The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

LEJOG Kit Review Part 2

I said that I was going to split the LEJOG Kit Review into three parts. I changed my mind. Here's the second and rather long final part:

Sleeping
Thermarest Prolite 3 (girls’ model) – It did its job. It’s now very grubby with black dots which I assume are mould on the inside (because it got blown up by mouth, used, then rolled up and sealed each day, so never had time for the inside to air and dry out). But, it still works just fine.


PHD Minimus 300 (with Drishell outer) – Another pleasant surprise. It’s a very lightweight bag, to achieve which it doesn’t have a zip or neck baffle. There were only a couple of nights on which I missed having a zip; I didn’t miss the neck baffle (doing the hood up tight around my face did the job nicely). It fitted me perfectly (so I didn’t have to carry around a length of sleeping bag that I wasn’t using) and it kept me warm on all but the night when we had a heavy frost (when I donned extra clothes). The Drishell did exactly what it should and there’s not much more I can say, except that it now absolutely stinks and definitely needs a clean!

Silk sleeping bag liner – Glad that I took it, just for the snuggly comfort factor.

Cooking and Eating and Drinking
Coleman F1 Lite stove – I wouldn’t claim this stove to be any better that any other of a similar weight. I bought it based on price and I’ve been perfectly happy with it. It does what it should and if it met with a hideous accident, I would likely buy another the same.

Bushbuddy – Good for saving fuel, keeping midges away and giving a bit of warmth and atmosphere. Not so good when you accidentally smear the huge quantities of soot, in which it covers your pot, all over yourself.

Tinder paper – A fantastic substance for lighting the Bushbuddy. No more fannying about with tinder and tampons. A good fire first time, every time. The first time I saw a packet of this, I was put off by how heavy it was. I now know that you can light a fire with a remarkably small square of it, so for the quantity you need to carry it really doesn’t weight anything at all.

2 M&S tough plastic spoons – free and after a couple of years’ use they’re still going strong (although it was a close run thing on losing one of them en-route)

MSR Titan Kettley Thing – It’s light, it’s strong and it does exactly what you want in a pan.

Plastic Mug – Bought in the first week when I realised that I did need a mug after all. It’s light, it’s cheap, it did its job and there’s absolutely no good reason why I’m still hankering after a titanium one!

Pot cosy – Another fantastic bit of kit that I would not be without. They undoubtedly save lots of gas when rehydrating meals (and we never pre-soaked a meal) plus when you pop your soot-covered pot into it, it stops you covering yourself and other things with the soot! We did find that where we folded the tops over they started wearing and dropping bits of foil into our meals.

Steripen – What a disappointment! The first time I came to use this in the field, in March 2007, I found that the batteries with which it was supplied were faulty (it had worked fine at home, but failed on a week-long trip and didn’t work again until I replaced the batteries). It then worked faultlessly with the new batteries, albeit it didn’t have a great deal of use. I opted to carry it the whole way on this trip, even though it was unlikely that it was going to be used for the first half. For me, the comfort of knowing that I could get drinkable water if I needed it outweighed the extra 100g I was carrying. It was only about the third or fourth time that we came to use it that it failed. Water had got into the UV-light tube (which seems to me to be a huge failing in a product that is designed to be used in water and appears to be well sealed). It did eventually dry out enough to work again, but it will take me a while to regain faith in it. This was supposed to be a simple device with no moving parts to go wrong and with a very long life. In reality I’ve probably only managed to sterilise 15-20 litres of water with it in its life and in the process it’s failed twice.
(Post Script: That was my review written back in July; since then I sent the SteriPen back under the lifetime guarantee and it was replaced, however, now that I’ve got the Aquagear waterfilter, I can’t see the SteriPen getting a lot of use).

Boots Water Purification Tablets – I know that lots of people just drink water out of streams and have no problems, but personally I’m not up for taking the risk of someone with bad toilet habits having been in the vicinity (perhaps it was that hideous illness I picked up in Goa a few years back that made me so cautious!). So, when the Steripen died I had my sister ‘overnight’ to us some water purification tablets. The first time we used them I was not looking forward to the nasty chlorine taste and knew that I would have to force myself to drink, as my natural tendency with nasty tasting water is not to drink it and thus dehydrate. It was quite a surprise to find that these tablets didn’t have that nasty taste that I remember from the past (is it the silver in them that neutralises it?). I wouldn’t want to use them on anything approaching a regular basis, but they did the job for us in the absence of the Steripen. I kicked myself that I didn’t throw a handful of tablets into my pack at the outset.

Other
Pacerpoles (carbon) – Another item that I wouldn’t be without, and I certainly would never go back to ‘normal’ poles. The carbon ones are noticeably lighter than the standard version (I know that because I most definitely noticed when Mick handed me his by accident!). Love them!

Ortlieb Map Case – I’ve had other map cases. This is the only one that has been completely watertight and flexible enough to roll, fold, screw up and generally abuse without any sign of wear. Definitely worth the money in my opinion.

Closed-cell concertina sit-mat – This got voted our best value piece of kit. They were used daily ensuring that we always had something warm and comfy to sit on, they weight nothing and cost £1.99.

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