All posts by Robin

A big thank you

I want to thank Ultralight Outdoor Gear and Sierra Designs for their excellent customer service. As you know, I like to see how gear works, so I removed the Y frame in my Flex Capacitor rucksack. It was very difficult to put back in place. So much so, that I broke one of the connectors on the frame. It was my fault as I tried to force it back into the pocket that secures the top of the frame.

I contacted UOG to see if I could get a replacement. In short order, they contacted Sierra Designs who posted to me two new connectors. The new ones are a new design. They are solid rather than hollow, making them stronger. Maybe there have been other failures too? The pair are 3g heavier, but who cares for such a trivial increase?

Having disassembled the frame, removed the existing connector and the broken piece (with a Swiss penknife) in the other screw hole, I screwed in the new connectors and replaced the two Y arms. After reinstalling the frame, I used a spoon handle to lever the top of the frame garage over the end of the frame (both sides). It was pretty easy to do although the fit is very tight. You need to wiggle the garage around a bit to get a secure fit before engaging the Velcro tabs.

There is a video on YouTube on how to do this. However, it looks like it’s an earlier version of the pack and you have to do it slightly differently. You insert the spoon handle into the roof of the garage, then ease the top of the garage over the top of the frame. It requires a little bit of effort but is not difficult.

Anyway a big thank you to Damon at Sierra Designs and Rob at UOG for rescuing my pack. Unless you have to, it’s probably best not to remove the frame! I’m itching to use the pack but it probably won’t be until February now with the long winter nights.

Advertisement

Paramo – they don’t make ’em like this anymore

Paramo is the Marmite of the outdoors and seems to attract more love and loathing than most bits of kit. Personally, I like Paramo but it’s not perfect. I treat it as a very rain resistant soft shell. On the odd occasion it can get overwhelmed by heavy rain in strong winds, but the vast majority of the time, it does its job. It’s more comfortable than a hard shell, especially in changeable conditions. They are much more breathable and most jackets have good venting options. While the jackets are excellent, I’m not keen on the trousers. They seem to be more vulnerable to leakage, especially when the material rubs together.

Like most manufacturers, over the years, they’ve changed the styles, although much less frequently than many more fashion conscious brands. Consistency, reliability and quality have been hallmarks of Paramo over the years. They were eco friendly and socially responsible before it became trendy. They’ve also been at the vanguard of repairing their products if anything gets damaged or worn. Effectively their jackets last virtually forever.

I’ve lost count of the number of Paramo jackets I’ve had. The purpose of this post is to pay homage to the great jackets they have made but are no longer in their range. In fact, I’d say the ones I’m going to mention are better than ones in their current range.

Vasco

Vasco jacket at start of 2014 TGO Challenge

The Vasco jacket is probably my favourite. I used mine on my 2014 TGO Challenge. It was so good I bought a second when they stopped making them from the Paramo eBay outlet, just in case I lost or ruined my original. I probably shouldn’t have bothered as both are still going strong and look good. I did get Paramo to repair the velcro on the chest pocket rain flaps on my first jacket (same for my 3rd Element jacket).

Why do I like the Vasco so much? Unlike some Paramo jackets it has quite a trim but not tight cut and fits me well and has enough room underneath for a thick fleece if required. The sleeve length is perfect for me coming down to the middle of the back of my hand. I love the bite tab velcro wrist adjustment which adds a bit of structure.

Ventilation is great with arm vents, a massive venting yoke over your shoulder blades and a stud flap behind the main zip which means the zip can be open but the front stays closed. Additionally the high chest pocket zips can be left open with the velcro rain flap closed for more ventilation. They are also a decent size for storage and hand warming. There’s another useful interior chest mesh pocket, large enough for a phone.

The hood is detachable with stud attachments. It’s not quite as good as the hood on the 3rd Element but does have the advantage of packing away into the collar. The fit is good and the liner means you don’t have to wear a hat underneath. Overall it’s a really great jacket. Both my jackets are mid blue with black side panels. I think the old colours are better than most of the new ones.

