The Vault Regulars

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Just a Moment!

 After my Wales trip i have finally got round to sorting my gear out. I put the Tarptent Moment up in the garden to make sure all was well ready for the next trip.

 I put a couple of extra guy lines on. Well there’s no point in carrying spare guy lines in the rucksack, just in case. I might as well just fit them in the first place and then i can’t loose them. Well that’s the theory anyway.

 Then i noticed a problem. At one end where the guy line is secured to the apex pole the ribbon that should be stitched to the pole sleeve had come away. Not only had it come away but it had been forced upwards which then, had inadvertently cut into the stitching that holds the end of the tent to the pole sleeve.

 Fortunately, if fortunately is the right word, only a couple of stitches have been cut by the ribbons upward travel.
 And, as it would happen, only this week, i have been praising the virtues of HS Tarptents, telling others that apart from one minor problem with a bungy cord becoming detached i hadn’t had any quality problems with my Moment. Isn’t it ironic.

 So, i have a repair job to do before i use it next and i am going to re-guy the ends. Even if it means more than 1 peg is necessary.

 Also, i have been using these Hold-On clips from UK Tarps to tension the sides when on uneven ground. I have now come to the conclusion that they are too heavy duty for such lightweight material as the Moment and all other Tarptents for that matter.
 They will eventually tear through the material. A far better idea is to get a patch sewn in with a ribbon attached for pegging out. Another job for Oookworks.




Lynx Bullet


If you like to have a tiny 5ml bullet deodorant in your kit bag then quickly get out there any buy some.  These were the last 2 i managed to find in my local shops but they are available on the internet still.
They are being discontinued and exhausted stocks are being replaced with the larger 35ml spray.

Just thought i would spray this around.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Waterproofer for Silicone Impregnated Tarptents +

Finding a waterproofer for Tarptents and other items proved a bit of a challenge in itself. You can get Grangers and Nikwax but they don’t work on Silicone impregnated nylons.

Then i found this product from McNett, called Thunder Shield, which i bought from Advanced Elements Kayaks, here.


Apart from just Silicone products it will do some waterproofs (but not Goretex and similar breathable ones), tarps, rucksacks, tents, chest pouches and more.

Ordering from AEK was fantastic service, arrived next day.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pau to Lightweight. Day 3.

 With the trail Cafe closed, i had to resort to good old porridge. I don't mind, i quite like it when i'm on the hill.

Last night started off very much the same as the previous night. I dropped off to sleep with the door of the tent open.
 At around 1.00am i was awake, it was raining and it was coming through the mesh door and onto my face. The breeze had also strengthened and having the tent end covers open it was like being in a wind tunnel. I closed the ends and shut the door. Hoping that it was just a quick shower i lay awake for a while but next time i awoke it was 4.30am and light. It had stopped raining and so i tied back the door.

  Waking up and lying listening to the pipits starting a new day it wasn't long before i had the call of nature myself.
You can't put it off, so up i got and put on my 01M shoes. One shoe was very easy to put on and although i never thought anymore about, it became obvious 5 minutes later when i took it off that a slug had decided to rest up inside and had done a good tour leaving the slime everywhere.

  This reminded me, yesterday, when i took my gaiters off, my right trouser leg was covered in slime. It come from a slug that had rested up overnight in the elastic ankle tensioners, and i hadn't spotted it when i put the gaiter on. It had been on the Cadair Idris round with us and obviously not been used to moving at such a fast pace had been travel sick numerous times. It was awful. Took ages to get it off.

 Mike had said they needed to make a move to Machinlleyth to catch the train tomorrow. Mach's about 13 miles away. As my car was in the valley, i suggested i take them both to Mach and they probably would stay at the Bunkhouse there. I don't think Dawn was well enough to walk the entire way unfortunately.
If you read this Dawn, i hope you are feeling better and it was good to meet you.

  We packed up and headed off down into the valley. We checked out some ruined buildings along the way, which looked very much like the Scottish Black houses. I must find out a bit more about them.

