Prepping for the snow

Winter additionsThe Met Office is pointing towards lower temperatures and a bit of snow over the next week. After a warm and dry start to the year it will be nice to get out walking in some proper winter conditions and even get a wild camp or two in before we get into a long, hot summer (hmm).

Me and my mate Michael are planning a couple of Wainwright bagging missions in the Far Eastern fells and in preparation I have been getting a bit of winter kit together:

Original Buff Merino – a present from my sister at Christmas. I have been admiring a friend’s from afar for a while and decided to stick it on my Christmas list. A truly versatile and lightweight piece.

PHD Midwinter Minimus Vest – one of the items offered in the PHD winter sale, this gilet is filled with 800FP down and is clad in a Drishell water-resistant outer fabric. At just 255g and less than a litre in volume when compressed it should add really good value warmth with few penalties.

Grivel Munro ice axe – A pre-Christmas gift from my dad, a former volunteer with a local Mountain Rescue service. It’s an addition that doesn’t require discussion really.

Extremities Multi Sport gloves – another dad special. Once used for ice climbing in Norway these GTX XCR mitts should prove waterproof, warm and durable on the summits of Lakeland.

Grivel Air Tech New Classic crampons – possibly the most intimidating recent addition to my kit. Just less than a kilo worth of sharp spikes attached to my feet will demand that I pay close attention when wearing them. Trail and TGO magazines both offered some solid advice on crampon use in the past month so I’ll need to revisit that in the next week or so.

New non-winter-specific kit:

Tarptent Scarp 1 – it hasn’t arrived yet but at the time of writing it has left the USPS San Francisco International terminal. To say I’m excited to use this new 1-man tent is a real understatement! It took quite a bit of deliberation to arrive at the decision to plump for the Scarp but all of the advice I received from some very knowledgeable people helped me make what I hope to be a quality decision. A recent long-term review at blogpackinglight affirmed my choice after ordering too.

Evernew non-stick 0.6L pot – this was a mixture of fantasy and accident. I hold my Snow Peak 900 Ti pot in high regard and it has never let me down but if you attempt to do actual cooking in it you can be left with a bit of washing up to do as food burns in it readily. Non-stick Evernew pots can cost a pretty penny in the UK and whilst having a casual browse through kit on eBay I happened upon the 0.6L model in the states with the option to make a best offer. $41 later I’m the proud owner of a new pot – as a bonus I can fit my Pocket Stove, Trangia burner, firesteel and a cotton bandana inside.

Phew, step away from the debit card (and change the Paypal password). I’ll be taking the majority of this new gear on a winter trip sometime in the next couple of weeks and will endeavour to report back on how everything worked out once I return safe and sound.



  1. ReidIvinsMedia · January 22, 2013

    I’ve got a Henry Shires Contrail. Excellent tent, super build quality, solid in storms, waterproof, etc etc. I’m sure you’ll be happy with the Scarp – I know a couple of folk who have one. A word of advice; the bug net mesh on my contrail keeps out mossies but not the tiny midges so (if you have the mesh interior) I’d strongly recommend spraying the bug protection with something like the NikWax spray. Once bitten, twice shy as they say:-)

    • rcbprk · January 22, 2013

      Luckily I got the ‘solid’ inner for the very reason you described. I’d read previously that the mesh isn’t great for the good old British midges and your comment has confirmed that for me.
      The contrail looks an interesting bit of kit, very minimalist. Was it a big leap going from a regular tent to the contrail?

      • ReidIvinsMedia · January 22, 2013

        Not a big leap at all. TBH hardly noticeable. I have a Laser Competition which, being double-skinned, is better at keeping draughts out so I tend to use it in the colder months as its warmer. However, having to thread the hoop pole as you’re pitching is very time consuming and annoying in high winds. Once up, its stable and waterproof.

        For several years I’ve used a Force Ten Race Tent. Its a 2-man tent (provided you’re both small and very good friends). Its basically a tarp with a clip-in groundsheet and it is brilliant apart from being a really vivid red/orange. Not good for wild camping:-) Because of the visibility issue I got the Contrail which had the added benefit of a bugnet.

        I find the Contrail to be very spacious for one and its a doddle to pitch. The colour is a bit startling at first but it is actually less visible than a green tent from a distance which is useful. There is more headroom than the Race Tent. I’ve never had a major problem with condensation – any that forms during the night vanishes once the sun is up. Not that there is much at night provided the tent is ventilated. In storm mode, I experience a bit more condensation but its no big deal, only forming on the tent but no drips.

        So, large sleeping/living area, good headroom, a good vestibule to keep boots & pack in, stable, waterproof and very light. Can’t beat it:-)

        I’m in the Backpacking Club and folks there have the Scarp and the Notch and they rate them highly. I reckon Henry has cracked tent design!

      • rcbprk · January 25, 2013

        Sounds like you’ve had quite a history of tents. I hadn’t come across the F10 Race Tent before and when looking it up it looks really light duty but great for fast and light travel when you’re not too bothered about comfort and/or insects. Dimensions look fairly spoon-worthy too. Perhaps not one for me and the boys!

        I considered the Laser Comp when choosing a one man tent and discounted it because of the pole cover setup and general flappiness of the fly sheet when the wind gets up. Hopefully the Scarp will fare better with its taut fly and option of crossing poles. So it seems the Contrail suits you well and has quite a few advantages over those you’ve owned and tried recently. Bonus.

        I hope Henry has cracked it. My Scarp arrived yesterday, just in time for a weekend overnighter tomorrow. Watch out for my first impressions of the Scarp after what I hope is a cracking lakeland wild camp.

      • ReidIvinsMedia · January 26, 2013


        The F10 Race Tent is pretty neat. Very good groundsheet, really fast and easy to pitch, 2 entrances, good ventilation. It is low-profile so very stable in winds. Very good on the hill in bad weather. I love the detachable groundsheet because its dead easy to turn it into a lean-to tarp for cooking. I don’t like cooking in a tent as I once saw a tent catch fire. One minute (literally) a tent, the next a charred mass with some very scared campers who somehow got out alive and unhurt. Its described as a 2-man but I only use as a 1 man tent. if only it wasn’t bright red it would be perfect. The green version doesn’t have a detachable groundsheet and its heavier. Oddly, I’ve never had a problem with midges in this tent. Either down to luck or they don’t like the colour!

        Great about your Scarp arriving. I’m sure you’ll be pleased with it as I’ve never heard a negative comment about Henry’s tents. A few minor whinges perhaps but the consensus is they do the job! I know he’s done the TGO a couple of times and tests out his ideas. If they can stand up to Scottish weather, they are fine:-) Don’t now if you’ve heard of the TGO, if not here is some info
        Even in May, there is plenty of snow, rain and high winds so the tent has to be pretty good for the two weeks it takes to do the challenge.

        I’ll look forward to reading your report. Hope you have a great time out there.

  2. Pingback: Snow you see it, now you don’t « bearpacking

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s