The Vault Regulars

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pocket Stove, in Titanium, from BPL

 I saw this first on blogpackinglight and i toyed with the idea should i get one, do i need one etc. A couple of info messages later and i ordered one from Bose and Rose at Backpackinglight.
 I spoke to Bob later that day due to an error with my order and i found out that i was now the owner of the very last stove in this batch. Phew. And really pleased that i got my order in and processed seconds before BPL closed for a holiday.
Photo courtesy of BPL UK
 The stove arrived and it’s a fine, packs very neatly away, well designed and manufactured bit of kit. It’s multi fuel means that you can put one of the old Trangia burners in place or better still the Evernew Titanium burner if you have one. I don’t. Well not at this moment in time anyway.
You can use wood and also hexamine tablets.
The White box stove can also be used.
I don’t think gas is involved yet but that could be an upcoming project for me.

If you click on the link to blogpackinglight on line one, Robin has put together a very nice video of the separate parts and how they fit nicely together. It’s far better than i could put together so just nip over there and have a look.

Total weight :- Stove 56gr on my scales.
Retaining tin:- 54gr on my scales. This will soon be replaced by something weighing around 5 gr and made from Tyvek.

I did a bit of a test run today.
The Trangia burner sits well in both slots provided and as the info says the top slots give you the best burn. It boiled 400 ml of water in 5 minutes 40 seconds so no complaints .
I didn’t try the wood burn or the hexamine but i tried the White box and a similar copy stove and also the Gram Weenie. My tests proved that none of these worked particularly well stood on the base plate with the stove in its correct attitude. This was because the jets on these stoves are horizontal and are below the top of the sides of the windshield. I found that if you tip the stove upside down and have the base plate fitted in the bottom slot then it works much better.

Obviously i need to do more testing but those are my first observations.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Prickshaw Brook Round.

Dreich, Dreich and Thrice Dreich.
The forecast was dry with reasonable temps, 8 degrees.C.
It didn't happen.

What a difference between last weekend and this. Last weekend we could clearly see Jodrell Bank Telescope, about 30 miles away. Today at times 100 yds.
Last Weekend and This Weekend
  A fellow blogger from the North East recently said that we don't have proper bogs in our area, Well, let me tell you fellow blogger, we found loads of them today, reet good un's and that was without seeking them out.
Some of the paths were bogged down too.

  Passing through a farm yard, Sheila spotted a well known TV vehicle. She said "Now we know where Zaks going". It was the Dingle transit from Emmerdale, the Soap.
 The Dingles “Shed”, Van

Just digressing. It seems that Zak Dingle is having some mental problems and he left his van somewhere with the keys in it. It was found by Jimmy King from Emmerdale haulage.
And as it would happen, as we walked on a bit we came across Jimmy's van too.
The Kings Van
What a mess this route was becoming. Obviously used by 4 x 4's, tractors, trail bikes and more.

Our next path, was clear of wheeled vehicle tracks, but was a complete mud bath and it was not a day for the Inov-8's.
I was shin deep in the stuff.

A couple of times we went a little astray and our barbed wire moment at Spring Mill reservoir had to be retraced due to lack of forward pathways. Sitting down for a minute it was obvious where the mistake had been made. A little detour and a short climb and we were back on track.
The dead sheep in the bottom right below was only one of numerous dead we saw on this walk. Considering that this is a reservoir i am appalled that the water board have not done something about it.

The lovely Prickshaw Brook path and Fern Isle Brook path were there to be decided upon. The Fern Isle Brook path (Strange name) is quite steep at first, so we chose this route, but soon levels out and follows the brook up alongside a wooded dell to the disused Bagden Quarry.

Bagden Quarry
Summary of Surviving Remains: 
  A hillside quarry, opened in 1885/1886 by Henry Heys Junior. It was on OS maps as Disused in 1894. So only a short working life. The working face now mostly obscured by slumping and moorland. 
The spoil mounds, located to the east are still well defined with some vegetation growth. There are also a series of identifiable structures and features associated with the quarry. These include a number of quarrymen’s or blast shelters , a tramway , a probable winding house and a series of processing areas. The processing areas are particularly well defined and contain stacks of stone blocks and flagstones.
A small waterfall emits from the quarry edge into Fern Isle brook.
Waterfall and spoil heaps at Bagden Quarry. Disused.

