Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Jaguar, The Big Freeze and The Trailstar.

Watch "Camp 8, Dartmoor 10.12.12. Temp went down to -9.1c Outside, -5.4c in Trailstar." on YouTube

A Frosty camp (my 8th!) on Dartmoor in December 2012 Photo Gallery by Tony Hobbs at pbase.com

The next morning as the first ray of sun touched the horizon I grabbed my frozen shoes, worry and a realisation spreading through my brain, trying to slip my feet into them. There was no chance I was going to get them on! What to do? 

I left the car at 9am the previous morning heading out for the moor, my first port of call being Hound Tor. That's Hound Tor by Wild Tor! Not the Hound Tor by the Hound of the Basketmeals which serves cracking hot dogs.

The weather was perfect, zero wind, let alone a breeze. Stillness.  Peace.  Quiet.  Tranquillity.  The sun brushed the moor.

A small group were at the tor but long gone before I got there, dots descending the other side for pastures new, following a trail.  Good idea, better than the tussocky wet area I'd crossed!  I stopped at Hound Tor but only managed one bite out of my roll.  Wasn't really in the mood.  Nothing new there, let's carry on walking.  Walking is good. Walking helps prevent the mind dwelling.

From here it was easy trails to Wild Tor and Hangingstone Hill, topping up water before heading to Statt's House.  I was at the house by noon, flying along, slow I must slow a bit.  I was calculating when I'd likely reach camp. 2pm was too early.  I wanted about 3.  Lot's goes through my mind.

There is a nasty boggy section between here and Stannon Tor.  Its narrow and not wide and easily rounded.  Not that Bess remembered.  She took a dip here last year! And repeated it this year!  By the time I got to my side of the crossing she had hauled herself out, pack and all.  Shaking the boggy mud off.

From here it was down to a stone circle and more tussocky going to enter Fenworthy Forest.  Past the forest where a couple of young ladies were interested in Bess pack.  Maybe I should have lingered to chat longer. 

From here it was Thornworthy Tor and down the other side.  There is a gate to the left, it will be worth going to the gate next time! It might be a hundred metres further this side but there's bound to be a track the other side!  Not the boggy crossing I had over the stone wall.  Care was needed where stepping!  I then headed to Kestor Rock, through tussocks! Yuk! That gate would have saved a lot of unnecessary hassle...  Still, it used time!

It was a short walk on well trodden ground to my camp site for the night.  I had walked about 12 miles.  I say about as I ditched my Satmap to save a few grams.  And my portable phone charger. So I kept phone GPSless! The sun was still bright and a good safety tool. It was a beautiful day. I didn't want the GPS on phone draining my battery, there was no need.  I knew this like the back of my hand and never once looked at my map. 

I measured a lunch time temperature of 8c.  It was cool though on the tops.

In the shaded areas and in the forest frost still lingered on the ground.  The bogs were boggy and not frozen. Yet!

My footwear choice was Sealskinz over merino liners over Coolmax liners.  This combination worked a treat.  I'll certainly wear them again.

I also wore my new Inov8 295s for the first time.  Most impressed.

Once I reached camp, just before 3, I topped up water, took Bess pack off and dried her belly.  I delayed pitching for a short while, a few bods were in the distance and I wanted to avoid undue attention.

I pitched about 3.30pm, maybe finished nearer 4 by the time I'd set everything up, groundsheet, mat and sleeping bag.  I was just about to pee and clamber in my bag when I saw a dog walker approach.

A middle aged lady walked over with her collie.  She was very friendly.  Somewhat older than the younger ladies I'd seen earlier.  She was most interested in my exploits.  At first she chatted by the rear of the Trailstar, asking when I'd arrived.  Quite surprised how far I'd walked.  I was holding my chest, she asked what I was doing.  Warming meths wasn't what she expected to hear! 

The Trailstar intrigued her as did my cooking set up.  She walked to the front and looked in. 

This massive black jaguar flew out, baying for her blood.  Ah, sorry, wrong story!  And don't blame me...

The lady saw Bess and was even more interested.  So now I was explaining meths heating, meths stoves, mats, tarps and Bess!  We chatted for about half an hour.   She had heard of TGO and of Chris Townsend!

This was the only time all day my feet chilled a bit, despite water crossing and several bogs.  That's why my style of walking is that. Walking. Less likely to get cold feet if I keep moving!

I thoroughly enjoyed the chat though.  She was genuinely interested.  Off they walked about 4.30.  I spent that penny and clambered under tarp, took my shoes and socks off, put dry socks on, then removed my trousers, behave, put on my merino leggings and my down booties.  Then removed my coat and donned a down pullover coat.  I was warm in minutes.  My feet in 30 of them.

Darkness fell totally by 5.  I was alone and once again felt chilled out.  Relaxed.

I wrapped my sleeping bag around me, put a meal on to boil and checked my shoes.  Frozen solid by 6.30!!  The problems of getting them on never occurred to me, thankfully, as I'd never have slept for worry!

The temperature in the open Trailstar was as low as -5.4c.  Outside was as low as -9.1c.

What did I learn this trip? Full length zips are a compromise. Even in a -15c bag!  Whilst I was warm enough, occasionally my legs cooled a tad.  When my fingers parted the baffles the zip beyond was cold, some of that cold inevitably crept in.  It was easy to sort, twist bag so zip below me.  I was never cold.  But it was a minor pain.  I smell a DYO bag inspection one day, in the year dot!  Best hold fire there!!!

I learnt Sealskinz don't need to be allowed to freeze.  Simply place under sleeping mat.  I had two mats so that was good separation from me.  My other socks went between mats.  All were drier in the morning.  The Sealskinz which had started to freeze the night before were thawed and drier.  None were an issue to don next morning.  And I'm the biggest jessy going!

I ate my meal, drank a tea and watched a film on my phone.  I also read my book on my tablet.

I monitored Bess but she was very comfortable and happy.  At one point she got up and refused her bed, I touched the towel I'd put down, frozen!  No wonder she didn't want her bed. I removed the towel, she settled on the MultiMat and slept soundly until morning.  On this camp I discovered cold doesn't affect Bess much.  Learned a lot about how tough Bess is!

I slept fitfully at first, waking for another tea, I used more meths this trip than previously but still plenty spare.

One thing I do find is when my head hits the pillow my nose bungs up and my throat gets congestion in it!  This prevents sleep.  I take a decongestant this helps and a bloody good blow helped clear the nostrils! But I'd prefer it didn't start. I'll take a lozenge next time.  See if that helps. 

Once I nodded off about midnight I slept until about 4.  My down hat had fallen off my head and my head chilled and woke me!  I only cat napped from here on in.

I wasn't awake though! I kept an eye on my watch.  So far on all my camps I've had a time in mind to head back.  This morning was the same.  I put my stove on at 6 but this was too early, even for me.  As it happens I'd not put enough meths in so it really only warmed the water.  This was fine.  A drop more meths nearer 7 boiled it.  In the sleeping bag I drank my tea and ate my porridge.  I then put away my cooking kit and the last of the food went into its stuff bag.

At home I'd not even think about getting up until about 8! Not here, the thought process of get going gets me going.

Fear gripped me, I had a nasty coughing fit from congestion that this time was from nerves.  How the hell wasn't I going to freeze getting up and packing!  I'd not even got to my shoes. Thankfully!

I know the odd person laughs at my spreadsheet but for me its important as it keeps things organised.  Never more was that needed than now.

I put my Paramo Vista jacket on then my down pullover.  I was going to do everything to keep warm.  And efficiency was paramount.  Next I put on my down booties / socks. I then unzipped the bag and far quicker than at home stuffed the sleeping bag in the large cuben dry bag.  This is a big bag and its hard and more importantly warming work stuffing it in.  Once in I rolled the top. 

The next thing that takes time is getting air out of the air bed.  I did this next and slotted it in the Exodus FS pack. Keeping my feet on the Z mat.

Now came the chilly bit, but it surprisingly wasn't.  I swear -5c here was warmer than my +10c bedroom!!   Mind you I don't wear anything in bed at home. Sorry, too much information!  This required quick work, down socks were put in stuff bag, my mostly unused fleece went in and my possum gloves.  I removed my down hat and put on merino beanie and Paramo hat.  I removed my merino socks they went in.  I put on my Coolmax liner socks, they were warm enough from being under my mat.  Next was merino liner socks and then Sealskinz, all dry and warm enough.  These to were drier than I got them at home hanging up!  I then removed my merino leggings (I may have the order incorrect!) and donned my Paramo Cascada trousers. Despite ice on the outside, they were fine inside.  I doubt a normal trouser would have been so pleasant!

Next I put my sleeping bag in the pack and my dry night clothing and my wash kit, repair kit and spare battery etc.  These are all organised in their own ditty bags. All this goes into an extra large cuben dry bag.  Once that was folded over my cook kit went in, food bag, first aid kit and rubbish bag. 

One other thing I also did early on was get as much of Bess stuff ready.  I removed all the pegs inside holding her bed down and tossed bits outside I didn't need inside anymore.  My pack went to the entrance.

I was very glad of the Thermarest Z Light, I was able to do so much on it to prevent chilling off!  My upper clothing worked a treat at keeping my heat in.

Of course there was no wind so this helped there.

I was now ready to put my cosy feet into frozen shoes.

Only there was no chance.  This was the first time it dawned on me!  Worry slowly but surely seeped into every pore as I tried to bend and pull and poke them.  Several minutes passed, my blood cooled!  It was now I suddenly felt the need to pee.  And the answer hit me!  Get that Z Light outside, put the shoes in front of it, my three layers of socks kept my feet warm enough. Standing on mat I tiddled on my shoes!  It worked a treat.

The thing is, I'm glad I was alone. I'd simply not have been able to do that if another soul was about.

Next I ran about and never did laces up.  I had my WindPro gloves on.  I folded my groundsheet and put that away.  I put all Bess kit away and strapped her up.  Put her rolled up mat on and secured it down.

The last thing I did was take down the Trailstar and put it away along with my down pullover.  As soon as that was done I was off!  No hanging about freezing my brass monkey's off!

I  grabbed the camera and shot a little more video on my walk back.

Another camp, my eighth, under my belt. 

Camp List December - Dartmoor.

