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Cape Wrath Trail with All the Gear - Good Idea?

Cape Wrath Trail with All the Gear - Good Idea?


Postby Iain » Sun Aug 05, 2018 7:40 pm

Date walked: 16/09/2017

Time taken: 12.5 days

Distance: 390 km

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In September 2017 myself and 3 mates completed the CWT in 12.5 days. This is unashamedly primarily a kit review, as personally, what to bring was the hardest part...until I started the trek.

Before we get to the gear, here’s some tips/observations on our approach:
- 12.5 days was an ambitious schedule - it is fine as long as you are fit, determined, well prepared, and lucky. It leaves almost no time for things to go wrong, and very little time for recovery. Quicker is possible but I think it would be a lot less enjoyable overall.
- Water is everywhere (this is Scotland after all) so don’t worry about having to carry too much.
- It’s hard to replace all the calories burned each day, I lost about 4% body weight from the trip.
- You learn to suffer on a daily basis, whether it’s the grim nightly routine of tending to what’s left of your feet, or that first hour at the start of each day when everything hurts and everything is wet; but the views alone more than make up for it!
- I’m pretty happy with my own company, but would have found it a LOT harder, and a lot less fun without my mates.

Disclaimer: I love gear. I put a lot of effort/money into my choice of outdoor kit, I don’t like to compromise on quality or functionality, and am a sucker for good design. I have no affiliation to any of the brands mentioned.

My usual mentality to packing is that I’d rather carry something which doesn’t get used than be without something I need, but don’t have. I knew I had to be stricter about weight on this trip, so I started by compiling a spreadsheet and weighing every single item I planned to take (including cases/bags separately). This allowed my to see where all the grams went and reduce or substitute items. This process resulted in a maximum pack weight at any time of 20.3kg (kit and food, but excluding water and stuff I wore/carried), the actual total was about 30% of my body weight.

We carried approximately half our food, then posted the other half to Kinlochewe Bunkhouse where we stayed one night. We took the opportunity for a pub/chippy dinner when we could but otherwise ‘cooked’ our own food.

The following info is simply a list of what I took and what worked/didn’t work for me. It isn’t intended as a recommended kit list, and actually my advise would be to take less than I did; even though I’d probably take the same if I was doing it again. Note that I am suited to the cold, so I tend to need a lot less insulation than others - which will affect clothing choices.
Particular items I rate highly are marked with a :thumbup:, it doesn’t mean they are essential though. I only give details where I thought necessary.

Kit

This list includes everything, so obviously some things were worn rather than carried in my pack, but I think it’s best to consider total weight e.g. you’ll soon feel the burden of wearing a pair of heavy boots!

The kit was a constant and totalled 18.4kg, and included the following:

Camping
Tent :thumbup: - Hilleberg Suolo (with footprint) - this was a luxurious second home. A spacious 1 person, bombproof shelter. I could write a whole review on this thing, but I’ll just say its well worth the extra grams.
Sleeping bag - Mountain Hardware Lamina 35 - a decent 3 season synthetic bag usually used unzipped as a duvet. The zip often catches on this model which can be quite annoying.
Sleeping mat - Therm-a-Rest Prolite Plus Reg - a great, comfy mat, but if buying again I think i’d get a rectangular rather than mommy shape for additional comfort over weight saving.
Sleeping liner - silk eBay non-brand - used with unzipped sleeping bag for unrestrictive, optimum temperature sleeps.
Ear plugs
Towel - Lifeventure SoftFibre - for the occasional welcoming shower. Dries quickly tied to pack on a sunny day.
Clothes line - elasticated and used in tent and bothies to dry or air out clothes.
Stove - MSR Pocket Rocket - I decided to sub out my Primus OmniLite Ti as it was just a bit too heavy and too much faff. The PR is great, but if I didn’t already have a ‘good’ stove and cook set, an all-in-one kind like JetBoil would be ideal as they are more efficient and we were only boiling water.
Lighter - mini Clipper
Gas fuel - I took a small and medium can rather than large, so I could ditch an empty one on route
Cook set - GSI Pinnacle Soloist - well designed compact set
Sponge - not used, but weighed almost nothing
Mug - Lifeventure Titanium
Spork - Light My Fire Plastic and Titanium - I probably didn’t need 2, and for dehydrated meals, having a longer utensil would be better for eating out of the bag.
Coffee maker* - AeroPress (with metal filter) - this made me look forward to getting up in the morning and I think this is the optimum device for making decent coffee on a trek.

