The Vault Regulars

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Zealand awaits

  Well it doesn’t seem so long ago but it’s 18 months since we first started to plan our trip to New Zealand.
Many things have happened in between, some good and some not so.
The time seems to have passed so quickly because it is now time to depart.

  We are mainly going to be covering the North Island but we do want to visit Abel Tasman park on South Island that we missed last visit. We also want to walk in and around Marlborough Sound, Queen Charlotte Track and others in the surrounding area.

  We covered quite a lot of South Island on our last visit, that included a trip to Mitre Peak which is shown on the laptop pic below.
But to be honest we could spend a lifetime there and still only scratch the surface. What a beautiful country.

With the packing done all that’s left to do is print off the boarding passes.

Have a great New Year everybody and i will post entries as and when it is possible and of course read your exploits and gear reviews too.

All the very best for 2012.  Alan and Sheila.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Have a wonderful Christmas


Merry Christmas to all. Hope you have a great time.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lightweight shoe

  Over the last year i have found a number of lightweight shoe’s that i thought would be of interest to readers  with an interest in backpacking.
The other day i was reading Gear Caster and they had found another pair which i hadn’t come across before.
So i take no credit for the post as i have also read about them on Light and Ultralight Backpackinging blog.

The shoes are from a Spanish company called 01M One Moment.

Shoes in packed condition. Ideal for the backpack.



Made from a natural 100% biodegradable plastic, The 01M barefoot shoe’s are made from an injection moulding technique that enables a 1mm thickness for the body and 2mm for the sole.

They have an anti slip sole which the companies description says provides a gecko like grip on slippery surfaces.
The company also says that the material does breath and therefore you don’t end up with a sweaty foot mess.
I contacted the company for information and the response was immediate. So that’s a good sign.

Weight wise, EU size 42, UK 8 weighs 160gr. The cost of the shoes is a fantastic €10.
The Company website is Here

Read more @http://www.thegearcaster.com/the_gearcaster/2011/12/biodegradable-barefoot-shoes-for-outdoor-activities.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheGearcaster+%28the+GearCaster%29#ixzz1hGRqGMKy
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Share Alike

Monday, December 19, 2011

More Softshell, RAb Boreas.

A few weeks ago, i was reading Alan Sloman’s blog about his recently acquired Rab Exodus softshell jacket. Here.
I already have the Rab Cioch jacket which is very similar apart from the hood.
I admit that i have never been a big fan of Soft shells for backpacking as they are just to big and bulky and most of the time they are in the pack and not worn.
But a comment from Gibson, AKA Afootinthehills, about the Mountain Equipment Astron had me scurrying into Manchester to have a look at one for my pending trip to New Zealand.
Mountain Equipment Astron.
 Just as luck would have it. Nobody in Manchester had one in stock so apart from taking the odd mm off my Inov-8’s, tramping around the streets, i came away empty handed.
 But what i did notice and was very tempted by was the Rab Boreas pull on. Completely different spec to the Astron but i liked it.
The Rab Boreas Pull On  
The next week after reading some very good reviews on it, i went back and purchased one. So i have been wearing it in and i like it very much. Ideal for what i want for this trip.
 The Boreas is not a jacket, it is not waterproof and has no DWR finish. However that can be resolved somewhat with a washing in Nikwax. (To be reviewed later).
Rab market this as a Mid Layer for both warm and cold conditions and has good sun block qualities and good wind resistance.

  I think, conditions depending of course, that you could wear this in all 3 guises, base layer, mid or outer as it breathes very well even directly next to the skin.

  The top is lightweight at 250gr for this medium size.
It’s very stretchy, 86% Polyamide and 14% Spandex. It has a Lycra feel.
The cut is generous rather than athletic.

  The arm length is longer than std and ideal for the walker/climber or visa versa where quite a bit of stretching is called for. It’s also easy to roll the sleeves up with the material being so stretchy. It doesn’t have thumb loops.

  The 2 zips are YKK, the main central zip being a good length for ventilation and the other closing a small chest pocket. There is no depth to this pocket but width wise it is reasonable, going across to the sleeve seam. The top will pack away into this pocket when not needed.
All the seams are flatlock.

 The hood is close fitting low profile with the zip coming well up the chin. Surrounding the collar area is a soft fleecy material that feels really nice when it’s fully zipped up.

