TGO Challenge 2015: Gear Roundup

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Ok, here’s a quick roundup of some of the clothing and equipment I used on this year’s TGO Challenge

Clothing

For me, the real star of the Challenge was my As Tucas Sestrals 2 insulated trousers. At 185g, they provide an amazing amount of warmth and wind protection. They were wonderful to put on at the end of each day when I was camping. The new Schoeller material is like silk and lovely against your legs. They are thin enough that you don’t overheat but plenty warm enough, even in cold and windy conditions like we had for the Cheese & Wine party. The snaps at the hem mean you can cinch them at the ankle to keep warmth in. They also have a good DWR coating so they shrug off light rain. For wearing around camp in cool or cold conditions they are brilliant. I also used them on a couple of nights in my sleeping bag for some extra warmth. Highly recommended.

The Challenge was the first prolonged test for my Marmot Essence waterproof jacket and trousers. At just under 170g each, they are astonishingly light. I wore the overtrousers more than the jacket. The jacket was used extensively on two days, once over my Paramo Velez Light and once on its own. I was very pleased with the breathability. It doesn’t feel quite as good as three layer eVent, but I think that’s down to being a 2.5 layer rather than 3 layer jacket, where the moisture is “hidden” by the inner fabric. The material is certainly waterproof and the DWR effective with no wetting out. The thinness of the material makes the garments cooler than more substantial waterproofs. They are also quite delicate, so I’ve had to patch a cut on both the jacket and overtrousers. If you want a good value, very breathable lightweight shell, the Essence jacket and overtrousers are worth considering. The jacket is quite a trim cut, so if I were buying again, I’d go a size up. Also don’t expect them to put up with rough treatment as the material is quite delicate.

The two other things to report on are the Outdoor Research Sunrunner cap and Spectrum Sunsleeves. I liked the Sunrunner cap a lot. The vents make it more comfortable when warm and I like the detachable neck screen. I also used OR Spectrum Sun Sleeves. These convert a short-sleeved T shirt into a long-sleeved one. They have a SPF of 50 and can be pulled over the back of your hands. At 38g, they weigh nothing, but are brilliant for using on sunny days instead of sun screen. They are also quite cool (as in temperature, not looks). I really liked them.

Equipment

Virtually all the equipment I used as the same as last year. Given the wind and some poor weather, I was glad I took my Scarp 1. Talking to Bob and Rose, about the evening that we were camped in Glen Markie, they couldn’t cook inside their Vaude Power Lizard because it was flapping so much. I had no problems in my Scarp. I love being confident that it can handle anything. It also has a compact footprint and goes up in a jiffy. I used my GG Mariposa rucksack. My only criticism is that one of the shoulder straps slips and has to be tightened regularly and the material is not very water-resistant. Other than that, it’s a great rucksack.

My sleeping bag was my modified Rab Neutrino SL 200. It’s just right for the Challenge. Most nights it was fine on its own. On a couple of nights I had to supplement it with my PHD Minimus down jacket and As Tucas Sestrals 2 insulated trousers. I used my Thermarest Xlite short sleeping mat, which was very comfortable and had no issues with deflation.

My boots were Ecco Biom Hike Mids, which were perfect. Very comfortable and robust. They also were very waterproof. Sure I was occasionally a bit sweaty and I wished I’d taken an extra pair of socks, but I had no blisters. It’s a shame they’ve stopped making them.

In the end I took my umbrella and waders. I was really glad I took my umbrella. I used it for most of the day on two days. On the day to the Water of Allachy, I even rigged it so it was hands free. It made two of the days of heavy rain much more bearable. The waders were useful as well, particularly on one day when I had to wade a river when it was raining hard. If I was being super-Spartan though, I’d leave them behind.

Any failures?

I had no failures. The only disappointment was the new style Rohan Ultra T, which doesn’t seem to be as smell resistant as the old style. As a result, I wore my Montane Sportwool Terra T (polyester/merino wool blend) most of the time, which was impressively smell resistant. I might get another merino/synthetic combo base layer as they seem to combine smell resistance with fast drying.

DIsclaimer: all items mentioned were purchased with my own money.

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12 thoughts on “TGO Challenge 2015: Gear Roundup”

  1. Hi Robin
    Very interesting reading. Re your Ultra T, although not obviously comparable, on my LEJOG cycle I wore Rohan’s new Union Ts, 63% merino/37% polyester, and found them to be comfortable, non-stinky and fast drying. I wore one for riding, every day for over 2 weeks. I found that, even on wet cold days, I put up the tent, organised my gear and made myself a brew, after which the T shirt was dry of any sweat so I could then remove and store it, before a wash and “evening wear” and it was ready to wear again for riding the next day. Recommended.

      1. I ALWAYS wait for offers Robin, be it sale, vouchers or the twice-yearly “gift your gear” events. Doesn’t always work but I reckon most of my extensive Rohan wardrobe’s been discounted in some way.

  2. You’re luck you haven’t got the NEW Mariposa, the webbing is even worse. But they are going to fix it. I have it on 1st hand.
    Can’t beat a NICE STRING VEST for non smelly base layer!!!
    Next time, you need to take that REALLY EXPENSIVE TENT!! 😉

    I wonder why Bob & Rose didn’t take the New hex V6.
    Been a good test for it.
    OK, I guess an extra Kg, but absolutely BOMBER!
    And you could sit up in.
    And easily Cook inside with 2 up.

    My V4 (despite weight) is going to Fisherfields in early Oct.

      1. A few questions: does the stated size mean “fits over a boot of that size”? Is there any kind of re-inforcement of the sole (I’m thinking of durability)? What’s the grip like on slippery rocks, etc.? Many thanks. Ken.

      2. I wear size 9 boots but I got a Large. Don’t forget they are US shoe sizes. They have rubber soles with a stipple pattern so they have reasonable grip. From what I remember P&P and customs duty pushed up the price a fair bit. However, there’s nothing else like them.

  3. Hi Robin, great blog! Re. the Mariposa, what would you say is the max comfortable load? I’m dithering between that and the ULA Circuit, but am concerned that my (wet) load can occasionally hit 15-16kg and I’m not sure if a Mariposa can deal with that in comfort. Have you tried the new version? Any observations?
    Also dithering between an MLD Duomid and a TT Scarp 2. Looking for a shelter that can take two (slim and diminutive) people, while being light enough for solo use. Which would you say can deal best with 3 season UK use?
    And lastly, what brand is your umbrella? I’m looking for a light but tough brolly but haven’t seen anything.
    Thanks, any tips or suggestions much appreciated.

    1. I’ve not used the Mariposa with such a heavy load but suspect that it would probably manage. I don’t have the latest version but the main change was the pack material. If you’re worried about carrying a heavy load, you should consider the Lightwave Ultrahike 60, which is is a bit heavier at 1.15kg but can carry loads up to 18kg with ease.
      The Scarp 2 is more like a 2.5 person tent than a 2 man tent. Luxurious. It would be huge for 1. The Duomid is single skin and two could fit but not a lot of room for storage and cooking. Also there is only one door which can be inconvenient for two people. The best lightweight two man tent I’ve seen is the Tarptent Stratospire 2. If you are not tall, the Force Ten Nitro Lite 200 or 200+ is worth a look.
      If you want a fixed length umbrella, Euroshirm make a good one. Just google it. I use a cheap M&S collapsible one, which is very light at 219g.

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