Outdoor Focus Winter 2017 - Page 21

OWPG AWARD WINNERS 2017 < Keeping warm in the PHD Wafer jacket Mountain Laurel Designs pack & Pacerpoles so I used the OMM thin foam DuoMat for this. The trip involved much rough pathless terrain and quite a bit of ascent and descent. The Exodus was stable and comfortable throughout. Shelter this trip I looked at the lightest gear suitable for summer backpacking in the Cairngorms with high level camps. I ended up with a total weight of 9.65kg, of which 6.7kg were essentials. Around 3kg of non-essentials may seem excessive but 2kg of that was camera gear, not essential for backpacking but essential for my work. Subtracting items worn or carried (footwear, clothing, poles, cameras) the weight of my pack came to 5.9kg, to which I added 1.5kg of food so it was 7.4kg at the start. Everything performed well and I had a comfortable trip. Heavier gear wouldn’t have added anything except more weight to carry. Pack With such a light load a pack with a frame and thickly padded back, shoulder straps and hipbelt was unnecessary. The Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus is a 535 gram ultralight pack made from tough Dyneema fabric. It has useful stretch outside pockets and a total capacity of 57 litres – more than enough for this trip as I didn’t fill it. It’s designed for loads up to 11kg so I was nowhere near pushing its limits. The Exodus doesn’t have any padding in the back Much as I like tarps they’re not a good choice in midge season even with a netting inner. I like a tent so I can zip it shut and cook in the porch if necessary. I also like enough room for comfort if trapped inside by midges or storms. One of the lightest suitable tents for this is the Nordisk Telemark 2 ULW, which weighs less than a kilo (with better pegs than those provided and extra guylines the weight was 994 grams) yet is spacious for one (it’s designed to sleep two though that would be a tight sqeeze). The Telemark 2 is also surprisingly storm resistant. It easily stood up to heavy rain on both nights and strong winds on the second one. Sleep System The PHD gear I was testing consisted of ultralight clothing and sleeping bag designed to be used together. I usually take a sleeping bag adequate for the average temperatures expected, reckoning on sleeping in clothes on any unusually chilly nights. That’s mainly because I’ve never found much clothing other than base layers to be that comfortable to sleep in due to stiff fabrics, zips, buttons, buckles, pockets and other features. However for this trip I used the PHD Ultra K down bag, which has a lower temperature rating of +8°C, plus the ultralight Wafer K series down jacket, Telemark < Nordisk pitched high on the Moine Mhor trousers and socks. The clothing has minimal features and the fabrics are very soft so it’s comfortable to sleep in. The first night the temperature fell to +7°C in the tent and I was just warm enough in the sleeping bag alone. I did wake a few times feeling a touch chilly though so the second night I slept in the down socks, trousers and jacket. The temperature fell to +6 and I was very warm and cosy, not waking once. I was also very comfortable and it was nice to be able to emerge from the sleeping bag and not be hit by cold air (though that does wake you up!). PHD says that the Ultra K bag plus Wafer clothing should be warm enough down to +3°. I reckon it would keep me warm a few degrees lower. The total weight of sleeping bag and clothing was only 775 grams. Highly Commended Kingsley Jones for Trail Running in the Alps Highly Commended Stephen Neale for Where to Wild Swim in Essex winter 2017 | Outdoor focus 21