The Vault Regulars

Monday, April 30, 2012

Threshold Trailstar gaiter

  Some readers will know that i have been looking out for a lightweight pair of gaiters for some time. That’s full length gaiters not shortie one’s.
I have made lots of email enquiries to companies asking for weights of the products due to a lack of this spec. from some OEM’s.
  I am not that big a fan of gaiters but i do have a pair of Rab eVent gaiters. I only tend to wear them in winter or if the forecast is particularly wet. 
Most times they are just in the cupboard. I think the problem they don’t get to see the light of day much is simply that they are too heavy. Mine weigh 283 grams which is in fact 10grams heavier than my walking trousers. Crazy really.

 So when i was in TK Max recently i saw these Threshold Trailstar gaiters. (No i have never heard of them either.) I thought my word they are just the ticket and i took a chance on them, well at £9.95 why not. The thing was i didn’t pay an awful lot of attention to detail. I just took a guess at the weight, checked the material to make sure all the fasteners were there and paid for them.
  So, weight wise they are 160grams the pair, including the labels and ties. I thought i was onto a winner until i tried them on.

  You may be able to see in the photo above that the top pull cord only protrudes from one end/side of the gaiter. The other end is stitched into the seam with no excess to assist tensioning the top. Now i can understand the design concept, one hand tensioning and all that but unfortunately what seems to have been forgotten is that as you tension the top the zip section widens which then increases the chance of the zip self opening.
In my pair one zip opens with the absolute minuscule of effort. The other just slightly better. In other words totally and utterly useless.

  Also as you can see from the above photo the under shoe retainer is just a std shoe lace and that would last until you got to the end of the car park. This didn’t bother me too much because i could replace it with something more substantial but with the zip and tensioning issue it would be better to just cut my losses and take them back and get a refund.
 So if you too are looking for a pair of lightweight gaiters then leave these off your list, take a really good look at the detail or leave them on the shelf.
 Back to the drawing board.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Its a bit nippy

  We had a good night in Gosforth Hall last night. So it was a bit surprising that when i awoke this morning i was full of enthusiasm to get out. Checking the watch it was 6.45am and the sun was pouring in through the windows louvered blinds.

 Sheila was awake as usual being an early bird.

 We decided we should go for a run as we had other things to do today which would take up most of the time. So at 7.10am we were out and running into Bleng forest. There was a bit of a chill breeze and as i had only brought a mesh running vest i was decidedly cool. Sheila said i had to slow down because i was going to fast but basically the pace was just to get warm.

  I love running or walking in Bleng forest as unusually for a man made plantation there is still plenty of light and lots of bird song. Being out early was producing some great sounds and quite a few Linnets could be seen and heard along with Robins and Blackbirds a plenty.

  The sun was still quite low in the sky and in the places where it hadn't yet reached there was a covering of frost. As we approached the river i spotted something dart into the grass and a splash in the water, i presumed it was a vole but i didn't spot what ever it was. Then overhead a sparrow hawk flew through the trees.


   On our way back a new load of sillage had been delivered and the highland cattle were tucking in until Sheila engaged them in conversation.
Right lets get off back for a full English breccy now.
A good start to the day which was warming up nicely. Muscles stiffening up as i type!

It didn't get much warmer by the way and it's a bit nippy in the shade.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Schnozzel pumpbag

  Robin at blogpackinglight put me onto the Exped Downmat as a possible purchase. After quite a lot of investigating I eventually picked the Exped Synmat UL 7 which i consequently bought recently and posted about it.
 The mat has inbuilt synthetic insulation and Exped recommend that you don’t inflate it with your own damp breath as this could condensate in the insulation. 
  Robin purchased a pump bag and a separate schnozzel from Unterweg in Germany and i was going to do the same.
  I searched UK suppliers of Exped goods but as far as i could see nobody had stock. I then checked out the Unterweg website and i found that Exped had released a new inflator which consists of a lightweight dry bag with inbuilt schnozzel. It was also much lighter than the previous separate schnozzel and bag by quite a margin. 208gr against 70gr.
 Again i searched the UK to no avail apart from Hitch and Hike who said they were getting supply in May. 
Cutting the story short i ordered one from Unterweg who had stock and a quick door to door service.
Cost €20 and €13 postage.

Here is the video of how to use the pumpbag.

