I`ve mentioned in previous blogs that I do have personal preferences when it comes to outdoor equipment, those preferences being Arc`teryx, Mountain Hardwear and Mountain Equipment. however due to financial and other restrictions or preferences I haven't always been able to get the equipment that I've wanted but I`ve always bought the best that I could afford at the time and never compromised on the two most important things, boots and rucksacks. The equipment I have now is well used and starting to show its age (those pieces I haven`t replaced recently anyway) but is still serviceable and because I maintain them should provide a few more years service yet. because I've recently done a blog about my new tent and sleeping bag I wont mention them here
Salomon are my preferred summer boot company as the fit is perfect for my feet, I`ve had these about four years now and they are coming to the end of there serviceable life and i`ll be looking to replace them in the near future, being a mid boot they are perfect for the majority of the work I do, be it scrambling over high ropes cables, walking the Brecon Beacons or a gentle stroll along the Essex way, they are more flexible and easier to wear than a full boot but provide more ankle protection and security than a cross terrain shoe, the only issue I have with them, and it is a personal thing not a fault with the boots, is being Gore-Tex lined I find that my feet get too hot in them and I have at the end of the day had steam coming out of them, if Salomon start making boots with eVent then I will probably end up buying a pair however this may be unlikely in the near future.
La Sportiva are the boots that I use for winter along with Grivel crampons, however these are probably going to be replaced soon as they have become uncomfortable recently, no idea why though
Rucksacks (yes plural)
In the number of years I`ve been doing outdoor education I ended up with more rucksacks than I really needed, that's the hoarder in me, I always justified this with the phrase "its nice to have a choice" however when the choice included the following it did become a bit overwhelming, a Lowe Alpine Pax 25, Berghaus freeflow 2 35, Gregory Advent Pro, Crux AK47 (yes that's really its name!), Lowe Alpine Appalachian 55+15. this has now been slimed down as both the Lowe Alpines have gone, one kept by my ex-girlfriend the other being left behind during a house move, these have been replaced by the Osprey Flare for every day use and Black Alpine 65+5 which I bought when I was short of money to replace the Lowe Alpine, however this bag may have an accident very soon....
The Berghaus has also gone as I really couldn`t justify having two 35 litre bags and because of the design of the older freeflow system, it ended up developing a creak as I walked along, the advantage of the design was and still is the way it allows air to flow around the back but I really couldn`t put up with the creaking which is why I chose the Gregory, the other reason was the technology that goes into the bag, the primary one being the way the bag self seals small rips in the fabric the other one being the way the bag can be made to hug the back perfectly another reason is the way is the way that any excess room can be taken right down to nothing thanks to the draw cords, I still have the Crux as I do like the simplicity of the design, the ruggedness of the fabric and the fixed harness which fits me well.
Gregory Advent Pro
my waterproof jacket is an old Arc`teryx Theta jacket lined with Gore-Tex XCR, welded seams, waterproof zips, stiffened peak hood which is helmet compatible and adjustable and an excellent fit, being an older jacket it doesn`t benefit from the newer Gore-Tex Pro shell so isn`t as breathable but I haven't noticed anything wrong with this personally. the trousers are from Mountain Equipment and have been used just as much as the jacket and are starting to show there age now, they are still however waterproof, not sure what material is used though, what I do like about these is the full length dual zips which have proved their value more than once, the snow gaiters round the ankles and the height they come up to which combined with the jacket and the boots let no water in whatsoever.
Mountain Equipment trousers
I use several different insulation layers depending on the activity I'm doing, these include an Icebreaker 260 made from merino wool, is long past its best, full of repaired holes and has shrunk but is still serviceable, the thing I like about this piece of clothing is the way it works, is naturally anti bacterial (unofficial record is 200 days in the Antarctic without washing and it didn`t smell!), cool when its warm and warm when its cool, naturally wicking and even when its tatty it still looks good, a long pile fleece which keeps cold or snow away whilst keeping the under layer dry, and a Vanguard jacket, which is a copy of the legendary sungpak softie, this too has been patched up through the years but is still going strong, I've also got a down jacket which I picked up cheaply at an army surplus but I rarely use it.
long pile fleece
Icebreaker 260 (I wasn`t actually part of Icebreaker Test Team)
Cheap down jacket
depending on the situation will depend on the base layer I wear, the two base layers I own are a basic Mountain Hardwear technical T shirt and the Icebreaker 190, I favour the Mountain Hardwear in the warmer climates and the Icebreaker in the colder.
