The Vault Regulars

Monday, August 31, 2015

NuYarn Merino L/S top

Not yet in the UK and relatively new elsewhere in the world is the latest release NuYarn Merino fabric.
There are only a handful of companies selling NuYarn and i was lucky enough to have one sent to me by relatives in New Zealand. I paid for it btw.

I am a fan of merino base layers and i have quite a few. However, i know that it’s not for everyone. Some cannot stand the feel of wet merino.
The thing is that this new merino yarn is different. Very different. It feels very different.
On the label it says it’s a hand made product and comes with a guarantee for life. So that is certainly good as i have quite a few holes in my Icebreaker tee.

NuYarn merino, independent testing results.

There is a very short video to show how different this material is and it’s worth watching. Its only 1/2 minute.

The top i have is from Cactus Outdoors. and is long sleeved tee.
It’s spec. is 185g/sm fabric and is 91% Merino and 9% nylon.
 A bit creased but i have photographed it literally straight out of the bag.

Sizing is generous and with the stretch you definitely don’t want to opt for one that may be too big.
The sleeve width is again generous, great for rolling them up but a little too loose at the cuff for my preference. Length is long as a base layer should be.
What did surprise me a little was that the side and shoulder seams are not flat lock.
Two colours available, my grey one and a blue. I would have preferred the blue but they didn’t have my size in stock.
 Cost $NZ 139.00 which is £57.58p at todays conversion rate.
Shipping was free to our relatives house in NZ and then to post it to UK it cost $NZ17.00 or £7.00.

Not tried it in the field yet so i cannot tell you if it performs as it is supposed to. ASAP.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Just for Conrad

To the point.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Please take note and share. WMRT.

Today we were contacted by a Mountain Instructor who informed us that the stretcher box on Mickledore had been emptied, possibly for someone to use as a shelter. Equipment was all over the ridge.
The equipment in the box is located there for use in an emergency by the public and the team. Whilst we recognised that there may be times where someone would need shelter having being benighted, we would really appreciate the equipment being put back in the same condition as it was removed.
A number of team members went up to the box this evening to re pack the box. It is also worth noting that the box is not a rubbish bin.
We don't want a list of ranting comments below this post but would welcome you sharing to educate people who may not know what the box and the equipment is used for.
Thanks to the Mountain Instructor for picking up all of the gear.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A pleasant weekend in Huddersfield

A few weeks ago myself and 2 friends walked the Huddersfield Narrow Canal from Marsden, called in at a VG watering hole called the Head of Steam in Huddersfield before catching the train back to Manchester.
On our brief visit to the town i was impressed by the buildings and enthused to Sheila that we should go back, do the walk again and stay overnight so that we could explore Huddersfield a bit more.

So this weekend we did, but we stayed 2 nights, Friday and Saturday.

Huddersfield is surrounded by a ring road and it’s quite easy to split the town into two sections for the 2 days. It also seems to be that the main Victorian architecture is in the North and the newer buildings in the South. The buildings are quite spectacular.
There was a party atmosphere in full swing as we came out of the railway station with lots of stalls, a film on a large screen and a band preparing to play. We took a bit of time to have a look round before finding our hotel.
The entertainment was all free and the seating too. Manchester take note.
Free film, free seating and free live music.
Lion Arcade.
What was immediately noticeable was how clean Huddersfield is. We looked around and we couldn’t see any litter, anywhere. For a town we were impressed.
Huddersfield has quite a diverse population and this is all very clear as the different restaurants portray. What ever food is your favourite you can find it here.
Our hotel was only 1Km from the station and so headed off to check in.
The evening was spent trying out the local hostelries. Obviously we didn’t try them all but we gave it a good shot and we got our favourite.

