Saturday, 31 August 2013

North Down White Cliffs Walk.

Having decided to go for a walk on the Fjallraven next year I have started early with some walks. I have to say that I believe myself to be quite lucky living near part of the North Down Way, so today I packed my training daysack filled with stones and water to a weight of 12kgs and got Pants sorted out and off we went.  The morning started of over cast with a quite a chilly breeze, so I donned my Buffalo wind shirt. The clouds were highlighted by the sun which was trying to breakthrough.

Pants on our approach to the Cliffs.
Last time I went walking was a few weeks ago with Gary & Steve in the Brecon Beacons, both Gary and myself came across a small problem last time we where out we both wear glasses, I am long sighted which makes reading a map very difficult. Gary decided to try a plastic magnifying glass and it worked well, so dragging glasses out and putting them on an then off which is a pain can be avoided, but glasses still carried.

So, I did an email trawl and found the credit card plastic magnifying glass credit card magnifier splashed out and bought two...........used for the first time today a good aid, never took my glasses.

Blackthorn wood with a worn walk through

The plan was to just do a nice relaxing 10 mile walk, 5 miles out and back again, just doing 3 miles to the hour which for me is a comfortable pace with a 12 kg sack. I have to say the scenery was beautiful and encountered only one other person walking a dog in the whole trip.

Dover harbour in the distance
The morning started to brighten up, passing the old military sea defence bunkers and eventually overlooking Dover harbour with the ferry's coming and going, beyond that perched on the cliffs Dover castle.  The National Trust has nominated the white cliffs as one of the Great Britain's top ten autumn festival walks Great British Walks White Cliffs of Dover the walk featured is actually on the other side of Dover, one for later.

Eventually the GPS told me I had completed 5.1 miles outward leg, strangely this wonderful bench was at the same point LOL...I tend to use the App Endomondo which is good for collecting useful data for training, it also verbally calls out the miles completed and time per mile including current total time. I keep a training record online with Endomondo and most of all the basic is free..endomondo

This was the view from the bench, stopped for a water break and took in the view, then turned around and started on the inward route home. The weather really warmed up for the second leg.

We eventually completed the walk in 3 hours 21 minutes and actually I stopped on several occasions to take pictures and chatted to someone close to home, so it could have been quicker walk. I good walk to get my legs moving again.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Mermot Helium Membrain Down Sleeping bag.

Lofting Bag
Following my mention of the purchase of the final "big three" the Mermot Helium Membrain arrived tonight. I'm like a little boy with his new toys this sleeping bag completes my heavy three items coming over the 3kg by 340gms I thought it was a bit less but hey I can stand that bit extra, I had never planned to be an Ultra lightweight walker.

The sleeping bag is a regular sized, left sided zip bag and comes with a compression and loft sack. Having rather large shoulders I have always found sleeping bags a bit difficult to purchase, so as soon as it arrived I was eager to ensure that my shoulders were accommodated, thankfully its a great fit close enough to ensure a mummy fit and keep the warmth in without restricting my movement. I am a cold and side sleeper so this Marmot down bag fits the bill fantastically well. I purchased the bag from theoutdoorshop in a clearance sale it was the only one too, bargain. I have been researching down sleeping bags for quite a while, I would have liked a slightly lighter bag however, the trade of for me is the fit. I am happy that my research has paid off.

The loft bag states its a long but the bag itself is a regular, a good 850 fill too. For more details about the Mermot Helium Membrain Down Sleeping bag use the link to go to the Mermot site helium membrain Final thoughts are that once its been field tested on a few winter trips I will write a review.

Thanks for reading.



Henry Shires Tarptent Moment DW. The Garden Review.

So, as I commented in my last post "Lets talk about weight" I said that when the Tarptent Moment DW arrived from the USA I would do a quick review. The tent arrived today via customs delivered by Parcel Force. Before delivery I had to pay the VAT and a Post Office handling charge which was nearly as much as the VAT. However, well worth the extra expense.

Well packaged by Henry Shires company and ultra quick from the US to GB, however, once here it took longer than a transatlantic trip to reach me!!

Having only seen the tent on two other occasions and then not the double door version I was excited to open the package and check and erect the tent. The first thing that struck me was the lightness and very small size which should have come as no surprise really but its my first real lightweight tent.

On opening the generous storage bag your straight into the tent. Wrapped inside is a microlight bag containing two aluminium round pegs, with the put together collapsible pole and a detailed instruction guide that also covered helpful hints for getting the best from the tent, also how to seam seal the Moment.

I have had many tents before and I have to say most if not all state the ease with which they can be erected but generally there is always a hitch or ignorance because no instructions came with it and its not so quick and easy! However, the Moment was the simplest and quickest to put up I really was quite amazed. Nothing worse than fiddling with canopy's and poles with cold wet hands after along day out. Those times are long gone with this tent. Perhaps four minutes to put it up, so I will get quicker. Minor adjustments to the set up can be completed at either end of the tent via two simple sliders on the guy ropes. The elasticated put together pole just slides through the centre seamed section and placed into small reinforced webbing pockets positioned at either end with adjusters also at either end. 

Actually, Pants the dog could almost put the tent up its that easy..........However, he was in his normal supervisory role...

I really like the double door layout. So much room for such a light weight tent. I have also added double guys (bought from to both sides of the arch it tends to make the tarp much more stable in high winds  I purchased two Ti pegs that  I heat shrink wrapped Yellow on top for easy recovery.

Both doors rolled up.

One door rolled up.

