I thought that it would be good to briefly deviate from my ‘no gear’ blog policy for a bit and do a post on what will be accompanying me on this years Challenge. Still no spreadsheet though!
My pack will be the Aiguille Mountain Dru 50L + 10L. I have been using this since last Autumn and so far have been impressed by the way it carries. It’s a basic sack made out of old-fashioned bomb proof materials but still weighs in at less than 1.4kg. It has a floating lid which I like but no side pockets. I have therefore added a lightweight Granite Gear one to the side compression straps. Items needed during the day will fit in that and the lid pocket. A MLD Shoulder Strap Pocket on either side holds a 500ml water bottle and my Spot2 tracker device. I do like a good waterproof stuff sack so there are various sizes and models for clothes, food, sleeping bag, electronics etc. Probably overkill and extra weight but I know what goes where and whats in each one.
Aiguille produce their packs in a workshop in Staveley with a retail unit on site. It’s good to buy from the UK for once rather than overpriced packs from the US which are then subject to customs charges.
My sleeping bag is the PHD Hispar 500. Despite a recent wash it is past its best and the down no longer lofts as it should. It is fine as long as the temps don’t drop much lower than freezing.
My pad is the Therm-a-Rest Prolite regular. After using an Exped Downmat over the winter it felt a bit cold and uncomfortable when backpacking last weekend. It’s my only other mat though and don’t want to splash out on a new one.
It’s my third Challenge and the third time I will be taking along the Tarptent Scarp1. It’s reasonably light, easy to put up and proven in wind and rain. I will not be taking the crossing poles this time though. It was warm and sunny on Friday so I spent time giving the seams a bit more TLC with some diluted Silnet.
I have used a Jetboil Sol Aluminium for several years and really rate it. It is quick and easy to use and frugal with gas. I sometimes like to make a coffee and cooked lunch and this does so without much effort. To see me through the two weeks I’m going to take two 230g bottles of gas. The first opportunity that I will have to restock gas will be Braemar, one canister won’t last me that far.
I have a homemade pot cozy to save on fuel.
Clothes and footwear worn
After spending a year in leather boots I have decided to go back to using trail shoes. This time I will be wearing Salomon Fellraiser. They did a 40 mile backpack last weekend and I had no issues with blisters or sore spots. Who knows what they will be like on Scottish mountains and bogs for nearly 200 miles.
Socks will be Xsocks Expedition Short, they fit me well, are warm and dry quickly.
Trousers are Montane Terra pack Pants, a lighter version of the popular Terra pants.
Shreddies are Finisterre Keel Boxer. The Merino keeps me fresher for a bit longer!
Base layer is the Rab Meco 165. I have worn this on every backpack over the past year. Love it.
If cool I like to wear a 100 weight fleece rather than an overpriced softshell, they are also good under a waterproof shell. I’m taking an ancient North Face one.
Waterproof top is a Rab Myriad Jacket. I think its OK rather than brilliant. It is let down by not having an external storm flap. Water resistant zips are rubbish in my opinion. Very breathable though.
Waterproof trousers are Rab Xiom Pants. Not the best I have ever used, legs feel damp in heavy rain as not brilliantly breathable. Not splashing out on anything new yet.
Another pair of Montane Terra pack Pants, I like to have something clean for civilisation.
Another pair of Finisterre Keel Boxer.
Two more pairs of Xsocks Expedition Short.
A warm Arc’teryx fleecy base layer to sleep in (no idea of the model).
Finisterre Zephyr Long Johns to sleep in.
A Sherpa beanie for my head.
Finally I am taking my PHD Yukon hooded down jacket to ensure that I am toasty in camp.
Odds and Sods
My camera will be my trusty Lumix G3.
I always backpack with a Kindle and a Powergen battery charger.
Five 1:50k OS maps and two print outs will get me across the highlands. I’ll post the maps home as I go along.
Poles are Black Diamond Trail Trekking.
First aid kit is homemade.
There are loads of other bits and pieces but I think I have included the main stuff. No idea what it all weighs yet, I will find out on Wednesday when I pack it. There is nothing that I want to leave behind so there is not much point in worrying about weight at this point. Still deciding whether to take spikes though.