 A chap stopped for a quick chat on his way up. He asked Mike what it was like up there and in Mike's usual way, he said "It's much higher than it is here".
The guy took it the right way, laughed and said he would remember that for the future. And off he went.

 I dropped Mike and Dawn off at Mach railway station as access to the village had been blocked by a truck stuck underneath the railway bridge.
(Picture with kind permission from Mike) 
We said our goodbye's and well, that was that. Until next time.





Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cadair Idris round Day 2.

 Post evening meal we had a walk up to the Lyn which was formed by a Cirque glacier. The Lyn is supposed to be bottomless, but we know that’s just myth.
It was a bit of a surprise to find 14 tents in a large group and one lone chap a little further round. The midges were out and Mike wore his net. I thought it was a bit excessive. I personally think he had hair rollers in.
Edging the water Mike tried to engage the lone camper in conversation but nothing was forthcoming. He had this same problem in Scotland too. There’s a bit of a trend going on here.

 We retired shortly afterward and i slept with the tent outer door full open. It was a warm night and i used the full zip of the sleeping bag in the open position, acting like a quilt. The insulation in the Exped UL7 being enough to keep me warm.

 I was hoping to watch the stars during the night but it clouded over.

 I awoke to the smell of sausages cooking and before i got my porridge sorted Mike said "have some of these as we need to cook them today". Never being one to refuse a good offer, i obliged, obviously.
Unfortunately in the excitement, the bacon was forgotten. But i enjoyed them washed down with my morning brew of ginger, lemon and honey tea.

 Our path today was the Minffordd track which is gained by heading up to the Lyn on the LHS, then as you approach a flat grassy area with a large 45 degree slab boulder, the path turns 90 degree south and steeply upwards.
 Mike decided it was too good an opportunity to show us he’s still 15 yrs old really.
 The track has had some management done to it to stop spreading erosion but it’s still rough in places. Small cairns guide you upwards in poor visibility. The Minffordd is the shortest route up to Penygadair although with the most ascent.
 Reaching the first level point is a good place to stop and take in the views south, glacial Tal-Y-Lyn, the valley through to Machynlleth and the steep north side of Graig Goch take the eye.
Lyn Cau and the southern slopes of Penygadair.
 Lyn Cau and Panygadair
The view south west over Graig Goch from the Minffordd track.

Although undulating, the way upwards is relatively easy and fun can be had along the way with some scrambling on easy outcrops. (Don’t do this at home it can be dangerous). At one point Mike thought he had bitten off more than he could chew.
Mike being 15 again.
 Waiting while Mike reclaimed his youth and getting safely down i had a faff with the camera, just as the roar of the RAF planes flying very low level screeched past. The pilots must have been having a great time throwing those aircraft from one side to the other. The planes looked like they were F22 Raptor with the dual tails. It was just great watching. Luckily they did a second pass and so camera faff over i did manage to capture a shot. Not good enough to post though.

 Looking back up to where we were heading, the top of Craig Y Cau, we could see quite a few people already in situ. For a Monday it was quite busy.
Craig Y Cau, 761 metres, bathed in sunshine. This the back of Idris’s chair from folklore.
Idris, in Mythology is supposed to be a giant who lived up here.

 Lyn Cau from the summit of Craig y Cau. The boundry fence stopping in mid air. So don’t handrail here or the plunge is about 400 metres.
The summit was quite a busy place and it was here that the elders of the group camping at the Lyn were met. The kids in groups of 5 had gone off earlier in a different direction. All to meet up later.
It could well have been DofE but i didn’t ask.
 Penygadair  893 metres, from Craig Y Cau
 Our next top at the end of Craig Cwm Amarch. 766 metres.
 View south from spot height 766 metres with Tal y Lyn in the valley.
Looking back at Craig Y Cau (Right) and Penygadair (Left) from spot height 766M.

 Mike duly got out the marker pen and did an in air large tick. He was having difficulty remembering if it was 23 or 24 more to go until he had completed all the Marilyns, Hewitts, Nuttalls, Herberts or Wally’s, i’m not sure which and i’m not getting into the tick thing. But Mike was very pleased. Bless him.

