Post trip update: it all just ‘worked’ – no complaints.
Keep it light; keep it faff-free.
We’ve refined our camping kit now. Over recent years on several trips we’ve tried different combinations. There’s been some trial and error and a few inevitable false starts – now it’s all just as we want it. Our aim was to get the lightest kit with the smallest volume we could, but still have kit that is ‘faff-free’ and robust.
Exped Gemini III. We chose this for it’s light weight, small pack volume (especially if you pack the poles separately) and it’s ability to pitch inner only without pegs in hot conditions or on hard surfaces. It’s a superb tent with two porches and plenty of room yet still packs small & weighs in at 2.8 kg. http://www.exped.com/en/product-category/tents/gemini-iii
Pros: Roomy, light, can be pitched inner only, a good porch each side.
Cons: Some damp gets through the base sheet so get a footprint to go under it.
Jenny feels the cold and went for a RAB down bag http://tinyurl.com/qbwpdfg which is good down to -2 deg C comfort.
Pros: Very good quality, warm, packs down small.
Cons: None really
Jim went for a Snugpak Softie synthetic http://tinyurl.com/od2cmv2 which comes in extra long and a nice military olive green colour (old habits die hard).
Pros: Warm, packs down small, reinforced toe box, cheap.
Cons: Zipper awkward to undo from the inside, definite knack to it. At 1500g not as light as Jenny’s RAB bag.
We also carry a silk sleeping bag liner each primarily for use if we get scary bedding in a dodgy hostel; these can also be used to uprate the warmth of the sleeping bags but as they are top opening only we anticipate they’ll be fun to climb in and out of.
Exped kit again. We went for SynMats which pack smaller/lighter than ones with down inside. http://www.exped.com/en/product-category/mats/synmat-7-l
Pros: Pack small (2 of these take up no more room than one of our previous Thermarests), notably thicker than a self-inflating type mat.
Cons: The built in hand pump takes about 1.5 mins to inflate the mat. (update 30/8/14; one of the mats has developed a slow leak which we can’t find to repair. The retailer – www.facewest.com – have been very good and taken it back. They can’t find the leak either so are sending it back to Exped who they tell us will fix it or replace it – not bad as it’s over a year since we purchased it).
Update 12/9/14 – mat returned by www.facewest.com and is all repaired. Excellent service especially as mat was well over a year old, they still repaired it for free.
We’ve found that without some sort of pillow we can’t sleep comfortably. We’ve tried various combinations of rolled up fleeces and other items we already had with us and none worked very well. Eventually we found these Exped air pillows (which pack to nothing – they actually just roll up inside our sleep mats). If we rest them on our folded bike jackets they give us just the right height of pillow. The pillow’s are like air mats, don’t overinflate them, keep them soft. http://www.exped.com/en/air-pillow-l
Pros: A comfy nights sleep, fold to nothing.
Cons: Bit pricey for what they are.
A Primus OmniLite TI. This brilliant stove folds right down and runs on unleaded petrol, gas canisters, white gas, almost anything. It’s noisy though and takes a little practice to get the hang of the unleaded configuration. We run it mainly on unleaded, carrying a 1 litre bottle on a bracket on the back of a pannier. Our thinking was to keep smelly fuel out of our panniers. http://primuscamping.com/products/omni-lite-ti
Pros: Multi fuel makes it very flexible for adventure travel, it’s light, it simmers well (many well known petrol stoves don’t so check carefully if you want a stove that does)
Cons: Pricey. Noisy (if that bothers you).
We won’t be doing anything more than some one pot cooking & hot drinks on the trip so went for a simple solution. The MSR Alpinist 2 System kit gives us all we need and takes up less room than our Trangia set. The bowls work for any food and combined with a Spork each, we’re covered. The cups are insulated and have lids with drink slots so keeping our brews hot for much longer and if you knock them over you can save most of the drink! http://www.cascadedesigns.com/ie/msr/cookware/rapid-cooking/alpinist-2-system/product
Pros: Light, non-stick, great for light weight and limited space.
Cons: The pot is 2 litres volume so if you want to boil just say 1 litre of water it takes longer than a smaller pot would.