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]

Sunday 7 July 2024

Kit for Pennine Way Jaunt

I went relatively lightweight for this trip – not too difficult a thing when you’re only out for a day and a half. Here (for my own benefit) are a few thoughts on the kit I took.

Pack –A Gossamer Gear 30-litre backpack turned out to be the perfect size for this outing. It was comfortable enough with the weight too, but I concluded that the convenience of the extra pockets of my Osprey Exos means I’m unlikely to choose to use this one again for a backpacking trip.

Tent – Connie is a Laser Competition bought in 2010, but sufficiently lightly used that she still has plenty of life left in her. She’s also our only one-man tent, so that’s what I took. She was a bit flappy in the wind, but otherwise I had no complaints about her.

Sleeping bag – My PHD Minimus 300 has gone beyond the end of its useful life. It served me well for just about every backpacking trip between 2008 and mid-2014 (including LEJOG, K2CW and EtoW, amounting to 25 weeks between them, plus a whole lot of shorter trips). It was fine for this outing, but certainly wouldn’t keep me warm on a cold night. My blog tells me that I dithered over forking out the £109 this sleeping bag cost me in 2008 as it seemed like a lot of money; the equivalent now costs £700. I think I can safely say that I won't be replacing it!

Insulated vest – I made this very badly in 2016 and it’s still a very functional bit of kit. I could, perhaps, do with some separate arms for cold weather.

Sleeping mat – I’ve been using a Thermarest NeoAir in the short length for some years, which is fine when I’m with Mick as I can pop my feet on his (longer) sleeping mat. The short length was okay with my feet on my backpack, but without a doubt a longer mat would have been more comfortable. The conundrum of weight versus comfort.

Water Filter – Like my sleeping bag, I think my water filter (a Sawyer mini) has been a water filter too long as, even though I back-flushed it before this trip, the flow rate was awful. I bought it in January 2015, so it’s 9 years old, but I don’t feel like it’s had a massive amount of use. Still, at £25, it would probably be a wise investment to get a new one.

Rain Skirt – I came into possession of a ULA Outdoor Gear rain skirt a couple of months ago and although I’ve carried it a few times, this is the first time I’ve worn it.  I was impressed! In the same way that we classify Rita Rainbow as an excellent tent for situations where you don’t really need a tent, I thought this rain skirt was going to be an excellent bit of wet weather gear for when you don’t expect wet weather. I now think it’s far more functional than that. There’s no faffing with standing on one leg to force a foot through over-trousers, and no getting mud inside the legs in the process. Instead I could just reach behind me into a side pocket, pull out the skirt and put it around my waist (it’s sold as a ‘kilt’, so it wraps around and fastens with Velcro not just at the waist but in three places down its length). It proved to be functional (it kept my cropped tights dry) and surprisingly warm. Thanks to its design, it even performed well in the wind (I remember a chap using a rain skirt on the TGO Challenge a few years ago and his description of how, in the wind, it turned into more of a rain bonnet).  I wouldn’t choose it for a long backpack where you might get lots of wet weather combined with cold, where full-leg protection would be preferable, but on this trip, and for many of my day outings, this will be my garment of choice.

75g and it packs up small. Purple glasses case included for scale. 

Battery pack – Continuing the theme of old kit failing... I wasn’t going to take any means to charge with me for such a short trip as I now have a phone with a decent battery. Then, just in case, I decided to take a small auxiliary battery and a couple of charging cables (phone and watch). I duly made sure the battery was fully charged, and over breakfast on Wednesday morning I thought I may as well top my phone up a bit. ‘A bit’ proved to be 1% before the aux battery went from full (four lights), skipped over 3 and 2 lights, and started flashing one light, at which point it stopped charging. Our other battery block is big and heavy, so I may well replace this smaller one. 

Watch – For my birthday last year Mick bought me a fancy GPS watch and was understandably miffed when I promptly sent it back without opening it. Awaiting surgery, I didn't know when next (if ever) I would be able to get back to running distances that would warrant such a watch. I reasoned that if I did get to the point where it would be a worthwhile item for me to have, then the chances were that the spec would have increased or the price decreased. Last month I let him buy it for me again (and yes, the price had gone down quite a bit). I’m still finding my way around everything it can do, but for this outing I set it to ‘Ultra Run’ mode (this wasn’t a run, but there was some functionality in that mode that I wanted to try) and told it to use the second highest power consumption mode. After 12 hours of use in GPS mode, it still had 48% battery remaining. A big step up compared to my old watch. (post blog note: it’s now Sunday evening, 6 days since it was last charged and as well as 2 days recording my every move on the Pennine Way, it has also recorded two 30-ish minute runs, as well as having daily use as a watch. It still has 10% left.)

Shoes – I had a last minute change of plan as to which shoes to wear, switching from my Inov8 (hmmm, no idea what model) to my Mizuno Mujins. Both pairs are on their last legs (bought in 2021 and with over 900km on the Inov8s & 1200km on the Mizunos), and it was perhaps a bit of a risk, as I’ve not worn the Mizunos for ages. The risk paid off – they were superbly comfortable and if they hadn’t vastly changed the design in the four model increments since I bought mine, I would buy another pair right now. The only problem with them is that the cuff seems to act as a scoop, and the tread pattern as a shovel. I was thus constantly kicking grit from the tread of one shoe over the cuff of the other. I would put up with the grittiness for as long as I could before tipping a handful out of each shoe. Really should have taken my mini-gaiters.


  1. I know what you mean about the price of PHD gear. If it is any use to you I have a PHD Minim 500 (But with a full zip). For sale. I have just taken the decision to sell my precious gear because of my condition. I have not advertised it on the internet or mentioned it to anyone else. It has done 20 nights only and has been used with a liner, it is in as perfect a condition it could be in. It is Pre- K series bags so has 800fill power, -10 degrees spec.In dry-shell material. It was over £500 new. I don't think I am being greedy asking £250. Anyway you now have first refusal. No worries if it isn't what you want . (I Have 2 of them btw).

    1. That's very kind of you to give me first refusal, but as it happens I also have an almost unused PHD Minim 500 (no zip in my case). I'm probably going to have to start using it, although (ridiculously!) I am almost loathed to use it, given how valuable it is these days. (I paid £190 for it in a PHD sale in 2009).

    2. Thats great Gayle. Wow to pick one up for £190 must have felt like a lottery win. Even in 2009. I bought ours in 2013 for the 2014 TGO challenge. As you know they are very warm bags. I got the zip one when PHD offered the "make your own design" and I thought the Minim 500 was a perfect spec to add a zip and so could use it as a quilt for non winter conditions. But it has had little use because I use the Rab Summit bag most times.
      The Minim is far to good a bag to just store so I will probably put it on eBay eventually and let someone else benefit from it. All the best to you and Mick btw.