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.