New winter kit - first impressions

Someone (probably famous) once said that "life is 95% anticipation" and for me that has been true of the last month while waiting for my new Yukon down jacket from PHD and, more recently, for my SkyHigh 1000 sleeping bag and Hunka bivy cover from Alpkit.

So after a long weekend, with the Monday and Tuesday off work, and after a few initial issues with Alpkit's online payment service (which was sorted out by Alpkit after a quick phone call - their service and support was impressive and I would recommend them in a flash) I arrived early to the office to find 2 boxes awaiting me......  Excited? Oh yes!

PH Designs - Yukon down jacket
Now PHD (Peter Hutchinson Designs) has a fairly impressive reputation when it comes to serious down clothing and just casting your eye over the front page of the website yields some fairly heavyweight quotes, so I was expecting big things from this jacket.

So, first impressions.  Well to start with the jacket is super light, 450g, and with box-wall construction throughout the overall feel is one of quality - this is a jacket designed by a company that knows what they're doing.
The Yukon may be a fairly lightweight jacket but with 900 fill power it's rated down to -15C so should keep me warm and snug throughout the upcoming Scottish winter and next year's planned Alpine adventures - as well as those cold evenings spent climbing and belaying in the frozen flying boat hanger at Calshot!

Fit (L in this case) is fairly snug and slightly different to the voluminous Rab Neutrio jacket that was my first choice before stumbling across this after spotting a review in Maz's blog and then further research online.
I exchanged a few (very helpful) emails with PHD on the sizing as I was at the upper limit of the L and would have, on paper, got lost in the XL (for reference I'm 6ft2", 42-44" chest, 34" waist) and their advice was that L was the way to go - and thankfully for me, as production time on these jackets is 30 days, they were right!

Alpkit - Sky High 1000 down sleeping bag
I have to be honest this purchase was a bit of an impulse (no surprise there then!) as I'd planned to order 2 Hunka Bivy covers from Alpkit in preparation for the winter mountaineering trip to the Cairngorms in December.  The Rab Atlas Explorer 700 down bag that I currently have should/would probably be "ok" for this trip and for the Scout Winter Camp in December but for some reason I managed to get it in to my head that I "needed" to add this to my winter kit collection!  

Stats on this bag are, for the price, fairly impressive and I'm looking forward to putting this through its paces in December on Scout camp and my next Wild Camping trip; 1000 grams of 650+ goose down (90/10) with a total weight of 1680g and rated down to -15C.
Construction is impressive and, having not used any of Alpkit's products before I was hoping that the reviews I'd read would carry through to this bag - and they have.  The quality of this bag (and the other items bought) coupled with their great customer service will see me using their kit again for sure.

For me this occupies the space above my Rab bag and is suitable for the really cold months in the UK as well as some planned trips next year to the Alps.

Now, aside from giving the bag the once over I haven't had a chance to use this yet and it's first outing is going to be the first weekend in December so my fingers a firmly crossed for some cold weather on Scout Camp - it'll test the bag nicely but also has the advantage of ensuring subduing the Scouts after lights out!

Alpkit - Hunka bivy cover

So this was one purchase that was needed, due to it being on the list of requirements for the mountaineering course after Christmas.  So 2 of them were ordered; the standard Hunka and a Hunka XL (for me and my slightly larger down bag!).

It's difficult to review a product that I have no prior experience of other than to say that they tick all the boxes in terms of a good quality, relatively lightweight, bivy cover and are exactly what's needed for the Cairngorms.

So it's back to planning the next trips and waiting the 3 or 4 weeks until I can give these a proper test and add some more day's to my ML log book.


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