3rd Element

3rd Element in the Carneddau

I suspect you either love or hate this jacket. If you’ve not come across it before, it’s a little whacky. This is the second iteration, which is better than the original. You can separate the body to wear as a gilet from the hood/shoulder/arms section. In theory you could wear the top separately but I never have, hence there are three ways you can wear it.

Like the Vasco, it’s quite a trim cut, indeed, the gilet is quite snug. The arms are a little longer than the Vasco. As I mentioned before, the hood is fixed and even better. Effectively there is a double layer of material over your shoulders making it warmer and more weatherproof.

It’s also warmer as there aren’t the same venting options as the Vasco (no arm vents or yoke vent). Nevertheless it has the same stud and front zip flap arrangement as well as the option of opening the shoulder zips which attach the top section to the gilet. The chest pockets are the same as the Vasco and can also be opened to help venting.

I really like the option of turning the 3rd Element into a gilet, which gives a lot of flexibility. I find gilets are great for cooler weather, keeping your torso warm but preventing overheating as your arms can lose heat. If it gets cold, you just pop the top on. Admittedly it’s a bit fiddly to re-engage the zippers, but you’re still well protected from rain even without doing them up.

You won’t be be surprised to know I have two! My original one is red with grey side panels. The second one is green with black side panels. The reason I got the second one was it was very cheap on the Paramo eBay website and priced to go. It might even have been the last to be sold as it had been out of production for some time. Again, I like the colours more than the current pallet.

Quito

Quito on the 2017 TGO Challenge

The Quito recently went out of production, which is a shame as it’s a great jacket. It’s lighter at 500g than the Vasco (711g) or 3rd Element (756g). The main reason it is lighter is that it has a thinner outer material. While it’s not as robust, it’s still pretty durable. That said, it’s not as hard wearing as the Vasco or 3rd Element and is showing more wear and tear despite not being as old.

I was a bit sceptical about how water resistant the lighter material would be but it seems to be pretty good. Perhaps the denser weave helps. It has a totally different fit to the other two jackets. Despite being a Medium like the others, it’s a baggier fit with long sleeves. I turn the ends up most of the time. It has a simpler cuff closure too with a cloth tab and velcro, not a bite tab. I prefer the bite tab but it’s not a deal breaker.

Where the Quito scores is the massive venting zips which run from the hip all the way up the body and half way down the arm. They have a two way zip which gives massive flexibility. Behind the zips at the waist there are also two hidden hand pockets. Unfortunately they don’t have internal closures so they are better as hand warmers rather than storage. There are two internal mesh chest pockets too, but you have to open the front zip to access them. Unlike the two other jackets there’s no stud stand behind the zip, so the jacket is fully open when unzipped. This is less of an issue because of the massive venting zips.

The hood can be folded away to make a collar via a velcro tab. It’s not a brilliant arrangement but simpler and lighter than folding into a hood pocket. However, the hood is excellent when worn. Mine is a very bright red, which is much better than the original or subsequent colours. My only real criticism is that the fit is a bit baggy. I was tempted to get a Small, but didn’t like the colour options. I used my Quito on my 2017 TGO Challenge and it was great. I can’t understand why they stopped making it.

Velez Adventure Light

Velez Adventure Light on the 2015 TGO Challenge

Ok. This doesn’t quite fit the post title because they still make the Velez Adventure Light. However, mine is a slightly different version which they don’t make any more as it has the bite tab cuffs rather than simple velcro tabs (like the Quito). It has a similar lightweight outer fabric to the Quito but not exactly the same. Unlike the Quito, it has a more trim fit, which I prefer.

Unlike the others, the Velez is a smock, which is not everyone’s cup of tea but I like it. It has two large torso zips to get on and off, which also provide great venting. There’s a large chest kangaroo pocket for storage (or additional venting). The neck zip also aids getting it on and off as well as yet more venting. The sleeves are just the right length and can be rolled up for cooling.