Here is what we did.
The Head of Steam. Fine large pub with many cask beers and part of the station complex. Lots of railway memorabilia and does pub grub. Sheila decided that she would give the cask beers a go which is quite unusual for her.
The Kings Head. Again part of the station complex, once the railway ticket office. Just one big room with a magnificent tiled floor. Many cask beers and mainly from small breweries. This became our favourite pub. They do music on certain nights and the pub sign is of Jimmy Hendrix.
The floor of the Kings Head.
The cask beers at the Kings Head
The Sportsman. A small multi roomed traditional pub with a good selection of 8 cask beers again from micro breweries. Does pub grub and it looked very nice. Seems to be an after work hostelry. Brews it’s own beer too.

The Crown Hotel. A traditional locals pub with live sport showing. A few cask ales. Does food. Friendly place. No longer a hotel.
The Vulcan. A small locals pub with Manchester’s finest Joseph Holts Two Hoots for sale along with a couple of other cask beers. They love their karaoke here and the standard was not too bad. Good DJ, good atmosphere.

All the pubs we frequented made us feel very welcome and numerous locals took the time to speak with us. There was no trouble anywhere, just good banter. Thankfully by this time we were only 1/2Km from the hotel.

Saturday saw us getting the train to Marsden for the walk along the canal. It was a glorious still, hot day. I won’t bore you with the details as the walk was the same as i posted before here.
The difference was that Sheila and I carried on a little further and walked a small section of the Huddersfield Broad Canal. Altogether around 14km.

Our Saturday evening walk to the South side was a little disappointing. We came out without a coat and no sooner had we made it into town that the heavens opened.
We called into the Wellington but there was no cask beers. We dashed to the Royal Swan but it was closed down.
We did a quick dash back to the Head of Steam where we just made it as it started to pour. Thunder and lightening and very black clouds. Lots of folk had taken shelter and it became quite hard to get served. We left and went to the Kings Head where because of the torrential rain we stayed put and did a pub crawl from the beers board. They had Red Mcgregor from Orkney on offer and it was selling very well. The landlady told me that it was the first time they had it on sale but it definitely won’t be the last.
Grainy photo from the Kings Head. Very heavy rain and dark skies.

Again we had a really friendly time. A most enjoyable couple of nights. We must return again to do the south side of town. (Booked for November.)

So, not everything went well. Sunday we got on the train home and by mistake we got on the Liverpool train. Which was calling into Manchester, but Man City were playing Everton away and the train was packed. It stopped at Stalybridge and loads more got on. It was ridiculous. We had to stand up the whole way and then at Manchester loads more got on. At what point do the railway company say. "We provide a train with 300 seats but we’ve sold 700 tickets." Surely there has to be a limit.

Then we came into Manchester town centre and what a shock. After a weekend where we had seen, no litter, no beggers, no buskers, no so called homeless in tents, no cardboard hovels, no drunken down and outs, no hawkers, no harassment and just 2 Community Police officers. Manchester is an absolute filthy disgrace and i am ashamed to call it my city. I would not advise tourists to come here.
Please go to Huddersfield and have a look, it’s very very nice.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Kuiu Mountain Star 2P tent. 2015 model Review. (Short term).

This review is based on an extended weekend use in pretty foul weather, wet and windy with gusts no more than about 30mph. It is an extension to my first look review which can be found here. I would suggest that reading the first look review would be a benefit as i don’t propose to repeat details here.

The Kuiu Mountain Star 2P
Setting Up.
Setting up this tent is very easy even when windy and my proposed method which i gave detail of in the first look review is definitely better than the one that is supplied with the tent.
The main difference is that i feed the poles through the large “D” clips whereas the manufacturer suggests unclipping the “D” clips, locating the poles in position and then fastening the clips.
The trouble is that the spring clips are quite awkward to open and close and more so with a gloved or cold hand. The operation of opening and closing the 4 clips takes time and therefore my method is faster. You are inside quicker.

The main body of the tent, that’s the grey section in the photo above is rock solid. The poles stretch both the inner and outer material at the same time and there is no adjusting necessary. The small roof truss pole adds extra rigidity and keeps the tent very firm. The guy lines (4 in total) are perfectly positioned to hunker down the structure in strong winds. We never felt the tent move throughout the weekend and is undoubtably the most stable tent we have been in.
It must be remembered though that this type of tent has to be pitched either end into the wind to gain the best stability.

