A wet & windy night on Dartmoor
With new staff across all Taunton Leisure stores, all with varying experience in the great outdoors the Taunton Leisure head shed decided that sending us all out on Dartmoor with plenty of kit was the best way to get everyone up to scratch on the products we have instore.
Meeting close to Fernworthy Reservoir we divvied up kit. Jackets from Rab, Berghaus and Mountain Equipment to keep us dry & warm, roll mats and sleeping bags from Exped, Thermarest and Vango to keep us off the ground and cosy through the night and stoves from Trangia and Primus kept us fuelled up with hot drinks and food.
The first day of our grand expedition was filled with introductions, kit comparisons and chatting about our shared passion, a love of outdoor experiences. People’s backgrounds were varied from those qualified to lead walks on Dartmoor to others who had never seen it before!
Our walk in was short, only a few kilometres to stretch the legs and let the jackets feel the rain. We quickly arrived at our campsite where we got the Tentipi Safir CP 9 up and groundsheet in, we piled in and set about getting some lunch ready on the stoves.
Stoves used –
|Trangia 25k (with gas burner)||Primus ETA Power Stove Set||Primus Omnifuel Ti|
|5 mins 45 secs||Litre boil time: 3 mins 30 secs||Litre boil time: 4 mins 30 secs|
After lunch we headed out to have a look at the benefits of a GPS unit when out on the hill and the comparison between digital and paper maps. Most of us hadn’t had a chance to get to grips with a GPS unit in the “real world”, plenty of time playing with them in the shop doesn’t quite prepare you for using one with numb hands and horizontal rain!
Dinner consisted of a mix of boil in the bag “wet” meals and some dry, dehydrated meals – both offer different pros and cons. Wet meals, when done right, mean a hotter and quicker meal than dehydrated meals at the expense of weight. Dehydrated meals are a lighter, perhaps more technical option which require boiling water and time to stand while the food rehydrates.
After more time discussing various aspect of the products we sell, from boot brands to Gore-Tex, tents to down jackets – it was quickly time for bed. Down bags rated from 0 to -10 and roll mats with varying depths and construction techniques gave us plenty to think about and more things to discuss over breakfast!
After a somewhat troublesome night’s sleep, heavy rain and big gusts of wind kept waking everyone up, some hot food was definitely welcome, breakfast consisted of Wayfayrer boil in the bag, beans & sausages all round – the perfect start to the day!
The first task for the morning was getting the Safir CP 9 down and packed away, an easy task which consisted of taking out all the pegs and 1 central pole before a quick fold and roll, all in all in must have taken 10 minutes. Pretty impressive for a 9-person tipi!
After a walk back to the cars we decided that it was time to compare kit and get down to the nitty gritty of what we’d learnt over the past 24 hours. Here’s what we came up with…
When it comes to waterproof fabrics and clothing there’s now more choice than ever before with a bigger variety of cuts, styles and manufacturers to choose from. We were all impressed by the jackets we tested with the GoreTex holding up to the near-constant rain best, other fabrics couldn’t quite keep up with the relentless rain but did provide better levels of breathability. Something to bear in mind when choosing your next hard shell.
All the stoves performed well, were easy to use and tough enough to take on a camping trip to Dartmoor. The different styles (from the all in one Trangia to the Omnifuel Ti which needed a seperate pan set) have plenty of pros and cons. Trangia are renowned for near-unbreakable kit, really tough and simple to use which can keep on going for a lifetime but can be considered bulky and heavy for the amount of cooking volume you have compared to a lightweight stove which can run on a variety of fuels with any vessel on top. There’s a huge variety of stoves on the market but I can definitely recommend any one of the 3 we took on our trip depending on personal preference and needs.
Wet meals offer a quick, hot and average taste option for the hungry hiker while more technical dry meals offer “fuel” for those keeping weight to an absolute minimum. As with all things in life I think variety is key and taking a mixture of brands and wet/dry food out on the hill keeps food interesting. It’s incredible how much of a morale booster a tasty dinner at the end of a tough day’s walking can be.
Both Exped and Thermarest offer incredibly comfortable and lightweight options when it comes to roll mats, once again with pros and cons to each. The thermarest was an ever so slightly noisier option with some crinkling from the fabric while the Exped mats had a little bit more weight and comfort. I’d recommend lying on a few types and getting a feel for what’s right for you.
– Paul – Exeter Store Sales Assistant
Photos courtesy of Matt Bowen & Holly (Exeter Store).