The hood folds away into the collar which stops it flapping in the wind as well as providing some structure. Like the others the hood is excellent. It’s a really comfortable smock but slightly heavier than the Quito at 560g. It’s also very weather resistant. I wore it on my 2015 TGO Challenge. On day three the weather was awful, very wet and windy. I wore the Velez all day and didn’t get wet from either rain or sweat. I was very impressed. In some ways it’s the best of the lot. Oh and it’s an attractive red and grey too.

Summary

As you can tell, I’m a Paramo fan. That said, I often carry a lightweight hard shell just in case of torrential wind driven rain. It is such a shame that these jackets have been discontinued. I’m sure the current offerings are fine, but it seems to me, the designs are not quite as good. I also think the colour options are nowhere near as attractive. Fortunately, these jackets will last forever, so I (probably) won’t be buying any more!

Flex Capacitor- Exped Flash Pocket adaption

I’ve got used to having a stash pocket on the front of my packs. While you can use the mesh bladder pocket from inside the Flex Capacitor, it’s quite small and doesn’t adapt very well when you change the pack size. It also means you lose a useful internal pocket for maps and bits and pieces. I’ve been using the Exped Flash Pocket on my Ultrahike. As I’m junking the Ultrahike, I thought I’d adapt the Flash pocket for the Flex Capacitor.

It was really easy to do. I reconfigured the top retaining straps of the Flash Pocket into loops which the top set of straps on the Flex Capacitor thread through. This means they adapt to the circumference of the pack whatever size it is. At the base, I’ve added some kamsnaps at either side of the Flash Pocket, which marry up with snaps on the ice axe loops on the pack. At the top, in the centre, I’ve added a small karabiner to stop the pocket sagging.

It fits even better than I expected. The only downside is I can’t reverse the pocket so the solid side faces out, which can be useful on occasion. However, the mesh is pretty robust and I could always replace the pocket if I ripped the mesh. Sierra Designs ought to produce a pocket of their own as it’s a really easy addition. I might add a couple of loops part way down to marry up with the lower set of straps, although it seems to work well as it is.

Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60L

Unfortunately my Lightwave Ultrahike 60 has come to the end of its life. The waterproof coating on the inside of the pack has gone all sticky and is coming off. I was tempted to get another one, but there are very few around and none my size, so I looked around for alternatives. The two that were on my radar were the Atom Packs Mo 60 and the Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60L.

While I was tempted to get the Mo 60, I already have a Mo 50. They aren’t that readily available and quite expensive, so I plumped for the Flex Capacitor, which arrived yesterday. It’s a totally different pack to the Mo. Apart from the price, I was attracted to the idea of being able to expand and contract the pack.

Fully expanded

There are plenty of other reviews elsewhere so I’ll be brief. It is very well made with no flaws that I can see. I bought the M/L with the S/M hip belt and it seems to fit me well. The hip belt is quite stiff and nicely contoured so it should be comfortable. I stuffed it with a couple of sleeping bags and it seemed to carry well, but I’ll only know when I take it out with a decent load. The shoulder padding feels a bit weird, but I’m sure it will be fine when I’m used to it.

Shock cord on top

Of course I’ve added a few tweaks. I’ve put a V of shock cord on the top do I can store a jacket or sit pad on top of the pack. I’ve made it adjustable with a cord lock. It can also be unthreaded easily if I don’t want it. It doesn’t interfere with opening the top pocket or the main body of the pack as it can be easily flipped to either side.

I didn’t like the zip pulls so I replaced those. Someone mentioned the zip pulls for the top pocket and main opening can be confused so I different colours, yellow for the top pocket and red for the two zips for the main compartment. They look more stylish than the original yellow cord ones. Mine have plastic toggles which are easier to pull. I used black ones for the hip belt pockets.