Poles, pegs, D clips, quick clips and guy lines.
No issues whatsoever. Rock solid. Light weight and do the job.

The 2 vents and the mesh inner would seem to give adequate ventilation. We had no condensation at all on either night although it may have had more to do with the inner temperature and the outer temperature being similar.
So the venting issue is still to be assessed properly under varying temperature conditions.

One thing i did notice was that i could see rain drops on the lip of the fabric which lies under the vent hood. Therefore swirling wind driven rain had found its way in. I don’t think it made its way onto the inner but it showed me that it is possible.
I would suggest that Kuiu review this area. Maybe making the vent hood slightly longer.
I agree the vent can be closed in heavy rain but then ventilation suffers.

I found the relationship between the floor and my Thermarest Neo Air mat to be a sound partnership. The mat never moved around like it used to do in the Tarptent Scarp 2. However Sheila’s Karrimor x-lite mat moved around badly. It looks like a new mat is the next purchase.
There was no water ingress through the groundsheet. I used a Tyvek sheet underneath the floor but it was smaller than a purchased footprint would be. I will get one to fit properly as i think it is a bonus to use one and Tyvek is so light that it doesn’t make that much difference to the overall weight.

Brilliant. We loved the inner even though it is mesh and in the UK we like our solid inners or at least partial solid. The space to weight and the head room is fantastic and the almost vertical end walls make the room seem enormous. Sheila more than once picked up on how small the tent looked from the outside but how big it seemed on the inside.
The white mesh and the grey outer means the inside is very bright and whoever came up with the idea of a luminous logo on the inner roof should be applauded and taken out for a beer. This logo acts as a night light. It is bright enough to enable you to get your bearings on those black nights. You can see just enough to find things but its not bright enough that it will keep you awake or that you can carry out detailed work. This is the first time i have come across this detail but i’m certain it won’t be the last.

The four corner pockets are adequate, not huge.
The inner door zips are single way and although they don’t pose a problem i still would prefer 2 way zips. The door shape works well and allows you to sit and cook in the porch area without stretching the fabric.

Outer doors and porch area. 
Here i am going to open a bag of worms. I am not sure what happened with the door configuration but its wrong.

Look at the photograph at the top of the post.
Imagine that the end you are looking at is also the direction of a strong breeze. (It wouldn’t matter if the wind was on the other end, the scenario would be the same.)

You can see that the door on the right side is pegged out and it is protecting the occupants and the porch area from the wind.
Now look at the left side. The first door is tied to the tent, that's because there is no grosgrain loop and cord to peg out the door to the floor.?
The far LH door that does have the peg out cord is now funnelling the wind straight into the tent providing no protection for the occupants or the porch area and making cooking next to impossible.
So, if you only want to provide one door per side with a tie down point then it should be the same one on either side. Not diagonally opposite doors.

The only way to close the door without the tie down point is to zip it up and you only want to zip it up when either the rain is too much or your going to bed.

But why not simply provide all four doors with a grosgrain loop so that any door can be tied down. The cost would be miniscule.

Due to this “design” the flap that covers the zip on the RH door works with the wind, it stays closed and protects the zip from water ingress. But the LH door zip cover is constantly blown backwards off the zip and can allow water through the zip. They are not water resistant zips.

So how did we end up with a design like this when it has supposed to have been severely tested in the field. There are many possibilities of which i am not privy to.  I hope Shaun Ayers can answer the question.

1. Maybe because of CAD design the RHS of the tent was designed and then flipped to duplicate a LHS?
2. Because the design is for head to toe sleeping?
3. I wonder what the field testers thought and if it was raised at all?
4. Was it a Factory Production Method to keep the number of individual parts and assembly numbers down to keep costs down?
We all can surmise but it begs a question all the same.

The porch areas are an adequate size and a manageable space to cook/boil water in. (With care of course).
They are big enough to hold all your backpacking gear. And as i said in the first look review, the lack of two way zips on the outer doors is not befitting of a tent this good and in this price bracket. They need to be re-instated asap.

