After what seems a self-imposed dearth of new gear the sun eventually affected my sense of sensibility and I finally succumbed to a few bits of shiny new gear….
I first blogged about the new Sol range last summer when Jetboil first announced them, but they have been a long time coming to market. I was torn between the titanium version and the aluminium version but computing weights from the JetBoil info is a little misleading as with Ti weight is quoted without the cup, whereas the Alu weight is quoted with the cup. All told the weight difference is less than 30g for an extra £30. I had also read complaints about the neoprene cosy on the Ti version. Adam from EMS was helpful and honest about the weight and so I plumped for the Alu version at £80 with my BMC discount. The fact that it also has the heat indicator which glows a lovely orange as the water reaches temperature was clearly the clincher. It’s my first Jetboil and a departure from my normal MSR Kettle and Optimus Crux set-up, but I’m intrigued by the package and time will tell whether the claimed boil times and fuel efficiency translate in the real world.
After lugging some cheap 20 Euro poles to the top of Gran Paradiso last summer and the recent Tour de Wildhorn I decided to invest in a lightweight pair of poles. In all honesty, I weighed the cheap poles on my return and they were 260g each compared to an odd Leki pole I had which I was surprised to see weighed 300g. I started checking out the Black Diamond carbon poles but at around £100 and still around 240g each they weren’t a true lightweight option. Some internet research and a recent TGO review prompted me towards the Fizan Ultralite Compact poles at a staggering 158g (mine are 175g) each and which could be picked up for a paltry (or should it be pole’try’) £38 online.
They are certainly light, though look a little unusual by omitting the plastic ferrules that adorn the joints on most other poles, and though ‘compact’ are plenty long enough for me and seem to avoid undue flex
Having been unable to get to the climbing wall as much lately and recognising I could do with some more specific training to strengthen my fingers I decided to look for a fingerboard. Aside from the pretentious name the Beastmaker 1000 gets good reviews for its range of holds for a beginner/intermediate and the wooden construction is kinder on the skin than resin boards. I can’t profess to being able to use many of the holds yet – but fingers have to be trained slowly for risk of pulling a tendon, so time will tell how/if it will help.In modern buildings with plasterboard walls the main challenge is where/how to fit the board so that a) my weight doesn’t pull it off and b) it’s relatively out of sight. After much deliberation in went above the door on the inside of the downstairs loo, using the top of the door frame as extra vertical support.
Rab Boreas top
A bit of an impulse buy, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with it. It’s thin, stretchy and light, has a hood and arms that are easy to roll-up for extra cooling. With Rab gear I’m perfectly inbetween medium and large sizes – medium fits my torso but is a bit tight round my chest/shoulders whereas the large fits my shoulders but is baggy on my chest/torso. The lack of clear purpose didn’t help – was it to be a base-layer hence a tighter fitting would suffice or a mid-layer? In the end I opted for the medium.
The lack of clear purpose meant it was a last minute omission from my ruck-sack for the Tour de Wildhorn trip, yet frustratingly it was whilst in the Alps I found its role! Up high, in shadow or a breeze I found just a base layer a little chilly, yet adding my ME Astron soft-shell over the top meant I would easily overheat.
The Boreas would have been perfect to pop over the base layer to add a little protection from a breeze but not let me overheat. So I rued my last minute decision to pull the 250g from my kit whilst carrying 4 kg of un-used climbing/winter gear. We live and learn!