New zip pulls

I like to carry a length of thin closed cell foam mat to put under my air mattress so I used a short length of elastic attached to the internal pack back seams with safety pins to secure the foam mattress inside the pack. The photo below is not very good, but you get the idea.

Overall it seems a good pack, although very different to what I’ve been used to with no large stretch pocket on the outside, so I’ll have to get used to packing in a very different way. Weight is 1.3kg, slightly higher than the advertised 1.2kg, but not a disaster.

Losing confidence

Start of my 2014 TGO Challenge

I’ve been retired for over twelve years now, which has enabled me to do a reasonable amount of backpacking including four TGO Challenges, three of which were complete crossings. Over most of that period, my body has been in decent shape for the rigours of backpacking. I did have a minor back issue some years ago, but it never really restricted me.

Then in 2019, I injured my knee in Scotland and had to bail out of a trip. I tweaked a knee ligament so that I couldn’t walk without pain. After rest, physio and exercises, it took about a year to recover. Even then it was another year or so before I felt it was back to some semblance of normality. I was still cautious and wore a knee support.

Of course, lockdowns meant I couldn’t do much backpacking so it was difficult to know whether it was really fully recovered. Age is obviously a factor too. I recognised that I needed to do some strengthening exercises, which I started this year and seemed to make a difference.

This year all seemed to be going well. I did a trip to the Yorkshire Dales, where I seemed to have returned to fitness with no problems from my knee. I’ve done some shorter walks with no issues. I did an overnighter with a friend on Kinder with some tough off piste stuff. No issues. Then I did a full circuit of Kinder Scout and felt really good. This year I’ve not had to use the knee support either.

Unfortunately, right at the end of my Kinder circuit, I fell and hit my head and other knee really hard. I was lucky not to be knocked out. While my head recovered quickly, my right knee (not the one I injured in Scotland) has been slow to recover. On my Dartmoor trip it was uncomfortable going downhill and on uneven ground. It’s probably a bruised kneecap which apparently does take sometime to heal.

Walking from the car park to Taw Marsh, my right knee was complaining a bit, but not enough to be an issue. Everything seemed fine, but it the morning, my left knee didn’t feel quite right. There was some discomfort behind my knee. Again it wasn’t bad enough to stop me, but as a precaution, I put on my knee support.

I packed and walked up to Metheral Hill. When I reached the boundary stone, I decided to go off the path to cut across the top. It was very uneven and tussocky, hard on the knees and feet. By this time the discomfort was more noticeable behind my knee. Then I got a recurrence of the Morton’s neuroma in my left foot that I had a few years back. Every time my foot pushed on the outside of my boot, it compressed my metatarsals and sent what felt like an electric shock up through my foot.

Luckily I didn’t have to go too far off piste before I hit a path again. On more level ground, things seemed to calm down. Getting over Wild Tor and Watern Tor was ok, with just occasional shocks. However, it was more difficult on the far side of Watern Tor towards Teignhead Farm as I was effectively contouring on a slope with the same issue of pressing my foot on the outside of the boot.

I was regretting not using leather boots rather than fabric boots as leather probably would’ve been more supportive and might have mitigated the issue. Half way to the farm, I got a 3G signal and checked the weather forecast. It didn’t look great from evening for about 48 hours.

So with the foot/knee issues and the weather outlook, I decided to not go as far as I had planned. That meant I could take it slowly and rest the next day as the weather looked miserable. I made it ok to camp and sat out the next day and following morning.

When I set out to return to Taw Marsh, I had only a half day’s walk, so I knew I could take it easy. I also decided to take a lower route via Scorhill, partly because there was less ascent and better ground, but also because there had been a lot of rain. Scorhill has a clapper bridge and a footbridge over the streams, so there’d be no issue with flood water.