Once across the other side of the quarry we picked up the Rossendale way. The marker pointed forward and Sheila stood atop a large ladder stile and said “Forward Where”.? Forward through that bog came the reply. Please note another mention of a bog!
The crossing was particularly boggy with no way of avoiding wet feet. Notice the boggy bit again!
Eventually we hit a cart track which was a bit boggy. No i won’t mention the bog again. oops.
 And at this point Sheila noticed that her Seal Skinz hat had come off her hipbelt. Oh Silly me, i think i heard.

So, you can guess now what the next sentence will be.
 Ok, your right.
  I did the chivalrous thing and went back through the wet squelchy, stinky, morass thingy to try and find it. We crossed quite a high stile about 300 metres back and this was to be my point of furthest search. I found it just at the foot of the style and as i turned round to wave that i had found the hat, the mist rolled in and obscured the view.

 Retracing my path with water squelching bubbles out of the Inov-8’s, we decided to stop for lunch at this point.
 The temperature was noticeably dropping as we sat in the mist emptying the rucksack.
On today's menu was Chilli Con Carne and Rice. The CCC was from Aldi and cost the grand sum of £1.49.  The rice was prepared at home and along with 20 mm of boiling water put into a Vacuum flask.
With a good vacuum flask the rice will stay moist and warm and saves preparing it on the hill.
On this occasion i took the Trangia with a non stick pan to cook the Chilli and it was very nice.

Post lunch we walked on until we joined the Pennine Bridleway.

The mist was well down now and although there was still plenty of day left it looked like it was in for the day and so we headed back to the car.
These guys and gals didn’t seem too bothered anyway.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mammut Creon Light 45Lt plus (2746 cu in.)

  Getting my hands on this rucksack has certainly been challenging. I had tried to get hold of one, or at least have a look at one prior to going to New Zealand. Without success.

  In a similar vein, i had also simultaneously tried to get an Osprey Hornet 46 from a European supplier but was told by Osprey Europe that they were not going to sell it in the UK and probably not in Europe. I knew that it was being sold in New Zealand, so i thought i would hang on and look at it when i got to Auckland.

I printed off the Mammut retailers in New Zealand and if we were anywhere near the locations i called in with great hopes.
The main retailer, Mountain Designs, have branches in many places and we were going to pass quite a few of them.

  We landed in Auckland, and map in hand searched out Mountain Designs for the Mammut and Bivouac for the Osprey Hornet 46. Bivouac was a well laid out shop, but as i was to learn very quickly, when you enter the shops in NZ the staff are on to you faster than a Scottish midge on exposed skin.. Very polite, but overpowering to these Brits.
Some of my dry sense of humour was lost in the translation. I will say more later.

  So i found the Hornet 46, and then had to explain to 2 staff why i just wanted to have a look at it. I was so pleased that i never bought it, or had it shipped from the USA. I thought it was poor in lots of respects.
Not suitable for backpacking in my opinion but probably good enough for competition running events where an overnight camp is required.
  Although i called into quite a few Mountain Designs they didn't have it and couldn't tell me who did, strangely enough. But i was offered to have it ordered in for me.
All the same, it did give me chance to have a look at the Mammut Rucksack range and especially the Creon Pro, which is similar but heavier duty.
  It gave me the confidence that if i saw a Creon Light on the internet that i would order it.
And here it is, in my hands at last.
  So lets see what all the fuss has been about.

 First and foremost, the weight.

The weight on the spec. sheet says 1090kg. And as you can see mine weighs 1108kg.
I am not going to grumble about 18 grams over. 18 grams could easily be reduced by altering the lengths of some of the straps if i was desperate enough. Which i am not.