 So there was only Penygadair to go, on our ramble. A fence line follows the ridge of Craig Cwm Amarch but we didn’t want to head back to Craig Y Cau. Over the stile and on the north side of the ridge we contoured North east until we picked up the wide track up to Penygadair. 
 The back of Idris’s chair with the soggy seat.
 Craig Y Cau from the approach to Penygadair
 Craig Y Cau and the Minffordd track from summit of Penygadair

 Mike at summit about to get the marker pen out before realising it already had a tick on it.
 It was now time for lunch and just below the summit is this hut. It’s a bit smelly and damp although spotlessly clean. We decided to forsake it and eat outside in the sunshine.
It would be good place in stormy weather though. I presume it had it’s origins with the survey teams but that’s a guess.
 Our route back follows the edge of the broad ridge which leads to Mynydd Moel. We stayed as close to the edge as possible which meant undertaking a small bit of scrambling down at one point. It also afforded a good view of the Cyfrwy Arete (Above) with the popular climb known as “The Table”.
A climber can be seen in the centre of the photo. (Red top.)
 Cyfrwy Arete taken without telephoto lens.
 And below the Arete is Lyn y Gadair. 
 Our scramble route down from Penygadair.
We could have gone over to Mynydd Moel again and followed the fence line down as per yesterday but there is a path lower down, not on OS maps but clear on the ground. This contours the Cwm and arrives at a stile at around 750 metres. Then it’s the steep rough track down into the valley to cross Nant Cadair.
 Back at camp, i spent an hour just watching the scene change as clouds moved South to north. With the clear skies and warm sunshine it was a pleasure to reflect on a superb days walk.

I’m not sure what Mike and Dawn had for tea but i had Adventure Foods Mince Hotpot. Lots of potato and the mince was compacted like meatballs but the size of chick peas, there was also diced carrot, onion and herbs. It was ok, edible, tasty even but not as good as the previous nights meal. 
There again, it was a bit cheaper and i have no complaints at £4.50.

I still had some whisky left but Mike had, well none left. Being a good Samaritan i offered Mike half of it. I hate to see grown men cry.

Another superb days walk.

  






Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pau to lightweight. Day 1.

 When i was asked to join Mike Knipe and Dawn Linney on a Cadair Idris walk i had a quick look at their blogs for any further indications of what i was in for. On Mikes blog he had put "Pau" to light weight Wales. To those not understanding "Pau", it politely means something like, "I'm not doing that".
But you have to take things with a pinch of salt, which in Mike's case is probably more like a 2lb bag.

 I was asked not to forget the barm cakes, which i didn't but i was still in 2 minds of what to expect.

 Setting off from the valley foot at Minffordd i had a quick scan at the lovely aerial photo of the Cadair Idris range before picking my way slowly, up some quite steep steps through deciduous woodland.

 The rain that had been my traveling companion for most of my drive had now stopped and the clag was lifting quite quickly. The swollen river, Nant Cadair to my right, was looking grand with the waterfalls in spate.
Nant Cadair waterfall

  I was wondering what kind of a night Mike and Dawn must of had because this area had seen torrential rains over the last few days. I'm glad that i had missed it.
The sun now filtering through the birch and oaks was really warm and i had to peel off a layer of gear to cool down.
 Considering this was a Sunday morning i expected the path to be teeming with day walkers but apart from one other person i had the ascent to myself.  This didn't last though as the procession grew by the minute.

 Mike had text me the OS grid reference, so i knew where they were camped and as i got to the level area before Lyn Cau i spotted Mike stood atop an outcrop, waving. I could just make out the 2 tents below.
Mike doing a Durham wave
 Once greetings exchanged Mike asked if i'd had breakfast. Which i did, about 4 hours ago. He offered to make me a sausage stottie whilst i put my tent up.
He set about frying sausages and the smell was wonderful.

