The Vault Regulars

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sad, Sensible and Greendale Tarn. Oh, and a bit of gear.

  This weekend we motored up to Dorothy’s, (Sheila’s mums) in Gosforth West Cumbria for the last time. We were to bring her back to Manchester to live. It was a sad occasion as we had all made a lot of friends in this small village and we will miss the local crack (conversations/humour) but we will endeavour to go back a couple of times a year. 

  It is a sensible decision as the winter can be hard and Dorothy doesn’t drive. So getting into towns like Whitehaven or Workington is a day out on the bus. 
Also, for us it means that we can free up every third weekend and it will obviously save us what is quite an expense.
But most important is the daily contact that Sheila will have now, ensuring that her mum is ok.

  During the previous weeks i hadn’t been out due to an illness and now over training has resulted in a pulled calf muscle. Last saturday Sheila and i went out for a run and i had only done about 1 mile when a sharp pain in my right leg brought me to a sudden stop with a bit of a hop.
 It had to be my right leg because this calf muscle was the same one as i torn badly about 10 years ago playing squash. I have never played squash since and occasionally, it does ache a bit if i have had a long days walk.

  However fellow blogger Old Mortality, bless him. On his fine blog Here was casting aspersions about other fellow bloggers becoming chair bound and so i thought i had better get a walk in this weekend, take a few pictures and chuck some words about. 

  The problem was that the leg still ached, so i had to find something not very taxing. I chose Greendale Tarn near Nether Wasdale as the likely contender for this bimble. 

  Sheila and i drove down to Wastwater first, (well i drove actually but you know what i mean) to check out the scenery and although the cloud was quite low it was still stunning and atmospheric.

It was a bit chilly lakeside as we parked up and headed off for the sheep trod skirting Middle Fell and picked our way up towards Greendale Gill. We reached the 150 metre contour and was enveloped in thick mist and the rain was becoming heavier. Fortunately the mist cleared a little and we got a view across the valley.
 East side of Greendale Gill looking towards Irton and Nether Wasdale
 Greendale Gill

A soggy pair.
  Where the track levelled out at the tarn the mist closed in on us, rendering our efforts for a view of the tarn and some photographs hopeless. We had a sit down and a drink but there was no wind around to move the mist. The tarn sits in a deep bowl so there was little chance that it was going to clear any time soon.
For Sheila’s benefit and for others who have never seen the tarn here is a photo taken on a better day that i downloaded very kindly from Mick Garratt.

Boulder near Greendale Tarn

© Copyright Mick Garratt and licensed for reuse under thisCreative Commons Licence

  Just as i stood up and started to head down i felt my calf pull again and so it was a tentative descent for me. About 10 yards further and Sheila disappeared down a Sphagnum bog. Disappeared is a bit of an exaggeration but she went down to her bum in the stuff and was a bit upset with me because i was laughing. Ooops! Silence and dripping wet through.
  Another 100yds and all was ok.

  As we came out of the mist i thought this would be a good spot to photograph my gloves. Sorry gear haters.

  Now these gloves are new. This was the first outing and a complete experiment. I have never been happy with “Hiking” gloves and  i am determined to find something that works.
I went to a local diving shop and told them i knew nothing about diving gear and explained what my perceived problem was with my gloves and does their sport offer anything better.
A very nice chap showed me all the range of diving gloves and explained the properties of each pair. There are so many options, Kevlar, 10mm, 5mm, 3mm, long, short etc etc.
He spent a lot of time with me and i eventually chose a pair of soft stretchy 90% neoprene/10% nylon gloves that have a fine fleece lining and are very light 3mm thick.  They are very much like wet suit material. They are made by Fourth Element and you can read about them here if you wish.

