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It isn't a massive expedition by Everest standards but in the tradition of Chris Bonnington et al and also for those with an interest in gear and gizmo's here is
The Gear Page - what we are taking with us
Not for the first time we will be setting off on a trip looking like twins kitted out in almost identical gear, even down to the toenails! Lizzie’s are painted red, mine more subtle - stained red due to the over enthusiastic use of Potassium Permanganate salts a few weeks ago. I remember that when I was much younger my father soaked his feet in the purple liquid after playing cricket and in an attempt to harden our feet thought it would be a good idea to do the same and experimented, from memory without instruction, unfortunately I over-estimated the amount of salts needed, no wonder it only comes in small bottles, a little goes a very long way!
BOOTS. Kayland Contact 1000
Looking for a relatively lightweight but sturdy boot to use in the summer the man in the shop suggested we try these. They certainly give plenty of ankle support and with their EVENT lining appear to be a bit cooler than our existing goretex lined boots. Initially they were very comfortable, coping easily with a long 20 mile walk over a variety of terrain. Unfortunately a few weeks before setting off on the Coast to Coast we overdid the mileage and ran into some problems caused by over tightening the laces in a couple of places which put some pressure on parts of the foot and led to a bit of bruising. Hopefully they will be ok.
Taking our long gaiters just in case. They not only keep out the water and mud but can also be useful walking through long grasses/nettles.
Lizzie has some very nice eye catching Mountain Hardwear Altitude Ventigator , blue, waterproof and breathable with a unique side zip to increase ventilation. Mine are just standard Outdoor Design, bought before we noticed the Ventigator and to be honest I am a little jealous!
We have found that getting the right socks to wear is one of the most important factors in making a day out on the hills comfortable, it is surprising how different the same boots feel when wearing other types of socks.
For comfort we usually use Falke TK1 socks with ‘Coolmax’ and the slightly thicker TK2.
With the advantage of having our luggage carried we can afford the luxury of taking as many pairs as we want :)
Berghaus Paclite Trousers. Nice to wear, very light but we are both on our third pairs, the others having to be replaced by Berghaus after wearing badly at the seams. So not so good, luckily these spend ost of the time at the bottom of our packs and we are not too dependent upon them but once they wear away too badly they will have to be replaced. My eyes are on a pair of Mountain Hardwear that cost a fortune or a pair of RAB Event over trousers .
Lizzie uses and loves her Berghaus Paclite Jacket, no problems with this, it is light and keeps out the worst of the weather.
I carry a Berghaus Barrington Gore Tex Jacket, just in case. Had very little opportunity to test it out as I prefer not to walk in the rain and tend to use a thicker softshell during winter which keeps out all but the most severe downpour, then a lighter softshell for spring but both are too hot for summer use.
Even though we will be doing the Coast to Coast at the end of June it is impossible to guarantee warm weather, so to save all of the worry about whether to wear long trousers if it is chilly or shorts we both now use zip off expedition trousers on all our walks. At this time of year it is more convenient to use shorts, they also stop you from getting hot if it rains and you need to use over-trousers.
I have a few pairs of North Face Paramount trousers, but later discovered the Mountain Hardwear Convertible Pack Pant .The Mountain Hardwear coming out on top for both comfort and ease of use, they have long ankle zips making it easier to take the legs off without having to remove boots and The North Face tend to dig in a little at the hip while wearing a pack.
Lizzie will be using the North Face Paramount convertibles.
All of these trousers come in a variety of leg lengths, you would expect therefore that it would be possible to get the correct length for Lizzie, but not so. It appears that most of the major stores only stock one leg length, if you want the short version it has to be ordered, paid for in advance, with no guarantee they will fit.
It is surprising how warm you can get out walking provided there isn't a wind blowing. Cotton T-Shirts soon get damp from sweat. I have found the best things to wear are running shirts and T-Shirts made with wicking material and I managed to find a couple of nice T Shirts made by North Cape. If it gets a bit chilly I carry a spare long sleeve North Face Top and a Mountain Hardwear Transition Shirt if I need to keep the wind off
Lizzie has just found some Mountain Hardwear Arete Tops which unfortunately only come in two colours, they fit well and have no uncomfortable straps that would rub while carrying a day sack.
Leki Ultra Light Air Ergo for Liz, recently bought to replace the standard Leki Makula poles which I will now use when the going gets a bit rough. The Ultra Lights are ideal for Liz who uses them most of the time they have a slightly anatomical shaped handle and shock absorber.
Unfortunately neither of our summer rucksacks have any pole straps so great care has to be taken when attaching them, especially making sure that they are not sticking up too high and liable to get caught up in overgrowth, having already pierced myself with the pointy end without thinking as I passed under some low branches, I can vouch for the pain!
As we have the luxury of not having to carry all of our gear each day we can both use our normal summer day packs. Both have hydration systems which is something we have come to rely on more and more, the ability to drink water on the go just when you need it is a real bonus.
Liz uses a small North Face Mako 20 litres and just about enough space to cope with her waterproofs, spare socks and a long sleeved top.
During summer Kevan uses a Camelbak Alpine Trans Alp, which has 30 litre capacity and just about enough room for waterproofs, spare socks, long sleeved jumper, windproof top, first aid kit, sit mats, food container and two side mesh pockets for a water bottle but doesn't have anywhere to strap trekking poles to it safely and following the recent trekking pole stabbing incident we are still a little uncertain about this option and he may revert to his winter sack - Deuter Futura 32.
FOOD AND DRINK
We rarely eat a meal or sandwich during our walks, preferring to stop now and again and have a SIS Energy Bar or Chocolate, as the weather is getting too warm the chocolate bars are starting to melt so we this trip we will mainly be eating Energy Bars. The guy at Slush and Muck looked a little puzzled when we went in to buy 30 of them and enough powder to make 40 litres of drink!
This together with a few litres of SIS PSP 22 Energy drink keeps us going through the day. The Energy drink also contains salts and minerals to replace those lost through exercise. Kevan used the drink when he was cycling many years ago, later encouraging the youngsters that he was coaching for a while to also use some form of energy/isotonic drink and we both find it invaluable.
We will be taking a Garmin Venture GPS pre loaded with routes plotted from Memory Map software, together with A5 size sections of Ordnance Survey maps - printed from the Memory Map software - which have been laminated to make them waterproof.
For nostalgia we will be taking the old copy of the Wainwright book, originally bought for the trip 25 years ago hoping that this too will finally complete the journey and a copy of the Stedman and Terry Marsh guide books to use mainly as reference rather than to be followed religiously.
The Minolta Dimage A1 didn't make it back from the camera hospital, so we have a replacement - a Minolta Dimage A200 and Sony Cybershot DSC - P7. Having a two camera operation however means that there are more photographs of Kevan than we would normally expect although as Lizzie cannot understand how I manage to stand up on my skinny legs she has a tendency to leave them out and cut me off at the knee.
Bits and Bobs
Arm Warmers, another blast from my cycling past, very useful if you are in a T Shirt and it gets a bit nippy you just slip on the lycra sleeves.
Sunglasses, Bolle Orvet and North Face Himalayan. Hats, compass, whistle, sit mats, first aid kit containing 'CLICK' bite relief which is a plastic tube that emits an electric charge through the sting, not sure how but it actually works, wipes, assorted plasters, bandages, a spray containing surgical spirit to keep feet dry and enough pain killers to help us float the 190 miles make up the rest of the gear.
Oh and there may just be an odd bar of chocolate hidden away in one of the rucksack pockets, not much fun if it melts :)