Thursday, 19 July 2007

Gear Worn (Worn out gear?)

Sorry about the tardiness of these postings - have been a tad busy over the last few weeks.

So - Gear worn, eh?

Lets start at the bottom:

Scarpa Nepal Boots: I broke these in over 200 miles prior to setting off from Land's End, so in the end the boots walked 1887 miles - and made it one piece! I usually have big problems when choosing footwear as I have very girly feet, with very slim heels. These boots are made very well and have a rubber rand right around the boot for water resilience and to protect the feet. I had a tiny blister round about Somerset (where exactly is your Somerset?) that lasted for about two days - otherwise no problems at all!

The sole unit still has some tread left, and so these boots will continue to provide me service later in the year. On one of the boots a small hole did appear at the bottom of the tongue / toe junction, so I filled this with superglue, which worked for a while until it popped out. However, they did okay. Had I noticed this fault at home then perhaps I would have taken it up with Scarpa, but frankly I did not have the time or the inclination for this on the walk.

Interestingly, when reading others' accounts of their LEJOGs - often shorter in length than mine - their boots seem to fall apart much more quickly, so these did pretty well. I did wear holes in the leather linings of the boots in strange places - but this did not affect the comfort in any way.
Verdict: 9.5/10 (missing 0.5 for the hole!)

Bridgedale thermal liner socks: These fit me better than the coolmax socks and the extra warmth is arguable. Liners are a vital part of foot health. All the sludgy skin that sloughs off when you are bog hopping for hours on end stays inside the liner and does not sludge up your expensive fluffy Merino wool outer socks. they also push the moisture into the outer sock keeping your tootsies drier. Wash these out every night, pop them back on in the tent to dry if needs be and they are dry in minutes. Having said that, I took four pairs as I did not want them wearing out too quickly. They weigh nothing.
Verdict: Excellent.

Smartwool Merino Wool Mountaineering socks: (The red/pink soled ones) I only carried one spare pair of these. They are amazingly good. I wore out five pairs on the walk (Heel lift in the boots wears out the heels quite quickly) I need thick sock as I have girly feet. They were always comfortable and would last four or five days between washes because of the liners.
Verdict: Excellent

Gaiters: Outdoor Research FlexTec: Very very light, totally breathable velcro front fastening. Keeps your socks clean and tidy and the gravel out of your boots. Not waterproof but that is not their purpose. Got through two pairs on the walk.
Verdict: Excellent. 9/10

Hotel shoes: Innov-8 Mudroc 290's: Good grippy sole unit for camping in wet grass, comfy in a nice grey/black colour scheme. The studs do wear out quite quickly though. Good for river crossings as they dry out very quickly slung from your pack. They do niff a bit though after a while - but sticking them in the washing machine sorted that out. Very presentable.
Verdict: 8/10 (not as light as my old Walsh PB's but a nicer colour)

Haglofs Powerstretch tights: What can I say? Spike Milligan once wrote; 'his legs hung from his underpants like two pieces of knotted string' - A fairly accurate description of my own legs. My tights were not worn through population centres; for this I wore my 'Hotel Trousers.' Tights are the perfect legware of choice in the hills - they can take foul weather for a considerable time as your legs dry them out when they get moderately wet. In foul weather, they are very comfy under your overtrousers. When splashed with mud, the mud brushes off easily so they always look presentable (apart from the pipe-cleaner look of the legs) They are warm in cold weather and keep you cool in hot weather as the sweat evaporating cools your legs.
Verdict: Performance: 10/10 Style: 6/10

Hotel Trousers: Patagonia Simple Guide Pants: Deluge DWR coating, softshell fabric and lots of zipped pockets. In black. Superb trousers. Comfortable, hard-wearing, and trim. Added advantage of an elasticated waist. I bought these deliberately on the tight side of comfy as I knew I would be losing a lot of weight. I wore these for about 25% of the walk itself.
Verdict: No faults at all - Excellent!

Overtrousers: Berhaus Paclite with full leg zips: Only worn infrequently when it was really shitty! Articulated design meant they were moderately comfortable and didn't drag too much, Elasticated waist with a drawstring a definite plus.
Verdict: 8/10 (only because I hate wearing them! (otherwise 9/10)

Pants (shorts, for the Americans amongst us): Two pairs - one capilene lightweight and one pair of windproof capilene (a nylon front over the capilene) for the windy cold wet days in tights. What can I say - pants are pants...

Shirts: Two taken : Icebreaker 260 merino wool: Absolutely brilliant. However they do stretch a bit when they are wet from sweat of rain, but they always go back to normal. My shirt of choice. It would be nice if a manufacturer could make a shirt with a collar out of the same stuff for hotel use... They just do not ever smell! I wore them for six days at a stretch in warm conditions and they were still pretty fresh!
Verdict: 10/10

Paramo Velez: This jacket is superb. Made superbly well. The zips never snag and a massive chest pocket - really useful. The only waterproof you ever need in the UK. Breathable, quiet and smart.
Verdict: 11/10 (Yes , really!)

PHD Minimus Down jacket: Weighs nothing and superbly warm and comfortable. Well worth carrying (No fleece carried for the cold evenings camping)

TNF Gilet: Worn under the Velez in shocking weather for extra warmth or in the hotel to tidy me up a little and to carry the PDA, keyboard, phone and cash out to restaurants. Millions of zipped pockets and weighs very little.
Verdict: 7/10 - It sagged a little after a lot of wear and started looking scruffy!

I won't bore you to death any more with gloves hats, buffs etc - they are a personal thing. They were all lightweight and did very well.

So - what kit would I change?

Nothing. Scouts Honour! It all looked after me brilliantly and squidged down into my rucksack and came out as good as new.

So there you have it.

The next posting will deal with my thoughts about the walk itself - so watch this space!

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