Thursday, 6 November 2014

kabuto gluten free rice noodles

There it was - gone!
I have fondness for oriental food so was happy to find these in my local Sainsbury’s. And sell for £2.00 per pot. There’s a small range of these (some with gluten in them) and the gluten free ones come in two flavours – chicken and miso. The chicken one is light and tasty with a bit of a chilli kick to it and the miso one is, well, savoury and salty as you would expect.

These make an ideal lunch or supper meal on the trail; one pot for lunch and I’d double up for supper. The miso one has 54.7g CHO and 261 calories. And there’s nothing to state that you can’t pimp the noodles with additional ingredients if you have them to hand, adding torn young nettle or dock leaves for example. On day hikes I wouldn’t bother to repackage but on longer trips I’d lose the cup and place the ingredients in a poly bag but remember make a note of how much water you need! With all these types of ‘instant’ noodles it’s just a matter of added the required amount of boiling water, stirring and leaving to stand for three minutes or so. I’d recommend giving them a stir a couple of times during that period because the first time I tried them some of the noodles were a bit chewy.

Monday, 27 October 2014

msr folding spoon

I think it’s a safe bet to make that cutlery items will be the most numerous in any backpackers gear box. I’ve long handled aircraft grade aluminium spoons, LMF sporks, folding titanium foons, sliding sporks, NT wooden spoons, a selection of use once cutlery collected from various salad meals, and GSI lexan bits and bobs. I even picked up a plastic spoon from Kenwood House recently – like I really needed to add to my collection! It’s the spoon from the GSI set that’s been my go-to item, it weighs 12g and is of a decent size for eating with. The only issue I have is that its handle is too long to fit in my canteen so has to be carried in my ditty bag. And even then is not a good fit (I use a 1l dry bag for all those odds and ends).

I came across the MSR folding cutlery set whist searching for something else and decide to purchase a spoon and give it a try. The set also has a spork and fork, and are colour co-ordinated with other MSR cookware. Their folded length is 12cm and they weigh 10g.

The spoon is currently nesting happily in my AGG Three Cup Pan, along with an AGG Pepsi can stove, pot lifter, lighter and GSI Cascadian Cup making a complete canteen set up. I’ve yet to try to see whether it will integrate with some of my other set ups. But looking at my smallest capacity system, a set up based around my Snow Peak 600 mug, it fits in the mug with my Coleman F1 stove but a small (200g) gas cartridge no longer fits snugly in as it did without the spoon. I rarely use that as a cooking pot preferring systems based on the larger Snow Peak 900 these days. It’s a long handled spoon, being twice its folded length, which is handy if you use a freezer bag cooking method or eat retort meals. The only downside I can see at the moment is that the bowl of the spoon is smaller than the one I’m used to.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

food find – nairn’s gluten free biscuit breaks

 Like the 9Bars that I blogged about here, these have become a lunchtime stable and have found their way into my rucksack.

There are three varieties but the two that I favour are the oat & syrup and chocolate chip. The four biscuit pouch has 188 calories and circa 24g of carbohydrate, the slight variation is because the choc chip ones have a little more CHO. And, of course, they are gluten free. The biscuits have a great crunch and texture with the oat & syrup winning on the latter. Although I’ve not tried it yet the oat & syrup ones would make a great crumble topping on some stewed apple, with some Bird’s Instant Custard on the side - yum!

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.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

rab ps hoodie – first look

I’ve been a fan of Rab clothing for some time. The Rab Vapour Rise Smock is my go to mid-layer garment for the cooler months, and the Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket for wearing around camp in the winter is never off my kit list.

The PS stands for Power Stretch which is a material from Polartec. The fabric is brushed on the inside with a smooth outer surface and it stretches (obviously.) The medium is a close fit on me and tips the scales at 397g. The fleece features longer arms with thumb loops, flat lock seams, a drop-tail, Lycra bound hems, and a hood (another obvious.) The pockets are placed high but not high enough for the bottom of the pockets to be cut off by a rucksack hip belt or climbing harness. All the hems are a good fit for me, including the hood which moves with my head when in use. The fabric also has a smidgen of wind resistance, better than some materials, but not much it has to be said.

I’ve been wearing as street wear since purchased and if I’m honest with myself I’m not 100% sure where it will fit in my kit selections. Whether or not it gets used on a trip remains to be see but at least with this on around town I stand apart from the SuperDry JPN crowd, which is priceless.

Likes: fit, feel of fabric, hood.

Dislikes: weight, pocket clearance.

Stock photo supplied by Rab.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

food find - 9bar

I’ve been packing these on day walks and trips since Autumn last year, and been using them as a lunchtime snack even when I’m not out and about.

The bars come in boxes of four, each bar weighs 40g and for that you get approx. 11g of carbohydrate, 7g of protein, and 924KJ of energy per bar. The bars are made from a seed mix with a carob topping. Currently on offer in Sainsbury’s at £3.00 for two boxes (usual price £1.89).

That’s the facts bit out of the way but you will already have noticed from my first paragraph that they’ve become a staple in my diet. There are several reasons for this; I like the taste and texture, the carbohydrate load is about right for me as a mid-morning blood sugar lifter, and the bars don’t contain oats. This later point is important. I’m allowed to eat oats but have to keep an eye on the amount I eat on a daily basis, so I can happily eat a couple of these a day without worry.

The only downside I can see is the stability of the carob topping in warmer weather, even at this time of year the topping has stuck to the wrapper a couple of times.