Sunday, 17 July 2011

Gear Mini Reviews

Here’s a few of my thoughts on some new or semi-new pieces of gear that I used on my latest trip.

I picked up this single person pyramid style shelter second hand on the bushwalking forums and this was my first outing with it. The shelter uses a single walking pole to support it and uses 6 pegs to hold it down. It is made of siliconised nylon with a no-see-um shaped perimeter net that tucks under the ground sheet to provide some bug protection. One advantage of a floorless shelter is its flexibility of set up, allowing you to pitch it close to the ground in bad weather and raised higher when more ventilation is needed. On this trip I was using 4 Vargo Titanium shephards hook pegs and 2 Easton Aluminium ones for the front and back points. The camp site was fairly well protected so winds weren’t much of a problem. There were a few gusts that came through but the shelter never seemed unstable.

Bugs and rain also weren’t a problem on this trip so unfortunately (or not) I can’t comment on these aspects. I was pleased with the amount of floor space available and I was able to really spread everything out inside the shelter. There was also enough headspace to sit up at the apex comfortably. My only gripe was with the amount of head and foot space available while I lay down. I’m 185cm tall, was using a Thermarest Neo Air mattress and my head only just cleared the roof. The sleeping bag at my foot end was brushing the roof as well, which wasn’t a problem in this case without any sign of condensation. However, if it was a wet or humid night this could have transferred a significant amount of moisture to the sleeping bag. Not good for down. In the future I will experiment with pitching it even higher to try and increase this room.

SMD - Wild Oasis
I’ve been using this frameless 36L pack as a day pack for quite some time but have only tried to use it overnight once before on our ill-fated Albert River Circuit walk earlier in the year. This time my total load was around 7.5KG and I was actually very impressed with the way the pack carried. I have added some better hip belts from a Backpacking Light pack which are much more comfortable than the ones the pack came with despite being a bit heavier. The key is definitely to try and pack out the whole pack so that it is fairly rigid and doesn’t slump too much. I have also found that using the provided water bladder pocket inside the pack makes it uncomfortable to carry as it creates a lump beside the back. I just sit the water on top of everything. I’m still annoyed with the lack of throat material around the top but this wasn’t so much of an issue this trip.

I also added a ZPacks shoulder pocket which is really handy to put the GPS receiver and weather meter.

Golite - Peak
Backpacking Light – Cocoon Pullover
I bought this jacket earlier in the year from BPL while they were having the gamblers sale and have been very happy with it overall. Weight for warmth it has been very impressive. I got the Large size and it weighs around 260 grams. Having the hood also means I don’t need an extra beanie and blocks more wind around the neck as well. The thumb holes around the sleeves are good to maintain no gaps between the jacket and gloves. The only thing that has annoyed me about the pullover is the elastic around the waist. It is too tight and because of the length of the parka it tends to ride up exposing fleshy bits underneath.

Favourite 3 Pieces of Gear from my latest trip
  • Innov8 Terroc 330 trail shoes: Really light, really comfy, great grip on both mud and rock.
  • Hip belt and shoulder strap pockets: I can’t imagine a world before these easy to access pockets now.
  • Merino long sleeve top: Can’t believe I’ve taken so long to get on the merino bandwagon. The amount that it doesn’t stink is amazing.