Dartmoor Tramping gear

Some feedback on some of the gear I used on Dartmoor recently.

Exped Thunder 70 rucksack: I was really pleased with the Thunder. It carried very well and the hip belt is excellent. With food and water, the maximum weight I carried was about 15kg. It took that with ease and I think could carry substantially heavier loads if necessary. The exterior mesh pockets are smaller than I’m used to, so more went into the pack, but it swallowed the load easily. I used dry bags rather than a rucksack liner, which meant I could use the zip panel access. This was useful to unpack in the tent on the Thursday evening when the weather dire. Even with a pack cover (Osprey lightweight, very good), there was some dampness at the base. In future I think I’d use a liner, which would negate the zip access. At 1.6kg it’s perhaps a touch heavier than I’d like (although lighter than comparable packs). If Exped got rid of the zip panels it would probably save maybe 200g and make the pack simpler. I think a slightly longer extension collar would be useful as well. Overall, I think it’s a really good higher volume pack for larger/heavier loads that you might carry on longer treks or in winter.


MLD Cuben Duomid: I’m really pleased with the A frame setup and with the fore and aft guys. These make it very stable in high winds. The extra pegging points at the rear also make a big difference in controlling the large rear panel. However, I think a more enclosed tent like the Scarp or Nitro Lite would have been a better option for the time of year. When it’s windy and cold, a fly sheet that reaches to the ground all the way round is definitely warmer and less draughty. I rather wished I’d taken the F10 Nitro Lite, which would have been quite snug yet spacious. The other issue with the Duomid is that it can be awkward to set up on uneven ground. When it’s blowing and tipping down, you want to get your shelter up quickly. On the Thursday, in the wind and rain, it took a fair time to get right.

Paramo Enduro Hoody & Quito Jacket: despite being twice the weight of a conventional fleece, the Enduro hoody was rather good. The weave is denser, which makes it a bit more wind proof than a conventional fleece and is comfortable in a fresh breeze without a windproof. With a wind-proof layer it’s quite warm. The large zip vents are excellent and the chest pockets are a decent size. I have to say, I didn’t particularly like having  a hood. It’s a good design, but I would rather have had a plain collar. It takes a bit longer to dry than a conventional fleece but still pretty good. Used with the Quito jacket, it’s a nice warm combination. The Quito jacket is really good as well. It’s very water-resistant except where water is pressured through contact with rucksack straps. This is an issue I’ve mentioned before. Unfortunately the Thunder 70 shoulder straps are quite absorbent. After two hours rain, when I removed the Quito at lunchtime on Thursday, water had leeched through the front shoulder on the right hand side where the wind had been driving the rain (not the left though). The Enduro fleece was quite damp underneath. There was also some slight dampness above the hip belt. I think this illustrates the limitations of Paramo. If you used it without a rucksack, you’d probably stay dry, but if a rucksack has absorbent shoulder straps or hip belt, watch out! I still think Paramo is a great soft shell and great for showery conditions or light rain. For heavy, wind-blown rain, a hard shell is better. At 500g, the Quito is light enough to be considered as a soft shell, so I’m happy.

Marmot Essence jacket, Rab Drillium overtrousers: given what I’ve said above, I’m glad I took a hard shell jacket. On Thursday afternoon and Saturday, I used the Essence jacket over the Enduro hoody along with the Drillium over trousers. The Drilliums (now discontinued) are excellent despite the DWR not being as effective as it was when new. They are the most comfortable and breathable overtrousers I’ve ever had. I’m really impressed with the Essence jacket. It’s very breathable and comfortable and effective against really foul weather. Even when you get a bit sweaty climbing hills, the sweat dissipates quite quickly. I used my large-sized jacket, which layers better and has longer sleeves. At 213g, it’s pretty light for a waterproof jacket. If I had to criticise it, the hood could be a bit better. It’s not bad, but works best with a cap underneath to keep the peak stiff. It’s a really good jacket and performed well in testing conditions.

Rohan Union T: this is the best merino/synthetic hybrid base layer I’ve used. Nice and smooth to the touch, it seems to regulate the body temperature well, being both cool and warm when necessary. It dries quickly too.  It’s also very smell resistant. I wore mine for all four days and there was no detectable odour. I like the relaxed cut as well. Definitely my go to base layer now.

