Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Kit - Part 1

I've bought a new sleeping bag. It's a Snugpak TravelPak Lite which, with its compression bag, weighs in at 875 grams on my scales. That's a saving of 525 grams (about 1lb 2oz) on my Snugpak Softie 6 - Kestrel which has a packed weight of 1400 grams. The TravelPak Lite was available at a special show price of £29.00 at The Ordnance Survey Outdoors Show last weekend. Googling the TravelPak Lite now seems to confirm that I got it at a good price. I hope it helps me have a good sleep too when I try it out in the warmer weather.

The Outdoors Show was not quite what I had hoped for. I saw, and was able to drool over, some solo Terra Nova tents but I was hoping to check out other items - sleeping mats and walking boots in particular. I only saw two large Exped mats and there weren't many boots on display. I've only ever used a foam mat but my old bones can't easily rest on those now and I'm informed (by the Snugpak Rep at the Outdoors Show) that I should be thinking "sleeping systems" in this day and age. So I need to stretch out on a Thermarest or an Exped mat, an Exped Down perhaps, to see what they can do for me.

My fairly new Brasher Hillmaster boots are very uncomfortable and hurt my feet. The previous two pairs, now retired, were fine - comfortable from the outset, neither pair needed to be broken-in. The new ones are different; they seem narrower and the rubber sole doesn't give me as good a cushioning effect as before. They feel a long way from being broken-in. I'm not sure if they ever will be. I don't understand why they have padded suede uppers which extend well outside the boot (it looks more like a fashion/style change rather than a practical one). Nor am I certain as to how that part should be cleaned and cared for. So they may have to go. I have always favoured leather boots. It seems to me that they give the best ankle support when needed and I have assumed that they are easier to clean. Perhaps now is the time to get used to non-leather boots though. Perhaps I need to get with it. So I am considering the lightweight, Vibram soled and very attractive looking Scarpa ZG65 XCR.

I need a new tent or shelter too (I'm wearing out - so's my kit). I have a Litchfield Viper 2 tent which I bought about 20 years ago at the YMCA shop in Covent Garden. It's flysheet usually suffices in the Summer but that, plus poles and pegs weighs 1300 grams so I'm looking for a lightweight alternative. That's why I drooled over the Terra Nova at The Outdoor Show and why I daydream about a Hilleberg Akto but the prices aren't lightweight. I'm considering the more basic, but lovely (in evergreen) Golite Shangri-La 1. It's a solo shelter without poles but it's lightweight (600g) and more affordable.

Weight Watch: 24-30 March -1lb. Since 9 March -5lbs.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Twenty pounds

Twenty pounds - it's like a tune in my head, playing over and over, on a loop.

I have set a target to reduce my weight by 20lbs before 5th August. I've made a good start without starving myself and principal among the beneficiaries so far seems to be my knees; they don't ache as much now. It seems to me that there have been several factors which have caused them to ache or swell up intermittently in the past despite a doctor telling me a couple of years ago that "they [my knees] were wearing out". I worked it out that my driving position in the car was the cause that time, so I changed my basic Primera for my much more comfortable Volvo V40 and my knees got better. Last year one knee packed in whilst I was walking home from work. The culprit that time was my office chair or rather my sitting postition in front of the computer. The chair was old, couldn't be adjusted properly and I had made do, ignoring the warning signs. A new chair revived my knees. On The Cleveland Way once, with Bryn, on the approach to Saltburn-by-the-Sea, my knees puffed up making it difficult, and painful, to walk. I think the downhill sections across the Yorkshire Moors had done for them on that occasion (I'm hoping that walking poles might alleviate the condition this time round). Recently though I think my knees problem can be attributed to a poor diet which included too much sugar and fat. They are ruled out or strictly limited in my current diet though. That and a slightly more active lifestyle seems to be doing the trick.

Twenty pounds is the maximum weight I have set for my fully packed rucksack. I have started to compile a kit list (see link on the right hand side) but I feel that getting the pack below 20lbs isn't going to be easy for me. Bryn and I are going to the Outdoors Show 2009 at the NEC Birmingham this coming weekend. (Ten year old Grandson Rueben is coming with us.) I'll be on the lookout for lightweight items of kit. Lightweight on my back but not on my pocket I suspect, so my £20.00 pocket money won't go far.

Weight Watch: 17-23 March -2lbs. Since 9 March -4lbs.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

We are going

Bryn and I are going to walk part of The Cleveland Way. Bryn is my thirty something fairly fit son. I'm his overweight ageing dad.

The main issues have been, or still are: time off work, fitness and equipment.
  • Time off work is settled. Setting out on 5th August 2009 we have eight days; a day to get to our start point, six walking days covering 90 miles and then a day to get back to our respective homes.
  • Fitness - working on it. We have another 20 weeks (approx) to prepare ourselves. My plan started a week ago with a slight change in diet and minor exercise. My aim is to lose weight (a pound a week) and to improve strength and stamina. Bryn's aim is the same but he is not seriously overweight as I am. He attends the gym. I will from next month.
  • Equipment - working on it. The Cleveland Way was my first long distance walk - about 20 years ago when I was much fitter and leaner. My rucksack then (when including food and water) weighed up to 42lbs. This time I plan to keep the pack weight under 20lbs. There have been massive and exciting changes to trekking equipment since my first walk and Bryn and I have been checking out some of the highly desirable lightweight gear now on offer. My (retired) Berghaus Pulsar 60BC Plus rucksack weighs 4lb 6oz. I've just bought the most beautiful looking Osprey Exos 46. It only weighs 2lb 2oz!

Weight Watch: 9-16 March -2lbs. Since 9 March -2lbs.