 What i quickly came to realise was that Mike and Dawn were trialing opening a walkers cafe, but unfortunately they were a bit far off the main track. Sausages, Bacon, stotties, barm cakes, potatoes, onions, cheese, Steak casserole, Chocalate sponge cake, custard, as well as all the usual dehydrated stuff was on the menu.
 So Pau to lightweight was actually fact.

  We had a chat about what an awful day and night it had been with constant rain. Finding a pitch had been a nightmare for them as everywhere was flooded or boggy. Eventually they had found this spot which gave some respite from the howling, tent bashing wind. Mike's tent was looking rather sorry for itself and it may be seeking retirement very soon.
Mike and Dawn’s pitch
My pitch

 I found a reasonable spot to pitch although it was on sphagnum moss and was a little spongy. That was the best i could find within a limited area. It turned out to very comfy and as it didn't rain much again, it proved ok.

 The forecast was for good weather over the next 3 days with Monday being the best. Mike had some tops he wanted to tick off and so it was decided to do the Cadair Idris tops tomorrow.
This now meant going back down the hill i had just walked up and veering off, across Nant Cadair to pick up the path across Moelfryn.
Crossing Nant Cadair


 As we reached the stile into open country, Dawn was feeling a bit under the weather and after a brief stop she decided to go back.
 The top that Mike wanted was at the end of the ridge, above Gau Graig, 683 metres with a small cairn.
For a while we followed the path which rises steeply to Mynydd Moel but when we reached the 650 metre contour we veered off above some scree and eventually joined the footpath between the 2 tops. A fence stays with the path the whole length to the 683 top. Very boggy in places.
 We had lunch here with good views of surrounding mountains. The weather being very much our friend.
Mike on the 650 metre contour with Craig Y Cau and Lyn Cau forming the backdrop
The 683 metre top at the end of the ridge.


 Once Mike had taken out his marker pen and put a big tick on the cairn, (just joking), we retraced our steps to the point where we joined the path earlier. From here the track rises steadily with improving views west and North. The top of Mynydd Moel 863 metres, is a wide expanse of good grass and boulders with the summit having a fairly large sized stone wind break. Luckily for us the summit was calm and so we were able to take in the beauty of the surroundings.
 Mike approaching summit of Mynydd Moel
 View west towards Llynau Cregennen and Barmouth Bay

 View NNE
 Mike on the end of crags North of summit
View NW
 West of the summit, the fence line is reached whereby the descent can be safety made if it's bad weather.  Pretty steep and slippery in places but a well used and in places repaired track brought us back to the bridge over Nant Cadair.
Path down, with Tal-Y-llyn in background.

  Mike was pleased to have ticked off a couple of tops from his list and i was pleased to have been up top when the views were wonderful.

  Back at camp i think Mike and Dawn were dining on Potatoes, Onion and Cheese  followed by pud and custard. The table was laid with the most expensive cutlery, titanium spoon/fork.
I retired to my dehydrated  Bla Band Risotto with mushrooms and chicken.  When first opened it looked far too green. We eat with our eyes first i am told, so it didn’t say yummy. However, i admit that it tasted wonderful and it will be on my list next time for sure.

  It had been a good day.






Saturday, June 16, 2012

Wales trip

 Tomorrow morning i am off to Mid Wales for a backpacking trip with Mike Knipe and Dawn Linney.
I think i will need all the help i can get from the Babbel fish as Mike is from Durham and Dawn from London. We are going in the area of Cadair Idris but thats about as much as i can tell you here.

 I packed my sack and then unpacked it as you do. Then i thought goodness that seems to be a lot of stuff. Having decided that i wasn’t taking anything out, here is my kit.

Top row right to left.
Waterproofs, Cloudveil Koven jacket and Rab overtrousers.
Kit in drybag containing stove windshield, trowel, hand sanitizer, lighter, StrikeForce fire starter reserve waterproof matches.
Super Delios water filter in blue cover,
Tent pole.
2L water bottle
Tarptent Moment tent,
Tent pegs,
Pump bag for sleeping mat.
Satmap active 10+ in drybag.
Glasses.
Mozi spray and sponge in plastic bag.
Sunglasses. (Probably won’t use them)
Spare string.
Small camera tripod.

