Apologies for the delay in getting this out. That thing that finances my gear habit and excursions has demanded way too much of my time and energy for my liking. Anywhoose, last weekend's adventure had me pondering over many items of kit before we headed out. I don't go wildcamping enough to be fully confident in my choice of kit but hopefully that will change the more I get out.
I really only have one backpacking tent my Terra Nove Superlite Voyager which I have had for 4 years so it aint the lighter version available now but the 1.7kg original version. It's luxury as a solo tent and not too shabby for sharing either. But this was being left at home as I had been given a Big Agnes Fly Creek to play with for the night. I was very impressed.
At less than 1kg fully packed you hardly know it's in the pack. It's a inner pitch first and considering that I had never seen it before and I was pitching in the dark it went up very easily and quickly with no major hassles. It's got a rather unusual pole design in that it has a hub that splits at the front to form the porch support. I'm used to a front entry tent but I did have to think hard where I was putting kit as the entry is on the narrow side but still very workable. The porch is certainly large enough for you to cook in and if you can sit cross legged you're soted. I prferred the lying on stomach approach which was very comfy. Although very narrow at the footwell there was still space at the side for my pack and plenty space around my head for stff I wanted nearby. It's narrow footprint makes it a perfect wildcamping and I certainly had a comfy enough night in it.
I knew that I probably needed a larger pack than my usual choice of the Macpac Amp 40 to get the extra winter gear accommodated. On a whim I rushed to the local gear shops to see if any had an OMM Vilan 45+10 returning home to find that although this is a very nice pack it didn't allow for any more gear than my Macpac Amp so it has gone back to the shop. That meant I had to use my old Gregory Zpack. Another piece of kit about 5 years old that has now evolved to be a better pack. It is a comfy pack and carries very well even when fully loaded. My main gripes with this old pack are the lack of easily accessable side and hip pockets. I have added some Decathlon pouches to the hip fins but it looks messy and they move about too much. I see the latest version, now 55L capacity compared to 50L, has rectified that. For this foray my old Zpack did what it needed to do.
I have recently taken delivery of a a PHD Minim 500 sleeping bag, a bargain in their sale. I knew it would do the trick perfectly.It's got a temp rating of -10 a drishel outer in this lovely "gold"
What I ended up dithering over was what mat to take. I had bought an Exped Downmat 7 short for winter but decided as the weather was not going to be that bad I would risk taking the Thermarest Neoair which is just so super comfy. I also had my Decathlon pillow and my PHD down booties. I had a little thermometer with me so when I was woken up with what turned out to be a cold bum, I checked and it was -2C. Maybe I should have taken the Downmat. Other than that the combo worked very well.
The only other area where I had a wee quandry over was what spare clothing to take. My insulation layer was decided purely on aesthetic reasons. I wanted to wear my lovely mango coloured Haglofs Barrier Windstopper. It weighs a third more than my PHD Yukon and is no where near as packable but is very toasty and the colour is just so easy to see on the hill.
I had packed my PHD Ultra Vest but it didn't come out at all. I had also wondered about whether or not to put the PHD Down Trousers in. I decided not to. It may have helped with the cold bum issue and Phil certainly seemend nice and comfy wandering about camp in his in the morning so they may well be considered for other camps. Everything else packed was pretty much the same as always. Jetboil for cooking, Travel Tap water filter, Platypus hydration system, Alpkit Gamma Headtorch, Buffalo windshirt, Haglofs Oz, Kahtoola Steels and microspikes, Camp Corsa ice axe.
I'm still not sure how my gear nearly filled a 50L pack while Sandy managed to get his into a 35L. I'll just need to keep tweaking.........