Pack
MLD pack Exodus FS all options No pad. 3500ci / 57L 779
MLD cuben X Large dry bag / liner. 54

Sub Total 833

Shelter
MLD Silnylon Trailstar + lines in cuben stuff sack 639
OookWorks OookStar Cuben Groundsheet 120
MLD Superlight Bivi in Cuben stuff bag 154
Quest Outfitters 0.74oz cuben sheet 2' 4'6" 24
Pegs 3 Easton 9", Four 6" Ti V, Four MLD 6". 139
MSR Blizzard stake (Trowel) 1 23
Pacer Pole Bungs (2) 24

Sub Total 1123
Sleeping
PHD Sleeping bag 500/900 MLD dry bag 1222
Exped Downmat UL 7 571
ThermaRest Z Lite 115cm / 45" 244
Exped Pillow pump 158

Sub Total 2195

Cooking
MLD 850ml ti pot inc string pouch 106
MLD 450ml ti pot 37
Trail Designs MLD 850 Ti Tri cone 48
Trail Designs 10-12 burner 15
J Cloth tiny piece! 1
Light My Fire / Fire steel 28
Foil (aluminium) 10
Measure pots (2) 1
LifeVenture Lexan spoon 14
Spoon - MLD 16
Trail Designs Caddy 89
Bottle (1) for meths 175ml 17

Sub Total 382

Equipment
20 fl oz / 590ml bottles (45g each) 2 90
Two 2L Platypus containers 36g 72
Compass Silva Ranger 3 32
Map / case (cut a bit off!) 113
Silva ADC Pro 65
Asus Nexus 7 / Aquapac 384
Oakley Half Jacket Glasses / bullet case 119
Petzl XP Core head light 83
Aqua Mira (empty 8g) 35 drops. 10
Hand gel 23
Dyneema cord 2mm spare 5.2m one piece 16

First Aid kit in light bag. 115
Wenger Swiss Army Knife (scissors, knife, tweezers, LED) 24
MagLite Solitaire AAA 24
Lighter 17
Lipsalve 9
Whistle 9
Hirsch Talg Crème 5
Leather Needle and thread (wrapped around cuben) 2
Pod First Aid Dry Bag (For above) 25

Waterproof matches 12. 8
Shock Cord 24" 6
20' Dynema Cord 1mm Emergency only. 4
Duct tape 14
Mylar tape 18" 4
Sil-Fix kit 12
Cable Ties reusable (2) 0
2 Paper Clips, 5 Safety Pins 4
Exped Textile Glue 7
Rubber bands 4
SynMat patches 5
Ear plugs 0
Mueller Support Wrap (First Aid) 34
MLD Cuben Ditty Bag for above 2

Toothbrush 5
Dr Bonner's soap (for teeth too!) Pot 4g 8
Towel Vaude 16
Hankies 2 10
MLD Cuben Ditty bag 2

Ear Phones for phone 7
Phone battery BA750 30
SD card for camera 4
MLD Cuben Ditty bag 2

MLD Small Cuben stuff sack (for removed hat / gloves) 6
Candle 13
Surgical Gloves 12
Plastic / Freezer bags for Shoes / Feet 19
Toilet paper (inc 1 Alco Wipe) 22
Waste Pod stuff sack inc 6g plastic bag 66
Pee bottle 85

Sub Total 1648

Clothing
Arcteryx Delta LT Zip Polartec Thermal Pro Micro S cream 204
ChocFish Merino Long johns 200
ChocFish Merino Possum gloves 46
Smartwool Liner Socks 39
PHD Minimus hat 32
PHD Booties 104
MLD Cuben Large 16"/8" stuff sack 9

PHD Minimus Drishell Pullover Small 355
MLD Cuben dry bag Medium 19

MLD Mitts eVent 42

Sub Total 1050
BASE 1 (Hiking / Camping kit) 7231

Photo Kit in or on pack.
Tripod - Gorilla Pod (no head) 241

Sub Total 241
BASE 2 (inc. Photo kit in pack) 7472

Separate Photo Kit.
Camera Sony NEX 7, paracord 342
Sony NEX E Lens 10-18mm 265
Sony Microphone ECM-ALST1 54
Cloth 6
Aquapac Medium waterproof camera bag 103

Sub Total 770
BASE 3 (inc. Camera Kit in pouch) 8242

Carrying / Holding / Pockets
Phone / AquaPac (No rear protector on phone!) 143
Pacer Poles Carbon 524

Sub Total 667
BASE 4 (Total Carrying on Person) 8909

Wearing
ChocFish Merino T Shirt 187
Rohan Pants 51
Sealskinzsocks 98
Smartwool merino liner sock 41
Coolmax liner sock 42
Paramo Cascada Trousers, small 550
Patagonia Polartec Blue Pullover S Pocket Regulator R1 284
ChocFish Merino Buff scarf 77
TrekMates Merino Touchscreen Gloves 30
Outdoor Designs Bora gloves medium Windpro 86
ChocFish Merino beanie 26
Paramo hat 80
Paramo Coat Vista 556
Watch Sunto Advizor 54
Inov8 295 with SuperFeet 685
Credit card / Driving License in MLD cuben Ditty 17
Decongestant / Lip salve 17

Sub Total 2881

BASE 5 (Total of everything not consumable!) 11790

Drink
Tea bags (5) / Marvel (35g) / sweeteners (10) 74

Actual Packed weight 74

Daytime Food Kcals
Rolls 2 (Aprox weight!) 200 400
Nature Valley Crunch Oats and Honey 42 198
Nature Valley Crunch Ginger Nut Crunch 42 189
Jordans Frusli Red Berries 30 113
Jordans Frusli Blueberry 30 113

Actual Packed weight 358 1013

Evening Food
LWWF Tees Valley Beef Meat Balls 270 289
LWWF Staff Chicken Casserole 289 178
Potato (2 lots) 100 300

Elevenses Ginger 45 170
Elevenses Chocolate 45 182
Jordans Frusli Red Berries 30 113
Jordans Frusli Blueberry 30 113

Actual Packed weight 870 1345

Breakfast (Day Time!)
Porridge (50/20/10g) 1 Portion. 80 285
Quaker Oat So Simple Morning Bar Fruit Muesli 35 139

Actual Packed weight 135 424

MLD Cuben Large 16"/8" stuff sack 9 9

Bottle (1) for meths 175ml (EXCLUDING Bottle!) 126 126

Total weight of Food & Tea / Kcals 1572 2782

Total Carrying Exc Clothing worn 10481

TOTAL On PERSON with food. NOT water . 13362 13362




Bess List

Ruffwear Pack Palisades 850
Ruffwear Day Coat / high vis / water resistant 155
Ruffwear Bed Highlands 351
Ruffwear Bess Night K9 360
Dog Bowl 30
Food 400
Schmackos 300
Trek Towel 80*60cm 105
Trek Towel 110*60cm 147
MLD Ti pegs 6 60
OookWorks BessBed 131
MultiMat 2' 4" cut off. 79
Bess Total. 2968

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Metholated Spirit / Alcohol cook kits.

I wrote a blog on my cook kits the other day, here is a fuller account of them with excess cut away, so this shows just exactly what I need to use to cook and drink a meal. Excluded spoon and lighter only*! Spoon will fit in these caddies. This shows the exact weight of all individual components for your delicatessen ;-)

The first presumes I will eat and drink out of the caddy! The following include pots. The first is all in one "package". The following all fits in two packages. I like this as it means I don't have bits and bobs all over the place :-)

Trail Designs Caldera Keg F 31
Trail Designs Caldera Keg F Ti Tri cone 35
Trail Designs 10-12 burner 15
Measure pots (2) 1
Trail Designs Caddy 76
Bottle (1) for meths 175ml 17

Sub Total 175


MLD 850ml ti pot inc string pouch 106
MLD 450ml ti pot 37
Trail Designs MLD 850 Ti Tri cone 48
Trail Designs 10-12 burner 15
Measure pots (2) 1
Trail Designs Caddy 89
Bottle (1) for meths 175ml 17

Sub Total 313


MSR Titan Ti 850 pot and lid 126
MSR Cup 55
Trail Designs MSR 850 Ti Tri cone 41
Trail Designs 10-12 burner 15
Measure pots (2) 1
Trail Designs Caddy 73
Bottle (1) for meths 175ml 17

Sub Total 328


MSR Titan Ti 1.5L pot and lid 158
MSR Cup 55
Trail Designs MSR 1.5L Titan Ti Tri cone 56
Trail Designs 10-12 burner 15
Trail Designs Ti Inferno 30
Trail Designs Ti base 23
Grate Cross grid circular piece 25
Pan Grab 29
2 pegs 13
Measure pots (2) 1
Trail Designs Caddy 90
Bottle (1) for meths 175ml 17

Sub Total 512



* You may use a lighter or striker or fingers. And you know what I mean ;-)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Potential Kit List for Dartmoor December (Altered layout!)

This is a probable kit list for Dartmoor for December, sometime, weather permitting. I'm NOT going if the forecast is bad, simple as that! I have three date options, so fingers crossed.

I have listed everything in an organised way, all weights are grams. A few things over time will alter slightly (trip to trip). I may try Dr Bonner's soap. I may recheck my first aid. You may notice on this trip I have ditched the Satmap but added the Nexus 7. Also dropped the Technet charger. See how that goes! I may be able to swap pack back to Prophet and save a few grams. Yes, I am interested in the weight of stuff and how it all adds up. I'm not interested in leaving stuff out for weight's sake, however.

I appreciate that using FIVE base weights is unusual, but, hey, it's me, do you really want usual!

Bottom line, this is a fun thing, please, if you are all serious, please look elsewhere!

I hope this is of interest to people.


Camp List December - Dartmoor.


