When it comes to gear sometimes you have to try a few different options before you settle on something that suits your needs and that can result in too much kit laying about. I'd reached that point some time ago but now I'm pretty happy with what I'm currently using and there were only a few items that I wanted to get.
I've been very pleased with my Montane Flux but it's become a victim of it's own success as it's worn constantly and is definitely past it's best. I wanted to replace it but as it's a bit heavy compared to my down jackets and is still functional I decided that rather than buy a new one I'd go for the lighter Montane Prism 2.0. Maz had good things to say about it and as it's less insulated than the Flux I figured it might make a nice extra layer if I wasn't carrying a fleece and wouldn't be too warm to wear on the move. I've ordered one and hopefully I'll get it next week sometime.
The 2nd thing I wanted to get was an MSR Reactor, it's heavier than I'd ideally like but to be honest I've tried a variety of gas stoves and bought too many pots looking for the ideal set-up and the Reactor does seem the best option for me if I'm not using meths. I had a look on ebay and watched a few used ones but they seem to sell for between £60 and £70 plus postage. I happened to see that Field & Trek were selling the Reactor for £100, reduced from £139.99 including postage and when they were offering a further 10% discount over the Bank Holiday weekend I decided to buy one. It arrived a few days ago and although I haven't used it yet it weighs the same (within a few grams) of the one I tested. I still want to keep some of my smaller titanium pots/mugs as I can use them with my meths set-up but I may as well sell off the rest so there's some sorting out to do.
Another item that was on the shopping list was a Polar Buff, I always carry a standard Buff and sometimes use a peaked Buff but wanted a Polar Buff for colder weather. I think they're a bit overpriced at over £20 and as a result hadn't got around to buying one but while on the Field & Trek website I notice that they had them reduced from £22.99 to £12.00 so I added one to the order for the MSR. There isn't much to say about the Polar Buff, it's does everything a basic Buff does with the added benefit of having the Polarfleece added.
As far as rucksacks are concerned I didn't do too badly with them, the 1st was a Gregory Z55, 1.4kg approx, then a Haglofs LIM 45 and finally a ULA Conduit (now known as the CDT)
The Gregory is spacious and carries up to about 14kg very well. I like the back system as it provides plenty of airflow around my back but the same back system means the main body of the pack is fairly curved and packing long straight items can be difficult, don't even think about trying to carry a CCF mat inside. The up-side is that it would make a good winter pack thanks to the volume, the back airflow and the ability to carry heavier loads.
Haglofs LIM 45
The other rucksack I bought and which I really like is the Haglofs LIM 45. At 1.1kg it's lighter tha the Gregory, it's very roomy for a 45l pack and there are lots of featurs I like such as the frame and roll-top. The only downside is that the hipbelt is a bit too soft to allow me to carry much over 10kg so it can't really do much more than my ULA Conduit. I need to sell one of them but as yet I haven't decided, from a performance point of view the Gregory wins but it's a fussy design and I'm not keen on some of the features, the Haglofs I like from a design point of view but it just doesn't have the performance of the Gregory with heavier loads. I'll need to have a play around with winter loads and see which one I decide to sell.
Finally I still want a lighter tent, don't get me wrong I love the Phreeranger but I can't get away from the fact that with the inner tent and the footprint (needed as the groundsheet isn't waterproof anymore) it's around 1750g. I 've tried a few different tents but couldn't find one that I was happy with. I'd already tried a TN Voyager (returned) a TN Laser (Sold) and a few others that I still had so I decided to sell them off to clear a bit of garage space and gather the funds for another shot at finding a suitable tent.
There's nothing currently available that I particularily like, I suppose the closest would be the MSR Hubba HP but I'd only be saving about 400g and the Hubba HP pitches inner 1st. I don't consider inner 1st to be a deal breaker but combined with the weight it put me off.
In the end I decided on something that might prove to be a suitable replacement, significantly lighter than the Phreeranger although it isn't a style that I'm particularily keen on. I should get it next week but will it be a keeper or yet another return?