Sunday, 14 November 2010

Great Gable Remembrance Service

I managed to get out on the hills last night for the first time in months.  As part of this mini trip I recorded some audio with the purpose of putting together a podcast.  At the time of writing this I've not even listened back to a lot of it so I'm not promising anything at the moment.  I may have 20 minutes of wind noise, then there's my natural ability to screw up anything technical so please don't hold your breath.

So the following is a little taster of the trip.  I managed to get to Seathwaite Farm at 8.45 last night.  It was chucking it down.  A beer in the car later and it had stopped enough for me to get out, up the side of Sour Milk Ghyll and pitch up with the tarp on a small platform near the top waterfall.

The camp spot just behind the top waterfall (taken the next day)

The tarp in the dark.  It was 11pm before I was safely tucked in my sleeping bag.

The forecast was for a clear night and bright sunny day.  It chucked it down for the majority of the night, with the delightful surprise of the slight breeze changing direction.  This resulted in a good test of my water resistant bivi bag.  On two or three occasions I woke up with rain on my face and head, the bivi resisted.  I retreated into the foot end of the tarp, as you may be able to tell from the following pictures there wasn't all that much room...

I realised during the night that it was remembrance Sunday and that I had read about a service that takes place on Great Gable so with no other plan I decided I'd plod up there the next day.  As per the forecast is was chucking it down, the cloud was down and it was miserable.  However... higher up this had fell as snow.  The first snow I'd seen this winter.  This made for a much more enjoyable and atmospheric walk.

The service was very brief and the sun made a brief appearance and then the cloud rolled in and the temperature really dropped.  Forty minutes of standing around had took it's toll on my fingers so it was a quick descent to Sty Head Tarn and then back to the car.

A lovely little winter adventure to start the snowy season off.  Maybe commentary to follow...

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Mugs and Nikwax

I'm still making stuff honest!  But in the mean time I thought I'd just share a couple of little solutions to minor problems that I've encountered over the last couple of weeks.

Firstly mugs.  As you know from my last post I use an Alpkit MyTiMug as my only pot/mug thingy.  A lot of the time I especially in the mornings when I’m wanting to get up and go I really wish I had a separate mug to drink tea from whilst having breakfast.  Also during the day if you stop for a brew as all my cook kit fits inside the MyTiMug I have to wait until I finish said brew before I can pack up and put stuff in my bag.  A separate mug, oh how useful you would be…

Now the thought of carrying extra weight, even that of a mug is pretty repugnant to most normal people, it is to me anyway, the lightest I had seen was this,

Expensive, light, out of stock and very sexy.

I’d never considered one of these  

It’s an Orikaso Mug.  I picked up a full set of Mug, Plate and Bowel from eBay for £3.99 including postage, just search on the site for Orikaso (I’m in no way connected to the seller by the way).

It weights 37g and folds flat.  I know they’ve been around for years, for some reason I’ve never clicked that this is a solution to the mug problem and remains in the realms of acceptability for weight.  It could also be used as a chopping board or a lure to attract giant tadpoles.

Now on to Nikwax.  I apologise now if this is teaching grandmas to suck eggs.  I’ve always had a bit of a hit and miss experience with reproofing clothes with Nikwax, mainly miss.  I’ve always used a washing machine, done the washing the dispenser thing and running it through empty on the hottest wash to clean the machine of detergent.

Combinations of drip drying, tumble drying all sorts and stuff never has a DWR like it does new from the shop.  I tried hand washing this week instead.  Absolutely bloody brilliant, quicker, less energy and DWR just like out of the shop.  I do have to point out this was the first time I had used Nikwax on Paramo, I know the two were developed to work together so perhaps I should expect better results than on Goretex but by Jingo it worked.  That is all.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Cooking Gear

I think most of us would put stoves and cooking gear in general, in our top two of most desirable bits of kit.  Shelters/tents/tarps taking up the other place.  I do anyway.

I realised that I’ve not posted much about the cooking equipment I use.  I’ve never done a dedicated post anyway.  Over the years I’ve used most types of backpacking stoves.  I started out way back when, with a full Trangia set, two pans, kettle and frying pan.  A brilliant bit of kit more suited to car camping than backpacking due to its weight.

When I started on the lightweight revolution I got a Coleman F1 gas stove - £15 and about 80g.  For the money a brilliant bit of kit, easy, fast, convenient.  The main problem was the gas you had to screw on the bottom of it.  Big metal canisters being thrown away and stored half full in a cupboard.  Again I still have this stove and I’m gradually using up the half full canisters when car camping.

