While I wasn’t on this year’s TGO Challenge, I share the disappointment of its cancellation as I was looking forward to following the experiences on social media of Challengers as they cross Scotland. Some of us are doing a virtual crossing by posting pictures of previous Challenges day by day under the hashtag #virtualTGOC on Twitter. I’m mashing up my 2014, 2015 and 2017 crossings. There doesn’t seem much point in doing a blog post as you can find my trips on my Trip Diaries page above.
However, for a bit of fun, I thought I’d put together a gear list for a crossing. As far as possible, I’ve selected gear that I haven’t used on the Challenge so far. I’ve put a list at the bottom of the post. The bottom up base weight is just over 8kg. You probably need to add about 500g for stuff sacks and odds and ends.
For the big three, I’ve selected my Tramplite pack. I toyed with taking my Atom Packs Mo, but it might be a bit small. The Tramplite is a great pack and the extra volume has no weight penalty and is useful for carrying extra food. Although it has good hip belt pockets, I’ll take my Alpinelite belt pack too.
For a shelter, I’ve chosen the X-Mid but with the Valley and Peak Ultra Bivy. I’m really impressed with the X-Mid. I’d love if it had a solid inner, but in the absence of one, I’d use the Ultra Bivy. I think the supplied mesh inner would be ok, but I think the extra protection and warmth of the Ultra Bivy is worth it, especially if there are cold winds.
I’m going to cheat and have my As Tucas Foratata quilt, which I used on my 2017 crossing as I don’t have a real alternative. My WM Ultralite is probably overkill and 340g heavier. For a sleeping mat, I’ve just bought a Nemo Tensor Alpine mat. It provides higher insulation than a Thermarest X-Lite as well as being slightly wider at the foot end and feels more comfortable and less noisy. It also has a (much) better valve.
For footwear, I going with Inov-8 Roclite 320 boots. It’s a little bit of a risk as they let a bit of damp through when I tried them in the Lakes. However, I’ve put some Silnet on the toe mesh which should help and I’ll take some Dexshell waterproof socks as a second line of defence. Spare shoes are Saucony Hattoris, sadly no longer made. Wiggy’s waders are worth the weight for any stream crossings, a slight cheat, as I’ve taken them before. Gaiters are essential for bogs, so my new Montane Outflow gaiters come along.
I’ve never used the Paramo Third Element on my Challenges, so that’s an obvious choice, especially as it converts into a gilet. For me Paramo, is ideal for Scotland as a highly water resistant soft shell. I like having a windproof too and a Montane Featherlite smock weighs next to nothing but adds flexibility. In addition to Paramo, I like having a lightweight hardshell if there’s heavy rain and high winds as Paramo can be overwhelmed, so the Alpkit Gravitas jacket is an obvious choice, although I’ve not worn it in really testing conditions. I’ve not used my Berghaus Paclite overtrousers on the Challenge, so they are an obvious choice.
I like gridded fleeces and normally I’d take an Arc’teryx Delta LT fleece, but I’ve chosen the Patagonia R1 which is slightly heavier and warmer. A Rab interval T and a Patagonia Capilene Cool T are my thin base layers which work well in most conditions. A Rohan Union Polo is my merino base layer if it’s cold. I’d take a shirt for if it’s warm and for hotels. The Columbia Silver Ridge Lite is a great shirt. For sleeping I’ve selected a Smartwool merino crew. I like to have clean sleepwear, so it’s a luxury I’m happy to carry.
For warmth, my old Rab Generator jacket is difficult to beat. Being synthetic, damp is less of an issue than for a down jacket. I’ve been really impressed with the Mountain Equipment Kinesis trousers, which are light and warm, handy for around camp and to supplement my sleeping quilt if necessary. For walking trousers, I’d normally wear Montane Terras. However for this exercise, I cheated slightly and chosen the Terra convertibles rather than the ordinary version.
I now have an iPhone 11 to replace my old iPhone 6. As the camera is so good, I’ll chance using that rather than a dedicated camera. I swapped my reliable Snow Peak GST 100 stove for the Alpkit Kraku to save a little weight. Apart from that all the other gear is pretty much what I’ve used over the years.
A full list is below. Hopefully that’s provided a little entertainment in this never ending lockdown. Let’s hope we can get some backpacking done in the second half of the year!