The Vault Regulars

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Custom Cone Windshield for Meths stoves.

Thanks to JJ for the heads up  on this new split cone windshield.

I have a cone windshield already for my 600ml Evernew pot and i am more than happy with it. However when i come to need a bigger capacity pot for when two of us are backpacking i fudge the windshield to suit.

Then after numerous emails to JJ about cones, i decided to get one of these custom made split cones which is designed around my 1.1L Toaks pot. It was on ebay here.

So today i tried it out with my 12-10 stove. I didn’t purchase the stove that is otherwise supplied with it.
It boiled 500ml of tap water in almost exactly the same time as it does with my smaller cone 7.6 minutes.
The nice thing about having the split cone is that it all fits very neatly into the pot and therefore eliminates  a possible 2nd container.
Here are a few photo’s that show the cone and the total impressive weight of 232 grams all in.

The two halves of the cone are easily put together and are well engineered.

The total weight included.
Toaks 1.1L pot and lid.
12 - 10 burner and protective cover/douser.
Split cone windshield.
Ground heat reflector.
There was still plenty of room in the pot left to put in a fire stick and a small bottle of meths and a J cloth.(Not a JJ cloth, thats something completely different)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

How did the gear do?

I had some new bits on this trip but the majority i had used before.
I am just making a few notes here for info purposes.

Tent - Kuiu Mountain Star 2 person. 

  • Great space to weight
  • Robust main body and pole structure
  • Porch adequate
  • Door flapping improved from last time but i now know that the cut of the door material is wrong and i will have to make the best out of it. I have a mod in mind.
  • One way main door zips are annoying and i wish zips were a bit cheaper because i would otherwise change them to two way.
  • Snow was blown through the air vent opening even with it shut. Additional velcro tape added to the vent bottom edge to seal it better.
  • Two inner pockets are small and four would be better. Easily modified.
As a groundsheet protector i used lightweight double glazing sheet that i bought from Screwfix. I had my doubts that it would be any good. But it was. And at £3.29 for next to no grams in weight, it was a bargain.

Tent Light

Obviously at this time of year many hours are spent in the tent, so a light is needed. This Lixada LED one works well and has 3 power settings to save battery power. The price, £7 and 160 grams is ok.
I have since done away with the steel swing arm and clip, so its a bit lighter now.
PHD Minim 500 Sleeping Bag

  • The PHD 500 is a design your own bag and not offered as std.
  • I was overly warm and could have managed with a lighter bag.
  • Sheila was fine and couldn’t have managed a lighter bag.
  • Zips constantly snag and can be difficult to get started.
We also took a very light weight pair of Lanland down booties. Ideal for time in the tent to keep the extremities cosy. They are so light i just leave them in my sleeping bag during transits. They are very cheap as well in comparison to what is available from UK suppliers. A bit of a luxury really.
Thanks to John at over the hills blog for the heads up.

Exped Synmat UL7  (me)

  • Felt the cold through it almost instantly.
  • Comfortable, well made.
  • Easy to inflate with the schnozzle.
  • Stays inflated.
  • I like the vertical tubes rather than the horizontal tubes.
Thermarest Neo Air. (Sheila)
  • Felt the cold floor through it.
  • Was a free replacement for one that leaked and seems to be working fine.
  • Horizontal tubes.
To combat the cold coming through we use 3mm of wood flooring insulation. At 100 grams for 500 mm x 2000mm it is the best warmth to weight insulation out there. Never be without it.
You do have to buy more than you need but with the rough use it gets in a tent you can replace it at will.

Deuter Air Contact 40 + 10 Rucksack

  • Comfortable
  • Well designed hiking sack.
  • Too heavy to use on longer trips.
I usually use the OMM villain 45 but it’s quite a limited sack, basic in fact.
I am thinking of changing it and fancy the Montane Grand Tour 55.
OMM Jirishanca 35L Rucksack (Sheila)

  • A nice sack, comfortable and strong all round.
  • A bit small for multi day hikes. Especially with a winter sleeping bag installed.
  • A floating lid would help.
An addition neck closure would help as can be found on the Villain.
Sheila has now bought a new bag from Cotswold outdoors at a reduced rate from that advertised.
Its the Montane Grand Tour 50

Caldera Cone with 12-10 stove and 600ml Evernew Titanium Pot.

  • I cannot fault this system. 
  • Coped with cooking/boiling water for 2 people.
  • Works well in adverse weather, which for me is the top requirement.
Boots and Socks. (Sheila and myself)
  • Ecco Biom Terrains.
  • Very comfy and supportive boot. 
  • Made from Yak Leather. 
  • Very waterproof. 
  • Good grip.
Lots of good socks on the market, Bridgedale, Teko, Smartwool etc. My particular favourite is xsocks.