In the past I’ve found that toe separators alleviate Morton’s neuroma. I didn’t have any of those, but I did have some gel toe protectors to prevent bruising. Using two of those seemed to largely get rid of the “electric shocks”. The knee issues were still noticeable but not crippling so I managed to get the walk done. The last part up and over Hound Tor was a bit uncomfortable but not too bad. I must admit I was relieved to get back to Taw Marsh as it would only be a short walk in the morning back to the car.

I have to say, my confidence has been knocked a bit by this. I had hoped both knee issues and Morton’s neuroma were behind me. I think the Morton’s neuroma is manageable with the toe protectors. I’m also investigating footbeds.

The knees are a little more tricky. I think my right knee (the one I bashed) will eventually be ok. Bruised bones take a long time to heal apparently. It does seem to be improving although I still notice it a bit going downhill and if I sit down for too long.

My left knee is a bit more of an issue. The good news is I don’t think it’s anything to do with the ligament as it’s a different area (back of the knee). I think it’s to do with flexibility and straining it when kneeling in the tent. I noticed a while ago that my left knee doesn’t bend as far as my right. In addition to my knee strengthening exercises, I have been doing some simple stretching exercises. Clearly these haven’t been enough.

Once the discomfort has disappeared (not there yet), I’m going to start some more stretching exercises. In fact I’m going to find some more general stretching exercises too. The problem with modern living is we don’t really stretch our bodies, so as we get older we become less flexible. I have a friend who is a physio so I’m going to ask her.

I can’t see myself doing any backpacking before next March, so I can rest my body until it’s healed and then start over again with strength and stretching exercises. I’ve got an exercise bike too, so I need to be more disciplined about using that. Most days I go out for a couple of brisk walks too.

Hopefully, I can get back on track, but these niggly injuries are annoying. One further thing that is a bit of a trial is that in the cold, damp months my left knee aches like crazy. I’m experimenting with a simple elastic bandage to see if keeping it warm helps. Age is a bummer. The big lesson is as you get older you do have to work to stay fit. In the past, I didn’t really have to bother much. It’s annoying not being able to have complete confidence in your body’s resilience.

Stormy Dartmoor

Last week I was on Dartmoor for four nights. Things didn’t quite work out as expected. I had planned a decent walk around the North Moor, but I had to delay leaving by a day which messed up the coordination with the firing schedule as the Okehampton Range was due to be used, so I rearranged to stay on the eastern side of the moor. My original intention was to walk to from Taw Marsh to Hameldown to camp somewhere around there. I would then have a leisurely two day walk back, probably camping at South Teign Head for one night before returning to Taw Marsh.

However, the weather forecast worsened just before the trip. While the first night was fine and the next day was good, when I checked the forecast midway through the first day, the overnight forecast was rain and high winds with the next day low cloud and still windy. I decided Hameldown was too exposed and shortend my day to camp at South Teign Head near Fernworthy Forest. The forecast for the following day was even worse with heavy rain due until late morning, so the most sensible thing seemed to be to stay put until it cleared.

In the end the rain was very heavy (as well as high winds, although it was quite sheltered in my camp spot). It didn’t clear until midday, which left me just enough time to get back to Taw Marsh before sunset. The walk back was pretty wet underfoot. I decided not to go back via Watern Tor as Walla Brook can be tricky to cross so I rerouted via Scorhill where there is a clapper bridge.

It was a good walk although the wind at times was ferocious. Just after Scorhill I encountered two low flying helicopters on manouevres which was fun to watch. The track up to Hound Tor was pretty rough as was the first part of the descent down to Taw Marsh but I made it back with about an hour’s daylight to spare.

It was great to do a multiday trip even if it didn’t work out quite as planned. Unfortunately I did pick up a couple of minor injuries to my knee and my foot, but hopefully they will sort themselves out with some rest. That’s basically the backpacking season over for me this year. Hopefully next year will be a bit more productive. I’m going to work hard on leg strengthening exercises as I seem to be picking up some niggling injuries. Here’s a few pictures.

