Summer Kit Test 2020 & Other Stuff
In this post we're going to preview the upcoming Summer Kit Test and provide some product, site and store updates.
- Preview: Summer Kit Test 2020
- Product News: Machine Belt Bag (500D, New Colour)
- Store News (Caps, Belts & Bargain Buckets)
- Theory Section of "Notes On Rations, Supplements & Energy Metabolism"
- Live Reviews of Discontinued Products
- A Quick Thank You
Summer Kit Test 2020
If the government lockdown fetishists can control their draconian instincts for long enough, we should be able to squeeze in a kit test this summer. There's a number of new items we're looking forward to giving a run out. The main ones are:
- [ Backpack ] Crux AX50
At some point, assuming Blue Ice don't get their act together and remake their excellent pre-2019 Warthog 40, we'll be in need of a replacement recommendation. The AX50 looks the most likely candidate. It uses a lighter-weight fabric than the Warthog 40, but it's an interesting blend of Cordura and Dyneema and we're interested in testing its durability. It has a slightly larger native capacity due in part to its floating lid and can be stripped down to a very minimal pack for shorter duration treks. We'll see how it does (we'll likely be testing it for a while).
- [ Lightweight (Under 300g) Softshell Trousers ] Mountain Equipment Comici Pants
We've got a pair of the latest incarnation of Mountain Equipment's Comici Pants and it would appear M.E. have managed to "fix" what wasn't broke. We've surgically repaired their "fix" without much trouble. We're very familiar with the softshell fabric and the trousers, aside from the weird new "non-removeable belt setup" look like a real candidate to replace the near perfect (discontinued) Rab Vertex. We'll see how they get on. If they pass and we review them - it'll be an interesting review (and in part a testament to the lack of good lightweight, stretch, softshell trousers around at the moment).
- [ Lightweight (Under 300g) Softshell Non-Hooded Pull-on ] Rab Momentum Softshell Pull-On
The Rab Momentum is basically a Rab Borealis without the hood, but with thumbloops and with venting across the back and under the arms.
Product News: Machine Belt Bag (500D, New Colour)
The new "Midnight Blue" Machine Belt Bag is now available in our store on SYSTEM. Here it is looking a little smug on the completion of the 2020 Winter Kit Test.
The new 500D Cordura Machine Belt Bag in Midnight Blue.
Also, we added a note on the product page about our pull-tab colour-coding and the diminishing returns of incremental durability when you get above a certain fabric weight:
The Machine Belt Bag is made from rot-proof nylon Cordura. The yellow pull tab versions (currently both Blue) are 500D and weigh (185g) and have a lighter PU inner coating. The red pull tab (currently Grey) version is 1000D and has a slightly heavier PU inner coating and weighs (220g). In terms of overall strength, once you get into the 400D+ fabric weight there's very little incremental load-strength benefit (500D is more than capable of carrying well over 10kg loads, far more than you could stuff into a Machine Belt Bag).
Store News (Caps, Belts and Bargain Buckets)
The Edelrid Turley Belt
We now have an account with Edelrid so we can stock our favourite belt, the Edelrid Turley. There are a number of other products we're looking at stocking (including their excellent Crampon Bag Lite - another tough yet freakishly light product from Edelrid).
We now stock three caps, all of which we rate highly (two of which are "official" recommendations).
Here's the state of caps as we see it:
- If you can have three: Ronhill Split for hot summer conditions, Squall for (UK) spring / autumn conditions, Tuolumne for winter.
- If you want just two (our recommendation): Ronhill for hot summer conditions, Tuolumne for the rest.
- If you're forced to have just one: The Tuolumne
The Scramble Kit Test Bargain Bucket
We asked SYSTEM to make us a single product page where we can make available ex-kit test items that are in excellent (graded) condition.
The Scramble Kit Test Bargain Bucket is a one-stop mini outlet for Scramble's space-saver kit test bargains. Many of the items were "best-in-class" candidates and so you're unlikely to find any duds here.
Worth keeping an eye on as there will likely be some nice bargains appearing from time to time. We're backing all the items featured with a one year warranty.
The Theory Behind "Notes On Rations, Supplements & Energy Metabolism"
The plan is to get on and complete the theory section :
- Fuel Tanks: Adipose Tissue (Fat Cells) and Glucose Stores (Glycogen)
- Fuel Access & Usage: Insulin, Glucogon and Energy Metabolism in Muscle
- Fuel for Heat: Mitochondrial De-Coupling, White Fat, Brown Fat and Beigeing
- Summary: How We Survived 1000s of Years of Insult, Injury and Ice Ages
The difficulty is finding the time. I'll do my best, because if done well it could be quite useful.
Live Reviews of Discontinued Products
We should probably state this somewhere on the site, but we haven't decided where yet, so let's just say it here.
If you see an old product that is no longer available, yet it remains our current recommendation (i.e. it hasn't been archived), that doesn't mean we're lazy and can't be bothered to find its replacement.
What it does mean however, is that we've not been able to find anything that we can, in good faith, recommend in its place. One such example, is in the "Best Lightweight (Under 150g) Trekking T-Shirt" category. For some reason, the outdoor industry seems to have forgotten how to make a decent half-zip short-sleeve t-shirt. Montane, Rab and OMM all have offerings, none of them impress us (either too flimsy for hauling backpacks or weirdly cut for wiry ultra-marathon runners). So we're still on the look out. Ronhill have told us they may have something in 2021. If you think we're missing something glaringly obvious along these lines, feel free to get in touch.
A Quick Thank You
We'd like to say a quick thanks to our friends at HP (our manufacturing partners in the West Highlands) who have decided to call it a day. It was a joy working with you and we wish you all the best in (premature) retirement.
A Welsh Goodbye. A beautiful sunset in North Wales on the last day of the 2020 Winter Kit Test.