Coast to Coast Walk – Bed and shelter

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:

Pillow

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?

2.1 kilos.

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.

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17 Comments Add yours

  1. Martin Rye says:

    Good choice for the walk you are doing. Room in the tent to relax and organise kit. you will sleep well and rest and recover for the next days walking.

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  2. terrybnd says:

    Aye, cheers Martin.

    I think I've come up with a good compromise of comfort and weight etc. I wish the NeoAir would fit in the Rab bag but the foam mat only weighs 180g's. So, it's nothing really.

    But as you mention, recovery is what is foremost in my mind. Need that good nights kip!

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  3. Martin Rye says:

    It is a thing people don't often take into consideration with gear selection for a long walk Terry. Day after day the millage will take its toll and a good nights kip is needed. Sometimes the super light approach is not the right approach. A few grams more can actually make a big difference with comfort and space. 180g could be a big help in your case and the warmth from the cold ground you will have means not waking up in the middle of the night cold from heat loss due to the cold ground as the temperatures drop. I have done a few coast to coast walks and your approach to kit selection is good.

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  4. terrybnd says:

    Thanks Martin.

    Your thoughts and experience on such matters is much appreciated.

    I tend to think outside the box, so to speak and am of thorough mindset.

    But as you say….the thought of just 3 days covering big distances that I admit I aint used to made me think straight away, “I'm gonna need a bloody good nights kip”.

    Furthermore, I'm keen to save space for food and other essentials. The only things I intend stopping for are meths and ale. For cooking and drinking in that order I have to add 😉 LOL

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  5. Paul says:

    thats some kit you got there Terry when you are about to set off and fully loaded with food cooker etc you have to put the weight of it all I bet its still lighter than what most people take for a 1 nighter lol

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  6. Stephen says:

    Which pound shop did you buy that pillow from? I got one from wilkos n It's rammal!

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  7. Roddy says:

    Hi Terry, I too use a cheap inflatable pillow, but mine came from Tesco and is actually intended for use in a car. It's triangular shaped at the back and meant to stick onto a side window. I find that if I put it long side down that it doesn't slide away from under my head as I sleep, it also gives me a little more height to the pillow as I'm a side-sleeper.

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  8. ukmase says:

    I kind of guessed that would be your setup. What pack size are you going for ?

    I cant get awayt with them inflatable pillows. I normally stuff my fleece into a stuff bag.

    Cool looking bag BTW, i cant seeing it being too cold, i onyl really need an extra mat when there is snow on the ground.

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  9. terrybnd says:

    Stephen- I got it some random Poundland type place. I figured for a quid it might be worth a shot and when I got home and tried it out….I was very pleased with it's size and comfort.
    It's worth keeping an eye out for handy things like that in such shops for backpacking.

    Roddy – I've used many pillows over the years and I suppose its one of those things thats horse for courses. I regularly used a LifeVenture inflatable but this has torn at the seam and so deflates. I've tried repairing it to no avail.
    It was a good pillow.

    So, this new one saved m a few quid compared to an Exped one which I was looking at purchasing.

    ukmase- The Rab topbag is very good. Perhaps not everyones cup of tea. But it's surprisingly warm with the right insulation and very pleasant rolling about in it and not getting the sleep bag wrapped around you and so on. A great concept of which I'm surprised that more is no made of…well, to the masses.

    I don't want to use the foam mat TBH but it helps to keep the topbag stable and in place. I did try using the NeoAit but due to it's thickness it actually tightened the width and height of the topbag and so once you got in the bag constricted around you. So, no good….

    Pack? I'll be using my Osprey Talon 42ltr. Has all I need for such a trip, it light and comfy and with the space and weight saving I've got on my sleep and shelter….plenty of room for 9 days food and perhaps my video camera etc.

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  10. twiglegs says:

    Aye, don't forget the video camera mate.

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  11. Stephen says:

    Thats a great choice of kit terry and really suits the coast 2 coast, out of interest would you keep us informed on the total weight including food and water.

    Steve Dixon

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  12. terrybnd says:

    Hi Steve

    I shall indeed be posting about all the other kit and weights I shall be lugging with me across Northern England.

    Never mind folk perhaps taking an interest in it but more so if anyone is willing to give any tips!

    Cheers

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  13. Mike pitt says:

    Good choice on the bag ive used a top bag for about 8 years,think i got it when Rab first released them.Used it for the GR5 in 2003,6 weeks in the alps with no complaints.
    good luck

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I use the top bag AR with a Neo air? it seems to work fine with both the full length and 3/4 length. I inflate it after I put it in the sleeping bag sleeve? I prefer to use the 3/4 length and use my rucsac for lower leg insulation to save weight though.

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  15. terrybnd says:

    Hi

    I tried your suggestion about inflating the NeoAir once slotted in but I found it constricted the down too much around my torso. In effect not insulating me at all.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Hi, Fair comment about the neo air:) We may be a different build . I am 9.25 stone and can even get away with light montbell down/synthetic layers without to much loss of loft:)I can also get away with not fully inflating the neo air which allows it to curve around me more. (wouldn't try this if it was looking near zero_- Have a gossamer gear foam pad to use much in the same way as you do if too cold:) ) .
    It probably wouldnt be too much of a hassle to modify the pad sleeve to allow for the neo air? (It is definitely comfy:)

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  17. Sue says:

    I never thought that there's such places in UK. Your blog post taught me of things I never knew. So maybe this was where Lennon and McCartney got their inspiration for Norwegian Wood. Lovely and eye-opening! The second picture of you carrying a cabinet is incredibly amazing. Carrying cabinet uphill? That requires power, man. And how did that tent survived through the seasons? And you used that during winter? It looks like a big canopy. Los Angeles tents could be more fitted during winters and I think for someone to endure the chill with that tent requires health and power. If I were you, I maybe had visited several tent rentals. Bay area tents are good! I salute you man, and your posts and adventure as well.

    Good Day!

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