The Vault Regulars

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Scarp 2 First outing

We arrived on our friends farm in the Lakes around mid afternoon on Thursday and were greeted with quite a biting NWesterly wind.
The site was deserted except for one brave couple who were staying the night in their TN Quasar.
We were there to get to know the new Scarp 2 from Tarptent, to try out some new gear and to help out on the farm, separating sheep ready for tupping.

Please note! This is only the first time out and therefore it’s not a full review, i need to have used it quite a few times in all weathers to be able to write that, so more to follow.

The tent is amazingly quick to erect having only one pole, 6 pegs and with the inner attached. Even with a strong wind it takes only a minute or so to have a standing tent.
Another couple of minutes to make final adjustments to the corner poles and guys and its complete.
The Scarp 2 (that’s the one on the right.)
I decided that i would take the 4 season poles with me to check out the assembly. Here we found our 1st problem!
To assemble the poles you feed them both through a loop in the centre of the tent then pass the ends through a D ring which is located on the top of the 4 corner poles. 
Then you locate the poles into eyelets which are attached to the corner guy ropes, then fit the ribbon clips to the poles and tension the ribbons.
This is a bit of a fiddly job and took me about 4 minutes in total. The problem we had was the D rings, they had only been fitted on 3 of the corners, the 4th corner had a guy rope toggle clip fitted in error. Great. I am going to have to find out how to resolve this.
Guy tensioner fitted to a corner where  a “D” ring should be, 
and the velcro strip?

We found the excess ribbon to be a real nuisance as the wind picked up during the night. When it's windy the ribbon flaps against the taught tent and sounds like 10 sets of drums. Also the ribbon clips which locate onto the poles are not ideal and are quite difficult to undo when your hands are cold. This system will have to go. I will design something different myself that's easier to use and is silent.
The Pole clip and excess ribbon.
Also located on the 4 corners is a short strip of velcro. I don't know as yet what these strips are supposed to be used for.
If the 4 season poles are not used then a guying system needs to be found at both ends to maintain material tension. I have not done this yet as it was too cold to experiment.

Very quickly we found the next issue that had to be resolved. The zipper tabs are too small and impossible to grip with a gloved hand and are hard to locate at night.
This was resolved easily enough. I attached a loop of 1mm Dyneema reflective cord to all the tabs.
1mm Dyneema cord attached to the Inner zippers.
And to the outer zippers.
Having 2 doorways was certainly a big advantage and it allowed cooking in either porch dependent on wind direction.The porch area is quite narrow but adequate for our needs. ie cooking gear, shoes etc. Their is more than enough room to keep rucksacks inside the tent so it's not a problem.

When you get all your gear in the tent you realise just what a large space it is with generous head height. It's a very spacious 2 person tent and it kept occurring to me that something in between the Scarp1 and Scarp 2 would be the ideal for backpacking and weight saving for two.
It was great to have a lamp/torch clip in the centre of the roof. Although the lack of any decent storage pockets proved that i need to do something about it.
The pocket that is fitted wasn't used and is pointless apart from keeping some small change in.

After the first night, where the temperature had dropped down to minus 5 it was noticeable that condensation was covering the whole of the inner tent roof. This had occurred with the 2 roof vents and 2 end vents open and there had been a light breeze blowing. It didn't crystalise and it hadn't dripped onto the sleeping bags so that was good.
It was also noticeable that the bottom of the outer doors had ridden up the main pole. This had let quite a bit of wind blown snow inside the porch area. I shall have to look for a pegging point to stop this happening.
There is also a loop on either side of the main pole which can be used for additional guying if deemed necessary but no cord or pegs are supplied for this by the manufacturer.

During our 2nd night we had a blizzard with high winds and temperatures which fell to minus 7. The tent is very stable in these conditions and even though there is a lot of material, it didn't flap about due to the taught pitch.

When we came to packing the tent up it was quite damp especially with the condensation. It is an awkward tent to pack up with it having fixed poles and an attached inner. However if you get all the poles together first and then fold it extracting the air as you go. I was surprised that i got it into the bag quite easily, even if untidily.

I have detaching the inner from the outer to see if this would improve handling and packing, but it doesn’t. I don’t recommend doing it.
Re-attaching the inner is a fiddly job and one that i wouldn't want to do in the field especially if it was windy.
The clips used to attach the 2 together are the same clips as used on the pole ribbons. They are quite ridged and difficult to unlock and even harder when it's cold.

I emailed Tarptent regarding seam sealing and a i had a few other questions but they have not replied. I was hoping to attach the reply to this post.

In Summary, it's a smashing tent, a few initial problems to resolve annoyingly, but the use of the space envelope is 1st class and you get a good feel when your in it. It feels safe, solid and dependable.

