I thought it was time to comment on recent kit purchases now they’ve seen a few outings and I am (or was) on a plane with a few hours to spare – though typing on the iPhone keyboard generally involves 3 keys forward and 2 back!!
Thermarest NeoAir mattress:
A revelation in both comfort and packed size. Comfort is vastly better than my old Prolite3 and it packs to about half the size, though the Neo is a little on the narrow side. I opted for the medium size which in hindsight is probably a bit small. The depth of the mat means I have my pillow actually on the mat (else its too low) which shifts me down the mat, leaving my feet off the end. The medium only saves 40g so with hindsight I ought to have bought a standard size, which add six inches.
PHD Minim 300 Sleeping Bag:
Bought in the PHD sale the Minim is only 570g and packs small. I opted for the Drishell waterproof fabric and had a short zip added, which aids entry/exit but is not really long enough to aid ventilation. I’ve used a few times during the summer, including a night when there was frost on the tent. I probably sleep a little cold so I’d say the Minim 300 is a late spring till early autumn bag, which could extended with the odd layer of clothes if needed. The distribution of down seems well placed with a higher concentration in the foot.
Optimus Terra Weekender pot set:
Good quality, useful size for two as you can boil amount if water needed for 2 dehydrated meals (but you’d have to boil again for tea!). I was already thinking about buying the smaller version for solo trips when I forgot to keep an eye on breakfast and welded porridge to the base of the pan, a fate from which it was never to recover….. and oven cleaner made it worse. That was the excuse I needed to buy…..
MSR Titan titanium pot/kettle:
£43 seemed a little expensive but I got it for £29 from TheOutdoorShop. Its a work of art crafted in titanium – light, good size for one (or 2 cups of tea), not too tall so quite stable, a lid that stays on and an insulated lid handle whose design includes a little notch to allow it to stay vertical when required, so you don’t burn your fingers. No volume graduations (which I intend to address with a judicious scratch or two or a permanent marker pen) and no insulation on the handles, which I’ve already solved by taking the insulation from the retired Terra pot handles and sliding onto the Titan handles. I also picked up a Primus windshield – a far more elegant solution than my old thick foil sheet, if a few grams heavier.
OMM Villiain 45 MSC
I’ve mentioned before that I’ve never quite clicked with the Villain and I can’t quite work out why. Love the size, design, features and ethos but it just doesn’t seem as stable on the hips as it should be when loaded. However tight the hipbelt is pulled the pack seems a little unstable. Not sure if it’s the lumbar-pad which being removable offers potential for some movement, or could be that the back length is too long for me. Haven’t heard similar comments about it but its a salutary lesson that fit is the number one priority for a rucksack, and in particular, fit when loaded. I’ll probably persevere for a while and keep an eye out for an alternative.
My experience reinforces the fact that kit is a very personal affair and its only from using/abusing and experience do you find out what works and doesn’t work for you. As ever most kit is a compromise – a best-fit for a purpose, and if that purpose suits what what you do and how you use it then you’ll get on well. As plenty before have reminded us, its not all about the kit – don’t forget to get out into the mountains and enjoy!!!…and if the kit helps with that enjoyment just a little bit more then all the better!