Flapping Door fabric.
From my previous post i mentioned that i was woken during the night to the wind being fierce and the tent door flapping noisily. The peg was secure and the tie tight so i couldn’t understand what was causing it. It was dark and raining so i didn’t investigate it at the time.
The next day just seconds prior to taking the tent down i noticed what i think is the problem.
Take a look at the photograph below.

The door is pegged out and its not fully taught because its not zipped to the other door.
(But for this exercise just think that it was.)
Now look to the right at the bottom of the pole. There is a black length of grosgrain tensioning the grey body of the tent and the orange door to the pole.
When the wind blows strong in the direction from left to right it pushes the bottom of the grey tent fabric inboard. This has the knock on effect that it slackens off the tension on the orange door material. Causing it to flap. The stronger and longer the gust the more the door will flap.
It cannot be resolved by increasing the tension or repositioning of the door guy line.

My opinion is that a quick clip needs to be fitted at the point where the grey and orange materials are sewn to the grosgrain and this should then be clipped to the pole. This will reduce the deflection caused by the wind and reduce the door flapping.
(I am going to do this modification myself and see how it works.)

We purchased this tent with our own money and paid the duty etc etc. We wanted it to be perfection.
It’s not far off but its not perfect.
This is a solid, stable, robust and waterproof tent made of quality materials all round, except the zips which could be better, The space is just right inside and its a pleasant bright space to be in.
We have no waterproofing issues at this time and hope that we never do.
Its lightweight for a 2 person tent and the exoskeleton design gives options for those who just want a tarp.
It packs away small and fits into the mesh pocket on the front of my rucksack. (Mammut Creon Lite.)
Kuiu sacks are just a bit too heavy for my needs. Sorry guys.

Am i glad i bought it?
Without any shadow of a doubt. I would buy it again tomorrow. The things that i found that i consider let it down are easily fixed by myself but i hope Kuiu take some of the points on board and improve it closer to perfection for the next release.

Oh yes one last point. The 2014 model was all grey and the orange was added in 2015 to make the tent more visible from the sky for air drops in North America and Alaska. I can understand that.
In the UK we sometimes need to stealth camp and so the more the colours blend in with the surroundings the better. If a solid grey or green was available as an option i would have chosen that.

The review i posted on this tent which was “First Look”, straight out of the bag can be found HERE.

The tent here was purchased by me using my own funds. All duties were paid by me.
I have no association with Kuiu in any way shape or form. They have no influence on this review whatsoever.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sunday, and it tested more than the tent.

Overnight the rain poured, with the tent being really taught the rain landing on it sounded great. We lay there and eventually dropped off to sleep. I was woken in the early hours to the wind being quite fierce and the tent door flapping noisily. I thought the door guy line may have come loose but it was still secure. So what was causing the flapping? It was too dark and too wet to get out and check. I pushed a *walking pole against the fabric and dropped back off to sleep.
It was a warm night and i kept peeling back the sleeping bag in an attempt to cool down. We had brought our light Rab bags but tonight they were just a bit too warm.

Daylight, 7.00am and its still windy and lashing down. Sheila looked out and we were completely clagged in. Couldn’t see a thing. I was then quite pleased that we had camped lower down.

We didn’t have to make a move and so we tried to get back to sleep for while. 9.30am came around and there was no change to the weather. We had spoken to a farmer on Friday and were told that Sunday would be a reasonable day with a few showers and improving. How wrong.

Boredom was setting in by now and so i decided we might as well make breakfast, coffee and porridge from the bag. No washing up you see.
10.00am It was still raining hard but the fog had lifted very slightly.We had to put plan B into action and so i discussed that we should stay low level, follow the River Duddon back down to Fickle Steps, cross over the stepping stones, which may be fun with the river running high and fast and then head to Turner Hall campsite.

