Summary of new or notable gear taken on recent Knoydart trip.
Backpack – Granite Gear Blaze AC 60
I have struggled for a while to find a comfortable backpack, that is to say, comfortable for me. I have used for several years a Golite Pinnacle. Great load carry and is light for the volume but I find packing it carefully so that the back is comfortable a chore and the straps are not padded enough. After reading Robin’s report a while back on the Lightwave Ultrahike 60 , I ordered one as I am convinced that a rigid frame is what I need, even if it means that the pack weighs more. Better to have a heavier pack than an uncomfortable one. The Lightwave looked good but putting it on, I found that one of the stays, was bent and stuck into my back, it was clearly a manufacturing fault, after removing it from its sleeve. I sent it back to UltralightOutdoor Gear and they replaced it without questions. Amazingly the same issues was there with the replacement one, so I guess there was a batch issue. ULOG replaced with a Granite Gear Blaze AC 60 at my request. I always find them a most helpful company to deal with.
So to the Granite Gear Blaze AC 60. Knoydart was my second backpacking trip with this pack and I find it very comfortable. The rigid frame sheet is easy to adjust,the hip-belt comfortable and the weight sits very nicely on my hips. The belt however does not have pockets. Not a major issue for me, because I always use The OMM Trio pack for all my bits and pieces that I need at hand. Here is a photo of the Blaze from the GG website.
The weight is an acceptable 1300g because of the comfort wearing the pack. There are three large stretch mesh pockets on the outside, the centre one runs the whole length of the pack and you can get loads of gear into it. Like the Golite Pinnacle, there is no lid, just a long sleeve which is rolled down. On the Blaze this is secured with two straps at right angles to each other, allowing, if necessary the option to strap gear on top of the lidless closure.
I was able to carry 12 kg in comfort ( I was carrying some of my son’s gear as well), something I don’t think I would have been able to do so with the Pinnacle. So far so good. Review of this when I have more miles under my belt.
Exped Synmat UL 7
Been using this for a year now, light, packs down small and very comfortable.
Salomon Quest 4D GTX
Most comfortable boot I have worn, and have been wearing them on backpacking trips and day walks since September of last year. Was going to take trail shoes for this trip, but these are too comfortable not to take.
My winter tent, took it on this trip as my son was using my Power Lizard. Heavy compared to the Lizard at 2.2 kg, but a superb tent. Stuck four pegs in the ground, slid in three poles. up in 2 minutes flat. Didn’t bother most of the time to guy out, very stable. Great venting and excellent mossie nets in doors.
Fizan Compact Trekking Poles
Wonderfully light to use, hardly know you have them in your hands and pack down small for side pockets. See https://markswalkingblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/review-of-fizan-compact-trekking-poles/
Alpkit Pipe dream 400
For the price I paid, this is a light sleeping bag at 750g. The nights were not cold, but I have recently noticed after 4 years of use,that the down is patchy in places and I cannot seem to manipulate the down back into place in the baffles. Has anyone had the same problem? and how have you cured it? Does washing the bag help?
Rohan Ultra Silver T
Weighs nothing (68g) very comfortable to wear, doesn’t smell after 5 days of wearing. Good base layer.
Montane Terra Pants
I use these trousers all the time, whether backpacking, days walks or cycling. Comfortable to wear, very hard wearing and dry quickly. Seems to be popular with a lot of outdoor bloggers and you can see why.
Shame about the Ultrahike. Mine’s been great when I want the extra volume. My Pipedream also has a tendency to clump but is easily rectified. I think the down quality is slightly lower than top end bags. It would be worth getting it cleaned. Personally I’d send it to a professional as it was hard enough to clean my down jacket at home. I think you’d need a very large tumble drier for a sleeping bag.
Robin thanks for your suggestions on the Pipedream. I think I will send to Franklins in Sheffield for a professional clean – they are recommended by Alpkit
Sent from my Iphone
Rab use this co. for cleaning down gear. see link.
Not seen that sack in the flesh. Looks kinda weird. I agree with you the Rohan silvers are great and the Montane Terra’s except that the belt is rubbish and the lack of a rear wallet pocket scares me, as i always think i have lost the bloomin thing. I much prefer my wallet with me rather than in my sack or jacket.