Shell, 70 Denier nylon ripstop. Trim, 100 Denier nylon ripstop, Base  420 denier nylon oxford.

Back Support  
The first thing i noticed was how stiff the back of the sack is. Unlike quite a few light sacks on the market which use sheet material of one kind or another located down the back to give some support.
This sack has a fixed length internal aluminium frame which resembles an 8mm tent pole, and is all around.
Also, there is a small diameter spring steel frame which provides the tension. (It can be just made out in the above photo almost at the top of the oval cutouts.) This acts like suspension and allows  separation between the contents bag and the mesh support. 

Ventilation is huge as the whole back support is mesh. Mammut call it “Fourstream’ which basically just means that air flow is in four directions. Like a cross. ✚. 
But considering the back support is completely mesh, air will be transferred in every direction.
As well as the back, the shoulder straps are also mesh as is the reinforced hip belt.
Shoulder straps and hip belt.
Tough mesh and slightly “S” shaped. The straps have 3 levels of adjustment for differing back lengths, XL, L, M. and allow for a small amount of sideways movement. I liked this idea and rubbing on the neck should be eliminated.
I don’t have a measurement at this time for the differences in back length. A carry handle is included.

With loads of around 12kg and after 3 days of backpacking i found the shoulder straps didn’t support the weight too well. They deformed in the middle which then put pressure on my shoulders. They didn’t spread the load. I had really sore collar bones. I have since modified the straps by adding closed cell foam to the straps (similar to Ospreys) and so far so good. (The straps were correctly located as was the hip belt as per Mammut instructions)

  Adjusting straps are located between the sack and the shoulders to bring the load nearer or sturdier or more air flow if required. Easily reached when wearing.
Adjustable sternum/chest strap and built in whistle in the  side release buckle. Unfortunately the strap is the sliding variety which moves to much as you progress through the day. Why respected companies use this type of sternum strap is beyond me. You need a strap that stays in place. Once I am settled with the position I will probably super glue it.
3 elastic gear attaching points on the RH strap only.
The hip belt is fixed to the frame and gives good transfer of the weight. Although the belt is a reinforced mesh it feels very comfy  but i think i would prefer something a little more padded. Closure is with a std rucksack side closure buckle.

Apart from the main compartment there are 4 extra pockets. One inside the lid and includes a key retaining hook, one external lid pocket and one pocket on the hip belt. Also on the front of the sack is an open top pocket for wet gear, helmet or solo tent etc, this includes mesh sides and a drain hole
Hip belt pocket on LHS

Large front wet gear pocket
Internal lid pocket with key clip
External Lid pocket
The lid “Floats”.  It has large adjustment that will allow the lid to be raised and will increase the load capacity to about 50 litres. And for those who desire an even lighter bag, the lid can be removed completely without damage to any parts.

The “Floating” lid almost removed.
A nice bit of attention to detail are the pull rings on the main compartment draw cords.

On both sides of the sack is a large mesh pocket with a tensioning strap and buckle. This tensioner is dual purpose. It can be used independently or for securing larger gear in conjunction with the strap system located above it and also helps to compress the sack if the load is not full.

Side pockets and gear tensioning system.
Again on both sides is a re-inforced gear loop and retainer that also incorporates a sleeve for the point of your walking poles.
Adjacent to the RH pocket you will find zipped access to the main compartment.

The one section main sack is hydration compatible with a internal sleeve for the bladder and covered exit slot for the tube. 
  For a straight out of the bag summary, i have to say it looks a good buy. I am not sorry i took the gamble and bought unseen. I am pleased with the weight, the colour, the overall design and finish of manufacture. I have loaded it up fully and i am impressed with the load carrying stability. I have never worn one as stable as this is. The internal frame obviously does a good job. 

 There’s nothing much i don’t like about this rucksack except the sternum strap and that it doesn’t come with a rain cover. 
Now i know some people don’t use them, and probably that’s why one hasn’t been supplied. They have left it up to the purchaser if they want to buy one.

This sack was purchased by me from Spike Outdoors and not supplied FOC. It cost £105. It is also available as a 32L sack as well as this 45L.

