Wednesday, 4 April 2012

New gear in Mid-Wales

The recent trip to Mid Wales gave me the opportunity to try out some new gear including my Mountain Equipment Xero 750 down sleeping bag. To catch up with my  Pipedream Saga (see here and here )

The Xero 750 is part of the Helium range of sleeping bags, which are designed to be a light as possible. The bags outer cover is constructed from Helium lightweight fabric (unique to ME) which is very pleasant to the touch, the lining is also made from Helium fabric, and is elasticated so that it hugs the body to eliminate cold spots.

There are good zip and shoulder baffles, and an excellent hood, whilst the foot of the bag is specially shaped to fit around your feet, and has five baffles to maximise down loft. The two- way zip is three quarter length, which makes for easy access and ventilation.

I was very pleased with the Xero 750. Obviously it held no surprises for me, as it’s essentially the same as my Xero 550, which I’ve been using for over 4 years.  But the extra down does make the 750 feel much more luxurious, and it’s also significantly warmer than the 550. My first impressions are it’s a great bag, and although I’ve only used it for one night, I’m confident that the 750 will make camping on those colder nights much more enjoyable.

The soft peaty ground by Llyn Arenig Fawr also provided me with the ideal conditions to try out the Alpkit titanium Vee pegs I bought a while ago.

I normally use a combination of 4 Terra Nova titanium pegs (6g) and 8 Terra Nova aluminium pegs (13g) with my Laser Comp ( see here ), but for this trip I’m took 2 x 6g titanium pegs, 6 x 13g aluminium pegs and 4 of the new Alpkit titanium Vee pegs 11g.

The Alpkit Vee pegs are 16 cm long by 1.4 cm wide, they're priced at £11 for a pack of 6 and only available from Alpkit direct.

I'm sad to say that I was a bit disappointed overall with the performance of the Alpkit Vee pegs, whilst they held very well in the soft soil, there were a couple of niggles. The guy notch is rather shallow and didn’t seem very secure, and I found the top of the pegs quite sharp, even in soft soil it was very painful to push them in by hand.
So overall, not a brilliant buy, but I’ll continue to carry 3 or 4 Alpkit pegs for those wet peaty pitches until something better turns up.

I was very pleased with the Roberts R986 radio (see here) the reception on FM channels was excellent, AM was not very good, but when I returned to the road, AM reception on the car radio was no better. The controls were a bit fiddly, but that’s not surprising on a radio that is so small. Overall I was very happy with this first field test of the R986, which will now be a permanent fixture in my wild camping gear.

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