The Vault Regulars

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The weekends Gear test.

During our couple of days getting to know the Scarp 2, i also took along some other bits and bobs to try out.
The first one was a 1.5 metre length of Thermawrap.
This is manufactured as loft insulation and comes in rolls 600mm wide by 7.5m long and costs £18.74 at B and Q.
It is supposed to give the same insulating properties as would 55mm of polystyrene. So that sounded good. Worth a trial run.
You can cut it to what ever length or shape you want and you can make pot cosy’s and such like from it.
For transporting you can roll it or fold it and its not bulky.
This piece weighs 200gr.

Underneath this and covering the tent floor i laid a AMK heatsheet emergency blacket, the strong, quiet type, (that’s the blanket not me) which i purchased from Ultralight outdoors.
I also put the same blanket underneath the groundsheet.  They measure 213cm X 142cm and weigh 68gr each.
I then had my Small ThermArest Neo Air,  and Sheila had her Trango World foam mat. weighing 370 gr. Sheila is so impressed with the TrangoWorld mat she has decided to part company with her Neo-Air.

This set up worked for us and at temperature down to -7 we didn’t feel the cold from the ground and we don’t have to go and buy another set of Mats.

I took with me 2 cook sets, the Optimus Crux and my homemade Alky stove.
I took 2 gas cylinders both GoSystem Powersource winter mix of Butane- Isobutane and Propane.
The 125gr cylinder was half full and the 220gr cylinder was new.
The cylinders were kept in a Merino wool sock cosy.
 The first time i came to use the gas set up i fitted the part used cylinder to the burner. The temperature was -3. It lit ok but died after about 5 seconds. I tried again only this time turning it up full. It lasted about 30 seconds and died again.
Letting it cool down i swapped cylinders for the new one and repeated the operation. The burner would only stay alight as long as it was on full blast. Anything less and it died.
I was not impressed that this stove wouldn’t work properly with a half full cylinder using winter mix fuel.
So i don’t think i would take the Crux on a backpacking trip in the winter months.

On the other hand the Alky stove worked well and i din’t have a problem. I kept the meths in a cozy made from the Thermawrap material and my gas lighter in bubble wrap.

Meths and Lighter protected from the cold temperature.

 Meths bottle, Bic lighter and Spark arrester.
Lighter with Spark Arrester in situ.
I like these Bic lighters, they are good for Meths and Esbit cooking. They are also cheap at £2.49. and last quite a while. (price now £3.49. 18th December 2010)
I use a spark arrester just in case the trigger gets accidentally depressed when it’s in the rucksack. With this in place it cannot light.

As it happens i didn’t get to use the Esbits.

Foot Warmers
Sheila feels the cold more than i do and she fancied getting a pair of down booties, but they are such an expensive item.
Looking around the outdoor shops in Manchester she came upon these Blue Mountain Thinsulate slippers in the Cotswold Shop (other places sold them too). They were buy one pair get one 1/2 price.
So she did.
I admit to being a bit sceptical when i saw them but i hold my hands up now and say they were wonderful. Well worth the price and when the extremities are warm you cope better. I wore them all night.
You can use them in your sleeping bag and on the groundsheet without compromising either.
They are a great piece of kit and weigh 88gr each size 42/8

So apart from the Crux it had been an interesting weekend and a few more bits of gear tested.


markswalkingblog said...

Like you Alan, I have found top stoves, in my case a Pocket Rocket a pain to light in cold weather. No problem with the Spider Express and Primus Power canister, even at -10C last Sunday morning. Just to see how far I can push it I did not put the canister in my sleeping bag and it still lit fine. I also didn't need to invert it, but I had a pretty full canister, but I have the option to invert if low.

AlanR said...

Hi Mark,
Yes your post on the gas surprised me. The Primus and GoSystem cylinders use the same winter mix. I am not 100% certain but i think it’s the burner thats not up to it.

Anonymous said...

Are the slippers really only 40g?

AlanR said...

Robin, You win the prize for spotting todays deliberate mistake. They don’t.
As you can tell from my blog i weigh almost everything. Sheila bought these on her way home from work. She rang me about the colour and i said any colour and find out what they weigh. She asked the assistant who said 40gr i think.
I took that to be 40gr. each and never thought anymore about it until your comment.
just weighed them and size 8 weighs 88gr each. So very sorry for the clanger i will put it right post haste.

Anonymous said...

It seemed unlikely as my Integral Designs Hot Socks are 120g for the pair. This weight business is all very sad, you know!

AlanR said...

You are right Robin, but if needs to be controlled or the rucksack will be off the scales. Thanks for picking that up btw.

-maria- said...

Both the Thermawrap and the AMK Heatsheets Blanket look interesting. When it's cold, I'd love to cover the whole of the tent floor, so something like the Heatsheet might be good for that.

By the way, did you shake the canisters before using them? I've understood that the different gases get separated especially when it's cold and shaking should improve the performance. Otherwise the most easily gasified part will burn first and the rest will stay in the canister. But yes, it might be that a top stove without the pre-heat tube just doesn't cope in these temperatures.

AlanR said...

Hi Maria,
The insulation is definitely a cheap option against expensive extra winter proprietary mats.

I did shake the canisters. I agree fully with you i think top canisters have there limitations and for winter a pre-heat tube is a must. Well at least i have learnt a lesson. I havn't used gas for years.

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