I love the fact there is quite a bit of admin /storage room either side of the sleeping area, plenty of room inside I'm only 5'9 so its roomy. Simple and lightweight Velcro and elasticated ties are good.

Packing away of the Moment was just as quick and simple as the erection of the tent.

The weather being really good I took the opportunity to seam seal the tent, having got all the relevant bits and pieces prior to the arrival of the tent. I followed the directions on the Tarptent website ( and it really was so simple.

I used AquaMate 100% Silicone (a must) adding White spirits and mixing up with an old twig. I cut the bottom out of an old plastic milk bottle.

The weather was so warm that the Silicone and White spirit mix was drying very quickly. Once I had completed all the seams and tie back points I pasted the sleeping area floor to assist with slippage. Having let the tent weather for 24 hours I packed it away in the dry.

I now await my first trip out in the Moment to find out the good and bad points if any! I write up will follow.

Till next time.


Saturday, 17 August 2013

Lets talk weight..........

Having made my mind up to join friends in the 2014 Fjallraven Classic. it was decided amongst the three UK walkers that we needed to start training early. So we hatched a plan to have a walking weekend in the Brecon Beacons, Wales. You can see a write up by Gary Wale here on his blog Brecon Beacons . On a personal front it had been a long while since I had contemplated reducing the weight in my rucksack, we had sort of agreed to try and get as light as possible for the training weekend as trial run. Its amazing how when you start to weigh items on the scales how things soon begin to add up, so in an attempt to lower the weight I invested in certain new items of gear after watching Jorgan Johansson the rule of three. Jorgan recommends that the pack not weigh any more than 10kgs the Brecon trip both Gary and myself came in at just over12kgs and Steve quite a bit lighter at around 8kgs.

The first item I changed was too a lighter pack.

Lightwave Ultra Hike 60

In hindsight I believe that I cold have gone even lighter by reducing the volume of the pack, that said its fine and comfortable. Next on the list was the sleeping mat having many at home to choose from Closed cell, Thermarest etc all good in there own way but either heavy, or bulky. I did some research and found the this:
Klymit Static Inflatable V
The price was right it was light and packed away small it also had some good reviews. I have now had the chance to use the Static and I must say I really do like it, giving me a really comfortable nights sleep. The only downside for me was the deflating of the mat which seemed to take an age, however with practise I'm sure this will improve. Both the Pack and Klymit mat I purchased from Ultralightoutdoorgear there delivery was always quick and there website informative.

I tried where possible to use existing equipment to try and reduce weight and cost. Having bought a new Gelert Solo (£29) sometime ago and only used it a couple of times I decided to ditch the lead weights (metal pegs) and purchase new Ti pegs, also I cut out any unwanted labels, got rid of the plastic bags for poles and pegs and got the tent down to a reasonable size and weight about 1.2kgs. Gary and Steve brought along a Hubba and Tarptent Moment. The proof is always in the practical use of equipment, I always knew that the interior was small but there is just no sit up or admin room where as Gary & Steve could enjoy the luxury of admin space. The weather on our night out was horizontal heavy rain all night with heavy winds and I have to say that the Gelert held its own with the other two tents not letting in any water and no condensation, my review from 2010 can be found here Gelert Solo Tent Pt 1 Garden Review But, my mind was made up that I cold not go to Sweden for 5+ nights sleeping in a Gelert Solo, so I have invested in a Tarptent Moment DW from the USA. The Tarptent is now waiting to be collected from the Post Office further reviews to follow along with a seam sealing blog. I have to say that Tarptent was dispatched quickly via International express delivery it arrived in the UK after only 3 days...of course its been stuck in the UK for 5days currently!!!

Tarptent Moment DW

I ditched my old aluminium large pans and went to a single Ti pot but kept my Ti gas single burner head. I have to say that this combination worked very well and no changes to the cooking outfit are required.

The choice of footwear came down to two pairs of boots the Hagloff or Merrill, I chose the Merrill's (very light) for the weekend a good choice however, they did succumb to the wet on the last day with water coming over the top of the ankle. Having seen videos from this years walk in Sweden I'm not so sure on the choice of boot ! time to do some heavy walking in the Hagloff Jaunts they have a stiffer sole and one of the major complaints was sore feet from this years competitors. We will have to see.

Merell Moab

Hagloff Jaunt GT
The picture below shows other articles carried in the pack including a 3litre (1 litre water = 1kg) Camelback bladder inside the pack. From left to right in picture below: Plastic bag containing First Aid Kit, Tissues,Cylume,Handkerchief, Head torch. Clothing, fleece, socks and pants. Sleeping bag. Water Purification bottle. Cooking kit. Glasses. Woolly hat, Sun hat. Roll mat. Gelert Solo. Lightweight Poncho. Towel. Washing kit. Apologies for the pictures.

The challenge of reducing weight in the pack continues with a Marmot Helium Membrain Down bag on the way Marmot Products I have missed Jorgans 3kg target by 340gms but I'm happy with the equipment and small extra weight. Just the field testing to come, wait out for the reviews.

Gary and myself carried wet food, Steve used dried, wet is the heavier but in most cases tastier. We will be carrying and using dried food next year.

What is not shown in the photos or talked about are waterproofs, I have a Berghaus Goretex jacket and trousers which will probably be used next year, but on the Brecon walk I used an old DPM Gortex jacket actually, it held its own in the foul weather but like most waterproofs failed towards the end of the trip.

Well that just about ends this entry, when the tent arrives I will do a small garden review along with a report on how to seam seal the Tarptent Moment DW.

Thanks for reading.