I recently had a conversation with Jennifer Walker at Cascade Designs about the wild camping and ultra light camping I have been doing; she very decently posted out a Thermarest Neoair Xlite to me to use and review.
I have been using a Thermarest 3/4 lite for the past 15 years now and have been very happy with it, so I was interested to see any progression from Thermarest.
I was gobsmacked.
When it arrived I thought I had been shipped an empty box – the Xlite was around 450 grams lighter than my existing mattress. The astonishment continued when I inflated it. My 3/4 is a very short mattress in order to conserve weight; if my head is on it, then almost all my legs are not on the mattress at all – the Xlite is full length. I have no idea how they made it around 750mm longer and still made it so much lighter.
Visual inspection complete, I then laid on them both, side by side. The Xlite is over twice the thickness, and so insulates from the ground so much better. I wanted to find out how it worked in the real world, so in my bag it went.
For size reference, here is a Coke can, The NeoAir Xlite and the Thermarest 3/4 lite. As you can see, the far longer and thicker Xlite is far smaller than the 3/4.
I cycled into the wilds and strung up my hammock and tarp, inflated the Xlite and settled in for the night. As I was in a hammock, there is a tendency for the night to be affected by a cold back, many hammock users carry an under-quilt to stop this.
There was zero need at all. I was warm, comfortable and very very happy all evening.
The ONLY negative I can give for the Neoair is that it is not self inflating. After over a decade of using a self inflating 3/4 it was odd to have to get blowing (there is an inflator available, but as an ultralight weight nerd I will continue to blow).
I have been loaned the Xlite for up to 6 weeks and then I have to return it. After my first night on it, I will miss it. I truly don’t want to go back to the 3/4. So once my penny jar fills up, I will be buying a Neoair.
I have been writing again
I teach snowboarding all winter so its good to be back on the bike.
An awesome ride around the Eastern Moors
the conditions where almost summery, dry trails, sandy and dusty
Not a good day to be out on a bike.
January 28th 2018
Some big news coming soon.
Off to Italy teaching snowboarding.
Mini is VERY proud to say he has picked up a clothing sponsor
Twitter. = awesome.
i found an account in the name of PDMBR that had not been used since 2010.
less than an hour later, and with only 3 emails, Twitter transfered the account name to me. so i now own www.twitter.com/pdmbr
Fox Hag. definitely better DOWN than UP
Peak District MTB committee meeting
Rode for an hour, to check out a new Bridleway i had spotted on the OS map.
Was NOT worth the hour
an Awesome night
Morning ride with https://www.facebook.com/groups/nottsmtboutlaws/
Over the Eastern Moor with pop down the rabbit hole.
Brilliant MIAS Weekend.
9 successful new mountain bike leaders
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I fancied a night out in the tent again, i had bought a new rucksack (Osprey Escapist 25) and wanted to see how it felt on my back. It packed well and this time i spoilt myself by taking my bedding roll as well so the total weight was 4.5kg (10lbs) I had a destination in mind less than an hour ride from my door, i wanted to sleep in woodland, next to water. so off i set.
More Wild, less needed.
I have now written 2 posts about wild camping on my bike and in the past few months have learnt a few lessons to make the process easier.
Thought i would pass some on,
The first ride i packed what i thought i needed.
I packed a bedding roll. my sleeping bag, a bag liner, waterproof coat and over trousers, dry socks, a dry jersey, 3litres of water, some wine, small bluetooth speaker, phone power bank, 7 inch tablet, os map and compass, some midget gems and some packet chicken wings for supper
that plus tools, spare tube etc totaled over 16lbs,
when i picked it up it did not seem to heavy, but after a few hours on the ride my back was in agony.
I slept this night in a stone hut, slept well. and dry.
next morning i rode back with a slightly lighter pack as i had drank and eaten all the food/wine etc but i had litter in the bag to carry.
I TOOK TOO MUCH STUFF
The second time out, this time i have got a tent to carry, but have
not got the powerbank, speaker etc. plus the food is now unpacked and is wrapped in cling film, this lightens the load and reduces the size amount of litter i have to deal with.
The bag now weight 11lbs, and is a lot easier to carry. i ride out onto the peaks and find some very soft peat to pitch the tent on.
The third time.
By now I have worked out what is essential and what is desirable.
Tent – 800grams
Sleeping bag – 600grams
1 litre of water.
A new and impossibly light waterproof coat
No spare clothing.
A tiny water filter that will let me drink from streams or puddles
I also do not take a bedding roll. Peat is very soft so that to is not needed although I have added 28 grams for a thermarest neo air pillow just for comfort.
Even including taking the tablet to watch a movie. And tools tube etc the whole lot weighs 3.6 kg or under 8lbs.
I could ride for hours now
Lessons for the future.
Buy a better rucksack. The 22l one I use was designed for snow sports. It is very sweaty on my back. I could do with one that is cooler. One that stands away from my back and has some airflow would improve the comfort.
Notes for others
I don’t drink hot drinks at all so have no need to carry a kettles or means of heating water and if I am only of for a day then I am happy with fruit and cold food.
Doing without the need for a breakfast bacon Sarnie and a coffee probably saves me 2kg
Think about what you actually need. And if it’s worth having it on your back for 5 hours! Every thing I need now fits into the 22L bag with room to spare. One tip is to stuff your sleeping bag in loose. It will fill the spaces in the bag and take up less space than one on a stuff sack
There are still 6 or more weeks of warm weather left this year and we could have an awesome October. if you have been thinking about wild camping on your bike, feel free to drop me a line
A great afternoon with a dozen young folk doing their Gold DoE with Boldadventures
Over the past year i have been working my way through the 6 levels for MIAS (Mountain Bike Instructor association) I am passionate about my hobby and wanted to pass on this to others, and to help them become stronger riders. I have already done this with a lot of beginner rides with the Barnsley Mountain bike Club and the facebook group Coggers.
