Tuesday 15 March 2011

TGOC 2011 - A gear testing trip around Kinder.

Loads of folk are looking forward to May and the TGO Challenge. Me too.

I'm terrible at running a blog: hat's off to those who do.

But, a break in blogging silence to post a list of kit that almost ** fully worked last week, in a try-out trip around Kinder. No camera taken.

** Take six  6" Alpkit V titanium stakes + five 6" Alpkit titanium nails in future

Saturday night was the TGO dinner at the Snake Pass Inn. Superb.

It was very windy, with showers on thursday and friday, not so bad on saturday and really sunny on sunday. Sunday night was about minus 5c and monday was sunny and bright for my trip home.

Gear taken/worn was:

Pack and sleeping gear

OMM 32 L Classic backpack - brilliant!
OMM Trio chest pouch - great
MLD Trailstar - Ron's best!
5 titanium stakes + 5 even thinner titanium stakes - strong winds need better V shaped stakes (Trailstar blew down on Thursday in strong winds)
Spinnaker ground sheet - great
Titanium Goat bivvy - top class
PHD Minim 300 - brill!
Thermarest Ridgerest (cut down short) - forget Neo-air: I'm back to this + the OMM mat from inside the OMM pack
Various U/L dry bags for keeping gear dry
PHD down socks - toasty
Berghaus synthetic longjohns - a favourite


TNF Apex light trousers - a favourite for years
Integral Designs U/L short gaiters - perfect
TNF Hedgehog mids - another favourite
Smartwool socks - thin, - great
Rohan briefs - favourites
Embers Merino L/s top - excellent
Rab microfleece - top class
Montane Litespeed - excellent
Extremities fleece gloves - favourites
Extremities Tuff Bags - superb
Black Rock down hat - weighs nothing and V warm day and night - from USA

(and sometimes worn too)

Marmot Precip - good lightish raingear, but would not trust in V wet conditions***
Berghaus Paclite waterproof over-trousers - top class
Buff - say no more
Buff sweatband - I like the skulls on it, and it just keeps my neck free from drafts
PHD Ultra Down Pullover - fantastic: day and night
Spare Smartwool socks
Spare Rohan briefs
Icebreaker S/s merino top
Silva Type 4 compass - had for years
Garmin Etrex GPS - a new toy that works brill
BMC Peak District Map - waterproof
MSR peg trowel - Colin Ibbotson design and brill
Toilet paper - not loo roll which mushes easily, but, kitchen roll which works much better
Tissues - enough for 4 days
Petzl Tikka + spare batteries - had for years
Debit/Credit cards - just 2
Reading glasses
Mobile phone - Blackberry
First aid kit - home made and including mirror and tick twisters and toolcard
Dr. Bronners soap in 50ml bottle - superb
V Small towel - had for years
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Poles

*** PHD Alpamayo smock on order


Alpkit Mytimug - a favourite
Evernew DX stove and stand - first class
Meths - in two bottles, 300 mls in all
Long plastic spoon - from Outdoorsgrub
Kitchen towel - enough to dry out pot, a few sheets
Matches and lighter - I've tried steel and flint but it doesn't do it for me
Food pouch - from Outdoorsgrub
Source 2L - for water
Sprite 500 bottle - for water: Sprite is just right

Food carried

4 Mountain House meals - classic
8 Cuppa soups
12 Alpen breakfast bars - 3 a day
8 small Twix
8 Tunnock biscuits
4 Mars bars
Coffee - for 4 mornings
Milk powder - for 4 mornings

The conclusions

Everything packed in to the OMM Classic 32 + OMM chest pouch: with room to spare.

Everything worked, except for the stakes, which were too light for the windy conditions.

The highlight

Going to bed on sunday night with the frost hard on the Trailstar.
Sleeping well and feeling warm enough inside the Minim 300, with the down hat and Ultra down pullover and down socks (and longjohns and Smartwool socks)
Waking up to frost inside and outside the Trailstar.
Chipping the ice from the mesh on the Ti-goat bivvy bag.
Feeling the wet from breath on the sleeping bag.
Pouring ice and water for making coffee in the morning.

Drying out sleeping bag and the other bits and pieces on a beautiful, sunny Monday morning.

Top pitching tip

Pick a spot that will get the sun early in the morning if it's a cold frost night.


  1. Cracking list and light kit. OMM pack wont fit a tall person like me I expect. That kit will serve you fine on the Challenge.

  2. Fascinating to read this - one I'll bookmark. I'd be interested to know more about your Trailstar experiences too.

  3. Wonderful read Gordon, I have not got my base weight as low as this for this years TGOC.

  4. Reading down your kit list I thought I was reading mine for second, very similar. Were you using the Easton stakes & pegs from MLD. I once had one of the small ones pop out in very windy conditions but only because I couldn't get it in the rocky ground properly.

    From the look of this you should be floating your way across Scotland :-)

  5. Martin,

    I'm 6'2" - the OMM pack was very comfortable.

