Gear

Just some guff on kit I’ve used and why. Some ideas for improvements to the systems.

I seem to be a hoarder/collector as you’ll see below.

Shelters
Over the years I’ve owned bivi bags and various hefty ‘mountain’ tents for climbing and backpacking trips but now I’ve tried to move to something a bit nearer the lightweight ethos. I was used to lugging heavier stuff when backpacking and when I moved over to sea kayak travel, the comfort factor won over any ideas of lightweight replacements. Several trips in Canada, Norway and the coast of Wales honed the packing list a bit but it was always nice to cook up something more gourmet with a bottle of wine after a long day on the water.

Things have definitely changed now I have to carry it all up and over the hills on a bike.

The lightweight gear began with a Hilleberg Akto because I like the build quality and it fits my 6’3″ frame with some room to spare. This has been great and I tend to use this in the winter/poorer weather.
Akto in Coed Y Brenin

The second shelter comes from a cottage industry manufacturer in the USA; a Six Moon Designs Luna Solo. I really like this in the summer as I can sleep with the fly open and the netting closed – like tarping without the bitey insects getting me! Nice and lightweight, simple to put up quick and seems to be well made too.
SMD Luna Solo at Gro Hill, Mid-Wales

Sleeping Gear
I have a warmer winter bag (Marmot – bought in China or Tibet) and a very lightweight Rab bag with no zip for the summer (used on the Lamm and similar a few years ago)…. currently lusting after PHD gear and will no doubt get something at some point in the future. I like the idea of the Combi bag and another inner light weight summer bag.
Spring gear

After years on an old Thermarest (bought in the US in 1989 and never once needed repairing!) I have gone for something a bit thicker for my knackered old back and have a Neoair that is very comfy. On colder nights I’ve tried a thin section of Karrimat (an old double layered one for high altitude that delaminated – just using one half); just the few mm’s of closed cell matting seems to keep me warmer. Been thinking of a more insulated Exped mat for ages but that can now wait for next autumn/winter. I always carry a polycro groundsheet as well (secondary window glazing) – very light and saves both the tents and sleeping pad from abrasion and punctures.

Cooking Gear
Over the years there has been a progress from an MSR International white gas/petrol to gas to meths (Evernew and Bear Bones) and back to gas; depending on season and trip duration. I’ve also tried wood stoves too to lower the weight of fuel carried but this has not been a success for me in the seasons I’ve attempted it and with the lack of skill/practice. Never the less they all have their merits in different situations and I seem to like to swap around for the hell of it.

Over the years I’ve moved from Trangia aluminium pans to MSR stainless steel (luxury sea kayaking food preparation) to Evernew Ti pans – I have a selection of the latter now for different trips/occasions and the build quality is great. The frying pan is purely for bacon buttys in the woods with the boys.

Homemade pot cosys seem to be my preferred method of re-hydrating the carbs, often using a Pour-n-Store bag to eat from once the sauce/flavouring has been warmed. For a trip of a few days I carry two P-n-S bags; a separate breakfast and mains savoury pair of bags, reusing them for several meals – saves on washing up too. Various mugs, an MSR coffee filter, flasks, water carriers/bottles, sporks, fire starters etc. make up the remainder of the kit.

Luggage
A mixture of bikepacking luggage from Revelate made up the first set I acquired, including a seat pack, Tanglebag and harness/front pocket handle bar set up. I still revert to this kit in the summer as it’s good to carry two bottles.
Swift in Coed Y Brenin with Revelate Designs bags
For the longer trips where a bit more gear is needed I’ll use a full frame bag made to fit the Voodoo Zaka by Beth at Wildcat Gear in Brecon. Great bit of kit and will be getting another one for the Carver in wide fat bike format too.
Winter luggage at Penrhos Uchaf bothy in CyB

Navigation
Usual stuff – GPS (eTrex or sometimes an Edge; hence the back up power supply), Hope lights, Spot tracker if on my own and it’s remote (Mid Wales is pretty remote at times), back up maps in Ortleib cases (on the bars at time in a map holder).

Miscellaneous
Loads of little bits and pieces fall into this category from window glazing groundsheets, to GPSs, to Ipod shuffles (for pod casts in bed), to multitools to mini binoculars for wildlife spotting – depends on the trip and mileage plans really. I’ll usually mix and match from the pile of kit below.

Photography
I like to try to take decent photos too and have moved towards the Micro 4/3 format and shoot with a Panasonic Lumix GX1 – this is great for point and shoot, manual control and video. I lives in the side pocket of a Wingnut pack on most trips in a padded camera bag. I normally shoot with the kit zoom lens with good results but also have a higher powered zoom and a pancake 20mm f1.7 lens that I want to experiment with more. Slower rides with more photo stops are planned.
I shoot in Raw and jpeg and process in Lightroom.

Tools etc.
Pumps, drive train and chain spares including quick links (I seemed to snap chains a few years ago; the reason may have been ham fisted gear changes or maybe I’m loosing power with age!), spare tubes (right size!), tyre boots and patches, a very small bottle of lube (esp. for multiday trips).

I’ve evolved this kit after meeting some very experienced guys on the Mach’n’Back trip a few years ago as well as finding what’s really needed when I snapped chains in the past and a spoke nipple on a circuit of the Rhinogau and needed to get that repaired before going back up into the hills. All pared down to fit in a spare box a few cm’s in size. I’ve been glad I’ve carried all this on several solo trips where a long walk would be the only outcome.
Broken spoke on the wheels I built - field repairs in order

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