A Backpacking Story - March 2011
So Spring is finally here, the clocks have moved forward, the sap is rising and the sound of lawn movers being used on the first cut, is resounding around the neighbourhood.
A couple of weeks back I ask Ash if he would like to go for a quick bivvy trip on the Black Mountain down in Wales. It was a beautiful crisp, but sunny Saturday when we set off heading up into the hills. We hadn't seen each other for a while and there was no hurry, so we enjoyed the sunshine, the conversation, the occasional food break and the views.
The purpose of the trip was (a) to escape the office and (b) to video a night in the wilds and the gear used, as a reference for customers.
However, at times like this when you think you are familiar with your surroundings, a good conversation can distract you from regular map reading. With the sun shining, the blue sky, the crisp fresh air, fantastic camera set up shots were easy to come by. We were having so much fun that we in fact, didn't follow the path and ended up 3 miles from where we should have been setting up camp. When we finally arrived it was 6pm, already getting very cold and annoyingly dark.
There was no chance to video the wonderful landscape, the excellent gear in detail or even to just chill out. It was just a case of getting the tarp set up as fast as possible and diving into the bivvy bag to keep warm.
Which was a shame, as I wanted to talk about the new Peak Elite Sleeping Pad, the Rab Ascent Bivvy, various bits of cooking gear. Plus of course the Montane Flux jacket, the OMM Cypher Event smock I was wearing and the Innov8 new 25 litre race pack.
So we had some food, a swig of Whisky, a hot chocolate and we were well and truly tucked up by 7.30pm. Oh what a rock and roll lifestyle LOL!
The night wasn't too bad. Cold, and good breeze at times, and whenever my eyes opened, a whole sky full of stars were laid before me to count, but I never got very far before dropping back off to sleep.
It was cold enough to turn the rain into sleet, and thankfully the micro tarps kept the worst off. Reducing the windchill and making things as cosy as they could be as the temperature dropped to sub zero.
Inside my bivvy I was using my down Marmot 0 degree Hydrogen bag, and had all my clothes on including the Flux jacket, but not the waterproof outer layer. I was wearing the Montane Trail Tights, which don't seem to hold any water. Apart from forgetting some dry socks I was very comfortable and the Peak Elite base performed as it should. Although it is worth noting that any deep mat like that or the NeoAir, really does reduce the amount of chest space in a bivvy bag. I would say I was at the limit with my 44 inch chest. Any more and it would have been impossible to roll over.
The inside of the bivvy was nice and dry in the morning, evening though the flap had fallen across my face during the night, and I was breathing into the bag. That's eVent for you.
So everything performed as it should, we ate well and both our lightweight 6.5kg packs proved to be so light they almost weren't there. Interestingly we both agreed that the content of the packs would almost be the same for joining in with the TGO Challenge, a 200 mile walk across Scotland. The only difference would have been a bit more gear or clothes for comfort and space for that all important accessory - food!
Shame we didn't complete the video, but hopefully I'll get to do another soon.