Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Thoughts on gear post HPM

Now I've had time to recover and work out what happened over the High Peak Marathon, its about time to look at the gear I was using (and also other people), and have a think about what was good, and what was, frankly, a bit useless.

Too much stuff?
At the start, it was a bit of a gear junkies' dream with all these people flashing around fantastic bits of kit. I saw one bloke with a Petzl Nao, which aren't meant to even be released yet. Nice.
I was very impressed with the Hope vision 1, which Chris, on my team had. It was pretty damn bright, and lasted forever at what seemed like a ridiculous intensity. It uses 4 AA batteries. Not sure what it feels like to wear on the head, considering my Silva trailrunner plus has a waist pack for that amount of power. It was like looking at a car headlight when you got blasted by it.
I think the main difference between the Hope and the Silva is the beam pattern. The Silva is much more of a diffuse beam that gives a great pattern all over the floor in front of you, where as the Hope very much concentrates the beam in a powerful spot in one particular area.

After part of the night was through and the fog was so thick that the light on my headtorch wasn't even reaching the ground without being bounced off into my face, out came the trusty Exposure lights Joystick, which as a hand torch, weighs next to nothing- about 92 grams, and pumps out a decent amount of light for 10hours. (and a whole lot more on high, but only for 3 hours). (I only have the MkII version, they are now up to MkVI and 325 lumens max output)!
Yes, I would love a petzl Nao, but the Silva, along with the extra beam provided by the Joystick was easily good enough for what I needed for the amount of time in the dark. Very happy with that.
The only annoying thing was when I took my rucksac off to change into and out of waterproofs, the headtorch (with battery pack in the rucksac) had to come off. Not the end of the world, but slightly annoying nevertheless. It could be solved by having the wire routed through to somewhere else on me... but that would mean carrying the battery pack on my person rather than in the bag, which is not what I was looking for.

mmm. Nice. Proper colour for Mudclaws
Shoes- there were a lot of different types, as to be expected. My inov8 mudclaws did well, and through the grough and hag fest that was Bleaklow, I wouldn't have had anything else. It was so rubbish underfoot that I was still slipping, even with crazy studs on my shoes. I wouldn't have liked to do that with less grippy shoes, though when we got on the flagstones from snake summit, they didn't feel like the best shoes in the world. I think that it might have been an idea to put a pair of Superfeet insoles in the shoes, considering the distance of the race. By the end, your biomechanics are getting pretty dodgy, and any help that you can get is very much appreciated. I did it for the 15 trigs, and in hindsight, with my knee aching a bit from a slightly dodgy running style in the last phases of the race, it would have been a good idea.
(improving the muscles and gait would be an even better solution rather than relying on a "crutch" to help my running style be better, but after about 40 miles, things start to fall apart. Need to work on the legs)

You can see the 22 is a bit large for this kind of thing
Rucksacks- I knew that my trusty Berghaus Bladdered would probably be a little too small, as would the Osprey talon 5.5. The next smallest bag that we have is the Osprey talon 22. The added bonus of this pack was the fact it has 2 waist belt pockets. stretchy side pockets, AND stretchy pockets on the shoulder straps. Lots of places to stash food and items that you need on the go. For that, it was excellent, though the actual bag itself was a bit too big for what I needed. A smaller, more compact bag would have been good, but I just don't have anything like that which has the amount of stash space in it.
There were a lot of OMM last drops, and OMM Ultra 12s around, which I have to say, do look pretty good. There were of course a number of OMM Classic 25s, a number of bags that I didn't recognise (shock horror!), and a couple of trusty old packs which were still going after years of abuse.
Looking around, it would have been nice to have had a Haglofs Ace M pack for the race, but I suspect that although I want one, I probably won't have enough need to actually go and buy one. 

A well cut spektr smock
Waterproof- Used the Spektr smock, and it performed very well. The key point was that even though it was blowing hard on Bleaklow, I still had my head torch on, which kept the hood firmly on my head. Not so sure how well it would have faired otherwise- my head isn't quite big enough to fill it!

Gloves- the trusty Sealskinz lobster mitts were excellent. There was one point up on Swains head when my hands were definitely getting cold, but that was because of a lack of decent windproof cover, not through badness of the gloves. We stopped to waterproof up, and my hands heated up very quickly indeed.

Underlayers- I wore a helly hansen warm freeze base layer and a Rab vapourise stretch top all the way around. At times, yes, I felt a bit hot, at times, yes, I was a bit cold, and there were a lot of others who wore just a base layer with a waterproof overlayer when they needed it. Had we been going faster and keeping body temperature up all the way around I suspect this would have been a better option, however, the speed we went at was pretty much the right speed for the clothing I had planned. Any slower and I would have been cold and miserable the whole way around, though I could have gone faster and not been too worried about the smock overheating. (note, I mean that in terms of body temperature, not the fact I could have gone faster, I don't think I could).

Thinking about it, if I had the stamina, ability and endurance to go fast all the way around, keeping my temperature up, the ideal layering system would be the merino base layer with the spektr for when it got wet, and a Montane Fireball smock should I lose heat. However, thats an ideal, and I probably won't be getting a Fireball smock anytime soon either. Slightly heavier fleeces will have to do, and its good training to carry more weight!

Socks- I bit the bullet and used Sealskinz socks, with smartwool ankle socks under them. I have to say, I was very happy with them. At no point did my feet feel like they were going to drop off from cold, and nor did I get any blisters in painful places. (I did have 1 blister, but didn't realise until this morning when I found it, so it doesn't really count). I'm not totally convinced by them yet, mainly because of all the bad experiences I have had with them, but this time, brilliant.

So, most of my stuff, apart from the decision to carry a bit much food was great. Was there anything I took that was a waste of space and weight? No. There are a few things I would like to invest in were I to do this kind of race again- a lightweight 4man bothy and a rucksac that is small, but easily accessible, but beyond that, it all did its job marvellously well.

No comments:

Post a Comment