I’m off to the Backpackers Club UK AGM this weekend. Its a club for hikers and cyclists that like to backpack (or cyclepack) under their own steam rather than the international hostelling type of backpacker. If you’re interested, there’s more info here.
I’m hoping to test some items of kit thst I’ve had for a bit of time but haven’t used yet as I’ve been immobilised through ankle and knee injuries. However, they are healing so my backpacking 2015 starts about now.
First up is a new tent. Its a Luxe Hex Peak. As the name implies, its a pyramid tent roughly 135cm tall so there’s plenty of headroom and access is via a large door rather than the standard small door you have to wriggle through. I’ve test pitched it in my garden and its huge inside with room for an inner nest, then room for another person with even more space that will swallow two rucksacks, boots, cooking stuff. I’m a hiker who trys to be ultralight/ ultralite and my shelters normally weigh 500-800g but they do tend to be fairly small. At 1.25kg the Hex Peak is heavier than I would like but I plan to use it more for winter camping when you spend long hours in the tent when darkness falls. I think the extra space is worth the weight penalty. They are sold in the UK by Backpacking Light. All the specs are here although mine is the 2014 version.
The second thing I want to test is a down quilt. It is called the Draft Dodger and made by Enlightened Equipment. It is basically their Revelation Quilt but was made for a chain of outdoor shops in the USA. The main difference is the Draft Dodger can be sealed at the neck by a popper at the back and a drawcord adjustment at the front. Enlightened Equipment tell me that its good for -6C to 20C which is pretty good for 700g. Truly ultralight / ultralite performance is promised.
I’ve been intrigued by the concept of quilts for backpacking for a while and experimented last summer with a poncho liner which worked well. Their advantages are a) they’re lighter b) they pack much smaller, and c) they’re not as constricting as a mummy sleeping bag. However, using a new sleep system in very cold weather doesn’t seem a good move until trialled in nicer conditions! You can read about the Enlightened Equipment Revelation (aka Draft Dodger) here.
Finally, I’m trying out a piece of MYOG; a groundsheet made from polycro. I’ve fixed webbing to the corners so I can fasten the sheet down. I’m hoping its robust enough to keep the vestibule of my tent dry so I can have a dry area outside of the inner nest to get changed in, sit around watching the world go by, etc. The cost of buying the materials is about £1 so no damage done if it rips within the first hour of use!