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.
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.
Buffalo Systems Special 6 Shirt & Trousers:
The Buffalo concept diverges from the traditional ‘layering’ clothing system that stipulates the requirement for a three-pronged attack, geared towards tackling sweating, insulation and waterproofing. The Buffalo Pile & Pertex system, (Double P/DP), is NOT waterproof, but is highly water resistant, wicking and breathable. It is designed to be worn next to the skin, i.e. with nothing underneath! Whilst this might sound a little crazy to some of you traditionalists, there is a well-backed up body of evidence that supports the use of this kind of attire in certain inclement conditions, and this concept has been copied and allegedly refined by some well-known brands.
I bought my Special 6 smock second hand, (I’ve now purchased a brand new Special 6, see new review here), I believe it to be around 20 years old, (estimated from pictures of the logo, this one being the old style, without the red/any text). Despite this apparent age, the smock looks brand new, with literally no flaws in the Pertex 6/Classic material whatsoever. The heavy-weight fleece/pile has suffered some age-related flattening of the pile but isn’t too far off as lofty as it was when new, (compared against a brand new pair of the Special Six trousers).
- Old logo.