Plan agreed we packed up everything inside the tent. No water ingress in the tent btw. We sat there fully clothed for the wet ahead, and said “right, lets go for it". Just as i got out of the tent and right on cue a big gust of wind hit the tent and i got an idea of what was causing the door flapping during the night. More to come on the tent when i do a field review, next post.

Quickly and very efficiently considering the conditions we dropped the tent and had it packed in about 4 minutes. Very impressed we were.
Heading for Black Hall and the approach path to the riverside the ground was very saturated which was not a surprise really.
I wondered, but said nothing, if at some point we would get cut off, maybe the river had flooded and we would have to make a detour back.
Castle How
The path between Black Hall and Castle How was passable with only the occasional minor detours to avoid the bigger deep pools. The side streams were flowing fast but strategically placed rocks made life a bit easier.
The path from Castle How to Froth Pot and the car park would have been better as a canoeing course.
It was deep and difficult and the grass and ferns high, this resulted in us being absolutely drenched.
Picking our way onto the higher clumps of grass took time and concentration. Eventually we got to the bridge and just laughed at how bad it was and that Plan B was right or maybe a Plan C should have been put into action. IE, use the road.

We new that our original intended high route would encounter very high ferns and that we would be soaked. It would be most unpleasant crossing Tarn Beck, that’s if we got there.

We had 5 minutes rest at the bridge and then carried on. The ferns were so high i managed to miss the path which leads to Birks Bridge but we ended up on the decent track to Birks farm. We didn’t have to retrace our steps but i wanted to stay on the river path. The river at Birks is always a delight and no more so than when in Spate. The rain was not easing at all but the hill fog had started to lift a few hundred metres. At least we were now getting a bit of a view.
Birks Bridge. (Aptly named)
The river at Birks Bridge.
Continuing on the river path i again missed the turn off which leads through the Great Wood and climbs a high crag. Instead i blinkeredly stayed with the river which today was impassable. At a shear drop into a deep pool we turned back and i found the higher path. The ferns were above our heads and it made staying on the “path” a bit hit and miss. It was satcherated and along with the heavy rain soon overwhelmed both our waterproofs. Sheila was feeling very claustrophobic in the jungle of ferns and we were being attacked by thousands of Black Flies. They didn’t bite but they were all over our face and hands.
I must admit to being very pleased when we hit the narrow, steep but clear path which goes from Troutal to Birks farm.

Here at the bridge we decided Plan C was after all required. It was an easy decision. Cross the bridge which comes out at Troutal and hit the valley road. It was fantastic to be out of the wet foliage. No sooner had we set off when we stepped aside to let a tractor pass (it was a Case tractor btw), it was Kevin from Cockley Beck Farm. He stopped and said "we look like drowned rats”.

Walking the valley road is not boring and we could see all the waterfalls which were now gushing forth down the hillsides. The riverside path we were going to take had also been subject to mass tree harvesting and was not in good condition so hitting the road early had its compensations.

At 12.30 ish the rain stopped. We dared to take off our over trousers but to be honest we were so wet that it would hardly of mattered if it rained again. Another hour and we had our pitch set up on Turner Hall Farm. What would have on a good day taken about 2 hours tops had taken us 3 1/2 hours.
We had a coffee and then slept for about an hour before making lunch.

And then it started raining again which it did all night and into Monday morning. Sheila said “We must do this again Ha”.

*Walking Pole. As readers will know, we don’t use poles. However i bought a pair of carbon poles from Alpkit because i was on the verge of buying the Trekkertent Drift 2 tent and you need poles with it. As it turned out i bought the Kuiu tent instead and so was left with the carbon poles. I took them on this trip because the plan was to ford the Tarn beck and i thought a third leg would be useful. As it happened they proved to be very useful in a number of situations.
 Our Plan A route.
Our Plan B/C actual Route.

Monday, August 10, 2015

A walk up Harter Fell from Duddon Valley.

Saturday, we left Seathwaite (Duddon Valley), with full backpacks and full stomachs. A glorious sunny day and little wind. What clouds we could see were high and the blue sky was a pleasant change to the miserable grey of late.