Pack
MLD pack Exodus FS all options No pad. 3500ci / 57L 779
MLD cuben X Large dry bag / liner. 54

Sub Total 833

Shelter
MLD Silnylon Trailstar + lines in cuben stuff sack 639
OookWorks OookStar Cuben Groundsheet 120
MLD Superlight Bivi in Cuben stuff bag 154
Quest Outfitters 0.74oz cuben sheet 2' 4'6" 24
Pegs 3 Easton 9", Four 6" Ti V, Four MLD 6". 139
MSR Blizzard stake (Trowel) 1 23
Pacer Pole Bungs (2) 24

Sub Total 1123

Sleeping
PHD Sleeping Bag 350/900 MLD dry bag. -5c. 991
Exped Downmat UL 7 571
ThermaRest Z Lite 115cm / 45" 244
Exped Pillow pump 158

Sub Total 1964

Cooking
MSR Titan Ti 850 pot and lid 126
MSR Cup 55
Trail Designs MSR 850 Ti Tri cone 41
Trail Designs 10-12 burner 15
J Cloth tiny piece! 1
Light My Fire / Fire steel 28
Foil (aluminium) 10
Measure pots (2) 1
LifeVenture Lexan spoon 14
Snow Peak Spork 16
Trail Designs Caddy 73
Fuel bottle (Empty!) 17

Sub Total 397

Equipment
20 fl oz / 590ml bottles (45g each) 2 90
Two 2L Platypus containers 36g 72
Compass Silva Type 4/54 38
Map / case 140
Silva ADC Pro 65
Asus Nexus 7 / Aquapac 384
Oakley Half Jacket Glasses / bullet case 119
Petzl XP Core head light 83
Aqua Mira (empty 8g) 35 drops. 10
Hand gel 23
Dyneema cord 2mm spare 5.2m one piece 16

First Aid kit in Ziplok bag. 140
Leatherman CS Style Knife 41
MagLite Solitaire AAA 24
Lighter 17
Lipsalve 9
Whistle 9
Body Glide Anti Chaff 5
Pod First Aid Dry Bag (For above) 25

Waterproof matches 12. 8
Shock Cord 24" 6
20' Dynema Cord 1mm Emergency only. 4
Duct tape 14
Mylar tape 18" 4
Sil-Fix kit 12
Cable Ties reusable (2) 0
2 Paper Clips, 5 Safety Pins 4
Exped Textile Glue 7
Rubber bands 4
SynMat patches 5
Ear plugs 0
Mueller Support Wrap (First Aid) 34
MLD Cuben Ditty Bag for above 2

Toothbrush 5
Toothpaste pot (pot 8g) 15
Soap 4
Towel Vaude 16
Hankies 2 10
MLD Cuben Ditty bag 2

Ear Phones for phone 13
Phone battery BA750 30
SD card for camera 4
MLD Cuben Ditty bag 2

Plastic / Freezer bags for Shoes / Feet 19
Toilet paper 22
Waste Pod stuff sack inc 6g plastic bag 66
Pee bottle 85

Sub Total 1707

Clothing
Arcteryx Delta LT Zip Polartec Thermal Pro Micro S cream 204
TNF Leggings 91
Smartwool Liner Socks 39
Choc Fish Beanie 25
ChocFish Possum gloves 46
PHD Booties No stuff sack. 104
MLD Cuben Large 16"/8" stuff sack 9

Arcteryx Atom LT Hoody 367
MLD Cuben dry bag Medium 19

MLD Mitts eVent 42

Sub Total 946
BASE 1 (Hiking / Camping kit) 6970


Photo Kit in or on pack.
Tripod - Gorilla Pod (no head) 241

Sub Total 241
BASE 2 (inc. Photo kit in pack) 7211


Separate Photo Kit.
Camera NEX 7, paracord & 18-55mm + hood. 562
Sony Microphone ECM-ALST1 54
Cloth 6
Aquapac Medium waterproof camera bag 103

Sub Total 725
BASE 3 (inc. Camera Kit in pouch) 7936


Carrying / Holding / Pockets
Phone / AquaPac 143
Pacer Poles Carbon 524

Sub Total 667
BASE 4 (Total Carrying on Person) 8603


Wearing
ChocFish Merino T Shirt 187
Rohan Pants 51
Sealskinzsocks 98
Smartwool merino liner sock 41
Coolmax liner sock 42
Paramo Cascada Trousers, small 550
Patagonia Polartec Blue Pullover S Pocket Regulator R1 284
Buff scarf 38
La Sportiva Crosslight and Superfeet 720
TrekMates Merino Touchscreen Gloves 30
Outdoor designs Taku small Windpro 57
Rab Neoshell small 450
Paramo hat 80
Watch Sunto Advizor 54
Credit card / Driving License in aLocSak 20
Decongestant 5

Sub Total 2707


BASE 5 (Total of everything not consumable!) 11310


Drink
Tea bags (5) / Marvel (35g) / sweeteners (10) 74

Actual Packed weight 74

Daytime Food
Rolls 2 (Aprox weight!) 200
Nature Valley Crunch Oats and Honey 42
Nature Valley Crunch Ginger Nut Crunch 42
Jordans Frusli Red Berries 30
Jordans Frusli Blueberry 30

Actual Packed weight 358

Evening Food
LWWF Tees Valley Beef Meat Balls 270
LWWF Staff Chicken Casserole 289
Potato (2 lots) 100

Elevenses Ginger 45
Elevenses Chocolate 45
Jordans Frusli Red Berries 30
Jordans Frusli Blueberry 30

Actual Packed weight 870

Breakfast (Day Time!)
Porridge (50/20/10g) 1 Portion. 80
Quaker Oat So Simple Morning Bar Fruit Muesli 35

Actual Packed weight 135

MLD Cuben Large 16"/8" stuff sack 9 9

Bottle (1) for meths 175ml (EXCLUDING Bottle!) 126 126

Total weight of Food & Tea / Kcals 1572


TOTAL in PACKS with food. NOT water . 12882 12882






Bess List

Ruffwear Pack Palisades 850
Ruffwear Day Coat / high vis / water resistant 155
Ruffwear Bed Highlands 351
Ruffwear Bess Night K9 360
Dog Bowl 30
Food 545
Schmackos 300
Dog biscuits Shapes 60
Trek Towel 80*60cm 105
Trek Towel 110*60cm 147
MLD Ti pegs 6 60
OookWorks BessBed 131
MultiMat 2' 4" cut off. 79
Bess Total. 3173

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My cooking kits...

This is still work in progress but good progress made so far...

It is possible to feel guilty when thinking of swapping a component of a cook system... The reason I say that is for a change on my next camp I'm going to rest my MLD pots and try my MSR Titan 0.85 pot and Titan cup.  It feels strange to be contemplating leaving something behind that is MLD!  More to the point my infamous MLD spoon will also need a rest due to its length!

I was looking at the Trail Designs Ti Tri Sidewinder for the fun of it to see if I could reduce not so much weight but the number of packages.  I think it would increase them!  From what I can ascertain the 12-10 burner won't fit in either my MSR 1L pot nor an Evernew 0.9L pot with the Sidewinder cone.  So I'd have to put the 12-10 in a separate pack.  It also requires pegs to help support the pot, these also won't fit in the pot so need to be stored in the peg bag.  So I'd have cooking kit in three places.  Maybe four if I stored my alcohol separately.  It seems.

My current set up has my cooking kit in two places.  (Weights after in grams).

MLD 850ml ti pot inc string pouch 106
MLD 450ml ti pot 37
These pack together.

Trail Designs MLD 850 Ti Tri cone 48
Trail Designs 10-12 burner 15
J Cloth tiny piece! 1
Light My Fire / Fire steel 28
Foil (aluminium) 10
Measure pots (2) 1
LifeVenture Lexan spoon 14
Spoon - MLD 16
Trail Designs Caddy 89
Bottle (1) for meths 175ml 143
Candle 13
All this goes into the caddy, even the alcohol / meths as I'm not eating out of it.

Sub Total 521

For a change I'll use this next...

MSR Titan Ti 850 pot and lid 126
MSR Cup 55

Trail Designs MSR 850 Ti Tri cone 41
Trail Designs 10-12 burner 15
J Cloth tiny piece! 1
Light My Fire / Fire steel 28
Foil (aluminium) 10
Measure pots (2) 1
LifeVenture Lexan spoon 14
Snow Peak Spork 16
Trail Designs Caddy 73
Bottle (1) for meths 175ml 143
Candle 13

Sub Total 536

This second set up is 15g heavier but marginally more compact though it's close.  The reason I say that is the MLD cooking pot is quite tall and narrow and hence needs a taller cone and caddy!  The MSR pot is a bit squatter so the cone and caddy are a little shorter.  It's due to the smaller caddy that I have to desert my MLD spoon for the Snow Peak Spark, it fits in the shorter caddy!  This system is also in two components.

I have ordered the Trail Designs Caldera Ti Keg.  I'll be very interested in how it compares.  Theoretically I think (its not arrived yet) that I could have a totally one piece cook system with this but the meths might be safer separately.  See on that, I've never had a leakage, yet!  When it arrives I'll add info here.

I also have, but not used yet (I bought a job lot of Ti Tri kit for all my pots last year!) the Inferno for my MSR 1.5L pot.

I'll add in weights here soon for that so you all have accurate info...






Friday, November 23, 2012

MLD Super Tarp in cuben

I wrote a blog post on the silnylon SuperMid, I'll do something similar on the MLD Cuben SuperTarp.  A few facts and figures...

The Cuben SuperTarp weighs 312g.

You have to add guy line. Quite a bit! This is a big tarp that needs to be locked down!  I use the supplied MLD cord.  Plus some in addition.

I did have mostly paracord but that's now removed from this tarp.   All my videos to date on SuperTarp have green cord.  This will be impossible to see in the dark and is bulky.  Hense my swap.

The tarp has a lot of linelocs.  5 on the front and rear, 3 along the sides, 2 bungee tie outs on each side mid way up, and three loops running along the spine.   I make that 23.  The new model seems to have two along the spine not the three on mine.

I put cord on all 5 linelocs at the front and rear, so straight away that is 10 pieces of guyline.  I have just found this is the best way to lock it down and help keep it tight.

I then put guyline on the mid hem tie out point on each side.  Try not to make this too tight or it induces slack.

Those 12 pieces of guyline come to 131g.  This is mostly Rons cord but I have used 2 pieces of Backpacking Light 2mm dyneema cord for the front mid tie outs.

I then need to add 58g of guy line for the 4 mid panel bungee tie outs. Again Rons yellow cord.  Stick with the supplied yellow cord for most if not all points....

So the total weight of line needed, in my case, is 189g!  All pieces are about 2m in length the front and back ridge line cords are 3m.  I deliberately cut them all long for flexibility.

I did have a 10m piece of spare 2mm dyneema cord in my pack at 30g.  I will remove this and put a piece of 5.2m / 2mm / 16g dyneema cord in my pack as spare.  This is emergency cord.  But in the case of the Super Tarp I'll use it to run the length of the ridge line through the ridge loops to help secure the ridge even more.  So as it's in my pack I'll not directly add it to the cord weight here.

Tarp and cord = 501g in supplied stuff sack*.  You need to add plenty of pegs too.

Switch to Cuben stuff sack = 493g!

It is 8' by 10.5'.

I have a few YouTube videos on this tarp. 

I have not slept under it yet!  As my preferred camp spot is quite exposed my aim is to wait for good weather / a period of high pressure in the summer to give it a crack on Dartmoor.  Watch this space!  

My MLD Tarp. photo - Tony Hobbs photos at pbase.com

Watch "MLD Supertarp, Serenity shelter, one side to ground" on YouTube there are a couple of other videos there. I'll add more videos / photos another time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Repair Kit.

If anyone is interested in what is in my Ditty bag for repairing kit... (last figure in grams).

