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]

Friday 28 March 2008

More Kit List Considerations

A couple of days ago Lighthiker (Roman (not to be confused with Litehiker)) left some detailed comments on my kit list.

I’ve considered them all. Some are very valid points and are definitely ways that I could save weight. However, it’s in considering these things that has driven home that to strive for the lightest possible pack weight does require some compromises and a certain level of dedication to lightweight.

For me, although I want the lightest pack, I’m not quite dedicated enough to lightweight to go without things that I’d like to have notwithstanding that strictly I could do without them.

So, these are my thoughts on Roman’s comments:
(Note: where I’m now leaving something out I’ve classed it as a weight saving and stated the amount. Where I’m taking something regardless I’ve classed it as a weight penalty and stated the amount.)

Leave the Paramo Azuma back home. The underpants plus Rain pants should be sufficient. If not someone at home can send it to a post office ahead of you.

I’m not sure if there’s some confusion about the pant vs trousers thing here – but the mind boggles at me either walking along wearing my skimpy knickers alone, or at wearing black Gore Tex on a sunny day. Suffice to say that I will be taking a pair of trousers!

I’m not counting that as a weight penalty on my pack as I’ll be wearing them.

You have the Fuera smock plus the down jacket for insulation. Could you leave the Fuera back home and combine the down jacket with your rain jacket?
I did consider getting a Montane Featherlite in place of the Fuera, which would give a weight saving whilst still providing a windproof. However, even ignoring the lack of funds, I decided that as I’m not taking a fleece the Fuera would act as a practical extra layer for walking in on cold days.

I’m not expecting to be cold enough to be comfortable walking in the down jacket, and although it’s possible that the weather may be kind enough that I can get away with just one outer-layer (i.e. the Gore Tex), for breathability (or the lack thereof) I don’t really want to be wearing the waterproof on dry days.

Plus, I really like the comfiness of the Fuera. So, the Fuera stays for now. Again, I’m not taking that as a weight penalty on my pack (an arguable point) as I anticipate to be wearing it more than not.

2 Underpants? Go for one
So, I wash my underpants at night and hang them on the tent. It turns out to be a humid night and they don’t dry. Do I then: a) wear damp pants the following day; or b) go commando…

Weight penalty: 30g

Smelly Helly. Mmh. Maybe exchange that with a Merion s/s crew?
I really need to get the Merino. The only holding factor is the astronomically high credit card bill I just received and my unemployed status…

Take the sleeping bag liner with you. Extra warmth, feels nice. Dries out quickly in the morning, much easier to wash when smelly/dirty compared with a sleeping bag. Doubles as a blanket in Youth Hostels etc.
I probably will start off with it. But, my other thought is that for the weight saving the cost of having my sleeping bag cleaned at the end of the trip will be a small price to pay.

Weight penalty: <160g (it weights 160g at the moment, but I’m going to take scissors and a sewing machine to it before we go)

Leave the superabsorbant cloth back home. Dry with the sponge at let the rest dry out in the air.
I agree, it is an item that we could do without. But, it’s proved its worth too many times in the past – probably more so for mopping up spillages than drying dishes.

Weight penalty: 15g

Steripen plus sterilising tablets? Leave one item back home.
Lack of clarity on my part. I intend to take one Milton Sterilising tablet which will serve to disinfect the bladders every couple of weeks (only half a tablet needed per time). I could omit this and have an occasional tablet sent with a food parcel instead.

However, we’re only talking about a weight penalty of 5g.

Hose cleaning brush. Leave back home. Rinse your drinking valve/tube daily and hang it out overnight. This is sufficient against bacteria etc.
When ever I get back from a walking trip I empty my water reservoir, whiz the tube around to get as much water out of it as possible and then hang it off a curtain pole above a radiator. Even so, it still goes mouldy with shocking ease. It’s not a problem I used to have with my blue-tubed CamelBak (but then that weighed twice as much).

Given that we don’t have anywhere to hang two drinking tubes in the tent, and given that it’s a potential threat to our health if the tubes do go mouldy and we can’t clean them, I will be taking the brush.

Weight penalty: 40g

2 times soap? I guess copy/past error...
‘Twas indeed an error. I don’t intend to be that clean! :-)

Soap plus shampoo plus hand sanitiser plus soap flakes...
Depending which kind of soap you use you can use it for hair and body. You can also wahs the clothes with soap and it can replace the sanitiser. Therefore one bar of biodegredable soap could do it.
A good point. It does seem a bit excessive, doesn’t it?

The hand sanitiser stays because that’s for use when there’s not a water source to hand.

