I’m not really one for opting kit lists, even though I get asked about them frequently. This article spotlights the gear that I have used for some time and which I think is, at least, top class if not top of the class. These are products that have not let me down!
It is not a complete kit list and you all see that some categories are empty, probably because I haven’t found a piece of kit I am really happy with. Over the months new items will be added — only after extensive use — and some will no doubt disappear, perhaps because of availability.
My gear verges on the lightweight/ultra lightweight. Bear that in mind before laying into it!
Paramo make gear that is designed to deal with the cold and wet of a Northern Winter. The Analogy fabric garments effectively have two layers, an inner which moves water — not just moisture — away from the body, and an outer which is designed to protect the inner. The jacket is not waterproof in a scientific way but in reality it is.
I’m not sure about the durability and effectiveness of some of the new, lighter, materials used in paramo’s waterproofs but this jacket really works. It is a proper winter jacket, properly long and the front and back. A good and robust two way zip/zipper is very functional.
I like Paramo’s winter trousers but quickly find that they get too hot. I have had real problems with the durability of Paramo’s lighter trousers, so much so that I have gone back to over trousers for longer backpacking trips and summer walking. There is really nothing much not to like about these trousers, they are light, tough, waterproof and easily breathable enough.
Merino Base Layers
For most of the year nothing beats merino wool base layers and I wear both tops and briefs made of the stuff. I own both tops and bottoms from Smartwool and Icebreaker as well as Chocolate Fish. I would rate Smartwool as preferable to Icebreaker (although it is marginal).
Chocolate Fish has a commitment to ethical production that might appeal bt I think they win on performance grounds. The top layers are especially welcome as they have a proper length to them — no danger of having your back exposed to the cold.
Chocolate Fish garments are very well made, wear well and I’ve never had any problems when washing them.
Lightweight, breathable and very comfortable. Does everything you want. These are far more comfortable and breathable that the Montane Terra Pants that I have used for years. They are also proving to be very durable _ even with large expanses of flexible and hyper breathable fabric built in. I have no issue with these whatsoever. Superb.
Summer Hiking Shirts
In my opinion Paramo’s warm weather gear is as good as their winter gear. The design may seem odd at times but these are very light, robust and deal with sweat effectively — they are designed to catch even the lightest of breezes. I don’t know why the work and they are better than my others, but they just are!
X-Socks are the perfect companions to trail shoes that are designed to let in the water. These are light and dry very quickly. Although they are synthetic I have never had any problems with comfort or wear. I usually wear Trek-Lite socks but I also have a superb warm weather sock which is the best I have ever worn in heat.
My favourite merino socks are from Teko. For some reason these seem to hold their shape and form better than Smartwool and so are longer lasting. As good a merino sock as you can get.
I haven’t worn boots since I first tried these. Getting your feet wet is not a problem as they dry so quickly. Flexibility means that you can really feel the ground user your toes — I feel safer on rock and uneven land. These are light trail shoes and as such are replaced once a year which, of course, represents an annual expenditure of £80 or so.
A very powerful burner which is quick and easy to use and is comparable to the boil times of canister stoves.
At just over 300 grams this is a marvel that has clearly designed by an actual trail walker. It is a very comfortable, frameless, pack. The shoulder pads are very capably of carrying a reasonable load. I re-enforce the back with a cheap three panel closed foam mat and this gives it a fair amount of stiffness. At a push I can carry six days of food in the pack — with lightweight gear. Made from Dyneema which is as tough as ou can get with lightweight fabrics. Has to be imported from the USA but I’ve seen nothing I like as much here. This is lighter than my Dyneema day pack from ULA!
I love these. He are engineered to work differently to normal poles; you use them differently and I think they use less energy. Available in carbon or aluminium. I stick to aluminium, mainly because I use them to keep up my shelter and don’t really want the risk of breakage!
I use this all year round now, it is a fantastic shelter. Although named the Duomid I reckon this is the perfect UK 4 season shelter for one person — tons of usable space. Not cheap, but a very lightweight and useable tent. Cuben does not shrink and gives you a pretty sturdy pitch. I use mine with a single tent pole — it has survived some truly horrendous weather.
I use a Mac and don’t like planning routes or trips on a mobile device or in a web page. Routebuddy is a full functional programme which is the best offering on OSX machines. It also runs on Windows machines, but why would you?