There is room for improvements and quality control is not perfect. Would i buy it again now. Absolutely, yes.
My first impressions and more tent photo’s can be found here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

My First Aid Kit

Following a useful post on Maz’s blog which you can find here regarding our first aid kits, i have now photographed mine and displayed it here for all to compare and hopefully comment on.
Contents from top down.
Non stick pad. Strip of std plasters. A sponge pad. A 2nd non stick pad.
Iodine wipes. Plaster strip. Moleskin plaster. Cleansing wipes. Insect Bite wipes.
Blister plasters. A burn sheet. An almost empty Savlon tube. Tick remover. Lip balm. Small Emery board.
Roll of tape. Paracetamol. Zantac. Whistle. Recently added button compass. Dicloflex. Periton. small bandage.

I have scissors and tweezers on my Victorinox classic knife.

I would also carry, foot powder, sun tan lotion, and Insect repellant, dependant on the time of year.
The whole kit weighs 87gr.

Well i think that’s it. Any comments gratefully accepted as always.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Scarp 2. First outing.

A cold weekend for it’s first outing. Base camp in the Lakes. More to follow on the Scarp impressions and other gear thoughts.

And a milestone for me has been reached with 10,000 hits on the blog, so thanks to everyone.

Super Delios Water Filter

I have had a very nice email from Delios Uk regarding the water filter that i reviewed on my blog awhile back.
It seems that they are pleased with the comments and sales too i would imagine.
I am putting together a comments sheet for them and i would be interested to know what other backpackers think about their purchase and it's use in the field.
If anybody would like to post suggestion, good or otherwise about their experience of using the filter then please use my email address that can be found in the View my complete profile  section of my blog. Thank You.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hot footing it in camp.

This weekend's weather has been forecast to plummet in temperature with some snow fall, maybe -5 deg C or further down depending on location and height.
We are off to the Lakes again tomorrow to test out the Scarp 2. We have also been asked by a farmer friend if we would help him out on his hill farm on Saturday. I will be our pleasure. We gain so much from the Lakes and the local people, that it's nice to be able to give something back.
With the short days it also means that you spend more time in the tent. (or in the pub if there's one near).
It's not that easy to keep warm unless you spend the whole time tucked up in the sleeping bag, especially the feet.
We decided therefore to buy some warm footwear which wouldn't compromise sleeping mats, groundsheets, sleeping bags and the like.
We wanted something light and had to roll up compact. We eventually went for the Blue Mountain Supersoft's.
These will keep your feet toasty and they weigh only 88gr for size 42 or 8’s.. so that's great.
We will see how they perform and i will report back along with the Scarp 2 impressions.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Shock and Thank you

Today whilst reading the British Landscape Clubs site i was shocked to see my blog being reviewed. On one hand i think that it would have been polite to at least let me know that they planned to do this, but on the other hand i am overwhelmed that this organisation have "recommended" my endeavors to their readers. Wow.
I can only say thanks very much and i am delighted.
For anyone interested in reading the review, it can be found at the link below.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ice Grips.

I came across these ice grips today and due to the reasonable price of £12.99 i decided to get a pair.
They come in 3 sizes. Medium 36 - 41. Large 40 - 45. XLarge 43 upward.
Spare spikes come in a complete pack of 7 for £2.99. I have no idea why the heel spikes are green and the foot are red. They both look exactly the same.

They are made by a Swedish company called SpringyArd, so i suppose they should know a thing or two about ice and snow.

They are graded as tough and intended for running or hiking. The rubber is supple yet very strong and there is very little Give when they are fitted  to a shoe or boot.
Obviously they have there limitations but at the weight of 165 gr per pair they are ideal to carry in the rucksack for those just in case times.
They also roll up into a nice compact size as you can see below.

They are very similar in all respects to the  Petzl Spiky plus but are a little cheaper. I will be taking these along with me this winter that’s for sure.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A minor walk

Over the last week or so i have been the victim of the Manchester Man flu. It seems that i am not alone in my plight as the Man Utd footy team have also been struck down with it.
Having watched the Utd v Villa match, i would say that they are still struggling with it. However, how they managed to find the energy in the last ten minutes is a miracle.

So today i decided that i had to get some fresh air having not had a walk since a week last saturday.
I took a look outside and contemplated whether it would be a good idea to go out on a frosty and misty day or should i wait a while.
I grabbed my Paramo and wooly hat and decided to chance it. Camera in the bag i set off.
Within 10 minutes the sweat was dripping and i ached. Should i go back or carry on i thought. I’m out now so i will carry on.
Once into the fields the mist hugged the low valleys and i was hoping to get a good inversion but it wasn’t to be. I wasn’t high enough up today.

It was quite cool in the mist and beyond the radio mast Rochdale town was lurking unseen. I headed south to the woods above Oldham which looked brighter and the weak sun was beginning to penetrate and clear the mist.

The Beech, Oak and occasional Fir trees here are beautiful when the sun is low, casting shadows and creating colour. The undulating lie of the land traps the fallen leaves leaving a carpet of copper. It’s an absolute pleasure to be out when the light is so good.

Gold Beech leaves.

A squirrel gathering winter supplies. Not bothered in the slightest of my approach.