Taw Marsh
Taw Marsh
Wild Tor
Watern Tor
Teignhead Farm
South Teign Head and Fernworthy Forest
View south from White Ridge
Fernworthy near Teignhead Farm looking north
Shovel Down looking towards Scorhill
Scorhill Clapper Bridge
Helicopters
Taw Marsh
Taw Marsh

Kinder Circuit from Glossop

It’s been a while since I’ve done a trip report. Recently I was up in the Peak District and had the opportunity to do a circuit of Kinder Scout, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. On a previous walk, I had found a good place to park just outside Glossop. Overnight parking can be a bit awkward in the Peak District, but this spot was ideal as it is discreet and gets you out on to the moors quickly. After parking and checking my gear, I was on my way, walking down a green lane leading to Bray Clough.

Lane leading to Bray Clough

Soon I was out on to the moor and passing a shooting hut (which had a rather unsavoury insult scratched onto the door). I followed a track south east along side a series of grouse butts up to a flagstone path, making a note that there was a small cairn at the junction, so I wouldn’t miss the turn off on my return, unlike last time I was here! Looking back, there were some fine views back over Glossop and out to Manchester.

Glossop

Just before I reached the junction with The Pennine Way, I passed the wreckage of a crashed plane. Looking on the internet, it might be a B-24 Liberator that crashed in 1944. If so, fortunately, the two man crew survived. The path at Mill Hill is rather different from the one I encountered in 1978 on my Pennine Way walk. Back then it was appallingly wet mossy bog. Now it’s a flagstone path most of the way.

Kinder Scout

The views opened out to the imposing mass of Kinder Scout and the valley of the River Ashop, another place I want to explore if I can. It’s a good path to Kinder Scout. Although the path up is quite steep, it’s easy and I was at the top quickly. I could now see down to the Kinder Reservoir and as far as Axe Edge, near Buxton. The reservoir level was quite low reflecting the recent drought.

Kinder Reservoir

Not surprisingly, I started to encounter more walkers as I neared Kinder Downfall. As I was getting hungry, I stopped for five minutes to have a snack and take in the views. I didn’t hang around too long as my target was to get to Seal Stones to camp that night, which was another nine or so miles. Kinder Downfall was a little bit of a disappointment as there was hardly any water, not surprising I guess after the dry summer we’ve had.

Kinder Downfall

At the Downfall, I filled up my spare water bottle despite the water looking brown and unsavoury, in case water was difficult to find later in the day. The next point of interest was the trig point at Kinder Low where there were quite a number of people. I didn’t bother to go to Edale Rocks but cut the corner off to Noe Stool. The ground was quite dry, so there was no bog trotting.

Pym Chair

I soon hit another flagstone path that led to the impressive tor of Pym Chair. Unfortunately it was here that I was followed by a rather loud American lady but I was soon into the almost alien landscape of the Woolpacks. I was starting to get hungry so I decided to rest and have the lunch, which had the bonus of losing the aforementioned lady. The rocks provided a useful seat and shelter from the cool breeze.

Wool Packs

After lunch I continued around the impressive amphitheatres of Crowden Brook and Grindsbrook Clough.

Grindsbrook Clough

Once I reached Ringing Roger the day walkers disappeared. On reaching Crookstone Knoll, I could see the end of the Derwent Reservoir where the water level looked quite low like the Kinder Reservoir .

Win Hill and Derwent Reservoir

After Crookstone Knoll the path became a little sketchy in places. Even though the Snake Pass road was down in the valley, it felt more remote and wilder. In the distance, I could see Seal Stones, my intended camp spot and Fairbrook Naize.

Seal Stones and Fairbrook Naize

Despite rain earlier in the week, everywhere was fairly dry, so I was a bit concerned about getting water for camp. I was relieved that there was still a bit of water flowing at Blackden Brook. It was brown with peat but it would have to do, so I filled up my water carrier and carried on to Seal Stones.