  The tail length is slightly longer, so it should stay in place when worn with a hip belt or harness.

  So far i am very pleased with it, it has become my must wear item this last couple of weeks. I am certainly going to enjoy it in the warmer climate down under.



  To complement this top i purchased a pair of Rohan Fuzion trousers. 100% Polyamide. 385gr weight and only 3 hours drying time. I have not had time to do a first review as yet. (To come later).

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Order of the boot.

I was in Rohan this morning buying a pair of trousers. I had initially gone in to buy a pair of Rohan Bags but i couldn’t find a pair to fit. My athletic physique is obviously different to the Rohan man of the 1970’s.
 I also wanted to have a look at the Striders and the Trailblazers as well, and then make my choice. I actually settled for a pair of Fusion after trying on about 10 different pairs. 

But what caught my eye was these Lapka boots. Rohan’s own with Barricade waterproof liner. £125 a pair.

They caught my eye because i had only recently been looking at a pair of Brasher Lithium GTX, also funnily enough £125 as below.


Now it may be a co-incidence or my poor eyesight but don’t those 2 boots above look very similar apart from a bit of colour.
So do i take it from this then that Rohan’s Barricade is actually Gore-Tex GTX? (XCR)
I can’t imagine doing a badging exercise would change the internals of the boot. But i could be wrong obviously.

So now that it looks to me that Rohan boots are actually Brasher’s i thought i would see what prices i could find. Well i was staggered to say the least. At Farlows above they are a 5p off  £160.

At Field and Trek and also Sports Direct, which are one and the same company now, you can get them for £65

Or £59.99 at Pack your Bags including free delivery! Wow.

I actually found a company selling them for £49 but they had no stock left. Why am i not surprised.

Lesson, Shop around, don’t buy the first ones you see, and the name, well it could be anything, don’t go off the badge.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Invasion of Hartington.

   Sheila and I were very pleased to be invited on "A Christmas Walk" by Martin and Sue Banfield. AKA blogger Phreerunner. Postcard from Timperley.
It was to include a walk taking in Wolfscote Dale and part of the Tissington Trail in the White Peak area of Derbyshire.
  Lunch was organised at the Charles Cotton Hotel in Hartington, approximately mid way.

  It shows how well people appreciate Martin and Sue's walks because all 31 persons, including the two of us,  who said they would attend, actually did.

  There was already a small number of cars parked in the layby just North of Alsop en le Dale on the A515 when we arrived at 9.45am and it didn’t take much longer for the whole brigade to assemble.
 Greetings over, Christmas cards swapped , car keys lost and found, gear donned we set off across the A515 towards the old railway track which forms part of the Tissington Trail. Anybody looking down from above might have thought Noah’s Ark was close by.

  The old track belonged to the London and North-Western railways and ran between Buxton and Ashbourne. It was opened in 1899 and closed in 1966. Fortunately in 1971 it was bought by the Peak National Park and Derbyshire County Council.
Part of the old line, just south of Buxton is still used for quarry freight today.

 Two by two they marched to Hartington.
 Leaving the Tissington Trail for a while. We ploughed on through intake land which proved to be very muddy, the clay sticking to the boots making them feel ten times heavier than normal. The troops were revolting.
 Once we had slithered our way down to the River Dove, which was a kind of a ski slope without snow, it seemed to warm up a bit which resulted in the removal of a layer.
 At every gate, stile or wall, we formed file and it seemed to take ages getting everybody through.
Then, just as it started to rain Martin dropped his rucksack and suggested that it was time for coffee.
Well why walk in the rain when you have coffee to drink.
 Caramel fudge cake and chocolate brownies being offered out to all by Martin And Sue.
It was a nice spot to picnic, just where Wolfscote Dale joins Biggin Dale.
 A very pleasant walk onwards to the footbridge at Beresford Dale. Lots of social chit chat about gear and good places to walk and overnight. All extremely Sunday.
 It was good to meet up with Mick and Gayle who’s walking trips makes ours pale into insignificance. We had kept up with Gayle’s writing for some time but we had never met.
We also found out later that another set of bloggers were on the trip but unfortunately due to the high turnout we didn’t get chance to talk. Helen and Colin.
You can catch their blog HERE.
 Pausing for a few minutes at yet another stile, it proved a good spot for a group piccy.
 And yet another as rain got heavier.
 We marched on until the rooftops of Hartington came into view. It had been raining quite heavily and it was a wet army that needed food and drink as arranged at the Charles Cotton Hotel at 1.15pm
Upon arrival, the 31 rucksacks, jackets, overtrousers and pairs of muddy boots were found houseroom without complaint from the management.  
  We were shown to a very nice suite for lunch and all was ready as Martin had arranged previously. The food was excellent and the staff very accommodating with nothing too much trouble. Many of us wondered if it would be possible to have a little snooze before setting off again as the portions were substantial but it wasn’t to be.