Trekking
Backpack :thumbup: - Osprey Xenith 88 (with rain cover) - a great, comfortable, functional pack, swallowed all my kit so nothing attached to the outside. The accompanying Osprey rain cover is really well designed too.
Compass - Silva - basic model, not used due to GPS watch but essential to carry
Maps - Harvey CWT - I bought digital versions and printed custom routes for each day on A4 paper, using Routbuddy software. Then I used completed sheets to stuff in wet boots, then dispose of along the way.
Map case - Ortlieb A4 Document - simple and transparent both sides to keep my route maps dry and visible.
Multi-tool - Victorinox Huntsman - I prefer my Leatherman, but this was lighter and generally used for ‘feet maintenance’
Water filter :thumbup: - Sawyer Mini (with bag bottle) - great bit of kit that I only used a couple times when the stream water didn’t look good
Water bottle - Nalgene Wide 1l - durable and perfect for filling up quickly from streams
Hip Flask - GSI - lighter than the typical metal offerings
Dry bags :thumbup: - Sea to Summit - various sizes, rather than a large one for whole pack. Great for organisation.
Duct tape :thumbup: - mini roll for repairs, but fortunately not needed
Zip ties :thumbup: - my mate’s pack shoulder buckle broke on day 1, a zip tie took its place for the rest of the trek
Sunglasses - Oakley RadarLock - yes, I did need these!
Trowel - lightweight plastic, essential for responsible ‘natural waste management’
Walking poles :thumbup: - Leki Carbon Ti - I’m a total pole convert for long treks, these were used at all times and they are nice and light with lots of hand position options.

Clothes
Boots - Salomon Quest 4D - I debated doing it in trail shoes but I’m glad I went with boots. These are comfortable and light, but no matter what you wear, you will have wet feet, most of the time.
Trousers :thumbup: - Montane Terra - my favourite outdoor trousers, durable and quick drying
T-shirt - Icebreaker - Merino is great and ideal for the trek
Long-sleeve top - Icebreaker - more Merino, I tended to wear either the t-shirt or long sleeve, then have another ‘clean’ long sleeve to change into in the evenings
Hardshell jacket - The North Face Heathen - lightweight GoreTex Pro shell which I have had for years. It’s a great jacket, but this was it’s last outing as a repair around the hood was falling apart and delimitation was becoming a problem.
Hardshell trousers - Rab Bergen eVent - worn without trousers but with leggings on wet days
Insulated jacket - Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket - brilliant, light and compact. I wore this at lunch stops and in the evenings.
Boxers - Bawbags Cool-d-sacks - a quick drying version of my personal favourite
Walking socks - mid weight merino
Camp socks - these were the ‘clean’ merino socks I just wore in the evenings.
Shorts - Patagonia - really light and quick drying. I brought for swimming opportunities but never used. I would not take these next time.
Leggings - Icebreaker - Merino and 3/4 length so they don’t overlap with socks
Camp trousers - Elephant ‘backpacker’ type - pretty light and really comfy, a nice luxury to wear in the evenings
Camp shoes :thumbup: - Crocs Offroad Sport - they look terrible but are so comfy and durable. Perfect for wearing around camp and bothies. I also brought them for river crossings, but were lucky enough that we never needed to get our feet wet crossing any.
Gloves - Rab Power Stretch - great gloves, I didn’t need them much but worth having.
Visor :thumbup: - Arc-teryx Calvus - to replace my much loved Patagonia Duckbill which I was unable to source. I find caps too warm but want to keep the sun out my face, so I’m a big fan of visors.
Buff :thumbup: - so versatile, I usually take 2
Hat - Berghaus Fleece - light and warm
Gators - Rab Latok - these are really good gators but I didn’t use them on the trek. I don’t like the added restrictiveness and warmth. My trousers did get wet/dirty but they dry so quickly I didn’t mind. Gators may have stopped water entering top of my boots in a bog once or twice, but my feet were usually already wet. I would not take these again on this trek.
Midge net - Lifeventure - essential for a couple nights at camp

