having an extra was worth it. The Ultras and Terra have good anti pong resistance. The Long sleeve Montane Terra is for sleeping, as are the Rohan Ultra longjohns. If we get some sun, I will have my Rohan Pacific shirt, which also doubles up for a bit of style for civilization.
For warm wear, it’s difficult to beat the PHD Minimus jacket, which hits a sweet spot in terms of weight and warmth. Last year I took some light running tights (Arcteryx) and some wind trousers (As Tucas). This year, I’m taking my As Tucas Sestrals insulated trousers. These should be nice to wear around camp as well as supplementing my sleeping bag if necessary.
You will notice that I’m taking two caps and two beanies. Surely, overkill! Actually the extra weight is small, so to have a bit of insurance in case I lose a hat is worthwhile on a longer trip. I did toy with taking some warmer gloves as well, maybe I will take some at the last moment! I’m taking three pairs of walking socks as this gives more flexibility in terms of washing and drying.
If I wanted to be Spartan, it wouldn’t be too difficult to knock about 1.5kg off my pack weight. However, I like a bit of comfort and allow a margin for error. I know that these items and combinations work and that they will cope with whatever the conditions. It means that I can relax and enjoy the walk, rather than stress about whether I’ve got the right gear or not. In my book, that’s worth a lot.