  • Jacket. Bergans Super Lett. - Cannot fault it or the Dermizax Material. 
  • It’s a longer length jacket than is generally offered today.
  • Trousers. OR Hellium 2. Lightweight, pack small and do the job.
  • Jacket. Bergans 1316 Sirdal Lady. Not the lightest jacket but reliable and again the Dermizax material is excellent.
  • Trousers. Bergans Super Lett. Lightweight, packable and do the job.
  • Sheila didn’t take a windproof.
Device Charger.
  • Sheila is more techy than i am, constantly using the iphone for photographs and social media. Unfortunately apple and others have taken the backwards step of having fixed batteries. So a charger is a necessity on backpacking trips.
  • Jackery Giant.
  • This “Giant” really is. It’s a 12,000 mAh monster. 110mm x 80mm x 20mm and weighs 309 grams. It charged up the iphone twice and we listened to music for 2 hours with it plugged in. There are 3 bars showing charge level and it stayed on 3 bars the whole trip. So this would be ideal for long trips where civilisation was not being encountered.
  • A 6000 mAh charger would be ideal for 3 - 4 day wilderness walks.
  • Well made, quality product.
  • Reasonable price.
  • Doesn’t get hot when charging a device.
  • Quick re-charge time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The End is Nigh maybe.

Dropping down from the top of Birkett Fell where we had intended to camp was a wet affair with no decent places to pitch either. We crossed a good water source which is the start of Aira Force Beck. That was mentally noted.
As we reached the coll between Brown Hills we hit dry land, and thought, this will do nicely.

We got the tent up and off i went back up hill to get the water. (Don’t say it, i know!) I should have got the water when we were coming down hill. Anyway it was a 3L water container so i only had to go the once. The container proved a sod to fasten the press seal and it will have to be replaced forthwith.

Coming back down to the tent the snow started, quite heavy but only for a few minutes. Too heavy to get a brew going so we waited out the squall in the tent. Weighed down with a few stones. (not yet in place in above photo).
We had a good spot and stunning views.

We were looking forward to watching the sunset and the oncoming of the dark sky filled with stars. What romantic drivel!
What happened next was just about as opposite as it could get.

Before we had even unpacked all our gear and had 5 minutes shut eye, a blizzard came in and gave us a real wake up call. From being able to see Yorkshire 5 minutes earlier we now couldn’t see across the valley. It went dark, very dark. We were a touch hungry after our days walk but there was no way of being able to prepare any food. We just had to sit it out.

It lasted about half an hour, the valley going from green to white. Helvellyn and Catstycam and the 2 main ridges would have been horrendous at that time and we were glad not to have been that exposed. Even so, we were in quite an exposed location ourselves.
When it all abated we got out to have a look at our different world. It seemed surreal. Two complete opposing seasons within an hour.

What was green, now white.

Sheffield Pike in the background.
Striding Edge, Helvellyn, Lower Man, Catstyecam and Swirral Edge looking alpine.


We rushed to get a meal on the go as we could see the snow showers moving all around interspersed with a period of blue sky. The burner sparked up no problems tonight and we enjoyed our Beanfeast with Mashed Potato, gravy and mixed herbs. After that we didn’t need a sweet, just a large mug of coffee.
Throughout the evening the snow rushed through and then cleared, off and on for a couple of hours. It was fantastic to witness first the buffeting and pummelling of the wind and snow against the tent and watch as the gloom moved eastwards and then south skirting Sheffield Pike and down towards Patterdale.
Quite unbelievable that the High Street Group of mountains was evading all of it. They stayed totally green.
We had spindrift inside the porch of the tent and some snow also got blown through the air vent. it’s not a 4 season tent so i expected to get spindrift in the porch but i will have to do a mod to ensure the air vent stays tight in future. If snow can get in then so can rain.

The scenery just got better and better and watching the light change on the mountains from the comfort of our sleeping bags was a privilege to witness first hand.
For Sheila, this was her first high up, “Bad Weather” camp although not her first snowy encounter in a tent. She has had numerous at low level.
We just lay with the doors open when we could and listened to the music of the band Iona when the flurries came in and the doors got shut.

View from my sleeping bag of the High Street range.

As it went dark the wind died down and the flurries decreased. I woke up at 12.15am and was cold but i must of dropped off without being fully in my bag. The temperature had dropped to minus 5C and it was a noticeable difference. We kept checking outside to see if we got a mass of stars but the moon was too full and night too light. The moon light enhancing the brilliant white of the mountains.

Sheila shook me and said it was nearly sunrise and we should get up. Which we did. It wasn’t one of those sunrises to remember but it still coloured the fells to a degree. The three images below.

Back to bed for a couple of hours and still no sign of anyone venturing out. We had breakfast al fresco and enjoyed what time we had left up high.
Sheila’s boots had frozen to the ground, the leather now hard as plastic ski boots and the laces like twigs. Half an hour in the sun sorted them out.

Just as we finished packing up and checking to make sure that we had left no trace, the first adventurer passed by.
Our route was now a short journey back to the car which would see us complete the tops back to Dockray.
Brown Hills are a boggy lot and not great for wild camping and running water is scarce. However the views from the summits of Ullswater lake and surrounding higher peaks make it worth a visit.
 Looking back from Brown Hills to the Helvellyn Range.
The weather was glorious although still a bit of a cutting wind. The tops are ideal practice grounds for compass work. It has been a real pleasure to walk this area and it’s highlighted a few gear changes needed. A very successful wander.
 Common Fell 545 Metres
 Ullswater from Round How
Back in Dockray.
Today the tops we did are:-

NY377 194 Unnamed spot height 550 M
Swinside Knot 553 M
Watermillock Common Cairn 545 M
Common Fell 545 M
Round How 387 M
Bracken How 370 M.

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