Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Boiling water - KISS.

What's the hurry?



My hot food requirements are simple. Soup and dehydrated meal eg MX3, or Mountain House etc.,  for dinner ..............................and coffee for breakfast (with breakfast bars)

Gas or Meths?

Gas is quick. Meths is slow.

Just had a look at the TGO Notice board which has a thread on a Jet Boil problem - the original issue was raised on BPL.com. (Have you seen a Jetboil - like a Saturn rocket : keep that stable with a heavy payload, ie water!)

In the BPL.com thread is an obvious question - what's the rush?

Years ago I had a gas stove malfunction - luckily there was a pub nearby. Now, I just don't trust gas.

Now I use meths.

Which meths stove?

But I got to thinking - of all the meths stoves I have which works best for me?

(I use some building insulation material as a wrap-around windshield - same as used for pouch cosy's etc)

  • On the TGO last year I used an Evernew DX stove and DX stand. Works fine. A little thirsty on meths.
  • My pepsi stove works fine; it too is thirsty.
  • Caldera Cone works fine and is fuel efficient: but (heresy!) is too fiddly for me... and bulky.
  • Trangia stove with Evernew Trivet, works fine and is fuel efficient.
  • Evernew DX stove with Evernew Trivet, works fine, but, not fuel efficient.
  • Evernew DX stove by itself; very slow but fuel efficient. 575 mls water boiled in 15/20 mins with 30 mls of meths.
What's the hurry?

I know the arguement goes along the lines that: at the end of a hard day it's good to get some hot food or liquid inside you asap.

But, what's the hurry?

For me it's time to relax at the end of a hard day.

So, for me the scene goes: arrive at camp spot and put up Trailstar. Put stove on to heat water................ Outside: if on a good day with no rain and little wind, or, inside if not.
Boil water and make soup: use 575 mls for Knorr soup or similar and mix in a microwave/roasting bag. While water is boiling - unpack backpack and sort out gear. Relax.

Put more water on for dehydrated meal .....about 400 mls, so boiling time is less.
Let soup cool down ........and consume. ..........Relax.
Pour water into dehydrated meal and let dehydrated meal rehydrate..... and consume. .......Relax.

Simple. 60 mls of meths boils 1150 mls of water. Allow 100 mls to do coffee (breakfast) and dinner. Maximum fuel carried = 3 days = 300 mls.

No rush, no fuss, simple and straightforward. Nothing to go wrong.


Yes, but, what's the hurry?

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

TGO 2012 - Comfort not obsession

The early days

My first backpacking trip was on the Ridgeway. I had Ventile trousers and jacket. I had a heavy tent and I carried a lot of heavy gear. It rained or snowed every day that Easter, back in the early 80's. The track was muddy. I wild camped every night. I arrived at Ivinghoe Beacon totally exhausted after 5 days. Ventile gear is no good for wet weather! The pack was heavy, the muddy conditions sapped all the energy I could muster and I didn't eat enough to generate that much needed energy. I used a heavy synthetic sleeping bag. During the day, most days, was miserible! At night, perhaps through exhaustion, I slept well.


Fast forward to now and my gear is a little bit lighter.

What I have been musing on - as I try to shake off my first cold in 2 years - is how my gear collection has developed to date.

Here I must be honest and say that I am a recovering addict. Not alcohol or drugs, but gear.
I was one of those who looked at gear reviews and said ..... I want one of those (or not, if the review was not good). What it took me a long time to realise was that I didn't need loads of gear. I may have wanted it, but I didn't need it.

In this gear-aholic state I bought lightweight packs, tarps, jackets, stoves, etc etc................

Thanks to eBay I have been able to sell on some very good gear that I didn't need. OK I made less than I paid for the stuff, but I didn't have two wardrobes full of gear - and a cupboard over the stairs!

I havn't bought any gear for some time. I do not intend to buy any gear for some considearable time. I don't need to.


What I found from my various purchases was that I was getting top class gear that was L/UL/SUL. Some of this gear was OK. But, there was always a compromise. The pack may be light, but not that robust. The tarp set up I used to play with was OK in most conditions but, not for real foul weather. The Cuben Tarp I bought was excellent, but, was not up to real foul weather. The lightweight footware I bought was just not the right fit. I never did use my Terrocs on a walk. Even some of the rave gear was found wanting - by me. Take the Caldera cone. A great way of heating up water. Perhaps a bit too fiddly to assemble and also prone to damage quite easily. Even the likes of Titanium pins and nails were great at holding up my Trailstar in most conditions, but, not in a full blown storm in Scotland. I could go on.

So, here I am with a gear list for May's TGO.

What I need for the TGO is gear that will perform well and keep me comfortable under virtually all the conditions that can be anticipated. Snow, rain, wind, cold - day and night.

Some of the gear is L or UL - not sure about SUL - some of it is just gear. All of it has been used in the sort of conditions I expect to experience and what I can say is that it will keep me comfortable. Much of it becomes either a daytime or night-time system: eg the down gear will give extra warm on cold nights and the various daytimes layers can be worn or not depending on the conditions.

The gear

Shelter and sleeping

MLD Trailstar
MSR Groundhog stakes
Alpkit titanium pins
Wickes secondary gazing sheet
Titanium Goat Ptarmigan bivy bag
PHD Minim 300
Thermorest Ridgerest - cut down
Cheep bit of light foam to go under legs

Carrying or wearing

Osprey Tallon 44
Stuff sacs
PHD Ultra down pullover
PHD Down socks
Rohan briefs x 2
Smartwool socks x 2
Black Rock down hat
Montane cap
Extremities fleece gloves
Extremities Tuff Bags
PHD Alpamayo Smock
Marmot Dri-clime vest
Arc't'rex L/S merino zippped top
Montane lightspeed windshirt
Montane Terra trousers
Berghaus Paclite waterproof trousers
Integral Designs short gaiters
Keen Targee 11 Mids
Berghaus longjohns
MSR peg trowel
Toilet paper (kitchen roll)
Petzl e-light
Notebook and pen
Credit cards
Reading glasses
First aid kit
Mobile phone
Pama power pack
Mobile phone charger plug
Leads for I-pod and mobile
Tool card
Tooth brush
Dr Bonners soap
Small towel
Black Diamond poles
E Trex GPS
Gaffa tape


Evernew TX stove and stand
Tibetan 900 pot
Kitchen roll (toilet paper)
Pouch to keep food warm
Long plastic spoon
2L Platypus
500 ml plastic drinks bottle
Fuel bottles 100 ml plastic disposable - max 3 days (posted to resupply points)
Whisky bottles - 100ml plastic disposable

What's missing?

For most of my backpacking trips I took extra gear - just in case.

Even in 2009, on my first TGO I panicked and threw in an extra warm top. I didn't need it. I was also wearing Cioch gear, which is good for cold and wet, but not for hot and dry.

Last year I nearly got there. Much of the above list is based on last year's TGO experience.

There is a lot more gear I'd like to take. Eg my Nano Puff pullover. But, last year I took a lightweight synthetic and hardly wore it.


Well, these have been my musings on the gear I'll take in May for the TGO.

My conclusion on all the gear issues? Forget what it weighs or how small it packs. Ask, will it keep me comfortable in all the conditions that I can expect. Can I mix and match the clothing to enhance the comfort by day - and, by night?

Comfort over obsession.

But ........ what does it weigh?

Somewhere around 8k.

It could be much less. It could be much more. It will ensure that I am comfortable, not obsessed.

Ps: that MLD Cuben Trailstar looks good ....................................................................................