Wild Walking UK

LEJOG 2 weeks in: gear review and habits

I’m now two weeks in to my LEJOG challenge. I am trying to walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats, wild camping every night. In this post, I will review how I’m getting on with the gear I finally chose to bring along. You can read my full gear list here and final decisions on what to take here. I’ll also share the habits I am trying to get into to make this wild camping life a little easier! You can read my posts about the journey so far here and here.

Sleeping Mats

The bed roll combination is working well. Obviously it would be more comfortable sleeping on a full size mat, but putting my rucksack or clothes bag under my feet and other bags at my head to raise my pillow height leaves enough of the Neo Air small mat for my body to be comfortable. Having the EXPED closed cell foam mat under the tent as a ground sheet does take the stress out of finding a suitable pitch in the dark. It means I don’t have to worry so much about thorns and sharp stones that may puncture my inflatable mat.

Boots 

My Inov8 Roclite 345 GTX boots are still very comfortable and I have no signs at all of blisters or sore patches. I am very impressed with them. I have written a review of my first impressions of these boots here.

The 345s feel wider than the Inov8 325s I have in the same size. The 345s also feel like they have a firmer sole, which is better for walking. How true this is I don’t know as I’ve no technical way of checking, but they are perfect for this walk in colder weather.

In warmer weather or summer I would choose a non-lined boot as they breathe better.

Down Jacket and Sleeping Bag 

Bringing this combination of sleeping bag and down jacket is working well, as a more insulated bag would have been too warm on some nights. Layering my clothes to adjust for colder nights is proving successful too. I am a cold sleeper and like to be warm to sleep well, but easily overheat and sweat which is bad news long-term in a down sleeping bag. 

Sleeping Bag Cover

The water-resistant PHD sleeping bag cover doesn’t work inside a tent. It traps moisture inside it from my body, which causes condensation on the bag inside the cover. I have found it best to leave the cover off and let the sleeping bag breathe. Perhaps the bag cover would work better with more air flow over it, for example under a tarp or even on dry nights as a bivvy bag. I will be posting it home the first chance I get to save the weight.

Teko Socks

The Teko socks are very good. I am wearing them without liner socks and they are comfortable. They are keeping my feet relatively sweat free, which is allowing for the Goretex boots not breathing terribly well (like all waterproof boots). The Teko socks are fine with liner socks, it’s just too warm at present for both pairs.

Nordisk Telemark 1 ULW Carbon

This tent was definitely the right choice. With the darker, longer nights and the condensation issues, it’s nice to have the space to stay away from the sides and keep my stuff that bit drier. It’s also good to be able to lay things out, and sit up comfortably to sort my gear or get dressed.

The main advantage is how easy this tent is to put up. It has only 4 pegs and the outer and inner go up as one. Quick and easy – just what you need when you’re pitching every night.

The tent feels very sturdy when it’s pitched correctly, and it doesn’t flap in the wind too often.

However, I personally don’t think that this ULW carbon version is worth the extra money. It is only a minute weight saving over the standard version of the same tent, and I only bought it as it was so discounted at the time. The carbon pole is a bit of a pain – the end keeps coming out unless I’m extremely careful when pulling the pole out of the ends of the fly sheet. The alloy poles are indented to stop this happening, but it’s not possible with carbon.

All in all this is a great tent for this trip, or for bad weather. It’s sturdy, well made and I feel very safe in it overnight.

Meths Stove

This is light-weight and simple, and just for that I’m glad I brought it!

However, it is slow and often difficult to light when it’s not inside the tent porch out of the wind. When the stove is cold I have to warm the stove and the meths before trying to light it.

My 64g mug is a bit of a luxury as I can drink out of the pan. I only use the pan for heating water anyway. But it is nice to be sitting drinking a coffee while I’m heating more water for a meal.

Important habits I’m trying to get into:

  1. Always checking I haven’t left anything behind every time I stop, especially if I’ve taken my pack off. I always check twice as everything I’m carrying is essential. I can’t afford to lose anything!
  2. Keep everything in its place (or bag) and always put an item back in its correct bag, however much hassle it is. It’s then easy to see if anything is missing, so I can find it before moving on. This is especially true of my tent pegs and electrical leads when I’ve been charging something.

Being organised makes it so much easier to set up camp or just find things. I’m enjoying the routine of everything having its place.

Stage 3 of my journey to John O’Groats is coming soon – I just need to get my notes to my wife back at Expedition HQ.

2 thoughts on “LEJOG 2 weeks in: gear review and habits

  1. Hi Mark, I’ve been following your blog for the last few weeks. I did LEJOG in 2017 and it was a life changing experience. As you get closer to Northumberland I’d love to meet up and possibly walk with you for a couple of days. You seem to be a pretty experienced walker and wild camper, so I’m sure you’ll have no trouble completing this adventure. I look forward to your next blog entry and best wishes on the next few months, hope weather is good to you.

    James Jones

    1. Hello James – this is Emma, Mark’s wife. Thanks so much for your comment, and for following the blog! Mark would love to meet up with you, I’m sure – a fellow LEJOGger! He’s following the west coast though, so will be a fair distance from you. The weather is certainly not being kind to him at the minute – he’s buried in mud in darkest Wales! Best wishes, Emma

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