    Unless you are taller than me, I would fully recommend it. The design is so well thought through. The shelter and stakes and fuel and quite a lot of other small stuff goes in the mesh pockets, leaving loads of room for the down etc., inside the pack.

    The only thing I wish I had taken was my PHD Minimus down trousers. I did pack (and, deliberately, not use) a short Neo-air. I find it too squishy when moving around inside the Trailstar. The Ridgerest is, surprisingly, very comfortable. And......, there's no worry over punctures. I was delighted with the warmth from all the down I wore in the cold - the Minimus trousers will, definately, ensure no problems in Scotland.


    I so like the Trailstar. Ron Bell's gear is top notch. My only regret is that I bought a Cuben Grace Duo before reading Colin Ibbotson's write up on the Trailstar.
    I don't write up all my trips out, but do occasionally get carried away! So, watch this space....


    I was surprised how I managed to get so low! In 2009 I had an Osprey Talon 44 and an Akto etc.,
    I was asked the total weight of the gear I used last week, and I guessed around 6k, but, I think it probably comes in at less than this!


    It is people like you, and Phil and Colin Ibbotson, etc., who have inspired me to keep playing with gear to get the weight down.

    I was so delighted, and it's been many years of playing with gear, to have hit a safe selection of gear - I know I could trust in just about any conditions.

    To think that in 2004 I did LEJOG with a 65L pack, leather boots, synthetic sleeping bag and a 2.5k tent........ with the rest of my gear reflecting my overall load!

    The stakes were Alpkities: nails and thin skewers. Just a simple bad choice. I will use my Alpkit V stakes with the nails in future. It was weird waking up at 0130 and seeing the sky!

    Thanks all for your comments.



  6. That pack has a 50cm back length according to OMM. I have a mountain Mover and Trio pouch. Just got it out as it is long forgotten. I am 6'2 and it just fits me. It has a 55cm claimed back length. So I shall check the one you have out. Saying that the Mountain Mover is not the lightest pack but still is comfy. I might give it a try out.

  7. Hi Gordon,
    I enjoyed your company and Des' on the couple of days on TGO 09 from Glen Affric to Fort Augustus. I never could fathom how you could walk in that lovely weather in your Cioch troos, but you loved them all the same.
    You will certainly enjoy this year with that lovely kit list that you have amassed. Walking is so much more enjoyable when you have less weight to carry.
    You might remember that I carried an OMM Villain on that trip in 2009. I had thought about using my Classic 32 but decided that the more comfortable carry with The Villain more than made up for the wee bit extra weight. I got all my gear into the 32L, but The Villain gave me that better carry plus room for more goodies if needed.
    I remember that you had your Crocs on the outside, but, you had an Akto on the inside!!
    Anyway, enjoy your trip and I look forward to the tales.

  8. Hi Eddie,

    Great to hear from you.

    That was a fantastic day! And, yes, the Cioch trews were far too hot.

    Ditching the Akto for the Trailstar really opened the way to cut down on the weight. I also thought about what's needed? rather than what I'd like to take.

    The Talon 44 is great, but, I'm looking forward to using the Classic 32 on this year's TGOC.

    My planned route this year involves being anti-social and a few more Munros than last time.

    I'm off for a week in the Dark Peak, soon, and I've a couple of trips to Scotland in mind for later in the Summer.

    What are you up to?

    Hope we can meet again at some time.


  9. Hi Gordon,
    I am not much for the TGO, the best bits are at the start and you walk away from them all the time. I am thinking of applying for 2012, but am still not sure. I much prefer hillwalking in winter and golf in the summer.
    I have toyed around with kit like most folk but have actually slightly increased pack weight for comfort.
    I used a Contrail in 2009, replaced that with a Patrol Shelter, which is very good. I have bought a Scarp, but probably won't use it, and recently got a Trailstar as my winter shelter.
    I bought 3 MLD packs over the years but sold them as my Villain was much more comfortable, so I stick with that.
    I used a PHD ultra bag and vest on TGO 09, but they have gone, replaced by a Minim 300.
    I also sold my Classic 32 last year, but regret that so I will by another for summer hillwalking. The Villain does for camping trips throughout the year.
    I will keep a lookout for your exploits on here or on the TGO website.
    Good luck with your lightweight crossing. If you get the chance though, try your challenge kit out in a Villain as well as the Classic 32. As soon as I did that back in 2009, the Classic 32 went back in the cupboard. For me it was a no brainer. But we are all different. One man's meat is another man's poison, as they say.

  10. I like the look of the Trailstar and so do many bloggers - I can name five or six that have already made the plunge. I always go hillwalking with a mate and we normally have a single man tent each. I love the Fly Creek I use but we can shift a whole heap of weight with a single tarp between us so we're looking at the Trailstar and a couple of Superlight Bivys for our down bags.

    As for OMM - I'll always be using the Gorilla from Gossamer Gear in the 3 season, but for winter, the Villain is a superb pack especially with the heavy metal required for winter.