Notable gear on my recent Lakes trip.
Tarptent Stratospire 1
I purchased the Stratospire just over a year now and have slept in it around 14 nights so I have reasonably good knowledge of it capabilities and as with all tents the little bits that you would like to change. Firstly this is a large tent for the weight (around 1 kg) with 2 large porches which can really swallow up a lot of gear. Although an unusual design, it is very clever the way the inner runs across the tent rather along the ridge giving plenty of room.
With the pitch-lock system seen on the Scarp and the use of two trekking poles you can get a really taut pitch. Add the front and back main guys and you can nail the tent down. Henry Shires describes the Stratospire as one of his strongest tent with a four season rating. To be honest I have not been able to test this claim as most of the nights I have spent in the tent have be in calm conditions even when camped above 2000 feet. It certainly performs well in heavy rain conditions and is a tent that you can live in wet weather with so much space for cooking and moving around. The inner tent has plenty of head room at the centre and it comfortable to sleep in. Like a number of Tarptents it lacks pockets but I have solved this by buying some inexpensive hanging pockets weighing 11g each.
The inner is part solid which is I think is a good compromise for the UK. The zip arrangement is in a J format, and ideally it would be an inverted T zip, but it is a minor issue. Pitching with two trekking poles means that you can adjust the height of the pitch to take into account of uneven or sloping ground.
The inner tent can be unclipped – with the clips being a little stiff so it takes a bit longer than it should. Doing so means that there is plenty of space to completely pack up in the dry when it is wet outside and drop the flysheet at the last moment.
Exped Hyperlite Mat
I have owned the Exped Synmat UL 7 mat for 4 and bit years At the beginning of the year I started noticing a a small bulge in the bottom of the mat when inflated and later on another bulge appeared, so I thought it was time to purchase a new mat. The Hyperlite mat weighs 345g in medium size compared to 460g for Synmat UL 7, so a reasonable good saving on weight and pack size. I also think that it is one of the lightest full length mats with insulation on the market, achieved by making it into a mummy shaped mat. The mat has a very similar R value to the Synmat and is just as comfortable – Exped mats being the most comfortable mats I have slept on. The Hyperlite is wide enough for my shoulders and even though is slimmer than the Synmat I have not rolled off. The weather on this trip went down to 2C and it was perfectly OK at this temperature. The fabric is soft and warm to the touch.
A video review is on it’s way.
Montane Grand Tour 55 backpack
I have owned this backpack for 18 months and purchased in a sale at nearly half price. Weighing 1345g there are lighter packs but it is the most comfortable backpack I have owned. The balance is spot on and the weight is transferred beautifully onto the hips. I am very happy with the backpack. The fabric used is tough with the mesh and fabric pockets very stretchy. Probably slightly too large for anything less than a four day trip but having less gear in it doesn’t cause an issue.
Also see my video review of last year on the Grand Tour 55 here
Columbia micro- fleece – Klamath Range 2
I purchased this in the USA recently at a Columbia outlet store, with the good exchange rate, it was tenner. Being an outlet it was heavily discounted in dollars to start. Weighing just 202 grams in medium, it is one of the lightest fleeces I have found. Very soft and moderately warm, it is ideal to put over my base layer or as it the case of this trip over my Columbia hiking shirt ( a purchase from a previous US trip) during the summer months. Add the Montane Litespeed windshirt over both and you would extend later or earlier in the year.
The micro-fleece is available in the UK priced £25.00. Link is here
REI – Schwag pockets
Purchased at REI in San Franciso, I was on the look out for lightweight pockets for several of my tents that do not have pockets in the inner tent. Weighing 11 grams each and costing £6 for the pair, they do the job and are very cheap. Hangs up from a mitten hook attached at the top. Not sure they are available outside of the USA.