Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Kit List for my Scottish National Trail hike

I only occasionally buy expensive items of walking or camping gear as I do not backpack in winter conditions and I feel that many of the more expensive brands are over-hyped so tend to look for good quality, middle range kit that in most cases does the job just as well. The most 'expensive' items were my trail runners made by La Sportiva but these were purchased at sale price so the price, although not cheap, wasn't excessive. The other items that I spent reasonable amounts on were my tent, sleeping bag and waterproof jacket. For this trip the main difference from the previous years equipment was the addition of a new tent. I'm not going to list every item I took but here are the main items and my views on their effectiveness having used them on the trip.

Tent - Trekkertent Stealth 1 - Ultra-lightweight at around 600 grams and a tiny pack size, I had mixed feelings about this. It can be used as a tarptent but also has a mesh inner, which I used. It has no poles so you need walking poles, which I use anyway. The fabric is silnylon, which is very thin but strong and as it is impregnated with silicon, very slippery. The main problem I had with it was getting in and out of it. I'm not very big but I could never figure out how to use the front entrance as I am used to side entrance tents. It also suffered from condensation, which on a couple of occasions was quite bad. However, I think this may have been caused by my pitching it with the sides touching the ground and my preference for camping next to rivers, so this could have been my fault. I only had rain once during my trip while camping and this didn't cause any problems. While the weight and pack size are superb, the jury's out on this at the moment.

Force Ten Nano -5 sleeping bag - This proved to be an excellent purchase and kept me nice and warm, although of course it was early summer. It's synthetic bag so not the lightest at 1100 grams but a very good purchase nonetheless.
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor Trail Running Shoes - Superb, lightweight (around 350g per shoe) solidly built with an aggressive, grippy sole. Non-waterproof but quick drying. Around 130 euros a pair but I got them for around 95 euros in a sale.

Karrimor Event Alpiniste Jacket. - A fantastic buy that I've had for around three years now. Light, superbly breathable and so far totally waterproof.

Decathlon Quechua Forclaz A100 Sleeping pad - I was concerned that this might not be up to the job but needn't have worried. Cheap, light at 400g, packs down really small, I found this to be a very good insulator and gave some padding although it's only 2cm thick.

Decathlon Quechua Forclaz 500 softshell - I'm a big fan of Decathlon gear and this jacket is excellent. Light at 460g, not too hot and looks smart in the pub after the walk.

Decathlon X-Light Down Jacket - Light 440g, comfort limit down to -10c. Only the main body of the jacket is down, the rest being synthetic fill. Another excellent piece of Decathlon gear. 

Decathlon Quechua Forclaz 700 Socks - I wasn't sure about these socks at first as they are tight fitting, almost like support socks, but having walked hundreds of miles in them I think that they are superb. Despite being double layered in the main body of the sock, they still dry quickly. My only criticism is that they can feel warm in hotter weather.

Decathlon Quechua Shorts - Lightweight, very quick drying, which is vital as I rarely wear waterproof trousers.

Decathlon Quechua Convertible Walking Trousers - Excellent, very lightweight and quick drying. Although I never wore these for walking, they doubled up as evening wear and spare shorts, as well as long trousers had I felt the need for them.

Primark Technolayer underpants - Excellent, lightweight and quick drying, which was very important when walking in the rain. Neither the shorts or the underpants felt wet even when soaked, which was very important. 

Lowe Alpine base layers - Quick dryingCan't remember where I purchased these as I've had them so long, which speaks volumes.

Berghaus Verden 65 +10 L Rucksack - Not the lightest at around 1.6k an otherwise excellent bag with a good, adjustable back system. my main criticism is that the hip belt frequently slackens off as you walk, otherwise excellent.
Salomon 1.5 litre water bladder - okay, but I felt that at times the rubbery material tainted the water, something I have never found with Platypus or Decathlon's own brand bladders.

MSR Pocket RocketUltralight and very efficient

Google Nexus 7 32g - I used this for communicating with my wife when I had a signal and also for social media etc. as well as a reader for the Kindle app. I also used it as an occasional navigation aid coupled with the Viewranger app. It was very good but for my main navigation aid I used a dedicated GPS unit. I just felt that the tablet was more 'faffing about' than the Garmin and also didn't feel that I wanted to subject the tablet to the elements, even with a waterproof case.

Garmin E-trex 10 - Very basic unit without mapping. I had my entire route loaded on it, which gave me a trail to follow if I became uncertain of my direction. I have used this for a number of years now and can't fault it. I used it in conjunction with a Silva compass and maps. 

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