Arguably I could wash clothes using a bar of soap – but soap flakes are just easier for clothes.

Potentially the shampoo could be omitted. I haven’t tried washing my hair with ordinary soap since I was a child and I seem to recall that it turned my hair to straw. But it could be that I just didn’t rinse properly – so before I go I will try out using ordinary soap on my hair and if it’s okay then I’ll omit the shampoo.

Weight penalty: soap - 25g; hand sanitiser – 25g; soap flakes – 30g
Potential weight saving: shampoo – 25g

I don't wear glasses but 10 pairs of contact lenses plus glasses? Leave the lenses back home.Glasses and Sunglasses? Couldn't you get one of those sunglass shields that you clip onto your glasses? Looks funny but who cares?
It’s probably just a personal thing, because I know that other people go walking in glasses, but I really can’t abide walking wearing my glasses in the rain. So, for days that threaten rain I wear contact lenses (daily disposables, so no need for separate solutions).

Now, if I finally bite the bullet and buy the Tilly hat, and wear it in the rain too, then it’s possible that my glasses will be well enough protected to not get rain spottled, in which case I will ditch the contact lenses. I think that I’ll probably set out with 5 pairs and see what happens.

As for the sunglasses, they’re for use with the contact lenses, not with the glasses.

When I bought a new pair of glasses late last year, and with this trip in mind, I bought a very light pair and I went for Reactions lenses.

People did warn me that the problem with Reactions lenses is that you look silly when you walk into a pub or a shop, but looking silly is something that I can deal with, so I went ahead.

They’ve turned out to be very annoying indeed, not because of the time it takes for them to go back to clear once you’re indoors, but because they will insist on going dark even when it’s a dull day. I certainly won’t ever buy such lenses again – however, for the current purposes it means that I don’t need to take a pair of prescription sunglasses as well as a pair of ordinary sunglasses, as well as the contact lenses, as well as the glasses…

Weight saving: 5 pairs contact lenses – 20g;
Weight penalty: sunglasses – 20g

Could your mobile double as a MP3 Player?
It can’t (it’s not that modern). Plus, given the potential intervals between power outlets, I need to make sure that the phone is used only as a phone so that I don’t run out of power at an inopportune moment (because if I run out of power on the phone you won’t be getting any blog updates).

So, the MP3 player comes along. Weight penalty: 45g

You can buy AA/AAA batteries almost everywhere. Why carry them with you (maybe one set at most)
At the moment I have 3 x AAA batteries (which are used by the MP3 players, the head torches and the GPS). 2 x AA batteries (used by the Pocketmail), 2 x CR123A batteries (for the Steripen Adventurer) and one spare camera battery.

Arguably we’ve got enough gadgets with AAA batteries in them to be able to steal from something else if some batteries go at a critical moment, so I could leave the AAA’s out.

I’ve now found out that the Pocketmail will continue to work for a good few days after the battery low warning starts, so I could leave the AA’s out too.

I see the CR123A batteries as another potential threat to clean water – and even though theoretically they should last a very long time indeed, I did have a battery failure on the first day of a trip last year and was stuck without the Steripen for the rest of the week (CR123A batteries not generally being stocked in little local stores). However, until we get Up North, we shouldn’t have any problem getting access to tap water so the Steripen should be redundant. So, I may well omit this set of Spare batteries until we get Up North.

The camera battery comes along for obvious reasons. I have considered getting a third camera battery and omitting the charger, but I’m just too nervous of being left without the ability to take photos.

Weight saving: 3xAAA – 30g; 2xAA – 45g; 2xCR123A – 30g (a little misleading because when we do need to buy we’ll end up buying more than we need, but I was surprised to find out how much they weigh).
Ortlieb map case? Heavy. Why not replace it with a Ziplock/Aloksak bag?
Ortlieb map case 55g. Aloksak 30g. I have complete faith in the Ortlieb surviving all of the abuse that I will give it. I have slightly less faith in Aloksaks (those little white blemishes that appear in the plastic when you bend them too much).

Weight penalty: 25g

If you need the MP3 player...why not loading audiobooks onto it and leave the book back home (yes, I know it is not the same..but)?
Audio books are all that I will have on the MP3 player. As you say, it’s not quite the same as having a book is it? However, I’ve had so many trips where the book hasn’t even made it out of the bag that I’ve decided that I’m not going to take a book. I will use the MP3 player and read over Husband’s shoulder if I get really desperate for the written word. If all else fails and I absolutely need my own book then I’m sure that I can pick something up on the way.

Weight saving: 100g.

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