Two or three years were then dedicated to making and messing about with meths stoves.  This is a very addictive pastime. Be warned!  I developed a small side burner stove made from Red Bull cans which an Alpkit MyTiMug could sit directly on top off.  This was quite efficient, very fast and did away with the need for a pot stand, just a wind screen.  I used this stove for about a year, but there were always problems with balance.  You needed a flat, preferably dead flat area.  I had a couple of spills and started looking for something else.

Woodburners, although fun are not massively practical when you just want a quick cup of tea in the morning.  I made a couple of stoves out of food cans with roughly the same dimensions of the Bush Buddy.  They worked reasonably well, very environmentally friendly but just not quick enough when you take into account the time for fuel collecting and prep.

I’d never tried solid fuel tablets or esbit.  I had dismissed these as stuff boy scouts used years ago.  After reading on the web of a lot of American hikers using them and then finding Colin Ibbotson's design I decided to give them a go.  I haven’t looked back since.  You can pick them up in most high street camping shops.

Having just finished making a copy of my cooking system for a friend’s birthday present I thought I post a few pictures and a brief description.  I make no claims for the design of the below.  They are copies of Colin’s ideas.  This is the most convenient, stable, quiet, and just down right brilliant way of cooking I’ve used.  I do just tend to heat up water for food and drinks.

To start with is the Alpkit MyTiMug, this is the newer one.  Mine’s got a small wooden knob on the top, this one is slightly lighter at 116g on my scales (including the lid).  My original apart from being sooted up is as good as new after about five years use and for £25 is probably one of the best bargains out there.

The stove itself is made from an aluminum foil baking tray.  I got two trays for £1 from Poundland and you can get two stoves out of one tray making the total cost of the stove 25p.  I say stove, when in reality it’s a dual pot stand/wind screen.  The two ends are clipped together with paper clips and a tent peg is slipped through the holes either side of the vent holes.  The pot with its handles extended sits on the tent peg and the side of the stove.  The stove can easily take the weight of a full pot despite its flimsy appearance.  The solid fuel tabs sit on the round piece of foil and just left to burn under the pot.  The stove weighs 9g

The pot cozy is made from three pieces of old closed cell foam mat to form a cylinder with one end that can be removed.  This is much more robust and efficient than the silver bubble wrap pot cozy.  It also provides a strong cover for the pot in your bag to stop the soot rubbing onto your other kit.  This weighs 25g.  I’ve just fixed mine with gaffer tape, Colin has used Araldite on his.  I didn’t have any.  The savings in weight and cost of fuel by using a pot cozy are immense.

The whole lot fits inside the cozy and this can also accommodate enough fuel tablets for a weekend trip making a very neat little package costing well under £30 and tipping the scales around the 150g mark.  As there are no special tools needed, apart from a single hole punch which can be picked up on the high street.  It’s a making moment most people can do.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

New Backpack

I've had an attempt at a backpack before. It was a good project and did produce a useable backpack. However some of the stitching and seams were a bit iffy. I used a variety of seams to see which one worked best and came to a way in which I thought worked. This seems to be how some commercial backpack companies also stitch up their bags. I'll post a photo when the sewing starts so you can have a look. My previous pack was made from very lightweight PU coated ripstop nylon. This was the wrong choice. Substantial holes developed around the stitching after a bit of use.  They didn't get any bigger and the material has proved to be tougher than it looks but it didn't inspire confidence and I don't use the pack now.

The new fabric is this.  Apparently it's the stuff that some hot air balloons are made from.  It's strong, very very strong and waterproof and cheap!  Now the colour I got hold of is yellow, the photo below does not show the full glory of this fabric, it's the brightest sunshine yellow EVER!  As you can see (from the link) they also do black.  It's tempting to get some and do a stripy wasp style backpack.  That's got to be first for the lightweight backpacking community (and probably the last).

So where was I..?  Ah wasps...  So that's the fabric sorted.  The design was the next step.  I have been really impressed by these packs.  I got one at the beginning on the summer and it's been well used and lent out to friends.  Everyone's reactions when they see it is that I've bought something that's the lightest because it the lightest and not that its functional.  Believe me it is functional and featherweight too.  Brilliant kit.  So I wanted a larger version around 35l.  The pack was picked apart over the course of a couple of evenings and a pattern taken from the individual panels.  These patterns were enlarged using a photocopier and then panels from the new fabric were cut and pinned together.  Although time consuming this part is relatively straightforward.