Just under top row. Left to right.
Mozi net.
Rucksack cover
Spare drybag. (Will be used for barm cakes)
Tent footprint.

Centre Row Right to Left.
Toiletry bag
3 dehydrated meals
Sleeping mat Exped UL7 long.
Pan Evernew 600ml with stove inside, Primus Express spider.
Below pan, Plastic mug and plastic bowl.
Repair kit for tent/bed and other gear and First Aid kit in red drybag.
Breakfasts, tea, coffee. in yellow drybag.
1 x C250 gas.
O1M camp/tent shoes.

Bottom row. Right to Left.
Camera and Case.
Spare clothes. Trousers, top, undies and socks.
Down jacket in Orange drybag
Sleeping bag. PHD Minimus 500  -10 spec with dryshell outer in yellow drybag.
Gloves, Berghaus stretch fleece and Outdoor research waterproof mitts, OR waterproof hat and balaclava in red drybag.
Lunch x3 and chocy bars in container with a bag of mixed nuts and fruit.

All this will be packed into Mammut Creon Light rucksack that has my multi tool and spoon attached.
And i will be taking my GoLite brolley which isn’t in the photo and a map/compass too. Very handy to have a map and compass.

It all adds up doesn’t it. I didn’t think i was taking much until i started to write it down. Yes i have a list.
I hope i don’t think of anything else.

I will do a report on the trip on return.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Latest Waterproofs


Have you noticed that waterproof jackets for hiking, backpacking etc are now almost entirely using water resistant zips.
I don’t know what others think but i find this a bit of a worrying trend.

 Jackets are designed as best as possible to be waterproof and breathable but these resistant to water zips are completely exposed to the elements. There is no guard over the zips any more where there used to be a double closure on the best jackets and single closer on others. And in my book the word resistant definitely doesn’t sound as good as PROOF and therefore manufacturers must know that they are not water proof.

 Now i have a jacket with this new zip, the OMM Cyphur smock, in fact it has two, very light weight and a good eVent jacket. It doesn’t matter what manufacturer it happens to be, the zip types are the same. Eventually at some point in the future these zips are going to wear and the material holding the actual zip runner will start to deteriorate. Constant rolling up and stuffing into the rucksack will have a detrimental effect. It’s just a matter of time.

 When that time comes and the first patches of damp start appearing on our mid or base layers i think we will be a bit annoyed considering how much these jackets cost. It isn’t like it’s an easy or cheap job to get one of these zips replaced. In fact, i will go as far as to say that when the damp appears that’s the end of the jacket. Reproofing with good old Nikwax will have no effect.

 When i first saw these zips appearing on the market i thought it was a great step forward but now i’m unconvinced. Some sort of storm guard i believe, is still required on mountain jackets and backpacking jackets.

 If you are in need of a new waterproof jacket, then i think you should consider getting one with storm protection over the zip sooner rather than later. If the trend continues, and i think it will, then you are going to struggle to find one as the older models get sold out.

 We seem to be being gradually and quietly steamrollered into going down this route for some reason.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tresspass Rocked Active base layer top.


  Tresspass Rocked Base layer from OutdoorLook


Mens. OUTDOORLOOK
Ladies. OUTDOORLOOK

Weight 260 grams

For me the important criteria when choosing a base layer comprises of the following:-

1. How does it fit.
  The Tresspass size chart suggested that a medium to be right for me. Trying it on i was surprised to find it was a little on the loose fitting side for a base layer. If you want good wicking then the top needs to be as close to the skin as possible to prevent sweat cooling before it escapes.

2. The Collar.
  Again the collar needs to be snug when fully zipped up. The collar on the Rocked was very loose and a little uncomfortable when combined with a fleece and waterproof. I noticed that the collar also retained moisture whether it be perspiration on just rain ingress. It took a lot longer to dry than is required for a base layer.