Seal Stones camp

I couldn’t see any decent spots by the path at Seal Stones. Before moving on, I thought I’d have a little explore away from the path. I was glad I did as I found a nice level spot, clear of most of vegetation, and slightly sheltered behind a mound. It turned out to be an almost perfect spot as the clouds broke to let through some evening sunshine.

Seal Stones at sunrise

I had a good night’s sleep and woke just before sunrise. There was a brief 15 seconds of very light rain, then the clouds broke and a glorious red sunrise flooded the landscape. After breakfast, just before I packed, there was a squawking noise in the distance. I looked up and there was the V of a flock of geese flying high in the sky eastwards. I took a picture but it didn’t come out well.

Fairbrook Naize

I was packed by eight o’clock. By now the clouds had largely cleared although there was a chilly westerly breeze. As usual, distances are deceptive and it took me longer to reach Fairbrook Naize than I anticipated but it didn’t really matter much. There was even less water in Fairbrook than Blackden Brook.

Rock near Nether Red Brook

From here, it was familiar territory as I had been this way about a month before. It was a really nice walk and it was early enough that I didn’t meet anyone.

Northwestern end of Kinder and Mill Hill

On reaching the Pennine Way, I passed a few walkers on the way to Mill Hill. Then I cut West and then North to retrace my steps to the car. However, there was a sting in the tail as about fifteen minutes before I reached the car, I tripped and hit my head on the path really hard. I was lucky not to be knocked out. I had a nose bleed and a cut on my nose as well as a very sore knee. After staunching the blood with my handkerchief, I seemed to be ok and went back to the car. The next day it looked like I’d been in a fight as I had two black eyes! Fortunately I didn’t have any symptoms of concussion. The moral is to concentrate even when you’re on an easy path.

Hey, ho!

This year is turning into a bit of a disappointment. A couple of weeks ago I had been planning to do a trip to Dartmoor for four nights, then I got covid. It was like a bad cold but I recovered quite quickly. Then I thought I’d go up to the Peak District this weekend. Now the Peak District National Park has closed Access Land due to fire risk. It looks like it’s going to be another disappointing year for backpacking trips.

Some gear stuff

I thought I’d add some gear comments from my “Sneaky Camp” post. I’ve added a couple of mods on my Notch Li that you can see from the picture above. I’ve added a pocket just below to mesh vent and above the existing pocket. I cropped an old Alpkit stuff sack. Attaching it with safety pins means I can move it around if I want. Ideal for tissues, hand sanitiser, penknife or other light items. Unlike the Tarptent pockets, items don’t fall out! Also in the picture you can see I’ve added a shock cord and cord lock which attaches to the trekking pole (a suggestion from a member of Trek-lite forum https://www.trek-lite.com/index.php?threads/tarptent-notch.5007/page-11 ). It pulls the inner tent out slightly and helps to reduce flapping on the inner tent.

Next up, instead of laying the rucksack in the porch, I hung it from a loop of cord at on apex with a mini karabiner. It keeps the rucksack out of the way, giving a bit more room in the porch and stops it getting wet. I also put some of my gear in a waterproof rucksack cover in the porch (the fluorescent yellow material in the picture) which keeps things tidy and dry.

Lastly I used my Sea to Summit Ultralight insulated sleeping pad and a short fleece cover (zebra pattern https://blogpackinglight.wordpress.com/2011/06/15/myog-fleece-sleeping-mat-cover/) which I made ages ago for another mat. The S2S at 482g is not “ultralight” but it is comfortable. I have the woman’s version which has a slightly higher R value than the standard version but is slightly shorter. However, it’s just about long enough for me. The fleece cover adds a bit of warmth and comfort, especially with a quilt. The S2S mat is a bit thinner than many other mats but in a way it makes it more comfortable as you don’t bounce around and it’s more stable when you kneel on it. It also takes less pumping up. The S2S has a “pillow lock” system which attaches a S2S pillow to the sleeping pad. I use the S2S Aeros pillow and pillow case which works really well.