 A portrait in the Ladies Powder room on the perils of “Fly” fishing. 
 A fine bunch of lunchers.

During the frivolities, it absolutely lashed it down, the rain was bouncing. Again perfect timing to avoid a soaking. But we had to set off. So with the bill settled we were allowed to proceed on our journey. The invasion of Hartington sadly left behind us.

 We headed off through the village and passed the beautiful Youth Hostel. Turning onto aptly named Leisure lane. It was raining still but not too heavy.
 Obviously lunch was taking it’s toll as the legion got a bit spread out on the way to Dale End.
 Then as we passed through Dale End the result of the torrential downpour that we had managed to avoid had to be surmounted. It was quite deep in places but it was passable on the left banking.
We watched a couple of cars plough through it without a care for the vehicles engine or the bow wave that it made.
  Passing through lovely Biggin village and Greenhead farm we soon met up again with the Tissington Trail which was followed back to our start point.  It was unusual to see twin lambs at this time of year too.
Darkness was falling and due to the ease of walking on the old trackbed progress was somewhat rapid.
We was hoping that it would be dark enough for head torches before we finished the walk because 31 torches would have made a good photograph. However, this wasn’t to be and it wasn’t until we got back to the vehicles that darkness fell.
We had really enjoyed todays walk and we must say a big thank you to Martin and Sue for organising it, also to the management and staff at the Charles Cotton Hotel who made lunch a pleasure and to everybody on the walk. Thank you so much.

A little history:-
  Charles Cotton ( April 28, 1630 – February 16, 1687), lived at Beresford Hall, now demolished, wrote, with his great friend Izaak Walton, a remarkable book about 17th century rural England called ‘The Compleat Angler’. No other English language book, other than the Bible and Book of Common Prayer, has been reprinted more times. He shared his time between an extravagant life style in London society with the quieter pleasures of his home and the Peak District. That is when his creditors were not chasing him - then it is said he hid in a cave in Beresford Dale. The fishing lodge he built still remains on private land in Beresford Dale, but can be seen from a distance when approaching the dale.


Sheila and I had stayed in Hartington the previous night and when we arrived there on the saturday afternoon it was a completely different view. A few inches of snow which disappeared overnight.
Not a great image as it was taken from a moving vehicle.
Hartington village pond.
We stayed B & B at the Hayloft and can thoroughly recommend it and also the friendliness and good food at the Devonshire Arms.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Waterproof Hiking coat

  I always read fellow blogger Alan Sloman’s posts because they portray quite a lot of what i think about the outdoors but he puts it much more eloquently than me. And his latest post “Being warm and dry” was no exception and can be read HERE..
  I was posting a comment on Alan’s blog when i realised it was far too long and that it was better to put my thoughts as a post and link it.

  We, in the Outdoor Hiking world, i believe, have been hoodwinked for years. I tend to side with the comments made by Gordon Green that the perfect material has been developed but it daren’t be released because that would be the end of us buying new “Waterproofs”.

  The words relating to the jackets themselves defy what they actually mean. I am as guilty as anybody out there when i say, i want a new waterproof jacket but it has to be breathable.  Waterproof and Breathable? Please!


  Well to what degree do we want this phenomenon. 100% Waterproof and 100% breathable, that’s what we require.
Or as near as i can get it we later admit.
And there we have the first contentious point, you cannot get a hiking jacket with those statistics so we succumb to as good as we can get, and i am sure that in some cases we might not even realise what we have. This leaves massive areas of manufacturers graphs on hydrostatic head, breathability, tear strength, seam sealing, etc, etc. that you can look at if you really want to, but not here. This is just an experienced and practical posting.

