Speyside Way - Blog 2 of 3 - the gear

Why do I write gear reviews?

One of the things that annoys me about some gear reviews in magazines is that the boots are worn once, the tent slept in for one night and waterproofs are worn new... not 2 years old and battered as hell.  Some magazines do better, and some online gear reviews better still... However, my gear is my gear bought out of my pocket, therefore to a certain degree any failures or problems are mine...

From the bottom:

TNF Lightwave.... Good balance of weight, sturdiness and decent grip.  The gore-tex lining was needed on the wet and muddy days and its usual sweatiness on the hot days. The fabric at the heel (internal) has gone at the seam (a normal weak point in shoes for me) and the grip is showing signs of wear.... The blisters, well I'm not sure I can blame the shows for them - 26 miles on a hot day on hard ground, with me and a backpack... one of those predictable things.

Socks - Lorpen and Bridgedales - the ultimate compliment, I didn't notice them...

Trews - Berghaus & ronhill tracksters - a bit more stretch in the berghaus would've been nice, pockets in the tracksters.  Both dried quickly, didn't stink too bad, and weren't sweat boxes.

Tops - main one for walking was a paramo grid top which was fine apart from the label, the waist band of my trews and the waist belt of my rucksack conspired to chaff my hip.... the label has now been removed!

Waterproofs - TNF point five - did its job... kept me dry, allowed me to vent as it was warm and wet, dried quickly.   Montane neoshell trews - excellent, didn't feel sweaty as I walked.

Insulation - Berghaus VapourLight Hypertherm - for a shrug on shrug off warmth layer this is superb, that critical 15 min when you've stopped and don't want to chill down has rarely been better dealt with.

Hat - a CHF special, and it worked...

Backpack - Osprey Talon 33 - cracking... took the load, held it to my back, balanced and made it easy to do. Hip pockets were big enough for snacks, compass and map, shoulder pocket fitted the backup phone and a snickers bar.  The wand pockets were accessible when you were wearing it, the back pocket held either my waterproofs or my sandals... I genuinely can't fault this rucksack... You can fiddle with the settings to your hearts desire, actually reaching the shoulder tensioners on the go!  the expandable back is easy to use and one you forget about worrying about very quickly!  Superb!

Tech - kindle voyage - whimper... reading myself to sleep each night was a joy, and lighter than a paperback.

Kindle Fire - I'll probably leave this at home next time, I just didn't use it...

Sony Xperia 1 compact - waterproof, and EE gave me a decent signal in the highlands... as a back up phone this is cracking!

Canon EOS M - finally a decent camera I don't mind carrying in the hills!!! On my hip when it was dry, in the wand pocket of the rucksack, under the cover when it was wet.  Battery lasted all week.

Three MiFi - cracking back up to B&B wifi...

Poles - Mountain King Trail Blazes - lightweight, collapsed to nothing when not in use, sturdy and reassuring in use.

So, other than breaking another pair of walking shoes, and taking a tablet too many the gear did what it was designed for.  Will I be shopping to replace anything (other than the shoes)? At the moment, no... It all worked, it's all been my gear for 6 months or longer and some of it is beginning to show wear and tear, but will get me through St Cuthbert's Way in one piece.

As I said at the start I bought all of this, but I'm happy to brutalise gear if any manufacturers want longer-term testing by a real walker... As normal, and as I've done in the past, I'll pass on what I've saved to CHF.




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