  We had been in the rain and mist for about 2 hours and my hands were lovely and warm but a little clammy. The outer material has sealed seams so there is no water penetration whatsoever but obviously they don’t breathe.
  My thoughts at this moment in time is that i would rather have warm clammy hands rather than the usual wet and cold hands. I turned the gloves inside out when we got back to Dorothy’s and they were dry in a  few hours. I am going to try them with a very thin liner glove the next time i wear them and see if there is any difference.
  I could also operate my camera with them on and working the zips on my camera bag and jacket proved to be easy. So operating a 2 way radio on my fell race stewarding duties will be ok.
  They can also be repaired if they get cut or show signs of wear by applying Black Witch. Readers might find this useful for other outdoor gear.
  As i say,  these gloves are experimental and only by using them more will i be able to give a better assessment but i am pleased with them so far. (Oh and i won’t mention the new jacket).

 On the descent back to the car the mass of cloud cover was easily discerned at about 250 metres along the entire length of the Screes and Illgill Head
 Although it looked to be clearing out towards Ravenglass.

Was i right to let Old Mortality get me out of the chair? I’m not too sure it was a good idea, it will be another 2 weeks to recover.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mens Merino wool zip top.

  For the last few weeks i have had some time to search around for a Merino wool top.
It's getting to that time of year when we need a bit more warmth from our gear and that was one reason why i wanted to buy a new one but i also wanted a zipped neck top which i could take on an up coming trip to New Zealand and wear not during the day but as the evening temperature falls.

  I currently have 3 Icebreaker crew necked long and short sleeved versions in 160gsm material and i remember buying my first one in a small outdoor shop in Oban. When i saw the price of £45, and i am going back about 8 years,  i was in two minds if i should get it or not. I thought it was so expensive for a base layer, but i bought it.

  Having now got used to wearing Merino base layers i find the properties of the material suits me just fine.
Merino has good warmth to weight and wicks moisture really well. And the important thing is that you can wear it for days without it ponging unlike other lightweight materials.
Depending on the time of year you can also just wear this baselayer directly under a waterproof without the need for a mid layer.

  So i was going to wait and get a new Icebreaker Merino top when i arrived in Auckland but when i checked out the local outdoor shops that i had been advised to try by fellow blogger Rob who’s fine pages can be found at Lightweight Tramping Gear, they were actually a little more expensive than what you can get them for in the UK. Strange.

  I eventually found a Merino 100% ultra fine wool long sleeved zip top in 200gsm for the cheap price of £25.76 and £3.95 P&P.
  Straight out of the packing i saw the thumb loops which was a bit of surprise because they didn’t show this on the web page. A plus point.
  And then, trying it on another plus point was the length. As you can see from the above photo of moi. it covers the cold spots and therefore it shouldn’t ride up when carrying a rucksack. Excellent.
You can also see that the top of the zip is just slightly off centre which makes up for the lack of a zip guard which i still would have preferred to have.

 There are no seams across the top of the shoulders and all of the stitching is flatlock and good quality.
There are no pockets, after all this is a base layer not a mid.

  They also do a ladies version which is here and costs £25.32 +P&P. I think this is very good value for money.

Unfortunately the Mens version has had a price increase since i received mine and doing this post. It is now £33.72. which is still very much cheaper than many other similar style tops.

For example the Icebreaker Mondo 200gsm LS Zip neck top is Here at £62.99. And Amazon are selling it for a little less Here at £56.00

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Recovery Road

The last 2 weeks i have been running at the football pitch’s adjacent to Oldham’s football ground. The circuit is 1k so it’s easy to keep a tally without all the Garmin stuff.
So today come hail rain or shine i was going to get out and do another 5k.
Well that’s exactly what i had, all three conditions within 40 minutes. And yes i know that’s slow for 5k.
I’m not a fast runner and i know there is a bit of weight i need to shift but i am working on it, honest.

It also gave me a chance to try out a new pair of gloves. I bought them at Aldi store in Whitehaven on Friday and they seemed too good not to try them. At a cost of £4.99 what was i expecting. Well miracles of course.