 What was also a surprise was that the pumpbag was supplied in a map case instead of just a throwaway plastic bag.
I do have a very good Ortlieb map case so i don’t need another one but it’s a nice size case and so i think i will use it at some point.
Exped Pumpbag as supplied in a map case.
The bag itself doubles up as either a rucksack liner or as a drybag for something like a sleeping bag but for me i think it’s a bit on the large size so it might become my rucksack liner.
It would make a fine pillow.
 Time will tell what it ends up as.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Small Packages

  When you start sorting your backpacking gear out, if your anything like me, you sort it in categories.
With that i mean "Cooking", for example, which includes everything to do with that subject. Stove, windshield, fuel, cup, spoon, pan etc etc. Then i look at the items and see if there are any bits i can do without or change for something from my variable kit pile to lighten the load.
  The internet and other blogs on the outdoors are fantastic windows into what's available and what could contribute to reducing your overall kit weight.

  Some backpackers would say "Don't take a stove at all and save yourself the space and the weight". Well i can appreciate this if you live in warm climes but for me, in our climate there is nothing nicer than getting the tent up and getting that brew on whilst your lying on your sleeping bag watching the rain teem and listening to it drumming on the tent.

  Well on one of these occasions i was looking at my First Aid Kit, trying not to compromise what i was taking, quite the reverse in fact  but still trying to come up ideas to keep the weight down.

  Looking on the internet I came across this real nice idea to do just that and so i am passing it on.

  In my kit i had a tube of Savlon cream and Dettol Antiseptic cream as well as dedicated insect bite cream and more. Now these were not full tubes as i tend to take used ones from the home kit.
But when i weighed the tubes the lightest of them was 23 gr. and the heaviest was 28gr.

 What you need to buy is some Jumbo drink straws.
You will need a small pair of pliers like you get on swiss army knives, a lighter, and a small pair of scissors or a knife.

Step 1. Cut the straw to around 50mm or 2" in old money or to be honest, any length that suits you.

Step 2. Squeeze the substance into the straw.
     Tip, refrain from overfilling the straw, leave about 10mm from the far end. Overfilling it will reduce the amount of space available for air expansion when you come to seal the straw end.

Step 3. Clean up the fill end as best as possible by using your nail just to push excess cream further into the straw.

Step 4. Position the pliers leaving about 1mm of straw protruding from the jaws and wash the flame from the lighter along the edge of the straw until it melts and seals.
    Tip, If the straw sets alight you are remaining in one place too long and you need to wash the flame faster. Let the seal cool fully before releasing the plier jaws.

Step 5. Reposition the pliers to the other end and repeat the sealing process.

Step 6. Using a indelible ink felt tip pen, write on the contents of the tube before you forget what cream was in which straw. (Yes that's what happened to me).

 And there you have it. 
Just a few minutes to save weight and importantly space.
  Now you can make as many of these as you wish or feel necessary for your walk. You can also include other items not just creams, into these packages. Maybe something like foot talc or shampoo.
Use different coloured straws for different contents. I think the idea has potential.

  But once you have used them don't forget to either burn them with your other rubbish or discard them responsibly.

When i put one package on the scales it didn't register, so four of these packages weighed 3 grams.
Have fun.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

One for Gibson and Lynne.

  A few weeks ago fellow blogger Gibson mentioned that he was struggling at his local supermarket to procure some of Britain’s finest ale.
And as it happened, last week i was in a certain establishment in Manchester that was overwhelmed with his favourite potion.
So just to wish him and Lynne a very pleasant impending crossing of Scotland West to East, starting from Oban, we thought we would try the tipple and toast their success.
Sent from my HTC.
Have a good crossing and we hope the weather is kind.
I take it that the bags are now packed, maps sorted, waterproofs waterproofed etc.

 It looks like my outdoor trips can start again after a visit to the consultant last night. He said that although some pain can last 3 months or thereabouts it is ok to resume normal life. I don’t have to go back and see him now for 3 months so where did i put my maps!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A book review

My first book review ever on the blog.
  Because i have been a bit invalided recently and as i reported in my last post, i have had a bit of spare reading time. I picked up a book that would not normally be on my reading list. Now that i have finished it i am so impressed that i thought it worthy of a mention here.
  The book is The Favored Daughter by Fawzia Koofi.