Similar products. Osprey Atmos, Exos and Talon packs.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Wayfayrer Meals walk

  A delightful, if somewhat chilly day meant we were out in the hills. All wrapped up and probably wearing to much.
  Our walk today included a chance to try out the Wayfayrer meal and pudding which they had sent to me earlier in the week prior to their release into the shops.

As we left the car, a couple of dogs from some small holdings, which were in our direction started to bark loudly. Sheila was hoping they couldn’t get out. As it happened we skirted away from them and then peace was restored and we were left with job of a short incline up to the mast on Hunger Hill. The views were exceptionally clear today. And as we turned 360 degrees to admire the landscape only the wind turbines on the next ridge line broke the scenery.
 On the way to Middle Naden reservoir
 Greenbooth Reservoir
 The outflow of Middle Naden Reservoir

Upper Naden Reservoir

  Our way up onto the moorland was via Naden Brook, where 3/4 of the way up we found a suitable spot to set up the stove and try the Wayfayrer Spicey Meatballs and the Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Wayfayrer Meatballs almost ready.
  Wayfayrer has been around for a long time but for us, it was a first try.

Cooking the Meatballs.
Notably the food is ready made so no rehydrating to do.
The meals can be eaten cold if all else fails but preparation is easy enough. You can boil them in the bag for around 7 mins or pour them into a pot and heat them.
 We chose to pour them into our 600ml pot. The meatballs were small in size which is what i was hoping for. Simply because it would take a lot longer to heat through if they were any bigger and of course your gas is at a premium.
Good aroma whilst cooking and a good colour too. I kept trying some of the sauce as it was cooking and it was nice and spicy with a good consistency without being overpowering.
The meatballs had good texture and didn't fall apart during transportation or cooking so that was a bonus.

If you cook these in the hills as we did then best method is to boil in the bag. But a larger pot would be required than we had with us on this occasion. 1Litre minimum.
If you would rather heat them in the pot then a non stick pan is recommended.
We used a titanium pot which heats up very very quickly and i had to be really careful not to burn the food. Simmering on most small camping stoves is also not easy when the wind is swirling around the stove, so this doesn’t help and takes a bit longer to cook through.

We thought that the single serving was a little small for us. If we had done a hard days hike rather than a couple of hours we would definitely require more.

Surprisingly, the energy per gram was a little disappointing. Per 100gr the Kcal was only 125. Or 1.25Kcal/gr. I would want much more for backpacking.

That's me washing the pan between courses.

Cooking the sticky toffee pudding.
I was a little worried when i packed this into the rucksack. I expected the pudding to fall apart.
This wasn’t the case. The oblong pudding was robust and still well covered with syrup.
Due to the problems i flagged up earlier with the cooking pot i had to break the pudding into smaller cubes so that it would cook properly.
 It may/may not look appetising in the photo below but it was in fact very tasty. There was actually more of it than i expected.

  My thoughts are that it was very much like a syrup sponge which i also like but a little stickier as you would expect.
  The pudding itself was a bit chewy, a bit tougher than i expected which shows why it had remained in one piece during transportation in the pack. 
  The sticky toffee was very nice.
  I found the quantity a bit too much and i couldn’t finish the portion. 

Same as the main meal.
Again the energy amount per gram was disappointing but better than the meatballs. 2.93Kcal/gr.

Sticky toffee pudding.
Main Meal £4 RRP and £3.50 RRP for the Pudding. Available at outlets like Blacks and Millets.

Our lunch spot was in bathed in sunshine and so good to feel the rays. The view (below) was indeed worthy of lingering while we had a second helping of coffee.
And then it was onward and upwards to Ding Quarry. Just visible on the skyline. (Pic below)

Leaving the paths behind the colours of the moorland bathed in sunshine and dry at this time were an absolute pleasure. We saw nobody for quite some time, so peaceful except for the odd ewe we disturbed.
Coming across a small beck winter still reminded us that it wasn’t over yet. With the lovely crisp day we could expect a probable frost this evening.

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