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.