  Many people buy a waterproof because that's exactly what it says on the tin or label. They have no idea to what degree that waterproof statement relates to.
  What is the material, what is the layering, there are so many different materials to choose, to name a few, Gore-Tex, eVent, Drillite, Aquafoil, Paramo’s Nikwax, but there are many many others to consider. The thing with all of them is that they are not water PROOF only water Resistant to a figure determined by it’s hydrostatic head. The greater the number ie 10,000 mm the better the water resistance to leakage than 1000 mm.

 What is hydrostatic head? It is the pressure of water required to penetrate the said fabric measured in mm. Heavy or wind driven rain has a higher pressure to light rain.
Waterproof jackets with a material head of 1000mm or less can only be regarded as shower resistant.
1500mm suitable for summer walking and so forth until you get to the likes of 10,000mm which is a minimum suitable for winter high altitude walking. 20,000 mm and even 40,000 mm being as good as you could get currently. See HERE for some comparative figures.

  Then there is breathability. This is the ability to transfer warm moisture vapour through the layers of the jacket.
It’s measured in grams per square meter over a 24 hour period. Or g/m/2/d. Typically you want the water resistance say 10,000 mm to equal breathability 10,000g/m/2/d.
But, the practical issue here with breathability is that the fabric allows internal warm moisture vapour through the microscopic holes in the fabric which are such a diameter as they will not allow rain to get through but will allow the warm smaller molecules to exit.
  The problem is we all have different metabolic rates. Some of us can walk at a good pace up hill and hardly break sweat whereas others will be wet through and if it’s raining as well then the jacket gets deemed not waterproof by the owner.

 Also, it depends on how many layers you like to wear under the waterproof outer. Too many layers will result in the warm vapour loosing it’s heat before it reaches the jacket and therefore it cools and cannot escape, this then condensates on the inner surface and is then transferred back onto your mid and base layers.
 The term bomb proof, i take with scepticism when talking jackets and tents as it depends on so many important scenarios many relating to the individual and again you cannot get 100% waterproof and breathable.

 Another important issue is the strength of the outer fabric. If your backpacking or daypacking the jacket outer material must be able to withstand the riggers, the abrasion of carrying the weight you take. Many jackets mix materials in high stress areas when a jacket has been made for backpacking but others don’t, especially the lightweights. Once the outer material starts to show signs of wear in these areas, ie shoulders, back and hipbelt, the chance of it staying waterproof are nil.

 Now, hiking gear has seen a transformation of late and gear has moved into the realm of the fell runner. If he can wear trainers, windproofs and lightweight waterproofs on exposed runs in adverse weather so can we.
But the trouble is he doesn’t carry a hikers backpack, he’s constantly on the move/run and therefore he/she stays warm and more often than not the exercise only lasts for short periods of time. So you must take this into consideration when buying lightweight backpacking gear if you want it to last more than one outing or at worse fail on a trip.
 Of course you get the multi day challenges like the OMM and similar and also overnight orienteering where this light gear is used but it isn’t anywhere near used or abused as it would get on a long backpacking trip.

  Another important issue not to be forgotten is the actual design of the jacket. How well it fits you, how good the hood is, if you don’t climb in it then don’t buy one that says hood compatible. It will fit like a sack and leak like a sieve.
 The hood is extremely important and it is surprising how often this gets overlooked.
 Check accessibility of the pockets and pull chords against what you will be carrying.
Make sure that the cords don’t wick water back between the layering of the jacket and make sure rucksack harness’s don’t rub the zip material.
Don’t buy one with masses of stitching which then has to be sealed with tape which with time will deteriorate and start to come apart.
Look at the zips! There are more and more water resistant zips on outer gear now. This has lead to the elimination of rain gutters and wind deflectors that used to be present behind the zips. A big mistake in my view as any water ingress in these resistant zips is transferred onto your inner clothing directly.

 Unfortunately cleaning your jacket is important to it maintaing whatever standard of waterproofing and breathability it started life with.

  There is so much to take into consideration when talking waterproof jackets there isn’t a definite answer that will suit everybody but hopefully my post will at least give others food for thought and realise that being waterproof is not entirely what it seems..


  The only thing that is waterproof and breathable is an umbrella.

More very interesting reading on the subject can be found Here.

  

Find it Here