I had passed my Levels 1 2 and 3 which are for personal progression and ride leading but wanted to gain a qualification that would allow me to train others to be ride leaders and coaches.
In order to achieve the tutor levels for Mias i needed to run a Level 1 and 2 course. I would be watched as i gave the course by an assessor who would either pass or fail me at level 4 or 5.
If i had passed at level 4, then my new qualification would allow me to train and assess up to Mias 1
If i had passed at level 5, then my new qualification would allow me to train and assess up to Mias 2.
Obviously i had my mind set on level 5.
I found 4 people who wanted training and where able to book onto the course, i paid for an assessor to come up for a weekend and i set about preparing for the course.. At that point, everything went dizzy. I developed a syndrome called Labyrinthisis, this is an inflamation of the inner ear, I could not stand upright for a week, could not focus on a computer screen and certainly could not ride a bike.
A great frend, “Nelder” came to the rescue and did all the preparation required, he created documents, assembled handouts, and scheduled the weekend. (He also took part on the course with me and we where jointly assessed)
Saturday morning we met the group and assessor (keith) at a pretty cafe where we had breakfast and then spent the next 4 hours going through the classroom based activities that are required for the course candidates. This covered the legal aspects of MTB Leading and coaching, Risk assessments, Conservation and Access, Bike set up, and much more.
The aim of the course is to ensure that those who i pass, are able to safely take a group out for a ride, navigate,and deal with anything that could occur on the ride
Saturday lunch we set of for what is the level 1 aspect of the ride. This should be canal towpaths, cinder trails etc the sort of ride that you would take a beginner for a few hours. As the grouo where stronger riders we went a little further and got some awesome photo’s on Stannage Edge.
During this ride the candidates are asked to give some coaching sessions, coach gear usage, body management, track stands, etc. It was great to see them do this, and it was interesting to see which clearly had some coaching experience prior to the course as they where able to break down the tasks and explain a lot clearer.
We went over some coaching techniques and everyone got to give a 2nd coaching session later that ride.
The general feedback was very positive. It felt good to hear the compliments on how the course was going.
Sunday Morning we met again and the group where given an Ordinance Survey map with 8 points marked on it.
The aim of the sunday is that the group take it in turn to lead the ride. They are responsible for navigation, group management and safety etc. This was there the weakness in their knowledge began to show up. While most people can follow a map to drive somewhere not all can take a back bearing, or set a route to follow using only map, compass and terrain.
We stopped a few times to go over this and by the end of the ride the whole group demonstrated competance and confidence with their navigation skills.
We also had a mock accident and the group where asked to manage the situation. They did this perfectly. Which was great to see.
One of the guys bikes had a few minor breakdowns so we also got to practice mountain mechanics.
The weather was perfect for us all. The sun shone and the ride was a pleasure.
When we got back the group where asked to get themselves a coffee while we did their paperwork and discussed with assessor their results, i was confident when i stated everyone had passed and keith agreed. We filled in their log books, congratulated them on their passing and took some really nice feedback.
After they had left Keith told Nelder and I that we had acheved level 5 status and where now licenced to train and assess. WOOO HOOO
Personal notes for myself.
The group where strong and confident riders and as the ride flowed i found myself leading at a speed that was maybe not appropriate given that they where on a course not a lads ride. I needed to be more aware of this for future courses
Hey, everyday is a schoolday
EO-MTB next. This is the pan European qualification which will allow me to coach and lead across Europe.
Another night ride and wild camp. i think i have found my happy place
Feeling frustrated. had a nice ride with Adam from Primalfitlab, but the residue from the inner ear infection is still there, it can feel it actively holding me back from just letting it go on descents. I hope this feeling goes away soon
A lovely ride out into the peaks with a group from Coggers
Off out to the peaks for a solo night ride with a bivvi bag to finish it.
Shop ride with EMR, the Labyrinthitis is not gone yet, randomly fell over twice.
Given a 2 day course training 3 great lads to be MIAS level 2 MTB leaders. I was assessed while giving this course and as a result am now qualified to MIAS Level 5.
I cant say just how proud i feel right now.
I have been quiet lately, google for http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/labyrinthitis/Pages/Introduction.aspx to see the reason. a horrible feeling.
A Busy couple of weeks, lots of riding and an evening helping deal with an injured rider discovered on the trail
Tuesday 30th May
Recce location for Beginners technical skills course
Saturday 20th May
Greno woods for Peaties Steel City Downhill.
Find me for a coggers sticker
Friday May 12th
A Long day working, i was ready to put my feet up when i got a call to go ride Cannings.
Met up with a couple of new riders and spend the next few hours coaching. Very happy with the outcomes
Tuesday May 9th
A drive over to LLandegla on Monday evening and a night in the quietest campsite on the planet was followed today by my MIAS Level 3 assessment.
Wednesday May 3rd
What felt like a very successful meeting with a great business owner in Hope. I am confident it will lead to a long and fruitful association that will benefit us both, and hopefully a lot of riders
Wednesday May 3rd
Charlie, a typical 10yr old with a major ipad addiction and a nice home mainly surrounded by tarmac or flat grass came to me today for some private coaching.
He had a bike that needed some setting up, the seat height was far too low and his brakes didnt work.
The brakes where a simple fix but he HATED the seat at the right height, was scared when he could not touch the floor.
We went through mounting, dismounting, use of brakes, and use of gears and headed off to the wilds of lady Cannings
An hour or so later,
He WILL be back