Kit review (no not the car, the gear)

I realised that when we came back from Finland I had completed most of the trip write ups. Then we took off to Paris and I never finished the remaining few days. I had also put together a review on some of the clothing kit we took with us. Thought I would finish this off and post it. I will then have to get on to finalizing the other days and posting them as soon as possible.

We purchased a few items before our trip to Finland but most of the gear we took we use daily in the UK. Yes, how sad are we that we still haven’t managed to acclimatise to the UK weather.

I was quite concerned that I would be cold in Finland but I also didn’t want to take massive amounts of luggage with me. This was my kit list: 2 pairs of fleece lined trousers (shower proof), waterproof pants, 2 pairs of thermal leggings, 4 thermal tops, 4 pairs of mountaineering socks, 3 t-shirts, 3 microfleece jumpers, Berghaus jacket with Gortex outer, Rab Neutrino down jacket, 1 pair of Scarpa hiking boots, 3 pairs of gloves (inner for dexterity, warm layer and waterproof layer), polarfleece buff, hat and of course a cozzie and personals.

The real winners on the trip would have to be the polarfleece buff, Icebreaker thermals, Rab Neutrino down jacket and the Berghaus Goretex jacket. I started out using the Rab jacket for everything including skiing. Then I found I got too hot, sweated too much and this left me with a damp down jacket which was not nice when we would stop for breaks. This was no fault of the jacket but just that I was overdressed for the conditions. So, I switched to doing the heavy exercise in the Berghaus jacket and inner which kept me warm but not overheated and sweat excessively. Then when we had finished skiing I would swap jackets for the warmth of the Rab down jacket.
The buff was excellent and really needed. I pondered for ages whether to bother taking one as all my jackets have high collars and warm buffers around them. In all honesty I am so glad that Steve convinced me to take a buff. It was a permanent fixture on my neck for the entire week. Very useful during skiing to cover your face and ears from the cold. Ice would start to form in my nostrils so I would use the buff to cover my mouth and nose created a warm environment and no ice.

Thermal leggings and tops were purchased from Icebreaker. I baulked at the prices while purchasing them but they proved their worth in Finland. I alternated between a pair of Icebreaker leggings and some cheaper KMD ones that I bought years ago. The KMD’s worked but I preferred the Icebreaker pair for softness, slightly warmer, longer leg length and the ability to wear them for longer periods of time without getting smelly. Sounds gross I know but when you are out bush you don’t have a choice.

Almost forgot the head torch. Steve purchased 2 head torches before we left. These were fantastic pieces of kit especially for the night skiing. Sun up was normally around 8.00am but it wasn’t daylight until at least 9.30am. It started to get dark again around 2.00pm and night by 3.30pm. In short we didn’t get a whole lot of daylight hours. Although quite well lit around the town and the snow manages to provide a lot of illumination in the dark the head torches were great when lighting a fire in the huts or checking maps/signposts on the ski routes. The torches would generally indicate the batteries were going flat (due to the cold) but once back indoors they would come right again. I always carried a spare set of batteries in my inside pocket to keep them warm. Even with the low battery light flashing the torches kept going and never once gave out during the whole 7 days.

We only got temperatures down to -14 degrees Celsius so this is as far as the kit has been tested. The only area I was chilled were my legs. It was bearable but had it gotten colder I think I would have been in a bit of trouble. I generally wore a pair of leggings, a pair of fleece lined trousers and my waterproof covers. A pair of ski pants would probably have been a bit more useful had it been colder. One night Kerryn and I went out for a walk into town to mail some post and headed out onto the lake Aurora Borealis hunting. It was already -12 at the time and dropping so I added another layer to my legs – a pair of my flannel pj bottoms complete with Winnie the Pooh on them (under my waterproofs of course) this seemed to do the trick. I wouldn’t recommend this as a permanent option but in a worst case scenario it worked a treat for me. 😉