Tag Archives: Tramplite

Test packing for Scotland

Next Sunday evening I will be heading to Scotland to walk from Fort William to Aviemore. As you are probably aware, I couldn’t do the Challenge this year, so this is some compensation. Along the way I will be walking for three days with some of the guys from the Lakes Daunder.

I will be walking for seven days without re-supply, so I’m going to be carrying about 5kg of food. This is the first time I’ve had to carry more than five days of food. In the past I’ve not always taken a particularly organised approach to trail food, but this has forced me to be a little more disciplined.

As much as the weight, the big issue is the volume. It’s surprising how bulky food is. In the light of this, I decided to do a test pack to see whether it would all fit in (there’s still a couple of things I need to buy).

Totting up the weights on a spreadsheet I decided to be rather more aggressive on weight saving, especially on clothes where I reduced carried clothes by just over 1kg to 1.7kg. I did a test pack of my Tramplite pack. While everything fitted in, it was a bit of a squeeze.

I dug out my Lightwave Ultrahike 60 pack and tried that. The slightly higher volume meant that it coped better with the volume. My spreadsheet says a total load (no water but everything else) is 14.2kg, while my luggage scale says 14.8kg. Food, fuel and other consumables comes to just over 6kg.

The Ultrahike is about 400g heavier than the Tramplite pack, so I negated some of the weight savings from clothes. However, the Ultrahike is a more comfortable pack with heavier loads thanks to the unique hipbelt, so I think it’s likely that I will go with the Ultrahike.

Originally, I was going to take my Scarp, but the weight of the food has pushed me to go for my lightest shelter, the Tramplite, which is about half the weight of the Scarp. I liked using my Paramo 3rd Element jacket so much on the Daunder, that I’m going to take it to Scotland. Normally, I take a lightweight hard shell jacket too, but I’m going to chance it and only take the 3rd Element.

I’ll do separate posts on route, gear and food before I go.

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Deepdale and back: gear chat

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I guess the item that most of you will want to know about is the Tramplite shelter. As I mentioned before, I had some of the worst weather I’ve camped in. The Tramplite performed superbly. It was very solid with no leaks. Cuben is a bit noisier than silnylon, but it doesn’t stretch so the pitch stayed taut throughout the ten hours of rain and wind I endured on Saturday morning.

I think the MYOG A frame is excellent. It makes the Tramplite really solid and access is so much easier than a central pole. The valances were also good. The wind was swirling and the valances prevented the rain from driving under the beak. I’m sure it would have been ok without them, but they were definitely useful.

In terms of pitching, it’s possibly the easiest shelter I’ve had. Peg the rear corners, insert the pole then pull out the front guy. Peg the front corners then the rear. Tighten the front and back, then the corners and the fly is done. It’s really easy to get a nice taut pitch. The inner is simple to attach and easy to get reasonably taut.

It takes a little bit of time to get used to the more restricted headroom compared with the Scarp or Duomid, but it’s not cramped. Lying down, there’s enough length not to have the material in your face and a decent amount of room for gear. The rear storage space was useful for my rucksack and other bits and pieces. This meant I didn’t put as much in the front porch as I might with other shelters.

The workmanship is first class. There are no wrinkles. It’s better than the cuben Duomid. There’s obviously been a lot of thought gone into the design as well. Considering it cost the same as a Hillberg Enan, I think it’s a bit of a bargain.

My rucksack was the Lightwave Ultrahike. This was the first time in three years that I’ve not used my GG Mariposa. Arguably, it was overkill for a two-day trip. However, it reminded me of what a great pack it is. The hip belt makes it incredibly comfortable to carry. It’s a great pack for higher volume and heavier loads.

I’ve bought a number of bit and pieces from Paul at Tread Lite Gear recently. The cuben LED camping lantern was brilliant for providing some light in the evening. The first aid kit pouch forced me to downsize my first aid kit and was just the right size. I also used the polypaq 45L rucksack liner. It didn’t get tested by rain, but is a great alternative to a cuben or silnylon rucksack liner. It’s much cheaper and very light. It’s quite tough as well. In future I think I’ll use these instead of an Exped liner.

In terms of clothing, I took my Arcteryx Squamish windproof and Arcteryx Delta zip fleece. The Squamish is my favourite windproof. It’s very comfortable with good breathability, yet windproof and decently shower resistant. The Delta fleece has a grid pattern, which I think works better than flat fleeces. It’s a nice fit and just the right thickness.

I also used a Berghaus VapourLight zip T base layer. I’m really impressed with its wicking and smell resistance. Of my synthetic base layers, I think the VapourLight ones are the best.

Lastly, I must mention the As Tucas Sestrals insulated trousers. These are so good to put on at the end of the day. Nice and warm when you’re lying around in camp but not too hot. They also give some flexibility for your sleep system if it gets cold. I didn’t need them inside my sleeping bag (my modded Rab Neutrino SL 200 ) as it was quite mild, but great insurance in case it’s cold.

Nothing failed, although my Salomon X Ultra Mids are going to be relegated to dog walking boots as they are getting quite battered and the foam under the forefoot is loosing its resilience. I bought another pair in a sale recently to replace them. They’re great boots.

Tramplite valances and A frame

Backpacking is a very personal thing. What’s suits me won’t necessarily suit you. This is especially true when it comes to shelters. Personally, I’m not a great fan of sleeping in single skin shelters or ones with mesh inners. Over the years, I’ve come to realise that I prefer double skin shelters with solid inners.

With the Tramplite shelter, I also realised that I prefer shelters which are relatively enclosed. The porch on the Tramplite has a large gap between the beak and the ground. While I understand the reason for this and the personal preference of the maker, Colin, I wanted to modify mine.