Alan I just place a credit card and driving licence around some notes and put in the secret zipped pocket of my Terra Pants. Save taking my wallet
All the best Sent from my Iphone
I’ve not seen the Granite Gear sack that you used before, I really like the look of it. Did you use a pack cover with it also Mark?
Hi Rob. I just put a Sea to Summit waterproof packliner inside the pack.
About the backpack, everyone is different really. I’ve one of the most comfortable backpacks at the moment (well, for me!) and all my other friends absolutely hate it ha. Just got to get lucky really.
Very true what you say. I think this most difficult thing to get right is backpacks and footwear and comfort for me is the most important aspect.
Is the large external mesh pocket really a pocket, i.e., does it have depth?. Some so-called pockets are actually are just flaps of material / mesh that lie almost flat against the pack body and have very little usable volume.
Lack of hip belt pockets is unusual these days, and I think I would want a flipover lid too.
Hi Geoff,the large external stretchy pocket runs pretty well the length of the pack. Since using the Go-lite Pinnacle I have not really missed the flip-over lid.
The Granite Gear is awesome! It looks very huge and durable. Does it also come with a plastic cover or is the material already water-resistant?
Hi thanks for stopping by. There is no cover for the rucksack. I use a internal waterproof pack liner as I in my experience backpacks are never that waterproof.
How are ou getting on with your Salomon 4D GTX’s ? do you still rate them ?
Hi Chris. Still really good, one of the most comfortable boots I have worn. You need to go up a half size to your normal shoe size with Salomons
Ok thanks, i seem to have the ‘fussiest’ feet in the world, im on the never ending trail of the ‘perfect boot’
might go to the cotswolds and use there fitting service and see what happens……..cheers
p.s missed out on the Social meet in the peak district this year, was looking forward to watching you cooking up a “Mark’o pierre white” special again !!
Chris hope to see you on the next one. I cooked properly again while others ate their pot noodles 🙂 I hope you find what you are looking for as regards boots. I still may go back to proper leather boots, I not convinced about Gortex liners, I seem to go through them in about a year and that becomes expensive!
I know where you’re coming from with your feet, Chris. I have fussy feet too lol Retired a pair of Meindl Burma last year that I’d been hiking in for 8yrs due to the fact my feet have changed. I got myself a pair of Salomon Comet 3D GTX – slightly lighter but less hardy than Marks 4D’s I think. Salomon are slightly narrower fitting than most boots I discovered which is great for my fussy feet. Plus my crazy theory is that as theyre a French brand and my grandmother was French… :-\ Anyway they’re a brilliant pair of boots.
I came across your Blog whilst Googling more on the Blaze AC 60 which I’ve decided to purchase this coming Payday 🙂 and I was wondering which sized Sea to Summit Pack Liner you were using with the Blaze – the 50l or the 70l?
Cannot wait to try this excellent spec pack out. Like you I looked at the Ultrahike but at 5’7″ and 19″ torso length I’m too small for even the smaller M2 version.
Hi Elton thanks for dropping by. I am fairly certain it was the 50L Pack Liner. I hope you enjoy the pack. I am going to try and get out this weekend with it!
Cheers for the reply Mark. My Blaze is on order and the 50l pack liner will be shortly too ta 🙂 Hope you managed to get out on the trail this wkend. Gonna be a couple of weeks before I can get out unfortunately.
No problem Elton. I was out today, just a day walk in the Peak District, lovely weather. Let me know how you get on with your Blaze.
A rather late response Mark but you asked to let you know how I got on with the Blaze….well, fantastic actually but it was just one stage en route to a lighter backpacking experience for me as i am now on the verge of ordering a Gossamer Gear Mariposa which is just over half the weight of the Blaze. My latest purchase however is an MLD Trailstar which has yet to arrive and needless to say i’m excited to say the least. I’ll also be retiring the Salomon Cosmics to winter use in favour of a pair of Salomon XA PRO 3D ULTRA 2 trail runners or the Berghaus Vapour Storm as I have come to the conclusion I need to ’embrace wet feet’ and go light 🙂
Now that GG is available from backpackinglight, I am interested in the Mariposa myself !