Category Archives: gear

Lightwave Ultrahike pocket protectors

The Lightwave Ultrahike is a pretty robust pack. However, the side pockets are made are made from a stretchy mesh which is vulnerable to snagging. To protect the mesh I asked Craig, who helped mend my Mariposa pack, to make a couple of pocket protectors that I could sew on. Yesterday I plucked up courage to sew them on. They were a little tricky to attach, especially the bottom corners. With a little patience, I think they’ve come out well. It’s a shame that Lightwave don’t use more robust mesh or solid material, but at least my pack should last a good deal longer now.

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Dan Durston X-Mid. You’d better hurry!

If you want a Massdrop Dan Durston X-Mid, you’d better hurry as there’s only 17 left on this drop! https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-x-dan-durston-x-mid-1p-tent#overview

If you’re interested in the development of this and the two person version, have a look at the comments as there’s a lot going on in the background.

Massdrop Dan Durston X-Mid 1P Tent

I thought readers might be interested in this innovative tent that is currently on offer at Massdrop designed by Dan Durston. I was a bit sceptical at first, but the more I looked at it, the more I liked the design. I’m not a great fan of mesh inners, but I think this might perform better than most as the flysheet goes to the ground all the way round, unlike most tents with mesh inners. At $199.99, it seems good value. It uses silpoly rather than silnylon for the flysheet, which should obviate the normal issue of the flysheet stretching when wet, which is a bit of an irritation with mids that use silnylon. I like the enhanced headroom and vents too. Although I don’t strictly need another tent, it does look good, so I put my name down for one. There are plans for a version with a solid inner and a two person version which might come to fruition next year. The only drawback with Massdrop is that it won’t be delivered until May next year. If you’re interested, here’s a link to the Massdrop page: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-x-dan-durston-x-mid-1p-tent

New Tramplite Shelters

Photo courtesy of Colin Ibbotson

Colin has updated his website with two new versions of his DCF shelter http://www.tramplite.com/2018/11/original-tramplite-tarp-discontinued-uk.html. I’ve been very happy with my Tramplite and if you’re in the market for this kind of shelter it’s well worth the wait and the cost for a very high quality product.

Disclaimer: my Tramplite shelter was purchased with my own money and I have no contractual or financial relationship.

Mariposa Rescue

My Gossamer Gear Mariposa has seen a lot of action over the years. This has taken its toll. On last year’s TGO Challenge I ripped the mesh on the front pocket badly. I tried to repair it with a patch of material but wasn’t very happy with the repair. The foam in the shoulder straps was also starting to collapse. I wasn’t sure what to do so I sent out an SOS on the Trek-Lite backpacking forum to see whether anyone could repair it for me. Step forward Craig who offered to replace the front pocket and the shoulder straps. Yesterday I got it back and what a brilliant job he’s done!

After a bit of discussion, I opted to replace the mesh front pocket with a solid one, which should be a lot more robust. Although it’s not stretchy like the original mesh one, it has a similar volume and some shock cord keeps it from billowing. There’s also some shock cord at the opening. Clearly the downside is that gear can’t dry out in the pocket, but on the flip side, it will allow much less water ingress if it’s raining and I’m not using a pack cover. It should also be practically indestructible.

Craig also replaced the shoulder straps. I actually prefer these to the originals. They are a little thicker and a slightly different shape. Joy of joys, they have a proper daisy chain too. While I’ve not tried the pack with a full weight, just stuffed with sleeping bags, it feels very comfortable.

Overall, I reckon the repairs have made the Mariposa into an even better rucksack than when it was new. I’m really happy with it and glad to have it back in service. Hopefully it should last for a good few more years yet. Thanks Craig.

GramXpert eLite Apex 133 quilt

I bought this primarily to use in my camper van. However, I thought it would also be useful as a summer quilt as it opens up to make a flat blanket. I took it on my Carneddau trip to give it a bit of a test and I was very pleased with it.

I sized up and bought a Wide/Long. I’m glad I did as I think a Regular/ Medium might be a bit constricting. The W/L has plenty of wiggle room, which is important for me as a restless side sleeper. It’s important to be able to rotate within the quilt to keep the fasteners underneath you to prevent losing heat. I’m 1.75m in height and I found it just about long enough to wrap over my head. If you are taller than that, I suggest getting the XL.

Weight came in at 505g without the stuff sack, which was lighter than the advertised 536g. I had the longer foot box zipper (70cm), which I think was a good choice. Indeed, if it had been totally customisable, I might have had a slightly longer zip. The foot box has a simple draw cord with a unique pull closure (see website for details) and worked well. The closure was tight to prevent draughts.

The closure snaps are easy to locate and engage. I might add an extra one between the bottom two. The worry with quilts is always that they might gape when you turn over, but having extra width meant I didn’t find this a problem. There is a neck draw cord with a cord lock. I found this a bit annoying as it tended to dangle in my face, so I’ve cut it off.

The materials are very nice. The outer fabric is smooth and silky to the touch. It’s not quite as nice as the Schoeller fabric used in the As Tucas quilts, but it is lighter. The Apex 133 insulation is soft but resilient and has a decent loft for a synthetic. It feels quite robust too. Pack size is reasonable, although not as compressible as down, obviously.

The Apex filling has very even coverage, unlike down quilts/bags with low down volumes, so there were no cold spots. I think this is an advantage of synthetic fillings over down in very lightweight quilts. Having said that, in my As Tucas Foratata quilt, which has 250g of down, I’ve never had a problem.

The quality of the workmanship is very high. I can’t see any faults in it at all. It was dispatched to me within seven days of ordering and arrived within four days, which included a weekend. I was kept in touch with emails to confirm the order and dispatch.

How did it perform? Overall, it was very good. It’s not as warm as down, obviously. I’m a bit of a cold sleeper and I reckon, for me it’s about a 10c quilt. I found it very comfortable to sleep in and it was nice to open it up to lie under in the evening as a bit of extra warmth. The design is very good, simple but functional. I really like the zipped foot box. If you’re in the market for a synthetic quilt, it’s definitely worth a look. There’s a good range of colours and sizes too.

Photos courtesy of GramXpert website

Disclaimer: I bought this quilt with my own money and have no relationship with GramXpert other than as a customer.

Dartmoor July 2018 gear

Here’s a quick roundup of some of the gear I used on my trip on Dartmoor:

Trailstar/Oookstar nest. I’ve not used the Trailstar for a while. It was nice to have the space that the Trailstar provides. The only real drawback is the constant bending down is a bit of a strain on my back.

Tramplite pack. Superb. Very comfortable. Quite simply one of the best packs out there.

MSR Guardian water filter. I was glad I took the Guardian as the cattle were out on the moor and the water sources at the beehive hut and Taw Marsh both had cattle dung at the water’s edge. I dare say a Sawyer would’ve been adequate but it was nice to have the peace of mind with the Guardian. I also had to filter water for my friend, so it was a lot quicker than a Sawyer.

Railriders Ecomesh trousers. Really nice trousers for summer. The long vents make them a lot cooler than conventional trousers in the heat. Thin but tough material and very comfortable to wear. They look quite smart too. I love them. I bought a second pair. It’s a shame you have to order them from the US, which puts up the cost considerably.

Rab Interval T and Long sleeve shirt. I love these. Thin and silky, they wick sweat quickly and don’t smell. I use the long sleeve around camp and to sleep in at night. The only drawback is being very thin, they are a bit delicate and I caught a thread on the T.

The rest of my gear was all stuff I’ve used regularly for some time.