Electronics
Headtorch :thumbup: - Petzl Reactik+ - essential item for the evenings, great head torch with auto adaptive intensity, and USB rechargeable battery.
Spare headtorch - Petzl e+Lite - this weighed the same as my AAA adapter and batteries for my main torch so I took it instead. A solid backup torch I never had to use.
Phone - Apple iPhone 5S (with waterproof pouch) - mostly in airplane mode, used as my camera and occasionally to view Harvey maps via Routebuddy Atlas app.
Power pack - EasyAcc - 20,000MAh (large capacity), 2xUSB ports, shock and water proof for piece of mind, with built in torch. Probably too big/heavy for what I needed. Used to charge phone and watch nightly and head torch occasionally.
Charger - 5 USB ports allowing me to change all my devices at once, whenever I had the opportunity.
Watch :thumbup: - Garmin Fenix 5 - great GPS watch. I loaded the daily routes on to it, so was easy to check if we were following the breadcrumb trail (no maps). Used this in conjunction with the paper maps for navigation. I like having all the statistics of the trek too.
Earphones - Apple EarPods - not actually used on the trek, but for the travel there and back.

Toiletries
Multi soap :thumbup: - for washing self, clothes and dishes
Deodorant
Toothpaste
Toothbrush
Blister plasters :thumbup: - Compeed - these were life/feet savers. I had to resupply half way, and I’m not sure I could have done the trek without them.
Plasters
Ibuprofen
Paracetamol
Midge repellent - Smidge - only actually needed to use a couple times
Sunscreen
Lip balm
Toilet roll
Pocket tissues
Wet wipes
Wash bag
Alcohol gel
Multivitamins

Food

Food was hard to judge. Mornings were similar to my usual breakfast, evenings consisted of a different hot meal each time, but food during the day got very repetitive. Doing it again, I would consider getting dehydrated meals for lunch too - this would help with variety and calorie intake, not to mention the moral lift from a hot meal.

Morning
Coffee - Pact
Porridge - Moma sachets
Condensed milk :thumbup: - for porridge, if you can, get it get the squeeze tube rather than bottle

Day
Oatcakes
Parmesan :thumbup: - my favourite cheese and keeps very well. Ate with oatcakes
Malt loaf - good with condensed milk
Banana loaf - also good with condensed milk
Beef jerky
Chorizo
Pickle/chutney :thumbup: - ate with oatcakes
Dried Mango
Fruit jerky
Peanut butter - ate with oatcakes
Trail mix - I made my own batch and bagged for each day, consisting of various nuts, banana chips, yogurt covered fruit and nuts and spicy dried pulses. I recommend making this as interesting and varied as you can or you will get sick of eating it every day.
Cereal bars - Nature Valley
Energy bars - Cliff
Energy balls

Evening
Dehydrated Meal - Adventure Foods - these were all reasonably tasty, I had the ‘High Energy’ calorie option, but I wish I went for the ‘Extreme Energy’ option. I also had a Real Turmat branded meal, and it was delicious.
Instant Noodles - for extra hungry evenings
Hydration tablets
Peppermint tea
Rice cakes with Nutella :thumbup: - was really nice to have this simple dessert at the end of the day


I hope that gives you an idea of potential kit to take. As long as you pack sensibly for your needs, you'll be sure to enjoy one of the most epic walks in Scotland!
Iain
 
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Joined: Aug 12, 2012

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