Tuesday, 17 May 2011

I have a plan.

Sometimes I need a grand plan, something big to consider, ponder over and a reason to make kit.  No doubt this year will see a lot of this mainly in the form of renovating an old house that I’m hoping to buy.  I know from past experience that when taking on such a big project as a whole house renovation I need to be able to daydream about something that’s going to be there when it’s done.  Daydreaming about stuff when I’m stuck, hacking off plaster for the tenth evening in a row and getting thoroughly sick of having no spare time.

Watching @philoutdoors and others crossing Scotland via the magic that is http://new.socialhiking.org.uk/ also gets me itching to plan a big trip.  I had to pull out of this years TGO for a number of reasons, mainly for the sale and subsequent purchase of houses.  So I started looking into doing the Pennine Way.  An iconic trail in the UK and one that’s not talked about as much anymore.

If need be I could pack for the entire trip with stuff from my gear cupboard, although I’ve sold a lot of stuff recently I’ve still got a full range for three season camping from lightweight gear to air beds and gas stoves for car camping.  But no really lightweight stuff.  This led me to thinking that I wouldn’t mind making some really lightweight summer kit and using this kit for the trip along the Pennine Way.

Followers of the blog may have realised that I start a lot of projects, get partly through them, find a problem and stop.  Some projects get used, the cat cut tarp gets regular use as does the bivi bag.  That process of going wrong, or as I like to think, discovering something you didn’t know, is important.  Unless you have someone to learn from you have to just jump in and learn from your mistakes.  I think I’m at the stage now that projects seem to be going right and I’ve set myself the task of walking the Pennine Way in the summer of 2012 using a Super Ultra Light (SUL) base weight of 5lbs or 2.268kg. 

On the face of it, it seems practically impossible to walk safely in the hills in the UK with such a small amount of gear.  But… with modern materials and making kit that specifically for your own size and needs you can cut down on weight.  I’ve already started designing and making some kit and I’ll post about these separately as it’s the kit you want to hear about!  Below is a list of big stuff that I want to carry and target weights for each piece and you can see that it does seem possible.

Backpack                     300g
Sleeping bag/quilt          450g
Sleeping mat                 100g   
Bivi                              200g
Shelter/guylines 300g   
Pegs                               75g
Pot and Stove               130g
Waterproofs                 100g (yes that’s 100g, I have a plan, I'm sure I mentioned that?)

Total                            1,655g

Obviously there’s still quite a bit to add to list and I’ve only 613g to play with, insulation included and I’m up to my base weight.  But I’ve given myself a bit of wiggle room in the target weights.  There has to be some minimum specifications for the kit, I don’t want to suffer and I want to be safe.  The shelter will be designed for three seasons, you don’t get one season weather in the UK unless you’re lucky.  The sleeping bag/quilt will have to be good to 5c without the need for further insulation and I need to be able to cook and brew tea.

I’ve got a 100 ideas buzzing about in my head about the kit, how it’s going to be made, multiple uses for it.  Some of it’s been made or part made some of it is still just ideas.  I hope that by having a plan that a lot if not all of this gets made, it gives me something to daydream about and you something to comment on and chuckle about.

I welcome any comments, suggestions, or any well meaning criticism of the plans or my intentions and I promise to post more about kit and do shiny pictures and videos soon.


Zed said...

Most of the Pennine Way is excellent, with Malham to Alston deserving high praise. It's a great project but should it be part of something bigger? LEJOG, for example.

Your weights seem completely reasonable until you get to waterproofs. Modern waterproofs are so comfortable, in my opinion as a RAB eVent user, that they can be thought of as a part of your clothing system and not as a safety back-up. So, I suspect that saving on waterproofs mean carrying an otherwise unnecessary windproof layer plus more insulation.

Anonymous said...

Hey I think this is a great aspiration! It's really interesting to read about the 'why' behind what motivates you. I don't have the same level of aspiration myself but kudos to you declaring what you're about, and inviting comment and suggestion as we get to be voyeurs on your journey!

Shed Dweller said...

Zed. I'd love to do the LEJOG but work and children mean it's not a feasible option for me at the moment.

With regard to the waterproofs. I'm experimenting with a tarp/poncho and rain skirt/kilt call it what you will. The rain skirt provides a beak for the tarp making it enclosed for bad weather. The poncho tarps I've seen seem to concentrate on the effectiveness of the shelter and the poncho side of things seems to come second. The flap may prove too much to cuope with. Experimentation this summer will help me decide.

Helen, glad to have you along for the ride! Hopefully other people may want to join me for sections of the walk. Sheffield's practically on route!

Zed said...

Well, kilts certainly used to work in Scotland.

I experimented with ponchos in my younger days. One, which weighed a tonne, became the tent floor when not needed as a waterproof and the other, a cycle cape, put me off such designs for a quarter of a century and counting. I hope you have better luck/weather, and I can see how combining with a kilt would increase effectiveness.

Gareth said...

It's a toughie with Kids it has to be said, it's why I am going to try and do the Gritstone trail later in the year. I need to have something thats bite sized and doesn't take too much time away from the family. Best of luck John with the Pennine way and with getting your gear down to some fairly aggressive weights, looking forward to reading more about the gear in due course!

Shed Dweller said...

Zed, the rain kilt has had it's first outing in very windy conditions and so far it's worked ok. I'll use it this summer and see how I feel about it for a longer trip.

Gareth, the kits coming together in the planning stage, the first useable prototype pack it about to be put together. It's quite minimal but tough and should come in around 220g.