A couple of further evenings were spent creating the pattern for the straps and the pockets.  Pinning all these together and seeing how it looked.  I've still to do the hip belt.  The level of adjustment on the straps is minimal as I making the pack for me.  The small amount of adjustment will save on weight and materials and be enough to cope with changes of clothes and the adding of layers.

I have realised that the sewing machine I have can't cope with heavy weight thread or do bar tacks, or even zig zag stitching any more.  Luckily my next door neighbour is a professional seamstress.  So a bit of sweet talking and hopefully I can borrow her machine to sew up the final version.

At the moment I have most of the bits ready to sew up.  To get to this stage I reckon has taken around 15 hours of work and countless of hours of thinking.

 Backpacks are hard to get right.  I've a feeling that this may be too wide across the shoulders.  So I'm going to quickly put this version together and see how it works out.  There will be adjustments to make and a couple of working models before the final version is done.  I'm hoping to take this across Scotland on the TGO if I get on.  I'm aiming to get the weight under 300g, halving the weight of my current pack, the original GoLite Jam.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Apologies for the extended interval.

Hello all. I would like to apologise for the rather large gap between posts. This is due to a number of real life matters, non serious you'll be glad to know and generally a lack of time.

However normal service is soon to be resumed. I still have to get round to doing the extended Lakeland Bloggers video which will probably appear on either Phil’s ( or Steve’s ( blog, being as they’ve had to wait months for me to get my arse into gear, sorry chaps.

An application has been submitted the TGO Challenge*. This year, if I’m selected, I shall be walking with two friends, Seth and Tom. After last years trip which was held in unusually good weather I reckon my kit can be reduced somewhat (cue dramatic music and claps of thunder) and I hope to be making some new bits and bobs for May’s crossing.

Shelter - I wish I had taken a tarp. I really like the MLD DuoMid but you still have that fully enclosed feeling of a tent which I don’t like. This time I am putting together a version of the cat cut tarp which I trialed in the lakes. I would like some Tarp user’s views on this one. I’ve got some spinnaker material which I reckon will bring the weight of the tarp itself down to around the 200g mark, pegs and guys on top of that. This one will have substantially more tie out points to secure it. I am also making a full size beak for it which will cover the opening at the front. This is removable and will provide protection during changeable weather. On paper I have a design that will allow the walking pole to be situated under the main canopy and the beak to clip next to this. It’s hard to explain but hopefully a prototype will soon become reality. I would like to get the views of regular tarp users who have used spinnaker tarps, mainly how flappy/loud are they? I’m presuming a lot is down to shape? Also have any of you had catastrophic failures of spinnaker?

Bivvy – I’m also looking to make a much lighter bivi than I used last year, that was half way to becoming an inner tent.

Backpack – This is a project that I’ve already started. I want a streamlined backpack around 35l-38l in volume with mesh pockets and very lightweight. It doesn’t have to feature rich but it does have to be comfortable to carry. I’ll do a separate post about this project in the near future. I’ve got some odd material, which I’m told is used for hot air balloons! It’s not a ripstop but you can’t rip it, even if there is a nick in the edge. I can’t anyway. I’m hoping the full pack will come in around the 300g mark.

I’m also looking at starting to do some podcasts. I’m slowly coming to grips with the technical aspect of things. This is a project which I’m giving myself a budget of say £20 to start up. I’m not sure it can be done, my phone makes an adequate recording device. Indoors it’s very good, outside the wind noise can be overpowering, I’m thinking of making a furry mic cover that you see on other devices to see if that has any effect. Any suggestions welcome!

So hopefully you’ll get some regular content from now on in and pictures/videos/podcasts too – but don’t hold me to that.

* have done podcasts of last years TGO Challenge which can be found here I also understand that you can buy a CD of the previous four years podcasts with a slideshow of pictures directly from Bob, the proceeds going to the Mountain Bothies association and Mountain Rescue.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Lakeland Bloggers Video

I've been tasked by Phil and Steve to put together a video from all the clips and we took over last weekends trip. I've been having a few IT issues my end and suffice to say it may be a while before the final version is put together.

I have however roughly strung my stuff together. Apologies for the quality. I'm still getting used to the settings on my phone and was recording in a medium setting (not so good) this combined with the wind and rain (no sound effects needed!) in places it's hard to hear whats going on.

