Monday, 12 July 2021

Challenge Afterthoughts

If you have read the account of my TGOC21 here, you will know I suffered an unfortunate injury and had to retire from this year's event. It is not the first time this has happened to me, but I must remain positive and decided to make a few changes to try to ensure I can cross successfully next time.

The injury itself was caused by slipping as I tried to climb a boggy bank beside the Allt Innis na Larach. There is little that I could do to avoid that in itself, I did nothing wrong, it was just unfortunate. I did wonder though if my pack was lighter or less bulky if it would not have swung. And carrying a lighter pack is always preferable anyway, so I started to look through my spreadsheet of kit and examine it more closely.

I know the quickest way to save weight in a pack is to consider the biggest items first. I have already got a new down sleeping bag, it is super warm, doesn't leave my tent looking like I've been plucking chickens in the night and weighs less than a kg, so I am happy with that. I have an Exped Sunmat UL7, there is no need to replace that. I have a new tent, having replaced my Terra Nova Competition with a Tarptent Notch. I could have gone further and bought a Li version, but didn't like the idea of it being see through. I have changed my light Exos pack for a heavier Ariel 55 AG pack, I need the padding on the hipbelt and harness and will not be changing it. The next item to consider would be my Jetboil Flash.

I adore my Flash, I have carried it on all my Challenges so far bar one, when I borrowed David's Flash Lite. It has never let me down, I only boil water for rehydrating meals and making hot drinks and usually manage to cross using just the one 100g gas canister. However it isn't a particularly lightweight system, at 426g, as I have to carry a mug to drink from so that adds bulk and at least another 116g, so altogether about 737g. I could improve on that.

After some investigation and asking for recommendations, I decided an MSR Pocket Rocket was ideal, David persuaded me the Deluxe version was even better, so that is what I went for, at 83g. The Snowpeak pots I have would do the job, but the lid is a frying pan which I don't need and doesn't sit tight on the pot, so would probably be loose in my pack and annoying. I wanted a pot that was big enough to boil all the water I needed in one go, if necessary, and be used as my mug, to save taking a pot and a mug. After much thought and internet browsing, I suddenly remembered Alpkit and found they had the MytiPot 900 that fitted the bill, similar to the MSR Titan Kettle, but much cheaper.

Altogether, that would be a saving of 339g, if I took the same size gas. I would obviously need to be able to replace that as I crossed, so if I took a larger canister there would still be a saving of nearly 200g. I can make that decision nearer the time, depending on what the supply of gas is like next May.

The one thing that I worried about this year was my tent pegs. I didn't really consider these until the week of the Challenge, when it was too late to do anything. I realised that the MSR Mini Groundhog pegs that I love were perhaps not long enough to cope with the different forces on my new tent. There was nothing I could do, but I coped with the pegs I had , double pegging the main points and using the longest peg in my possession for the end into the wind. I don't know the origin or the composition of this peg, but I used it and survived. Mainly because there were no high winds. I can replace these pegs, I will take four MSR Groundhogs, four MSR Mini Groundhogs and six Terra Nova skewers to help pin the ends out and the inner. None of this will affect the weight I am carrying much.

I need to consider my washbag, there may be more in there than I really need to take.

If I can get nearer to the 11kg mark, or less, including food, I'll be happy.

And in the meantime. I am already back to running to maintain and improve my fitness and I will start back on the yoga and strength training as soon as I am completely happy with my shoulder.

All good.


Margaret Oliver said...

Thank you for this post. Can I ask what sleeping bag you have now?

Louise said...

Hi Margaret! I have a Mountain Equipment Glacier 450W and I love it

AlanR said...

It's taken me donkey's years to get my kit weight down to under 7kg. You have to question to the nth degree every single piece of kit and try to find a lighter replacement. It's easy if you can just throw money at it but that is not an option for me and that's why it has taken me a long time.
I take very few items that fall into the category of just in case.
I can cope without being in total comfort because I can sleep on a washing line. I have a summer kit and a winter kit. I don't use or take a pan because I just boil water. I just take a 450ml titanium mug which boils enough water for dehydrated meals and for brewing up and a recycled plastic soup container as a bowl which weighs 16grams.. If you get away with a 100gr gas cylinder for the challenge then that is amazing in its self. Well done.
It's a constant challenge to keep getting lighter but worth all the effort.

Louise said...

Everything has to be questioned and justified, the only thing I carry 'just in case' is a first aid kit. And you're right, most of us can't afford to carry only the lightest kit!

Margaret Oliver said...

Thanks Louise, think that was one of the ones I had on my final list of 2 or 3

Louise said...

I'm really happy with mine. I did have a few stitches come adrift by the zip on the Challenge (which I forgot about) and I had to do a quick running repair in my tent on the Saturday morning, but I don't think it was a fault with the bag per se, just unfortunate,and easily fixed.