Our route took us back down the Seathwaite valley road a short distance before heading through a deciduous woodland and across the River Duddon by stepping stones. It was warm, very warm, the sun was blazing through the trees and made the large white rocks and fast flowing river sparkle.
Safely across to the other bank we headed up stream on a narrow but good path along the gorge where massive boulders have previously crashed down from high up on Wallowbarrow.

A high scree route can be taken through the gorge that has terrific viewpoints but we opted to stay on the river side path which gave us some shade. There were lots of spiders webs in the grass and the smell of Bog Myrtle was strong. Just after we crossed Grassguards Gill the track splits. You can carry on and follow the river or cross it at Fickle Steps or go left steeply up hill and follow Grassguards Gill, which is the path we took.

Height is quickly gained and is pleasant walking all the way to the ford at Grassguards Farm. Thankfully the not so friendly dogs have now gone. Here we got our first glimpse of Harter Fell top through the trees.
It was a pleasant surprise to find that the forestry has been completely cut back and now the wonderful landscape and crags and becks are visible again. Albeit with the mass of detritus left by the foresting operation. 

The track forward is a public bridleway but it has been a complete mess for years. Bog has taken over what used to be a pleasant stony path but its good to see that some work has been started to reclaim the route. For the first 50 yds a shale raised bed has been laid and a sturdy platform bridge across the beck. The next kilometre is still a boggy mesh but is then back to shale below Kepple Crag right through to the end of the old forestry. I am not aware of who is doing the job but well done anyway. 

Exiting the forestry gate we turned North and followed the fence line up. The path shown on the OS map must have been a guess, as the route is not the way on the ground. The contours however are the same and it is steep. Especially with a backpack. 

A group of four people came into view and it wasn’t long before we caught them up. They didn’t have packs and chatting to them found out they were from the Scottish Highlands. Staying in the Woolpack in Eskdale. 

Numerous stops were taken on the ascent which gave us a chance to look back over the peaks we walked with Martin back in April 2014.
Harter summit has 2 tops and one has a Trig Point at 649 metres. The higher pointy bit is 653 metres but is difficult to get on top of and certainly hard to put a trig point on it. There was no one around and we had the top to ourselves. The views were stunning, all 360 degrees. It was great to see the whole Scafell range completely clear. We took the opportunity and found a sheltered spot and sat for an hour soaking up the panorama.

Across from us lay Hardknott and our destination for an overnight camp was in the crags just before Hardknott pass. It was beautifully laid out in front of us and so we left the worn path and followed the skyline crags. I noticed that water was indeed scarce and i was a bit taken aback at the dried up becks.
Harter Fell Summit
Dead centre of this shot is where we had planned to camp.

All the becks running North West were dry. We hit the road across the pass and even the beck there was dry. Following the road up to the summit we headed back to the two small tarns near Peathill Crags hoping that the outflows would be running but they weren’t. We had no alternative but headed down the track South East heading for Black Hall. I knew that the beck lower down would be running   and it was. The thing now was finding somewhere to camp as we were now in intake land which was well stocked with sheep. We sought permission to camp and were granted. 

We had a great camp spot and not too far away from the stream. The farmers were busy collecting silage and were working well into the evening. The cloud began to roll in and from what had been a wonderful warm sunny day was changing fast. The temperature noticeably dropped and by 9.30pm it was raining. It was very fine rain and horizontal. We watched it sweeping down the valley. We watched the hills disappear. Our day was unfortunately over. What will tomorrow bring.

Tent test weekend.

The weather forecast for an extended weekend was mixed so we thought we would get out and test the new tent.
Friday night saw us with friends in the Newfield Inn at Seathwaite, Duddon Valley.
The plan is to go up Harter Fell and camp high somewhere near Hardknott. Then cross the Duddon Valley and camp at Natty Bridge. This will leave us a short walk back Monday to the car.
Well thats the plan.
Thanks to Alan and Tina for a lovely lamb dinner Friday and a mega breakfast to see us off to a good start today, Saturday.

Summit of Harter Fell.
posted from Bloggeroid

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