Kit Review - A Snowy Day on Kinder
I’ve always found winter conditions are the trickiest to dress for. The weather in the UK is a fickle beast; you need to be prepared for sudden changes in conditions but you don’t want to pack so much gear in your bag that you don’t end up using most of it. Time out on the hill is really the only way to find what gear works best for you. I’ve found that a good layering system is the key – several versatile layers are always better than one when there are likely to be changes in the weather.
With clear but cold conditions predicted in the snow covered Peak District on the day of our trip, I decided that most of my waterproofs would be relegated to my rucksack and that I would go for a softshell outer layer on my legs and an insulated outer layer for my upper. My full layering system was as follows:
Baselayer:Rab Aeon Plus Zip Tee
Midlayer: Mountain Hardwear Microchill Zip Fleece
Outer: Rab Plasma Hoodie
Baselayer: Icebreaker Everyday Leggings
Outer: Mountain Equipment Chamois Pants & Trekmates Cairngorm Gore-tex Gaiters
Here are my reviews of how my key pieces of kit performed in the snow:
The main reason I chose a softshell over a waterproof outer layer for my trousers was the increased breathability you get with a softshell. Teamed with my merino leggings and gaiters this was a perfect combination for the crystal clear skies we had that day and kept my legs at a comfortable temperature all day. The stretchy Exolite fabric of the Chamois Pants gave excellent freedom of movement, a must when making steep ascents like the route we took out of Edale up Grindsbrook Clough. The fabric is also coated with a DWR (water repellent finish) and is highly wind resistant. This is perfect for a cold clear day on the hill as windchill was not a problem and no water from snowmelt made its way through to my baselayer all day, despite walking through snow up to my mid-thigh at times! The integrated belt and the soft lining around the waistband are great features and give the trousers a comfortable secure fit.
With the amount of snow up on Kinder gaiters were really a must. My feet would have been soaked within minutes of being out without them. As with most gaiters these are not the easiest things to get on. The velcro on them has to be lined up very precisely for the poppers at the top and bottom to fasten up. However, once done up, the chunky velcro fastening means that they aren’t going anywhere. When wearing gaiters I always tend to put them on at the start of the day and wear them all day so I need gaiters that are comfortable enough for me to do this. The Gore-tex is very breathable and kept the snow out of my boots all day.
I have had this jacket for over a year now and it has become my favourite jacket for everyday use. I often use it as a midlayer out on the hill but haven’t often used it as my outer layer because typically the weather means a fully waterproof jacket is more suitable. Layered up with my microfleece I was a comfortable temperature most of the day. I got a little warm at the top of the ascent up Grindsbrook Clough but the jacket was breathable enough to cool me down as we took a well earned tea-break at the top. I think on a colder day the eco 3D insulation would not have been warm enough but the level of insulation in the jacket is perfect for everyday use and this is what I use the jacket for more. The DWR coating on Pertex fabric meant that the many snowballs thrown at me during the day didn’t soak through the jacket keeping me nice and dry. If I could change anything about the jacket it would be the hood. There is very little adjustment, just a velcro tab on the back, and on a windier day the hood does not stay in place that well. A drawcord adjustment to pull it in closer around the head would be a good improvement.
The Pocket Rocket is the ultimate lightweight stove. It packs into a small storage case and weighing only 85g you barely notice it in your bag. As the name suggests its size doesn’t affect its performance and the time it took to boil some snow tea was impressive.