Phil recorded all the funny stuff and all the stuff whilst we were on the move. Hope this keeps you going until the final version is done.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Lakes trip with Steven and Phil

Most of you may know Steven and Phil from the blog world. and Steven organised a little trip to the lakes this weekend. We did the Mosedale Horseshoe today after a windy wild camp last night. All of us have taken light weight kit and its had a good test.

Most of today was very wet and very very windy. Typically as soon as we were back to the car the weather picked up and the evenings turned out nice. I've done a video which will need editing and uploading when I'm back home but here's a few photos to be getting on with. The new tarps brilliant by the way!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Cat cut tarp II


Well the guy lines are on, the seams are sealed and it was pitched in the garden. You can see the little glitter glue bottle that I use for seam sealing. 10 minutes to do the seam and the tie out points on the tarp. For those of you lucky enough to have experienced seam sealing I'm hoping this tip will enrich your life.

The purpose of this tarp was to see if I've got the shape right and by jingo I think I've cracked it. Even though there wasn't much tension on the guys the pitch was drum tight. A flick gave a satisfying thud on the fabric. As you may be able to see there's only 8 tie out points. For the final version they'll be another couple of tie outs on each side to enable it to be firmly secured in harsh conditions. Hopefully it'll be blowing a hooley over the weekend so I can do a Bear Ghrylls extreme video.

New Tarp - Catenary cut solo tarp.

I've always liked the look of the catenary cut tarp. You see them a lot over in the states more so that over here. I used to assume this was because the states suffered less with heavy winds and rain than we do, which may be the case. So logically, in my mind anyway, I thought that they weren’t all that much cop for use over here.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve assumed a lot of things about lightweight gear before actually getting to use it. More often than not my assumptions proved baseless and the gear has performed beyond my initial expectations. Maybe so in this case too? I’ve never owned a cat cut tarp or even seen one being used. Also Colin Ibbotson has used one it seems in most conditions in this country and gets on well with it. So why not make one? Why not indeed…

I’ve done this project in proper low tech DIY mode. The material used was some cheapish stuff I found on the internet which looked and felt like 1.1oz Sil Nylon or 1.4oz when it’s been coated – around 40g m2. It turns out that after making a tarp for a friend which you can see in the previous pictures in the Lakes SUL trip, the material is actually coated and delaminates if treated harshly. The pattern was made by pinning the material to a flat wall and then plotting out where the corners of each side would end up. Then using further pins and heavy nylon cord the catenary curves were created and carefully transferred to the material. Obviously the material had to readjusted to plot each edge. Not only has the main seam got a cat cut also all the edges also have a slight cat cut so as to keep the fabric taught.

The tarps been put together pretty quickly as I want to use it this weekend on a trip to the lakes with Steven and Phil. I still need to attach the guy lines which won’t take long. I also need to seal the seam. This I do with two parts white spirit and one part silicone bath sealant. Most people use a paintbrush to paint in on but this takes ages. I use a glitter pen, the sort that squeeze out a glue with glitter in. Empty the glitter out and replace with the silicone solution and hey presto – a sealant pen. Much quicker and the solution doesn’t go off in the air like it does when you’re using a brush.

The re-enforcement panels are made from 35g m2 spinnaker fabric. I use this as it doesn’t stretch like nylon. I think the combination of the non stretch of spinnaker (but the catastrophic nature of which it can rip) and the stretchy nylon (and ability to withstand shearing) makes a good strong partnership. There may be a reason why other manufacturers don’t use this combination, if anyone knows please let enlighten me.

I’ll do another post after the trip and let you know how it gets on. We are forecast for 35mph winds, gusts up to 50mph and heavy, sustained showers (surely that means rain?)

Saturday, 10 July 2010

£1 Tenkara Rods

It's been a while since I've posted anything, mainly due to a combination of real life stuff and a bit of laziness. Apologies for that. Anyway, I was taking my two boys, 7 and 9 to the lakes for their first lakeland wild camp this weekend, but a spot of asthma has put paid to that, so we're off the Keld in the Dales instead. A lovely camp site by a river where you can have fires too.

One of the aims of the weekend was to test these tiny fishing poles that I found in the pound shop. As you can imagine the quality leaves a little to be desired. The eyelets at the end came off immediately so they've been glued and bound with a bit of epoxy glue and strong thin nylon thread. The poles will snap before these'll come off again.