3. Zip.
  The zip should be smooth and not snag, it should have a beard/chin guard and preferably lock. The Rocked zip had no manufacturers mark but it was smooth and didn’t snag. It felt good.
There was no beard/chin guard and the lock was average at best.
The zip length opened about 1/3 of the length and provided decent ventilation.

4. Material.
Base layer material needs to breath, wick perspiration and dry quickly. It should also be soft as it is in direct contact with the skin, otherwise rubbing from the rucksack can occur.
 The Rocked is exceptionally soft for a double layer weave and is very pleasant to wear, this one is TP50, 100% polyester. It wicks quite well but would be better if closer fitting. The collar which is folded over and is probably 4 layers in total doesn’t wick well. I think this is unnecessary bulk and would aid drying time if this was reduced to the same thickness as the body.

5. Antibacterial attributes.
Man made fibres tend to be a little more smelly than natural fibres and although i don’t know if the material has been treated, having worn the top for 3 consecutive days and nights it didn’t pong too badly.

6. Design.
 Flatlock seams throughout. Although the rocked seams are flat they are quite bulky. I didn’t notice any particular discomfort.
The length is good and allows full arm movement when the body is restricted by the rucksack belt. I would have preferred a longer tail all the same.
The sleeves roll up easily and they don’t have thumb loops.
Overall weight is 260 grams which is a bit on the high side for a base layer.

Summary.
 Although there are some negatives here, i thought it was a decent top. At 260 grams i would consider it to be in between a base layer and a mid layer. I would certainly wear it as a mid layer.
It’s very smart and could be worn as a casual everyday top.
For the price £14.08p, it is excellent value for money and one well worthy of consideration.

This top was sent to me FOC from OutdoorLook to review. I have no connection with OL and have no restrictions regarding my views or comments of the product.


Helly Hanson Dry baselayer Charger L/S1/2 zip




Our recent trip to Scotland and the Lake District was an ideal time to get to know the top well.
Helly Hanson Baselayer Dry Charger top with beautiful Loch Trool in the background
supplied by OutdoorsLook.


Weight as unpackaged 161 grams.

 Helly Hanson are well known in the outdoor world for making excellent gear and this one proved to be just as good.
 As with the companies Lifa products this top is close fitting but not restrictive. The material having good stretchability.
 I quite like the dual contrasting colours of the black and white option i chose and although this is a part of a layering system it doesn’t look out of place worn as a single layer.

 The material is 100% polypropylene and was made in Portugal. Available in Black, Black/White, Navy, Red and White colours.

All the stitching is flat lock and so there was no rubbing caused by wearing a rucksack.
 I wore this continuous for 3 days and nights and included in those days was a walk up Merrick in Dumfries. 
 The day was particularly warm and so lots of perspiration was generated. I am pleased to say that wicking worked very well indeed and although you always get that cold sensation as soon as you take the rucksack off, it very quickly dried up and i didn’t get any discomfort.

  The collar is perfect, high enough and close fitting without being tight. 
The zip, is a good quality YKK and locking. 
 The tops name, 1/2 zip Charger is not quite right as the zip opens the top approximately 1/3rd of the length and gives good ventilation when required.

 The cuffs don’t have thumb loops and again although close fitting there is enough stretch to pull the sleeves up past the elbows if required.
 Usually with polypropylene it can smell badly with use, especially over a few days. I was therefore pleased and surprised to say that it didn’t smell too badly at all after around 72 hours of wear. This i guess is due to the loose weave rather than tight weave allowing more perspiration to escape.

 With the tops longer tail i found the length was excellent and didn’t cause any riding up when wearing a rucksack and at 161 grams you hardly know you have it on.

 It has been a pleasure to wear and review this product and it will definitely be part of my backpacking kit in future.

 Current price at OutdoorsLook is £30.94

This top was sent to me FOC from Outdoors Look to review. I have no connection with OL and have no restrictions regarding my views or comments of the product.

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