Waterproof matches 12. 8
Shock Cord 24" 6
20' Dynema Cord 1mm Emergency only. 4
Duct tape 26
Mylar tape 18" 4
Cable Ties reusable (2) 0
2 Paper Clips, 5 Safety Pins 4
Exped Textile Glue 7
Rubber bands 4
SynMat patches 5
Ear plugs 0
Mueller Support Wrap 34
MLD Cuben Ditty Bag for above 2

TOTAL 104 grams

NB 1 - For convenience I have put "ankle*" support, ear plugs and matches in this pack. Sewing kit will go in First Aid kit...
NB 2 - Ear plugs and Cable ties don't register on scales!

*Hopefully I won't need it!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

From MLD to breakfast with TGO.

My heart pounded yet I felt absolutely delighted, honoured and full of pride as I walked forward to collect the certificate / plaque that Ron of Mountain Laurel Designs / MLD had won.  I was beaming!  It's impossible to express how I felt but it was joyous! 

I had just minutes earlier walked to the Awards Ceremony with Chris Townsend at the Burgundy Wine Bar in Kendal.  There was maybe about a dozen people there at the time, it quickly filled and was soon buzzing with voices.  There was a massive turnout.

At first it was quite strange, but someone asked if I'd like a drink.  I started with a tea. 

I headed over to one of the food tables, a bit lost, and had a few delicious chicken wings and legs and little pizza pieces.  Yes, I know, stomach first!

I saw a beckoning hand from Chris's direction and took my plate of nibbles over and chatted with Chris and a few people who approached and chatted.  David Lintern came over, unfortunately we didn't get to chat much.  Also Andy Howell passed by and I didn't get to see him, hopefully I'll get to see them another time maybe.

On the positive side Alex, no less than the publisher of TGO spoke to me at length and had a lot of time for me.  He showed a great deal of interest in me personally and how I'd got to attend the awards.

Then it was time for the awards, first it was the readers voters awards and I was very pleased that Chris won an award for his Backpackers Handbook.  A book I have and is well deserved of its award.

Then it was the judges votes and it was here that Ron's MLD Trailstar was up for an award. 

When I arrived at the hotel I was given room one.  I Facebooked, that bodes well.  Room number won, won spelt wrong!   That seemed appropriate!  I had no idea I, the Trailstar, of course, was actually going to win.  But I somehow knew it would.  From the moment Ron asked if I'd attend (the judges hadn't even deliberated!) I felt it was destiny!  I'm sure Ron was just as confident.

Then they called out the winner, MLD, and I walked, glowing, to collect the award.  I think my smile could have swallowed the room.

Once the award giving was over I did what I do best, sitting in the corner, by a food table and eating!

Admittedly I should have mingled, but mingling comes as naturally to me as ET visiting Earth. So I sat and ate. 

But I have a gravitational pull, and before long, the host and publisher of TGO was sitting with me, talking.  What a terrific chap.  Made me feel very welcome.

So if I wasn't talking to the publisher I was talking or in the vicinity of Chris Townsend.  Not bad company.

A few other people were caught in my gravitational pull, and all were interested in how I came to be there and was I the representative / importer / was MLD my company / where were they based / how did they operate / how did the customisation work...

I have to say Chris expressed it better than I ever did.  I of course played it down, a bit...

Naturally, representative is accurate but as a customer.  Probably the best customer in the UK. Dare I suggest the world!  My collection of MLD kit must be fairly unrivaled...  There's not many gaps in my kit list from MLD!

I also shoot videos of my kit in my own unique way totally for my own enjoyment.  The real bonus is that they get likes and great comments and appear to be a genuine bonus to others.

So I felt well placed to be able to accept Ron's invitation to represent him at the TGO Awards.

The next morning I was eating breakfast with half a dozen of the TGO team, including Alex, Chris, the designer and the acting editor. What an end to a terrific trip!

Thanks Ron.

If the opportunity presents itself to represent Ron next year, I'm in...  I'd certainly be happy to attend one way or the other.  If anyone wishes to invite me!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My thoughts following an autumnal camp which also was my seventh!

Following my last camp on a damp cold Dartmoor in November and this being my seventh camp I had / have a few thoughts for my autumn / winter camping / kit.  I still want to watch my weight to some extent but not at the expense of comfort (physical and mental) and safety. But I don't want it spiralling.  8kg base is my target.  Not including camera.  And if I go over. No worries!

Two things happened on my November camp and I'll address them both here.

One was my sleeping bag appeared to get ever so slightly damp on my right of head.  This must have been due to condensation from inside of tarp and being cocooned in my MLD Superlight bivy.  I'm pretty sure it was surface damp and that the Drishell kept it away from the down.

I think these conditions are the toughest to encounter... Cold damp. Thankfully there wasn't much rain.  Though Bess was soaked on her belly.  I'll address Bess here too!

The second thing I noticed was a coolness occasionally around my hip area.  This must have been due to a slight bottoming out of my Exped SynMat 7m. This is not a thin light air bed!   The temperature at night was maybe 2c.

This is the easiest to address first.  I'm swapping my tiny piece of MultiMat for a ThermaRest Z Lite cut shorter. 

The bit of MultiMat I cut in half is 80g 2' 4" (28").  This is very short and was primarily initially packed in case Bess got cold to separate her from the ground.  I use it for a sit mat if I stop and sit and I use it rolled up under the head of air bed to raise my head (over and above just a pillow).  I also lean an elbow on it.  It's actually very useful.  However its a bit short for my plan!

It would only cover my body.  No good. It's fine for summer but not as adaptable, for me in winter.  I don't think...

The Thermarest Z Lite cut to 115cm / 45" is 244g. 3.5" thick when folded.  So compact.  It is 164g more than the MultiMat!  However it is cut to cover head to mid thighs.

So when I put my Exped SynMat 7m over it it'll protect my hips from chilling if I bottom out.  I'm happy to carry the extra few grams.  I am going to get the Exped UL DownMat, this is a good 200g, maybe 300g lighter.  I'd have to check the temperature R rating and compare both.  But that opens other weight saving options.

One thought that entered my mind was how these mats are blown up.  I have heard that damp from breath can enter the mat.  No doubt about it.  But, if one thinks about it, the humidity is quite high, I failed to check it, but it must be 80+% out there!  So if I use a pump, I will be pumping damp humid air in.... Just a thought.

Of course putting the Z Lite under me I lose my additional pillow and elbow rest / lean thing.  I'll have to use something else from my kit!  Maybe waste pack for elbow.  My food bag may be a rather depleted one on a one night camp by the time I've eaten to use that under mat to raise head a bit.  Rucksack could be too damp to have so close.  May have to do without.

One way I'll consider balancing the weight of the Z Lite is to wear my Paramo Cascada trousers. Admittedly they weigh about the same as my trousers and Berghaus Paclite waterproof trousers combined.  But then I'd save 200g from my pack!  The extra weight on legs doesn't count, really...

I've pretty much decided to take my Nexus 7 and leave behind (for my next trip on a familiar part of Dartmoor - things can change from camp to camp!) my SatMap, note pad and pen.  This deduction balances the N7!

I may also revisit my pegs, and swap out a couple to three of my 9" nails for a large Backpacking Light V ti pegs.  That'll save a few grams and won't be in danger of losing their heads!  These V pegs seem to have good holding power.

This last trip I took light hiker socks and down booties for night options.  I can save 40g by swapping the Smartwool light hiker with Smartwool liner socks!  Let's face it, a liner sock will probably be plenty, with the down as back up if really cold.  I see no need for thicker socks and down booties.  In winter, the booties are coming!

So even though I'm adding / swapping stuff I may be able to balance the weight elsewhere without sacrificing anything.

Condensation seems to come with the territory in cold damp conditions with a bivy.  This must be why some don't use a bivy in winter!  I think I can name Colin and Chris here who'd (probably) not use one.  So I'll aim to follow suit.

Also my bivy bag has a cuben non breathable base, whilst this did stay under me, the bit to my heads right did ride up a fraction.  Maybe leading to condensation that had nowhere to go other than my sleeping bag.  With that base, this I feel is a bivy bag that needs the mat inside it, especially in these cold damp conditions.

Of course in the future hopefully my OookWorks inner will be available, if I wish to take it in winter.  It's lightweight and should not weigh much more than my current groundsheet and bivy.  I'll for now still take my bivy, just in case!

In the morning when I stuck my head of the bivy it did feel darn nippy out there and I liked the microclimate it gave, but not the potential damp.  The one I have is with the very small mesh window.  I did not tie the top up.  This should be done in all fairness.

I'll have to be prepared to keep my insulated jacket and maybe my 100 weight fleece on in sleeping bag, sans bivy.  In addition to what I wore this last time, merino t shirt and light fleece Patagonia Regulator.

I wear a ChocFishMerino beanie and this is a very good fit but does come off at night and of course a cooling head wakes me.  A couple thoughts here.  Hood of insulated jacket, as long as said jacket didn't get damp at anytime.  Second thought, I have ordered a PHDesigns down beanie / hat.  I'll certainly take this and see how it goes.

Another thing to say here is BUFF.  No, not the Boeing B-52!  But the thing around ones neck.  During the day I find these fine though maybe on warm side sometimes. They should be ideal at night and I'm sure I wore one at home in bed last year (yes I really don't spend much money on home comforts but on kit!).  But sometimes camping I find them constricting and claustrophobic.  This I need to work on.  I do have a ChocFishMerino buff, I'll see if its more comforting around my neck.  I wonder if I was hung or buried alive in a previous life.  Can't imagine why someone would want to string me up....!

My main problem I fear, is my sleeping bags are all extra wide.  I deliberately went this way so I wasn't claustrophobic in the sleeping bag and able to move my legs and bend a knee independently of the other.  Of course this extra space means empty space and more bag to touch things I don't want them touching.  Again I'll try to work with them.

I'll look at my repair and first aid kits but as their name suggests, despite the thankful lack of use, these are items one would have to take anyway.  But I will look through them.  More from the point of having done 7 camps as opposed to seasonal / weight saving!  Wash kit etc can also be reviewed.  I know some use Dr Bonners soap, as soap / toothpaste.  I'll need to think on this!  Manuel on Facebook made a few suggestions, I'm afraid I forgot what he said, other than Dr B.

I still plan, unless deep snow is afoot, then I'm not so sure, to stick to trail running shoes in the winter.  Last year I tried Neoprene socks but my feet were painfully cold in them.  In Sealskinz they were just cold!  I can live with that.  Knowing I have dry socks / down booties at night.  My style of walking doesn't entail hanging around chatting. It's walking.  (I'm talking Dartmoor here not my weekly jaunt over Cheddar when I stop for a flask of tea!)  So feet are pretty much constantly moving.  I'll do same as last year, once, Sealskinz over Smartwool merino liner, maybe over Coolmax.  I have a pair of trail shoes a half size up!  Again I reiterate my lack of snow  / winter walking experience in recent years!  In fact the last snow was probably winter 2004/5 Hangingstone Hill Dartmoor.  Scarpa SL boots in snow!  I was into boots then....

