Tuesday, 21 October 2014

lowe alpine jetstream 2.5 cap – first look

It’s annoying having to replace lost kit. Tent pegs and other small items can get lost amongst the grass but losing an adult sized black baseball cap is hard to reconcile.

Not wanting to be without some sort of weather resistant head gear I popped into Cotswolds for a replacement. Despite stocking TNF Apex items they didn’t do the cap that I blogged about here.

The Lowe Alpine Jetstream 2.5 cap was the best of what was on offer. The cap comes in one size, is water and windproof not water or wind resistant like the former, being made from Lowe Alpine’s Triplepoint material with sealed seams, and a wicking Dryflo headband. (Another Lowe Alpine material that they use for base layers.) It weighs 50g so is 10g lighter too. There is a single pull elastic toggle to tighten the headband at the rear for when the wind picks up, and a reflective strip. This is clearly meant for those who go out in the dark for a run. But is also handy if you happen to find yourself on an unlit country lane going to/from the pub/campsite as I did at the weekend.

Despite the unseasonably dry, warm October weather I have been lucky enough to find some dampness this week. As I expected the material beaded well and, for me, the big win is that the larger splodges didn’t penetrate the material like they did with the Apex material because Triplepoint is fully waterproof not just resistant. The peak made an effective shield against the elements too. The only thing about the cap that’s a bit of a worry is that there is an opening at the rear approx. 80x60mm in size which leaves that part of my head exposed to the elements. But in anything more than a shower I’d expect to have the hood of my waterproof up so that wouldn’t be an issue on those occasions.

Stock photograph supplied by Ascent Marketing.

Friday, 17 October 2014

calorie and carb counting

Being a type 1 diabetic my overriding concern when out on a hike was how much carbohydrate (CHO) I’d need to keep me going, replace the glycogen in my body, and prevent hypoglycaemia (dangerously low blood sugar levels).

Over the weekend, among many of the conversations I had, one discussed weigh loss when on the trail. This got me thinking about the calorific value of the food I pack, and whether it met the demands of a day’s hiking.

The starting point was to establish my BMR (basal metabolic rate) this is an estimate of the minimum amount of calories needed to keep body functioning whilst at rest. I used the one on the myfitnesspal website here. Once I’d established that figure, I found an Activity Factor formula which is a basic multiplier of the BMR subject to the level of activity – see below.

Little/no exercise
BMR * 1.2
Light exercise
BMR * 1.375
Moderate exercise (3-5 days/wk)
BMR * 1.55
Very active (6-7 days/wk)
BMR * 1.725
Extra active (very active & physical job)
BMR * 1.9
A simple Excel spreadsheet did the trick. I’ve highlighted what I thought that would apply to time out hiking in the hills, and the formula determined that I would need 2,900 calories to maintain that level of activity. I then set about calculating how many calories I’d consumed listing them in the same spreadsheet. The outcome was a bit of an eye opener – I was short by circa 600 calories, that’s an approx. 20% shortfall. This probably is a factor in how I’ve managed to stay trim – which isn’t a bad thing. Whilst doing this exercise I also analysed the amount of CHO I consumed. This was also very revealing as it indicated that I need to increase the amount of CHO consumed at the end of the day, to top up the glycogen reserves, and to avoid an overnight slingshot hypo (never a good thing, and potentially life threatening).

In this instance, the shortfall was made up with a portion of chips and a few jars of cider. But going forward I’ll be re-introducing the stalwart Bird’s Instant Custard as a pudding with a cake bar or similar, not for the calories per se as I’d like to keep my figure, but for the necessary CHO loading.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

tnf apex baseball cap

Nicely beaded droplets

Being follicly challenged I’ve accrued a sizable number of head gear options over the years. The baseball cap is the mainstay for summer (with a SPF 30+ material) and the Lowe Alpine Mountain Cap for the coldest times of the year, with a number of options for in between these situations.

The autumn/winter of 2013/14 was reasonably warm but very wet so a good opportunity to try out a soft shell cap. TNF Apex material has been around for a while and is reasonably weather resistant. Of all the soft shell materials I’ve tried I’ve found that they fall short, never being wind or rain resistant enough. Incidentally, TNF now make a complete wardrobe from the fabric so you can kit yourself out in trousers, jacket, gloves and hat – if that sort of thing rocks your boat.

The cap is black, comes one size, and it weighs 60g.

Despite my reservations of all things soft shell I’ve got a lot of use out of the cap during those months. Although not totally windproof I haven’t found that an issue with the mild weather we had – with my head staying comfortable. In the rain it beaded well initially but again regular use dictates regular cleaning and re-proofing to maintain this. Larger drops/driven rain penetrated the material and it wetted out as I would have expected over time. Once wet the material was slow to dry.

Given the range of head gear I’ve collected there clearly isn’t an ideal piece of kit, and the TNF Apex baseball cap has become another option in the range I have at my disposal.

Monday, 15 September 2014

thermarest neoair xlite

The lap of luxury

I bought a NeoAir when they were first launched and this piece of kit radically transformed my camp sleeping experience. Unlike others who purchased NeoAir's at the time mine didn't delaminate, until recently that is. This wasn't an issue as Cascade Designs offer a lifetime guarantee on their products and replaced it with the newer Regular Xlite model.

So what's new and improved? I now have a full length mattress (the earlier was 3/4 length) that weighs 350g, it's tapered at the top and bottom, and has a better R rating. The air chambers are narrower so there are more of them which means that compression isn't an issue, I can sit on the mattress to cook without sinking to the ground like I did on the old one. The material has changed so it no longer crinkles when I turn over. And they've changed the colour - slightly. All good including the colour change - the new colour is a 'warmer' yellow. It is narrower which is fine for a side sleeper like myself but laying on my back my arms were clear of the mattress, I'd want it to be wider if that's how I got my Zzzz's.

This is a step up, again, in my camp comfort. The full length means I don't have to use my rucksack under my feet/legs if the ground is hard or cold, I don't have a 6cm drop off around my hip/thighs, and I can have my Exped Pillow on the mat rather than stacked on trainers, spare clothing, etc so is less prone to migrate. The only down side is the 60g increase in weight over the old mattress but am I bothered? Not in the least, as I can make weight savings else where by drilling more holes in my toothbrush handle.