Equipment

10th November 2017

In the event my list for Phase 1 was almost irrelevant because Mr and I camped together in our smaller tent with the dog. Definitely not an ultralight trip! Along with the dog crate we took all sorts in the car to make life more comfortable, including a microwave, an electric chiller and a fan heater. (OK, I actually forgot to pack the fan heater so we bought another one and that got rid of the condensation problem of two people plus a dog in a small tent in the rain and mist). We booked camping with electric hook-up and stayed reasonably comfortable. There was kit we didn’t use so I’ve been whittling down my ideas of what is necessary, as opposed to desirable for Phase 2.

Updating the list

I’ve been removing ‘stuff’ from the pile that came with me to Land’s End. It’s amazing how little we really need, and I’m guessing I could take even less if I really tried. I’ll be using the walking poles and wearing the Tilley hat, buff and trainers – for the record these are also Inov8s again.

This time I have two identical pairs of Inov8 Roclite 280 Women’s Trail Running Shoes. It’s my habit to name my shoes as it’s easier to do that than remember all the technical details. The pair called Tealmark came with me on Phase 1, and the pair called Amethyst are being worn in right now ready for Phase 2. (Tealmark are still drying after their trip through the washing machine to get rid of the slurry smell.) When I wear trail shoes I don’t get blisters or hot spots, and my feet and ankles are more comfortable than in boots (am I the only person who feels claustrophobic in ski-boots?). I wear at least one size larger than normal and always have toe-wiggle room even after my feet have spread. It works for me.

In 40 litre rucksack
Tent, sleeping bag (not as cosy as my old bag, I didn’t realise how lucky I’d been with that one) and sleeping mat – the OEX mat has excellent insulation. I approve.
One spare set of day clothes in a drybag stuff sack in lieu of a pillow.
One dry set of thermals to wear at night (includes waterproof socks, fleece hat and gloves), also in drybag stuff sack.
Spare socks, undies in small drybag.
Down jacket in stuffsack pocket.
(Each stuff sack has a thin poly bag to separate wet/dirty clothes where necessary. Swap contents at night – this system worked well on Phase 1. I always had dry clothes to wear at night and my slurried socks didn’t contaminate everything else)
Waterproofs (in stuff sack)
First aid kit, now reduced to Ventolin, Vaseline, ibuprofen gel, paracetamol and blister plasters, crepe bandage, scissors and safety pins. Antiseptic hand cleaner.
Wash kit now reduced to antibac wash liquid (use as shampoo and for washing clothes), deodorant, toothpaste and brush, razor, hairbrush and suncream. Towel. Spare guy rope and two clothes pegs (for the day when I decide to hang my socks from my pack to dry as I walk).
Foil blanket.

In waist pack
Phone and charger, money, maps, torch, whistle, pen-knife, log-book and notebook. Water.

What have I forgotten?

14th October 2017

Equipment thoughts while packing:

Well I said I wouldn’t be swapping my kit for ultra-lightweight, but… when I packed the bare minimum that I thought I would need, it was more than I was willing to carry.

Shelter:
A bivvy bag and tarp is the current trend among ultra-lightweight weekenders, but I want something a bit more substantial if I’m going to be living in it for weeks. On the other hand I’m going to be carrying it for weeks. So for LEJOG I’ve taken my Vango Banshee 300 out of my LEJOG pack and replaced it with a second-hand Vango Force 10 Helium UL1, smaller, less than half the weight, and almost see through.

Sleep mat:
The inflatable sleep mat that I use whenever we go away with the car is a bit of a lump to carry. “The OEX Superlite 8 Mat is made from a unique ultra-lightweight Plastazote physically cross-linked polyolefin foam, giving you a comfortable barrier to sleep on for every season”  The snake-oil stuff goes over my head and marketing-speak tends to switch me off, but the weight of 190g and the 2.3tog rating made it worth testing. Basically it takes up the same space but weighs less.

Sleeping bag:
My twenty year old (in those days super-lightweight) polyester-filled Snug-Pak bag has been wonderful, but last year I imagined it had some cold spots. This summer’s trips confirmed that it’s not my imagination, and I replaced it with a down-filled bag that packs into a slightly larger space, but feels as if it will be cosy enough. It takes up more space and weighs fractionally more than the old bag.

Cooking:
We use a full-size Trangia for our normal camping trips and I love it as a system. Simple, effective, reliable, works in all weather conditions – does the job. I also use a baby Trangia which is very dear to my heart, and I enjoy being able to cook for myself, have a hot drink etc. But it may not be strictly necessary, so it’s currently sitting in the ‘nice to have’ pile for when all the essentials have been packed. (Update 30/11/17 – I’ve just discovered that it is possible to get titanium meths burners that look like copies of Trangia burners. If anyone has practical experience of using one and can confirm that they work as reliably as Trangia branded burners then I’ll reconsider the cooking option.)

Other essentials:
Leki Makalu walking poles and Tilley hat. Maps, phone, whistle and first aid kit, Silva compass, water bottle, waterproofs, spare socks, warmth layer and hat. And for October when the days are shorter, Kalenji running lights and a high-viz gilet. I regard sunscreen, soap and toothpaste as essential, but may change my mind when the pack is fully loaded; if I revert to feral I’ll stay downwind of you.

I’ll update this as experience informs choices, but several items are hovering on the boundary between essential and optional. e.g. Do I need insect repellant in Cornwall?

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