The Vault Regulars

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A passing interest worth sharing.

While i was consoling myself at the failure of the Montane Minimus Mountain jacket, i searched the web to see what other folk had been saying. During that endeavour i came across what i considered to be a very interesting piece on a Gear review site called Blister.
I had not come across this before but having read quite a few pieces within it i thought it was put together rather well and the reviews were excellent.


It must have quite a widespread audience because it covers Mountain Biking, Skiing as well as Hiking and all the ancillary components thereof.

Anyway just as a taster for any other outdoors people who may be interested. I will let you make your own mind up with this piece Here.
(Outerware 101 is also interesting and worth looking at.)

And if you like it you may wish to explore it more. It certainly gave me something to think about because it is quite hard to keep up with all the new fabrics and coatings from so many manufacturers. Or if not, then there is nothing lost except a bit of time.

Just thought i would share the info.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Rain and more rain


Today i felt the pull of the outdoors. I needed some fresh air. It was bucketing down but i got out there. Low cloud, grey and eiriely quiet. Not many people about in fact i only saw 1 fell runner the whole time.
We exchanged greetings. He had his head down and i had my hood up and we passed quickly.
No views today.
A few shots of fungi and that was about it.

Sent from Samsung Mobile

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

MYOG toilet trowel. Simple, cheap and effective.

Quite often when i’m walking locally i come across mountain bike rear mudguards that have snapped off at the bolt boss. I see many of these, so who ever designed them didn’t do a very good job. Another "unfit for purpose" piece of kit.

But on the other hand i thought it such a shame that this lightweight, tough, rigid plastic was going to waste. I think i am right in saying it's made from the same material as car bumpers which is Polypropylene.
I had an idea that i could make a backpackers toilet trowel from it and maybe a few other things.

It was so simple i don’t know why i hadn’t thought of it earlier. Anyone can make a trowel. Yes anyone.


  • First of all it’s cross section is an ideal curve.
  • Its very strong with little deflection.
  • The spine doesn’t bend due to a reinforcing flat section on the inside.
  • Only tools needed are a tape measure, hacksaw, file and a drill with 8mm drill bit.
In the past i have used another homemade trowel, made from 50mm diameter domestic waste pipe and it worked fairly well but one of the problems i had with it was the initial dig. As luck would have it, most of the areas i seem to pick are heather covered or branch infested. Breaking through tiny root systems can be quite difficult and time consuming. Sometimes time is at a premium isn’t it.

 Instead of shaping a “recognisable” trowel handle i decided to cut a V shape that will penetrate the ground easier than the normal curved end.
Once the ground is broken up i use the scoop end to create the hole and repeat as required.

I found the broad end of the mudguard had a reinforcing bead of around 3mm thick running along its edge. I removed this with a file to create a sharper edge.

Then i drilled a hole in the trowel so that i could attach it to a small carabiner in my rucksack top pocket.

(The image below shows 2 holes. I drilled the one nearest the end first but found the middle area was best suited to my rucksack pocket and so drilled a second hole.)


Toilet trowel
 Dimension 200mm long
 Trowel curve and edge bead. 
(Trowel resting against a tape measure to enable the edge and curve to be viewed).

Weight is 25grams. I could make it lighter by adding a series of holes but i’m happy with the 25 grams.
It would also make quite a handy tent stake for the snow, the holes used for guy line attachment.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Montane Minimus Mountain shell jacket review.

The Montane Minimus Mountain jacket is a lightweight waterproof. Its only difference between this one and its brother the Minimus jacket is that the mountain version has two cavernous and extremely well designed midriff pockets. There are other reviews on this product and are generally positive ones.

I did what I have always said I wouldn't do and that was to buy a mountain jacket with an exposed zip. My opposition to this design was mainly to do with the trouble I had with my leaking OMM Cypher smock zip. However my opinion has been swayed with the success i had with my smock used on this years TGO Challenge made by Brenig but now available from Aclimatise. Also, the OMM problem was caused by the absolutely stupid 2 way zip design on the smock which eventually allowed water to permeate.

Cost of the Montane Minimus Mountain Jacket is:-. RRP £160. I paid £112 from Webtogs. The carriage was free and the service excellent.



