My second video of the Trail Designs Ti-Tri Inferno wood burning stove, this time in winter conditions. Temperature outside was -12°C and it was windy, however, I was able to use dry wood from the shed, which made all the difference in comparison to the Bushcooker LT II where I used wood from the forest, which was moist and icy. The dry wood and good kindling made all the difference, and the Inferno once more lived up to its name.
Trail weight of the Inferno is 232 g and that includes the Caldera Cone, Inferno insert, Fireplate, Titanium stakes and the caddy - however, this does depend on which pot you use, and as I have a big pot the weight is a bit heavier than if you have a smaller pot. Its more heavy as the Bushcooker LT II, and also is a lot more hungry, i. e. it needs a lot of wood. However, I reckon that once you have it going the wood can be icy or moist and the Inferno will still work fine, as it has a lot of power. The time of boiling a cup of snow (that's a Tibetan Titanium 1100 pot, in case you're wondering, and weights 141 g including the lid) is really fantastic, as you can hear in the video, I'm rather excited about it! That leaves the BushBuddy Ultra for a winter test, and I guess Sunday or Monday could see it coming =)
If you read the comments on this blog you might know that I spent the the night from Tuesday on Wednesday outside in the Scarp 1 (Mk I). I travelled Tuesday evening to Vaasa, on the west coast of Finland, where I spend the holidays with my girlfriend and her parents. They live a bit outside of the city and own a lot of forest, so I decided to take some backpacking gear with me and test it under safe conditions. Arriving in Vaasa Tuesday night it was snowing quite heavily, and temperatures were at -7°C so I decided it might be a good night to put up the Scarp 1 and see how it fares in the snow. See the short video about my night outside and have a look into and at the Scarp 1:
Meanwhile Baz has received the Scarp 1 Mk II and played around with it, so head over there to have a look at the revisions Henry Shires did. Looks good, and I think I might get the new fly for winter use.
Update 27.12.2009: Last night it snowed, and this morning the Scarp 1 was covered with 9 cm of snow. I thought I share some of the photos I took this morning:
This should show also the last skeptics that the Scarp 1 can handle winter conditions just fine.
Sleeping pads and mattresses seem to be treated a bit like the step children when it comes to the sleep system - much more time and thoughts are spent on the sleeping and bivy bag, but the pad? Well, I had some trouble with a cold back during some trips in the autumn, as my NeoAir just wasn't enough. Also a comment from Martin Rye made me think - do we really need the "comfort" of a NeoAir when there are lighter options available, are we that spoilt?
Well, I like a certain degree of comfort at night, so I am undeniably a bit spoilt. A good night's sleep is important for me, and for that I like to carry slightly more weight with me for what would be possible. What follows is the evolution of my sleeping pads, and my thoughts on them.
Therm-A-Rest ProLite 4
From my traditional approach of backpacking, I still own my TAR ProLite 4, the older version in orange, as you can see. Its a good pad, but heavy for me at 726 g. Packsize is OK, I carried it in my Ohm as a backpad and it was very comfy, though did use quite a bit of space.
Going lightweight meant looking for options to stay comfy but decreasing weight. The TAR NeoAir in S which I bought used from a guy on BPL.com was my next step in the evolution. It is a good pad, yes, I love the packsize and it also works fine as backpad in the Ohm, and 254 g are a splendid weight. However, I get seriously cold when temperatures go under 5°C on it, and I also don't really enjoy the dropping off of the pad of arms and legs, it gives me backaches and that's thus a no-go.
Therm-A-Rest Z Lite
Enter the Therm-A-Rest Z Lite. At 405 g in full length (I didn't yet get around in cutting it into sections) its a bit more heavy than the NeoAir, the packsize is slightly more but boy is it comfortable. It also acts very well as a frame for the Ohm and my coming Laufbursche pack, and most importantly it keeps me nice warm till 0°C. I also like the colour heaps, so a real winner.
Therm-A-Rest Ridge Rest
And then there is autumn and winter (and the latter one holds its grip for a good six months on this country) and temperatures go below 0°C and I am freezing again on my Z Lite, bugger. Well, Therm-A-Rest makes the Ridge Rest and I decided to get one for winter backpacking. My L version weights in at a mighty 498 g before cutting it (I plan to cut it anatomically to shave some grams of it). It's so comfy that I sometimes take a nap on it at home. Packsize is not very nice, however, its huge and must be affixed on the outside of the pack. However, I like that it is wide, and I can comfortably have my arms next to my body without them laying on the ground.
Now I actually could have been happy and stop worrying, if there wouldn't have been the packsize and weight concerns of the Ridge Rest. Carrying a pad on the outside is not very practical, it gets into the trees, collects snow and brings the load distribution a bit out of balance. My search continued, and through Phil Turner I found what I was looking for at Multimat in Wales. The Adventure mat is 136 g, is beautifully small, and can be used as a frame. It has a Tog Rating of 2.3 and is listed as a 3/4 season mat, and will be perfect for the warmer months as a solo mat. Its also very comfortable, even if it has no egg carton holes or ridges. Look for the right spot to put it down and you're in heaven.
Multimat Summit Compact 38
The Adventure mat won't be enough at the moment (-13°C as I am writing this, snowing), so I combine it with a Multimat Summit Compact 38. This is a self inflating mat and I really love it. It packs very small, comes with a fleece lined packsack which can be turned inside out and act as a pillow cover, and also has a repair kit with it - that's something Therm-A-Rest still can learn, as they often make you buy the repair kits separately. Anyhow. The mat has a super impressive Tog Value of 7.8 and together with the Adventure should keep me warm in the extremest of conditions. Its 579 g but packs very small, and also can be used as a frame. All in all I am very impressed and happy with the Multimats, on my last trip those two ensured me a warm back and comfy sleep.
Size comparison of TAR Ridge Rest - TAR Z Lite - Multimat Adventure.
Size comparison of all the mats.
Packsize of all the mats, from left to right: TAR NeoAir, Multimat Summit Compact 38, TAR ProLite 4, Multimat Adventure, TAR Z Lite and TAR Ridge Rest.
Regarding comfyness of the CCF pads, I usually look for a more soft spot. Its also a good option to take some fir (or similar Pinaceae tree) branches (don't cut them from living trees!) if you find some, they are very comfortable and the smell is just splendid! Also moss covered spots are very comfortable places to lay down, its nature's bed.
Well, that's the evolution of my sleeping mats. Now in the winter I will be using the Ridge Rest on warmer days or when sleeping at a lean-to shelter, and the two Multimats when the thermometer would suggest that slightly more sane people would stay at home and not go sleeping on snow. I will give the NeoAir another try in the summer of 2010, and the Multimat Adventure and TAR Z Lite will be there as a back-up; while my girlfriend will be happy about the comfort of the ProLite 4 on the occasional trip she does with me =) And as evolution never stops, I'll come back to this topic in the summer and report on experiences with the mats and how I fared.
Now that you know what I use, I'd like to know which pads you use in which season!