  Now when i first picked this up i thought it was a woman's read and almost put it down. Am i glad i didn't.
  If like me your stance on politics is quite on the periphery then your views on why our brave soldiers are dying in Afghanistan may be like mine. Bring them home, Afghanistan is not worth all this death. Why are we there!
  My oh my, how my opinion has changed after reading this true story of the oppression of people especially females within that country and the struggle to bring a settled life for these beleaguered, tough, proud people. But also what crept into my cranium was just how little our own government are actually telling us, the general public.
  I don't understand why we are kept pretty much in the dark.
 The favored daughter is a story from birth of a female born to a member of the old parliament. She was the nineteenth child born into a family where the father had seven wives and all together twenty three children. The first thing that doesn't strike home with us in the west is this sort of life but it is normal in Afghanistan.
  That's just one of numerous events that happen that we in the west will find appalling but i don't want to spoil the read by giving too much away.

  The poor female child was born and left out in the sun, alone to die, but she survived and also lived through much adversity. She has now become speaker of the house in Parliament under the Karzai government. A woman with that status within government is highly disliked by many tribal leaders, men in general and especially the Taliban.
  Her life is constantly under threat and has had numerous assassination attempts. Her aspirations are to run for President.
 Having read the book we must never give ground to the Taliban and we must never negotiate with them because what we would have to surrender during negotiations is unthinkable when the joint forces are trying to bring peace and some sort of democracy to the people and losing lives in that battle.

  It isn't an easy task to achieve, many have tried and failed but to leave these people to the fate of the Taliban would be a crime in itself.
  Have a read of the book and see if you agree.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Local Bimble

  The need to get outdoors was quite great today even though it wasn’t the nicest of days. Fine saturating rain was falling for most of the time but it was quite warm, which meant that it was very humid within the confines of the waterproofs.
  I didn’t want to get too far from home just in case i had to call it a day early after my recent hospital trip but things seem to be settling down apart from a little bit of pulling now and then.
 There are lots of local footpaths in my area and also we have the Rochdale Canal and Tandle Hill Park on our doorsteps so it’s easy to get a walk straight from the front door.
 Setting off along the canal towpath towards Chadderton is always pleasant and Dorothy took some bread to feed the geese, Mallard and others that join in the frenzy.
 The Rain has eased off for a few minutes.

 A group of some rather colourful snails
 Mr and Mrs Mallard
 A very large bunny
 Passed by equines
 Some dozy cows
 Timid pigs
Spring lambs with mum

Rain started getting heavier as we passed some bovines changing fields for sweeter grass.
 Into the park the leaves are slow to bud on the Beech Trees

 But the Hawthorn is out
We overtook these ramblers who must have thought that we were part of the group and they decided to follow us over a stile and through the next field and through a farm before somebody realised that they were going the wrong way. They headed off back. Where was Reg today! 
You get talking and not looking and suddenly you think now where am i? Easy done.

Like i said at the start it was just a short bimble but enjoyable all the same and i didn’t have to dash home.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Post Tick Bite First Aid

I have plenty of time available for reading at the moment and i came across this interesting article that i thought would be beneficial to our outdoor community. 
2 Amendments added below.

Research News Dec 01, 2011 

 The Fraunhofer Institute believes they have come up with a gel that will prevent the contraction of Lyme Disease post tick bites. 

They come out in the spring, and each year they spread further afield. Thirty percent of ticks transmit borrelia pathogens, the causative agent of Lyme borreliosis that can damage joints and organs. The disease often goes undetected. In the future, a new type of gel is intended to prevent an infection – if applied after a tick bite.

For years, Mrs. S. suffered from joint pain and headaches. After an odyssey through doctors’ waiting rooms, one doctor diagnosed Lyme borreliosis – an infectious disease transmitted by ticks. With its bite, the parasite introduced bacteria that then spread throughout the entire body. Mrs. S. is not alone – very often, the disease is recognized too late or not at all, or is not properly treated. Doctors are provided with no clues if the characteristic redness around the bite area is missing. Left untreated, Lyme borreliosis can cause symptoms that resemble rheumatism, damage joints, muscles and nerves and affect the organs.

If found in time, it can be successfully treated. If patients exhibit the disease-specific rash known as erythema migrans, doctors will prescribe antibiotics for several weeks. However, if, as in the case of Mrs. S., the disease has progressed far and is chronic, it is very difficult to treat. Currently, there is no prophylactic treatment and no vaccine against the infection. In the future, a new type of gel is supposed to nip the infection in the bud: the patient applies it locally immediately after the tick‘s bite. Researchers of the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI in Leipzig developed the medication in close cooperation with the Swiss company Ixodes AG and the Institute for Infectious Diseases and Zoonoses of the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich (Institut für Infektionsmedizin und Zoonosen der LMU München). Ixodes AG is responsible for developing the formula, while IZI and LMU are carrying out the pre-clinical studies and the serological examinations.