Bess.  Time to address that bit of MultiMat! I reiterate my initial plan for that at camping start, way back when, was it's for Bess if needed.  Well, it's only 80g.  So in winter, she can carry it!  I checked earlier and it easily straps to her pack.  Ideal for winter.  In the spring / summer she'll not need it.  Nor will I want the dirty thing back!  So I have the other half going spare.  So I'll have that for the rest of the year.

Now that's what I call a thought and a plan or three.  And I've surely forgotten something...  I hope this is of interest.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dartmoor November 2012. Camp 7.

Watch "Dartmoor 6.11.12 in Trailstar" on YouTube

Dartmoor November 2012 in the Trailstar - Camp 7! Photo Gallery by Tony Hobbs at pbase.com

There was a gentle breeze under the sides of my raised Trailstar, Bess was asleep in her bed, wrapped up in two towels and a brook (Walla) bubbled away just a few metres from my camp.

My meths stove boiled my dinner, water spare for tea.  Light music drifted from my phone and a light tap of rain struck my shelter.  I was warm, comfortable and above all else relaxed!  I felt not a single pang of loneliness, I guess walking all day alone with Bess as my sole companion helped dispel that.  Not that I'd ever noticed that feeling prior to last camp.  But then that was only the second time I'd camped with company.

I ate my meal and looked back on my day of walking wishing that my hiking was as enjoyable as this particular camp was.  It's a bit frustrating, but I have had homesickness all my life so maybe it's just to be tolerated.  As I posted on Facebook one slightly mentally tough day a month (Cheddar is nearer home and I am more relaxed leaving home a bit later than for Dartmoor) is a pretty good compromise when on the whole I'm bubbling about the walk after, the beauty of it, successfully navigating around and thoroughly enjoying the camp!

I left the tiny parking area and headed over Scorhill (noting a lovely flat area!) and the two clapper bridges past a wooded section and to Kestor Rock.  The walking was easy going, this area is well walked and so tracks have formed that mean tussocks can be avoided!  Though it was wet underfoot and my shoes were soon soaked but as the temperature was about 6c my feet were not cold.  From the Rock I followed another path to Long Stone and then into Fenworthy Forest.  I crossed the forest and popped out directly opposite my entrance using the map to ensure I stayed on course.

A cow welcomed Bess and I by a gate to leave the forest and reenter the Moor.  We bypassed the cow and followed the contours around a small valley to Stannon Tor.  I stopped here and tried to get a ham roll down me.  It was on this more exposed section I noticed a breeze had picked up and it had cooled off a fraction.  I checked my weather computer, an old Silva ADC Pro, the temp was still 6c but the 15+ mph breeze brought the wind chill down to 2c!  Not exactly freezing.  The sun was about, intermittently.  It was a perfect day for walking.

A note here, I kept my date open, if the forecast had been on the bad side I'd have changed to another date.  I'm quite happy to aim for good weather where possible and cross bad weather when it catches me out!  So far so lucky.

The walking was a little tougher underfoot but mostly level apart from another small valley I dropped into and out up to Sittaford Tor.

A stile needs clambering over here then a very wet crossing to Stats House.  Down to North Teign Head. This is an easy water crossing and on this route the only waterway that needs jumping across!  This route is ideal in winter for its lack of rivers.

I then headed up to Whitehorse Hill.  This is easy in good visibility (and offers fantastic views) but care is needed in mist.  I did this in reverse in mist last winter using just map and compass.  When relying on my map I like to try to picture / interpret what the map says the land will do en route.  This way if the map says I should be going down and I'm not...

Hangingstone Hill was next.  I met the first two walkers here.  Wearing boots and gaiters!  I make a habit of looking at peoples foot wear on the hill.  From my (limited) observations boots far outweigh trail running shoes.  I somehow feel fantastic being one of the few!  Ok, I'm not planning on crossing a snow field at the moment...

Wild Tor was next then Hound Tor.  Heading to Hound Tor the ground was very slick with mud and my right foot kept going, skidding out from under me!  My bottom had nowhere to go, other than down!  I had a soaked arse and right gloved hand.  No one was around, so all was fine.

I was very near my planned camping spot.

Last winter in mist I took a wrong turn and ended up at Rippator.  Despite the wrong turn I actually knew I did it very shortly after doing it, and knew where I was heading.  I wanted Hound Tor that time and on a direct bearing from Rippator I crossed a green tussockless area and thought it would make a good camp spot.

From Hound Tor I retraced those steps, actually, not quite, and headed for that same area.  But in the process lost my left leg at the head of Gallaven Brook.  One minute my leg was there, the next it was in the brook!  This part of the brook, being at the head of the valley was invisible with reeds abound.  This is not something I normally miss.  Again it was just me, so I extracted my leg, dignity intact and carried on.

A day later my thigh ached, two days later my ankle ached.  On the second day later, if you follow me, the thigh was fine, so I expect the ankle to be fine imminently.  Must have given both a jolt and not noticed at the time.

This section was the roughest of the walk.  Normally tussocks don't worry me and these were nothing more than gentle but annoyed me today.  When I got to the "camp" area it looked slopey.  In a better frame of mind I'd have probably found a flattish bit.  Getting water, whilst close by would have entailed more rough ground crossing.  I simply wasn't in the mood.  Primarily as when I started the walk I passed a perfect pitch at the base of scorhill right next to the brook!  Frankly there was no competition!  If I'd not seen this I'd have stayed put.  But with a flat area by a brook, I was off.  It was nearer the car, in fact I had to partly retrace my early section.  Only difference was I went around the south west of Scorhill rather than over the top.

I saw a group of 6 walkers off in the distance and passed an elderly couple by the stone circle of Scorhill.

As this area is frequented by walkers due to easy access I'd only camp here in winter.  Also, being a small 1km hill away from car escape would be easy in emergency.  Arguably it's too close to the car, but for the next few months, I'll call it home and adjust my walk to finish there.  I'm quite happy with familiarity.

This time, Chris, it really felt like home.

I checked and wrote down here the distance information...

Distance 25.6km.
Asc 699m.
Ave moving speed 4.7kph.
Camped 940m from car.

This was all I wrote down.  It is about as much as I'd put in my note pad.  It's begging the question if to leave note pad behind and use the app Writer on phone / Nexus 7.

This was unquestionably my most relaxed camp from the moment I arrived.  In fact I think I enjoy the camping more than the walking, mentally, at that moment.  Though I am a walker.  I want to walk as far as is sensible / feasible / reasonable in a day prior to camp.  I'm not interested in parking the car, walking two miles (plucked that figure) or so and camping.

I pitched the Trailstar a bit higher to try it with a gap around the bottom.  It was cool and I was glad for the bivi.  The height of the Trailstar was not the issue but the cool damp ambient temperature.  I suspect I'd have been chilled without the microclimate the bivi produced.  In the morning the cuben base of the bivi was damp as was the side of my sleeping bag.  Though the down did not appear wet.  I will add a bit more cord to my groundsheet and see if I can get it a fraction more away from the sides.  I'm more than happy with a single skin shelter.  And an open door!

I read more than I have on any previous camp, saw half of We Bought a Zoo.  Both via my phone.  I also played a little music.  I find it soothing.

Two meals were eaten, LWWF.

I think I slept ok, it wasn't sound, but a full bladder didn't help.  I tried to use the bottle but the water works shut up shop and no matter how I tried I failed to go in the evening.   I don't think he liked the idea of the bottle.  Either that or he was confused.  Buggered if I was leaving the warmth of my sleeping bag.  I finally managed to go at about 6 in the morning!  That was a relief, I can tell you.

Breakfast was had, my usual porridge.  This time I cleaned the pot by making my tea in it after.   I warmed my meths and had no issues lighting it with my striker whilst lying on my tummy.

I packed everything away, it still seems to take about an hour to do this.  That is steady, continuous packing, including taking shelter down, putting cooking stuff away and deflating air bed.  Not in that order.

Once packed, I hefted the bag on my back, headed up Scorhill and was at the car in short order.  A few army bods were at the top of the hill.  So getting going was wise or passers by may have, well, passed by.

I'll aim to be back, time and weather permitting in December.  This will still technically be autumn.

So this is now 7 wild camps.  Over the coming months I'll revisit my camp kit list.  But it's pretty comprehensive but not too excessive.  I may be able to thin a bit here or there.  My Satmap may get relegated on well known walks in favour of my phone and Nexus.

This was by far and away my most relaxing camp! Long may that last.

Until next time....

Kit list on YouTube. Bess list on pbase. Both links at top.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bude to Damehole Point with Colin Ibbotson, camp 6!

Bude to Damehole Point with Colin Ibbotson, camp 6. Photo Gallery by Tony Hobbs at pbase.com

The surf crashed just 15 metres behind me. It was an incredible, almost deafening, primeval sound as I lay in my sleeping bag. It augmented, overpowered the small stream a few metres away running to the sea, plummeting about 15 odd metres down to the rocks below and joining the sea to complete its cycle.

The sea sounded very close, high tide was happening just below us.  Shortly after settling in, Colin left his MLD Duomid to check there was no danger of it reaching us as spray seemed to batter our shelters (though it may have been rain as there was a small shower soon after!).  It was late, by my standards, when we arrived and we'd not really checked how close the tide was.  We were close but out of reach in our high valley.  Damehole Point.

I left home just after 6am and arrived just after 9 near Bude where Colin Ibbotson met me for our walk north towards Hartland Point.  I thought we'd pass it, but it was far and arduous, so we stopped in the valley just short.  Frankly I was pleased to get as far as we did.

This now makes 6 wild camps for me this year, and in total, and this felt the wildest with that surf crashing into the rocks just below my resting form.

The wind was coming off the sea, swirling around in our small valley as we pitched.  While I set up the Trailstar it blew back in my face as much as away from me.  Shortly after settling in a few drops of rain, this was rain, not the apparent sporadic drops that may have been spray.  The swirling wind blew a few drops into my shelter but it stopped almost as soon as it started.  However the wind had now done a 180 and was gently blowing in the front opening of my Trailstar.  I told Colin and he called out to move the door.  I didn't...

I have, a couple of times in mid 2000s walked 20 miles in a day on Dartmoor.  Mostly my walks are about 16 miles around cheddar or about that on Dartmoor.  Both about 800+m of ascent for cheddar and just over 1000m of ascent for Dartmoor, on average.  My last walk with Colin from Beer to Budleigh was similar distance but 1400m of ascent.  This walk was just over 25km / about 16 miles (ok no difference there) but in excess of 2100m of ascent one way!  There were a dozen streams / rivers to cross and each entailed an often monstrously steep climb!  Some were steps, some slopes.