 The war memorial.
 Contemplating life.
The only person i met. 
He had been taking photo’s with his iphone and the results were excellent. 
We stood and chatted for 10 minutes, the day was warming up, the mist had cleared, the sun was out and the sky so blue.
I had been out for a couple of hours and thoroughly enjoyed the time out. Hopefully tomorrow i will feel better.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Scarp 2 first impressions

This post is not a review of the Tarptent Scarp 2 it is just my first impressions. To do a review i need to take it on the hill and that won’t be happening for 2 weeks due to other commitments.
First of all what has it cost us.
Tent cost    £242.39
Shipping to UK    £29.06
Vat and handling by UK Parcelforce    £33.47
Total cost   £304.92p

What does it weigh.
The Tent which includes the solid interior, bag, single arch pole and 6 pegs with bag. 1.737kg. So not much difference between this and my Vaude Odyssee Winter tent.
If you don’t need to use the cross over 4 season poles, 22 grams can be deducted from the above weight as the pole straps can be removed from the fly.
The 2 cross over poles weigh  479 gr.

Reading the instructions i found out that i had to seal all the seams prior to use. I admit to not being very impressed with this and thought i might make a mess of it. I also had to go and buy a tube of Silicon and some white spirit.
In retrospect, now that i have done it, and i have only done the outside, it wasn’t that important an issue as it’s not that obvious, but while i was doing it, i hated it and cursed Tarptent for not doing the job professionally.
Tarptent say to apply the sealant with a foam pad but i found it easier and quicker just to use my finger.
It took a couple of hours in total, due to the fact that i couldn’t put the tent up outside because of the rain and high winds so it had to be done in the house with the windows open for ventilation.
Eventually i have now managed to put the new Scarp 2 up in the garden.
The first and in some ways one of the most important things is the time it takes to put up. It took me about a minute and a half, and then another minute just making adjustments.
I was amazed at just how easy it was to erect. 1 pole and 6 x 200mm Easton pegs.
The corner posts and the vent posts, 10 in total, remain fixed into the tent and once it’s pegged out it’s just a matter of adjusting the pole positions and line tensions.

The flysheet does go down to the ground unlike it’s predecessor and funnily enough the green tinge to the material that i liked indoors has now changed to silver outdoors. Quite bizarre.
Opening one of the 2 doors gives access to a small porch area and the same can be found on the opposite side. Good to have 2 doors and porches and will also aid ventilation.

The floor area measures 218 cm long x 132 cm wide. 2.9 sq, metres in total. The height is 114cm and it is adequate. There is plenty of room for 2 tall people plus all your gear. No need to have your rucksack stored in the porch if you don’t want to, there’s enough room inside.
Photo above shows Sheila sat down on the groundsheet, showing plenty of headroom space.
And below the space sideways and partially lengthways.

Ventilation has been included with a roof vent on either side of the ridge which has internal elasticated clips that maintain the opening of the vent. Also zip vents at either end of the lower wall.

The first thing i don’t like are the zips on the lower vents. They do not lock and when you put tension on the corners of the tent the zips undo. A zip closure like the ones on the main doors would help maintain material tension or just better zips.
The outer doors are held open by velcro and the inner doors by elastic. Why there are 2 different methods of retention i know not, but i will be changing the elastic tie to velcro.
On the inside, sadly there is no storage apart from 2 very small pockets which are a bit pointless i think. I would have liked a mesh pocket on either side or at the top and bottom.
Above the internal door zips on both sides there is a D ring. I presume that these are for a cord to be fixed between the two for hanging wet gear on, but thats just a guess as there is nothing in the instructions to explain any different. If anyone has a better idea then i would be pleased to know.

 And also under the groundsheet on both sides, adjacent to the door are 2 ribbon loops. I am at a loss to explain these at the moment. You could attach cords to them and peg down the groundsheet maybe?
Note added 26.12.2011. The loops are shown on a video below at 0.55 seconds.
Thanks to Aushiker for the Information. 

On the inner ridge there is a clip for a light.
The groundsheet is good quality Silicon/Nylon, it looks the same material as the fly but black and thankfully there are no seams in it. The bathtub sides are 100mm+ high. It’s quite slippery material and the instructions suggest that it would be a good idea to apply some silicon beads to prevent the sleeping mat from moving. I havn’t done this as yet. 

On the day of pitching it was breezy and it was very noticeable that the outer touched the inner quite a bit. There is quite an expanse of unsupported material on the S2. That means when it’s a blustery day it is going to need some additional support.
Without using the 4 season poles (which are in the picture below) i suggest the walking pole method of support, would be a necessity. We don’t use walking poles so for this we will have to come up with another similar idea. Or buy walking poles God forbid!

Packing up the tent was a bit awkward i found, due to the attached poles. Getting a neat package was difficult and it will take a bit of getting used to especially if it’s wet. I might try removing the inner and giving it a go that way.

Overall we are pleased with it. It’s bigger in reality than we expected and we look forward to giving it a try in a couple of weeks. A review will follow. 

Thanks to Robin Evans AKA blogpackinglight and Martin Rye AKA Summit and Valley for their mods listing which i have taken note off, cheers guys.

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