Affixed to the poles is a length of cheap floating line with a 4' tippet on the end, making the line around 12'. The poles themselves extend to around 8' and are remarkably strong and flexible for glass fibre.

I'm not expecting much in the way of performance from these. I reckon they'll cope with trout up to around 6" in length which is what you can expect to catch in most parts. Not big enough for eating but a good bit of sport on such light tackle.

The pole itself weighs 39g the line and a few flies in the polystyrene box are negligible, a small lightweight outfit for backpacking and day packs.  I'll let you know how we get on!

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Lakes SUL trip - a few thoughts.

Well what can I say about this trip, the main thing was that Seth, Tom and I had a cracking time despite the football. The weather was fantastic, mid 20's, not a drop of rain, quite a few midges, but you don't want to hear all that guff - let's talk kit!

First off I didn't manage SUL status and I don't care (I bloody well do care!).  This was down to a couple of things. The first was that my DIY pack that I was intending to take failed as I was getting it out of the car. I'm happy to report it was the only bit I hadn't made. It was the chest strap assembly from the Alpkit pack that fell to bits. The trusty golite jam was bought into service adding 350g or so. Secondly I've been using an inflatable pillow from the pound shop, this has now died but it made a huge difference to how I slept. I couldn't find another one so I got hold of ajunguk (spelling?) air pillow. I've not weighed it yet but what a revelation! Best nights sleep ever. So with this luxury and the change in pack I settled for being a UL backpacker for the weekend with a base weight of just under 3kg.

I didn't use the waterproofs but they always have to be taken. I wore a very lightweight Rohan long sleeved merino top and a windshirt on occasion, Ron Hill trackster copies, two pairs of socks - a thin synthetic Bridgedale liner sock and some thick Rofan merino ones and inov8 roclite boots.

I loosely packed the PHD Piqolo bag in the Rab Survival Zone Bivi along with the pillow. The home made torso pad slotted down the back of the pack. Stove, pot, cozy combination and waterproof in the main part of the pack. The tarp and groundsheet were contained in a small sandwich bag in the front pocket along with the bits and bobs bag.  This contained a petzl e+lite, sun tan cream, Bronners soap, tooth brush and a small first aid kit.

The filter came into its own.  I've never seen the lakes so dry.  Most of the minor streams on the side of the fells were completely dry.  The rivers in the valleys were down to standing puddles in places with a trickle or two between them.  A lot of the water was taken from tarns and the lakes themselves.  Stuff I wouldn't touch without a filter.

The tarp is just so small it's difficult to comprehend its tiny packsize.  It did a great job of keeping the slight breeze off, although it was never tested in adverse weather I have no doubt it will hold up well.

So what's the point of trying to go SUL?  When I was first into backpacking I'd never considered light weight gear.  When I was younger it was all 80l backpacks, full trangia cookesets and a change of clothing for every day on the trail.  I can safely say with every lightweight bit of kit, or technique I've tried I've always been dubious of its merits.  I thought the same of trying to go SUL but what a difference it made.  The weekend was short on milage but high on ascent and the 3kg (plus food and water) pack was a revelation.  I usually have between 5kg-7kg as a baseweight.  I couldn't see the point of loosing an extra few kg - now I can.  It may seem a pretty obvious conclusion but it makes all the difference.  On the last day when most of the food was gone it was amazing.  I don't think I'm ever going to be a SUL hiker - not in this country.  This trip was sunny, warm and dry - not a usual occurance for a four day trip in the British Isles.  I'll try and stick to UL (less than 10lb, 4.5kg) I will in future be more ruthless with the kit I leave behind.  I missed nothing and gained everything.

Tom and Seth, whom I'm trying to convince to do the TGO next year were finally converted too.  They left their packs behind on the last day (to pick up in the car later) as they were suffering slightly with weight they were carrying, mainly due to massive amounts of food rather than the kit.  Seth had a home made nylon tarp (one of mine) which weights less than 300g and Tom was using the Hex3 as you can see from our lakeside camp below.

They've 10 months to lighten the load - no doubt I'll pester them to use kit I've made to test it in the field.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Lakes SUL kit list

Right, non kit geeks look away now!

With half a mind to Darren’s competition and half a mind on the upcoming Lakes SUL trip I was fiddling with kit last night trying to get the base weight down to 2.3kg. The photo below shows the first packing in its entirety and this came in at 2.33kg. I’ll outline the main items and then explain why I wont be using some of them. Apologies as I’ve not got the list of weights of each individual item to hand, the below are guesstimates.