Talking was less easy on this section of Colin's coastal walk, due to single track walking, steep climbing / ascending and some strong wind! 

This walk was in complete contrast to the previous one. Rugged, wild and much less touristified.  Not to mention generally much steeper and some of the paths were very exposed and a couple of times I was aware of a big drop next to me! Care was needed.

I stopped at one drainage ditch with a thought of topping up my water.  Colin pointed out it was a drainage ditch not even shown on map.  He was concerned by its passing through a cow field.  I passed.  I have to admit if there was no choice I'd have happily used it, it looked clear enough.  Surprisingly whilst there were a dozen or so streams only a few were easily accessible.  Many were bridged or overgrown with brambles.  At each one that I had access, I put off topping up thinking there's another over the next ridge... Inaccessible...

Time was shifting and I was starting to worry we'd have to pitch without ample water, for me but primarily for Bess.  We discussed camping at one point but neither of us had much water for the night and this spot was quite exposed.  Colin told me he had to move one night when the wind threatened to overwhelm his tent.  I could tell Colin wanted to carry on in any event and I was happy with this.  In the next valley I found an accessible stream which was near a few cow pats but this at least was on the map!  I was taking no chances now and filled one of my now empty Gatorade bottles and both one litre Platys.  I also half filled both Bess' water bladders.  The weight was lost in the relief I felt at having ample water at hand for camp anywhere!  Many years ago on Dartmoor I ran out of water, weird I know, but it was a hot day and it nearly finished me off very quickly!  Luckily that time I was able to top up quickly!  But it taught me, for me, water is vital.

Earlier on we passed a satellite facility and some strange aerials.  Bess decided to think about rolling near the edge of a cliff and we both charged to grab her! 

She got surprisingly close a few times!  The drops were not for the feint hearted nor sufferers of vertico!

We neared Hartland Point having to bypass two valleys due to them having holiday homes in them.  Thankfully we found one that suited, even if a bit rough.  It was on the edge of a low cliff in a valley in an area frequented by (absent apart from their deposits!) cows.  We had to pitch between cow pats!  We did go a bit further, literally a few hundred metres as from up high there looked a better place to pitch.  It wasn't.  Though Colin would have used it.  I asked if we could go back, again just a few hundred metres.  For the sound of surf it was worth it.  It was heading back my ankle caught on something, nothing more than uneven mud.  Bugger I thought.  Not done that for over two months!  Thankfully it was very minor and I'm still convinced my ankles are stronger and able to withstand these odd tweaks through the use of trail running shoes.  Though I'd prefer they stop twisting!  It recovered within a few steps by which time we were back at my preferred spot.  A case of one step too many. Just tiredness at the end of a long tough day.

As we didn't get there until about 6pm only half an hour to sunset we set about pitching, and just over 8.5 hours from the start, Colin came over and helped with my silnylon Trailstar. 

As time shifted and the wind was picking up Colin quickly disappeared into his Duomid.  The wind was quite strong and conversation would have been impossible.  I didn't think I'd hear his voice until the morning.

There was no phone signal.

It was here, as I crawled into the Trailstar that a loneliness hit me with the power of a freight train.  I've felt sadness many a time on my camps, walks even, including my camp with Colin just under three weeks previously, but this was something else.  I felt lost.  How is it possible to be so alone when one is within a few metres of another, but I can assure you, it is.   It didn't last long, though it did briefly return, thankfully the wind died down and I heard Colins voice from within his shelter and I choked back a lump in my throat. I asked a few questions, just hearing his voice was reassuring.  Strange, never noticed that on a solo camp, just a sadness there, not a loneliness.  I never got or get that feeling at home, alone!

I noticed my center pole had dropped a bit, so I donned bags on feet, got out of sleeping bag, loosened the guys, lengthened the pole and retightened the guys.  Quicky and easily.

So why didn't I switch doors when the wind did a 180 and blew directly in my door chilling me all night.  Well it'll take a cleverer person than me to figure that one!  In a nutshell I was just not there mentally and didn't want the hassle of getting out again.  I think I was just chilled out and relaxed, for want of a better description.   It was easier to pull the Atom hood over my head (though I didn't bother attempting to actually put it on until just before I got up!), tighten the sleeping bad draw cord and hunker down. It's nuts! Even Colin said it'll only take 5 minutes!  Maybe if I'd needed the loo I'd have done it.  If it had rained I'd have HAD to do it!  I was too tired to put the Atom on properly, I just stuck the hood over my head.  I also had a light fleece, even a bivi packed.  There was no need to be chilled!  I had plenty to protect me.  I wasn't cold, however, just cooler than was necessary. It was a restless night.  I think it was just easier to chill, pardon the pun.

My eyes got very heavy at 9pm and I put my light out, I had read a couple of pages.  I was actually amazed I didn't need the loo. I guess I had sweated it out during the day.

I didn't use the ear plugs, I welcomed the sound of the surf crashing below me, and the gentler trickle of the stream close by.  I was at one, if a bit distant, with nature.

I slept fitfully, not totally out but certainly not awake nor with this world, yes, thank you, I heard that.  At 5am I heard voices and saw a torch light, I tucked myself further into my bag, trying to hide from the beam.  It wasn't until after 6.30am when we were both awake, me half awake that I understood what had happened.  Bess had left the Trailstar and walked over to Colin's Duomid, waking him!  He feared cows, looked out, shining his torch, to see a black wolf, Bess!  I think she had drunk all her water and went looking for more.  I'd not heard her leave.  I should have topped up her water the night before.

Colin started to stir just after 6am.  I chilled, not quite literally, until 6.30ish trying to come too a bit.  I said good morning. It was good to hear his voice again.

I got my meths stove going just before 7 for my porridge and tea.  Very early for me!  Colin was ready and packed up, leaving just after 7 under torch light. 

Alone.  But I didn't dwell on it. All was fine, it was time to get out of the sleeping bag, pack up and head back.

I had worn my leggings as my trousers were dirty, so I changed back, my shirt was still on.  I had slept in it with the hood of Atom over my head (I didn't have the wherewithal to actually put it on properly).  I was glad for that hood (I also had a woolen hat packed!), my head was getting chilled by that breeze in my door...

I put my damp shoes and socks on.  How Colin kept his dry the day before I don't know.  It was fine. Not winter yet.  They soon got soaked again on the return leg.

I deflated my airbed, folded and put it at the back of my MLD Prophet frameless pack, I stuffed my sleeping bag in a cuben stuff sack and double bagged it in a large cuben dry bag with my pillow pump below it, so if any water ever did bypass my double system the pillow will soak it up, not my sleeping bag!

Next in this dry bag went (in cuben stuff bags) my tiny wash kit, not used, repair kit / support bandage, not used, and phone charger power pack, used.  Then my fleece jumper, leggings and night liner socks.  The outer dry bag gets folded over all that.

Next is my cooking kit, any food not needed for the day, bivi, not used (that goes behind cooking kit as extra protection from my back and air bed support).

Then my first aid kit, groundsheet, waterproof trousers, book and on the top goes my synthetic Arcteryx Atom insulated jacket so nothing crushes it.

Pegs and odds and sods go in the top pocket.

For the return leg I kept out a packet of crackers and half a dozen cereal bars.  I drank both Gatorade bottles, topping one up.  I used my tried and trusted Aqua Mira pre mix for water.

The walk back was very strenuous.  My ankle was fine, it's as if nowt had happened.  I may have walked that distance before in one day, but never near that total ascent on two running days!  (A day later my calves are quite stiff, though a few minutes of walking eases them and I did my usual local jog with Bess).  Whilst I was impressed with my own ability.  I was even more chuffed how well Bess did, the nearer the car we got, the quicker / further ahead she would go.  Near the end I put her on the lead, save her running to the car from 500 yards, ok, metres out!

It was welcoming to see familiar sights as I headed back, welcoming as I mentally ticked them off, the satellites about an hour or so left to go, but sad at the passing of time from the previous day.

Once back I put dry shoes and socks on, my feet had survived very well.  A bit of hard skin had simply flaked open.  It was nothing more than dead skin from previous walks.

Again, as with all walks and camps, the actual day/s / night may have been emotional and mentally challenging but the rewards for me at this stage and I dare so for the near future at least, are preparing prior and sharing after.

One can ask for no more.

Another camp notched up, and looking back, thoroughly enjoyed.

I look forward to the next... Dartmoor in November, hopefully.

PS - I'll sort a few photos and post them on pbase with a copy of these words.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

MLD SuperMid on the go.

Watch "MLD SuperMid" on YouTube

Mountain Laurel Designs SuperMid Photo Gallery by Tony Hobbs at pbase.com

This is going to be a follow the progress blog. Primarily on weight for now.
SuperMid as packed in over sized stuff sack. 745g.
No seam sealing yet nor guys.  I'll do this over coming week/s.
I ordered this early September. I asked no one any advice. As I can imagine the replies ;-)  I just ordered it as I fancied it and it sort of completes my MLD shelter collection :-)
I also think it would make a good winter shelter with Bess if the conditions look reasonable.

I walked with Colin Ibbotson and briefly described my nutty new purchase!
In a nutshell he thought my pegs fine.  He was a bit dubious about using Pacer Poles with the SuperMid.    Due to two bent handles at each end using his system, the forces exerted could act like a fulcrum.  Whilst the poles are probably strong enough, they don't go that deep into the handles and could split them.    He suggested normal straight poles, placed ramrod straight in SuperMid.  Preferably adjustable. That way I could just use the cord and dispense with the line locs, a weak link.  I'll see if I have my old Leki Poles.... Also a notch either needs to be already in place or I need to cut one on the poles' basket, so they stay straight!  Of course a thicker support would be preferable, but it's on my head, not literally!

I found my old Lekis, and they have a groove on the baskets, though they would need enlargening, easy enough.  The problem in my opinion is that whilst they have straighter handles, they are still angled!

I'll stick to Pacers for practice. In use though I'll look to get straight handled Black Diamond adjustable alloy poles.  Then fingers crossed!  Only one way to find out and I'll not take it out deliberately in a storm.  For me its not for that!

It pretty easily fits the same stuff sack as the Duomid, though tight, no wriggle room.  This bag weighs 18g vs the oversized stuff bags 30g.

With this a Cuben stuff bag a bit pointless!

Added guylines.  60cm on all hem lines and 120cm (all probably over long!) on mid bungee tie outs.

No sealing yet!

Weight so far, in smaller stuff bag, 780g.  So only added 35g from start!

Seam sealing will add up to but less than 100g!  If I thinned it that would help. But  can't see me doing that!

