Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Time to spend some money - justifiable shopping (the best kind)

I'm starting to realise that it's really time to start really loading up my pack when I'm out on my walks and so I've started to make lists of stuff that needs to go with me.

I'm an awful one for taking stuff just in case but I know that won't be an option in July so if I start now, I can reduce and remove stuff as I go along over the next few months. When I last did any serious long distance hiking in 2003 it was in the states and the stuff that I took with me was totally different to tackling a long walk in the Pennines. One of the essentials for the John Muir trail was a bear can in which you store all of your food and anything that is even remotely smelly so that mr (or mrs) bear doesn't feast on your freeze dried and leave you hungry and traumatised.

Bear can in the flesh

A bear can is a bit of a pain in the arse - in fact it's a lot of a pain in the arse to be honest but a necessary evil in Yosemite and beyond. They are relatively heavy and bulky with it. The yosemite bears are smarter than the average and the merest whiff of a strawberry lip balm will have them salivating. There are advantages to a bear can though - it makes a perfect seat when you are out on the trail and you always know where all of your food and smellies are. And the best advantage of all - you know that whatever happens you will get breakfast tomorrow.

Anyway - I digress...no need for a bear can on the pennine way unless there's something I don't know so my approach to packing etc will be radically different. As I said in an earlier post I wore out my last Golite pack probably from overloading it and since then I've been using a Golite Jam2. Last weekend I had it on and after not very far it felt really uncomfortable and that was with not a lot of weight in it. The thing that has changed since the John Muir trail days is me. I'm eight years older and my back has eight more years wear and tear on the old injury so whereas I could get away with minimal padding on hipbelt etc in the past, I may have to accept that I can't anymore.

It might be that I just need to tweak the way I pack it and persevere but I've started to consider a new pack with a bit more padding to it. Add to this the fact that my own natural padding is getting thinner and thinner (woohoo) and it looks like some money will need to be spent. The one that I'm leaning towards is the OMM Villain 45+10 from Backpacking Light. I had a look at it in the flesh so to speak at Tiso's last weekend and I was impressed.

OMM Villain 45 + 10

One of the things I miss on the JAM2 is a lid and some exterior pockets. Now I know that the litehikers amongst you out there will be experiencing palpitations just now because of the extra weight that these things add but all I know is that it makes my walking experience more pleasurable to have them. I like having things to hand like my lip salve, tissues, phone and camera and a couple of bars of something to munch on as I go along. These things are especially important if I'm walking on my own - Roy will attest to how annoying I can be when I am continually asking him to get stuff out of my pack for me. He likens my pack to just a bigger version of my handbag and he refuses point blank to go in there for anything!

My favourite feature of the OMM Villain is the side zip for access to the contents of the pack - oh joy to be able to get to that item that you never thought you'd need during the day but suddenly do....
Backpacking Light have the OMM Villain for just under £100 and having shopped around that is the best price out of all the retailers online and off it so I'll probably go for it.

Next decision is waterproof jacket.....not looking forward to that decision :-))) Have got a Berghaus Paclite with a small rip in it, a cheap and cheerful £20 jobbie that packs down to nothing, and a Sprayway jacket that is quite bulky. I'm drawn to Paramo but last time I tried one on I looked like a sack of spuds tied round the middle. I know that the Pennine Way isn't a fashion show but a girl has to have some self respect. I know Paramo will probably be too warm for the summer but I'm open to all ideas - preferably ones that don't require a mortgage to finance them. The other thing is that I've never really been convinced about Goretex etc and so the idea of a different approach really appeals.