  If the gel is applied immediately to the bite after the tick has been removed and one does not wait for any potential symptoms to show, Lyme borreliosis could be prevented. This is because during the first few days, the bacteria stay right around the spot where the tick bite occurred and spread out only after that. The active ingredient of the gel is azithromycin, which is highly effective against borrelia bacteria and kills them locally in the skin,“ says Dr. Jens Knauer, project manager at IZI. Unlike other antibiotics, there is no known resistance of borrelia strains against azithromycin. Another advantage of the active ingredient: it has few side effects and as a result does not stress the body. It also distinguishes itself by its good depot action of up to five days in the tissue. The treatment is successful only if the medication is applied within the first few days after the tick‘s bite. „This gel, however, cannot be used to treat an established infection; it is suitable only for prophylaxis,“ emphasizes Dr. Knauer.
The pre-clinical studies have already been completed successfully; in mice, the gel was effective even five days after a tick‘s bite. The application has been patented. Starting this past summer, in a clinical phase III study (, the researchers are testing the medication on persons with proven tick bites. Should the results of the pre-clinical studies be confirmed on humans, the gel will help to significantly lower the number of new infections,“ the expert adds. Annually, up to 60,000 are stricken with Lyme borreliosis in Germany alone, according to estimates by the Robert Koch Institute, with an upward trend – since, due to climate change, ticks are expanding their range ever further. „As soon as the gel can be purchased at the pharmacy, persons who are particularly endangered, such as forest rangers, hunters, joggers or soccer players, should always carry it with them,“ Knauer recommends.
Although this jell hasn’t made it to the chemist/pharmacy yet. Keep it in the back of your minds for the near future. I have been lucky, only one tick has made it into my skin but this jell would have given me some peace of mind once i had removed it.
In the meantime take some Permethrin with you when walking in tick country just to minimise the possibility of a bite.
Hope you find this useful.
 (Report from the Institutes media.)

Amendment 1. added 8.50pm 3/4/12. following Maria's comment.

TBE Vaccination In the UK
You cannot get the TBE vaccine on the NHS. Your doctor may be able to order it in for you from a specialised travel clinic, but you will still have to pay for the course of vaccine. You may prefer to go directly to your local travel health clinic.
The best time to start a course of TBE vaccination is during the winter months to make sure you are protected before the start of the tick season in spring.

Vaccination course

The TBE vaccine is usually given in three doses, with the second dose given one to three months after the first dose, and the third dose given five and 12 months after the second dose.
If you need more urgent protection, two doses of the vaccine can be given at least two weeks apart. In this case, the third dose should be given five to 12 months after the second dose.
If you are under 60, you should have your first booster three years after your original course of the vaccine. Further boosters should be given every three to five years.
If you are over 60, you should have booster doses every three years. This is because studies have shown that TBE immunity (resistance) does not last as long in older people.

Side effects

Any reactions to the TBE vaccination are usually mild and do not last long.
Adults may experience swelling, redness and pain at the site of the injection. Other possible side effects include tiredness, headache, muscle pain and nausea.
Children usually experience mild side effects such as pain and tenderness at the site of injection, restlessness and headache. They may also experience a fever (temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above) after their first dose of the vaccine. In very rare cases, a more serious reaction can cause meningitis.


You should not have the vaccination if:
  • You are allergic to eggs (as the vaccine contains egg protein). 
  • You have a fever.
You must also tell your doctor or nurse if any of the following apply to you:
  • You have problems with your immune system.
  • You have a brain disorder.
  • You are pregnant.
  • You are breastfeeding.
You may still be advised to have the vaccine, but your doctor or nurse will need to check your risk with a travel medicine specialist before giving it to you.
Amendment 2. Added 10.32 6/4/12
I made enquiries at Boots and Nomad travel yesterday and was stunned.
Nomad travel. First have a consultation with a nurse at Nomad. Cost £20.
No need to go to your GP. No prescription needed.
3 shots required. First shot £55
2nd shot within 3 months of the 1st. Cost £55
Then a booster shot 6 - 12 months later cost £55.

 They told me that they would do the vaccination but only with a prescription from my GP.
But, they said that almost all GP’s would do the vaccination at the surgery and therefore would not need to pay a nurse like you would at Boots.
You will probably (i think you will) have to pay for the serum.
That’s quite a fair response from Boots.

GP next then.

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