Started seam sealing the SuperMid. Have done two long seams. Let dry, do other two another time.  Then fiddle with the top.  Ron's supplied sealer actually goes on fine.  Sorry to those who advised other applications.  Ron's was sort of, well, there ;-) Works fine :-)  Pretty sure one tube should be just enough.  Keep you posted.
Used 1.5 tubes!
Fully sealed, in stuff sack with guylines = 834g!  Not bad for an aircraft hanger.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Breaking News!

I appear to have bought a new shelter. Ops!

Monday, October 15, 2012

My thoughts and an opinion on my Cuben Fibre!

When it comes to most things I own and here we are talking hiking / camping I take great care of my kit, though I ought to wash my car once in a while.  I am what could safely be called a light user and I most certainly do not abuse my kit!  Of course having bought quite a bit, its use will inevitably be shared out too!

This blog is primarily about how I use / treat my Cuben Fibre.

I don't have much experience with cuben fibre, just what I read, hear and reading between the lines of various opinions, whether correct or not, it at least gives me thoughts, and of course what I see with my own cuben, which it's fair to say is a lot.  So far mine is holding up.  No damage at all.  But it's use has been exceptionally light!

Because I have very heavily invested in this material in shelters and groundsheets / inners it is in my interests to treat it well and see how long I can make it last.

So these are my observations so far...

First up, at this stage I don't regret getting any of it!

Cuben is an odd thing, it seems to have it's likers like me, but some detractors!  From what I can ascertain it's good and strong and light but its longevity appears to be under scrutiny in some quarters, I'm in no position to debate this.  For the likes of me it'll hopefully last many years, speaking to Colin Ibbotson gives me that impression with my light use. 

The impression I'm getting is constant sustained use by these long distance walkers over months at a time does potentially seem to wear it out. My attitude is that that comes with the territory.  Lightweight in any material will never last forever.  Cuben of course comes in various weights.  Minimum I'd say is 0.75oz. 

I look after it.  Pack it in over sized bags at home and store uncompressed in my cupboard.  I think crushing it into stuff bags repeatedly over months could shorten its life in the long term.

I also think where you pitch, especially groundsheets needs care. I'll avoid any sharp spiky objects and stones.  But I'd assume you'd avoid that where possible anyway.  Though I have seen pitches over heather and the such like.  I'd personally be cautious of pitching my cuben groundsheets on that.  Personally I'd aim for grass, or such soft ground where possible.  We do live in a green country...   So I'll pack my lawn mower and roller!  Of course long term camping finding grass won't always be possible.  But I'll dream it is!  For now I'm looking short term anyway.

It can be easily repaired too with Mylar tape (this is not cheap, but then we are dealing with Cuben!!) or Duct Tape.  Of course with my entry level experience I've not camped on anything other than good grass.  I'm more than happy with that!  I'm quite happy with heather (heath) in my garden, not in my shelter...

All my Cuben is from Ron of MLD in USA. Mountain Laurel Designs. He has been working with it for many years and probably knows it better than most, so I anticipate it'll last well.  For what I paid, it ought to!

The only other Cuben I have is from OookWorks a floor for my Trailstar and a tiny bit from Quest Outfitters in USA.  I use this as you may see in a video as a foot rest / sleeping bag protector at head end.  My sleeping bag is wide and can overflow the groundsheet!

A groundsheet obviously comes into contact with the ground so is bound to potentially suffer more.  It'll be interesting how mine goes.  Again with my light careful use I'd expect many years!

Of course a shelter in cuben, for me, should last even longer as it should receive no pressure from the ground.  I guess this goes back to my initial care thing of not packing away in tight stuff sacks day in and out, and having several shelters to choose from.  I'm never going to be reusing the same each trip.

Of course bare in mind my lack of credentials.  But sometimes not being influenced and being in cloud coocoo land can help.  Maybe.

Yes, I use and like Cuben Fibre.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My thoughts and an opinion on my shelters for dog camping.

Funnily enough I was thinking of writing a post, this post, on a shelter for dog camping when someone asked my advice.  Mine!  First up, of course there are far more experienced people out there, but I certainly have an opinion!

Of course this is based on 5 dry camps and the shelters I have bought.  Whilst it has rained twice, thankfully it's only been once all set up and settled in.  I'm more than happy with that!

Let's start at one end of the spectrum and work our way across my shelter list!  But of course its heading to my prefered choice. No prizes....

I've not tried my Tarptent Scarp 2 out wild camping.  Maybe one day I will.  It is not too heavy for what it is, (though I'd need to leave my beloved MLD frameless packs behind for it), it's a good size and very strong from what I hear.  A match for an Hilleberg Akto.  But really that comparison is out of any experience I have!  I have never seen an Akto.  That's why I need to keep this to my list of shelters not something I don't know / own.

I have of course slept in the Scarp, sort of, I used it for my initiation into camping at home, don't ask! 

I have camped in the Hilleburg Staika.  I will compare them despite the differences.

The Staika is bigger and heavier but does a similar job....  I used it first up primarily as a confidence comforting thing. For that it was worth its weight and cost!

I was asked about my opinion on the Staika for the SWCP.  My opinion is its fabulous, build like a brick chicken house, and very roomy, but I'd not want to lug it too far over too long a time!

The Scarp 2 is much lighter and really a better choice based on weight. Both are two skinned tents.  And this is my crux.  Now I wouldn't be surprised if many, if not most dog owners camp in a two skinned tent very regularly and very successfully! All I can say it doesn't appeal to me to have a dog, even Bess in the same inner as me. If it can be avoided when I have alternatives.  When I used the Staika I moved the inner over and placed Bess' bed straight on grass under the fly sheet and I dare say I'd do the same in the Scarp.

So these shelters don't appeal quite as much now as when I bought them.  No regrets and they not for sale!

I agree of course Bess is still under the same fly as me.  But I see that as separate!  I just do.

Especially once I get my OookWorks inners.

Next up are my rectangular tarps.  The weather would need to be very fine / a period of high pressure or good natural shelter.  So let's skip those other than to say I could probably have taken the MLD Supertarp to Dartmoor in July it was very dry and we had a week of high pressure, for a change.  I am glad I took the Cuben Trailstar.

So this now brings me to my Mids by MLD.  For me, for dog camping (and even if Bess were not about) the mids rule!  I have bought all my kit and will no doubt continue to buy more in the future...!

The Duomid is very good as a dog shelter.  And most certainly worth a look.  Mine is of course Cuben Fibre!  This works brilliantly in the Duomid.

Bess does take up some room in this however.  I'd say a quarter!  I think whilst for one person it's large, for one person and a dog its comfy!  I still have my own room, which is spacious.  There is some storage space (for ease I had to keep Bess' pack outside) at my head and feet and I was easily able to cook with the door closed (it was raining) by the central pole. I cooked with door closed but not zipped up to try to reduce condensation, I did feel a couple of drips, I heard that!  The stove was just enough away from Bess.  Ingress and egress was easy enough for us both as long as I kept one area completely clear (though doing the bottom clip up on the door was a tad fiddly, with practice I dare say it'll be quick and easy!).  In good weather with door open this would be a fabulous shelter.  Even with door closed its roomy if comfy with Bess.  Tons of head room.  Unparalleled head room!

Of course I have not seen other shelters but I have to say if the Trailstar didn't exist this would be second to none.  However the Trailstar does exist, so it's a close second!  It certainly deserves a serious look, especially if you want a zipped door.

I have already blogged prior to this my thoughts of the Cuben Trailstar.  I stand by my opinion, it deserves its place.  The only thing I'd add, is I don't consider it a beginners shelter.  If someone has some experience it's well worth a look.  I justify that by saying it took me, a beginner ages to figure it out and as a beginner I'd not appreciate getting up at midnight to move the door if wind blown rain did a 180!  But with experience, I'd probably not mind as much.  But maybe I would!  And how often will the wind do a 180.  See, I want to keep defending it!

This brings me to the silnylon Trailstar.  It's frankly unmatched!  Certainly in my inventory.  The Duomid trumps it for headroom and in cuben, weight (enter the Cuben Trailstar!), and of course the Duomid can be totally shut up.  But the silnylon can be pitched with a low door and has much more floor space (I recon Bess uses about a fifth and there is plenty of room for her pack!).  So the Trailstar will be my bad weather winter (or any time I choose) shelter of choice.  Unless I just fancy taking something else!

There is tons of storage space next to me, behind Bess and at my head / door where I can cook with less condensation than in my shut up Duomid.  And I can look out.

What I particularly love with the Trailstar is the floor space as previously expressed as it allows more separation between Bess and I.  If Bess decided to leave in the night (she had better not!) she can get out without damaging any doors!

For me whilst I'll regularly use my other shelters and I particularly like (love) the Cuben Trailstar / Duomid the silnylon Trailstar really rules the roost and rocks.  It gives me immense confidence and that is priceless.

For Bess and I the silnylon Trailstar is perfect.  A clear winner!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fifth Camp, this with Colin Ibbotson on the SWCP

South West Coast Path, Beer to Budleigh, with Colin Ibbotson. Camp 5! Photo Gallery by Tony Hobbs at pbase.com

NB... When next on pc I'll add these words to bpase which is and will remain my primary website for walks and images.

Been back just over a week from two days walking and one night camping with Colin Ibbotson on the South West Coast Path.

I met Colin at Beer and we walked about 24km over 1350m of ascent to Budleigh in a relaxing 8 hours.  Some of that was pretty steep!  Of course Colin managed it exceptionally well.  I managed it very well.  I think...

The walk back to my car was 20km over 1400m of ascent in 5 hours!  I stopped only once for a quick roll from the previous day,  I didn't even remove my pack.  I seemed to be on the charge!

I've walked that distance before at Cheddar, weekly, but Cheddar is about 800m of ascent, this takes in excess of 6 hours, with tea stops.  Of course any pitching / videos add time.  Then of course I chill out the next day!  So this was totally new.  Dartmoor is less than half this return distance over totally different terrain.

The differing measurements of distance / ascent are due to where we started and where my car was.  We also walked around Sidmouth looking for food! I just blazed past on the return leg.  I was stopped by a lady asking if I was doing the SWCP!

Rather than skip to the return, let's start at the beginning!  I was standing at the top of the slip way when Colin approached, he saw me first and called out.  Surprisingly he didn't leg it!

Bess and Colin got on very well from the get go and we headed up the road to join the South West Coast Path.  Chatting was very easy and relaxing.  The nerves I'd felt the night before and on the drive disintegrated immediately.  Though there were still moments of sadness, even in company... These just follow me, losing a wife is bound to have this effect and I expect them.

The path was well signposted and good under foot, and certainly had steep parts! 

The views were lovely.  It was quite breezy in places.  Colin spotted many potential camp spots along this section.  Most with good views if a bit exposed!  We walked past them all of course.

