So the gear is tidied up and packed away for now, the report has been written (see Part 1 here and Part 2 here) and (sadly) the suntan is now fading as eastern Scotland is shrouded in mist and cloud. What else is there to do but post a gear report for my Carn an Righ wild camping trip last weekend?
I updated my spreadsheet on getting back from the trip to check my final total weights (I made a few adjustments before loading the car). Without my waterproofs I set off from the car with a base weight of 6.5kg, along with 2kg of food, water and fuel. I was wearing 2.7kg of clothing (and using my trekking poles) so my total "skin out" weight came to 11.2kg. I'm very pleased with these statistics and overall didn't really notice the weight, particularly given that I carried my sack the whole way.
You can view a PDF of my full gear list for the trip by clicking on this link. It should open in your web browser but you may need to save it to your computer prior to viewing.
My Osprey Talon 33 carried the weight brilliantly, keeping me comfy all weekend, particularly on Sunday where I was only wearing my thin base layer on top. I can't really fault the bag and although there are lighter alternatives around I'd have to be thoroughly convinced about their comfort before I would consider switching.
I did a much better job this time of pitching the Terra Nova Laser Competition tent. Having studied a few of the videos available on Youtube I was able to get a much tighter pitch with the only visible 'sagging' at the windward end where the breeze was blowing the outer into the inner slightly. Overall the tent did a great job. It was noticeably warmer inside after sunset and although I still have problems with the restricted space at the tapered ends, it was fine once I got settled. Although I used my Alpkit stakes I doubt that the original toothpick pegs supplied with the tent would have had any problem given the calm conditions.
The major problem, in contrast to the first trip with the tent last year, was a noticeable increase in condensation. The top of the inner was wet in the morning which gave me a very wet head. It had also caused moisture to fall on the footbox of the sleeping bag. As I got up with the rising sun it wasn't a serious problem and the inner dried off rapidly in the sunshine. The condensation was due to an almost complete lack of a breeze in the night, and therefore was a ventilation issue. I don't see how it would be possible to avoid this problem in the future if conditions are similar and suspect this is true of all tents given the very low winds I experienced. Next time I'll need to remember to pack my travel towel as my fleece hat was only partially effective at wiping down the tent.
The POE Peak Elite AC mat performed very well giving comfort and warmth throughout the night. Its small pack-size and low weight is impressive and I found it was supportive for both back and side sleeping thanks to the lengthways ridges. My PHD Minim 400 sleeping bag was toasty and warm throughout the night and didn't seem to be affected by condensation touching it in the footbox area. The simple design of the bag probably means the hood area is less well baffled than other bags but I just drew the whole thing tightly around me and snuggled down inside the hood. My slim build does lead to some areas around the waist area where the bag isn't quite snug enough but this didn't affect me too much - it just means it is important to keep the top drawn closed to prevent losing warm air and so drawing in cooler night air. I also found the Exped Air Pillow to be very comfortable and having it under my head meant that the mat went all the way down to my feet.
Clothing and Stuff
I really appreciated having the PHD Minimus Vest around camp in the evening and during the night. It is hardly any weight but is wonderfully warm and very soft. The Small is a snug fit on me and does ride up a little around the waist but is overall excellent. I didn't need to wear the Rab Vapour Rise jacket at all on Sunday but its warmth and wind protection was very welcome through Saturday when there was less sunshine and more wind about, particularly early on. The jacket packs down very effectively so adding it to the pack on Sunday wasn't an issue.
Crossing several areas of boggy ground gave me damp socks which were compounded by exploring the area above my tent (a huge mess of bog). This gave me wringing wet socks and shoes which never fully dried out again. This is probably more a result of my leaking trail shoes which are definitely in need of replacement but I may need to consider different socks to replace my rough and ready Bridgedales (now 3 years old). Having a dry pair of socks for in the tent was great although I only wore them initially as the footbox of my bag soon heated up nicely. I definitely need to consider some Smartwool/Merino/Merino-Possum socks going forward.
My Icebreaker 200 long-sleeved base layer top worked out great - I wore it the entire time and it kept me warm at night but reasonably cool during the day. I also like having the SPF protection on the arms as this limits how much sun block I had to apply.
Cooking and Food
Having finally obtained a windshield, the Optimus Crux stove showed a marked increase in performance, boiling 0.5l of water (in my Optimus Terra Solo Pot) in just under 4 minutes on a fairly moderate flow setting (I've roughly guessed the time). During the first boil it did go out after a couple of minutes for no apparent reason. Something must have moved in the mechanism or within the seating because there was no gas flow however far the valve was turned. I let everything cool down, disconnected it from the canister, folded it away and reopened it a couple of times before reattaching it to the fuel. After this I had no more problems and I had it lit on three further occasions for various food and drinks. After checking out a Youtube video I am now much more proficient with the Swedish Firesteel and got the stove lit really quickly every time I used it.
In the evening I had a rehydrated Chicken Tikka with Rice meal from Expedition Foods. This was my first time using them and I think I used slightly too much water. The packet states 484ml and suggests filling to a certain line, but it is difficult to judge this as the food already covers the line. Still, despite being a little watery, the taste and texture was very pleasant and it felt like a reasonably substantial meal. I finished off dinner with a Kenco Latte and a bar of Dairy Milk.
In the morning I had an Expedition Foods Porridge with Sultanas and this time managed to use slightly too little water (I found a few dehydrated bits and pieces at the very bottom). However, the taste and consistency was excellent overall and coupled with another Latte (I boiled the water for both at the same time) made for a great start to the day. I would definitely recommend this although a few people just make up their own porridge mix which may be an equally effective a cheaper way to go.
I've got a couple more Expedition Food packets to try but am going to order up some Fuizion Meals for forthcoming trips as they seem to get excellent write-ups across the blogs and forums. I'm also considering moving to a meths stove as I still don't like the waste and extra weight involved in the canister stove, despite the upsides being ease and cleanliness.
I took a little over 1.3kg and 5,000kcal of food but didn't eat all of this. I found that oatcakes, cheese slices and chorizo made excellent lunches on both days and was pleased with the variety of chocolate bars and cereal bars I took. I have run out of Nuun tablets and really noticed how much better they keep me hydrated than water - I usually only take 1l of Nuun and this can keep me going on a long day, but over the course of the two days on this trip I drank closer to 4.5l of water (excluding coffee and water in meals) and still didn't always feel hydrated. I'll order up some more tablets ASAP as they really are brilliant for effective hydration.
What I Need Next Time
I definitely was lucky with the weather and there was no need for any waterproofs - these would have added 0.5kg to my base weight if needed. I definitely need to find a thin pair of gloves for doing things in camp and generally keeping my fingers warm when not active - during the course of the evening my fingers got cold and I was finding it more and more difficult to tear open packets and fiddle with the stove. I also need a warmer, thinner pair of socks for camp - Merino-Possum for a real touch of luxury - as well as a thinner, supportive pair for use with my trail shoes during the summer months (i.e. hot days like Sunday). Otherwise the only major addition/change I see at the moment is perhaps trying out a meths/solid fuel stove, such as the Caldera Cone.