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Ed of the Vassalopet
By Kenny Stocker | 29, Mar, 2007
Ed Braithwaite set out on the Vassalopet, the longest and largest cross country ski race in the world. Not a place to be caught with the wrong kit so Ed took along a Fantom down jacket, Wee Airic sleeping mat and a MytiMug for his hot tea
A group of 5 lads aged 19-21 set off on an expedition to Sweden, we all studied at Newton Rigg Campus as part of the University of Central Lancashire; the course we are studying is BA Hons Outdoor Leadership degree. As part of the course we had to organise an expedition. The expedition that I used the jacket on was in Central Sweden doing the Vassalopet, the longest and largest cross country ski race in the world. The route is 90km long and took our team 4 days to complete. The route was done in February so the weather was very cold reaching -25.
The use of the Alpkit Down Jacket was excellent, it worked really well in the expedition environment keeping me warm when ever it was used. The jacket was a great fit and the large side pockets really helped to keep the hands warm and also to keep the Mars Bars from freezing up to much!! The large pockets on the inside of the jacket were excellent, they are really deep meaning things did not fall out of them even when I fell over from poor skiing!! The new hood on the Fantom jacket was great, when the temperatures were really low the hood went up and it kept my head warm, the wire peek on the front of the hood worked really well. Being able to bend it made it so the hood sat a lot better on my head and did not fall off. The wire peak was a lot better than other down jackets I have looked at and used, the wire moulds well meaning that the hood is very well fitted. The hood is not detachable like on some other jackets but this was not a problem as you can wear the jacket with the hood down and it does not feel any different. In snow fall and light rain showers the jacket performed well. I was not afraid of getting the jacket wet and it not keeping me warm any more. The rain beaded up on the jacket surface keeping the down dry. This is better than some down jackets that you do not dare wear when there is anything falling from the sky. Overall the jacket was great and worked really well and helped me stay warm at the cold times on our expedition, I would recommend the Fantom down jacket as it is one of the cheapest down jackets on the market but is also one of the best down jackets currently on the market.
What a price for a quality roll mat, the Wee Airic was the same quality as other leading brands that begin with "therma". The Wee looks sweet in the chilly red colour, it really stood out and looks well built and hopefully will last a along time. The mat rolls straight up rather than other makes that fold in half then roll up, at first I found this a problem but it turned out to work well, as it then slipped down the side of my tent poles.* As other mats it needed a bit of help from my lungs to inflate but this is not really a problem. The mat kept me well-insulated from the cold floor and is just on the right side of being to thin.
What a fantastic mug/bowl/pot. Being able to put the mug straight onto a fire/ log burner or stove was fantastic, the handle got warm but not too hot to be able to pick it up when it had been on the heat. My friends MSR pocket rocket fitted into the mug really well with plenty of room for more food/ equipment. For a 1-2 nights this is all you would need in the way of a pan. I found if you drank a nice brew out of it the rim became hot, trail magazine recommended putting some tape around the top as insulation. With an internal volume of 0.7l its make s a killer cup of tea. The lid was useful with a nice touch of a wooden knob but I found it made it harder to pack in my pac as it carried on falling off I ended up not using the lid as much as I thought I would, but its an extra and a personal choice. I would like to thank all at Alpkit for letting us test some quality products and would recommend them to anyone who is looking to buy quality kit at a good price with helpful staff. Thanks again Ed * Alpnote: Although rolled full-width when shipped the Wee Airic can also be folded in half before rolling. Another way of packing your Wee friend in your rucksack is folding it in thirds and sliding it down the back of the rucksack.
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