Gear Roundup – recent Lake District trip

Notable gear on my recent Lakes trip.

Tarptent Stratospire 1


Stratospire on High Raise

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.

On High Raise

On High Raise

Exped Hyperlite Mat

Hyperlite mat from Exped

Hyperlite mat from Exped

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.

exped hyperlite 2

The mat is wide enough for your shoulders

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

columbia 2

202g in Med one of the lightest fleeces I have found

202g in medium one of the lightest fleeces I have found

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.

Link here

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5 Responses to Gear Roundup – recent Lake District trip

  1. charlesV says:

    Mark – I also have a Strat 1. Used it for a few nights in the Lakes in July,but I found it a bit
    tricky to pitch. I always found the porch ends tended to bottom out along the ground in spite
    of some tweaking here and there. Looking at your pics, you obviously have acheived a masters degree in pitching this ! any tips ?. I think this tent is more solid in the wind than the Scarp 1 , as
    long as the treking poles are nice and taught, and you use the long guys either end. I was camped
    high by the upper Esk in high winds and it was very solid

  2. Thanks Charles. What I do is peg 4 corners out. Peg out pitch- locs. Adjust trekking poles so the doors just touch the ground and tighten main guys. Works most of the time. If you have uneven ground it is more of a challenge. At least you can vary each poles to take this into account.

  3. tallbloke says:

    I like the look of the Stratospire 1. Henry does a fly-only option and I’ve been tempted as a replacement for my heavily used Golite Hut1. Still not sure if it’ll accommodate my 6’8″ tallness though.

  4. charlesV says:

    Thanks Mark . MOre or less what I do . I think the problem might be that I initially peg out to tight
    thus restricting the height of the poles. I will have to do some more experimenting to see if that
    is the answer.

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