OK, the clock is ticking and the challenge is getting near for when I start my Coast to Coast Walk (C2C). I’ve been busy in my spare time trying to drum up funds – sending press releases – and now that’s all about done it’s time for me to think about the kit I’ll be taking.
Now, of course I’m going to want my pack to weigh absolute bugger all. Me and Eion have got some mileage and ascent to do but I personally don’t want to sacrifice too much when it comes to comfort. So, now is a suitable to be thinking about “lightweight” backpacking.
This can be a contentious issue for some but for me it’s purely the next logical step when it comes to backpacking in our hills. Some clearly take it to the extreme in most ordinary Joe’s eyes but I’m not one to go down the route of shortening tooth brush handles to save a few grammes or practically carry a house on your back.
It is at the end of the day about comfort. If you’re comfortable carrying a 20kilo load on your back….fair play to ya. Nowt wrong with that. But for me? I’m going to go as lightweight as is comfortable.
Often, much weight can be ditched from mundane things you are likely to never use. And more often by selecting kit that is good for multiple purposes. For example, why take pots and pans and cutlery when you can take one pot that is suitable for cooking, drinking and so on. Why take cutlery when you can take a spork
and so on.
This post is about my sleeping and shelter arrangement.
Now, I’ve had a long hard think about this and most of what I’ve come to has been down to experience and personal preferences. For this trip and what it entails, it will be essential I get a comfortable nights sleep.
So, for that I’ve purchased and been using of late a Thermarest NeoAir
Aye, it’s expensive and sure it can be a pain to inflate….but bloody hell it’s the comfiest camping mattress I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. And better still it packs down small and light.
That sorted I now need a good pillow. I’m one of those who needs a good pillow for sleeping. And having tried and tested many I find inflatable pillows best. For the odd 2 nighter trip I’d usually use some spare clothes in one of these beauties from Backpackinglight.co.uk:
But on this trip? I’m going for an inflatable pillow. This one I’m taking cost me £1 from a local “pound shop”, packs down to the size of a very small card and weighs about 30 grammes. But it inflates to a decent and comfortable size!
Now for the sleeping bag. Down is best for warmth to weight ratio as many folk will know. However, I tend to feel the cold when camping out and so I either have to take/wear extra clothing or carry a warmer down bag.
For this trip I don’t want to be lugging any extra clothing. It’s bulky and heavy. So, I’ve gone for a down bag with a comfort rating of 0 degrees. But an unusual down bag. A type you don’t see too often.
I’m going to use a Rab Topbag AR. Essentially, a down sleeping bag with no down underneath you. The idea being it gets compressed when you sleep, which then gives no significant insulation and so is extra weight you don’t need to carry.
But of course as novel and logical this thinking is, you still need insulation from the cold ground. I’ve found the NeoAir mentioned above to be OK for it’s thermal properties but not quite enough on colder nights. As I said I sleep cold and so I’ll need a bit more.
As it happens the Rab Top Bag AR has a slot to slip in a foam mat or even a Thermarest type mattress. The NeoAir doesn’t really fit which is a shame as a mat slotted in prevent the topbag from sliding under you and so on. The idea is of course to sleep like you are at home in bed under a duvet.
So, to up the tog rating of my NeoAir and create the stability I need for the topbag I’ll be taking along a 3/4 length foam mat.
A foam mat though bulky is light and durable and of course pretty waterproof so you can strap it to your rucksack and forget about it.
That combination above I’ve found to work a treat and so will take that on my C2C.
Finally, the shelter. In this case as in many I’m taking my Terra Nova Laser Competition Tent
I’ve used this tent in all seasons and in conditions it really isn’t designed for. But it’s survived and lived to tell the tale albeit with some much needed TLC here and there.
This tent is very light, easy to pitch (with practice), spacious and packs down small (with pegs and poles omitted).
I shall not go into the Terra Nova Laser Comp as it’s been done to death online but I love it. It’s hardly bettered for what you get and it’s main purpose of use. It does have it’s faults but so all tents.
Now, all that done……I’ve got a set up that packs down small in my pack, weighs bugger all and will give me the comfort I require.
All in weight?
Most sleeping bags come close to that weight and even most tents weigh more!
But the tent, the down bag, the mattress, foam mat and pillow all in for 2.1 kilos? I think thats pretty good.
It may go up a little admittedly if I bang in some more pegs nearer the time (weather conditions etc) and it could be less if I slept warmer and wasn’t fussed about sleeping on solely a foam mat.
So, there you go.