Team IO cuben micro tarp with guy 55g. This is roughly a 5’x4’ tarp and designed to be used with a waterproof bivi. These aren’t listed on his site at the moment.

Rab Survival Zone Bivi

Small section of polycro ground sheet to put sack (pillow) on under micro tarp. I cant see the point of a ground sheet under a bivi that’s exposed to the elements. If it rains it’ll pool water.


Home made torso sized foam pad. 86g This is made from a five season multimat pad, I think it’s 12mm deep so there’s a bit of padding as well as insulation. It’s a bodge design that’s simple and works and I’ll do a separate making moment on it soon.

PHD Piqolo bag – 485g (I think) good down to 10c, it can be pushed much further with clothes on.

Silk Liner – to take or not to take. I like to keep my bags clean and it does add warmth!?


Sea to summit micro pack thingy as mentioned in Darren’s competition around 60g. This will work for the overnighter planned but I need something larger to fit food (beer) in.


Alpkit MyTiMug – about 130g with lid. There’s lighter pots out there but I don’t own one and this has given five years of solid service and is as good as new.

Sea to Summit – short handled anodized aluminium spoon 5g – apparently the lightest full sized metal utensil there is (lets place bets on how quickly I’m proved wrong on this one).

Colin Ibbotson DIY esbit stove 13g. Brilliant piece of kit cost less than 50p to make, most stable and wind resistant stove (when there’s a pot on it!) stove I’ve ever used and esbit, despite my initial prejudices, esbit is a light and versatile fuel, much better than meths in my opinion. I took the stove pictured on the TGO and as Colin says it does get battered but a couple of minutes with a rolling pin and it’s as good as new. Make one today!

Pot Cosy, again another Colin inspired make. Although mines taped up rather than glued, for no reason other than I had tape and not glue. Again brilliantly simple, keeps food hotter than the silver bubble wrap, tough as old boots and good for keeping a dirty pot covered up whilst in your pack.

500ml water bottle and cut down platy with a travel tap filter attached. Usually when I’m in the lakes I don’t bother to filter water but as the North West is facing a drought and I understand that it’s pretty dry at the moment there may not be the usual choice of water sources so I’m erring on the side of caution.

Water Proofs

Go-lite virga jacket. Not the most breathable of tops, but it works.

Trekmates waterproof wind trousers

The only other trousers I’ve got are Berghaus Storm (main picture at top of post) these are heavy and great in full on sustained rainy conditions. I’ve been after some go-lite reeds but unless you want XL there’s none left on the entire planet. I got these for £20 they can be picked up all over the internet and a lot of TKMaxx’s as well. They’ll keep the water out, but will they breath at all? I can’t find any real reviews so when I’ve worn them in the rain I’ll do a brief write up and let you know how they work.

There’s various other bits and bobs which I won’t list here I may do a small video of all the bits when I get back.

All the stuff pictured packs down in the sea to summit pack as you can see with a compass for scale.

This comes in at 2.33kg. But it’s not a set up for a four day trip. I’m going to use my home made pack at 285g (ish) a lot heavier than the sea to summit, but it’ll swallow this lot. I can ditch the dry bag for the sleeping bag and store the sleeping bag loose in the bivi. I’ll swap the over-trousers and perhaps ditch the silk liner. I also want to take my adapted down jacket, another making moment to write up. I reckon I’m going to struggle to make the 2.3kg cut off but I’ll let you know.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Superultralight (SUL) in the lakes...

I’ve never done an extended Superultralight (SUL) trip before. For a number of reasons, mainly the fickle British weather, not having the right kit and not having the nerve to go that light. I’m not sure if there’s a consensus on what constitutes SUL, the majority of definitions I’ve seen on the internet state it’s a base weight of no more than 5lbs (around 2.3kg), this excludes food, water and fuel (some people count fuel).

Anyway I’m off to the lakes for four day, three night bimble with a couple of friends. This will be in the north west lakes starting at Buttermere then heading off in a South Westerly direction across Haystacks and then north and around a bit. In fact we tend to meet up have a couple of pints, have a look at the map make something up and then change everything as the mood takes us. It’s a social walking long weekend not a weekend to be doing the miles. Walking, scrambling, camping and drinking.