We stopped in Sidmouth for lunch, I had fish and chips.  I also filled up my two 1L Platy bottles, placing in both side pockets of my MLD Prophet and my Gatorade bottles on shoulder straps. From here we headed for the cliffs over Budleigh.

Camp was good. I was "pleased" but "disappointed" that Colin could not improve my cuben TS pitch.  See blog post.  I pitched it pretty well in the end.  Knowing it helped. For me it pitches one way only and Colin found no way better way.  The silnylon TS rules.  But I was plenty happy enough with the Cuben Trailstar!

A few people walked / jogged past, it was fingers crossed no one would complain!  No one did. One man gave us the silent treatment.  Another asked how long we planned to stay.  We were there about an hour to an hour and half before sunset.  Colin did say he'd have carried on by himself.  I was surprised how far we had actually walked.

We chatted for a short while at camp but settled into out shelters quite quickly.  Colin likes to get off his feet once in camp.

I cooked my boil in bag meal, made a tea, and just admired the view out the open front of the Trailstar.

I slept fitfully, it was both warm and raining and a little windy.  I used ear plugs to help. I think I maybe nodded off around 3 am maybe.   One thing I am aware of is making sure my mat / sleeping bag doesn't stray off my groundsheet.  I think I'm too concious of this.

I woke about 6 am. Just chilled for a short while, and got out about 7 to make my porridge and tea.  Colin left shortly after this.  I then packed up and was gone by just after 8 am.

The weather was fine on my return walk.  On reaching the car I made a cup of tea.  Lovely way to end a great couple of days with a friend.

Bring on another walk with Colin one day in the future.

App

Just testing the Android Blogger app :-)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My thoughts and an opinion on my MLD Cuben Trailstar.

Just thought I'd write a few opinions on my cuben fibre Trailstar. I'll have to compare it to my other shelters in this opinion, based on my experience, or lack of, with cuben vs silnylon vs various shelters and it’s about me and my thoughts. But it's primarily about the MLD Cuben Trailstar. This is not a review. That I'll leave to the experts who have tested stuff rigorously and know what they are talking about via years and thousands of miles of walking / camping. As some of you know I love cuben fibre and MLD. I have bought all my stuff. I've had no freebies or anything like that from Ron or anyone, nor do I wish to even go that route. My first tent was a Scarp 2 following an excellent review by Chris Townsend in TGO. I bought this last year (2011). I have pitched it a few times and slept in it in my conservatory, it was my way to introduce myself to sleeping under canvas. I did intend to camp in it. I may one day camp in it! It is not for sale. I do things my way. I first heard of MLD on Twitter and I have never looked back / the rest is history as they say. I'll not go through all my purchases as we'd be here all night. Actually, all year! One purchase, as soon as it was released was the cuben fibre Trailstar. I had already bought an extensive list of cuben products from Ron and knew his kit was superb. Second to none! In my eyes at least. Especially his cuben products. He bonds all his cuben. No stitching! No taping. It’s bonded. I have always been a loyal customer. Whether it be my local Snow and Rock or The Gorge Outdoors or indeed Ron. My loyalty will never waive. I believe you get what you pay for and good customer service / relations accounts for a hell of a lot. Especially if one has a problem. Ok, thank you, I heard that! I can walk into the above stores and get a hand shake, a warm welcome and even a cup of tea at The Gorge. I love all my MLD kit. My Grace Solo tarp, yes cuben, was probably my only ad hock off the cuff purchase. Why buy solo with Bess? Buggered if I know! But I don't regret buying it even if it gets no use in a long time. It'll never go off! Ditto for my Super Tarp, yes cuben, but it's easy to pitch and play with. Yes, I play with cuben fibre. This brings me to my cuben fibre Trailstar. It is a bit of a nemesis. I like it, don't think I'll ever "love" it like my silnylon Trailstar or even my cuben fibre Duomid, not so sure on that one. I love the Duomid, but I like the openness of the Trailstar! It’s pointless directly comparing the two, really… Part of me is disappointed in the cuben fibre Trailstar. Those that know me will know and may understand that saying that actually pains me. It also makes me feel disloyal to Ron. But that is just my personal mental state and, frankly is "me" I hate complaining or moaning. I have already stated in many a video, I’ll not be miserable. I hate “knocking” something. Especially a premium product, which this most certainly is. But am I knocking it! I don’t know. Let me try to explain things. This particular Trailstar can only be pitched one way. Low at about 1m. I have tried higher and it just won't pitch well. I got a low pitch on Dartmoor and was quite happy enough despite a slightly flappy door and Ron and Colin via email suggesting a remedy that didn't work for me. But this slightly flappy door bugged me. I had advice from three experts in their field, Chris Townsend, Colin Ibbotson and Ron himself all gave excellent advice via email over several months but I just could not master it. Over the last 6 months or so I have befriended Colin and I was lucky enough to walk with him for one section of his SWCP walk and camp on a cliff with Budleigh Salterton behind and Sidmouth in front, lit up for me to see out my door in the far distance. A few people passed my open door. I wasn't bothered at all! I love that open door. But I'll avoid campsites like the plague anyway. Colin pitched his silnylon Duomid quickly with inner whilst I was still working on my cuben Trailstar. Baring in mind I still lack camping experience, so this was no issue to me. My first pitch was pretty poor, awful in fact, again bare in mind I'd not pitched it for a few months, even then struggling a bit. Colin was able to see my efforts first hand and suggested a higher pitch. I knew here it would not work. I was willing to play along in case he knew something I didn't or I really was making a hash of it! He was not at all impressed with his attempt. I think he was shocked how bad it was. The rear can be pitched ok, but the front / doors just goes to pieces on this particular one. Maybe a degree out in the cutting process makes a difference as I've seen images of ones pitched well. Maybe cuben is that fussy in this shape / configuration. I don't know. I can only comment on mine. From my experiments I knew this one would only pitch low, just. So I retook the reins, lowered the central pole, repegged the rear pegs. One thing I'll make clear is that the rear half is absolutely rock solid and I think Colin would agree would easily withstand a hell of a lot of wind abuse and probably not move much if any. It easily matched and I'd say bettered the silnylon Duomid that Colin was in. Nothing moved or rippled! In this respect it’s superb! Ok it wasn't a strong wind, more a gentle breeze, but enough to show the two differing models ability to cope with wind. In my opinion. But for those doors! It seems impossible to get them and / or the ridge from the central pole to door pole tight. Even Colin failed. On a premium product this is a shame and makes me a little disappointed in it. On this particular model I can get that ridge tight (pole to pole) in one position only and this means the doors are slightly flappy. Colin tried and could not improve my effort! He was again shocked by this. I think Chris also found the doors problematic when he tried it a few months ago. I copied his example of leaning Platypus bottles against the door/s to take the slack out. This does help. Shouldn't be needed! But it helps. To get the doors at that situation I have to have them quite close / narrow and pitched tight to the ground. This reduces inner space and this I have commented on before in a video or two. I do find I'm touching the inner. However this doesn't seem to matter at the moment as based on two camps I've had zero condensation. One camp was dry Dartmoor, yes a dry camp! This camp it was quite wet and rained most of the night. I cooked both times under there too! Yes, zero condensation. I'd agree one can't base much on two camps in a shelter. That's why this is an opinion not a review! You are free to call it what you will. Again some of you will know I own the silnylon Trailstar and it's a totally different beast. In this instance the material clearly makes a massive difference. The silnylon TS is simply in a world of its own. If I had one shelter only it would be the silnylon Trailstar. Period! An aside and in my mind this is vital! This does not change my opinion of cuben fibre. Yes I'm only a part time camper or weekend camper. Despite usually camping during the week. I have all of 5 camps under my belt. I'm not talking durability, which with my usage I expect many years of service. I'm talking pitch and pitch alone! Cuben fibre works perfectly in the Duomid, I have one. It also works perfectly in fixed tarps. I have 2! Plus the poncho! But in the Trailstar it's slightly trickier / fiddly / fussy! Frankly a pain up the arse. The rear pitches perfectly low. No doubt, no question. And I'd wager its storm proofness from the rear will better almost anything out there. Common sense tells me that. It’s like a stealth fighter from behind. It's the setting of the doors that for me spoil it a bit, maybe a lot. I don't honestly know if this just annoys me or really annoys me! It really annoys me but in a way that a mother loves her ugly stroppy duckling I feel the same towards my cuben Trailstar, despite its bloody annoying slightly flappy narrow door! Having used it twice it has kept me warm, dry and comfortable. Especially on Dartmoor. It was dry. The SWCP was more of a "test" (I’m no tester!) it was wetter and rained all night, slugs were about too. The general wind noise was low to zero. I didn't get any of the howling Colin reported from inside his silnylon Duomid pitched right next to me. Rain on my "canvas" kept me awake, but remember my lack of experience with sleeping out under cover. Colin commented as have others, it takes time to get used to sleeping out, the pitta patta of rain. I know Chris reported the doors making an annoying buzz in high wind, a leaning Platypus appeared to sort that. I leaned a Platy, it does tighten up the door! I also believe Colin compared it very favourably to the Akto he once owned. That swayed a lot in the wind, I believe he said. My cuben Trailstar didn't move. It made me oddly proud. Has it leaked, blown away, swayed an inch? No. Not yet, anyway. For me, being lucky to have bought both versions I'd use the silnylon Trailstar in very bad weather anyway. Primarily due to ease of pitch, more apparent inner space and a lower even more weather proof door. I reiterate, I like the open door. I want to see out. Not be couped up, shut in. It is also incredibly light, it really is. I doubt there is anything out there that can match it for weight and stormproofness! Of course if the wind changes direction with that high door… but can one complain about that vs the weight. I’m not so sure one can! Do what Chris did once, get up, and move the door! I don’t fancy it, at my stage of camping, but for the weight… Hindsight. When Ron knew I was struggling to pitch it in the very early days he offered a return / refund. Should I have accepted it? Maybe, possibly, yes, I don't know. (EDIT! It was at this point that I contacted Chris and by default, Colin (whom I had been in touch with for a little while), asking if he / they was / were interested in taking a look at the pitch. I really did not want to return it. I wanted to (try) to get it right or as correct as is possible! End Edit). Would I have bought it first up with this knowledge? No. No, I'd just have gone straight to silnylon Trailstar. It's simply easier to pitch and easier to use and has more space inside, it appears to me. But, it’s just a door. Work with it, not against it. Would I give it away? No, Never! Would I sell it? No chance. It's mine. It's probably like a bloody annoying kid. Needs an eye on it. A bit of discipline. Its like me, an oddity! I own an MLD cuben Trailstar and I love the bloody sodding thing! By Tony Hobbs