Thursday, 9 February 2017


Some goodies arrived recently and I’d meant to stick a post up in the middle of last week but seeing as my redundancy is now less than a month away, and despite the fact that I’m taking some time to myself to get my head straight and attempt NTWHW, I started to register with some recruitment agencies a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t really prepared for how fast these recruiters get things moving which meant that last week suddenly became a whirlwind of activity where I had to fit in normal working, going to 3 different job interviews and trying to pack a suitcase all before catching a plane on Friday. Anyway, now that I’ve finally arrived in Penang (again for work) and gotten over (most of) my jetlag I’m now sitting in my hotel room typing this up as we approach yet another weekend.

My sleep kit is getting on a bit and I reckon I’ve owned my trusty old Alpkit Pipedreams for what must be approaching a decade now. I had a few trips recently (over the last few years!!) where I was waking up cold in conditions I would normally never do. Some of that may be down to the down in the bags losing some of their loft and effectiveness and some of it may be down to some physiological changes in my body courtesy of the Sarcoidosis that makes me sleep colder...and some of it I suspect, has to lot to do with the inevitable creep towards old age that we all suffer from. I also decided a while back that I wasn’t prepared to sleep on ¾ length mats anymore and I flirted briefly with CCF mats again (that was a mistake!) but eventually invested in a couple of Exped blow up mats as light as was possible to get at the time. Their insulation properties blow pretty much everything else out of the water and they are almost as comfortable as my bed at home.

So with that in mind I’m going to stick with one of my trusty old Exped inflating mats and I’ll go with the synmat as it is a bit lighter than the downmat and it should be adequate I think on the insulation front. There’s not much more interesting I can think to say about my mat options so I’ll stop boring you with that and show you what Mr Peter Hutchinson delivered to me a couple of weeks ago!

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What’s exciting (or just plain foolhardy) is the fact that I’ve never actually used a half bag or Pied D’Elephant system before! To be honest though I really can’t see how it wouldn’t work and I really have lost count of the amount of times that I’ve fallen asleep in my tent after being sat with my lower half cocooned in my sleeping bag while wearing my down jacket and been perfectly comfortable all night. Weight wise it’s a no brainer as well. Check out the back of the envelope calculations below to see the significant weight savings on a pair of insulated clothing and sleep systems that I think should give comparable performance...

Old system:lighter down top(242g),insulated gloves(66g),beanie hat(62g), clothing drybag(38g), synmat& schnozzle bag(515g), PD400 sleeping bag(775g) = 1.698Kg

New system: Heavier down top(370g), insulated gloves(66g), beanie hat(62g), synmat& schnozzle bag(515g), half bag(250g) = 1.263Kg

Savings = 435g

That’s an enormous weight saving in one hit so I’m going to throw caution to the wind on this one and give myself a baptism by fire of sorts. I’m sure that after the NTWHW I’ll also be able to give a thorough and detailed review of the new system.

Assuming I survive NTWHW, I also have plans for taking my sleep system(s) a bit further when the mercury plummets even lower by ditching my old PD600 bag and using my down trousers to supplement the half bag and swap out the down top for my full on winter down jacket. The lightest down top I have won’t go to waste either as it will be used in summer matched with the lightest half bag PHD sell which has sadly lain unused since I got it early last year...but I’ll write about these systems in more detail as and when I get to use them.

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