5 May 2011

Kooka Bay Matt Update

I used my Kooka Bay Matt (see earlier post) over Easter W/E tramp.

It worked well. I thought I might get a lot of slippage from the base of my MLD Superlight Biv, but suprisingly little.

This mat is very comfortable, but I struggled with the pillow options - If using gear in stuff sack or bladder wrapped in gear, it is not high enough if used off the end of the matt. If you put it on the matt it shortens the length too much.

I have opted for the Montbell pillow used at the top end of the matt. 

I think the matt could be a little wider as I toss around a lot. Bender does do custom makes for no, or little extra cost. Check his website.  

All in all I am please with the craftsmanship and sleeping comfort.

3 May 2011

Trailstar Tarp

I needed a two person biv for my upcoming 20 day John Muir Trail hike. I opted for the Trailstar. A bit heavier, but a ton of room and 300 grams per person is acceptable for such a bullet proof shelter! All up weight is about 600 gram with titanium pegs. I thought Ron's guidelines were a bit over-kill, but I will probably stay with them?

I don't use the stuff sack preferring to stuff the tarp in my pack loose to use all spare spaces. I do the same with my bivy bag with sleeping bag inside. Of course I use a plastic pack inner (check-out Gossamer Gear's pack liners).
I can write heaps about this fantastic tarp, but I think Colin Ibbotson's review says it all. Check it out at http://www.andyhowell.info/Colin-Ibbotson/Trailstar-review.html

Here are some photos - I was surprised at the tautness of the pitch. Silnylon usually sags when wet, but a night of heavy rain and it still was as tight as a drum in the morning. We also had very strong winds and with the "bum" pitched to the wind this shelter was incredibly stable - hardly a flap!

I am very please with this tarps performance and give it a 5 star. I will report more after my Kaweka trip over Queens Birthday W/E 

MLD Superlight Biv

This is the bivy used by Andrew Skurka on his incredible 4700mi Alaska -Yukon Expedition. Cost is $US159 but there are extras and freight. The price is still great value.

The top Fabric is Momentum DWR, 20dX20d nylon taffeta. The eVENT foot box end panel for added breath ability and waterproofness. Bottom Fabric is Silnylon or you can opt for Cuben Fiber that will cost an extra $US60 but oh so light!

I ordered large ($US25 more) as I have a two inch Kooka Bay mattress. This makes the biv a bit too big but the extra space is OK and adds only 22 grams to the weight.

This is my third bivy and I am thrilled with the quality and weight. I ordered the full screen hood. This works well if you have a hook to lift this off your face.

The only negative is with the Trailstar tarp the hooks sewn into the seams don't align above the bivy hood (more forward) see photo, and don't "pitch" enough of your face. I think this inconvenience is more than compensated by the other factors - weight and quality.

Check-out  more details and photos at http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=22&products_id=30