Well with the Challenge almost upon us I’ve been laid low by an exceptionally virulent strain of Gear Acquisition Syndrome (or GAS).
A few days ago–and having read horrible, unrepeatable things about parasites in water–I decided that maybe I ought to update my existing water filtration plan. From non-existent, that is, to…well, something, at least. I did buy one of the original Travel Taps from Bob and Rose a couple of years ago, but because back then I was using a Platty with drinking tube I didn’t want to carry two systems and so didn’t actually use it. It’s still sitting in a cupboard somewhere.
I’m not using the Platty with drinking tube at the moment, though, mainly because since Piglet arrived I’ve rarely had space for a water-filled Platty in my pack, and so the idea of using the filter bottle seemed more feasible. I remembered reading that the original had been improved, and after a chat with Bob I decided to invest in a new one. At the same time there were a couple of other things I needed, and so therefore I’ve already invested in the following.
1. Travel Tap.
2. Primus Windshield.
3. Canister Feet.
4. Gehwol Refreshing Balm.
5. Gehwol Axle Grease. (In fact it goes by a different name, but I can’t find it on Bob’s site and so this one will have to do for now.)
The windshield was Phil’s fault. He showed me his Primus and promised that it would fit snuggly into my Kettley thing. It looked so lovely and neat–and so much smaller than my home-made windshield–that I couldn’t resist it, and so now it’s sitting on the kitchen table, awaiting deployment into the rucksack.
It does fit into the Kettley thing when wrapped around a 250 canister, but only just. The little rivets on the side scrape tramlines into the sides of the Kettley thing (thereby dislodging wee slivers of aluminium which will probably bring on my incipient dementia at a huge rate of knots…uh-oh…), and I’m going to have to tuck a piece of string or similar underneath the canister on packing up each morning, in order to be sure that I’ll be able to get it out in the evening. Still, it will work, I think, and so I’ve saved a bit of space (albeit added a little weight, on balance).
The Gehwol creams were Bob’s idea. I’ve used the Gehwol Axle Grease in the past and it’s pretty fantastic stuff, but I hadn’t got round to replacing the tube. Last Autumn I had a problem in the Dales, though, when I developed a case of trench foot after only a day of walking in consistently wet conditions in my Inov8s. Fortunately it was the last day, because the following day my foot was so sore that I could barely stand on it. That made me worry about whether I’m now so decrepit that I need less water-permeable footwear for the Challenge, but the Soloman mids I’ve been trying out have aggravated my chronic achilles tendonitis. Aaaagh! In the circumstances I propose to return to Inov8s and plaster my feeties with enough Gehwol to scare the trench foot away. Crubeens crossed, please, and watch this space.
That’s not the end of it, though. Over the course of the last few days I’ve compiled a little list of other things I’d like to get. Not so much because I actually need them, as that I’d simply like to have them.
6. Inov8 Terroc 308s. I’ve been using Roclite 315s for backpacking for several years now, but I feel like a change. My existing Roclites are looking very worn underneath, and I propose to reserve them for walking Piglet in the woods. I liked the Terrocs that I used to own (the originals: I think they’re now called Terroc 330s), but I must have left them somewhere because I’ve not seen them for at least 4 years. A phonecall to Inov8 yesterday, to take advice on the relative merits of Roclites and Terrocs in the ‘arch support’ department, suggested that the Terrocs are better equipped to pamper my ageing feet, and since that’s what I was hoping to hear I decided to buy a pair.
Sadly, it’s not possible for me find anywhere closer than Kendal where I can try on both the 6.5 and the 7. Okay: I could have gone to Sweatshop in Chorley, but they’ve only got them in the prissy light blue, and I don’t think I could live with myself in that colour of shoe. Give me the Stone/Sage over the pastel any day.
7. Inov8 Recolite 190s. In the course of looking up the Terrocs I spotted these very lightweight sandal-y things from Inov8. I love my Crocs but they’re too clunky and uncompressible to squeeze into my Exos, and I prefer, if possible, not to hang things off the back. These Recolites are about half the weight (i.e. 190g), though, and–as far as I can tell from much online drooling, and the cross-examination of various online retailers–they’re much more squishable than Crocs. When I drive up to Kendal to try the Terrocs tomorrow I’m going to try these as well. I’m sure they’re a really good investment. Definitely. Heh…
8. Inov8 Debris Gaiter. I’ve been meaning to get either these, or something like them, for a couple of years now, but haven’t yet got round to it. The plan is to keep all those nasty little bits of bracken, and pine needles, and similarly sharp bits of the landscape, out of my shoes and on the ground where they belong. If anyone knows of a much better system then please let me know–I realise there are several out there at the moment–but these seem to be considerably less expensive than some (about £10), and I’m assuming that since they’re made by Inov8 they’ll fit well onto my Terrocs.
9. Smartwool Liner Gloves. I generally use Buffalo mits, and carry a v. warm pair of padded gloves for foul conditions. Much as I love my Buffalos, though, there’s no getting round the fact that they’re a bit depressing when sodden wet. I’ve got waterproof over-mits, but I don’t always feel like fishing around for them in my pack if it begins to rain heavily. The padded gloves are blissfully comfy when I first put them on, but they’re not spacious enough for a liner and the fingers tend to try to turn inside out when I take them off, if my hands were wet in the first place. So, I’m thinking of using Smartwool liners as a basic glove (they’re quite thick, as liners go), and supplementing them with something else. I’m not yet sure what. Ideas welcome. Gloves are a bit of a pain for me, since (i) I tend to get very cold, painful hands quite quickly, and so need to be sure that I can keep them warm, and (ii) mes crubeens are quite small, and many ‘small’ gloves are too large for them. That may be the case with the Smartwools, but I’m hoping not.
10. Kahtoola Microspikes. I’d definitely like a pair of these, and reckon that they could turn out to be very useful in the Cairngorms if the snow persists into May. I must get round to ordering some this weekend.
11. Satmap Active 10 GPS. There’s no excuse for this: I simply love gadgets, and would absolutely love to have one. They’re so extremely expensive, though, that I almost certainly will be going without, for this year at least. I did try using my phone as a GPS in the Lakes last October but for me it didn’t seem to work very well. There’s the major battery issue, and I don’t like having to use a touch-screen device inside a plastic bag, and I was worried about dropping it etc etc. Basically it was such a faff that I don’t even intend to take that phone on the Challenge–I’m taking an old, straightforward light one instead, and if I need a GPS I’ll have my trust Garmin Geko to fall back upon. Still… the Satmap GPSs are truly lovely…
12. Fujifilm Finepix S1600. This one is John Jocys’s fault! He showed me his S1500, and I really liked the shape and feel of it. They seem to fall into the category of ‘bridge’ cameras, which are something in between the DSLRs and the compacts. There’s actually quite a range of them: S1500, S1600, S1800, S2000HD and S2500HD to name but a few, and they seem to to up in price from just under £100 to about £300 or so. I don’t need a new camera–I’ve got a Canon DSLR and 3 (!!!) compacts (though one is currently out on loan, and I keep trying to give one of the others to my sister). I’d like one, though, because (as mentioned above) I love gadgets, and each time I see a sexy new camera I imagine that by some sort of osmotic process the ability to take really good pictures will somehow instill itself in me by the simple act of purchasing it. Doh…
So! This is the kit I’ve been contemplating over the course of the last few days. I think I’ll definitely get the microspikes and the debris gaiters, and just see how I get on with the rest. Prolly the Terrocs too.
Any comments/suggestions/whatever from anyone re: any of these things, or re: anything else I’ve forgotten to consider buying, will be most welcome, as always