Now that winter is almost behind us and the happy memories of record snowfall in 2014 will linger long for most it was time I gave my attention to testing out the new kit that I had recently purchased reasons for were to get the pack substantially lighter and update worn and dated systems.
Normally at this time of year my attentions are focused on adding to the list of my Munro’s, but having missed out last year on some of the longer thru walks in the UK due to illness and injury my priorities lay with attaining hill fitness and gear selection.
The walk I shall be doing will be the West Highland Way , having done WHW a few years ago with a friend whom against my wishes I may add wanted to Bed and Breakfast all the way through. This time being a traditionalist I shall be wild camping to Fort William. The WHW will also play a part in giving me the opportunity to look at my set up and new kit for durability.
Over the past few weekends I have been spending my time on the hill committing to two or three night stays to decide on my preference of shelter and sleep systems in various different locations and weather conditions. It is best to find out now what suits your needs than two or three days into a walk.
My preference on shelter for the WHW is the Trailstar a large footprint that gives you sleeping options whether it be near the entrance or tucked up at the rear and more than enough space for kit the trekking Poles are my old Leki Thermo lites I did fancy changing these for the now popular pacer poles but that may be for a later walk
The new sleep system takes me away from the conventional way I used to camp I have opted for the Ti Goat Kestrel Bivvy, Rab neutrino 200 sleeping bag and the Thermorest neo air.
Using the Trailstar and bivvy I wanted to try and have as much of the outside inside midgies and all if you get my drift. The Kestrel bivvy is a nice piece of lightweight kit at 6 ounces that packs down to the size of an apple it is water resistant with a substantial tub floor and midge net that can be hooked up away from the face there are no concerns over condensation build up however its only use is with a shelter but I dare say that if the weather was fair it could be used occasionally as a stand alone. I know that this does not give you that full bivvy experience but this is something that I want to progress to maybe on shorter trips to start with. I have enjoyed using the bivvy in the Trailstar it saves time over a nest and feels less restricted for positioning. The Kestrel and sleeping bag can be packed as one with ease.
I just cannot get away from the Jam 50 this is always the first pack I turn to and with half a dozen to chose from the Jam always wins hands down. I suppose to some they might not find it functional on longer trips but I have been using this for years mastered its packing and find it comfortable to the point I sometimes forget that its on my back. It has the added use as a day pack to so if you wish to wander off and grab a Munro which I intend to be doing, it can be cinched down to accommodate your needs for the day.
Cooking is done using a ti gas burner for convenience on the WHW however I will be looking at the new Gel4 . The Evernew solo is my cookware of choice most of my meals shall be of the dehydrated variety apart of the odd occasion I may force myself to visit a nearby chippie en route.
The only other addition to the shelter and sleep system is a Tyvek groundsheet purposely for keeping clothes etc. from becoming damp during the night.
Now to the more personnel of choices we each make to suit our body conditioning of running hot or cold I have tried many different types of base layers but the one that does it for me is the Helly Hansen Dry Revolution long sleeves. The HH has excellent fast drying performance I have found by the time I have pitched up sorted bedding and made preparation for a meal my base is just about dry and no need for a change. The mid layer will be the Montane Fury Hoody which can be worn without the need for a base if the weather is fine accompanied by the Montane Featherlite Endurance Windproof it will be a case of on the day adjusting these three layers to suit the conditions. I am still contemplating on my choice of waterproof the latest addition to the kit list the Karrimor Phantom Elite three layer Event however at 760g I feel it may be on the heavy side therefore may look at something lighter and packable.
The important bottom half will be adorned with Craghoppers Bear Grylls trousers these have been in my wardrobe for three years now and have never felt uncomfortable in all conditions they are light and dry very quickly the knee and backside panels are very stretchy and strong they also have the advantage of multiple pockets. Underneath Paramo boxers.
Footwear are the new North Face Hedgehogs gtx with a base liner sock. I may look at the inov8 terrocs for the only downside of the Hedgehogs are obviously drying if the inside is overwhelmed in crossing water.
As I have stated in previous posts kit choice is an individual matter what may do for one person will be totally alien for another. This is one of the aspects of Hillwalking and backpacking that I really look forward to planning and packing the full list or thereabouts follows I haven’t included weights but my pack is around the 9.8k mark
Golite Jam 50
Rab 200 sleeping bag
Evernew Ti solo pot
Ti gas burner/2x100g gas canisters (re stock en route)
Foil windshield/fire steel
Three days provisions (re stock)
Sawyer water filter / 2 x 1 Lt pouches
Helly Hansen .Dry Revo
Montane Fury Hoody
Montane Endurance Windshirt
3 Buffs/peaked cap
Craghoppers Bear Grylls Trousers
Rab down Gillette
2 Pair base liner socks
North Face Hedgehogs
Midge head net
The usual toiletries First Aid Kit, Maps, compass, Sylva Headtorch, Nexus 7, Camera DSLR? sunglasses!!!………………………………………………. oh and bus fare home!
If there is something you think I have missed let me know.