Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Important kit selection - shoes and sleeping bag

Well the first 2 major kit choices have now been finalised.  As mentioned previously, I have decided to go with the PT03 desert shoes made by UK Gear.  If you recall I already have the winter version and have been training with them for some weeks now.  So I decided to go with their desert version for the race itself.  I will have long rip stop nylon gaiters sewn on to the shoes by Sandbaggers.  In terms of size I went for 1 European size larger than my normal shoe size to allow for swelling.  I am normally a 42 so I went for 43 for my race shoes.  Any larger and I would risk avoidable friction blisters in the first day or two of the race.

The second major kit choice was deciding which sleeping bag to take with me.  I already have 2 sleeping bags but they are both far too bulky to put in a small backpack, and they are not designed with weight reduction in mind.  I have been doing some googling and I came across some sleeping bags made by PHD mountain software that are suitable for the MDS.  I was looking at both their Minimus Down Sleeping Bag and their Minim Ultra Down Sleeping Bag as two possibilities.

The Minim Ultra Down weighs in at an impressively lean 345g although it mentions that you may have chilly nights.  The Minimus Down on the other hand weights in at 400g (if you choose the 900 down and MX outer options) but is around 3 degrees warmer.  I decided that a good nights sleep is important and went for the Minimus Down option, slightly heavier but warmer.

The one I chose says that it is comfortable down to 5 degrees.  Whilst the mercury may dip below this on occasion (during the night), if I take my silk mummy liner with me, that will give me an extra 5 degrees of warmth, allowing me to sleep comfortably at zero degrees.  If it gets any colder than that I will just have to wear some clothes inside the sleeping bag, although usually I don't feel the cold as much as some people do.

You may wonder how they manage to get the sleeping bags so light.  Well for a start there are no zips or collars.  You just climb in and out through the opening at the top of the bag.  Then the rest is down to advanced material selection.

I am happy that I budgeted well and have enough funds remaining to get the kit that I want.  I realise not everyone can do this.  By the time I start working again in May I will have taken an 8 month career break, but I calculated very well what it would cost and stuck to my budget pretty much all the way through.  The only thing I hadn't budgeted for was the diamond ring that I got for Anny but that was well worth it anyway.

I am very close to choosing the rest of my kit too and more posts will follow on that shortly.  I will pick up all the kit when I go to the UK on the 28th February.  Then I will have a full month to train with the actual kit and actual weight that I will be carrying in the race.  I am hoping that through wise kit selection my pack will not be too heavy.  I have no idea yet how much, but I am guessing 8 to 9kg.

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