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.