I think I've got everything I need at the moment!
So it's sitting here, writing this, that I find myself in an unusual and slightly disconcerting position in that, in terms or walking/mountaineering kit, I have everything that I need - for the time being anyway!
Now it's worth pointing out that recently I have made a fair few purchases and it would probably be a good idea to review/rate these now - especially as I have no upcoming events or expeditions to plan or rave about, so here goes. For each item I've tried to review in a set format;
1 - reason for purchase
2 - initial views
3 - tested?
4 - conclusion
Crux Shox Jacket
Reason for Purchase - after a long weekend hiking in the Lake District and suffering from a leaking and very disappointing experience with my Mountain Hardwear Argon jacket I decided it was time to a) send that jacket back and b) buy something more reliable. So a call (and visit) to Pegglers in Arundel saw me ordering this!
Initial Views - Impressive! This is a jacket that is made for serious mountaineering without compromise and any of the fancy bells and whistles that other manufacturers add to satisfy the mass market.
Tested - Snowdonia, Cadair Idris - 2 day wild camping trip (Cadair Idris blog post)
Conclusion - It's probably a bit too early to give a full conclusion on this jacket but I can't see my ultimate conclusion being anything more than fantastic for this jacket. It really does suit me down to the ground and I'm actually going to enjoy the rain for a change!
Montane Terra Trousers
1 - reason for purchase - quite simply I needed a new pair of trousers that offered me a bit more durability than my trusty Craghopper Zip-off trousers did
2 - initial views - honestly, when I opened the pack and took out the trousers I was slightly taken aback. I was expecting something a bit more "heavy duty" and the Terra trousers a fairly light and almost flimsy to the touch. I was also surprised, by quietly intrigued, to see that the label on the trousers stated they were 3-4 season walking trousers. Time for a good test then!
3 - tested? - numerous walking trips from the Cairngorms and Ben Nevis to Scafell Pike and the Lake District. They've seen rain, sun, wind and frost and have performed excellently every time.
4 - conclusion; these trousers are fantastic. I could stop there but to quantify that a bit for you, they do everything you'll ever need a pair of walking/hiking trousers to do, and they do it very, very well.
Marmot Grid, 2P tent
1 - reason for purchase; my good old Blacks Lupine 3 man tent is great for "base camp" type use but not for Wild Camping and my old VauDe Hogan was just that, old and tired. So it was time for a new one.
2 - initial views - well it looked good in the garden and was easy to put up. OK so it was a sunny day with no wind so actually using it "in the wild" was going to be the real test!
3 - tested? - the Grip 2P got its first use during my 2 day Wild Camping trip to Cadair Idris earlier this month and the Welsh wind and rain put in a good performance and really put the tent through its paces.
4 - conclusion - it stood up well to the wind and rain (as you'd expect) and is everything I thought it would be if I'm honest. Its snug for 2 people with kit and the porch is far from huge but it is lightweight, sturdy and well built. Its ideal for me when wild camping and for Scout Winter Camp where my larger tent just gets that little bit too cold!
Deuter Guide 45+ rucksack
1 - reason for purchase - well it was a bit of an indulgence to be honest (no surprise there then) but the main reason or justification was that I needed something between my North Face 25L and Osprey 70L rucksacks for the winter trip to the Cairngorms.
2 - initial views - well built and I like the "no-fuss" design but the functional aspects such as ice axe loops and side entry pocket for access to the main compartment. Zips are big and burly and look easy to use while wearing gloves.
3 - tested? - numerous, longer, walks in the Lake District and on the South Downs Way. So far it hasn't been tested in the snow (that's coming this Christmas in the Cairngorms) but has withstood rain, wind and sun!
4 - conclusion - ok so its at the higher end of the price range for a rucksack of this size and isn't ideal if you want a bag with lots of pockets and compartments to stow bits and bobs; but then its a specific Alpine rucksack, designed with a purpose in mind and for that purpose it performs amazingly.
I've found it very comfortable, even when fully loaded, and easy to adjust - in my opinion, well worth the money.
Mountain Equipment Xero 250 Down Sleeping Bag
1 - reason for purchase - something lightweight and highly compressible for wild camping but still with enough warmth for Autumn/Spring trips where my Rab 700 isn't needed.
2 - initial views - as with all Rab kit that I own the overall build/construction quality and the stuff sack and larger storage bag supplied are also good quality.
3 - tested? - Wild Camping trip to Cadair Idris at the end of August. Overnight temp was around 8C
4 - conclusion - to start with its is amazingly lightweight - around 600grams - and the stuff sack provided with it is waterproof which is a nice touch when you consider what happens to down bags when they get wet! Its warm enough for me to use Spring, Summer and Autumn (I do tend to stay fairly hot at night!) and provided you have a decent enough mat underneath you is well insulated and comfortable.
I'm about 6ft2" and its snug for me, although I do fit in it fine, and the hood is not as spacious as some of their other bags but then it is supposed to be ultra lightweight so I guess that's one of the things you have to sacrifice slightly.
So there we have it, all up to date with reviews and as we speak I'm out of things I need/want to buy - or more importantly I'm out of money to buy them!