Friday, 15 April 2011

Where is the rain when you want it?

So, the plan was to go to the Peak District and get some wind and rain on my nice new waterproof.

It hardly rained all week!

With less than 4 weeks to the start of the TGOG .... and with so many public holidays (which I try to avoid!) it doesn't look like the PHD Alpamayo will get a proper test until I start the TGO. I'll probably head for Cannock Chase is the weather gets it's act together ...... and rains!

The highlight of my trip was doing the walk from Back Tor to Bleaklow Head and on down to Snake Pass Inn. All on 500 mls of water and on a boiling hot day!

Imagine my surprise and OMG moment when I discovered that the Snake Pass Inn was closed!
I hope this was not something serious - the sign said  due to "unforseen circumstances".

Luckily, I got my 2L platypus and pop bottle filled at the house nearby. I've camped by the river here a few times, but decided to cut over to Edale. Much of the water was gone by the time I reached Blackden Rigg.

I've used the Peak District as a sort of training ground for big walks, but had never walked the section between Bleaklow and Back Tor. Considering it was so dry, I only went in up to my knees twice. This is not a walk I would want to do in the wet.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Phd Alpamayo smock - first impressions

My PHD Alpamayo waterproof smock arrived on Friday. Made in the UK.

This weighs in at 435 grms (L).  I tested the weight on my scales and it was the same as on the website.

What attracted me to the Alpamayo smock was the weight and the weatherproofness.

The jacket weighs in at 590 grms.

Do away with the pockets and you get down to a respectable 435 grm. I don't use handwarmer pockets, especially with a pack, and the Napoleon pocket on the smock is, really, all I want.

What do you get?

My last "proper waterproof", years ago, was a ME jacket that weighed in at - not sure, but it was heavy compared to nowadays. Then I got a Paclite jacket from Berghaus. OK, but Paclite. Then I got a Marmot Precip. Nice, but................. could I trust it in really bad weather? Mixed reports were enough to put me off trying it out for real.

So, I looked around for a lightweight waterproof.

In context, I had discovered Cioch waterproofs: Glamaig, Fionn... and Harta. They use the Paramo lining and are completely waterproof. The Glamaig is a reasonable weight and could almost be an all-year-round smock; just a little bit too heavy for carrying - at 700 grms. And, on the 2009 TGOC I ended up carrying it quite a few times. I could live with the weight, but there was less ability to vary the options: I guess this is why the classic - fleece, windproof, waterproof set up is so popular.

So, I looked at the options: OMM Cypher, Berghaus Asgard, Rab Demand, Haglofs Oz, etc.,

Some, if not all, were lower in weight than the Alpamayo.

Then, I re-read the reviews on waterproofs in Trail and TGO magazines. The waterproofs were good, or, otherwise, as rated, but, what was the lasting thought - they were too short. Same with the others - one or two I tried on.

I'm not a great fan of waterproofs that don't perform. My memories of a Blacks smock, years ago, were that I was as wet inside as I was outside. Until I got my Cioch Glamaig I did not think that waterproofs were much good.

Why the Alpamayo?

Simple, really. I have become a PHD-a-holick. The down tops I've got are top class; the sleeping bags are top class. But, I saw a comment recently that the idea of a Phd waterproof was ............ well, they are not known for waterproofs.

This was it! A great, respected UK company with a world-wide reputation for quality down equipment bringing out a couple of waterproofs. What's this about?

Phd have brought out waterproofs in the past: the Alpamayo in Tempest, or, with a Gore Tex option. Did nothing for me.

Technology has advanced so much: if Phd were prepared to put out a jacket and smock with their latest tried and tested 3 layer waterproof material, then they were worth a look. Phd would not bring out a waterproof that was not first class - and more!

So, first impressions - at last - fantastic.

It's a proper top: full hood, full length, soft feel, proper zips (Riri), storm flap, etc., etc., (There is a full description on the PHD website).

It is a proper top!! - to repeat. No scimpy zips, no dodgy fabrics, no compromise on function. 435 grms for a Large - and it is not a cut-all-corners-type-large; my Phd down gear can easily be worn underneath.

I'm off for a week, next weekend, to give it a first proper test - if it rains - so I'll be able to give it a real test. But, first impressions.....