For many reasons it’s been some time since I posted on this blog, though it’s predominantly because I’ve been concentrating on both my PhD and on film photography, the latter of which I’ve been posting about here. Nevertheless, once I get a new flash I do intend to start posting some reviews on here as I’ve still been getting out and have been using plenty of new kit. Anyhow, in the mean time, here’s a cross-posted entry from over on my other blog, which outlines our trek in the Peruvian Andes from our holiday last summer. Enjoy, if you haven’t already done so of course!
As alluded to in the previous instal ments of this series, the primary objective of this trip was to embark upon a high-altitude, multi-day trek in the Peruvian Andes. We had organised this a few months in advance through KE Adventure; a Lake District-based adventure holiday company who come with a great track record of fairness towards their employees/affiliates, along with being known for providing varied and quality adventure holiday products.
From our starting point at Tinqui, our route was to circumnavigate the 6372 m Ausangate mountain of the Peruvian Cordillera Vilcanota mountain range. Along the route we would come to traverse high mountain passes, visit small, remote settlements and finally diverge from the typical Ausangate Circuit trail to take in some remote lagoons. Resulting from the latter extension, the trek was to last for nine days as opposed to the traditional five.
Primus Gravity II EF:
The Gravity II EF is a remote canister gas-powered stove, it has a built-in piezo ignition, is pretty light at ca. 270g, and packs relatively small in it’s own waterproof case. As it sits quite low to the ground and is remote from the canister, it is therefore both stable and easy to shield from the wind. It also comes with fold-away heat and wind shields. The Gravity is quite powerful and efficient too, with an alleged boil time of around 2min 15s for 1L of water. I found that it was capable of properly heating a Wayfayrer ready meal in ca. 5 minutes at around 3/4 power, as opposed to the 8 minutes suggested by Wayfayrer.
- Stove and 230g canister for scale. Note the melted ignition.
Lowe Alpine TFX Appalachian 75-95L XL:
The Appalachian is a big, two-section pack. I have the slightly older version, which has a highly variable, extendable back length, large cushioned pads in the appropriate places, and a large floating lid. Top and bottom compression straps, (the top ones fasten using a buckle), afford the ability to secure your load and lash essentials to the outside of your pack, whilst the zippered lower section allows both access to the inside of your pack, and the option to partition it where necessary.
- The Appalachian 75-95 XL. Strong and pretty large.
The North Face Plasma Thermal jacket:
Sorry, no pictures of this one. I don’t feel it’s worth my time but could provide them if necessary.
At 810g, it’s an insulation piece for spring/autumn/winter conditions really, but uses TNF’s high-end waterproof membrane, Hyvent Alpha. It also uses 100g of Primaloft One insulation, known for it’s warmth to weight and it’s ability to insulate better than others when wet, though what ‘better’ and ‘wet’ equate to is arguable I would think, (see my short, but damning indictment of the performance of this jacket in the wet at this link).
Exped DownMat UL 7:
When camping, the ground on which you will be sleeping is the biggest point of contact for your body, (unless in a hammock!). The ground then acts somewhat like a heatsink for a great deal of the heat given off by your body whilst you sleep, channeling it out of you by way of conduction. As such, if needing a sleep system capable of keeping you alive, warm and comfortable, a good insulating mat is of as much importance as a good sleeping bag. Down mats, or synthetic alternatives use the body heat that seeps down through the mat to warm air trapped in the down/synthetic filaments, thus providing you with a semi-passive, self-sustained bed of warm air to sleep on.
In this context, the Exped DownMat Ul 7 M is an excellent invention. It contains 700 fill power goose down filled baffles, (170g of down), that utilise your own body heat to warm air trapped within the down filaments, producing an R-value, (a little advice and information from REI), of 5.9, so it is well able to insulate you from the ground. Does it work? Emphatically, yes! At no point have I ever been anything less than toasty, even at temperatures of around -10C, (it’s rated down to -24C!). The down baffles are oriented length-ways, which means that you don’t roll off easily during the night!
- Inflate and deflate nozzles on the Exped DownMat.
Haglöfs Matrix 40:
This is the 2010 version, (the new version looks completely different and has different features!), which I use as my daypack, it’s quite narrow but is deceptively larger than most 40L packs in terms of capacity, plus it’s certainly both comfortable and capable. It is made from high denier nylon all over, reinforced at the base, and PU-coated in the relevant places. The dual-density foam of the hipbelt and shoulder straps is firm, but comfortably snug, and the thermo-formed back panel, whilst lacking airflow channels and the other gizmos many other modern packs have, is supportive and no more sweaty than any other pack I’ve used.
- Adjustable, thermoformed back panel.
The Kangri from up & coming brand Alpkit, is a 3.527 kg, dual-porched, 2-man, geodesic mountain tent, and as with other Alpkit products, the tent is as highly specced as possible whilst keeping the price affordable.
- The sturdy Kangri, in bright red.