The material  of the Montane jacket is Pertex shield+, a newish 2.5 layer fabric. 53gr/m sq. 15 denier plus 40 denier rip stop nylon with microporous coating and mesh pattern print to the inner.
Zips- Main, YKK aquagurd. 3 Pockets YKK reverse coil.
All the seams are micro taped. Supposedly to aid breathability.

Montane market this jacket in the following way.
  • Ultra light weight mountain rain wear.
  • Exceptional breathability statistics on par with a technical mountaineering shell. 25,000 mvtr and a 20,000 hydrostatic head.
  • Essential rain wear for any mountaineering activity in warm weather where short sharp downpours are expected.
  • Micro packability.
  • Activities - Mountain walking, high trekking, backpacking and mountain marathons.
Weight. Measured on my scales. Size Large 281 grams.

So having read all the above, how did it perform, you may well be asking?

The recent wet weather has given me the perfect opportunity to get to know it. And as with any product there are good and bad points.

I really like the style and cut. I chose a large size rather than my usual medium size because if it has been designed for racing snakes then it might not have fitted. I was correct the large was perfect for me.

The hood is very pleasing. Almost perfect. Almost as good as the OMM Cypher. Good adjustment at the back and the sides and has a wired peak. Easy to adjust on the go. It's also helmet compatible.

Jacket length, excellent, covers the bottom and with hem tensioners on both sides.
Sleeves are long enough to cover the hands so that the need for gloves can be delayed. The cuff is quite wide and velco closures work well.

Pockets, 1 chest pocket, not huge but good enough for a phone, gps, music player or keys etc. 2 midriff pockets and as I have already said above they are cavernous, well designed and don't interfere with my rucksack straps. Well done for this feature Montane.

On the outside of the shell at the back of the neck is a hanging loop as well as one on the inside. A number of reflective patches are located on the sleeves and body.

The fabric has been treated with a DWR coating.

So what is there not to like about this jacket from a well know and respected company like Montane.

The hood's wired peak is not great and is a little short in my opinion. It deflects quite easily.
Even worse the jacket leaks like a sieve. Disappointingly after only one and a half hours walking without a rucksack in light rain I felt water run down my back. I thought I was dreaming. It couldn't be leaking could it. I went home and when I took the jacket off my hair was wet through and water was running off my head and down my back. My shoulders were wet as were my sleeves. Checking the inside of the jacket it too was wet through. All the dark spotty patches on the inner (see image below), is where water came through the fabric and also which is not quite clear was the sweaty patches on the back, so breathability is questionable from my experience, considering my walk was far from being strenuous.


So looking back at the marketing blurb above and noting how many times the word "mountain" is referred to, I'm at a loss to see where Montane are coming from. If I had gone for a mountain walk today instead of a local walk I could have been in trouble.
Its such a shame because there is so much to like about the jacket but at the end of the day being dry is the most important feature required from a mountain jacket and this does not deliver what Montane say.

I have now sent it back for a refund.

During this test I also wore a pair of Outdoor Research Helium 2 over trousers which are also Pertex Shield + 2.5 layer. Not a drop of water came through the fabric.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Photographic Bimble.

A nice early morning sky, high mare’s tails with that orange edging of a sunrise disappearing had me starring out across the fields. The deep green grass sparkling with the dew yet to evaporate.
It quickened the heart with expectations of what might have been had i planned a walk somewhere high. A Birkett ridge maybe or even a lesser Pennine trail.
The Magpies were busy and noisey. One was perched on my porch rooftop calling the others who were playing games annoying the Sparrows. Apart from them the day was calm, windless, sunny.

Where we live, we say that we only have two seasons, the dusty one and the muddy one. With the glorious summer now unfortunately over the dusty season has now been replaced. The heavy rain of recent days has formed rivulets on our track and excessive areas of mud now predominate where the local tractors have churned up the surface like a food mixer. This will remain until the next period of prolonged heat in spring next year.
Mud replaces dust.
Walking uphill brought on a bit of a sweat even though the above picture flattens out the gradient. Reaching the top of the hill my eyes were watering with the bright low sun and my mistake of leaving the sunglasses behind. I had to squint to make progress.

