Friday, 10 December 2010

have i found that headboard?

I’m indebted to Sarah for giving me what I think is the solution to my wandering pillow.

I gathered from the limited number of characters that you get with twitter she used a pillow case; stick the pillow in the end of the pillow case and sleep on it. The pillow case is trapped under your body holding the pillow in place. Or that’s how I imagined it.

Now I’m not one for carrying extra bits of kit when I could use something that I’d already be carrying, so thought no more of the idea. Until yesterday morning when I was wandering along the Thames when I wondered whether a base layer or mid layer top would fit over an end of the NeoAir. The idea being that the pillow would be held in place by the top. Wandering is good for wondering.

Back home I inflated the NeoAir and the AirPillow and grabbed a selection of tops that would be on my kit list. Result!

P1010824 The picture shows a TNF Flight T which is a very lightweight baselayer, weighing only 70g, slipped on the end of the NeoAir with the AirPillow held in place. Now all I need is the opportunity to get out and give it a try!

Monday, 6 December 2010

why don’t camping mats have headboards?

I’ve been very impressed with the comfort that the NeoAir has brought to my camping experience. Added to that, the Exped AirPillow has proven itself in a short space of time. A killer combo, in fact. BUT the only problem I have with this set up is a migrating pillow…

The AirPillow does have two tabs with holes in meant for securing the pillow but these are in the wrong place. On the top, or bottom, depending which way round one uses the pillow, rather than on the sides, where they would be more useful. The valves on the under side make it possible to feed some 3mm black bungee through that can be wrapped around the mat and held in place with a friction toggle. But these too aren’t central, so the bungee clings to the very end of the mat. Not ideal as I’m willing to bet that the bungee could creep off the mat. Although I’ve yet to give this modification a proper try, so I might be writing it off too soon. That’s for the next trip out so in the interim I’m going to kick a few other ideas around.

If you’ve already got a solution or an idea of a fix why not post a comment.

asaklitt mini white and red led lights

A chance encounter with another dog walker led (!) me to this handy discovery, that turned out to be a two fold win.

The lights were purchased from the Clas Ohlson shop in Kingston.

Typically like other LED bike lights they have a flashing mode which is how I saw them being used. But what makes these so handy is that they both have a loop at one end which means they can be hung up, or off a dog collar in the case of the red light. This makes spotting Harry on the common or down by the river an easy task. Providing of course there aren’t any other dogs out there sporting similar devices!

The second win was that the front white light can be used to illuminate a tent, and is an improvement over the LED lantern that I have been using. It has two rather than one LED so it’s brighter, it hangs straight down unlike the lantern, and it’s 3g lighter! They are powered by CR2032 batteries the same as my Petzl e*lite and blood monitoring machine, an added bonus should I need to cannibalise them.

katoola microspikes – first look

I bought these at the beginning of the year but due to a run on stock they arrived too late for me to give them a try. So they’ve languished in the loft - until now.

P1010821 MicroSpikes in place

The snow was long coming to the cosy corner of Surrey/London suburb that I live in but come it did. However the conditions haven’t been the best to give these a try out. At the tail end of last week the skies cleared and the temperature plummeted as the sun went down, turning the consolidated snow to hard icy lumps. Just what I needed to give them a go.

The MicroSpikes are easy to put on. Put the toe of your shoe in the front end and placing this on the ground and then pull the heel end back, and up over the heel. I was able to do this with one or two fingers with a gloved hand.

P1010823 A tasty array of spikes

They’ve got ‘front’ on the toe end which is pretty superfluous as you cant read it but it’s easy to distinguish the front from the heel end. For a start there’s a spacer wire bar at the toe end which holds the chains and spikes apart at the that end. The heel end is wider with only two holes. Incidentally, I used the toe bar as a way of hanging them off my rucksack with a mini crab when not in use. (And off the back of the living room door to dry when I got home).

They can be popped off just as easily, just run the finger under from round the outside edge.

In use they gave a reassuring crunch and bite as I would’ve expected over frozen turf and snow as well as hard frozen consolidated snow. It was a bit disconcerting walking direct on non covered path as the spikes obviously shifted as I walked whereas crampon points don’t. In fact I started to notice different levels of ‘travel’ depending on the type of surface I walked over. Unfortunately the icy conditions didn’t last and by Saturday morning the thaw had put paid to any further testing.