Mountain Hardwear technical T-shirt
Hats and gloves
this is an area where conversely I will actually spend as little as possible and I have a very good reason for this, I always seem to end up losing my hats and gloves, the worst time this happened was right after i had treated myself to an Arc`teryx beanie hat in the Lake District, a few hours later I was waving it goodbye watching it fly away into the valley from the top of Blencathra, from then on I decided it would be a bad idea to buy anymore expensive hats or gloves and have stuck to Peter Storm ones since, the only exception is when I have gained them through other means, such as the Berghaus set I got through work.
cheap hat and gloves
other hats and gloves I've acquired
Stoves, (yes plural again)
I've used several stoves over the years that I have been doing outdoor ed ranging from top of the range multi fuel stoves (Primus Omni Fuel) through gas stoves of all types including the venerable old camping gaz C206 stoves and the classic Trangia, which I've written a blog on previously, the four I currently own all run off gas or meths and are the Jet-Boil Flash, Primus ExpressSpider, a professionally made lightweight meths stove and a homemade meths fired stove (which I call a toucan stove as it is made from 2 drinks cans), despite the limitations of the Jet-boil it is still a very good stove, the limitations of the Jet-Boil include the size of the pot itself which is only just over 1/2 a litre, although the Sumo is bigger and Jet-Boil also produce a pot that fits directly on the stove as well as a ring to use with any standard pot, however using the ring and standard pot does mean losing the famed efficiency of the system, it is also a very tall system which increases the likelihood of the whole thing tipping over but Jet-Boil have addressed this situation by including a tripod with all their systems.
the ExpressSpider is a basic gas stove from Primus without an electric lighter or much of anything else really but it is incredibly lightweight, easy to pack and runs off the same type of cartridges as the Jet-Boil, the other advantage of this stove over the Jet-boil is its lower centre of gravity making this a relatively safer stove.
the two meths fired stoves work in the same way and are built in a similar fashion, the difference being one is professionally made in America and uses parts readily available whereas the other is home made by me and has taken a lot of trial and error to get it working, the good thing with these two stoves is that they weigh almost nothing and if built properly (or Bought) they can be amazingly quick and efficient, they can be built with limited tools and experience (check youtube for penny stoves) and are cheap to make.
the only stove i don't currently own is a multi-fuel stove and the reason for this is quite simple I've never had the need to own one, I've always managed to borrow one from friends i can however see this changing at some point and have been looking at the options and the one that has caught my attention has been the Primus Omni-fuel chiefly because of its flexibility in fuel options.
Jet-Boil flash, Primus ExpressSpider and professionally made lightweight meths stove, I couldn't find my homemade stove
Accessories and Gadgets
What I have collected over the years is plenty of accessories and gadgets ranging from ones that I use everyday to ones that rarely see the light of day, these include a self inflating pillow through a `Power Monkey Explorer` emergency charger to the usual things such as pen knives and compasses.
self inflating pillow and mattress
head torches both Petzl
northern (left) and southern (right) hemisphere compasses (spot the problem with the southern hemisphere compass)
other accessories I own, Gorilla Pod, Victorinox forester penknife, fire striker, spork, and Vango eye light
This is just an example of some of the equipment I own, as I said above although I have my personal preferences when it comes to equipment and I am a gear snob at heart I also don't have an unlimited budget and buy within this budget and upgrade when I can, which as you can see can lead to some interesting combinations.
As with all outdoor equipment personal preference is key to any decision you make.
Follow the link below to go to the Lone Wolf Mobile Bushcraft website.