Not much else to say really. I’ll do a short post on food next.


14 thoughts on “Dartmoor Tramping gear”

  1. Robin , Can you not get the Duomid tighter to the ground by shortening the poles ? I thourght the cuben model had less of an
    agressive cut at the front than the sil version. Depends on the ground of course. What sort of a gap did you have between the ground and
    the fly. Agree with the weather you had you want to get set up pronto !

    1. It’s not really possible to pitch the door tight to the ground. It’s just the way it’s cut. I suspect it needs the gap to maintain the tension on the fabric. It also pitches better with a slight beak at the rear.

  2. Yes , I was wondering if it needed the tension on the fabric to maintain
    the shape. I understand now why you found it draughty in the high winds you experienced ! I was considering the Duomid for the weight
    ( am an oldster ) but thinking of the new Scarp 1 now. Although a bit
    weighty , has decent space for one. Have the Strat 1 , but being tall bag
    pushes against the inner sloping wall. Thanks for reply .

    1. One cure would be to have removable valances like I’ve had made for the Tramplite. I do think the Scarp is a great tent.

  3. Hi Robin,

    I’ve very much enjoyed the contrasting experiences of you & Mr S. From the pictures it certainly seems that you had much better weather than Alan, a phenomenon that I can only put down to his Eeorish outlook on the world.

    But, Robin. To extricate Al’s poor old bones from the comfort of the Two Bridges to endure yet more privation in the great outdoors! You are a hard taskmaster, Sir. I’m sure that his character has benefited greatly from the experience.

    1. I think I’ve broken him. He’s complaining about his hurty knee again. Mind you, I’ve got a dodgy foot, although it does seem to be improving. You will note that Mr S had to steal a number of photos from me. A copyright law suit is pending 😉

  4. Hi Robin, I always enjoy reading your posts, I met a couple in the Lakes over Easter who knew you, it was their tarptent, which caught my eye 🙂 Anyway I’m after a little rucksack advice? I’m planning to walk the Sutherland Trail at the end of May, over 5-6 days and I’m trying to figure out if my 55L rucksack will be big enough, I’ve only ever used it for up to three day treks. What would you advice, I’m planning on traveling as light as possible, but will need to carry at least three days food I suspect. Thanks. Matt

    1. Oh dear! Fame 😳

      Rucksack size is a difficult one. Whether 55l is enough depends on the volume of your base gear and the amount of food you intend to carry. If you can, I’d try to fit it into your current rucksack. If you need larger, the Exped Thunder 70 is a great rucksack. I was very impressed.

  5. Hi Robin, I know what you mean about using a tent with a fly that comes down to the ground when there’s a cold wind. I’ve just come back from 3 days in the hills around the Elan valley and only took a single skin Six Moons Lunar Solo. Held up well in the wind but I was glad I took an upgraded sleeping bag (ME Snowline) otherwise the draught would have chilled me to the bone. A four season tent and a lighter sleeping bag may well have been as warm with no weight penalty.

    1. I took a warmer sleeping bag (WM Ultralite) and was glad I did. It’s easy to underestimate the heat that a wind steals from you.

  6. I’ve just come back from a weekend cycle touring in Peak district and I was using a new tent, the Sil Hexpeak F6 from backpackinglight. I thought the tent was excellent but it rained during the last night and packing the tent away, I noticed how heavy it was. I weighed it when I got home and it weighed 2.7kg compared to 2.2kg when dry. The reason for this long ramble, is yourself and others weigh various items and quote dry weights, I just wondered if you take into account the possibility of your kit getting a lot heavier due to getting wet, I was astonished on how much additional weight the tent had taken on. Keep up the excellent blogs and reviews.

    1. Difficult to make consistent measurements for wet weights. Depends how much rain you shake off the fly sheet and ground sheet. At least dry weights are consistent.

      1. Thanks for the reply Robin. It was just a thought on my part, as I was astonished just how much extra weight was taken on, when the tent was wet.

      2. One reason why I usually take a rucksack raincover. Stops rain soaking in. I reckon it actually saves weight in rain, quite apart from keeping your rucksack tolerably dry.

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