The weather looks good, very good. I’ll be with a couple of friends not going SUL so if things do go tits up I’ll be able to bail into a tent and they can carry the beer in their packs!

I’ve yet to do the packing so I’m not sure if I can get down to this weight with the kit I’ve got but I’ll try and do a post or video before I leave with all the kit I’m taking and see how close I can get to SUL.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Competition Moment

Have a look here

I actually ordered one of these sacks a couple of days ago just before I found out about this competition.  I really like the look of the sack and I think that Darren’s idea is a really good one.

I have a 25l OMM sack that I use in the summer, this has loads of pockets and you can strap a bed roll under the lid.  Doing a full overnighter with a 20l pack with no pockets is going to take some thinking about.

Also there’s the added bonus of winning shiny shiny kit.

Monday, 14 June 2010

First Attempt at Video Blogging

Here's a clip I took whilst out on my improptu wild camp on the North York Moors over the weekend.  I know everyone thinks their own voice sounds bizarre when they hear it back but I can assure listeners that I don't have the lisp that seems to have appeared on the clip?

Anway enjoy!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Old Making Moment - 50l Backpack

I've just got some new fabric. Initially I was buying some fabric for a cat cut tarp that I wanted to make but it turned out that it was out of stock. After a brief conversation with the nice people at Fabrics and Stuff they suggested this -

It's not listed as being waterproof. I've done the glass test and there's no seepage. How it would hold up in lashing 40mph rain I couldn't tell you. Apparently some hot air balloons are made from this. The thread is coated and then woven and the finished cloth is coated again. It's not super light but it's really really tough stuff. Hardly any give in any direction and I reckon it'll make good tarp material.

I also reckon it's perfect for backpacks. Just the right combination of toughness and weight. In a fit of madness I ordered the bright yellow I could have got black but that's just boring.

I made the backpack above about a year ago after I just started sewing. The workmanship is not great and the material is really light sil-nylon.  Too light as you can see from the seams. I used the straps off an old Alpkit Gordon they weight 100g alone and the whole pack comes in at 273g which is good for a pack of this size. I've used it for about 50 miles. With the kit, food and water I was probably carrying 7-8kg. The stich holes haven't gotten any worse and its a comfortable pack, I based it on the Go-lite Jam. I don't trust the fabric though so it doesn't get used all that often.

It was good project to do. I learnt a lot about different seams, fabrics and how packs are put together. Hopefully soon mk2 will materialize from the sewing machine.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Making Moment - Bivi Bag

This is the bivi bag I used last night on the moors. I really like this project. It ticks all the right DIY boxes. Simple, cheap, effective and is nearly equivalent in weight to the lightest commercially available bivis.

When I first started using a tarp and bivi I got a Rab survival zone. At around 400g this was one of the lightest bivis available in this country. I think it's a great piece of kit and it still gets regular use. I'm not sure if it's classed as being waterproof but I believe it is and it's very breathable. I've only had a slightly damp sleeping bag on one occasion and it was more my fault for having my feet stuck outside the tent in the cold. It's a pretty weighty bivi for tarp use though when all you need is drip and spray protection so I made this one.

It's made from a material called Nysil, which is the equival to Pertex 4. One side is slightly shiny, I'm not sure if it's coated or callandered in some way but it's very lightweight. The whole bivi on weighs 185g and squashed down to the size of a grapefruit.  It's the same dimensions as the survival zone and is.made from three pieces of material, a top, bottom and a strip for the draw cord around the opening. It can be made from 3m of material and probably cost less than £15 to make.

It works really well and is superbly breathable. It's water resistant rather than water proof which is great for a tarp. I'd recommend this as a first sewing project.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Venus over Teesside

The little star in this picture (apologies for the quality) is Venus. This is better than football!

Impromptu Moors Camp

Having watched the first half of the France v Uruguay match and finding myself on the floor in a near coma I decided I must get out and get out now. Tomorrow night there's some sporting event on and I've friends coming round. The sun came out so the bag was quickly packed and I was off to the Moors.

It seems ages since I've used a flat tarp, this one is a solo tarp. It was my first one and is showing signs of wear now, but we've been through a lot together and I still really like it.

It took a while to get a semi decent pitch in a little hollow in some cliffs overlooking the twinkling lights of industrial teesside. It's pretty blowy tonight hence the flying v pitch on tussocky grass. It's also a night for a few beers and the radio. It may not be exotic but it's ace to be in the hills within 30 minutes if the urge takes you.