Two months and counting – kit check time

Firstly, a huge shout out to Lauren and the team at Alpkit Bristol – I am so grateful for their help today – what a great place and great team! I thought was going to have to drive to the Lake District to visit an Alpkit store so I was chuffed to find they recently opened up in Bristol!!

Yesterday, I received an email from the Cairngorms trek organiser and I realised that the challenge is even bigger than I had previously thought. I had been about to step up my training regime for the final 2 months, but now I realise that my plan wasn’t going to be nearly enough, so I’m now planning some hilly hikes. Bought myself a map of the Brecon Beacons…

My training update posts will talk more about that. Here, I’m going to run through the kit I have and what I still need to get hold of.

My first big purchase was a pair of B2 mountain boots. I went for La Sportiva’s Trango Tower Women GTX Light. They are really nicely padded and are easily adjusted to ensure that when my feet get hot there is plenty of room to avoid being squashed.

I’ve bought a collection of socks, another buff and a pair of decent mountaineering gloves by Mountain Equipment. I also treated myself to a pair of fluffy lined Level Iris gloves which should be perfect in camp in the evenings.

I have three pairs of hiking trousers which I think will be good enough for the trek and the training. I already had a thin set of waterproof trousers but today I treated myself to a pair of Alpkit Nautilus – excellent waterproof trousers with reinforcement at the hem and articulated knees so they are comfortable to walk in and aren’t going to immediately rip. I already have plenty of decent hiking tops and base layers, and today I bought an Alpkit Griffon lightweight fleece hoody to keep me snug in the Beacons.

I’m still choosing my sleeping bag. I thought I had decided to go for the Mountain Hardware Lamina sleeping bag which is a synthetic fibre-filled sleeping bag, good down to -11C with a limit of -18C. It’s £170 from Snow+Rock which is a great price, but it’s pretty heavy due to having a synthetic fill, weighing in at 1.98kg. The design is really excellent, particularly noticeable in the zips and the footbox.

The other option on the table after my trip to Alpkit is the AlpineDream 1000, good down to -18C, but is down-filled rather than synthetic. This is quite a lot more expensive, at £320 but it is apparently suitable down to lower temperatures than the Mountain Hardware one. It’s 1.5kg as well, so it’s 25% lighter.

There is also another Alpkit sleeping bag which has a similar comfort limit to the Mountain Hardware one. It’s the AlpineDream 800 which is £280, weighs 1.3kg and is good down to -15C. The Alpkit bags feel really comfy and snuggly but the area around the feet doesn’t seem as warm as the Mountain Hardware one. Bit more thinking to do.

I already have a silk sleeping bag liner which can keep extra warmth in.

To keep “warm” in the snow hole I’m going to need a decent bivvy bag so I’m looking at the Alpkit Elan, though it’s fairly pricey at £100 but with a small hooped hood it becomes a really good piece of kit that can be used instead of a tent at times. Another option is the Hunka for £50 which is lightweight at 400g compared to 900g. There’s still a chance that I’ll find my old bivvy bag in the garage so I have my fingers crossed!

I treated myself to a new sleeping mat from Wildbound.com. I got the Klymit Insulated V Ultralight SL, a slimline full-length inflatable mat with an impressive R value of 4.4. It weighs 454g and packs down into a TINY bag. It seemed to be a good price for the product – I paid about £82 against an RRP of £118.

I recently bought an emergency Blizzard Bag from V12 Outdoor, recommended gear for anyone heading out to remote areas with uncertain weather. It is small and weighs 280g so it’s worth keeping within arm’s reach.

That’s more or less it for now. I’ve got an Osprey Aura 65 litre backpack that I’m hoping to pack most of the gear into, with communal kit going onto pulks.

Now back to planning my training hikes!!

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