Once into the trees the low sun creates fantastic shadows and exaggerates the shapes, the leaf colours both of those still surviving on the branches and those now forlorn, wet and decaying. Searching through areas very rarely walked on by other less inquisitive folk i searched out the last remaining shows of fungi in the undergrowth. The fallen logs so full of fungi just a short while ago now barren apart from moss and whatever else mother nature has to offer.

The leaf litter hides much and in some cases things you really would rather see, like shallow pools which caught me out a number of times or holes between timbers causing sore ankles.
 The Beech and Birch Woodland 
I havn’t come across this before so i will check it out. After much searching I think this is Lepista personata.

 Which are leaves and which are Velvet Shanks?
 Coriolus Verisicolor
As i made my way through the woods i sat for awhile on a dry log just enjoying the light. Squirrels ran across my path stopping every few feet to dig another hole and bury the nuts collected for the approaching winter. They were very busy, is that a bad sign i wondered. Many of the fruit bearing bushes like the Holly and the Hawthorn the Mountain Ash and the Wild Rose are also full of red berries, more so than last year.

Alder Buckthorn loaded with red berries prior to them turning black.
It was quite pleasant whilst the sun shone but as soon as it was replaced with shadow the temperature drop was very noticeable. When you are moving the body remains warm but sat down i soon chilled. I was packing up to leave when i noticed a bird rustling the leaves in the tree adjacent to where i was sat. At first i thought it was a wood pigeon as these are numerous here. I grabbed my camera just in case i managed to get a good view of the bird when it suddenly dropped to the floor no further than 10ft away.
To my great surprise it was a Jay. I have seen Jay’s in here before but i havn't seen one which remained in the vicinity for more than a few seconds. Usually they fly to a branch, spot the human and then disappear rapidly.
Luckily this one stayed a little while and i managed to take 6 shots with my compact camera before it left. Below are the two better ones of the bunch.






Monday, November 3, 2014

Walna Scar Shepherds Meet 2014

Another year and another Shepherds Meet. First weekend in November is when this particular meet is held. It varies in venue from three areas which provide the Heaf. A heaf is the area of fellside that is remembered by the Herdwick sheep. When sheep stray onto a neighbour's heaf, they are gathered and returned at the “Meet". Well that’s what used to happen before the days of Land Rover and trailers.

Today it’s about showing your best stock, winning the coveted silverware, having good crack, (that’s slang for chatting btw), downing a few beers and maybe settling an old score or two.

Sheila and i help out as best we can and give something back to the local’s who have contributed to us enjoying the area so much. We helped man the gates, relieving folk of a few quid upon entry to the event.

Friday night we arrived at The Newfield Inn in Seathwaite which had a Halloween Party going in full swing. It was 18 degrees C outside and with the pub being very full the heat was almost unbearable.
It was nice to chat with so many locals and to see them enjoying the event.

Saturday we headed off to Torver where the Meet was to take place. Usually the HQ is The Church House pub but it has now closed down. The village hall took on the hordes for lunch and The Wilson’s Arms took on the evening event of Singing, poetry reading and of course the beer swilling.
Cloud over Old Man of Coniston from Broughton Moor.

On the event field the Shepherds were having their Herdwick’s and Swaledales judged and had made an early start. Later the hound trail folk arrived for their racing day. Alan Linnet had a display of photographs of past Meets and there was also a Pet competition as well as a Shepherds crook judging. The homemade cakes and biscuits, tea and coffee all went down well as did the lunch provided by The chef and staff from The Wilsons.

Weather wise we were lucky. We had a heavy shower in the morning and then one which included hail later in the afternoon but for the best part it was fine. The later one had some running for cover but as is the norm the Shepherds and the sheep carried on in the sousing rain as though it didn’t matter.

List of winners and categories will be published. TBA

Here are a few photo’s from the event field and surrounding countryside.
 Swaledales.
 Anthony Hartley and Andrew Birkett and Herdwick's, Turner Hall Farm Seathwaite.
 A trio of Herdwick tups
 Showing Swaldales. (David Cooper fence dancing)
 The Old Man of Coniston
 Shepherd’s crook
 Trophy stall
 Showing and Judging.
 The pet competition
 Overall Herdwick Champion. Glen Wilkinson from Tilberthwaite.
 By hook or by crook
 Just Champion Herdwick
Harter Fell in Mist from The Cross.

Find it Here