Picking them up i was impressed just how light they are and very comfy as well.
The label says they are Waterproof and Breathable and made from Hipotex. I’ve never heard of it either but that’s what it says.
They are also cycling gloves but i wasn’t bothered about that. If they keep me warm and dry that’s all i ask.
Inside, the label reads.
HIPOTEX, This special membrane prevents the entry of rain and melting snow but allows the passage of the body’s natural moisture vapour. (That’s perspiration to me and you.) The result is a remarkably comfortable glove that is waterproof and breathable.

In the photo above they look like they have done a good few miles but i assure you i have only worn them for 40 minutes and about 20 of those minutes was during rain. Heavy rain.
Well i can guarantee that this pair of gloves are not waterproof. I am so pleased i tried them out under short duration. I would have been a bit annoyed if i had to be wearing them all day.

Well, i know the old saying, “if you buy cheap you buy twice” but how do they get away with selling outdoor gear, supposedly breathable and waterproof when it’s not. What ever the retail price.
I must admit though i think outdoor gloves are probably the worst bit of kit, even expensive ones. I have never found a really good pair and i have had quite a few different makes and paid over the odds.
 I just want a pair that keeps you dry and warm, with seams that are leakproof and with an outer material that doesn’t soak up the water. How hard can it be.
Water resistant probably would have been nearer the truth for these Aldi gloves, but even that is pushing it.

Another item of gear that caught my eye recently is the Gerber Steady. Gerber make good quality knives and Multi Tools.

The Steady is a Muti tool and it has a cleverly designed built in camera tripod for compact cameras. Ideal for the solo hiker who usually has both pieces of gear in the pack.
It’s not been released in the UK yet but i am reliably informed that it will be available in March 2012. Just in time for the TGO challenge. I don’t have a UK price as yet.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

MYOG Windsheilds

I make quite a number of stoves and windshields and over the years i have used some odd bits and pieces that started life as household items.
Windshields for example, i have used foil roasting tins, take away cartons, baked been tins etc etc.
It gets a bit silly at times, before Sheila throws anything out now she usually shouts me and asks do i want this “Packaging” before it goes in the rubbish bin.
All well and good but to get these items exactly what you want can take a bit of ingenuity with a rolling pin and a pair of scissors or even more if you want to make a cone shape.

Then i remembered that we used to use foil to make templates and prototype parts during my working days and i wondered if i could find out where it came from. Not std kitchen foil, but similar, just thicker and less tear resistant.

It surprised me when i was searching, just how little of it was available nowadays. But i did find one suitable item in the US.
It was in the St Louis craft shop and as well as aluminium, they do copper and brass too.

The aluminium foil is 1ft wide and in various lengths and 36 gauge thickness. That’s 0.005" or 0.127mm. It’s called Maid-O-Metal.

Then by a chance search i found a site in the UK. Fred Aldous and i couldn’t believe it was in Manchester.
It turns out that it is the exact same product as i originally found in the St Louis craft shop.
I ordered it at around 3.00pm and it was delivered before noon the next day. Fantastic service.

I have since found it available on Amazon, search "Aluminium Tooling Foil” but it is still shipped from Fred Aldous in Manchester.

I hope you MYOG people find this useful and put it to good use making your own shields, bases, pot/pan lids etc.
It can be cut with a good pair of kitchen scissors and holes punched in with a standard paper hole punch.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tilley reply to my Zem shoe Amendment.

I emailed Natasha Wright who is the Marketing co-ordinator at Tilley UK about the lack of visibility of the Zem shoe on the high street.
The response from her is below. I would like to thank her for that quick response.
People who have read my post and have been interested in the shoe like myself,  must make up there own minds on how they want to proceed.

Dear Alan,
Thank you for your email.
ZEMgear is a brand that has just arrived in this country and all our Tilley retailers have received information on ZEMs and have been invited to consider stocking them but it is their decision, we can only encourage them.
Initial responses have been extremely positive and we hope to see many more points of sale in the UK in the near future….In the meantime ZEMs are available online and by mail order, and sizing has not proved a problematic issue so far.

If you are unsure then we can send you a couple of pairs to try and whichever pair does not fit you can return for a refund.

Regards Natasha

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