IMG_1628(2)I asked Marco at As Tucas to make some removable valances for the porch. These are simple elongated triangles of cuben which are attached to the fly sheet by Velcro. I added a snap fastener at the zip end to make sure they stayed attached. Originally they had simple shock cord ties outs (shown in the pictures) but I’ve replaced those with lineloks and shock cord.

IMG_1629(2)They reduce the gap from the hem to the ground from about 35cm to 20cm. If I was re-specifying them, I think I’d add another 10cms to the valance. Nevertheless, they do drop the hem of the Tramplite to a level I feel more comfortable with. I know that this doesn’t meet with the approval of some, but it’s what I want and that’s what counts. Because they are removable, if I want more ventilation, I can just take them off. The extra weight is approximately 45g.

IMG_1627Perhaps less controversially, I also made a A frame adaptor for my trekking poles. I will do a seperate post on how I made it. It’s very easy and effective (weight 71g). Setting up the A frame is simple and it’s actually easier to setup the Tramplite with it. Micro adjustment once it’s set up is also easier.

IMG_1632(2)I was stunned at how stable and strong the A frame is. It is rock solid with the only movement being backwards and forwards along the line of the front guy. Any other direction and it’s totally solid. This means there’s a lot less strain on the corner pegging points.

IMG_1633(2)The other advantage of the A frame is it makes access to the inner much easier. Centre poles in Mids compromise access, whereas with an A frame, the poles are well out of the way.

IMG_1634(2)I’m really pleased with my A frame. It’s well worth the modest extra weight for the solidity it adds to the pitch and the convenience of better access. In my next post, I’ll show you how I made it.

Tramplite and Solplex

Ben from the Trek-Lite forum asked whether we could meet so he could have a look at my new Tramplite shelter. We both live on the edges of Epping Forest, so I selected a suitable spot half way between us.

Ben brought along his ZPacks Solplex so I could have a look. It’s a nice little shelter. It’s very light at just over 400g. For fast and light trips using relatively sheltered pitches, it looks good. There’s a decent amount of space inside too.

However, I don’t think I’d be getting one. I prefer the Tramplite, despite being 250g heavier. The Tramplite is roomier and I prefer having a seperate, solid inner. Even though it was only the second time I’d pitched it, it’s very easy to get a decent pitch. It’s also very solid, so I’m confident it will be a good shelter in foul weather. Ben was impressed by it too. Here’s some pictures.

Tramplite

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Tramplite and Solplex

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Solplex

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Tramplite Shelter – first look

On Thursday, a parcel arrived in the post. It was my eagerly anticipated Tramplite shelter from Colin Ibbotson. Tramplite shelter sounds too ordinary, so I’ve christened it the “IbboMid”. The IbboMid is a lightweight cuben fiber double skin tent that Colin has been refining over the past year or so after his treks in New Zealand and Scandinavia.

A handful of backpackers asked Colin if he would make some shelters and fortunately for us, he agreed. This is not a commercial venture for Colin as his main focus is doing long distance walks. This year he is doing the Continental Divide Trail in the US. He’s making these tents in the fallow period over the winter.

The first lucky recipient was Andy Howell. My IbboMid is the sixth and has a couple of improvements from the first iteration. Colin reckoned it would weigh about 670g. However, when I put it on the scales it was an amazing 652g!

IMG_1135(2)It came in a neatly rolled in a cuben fiber stuff sack.

IMG_1136(2)With great excitement, I took it into the back garden to pitch it.

IMG_1137(2)It’s very easy to pitch, easier than my Duomid. I set the trekking pole to 125cm, pegged the rear two corners, inserted the trekking pole and loosely pegged the front guy. Then I pegged the front two cormners. Lastly, I pulled out the rear pegging point, pulling it tight, then tensioned the front guy. All it took then was a bit of further tensioning all round and I acheived a pretty good pitch first time.

IMG_1138(2)I used a piece of Tyvek from my Scarp as a groundsheet protector to stop the groundsheet getting muddy. The fit was pretty good. Attaching the inner was very simple. The four corners have shock cords which attach to the corner pegs. Next, there are shock cords part way up the inner on the four corners that attach to the fly. There are a further two on the rear wall. Then the apex has an adjustable shock cord with a toggle that mates with a loop at the apex of the fly.

IMG_1142(2)It was incredibly simple to get a good pitch. The inner looked pretty good too. The inner is quite spacious, measuring 255cm x 75cm. By comparison, it’s marginally narrower than the Scarp, but longer. The inner also has a horizontal zip at the rear to access a decent amount of space in the V of the rear wall of the fly. It’s certainly big enough for either a rucksack or boots and cooking gear or wet clothing.

IMG_1140(2)This picture gives an idea of the rear storage area. It also shows how taut the pitch is.

IMG_1139(2)It’s quite an aerodynamic shape and should shed wind well. With the front and rear tensioned, it feels very solid with next to no pole movement.

IMG_1143(2)The quality of the workmanship is very high. As you might imagine, I’ve added some tweaks. I’ve sewn a grosgrain loop at the apex of the inner so I can hang a torch or lantern. I’ve added some zip pulls on the zippers. I’ve also added so mini cord grips on the inner door tie backs. I find cord grips and loops easier to use than simple ties. These tweaks have added a massive 3g to the weight.

Of course, it’s impossible to make a proper judgement after one pitch in the back garden, but the IbboMid looks very promising. If it lives up to my first impressions, I can see that it will become my first choice tent. It looks to have the stormworthiness of the Scarp, but is the lightest shelter that I own. That seems like a winning combination.

Disclosure: The IbboMid was purchased with my own money and I have no relationship, financial or otherwise with Colin Ibbotson.