I guess the bits of kit which deserved the real plaudits are those which I didn’t really notice, because they simply did their job. For me this list included the P20 Suncream, the Exped Dry Bag (used for my spare clothes), the Rab Hispar Gaiters, all my socks, the Berghuas Ortler Trousers, the Platypus Water Pouch, the Compeed Plasters, the Paramo Shorts, the EDZ T-Shirt and finally the Heavy Duty Poly Bags (search ebay for:  “12x Heavy Duty Resealable Poly Bags Grip Seal”) which perfectly protected my wash kit, guidebook, smartphone and other electronics.

I suspect one of my earlier posts was slightly unfair on the Sprayway Rain Pants. With hindsight I believe that these only ‘leaked’ in the rather extreme circumstances of me sliding on my backside in wet grass; on all other wet days (and especially after re-proofing) they performed well.

A late change I made was to replace the Berghaus long-sleeved base layer with a Rab Meco (merino wool and coconut fibre) equivalent – yet another purchase influenced by a winning review in TGO. I have to say I was delighted with the Rab product, especially the lack of whiffs, which I know would have plagued me with the original item.

Some items which didn’t fare too well include the Lifesystems First Aid Pack – its sealed zip gives you the impression the case is waterproof – it isn’t – I should have used another of those poly bags.  And I still have mixed feelings about the Paramo coat. Clearly I made a mistake in not re-proofing this before I went – but I’d only worn it about 5 times, and only about 3 of those in the wet, so I hadn’t expected it to need it. It was only when I passed another bloke wearing the identical coat that I realised how obviously mine was wetting out. The more worrying aspect was that, after reproofing it in Grasmere, it was wetting out again (especially in localised spots like around the pockets) only a few days later. I’m not therefore yet fully convinced this is the ideal coat for longer multi-day trips.

I found the Sealskinz All Season gloves to be neither very warm nor waterproof, and in the end I mostly resorted to just pulling my hands up into my sleeves.

I also ought to comment on my decision to use only my smartphone as my main navigation device – using its GPS, a downloaded CtoC route, and pre-loaded 1: 25K OS maps. (I did also have the Jesty guidebook, and indeed enjoyed using that alone on some of the ‘easier’ days – it’s no coincidence that these were also the days when I had most of my detours). In the main, the phone performed excellently; it makes it so easy to stay on the correct path when you can almost instantly spot deviations. Indeed at times I found it quicker to simply guess which path to take rather than stop and check the map first – the ‘moving map’ can then tell you within the first few seconds whether you’ve gone wrong. The one day I had some slight trouble, and this is where you can all shout ‘I told you so’, was in the heavy rain crossing Greenup Edge. I made three mistakes: a) I didn’t get the phone into its poly bag (see above) quickly enough to avoid some condensation also getting in there (which then made the screen harder to see), b) I compounded this by inadvertently selecting a power saver mode, which reduced screen brightness, and c) although the touch-screen functionality worked well through the poly bag in the dry, this was more of a lottery when it became a rain-lashed poly bag. In the end I resorted to retrieving a towel from my rucksack to dry things off, and then being a bit more careful about sheltering the phone when in use. With those lessons learned, I had no problems on later rainy days, and it still felt like an overall good solution for this particular walk. I did become quite conscious though that my eggs were all in one relatively fragile basket (which is why I didn’t use the phone to take any photos when there was any rain about!), and so if in future I go to more remote / less familiar locations (unlikely to be honest – but we’ll cover that in my next post!), I’d not hesitate to also take paper maps.

Finally, let’s cover the boots: Hi-Tec Sierra Lite Ion-Mask – bought at the end of January for just under £100, and still on Amazon at more than that. Here’s the Hi-Tec blurb: “ …this stylish looking boot is made from waterproof leathers that are coated in the revolutionary ion mask water management technology. Nano coating technology protects the boots right down to the fibres. So whether your [sic] wading through wet grass, mud or even standing in a stream, this boot simply shrugs off water to keep your boot dry and light”.

Sure enough the boots worked well during my break-in training walks, where I probably put 50 to 60 miles on them. However I first wrote about wet feet on Day 3 of the CtoC – i.e. with only about 25 additional miles put on them. I initially put this down to the over-waterlogged conditions, but by the start of Day 6 (so now at just over 110 miles total use) I’d noticed that some of their sewn seams were failing. Fortunately, they didn’t actually deteriorate much further from there onwards, and in any case the latter half of the walk was pretty dry. The photo below show the boots after just one was washed at the end of the trip.


The further pictures show where a pencil comfortably slides into the failed seams.

Left Boot:


Right Boot:

Subsequent kitchen-sink tests, where I’ve put the boots into still-water no deeper than the first (bottom) eyelet, have confirmed that both boots now leak profusely. This same leaking is still also happening after an interim wash and dry (Hi-Tec do stress the need to keep your boots clean). I’m not sure how fair it actually is to expect boots to last over 100 miles, but my instinct is that boots costing that much should, so I’ll have a go at contacting Hi-Tec. For the record, the boots have only ever been washed under clean running water, and either air-dried or left on the dedicated boot racks in Hostel drying rooms.

UPDATE:  I sent the boots back to Hi-Tec, who were “extremely sorry that you found cause to be dissatisfied … we shall be sending you a pair of Sierra Lite I WP boots as replacement”.  Fair play to them for this prompt no-quibble response.

This entry was posted on Friday, May 3rd, 2013 at 16:57 and is filed under Afterthoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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