2006: Other gear, cooking sleeping odds and sods.
For the 2006 season we invested in some new stuff.
It had become obvious in 2005 that the cheapish synthetic sleeping bags with a tiny pack volume and very light weight were never going to keep Damae comfortable at night. Getting a suitable sleeping bag had certain problems as Damae needed a woman's sleeping bag with extra space and insulation that would contain her 186 cm nicely proportioned frame.
However a trip to Bever* in Houten was all that was needed to get something suitable. Damae found a Marmot Sawtooth Long sleeping bag in fetching shades of blue, grey and black. The down filled Sawtooth, with survival rating down to -9'C, and weight of 1.5kg had pack volume is small enough to fit into her front panniers. During a quick visit to SLEE she bought a microfibre sheet sleeping bag to make extra sure she did not get cold. A couple of try-outs and subsequent experience in Norway and in some late Autumn camping in Holland confirmed that she had made two good choices.
The next problem to be addressed was the sleeping mat. Although the Thermarest mats we had were fine, Damae needed better support for her hips. When she turned onto her side in her sleep she would bottom out on her hips, leading to a cold spot. She would then wake up and have to turn over to be able to warm up and go back to sleep. Whilst at Zwerfkei in Woerden we noticed a thicker and slightly shorter ladies version of the mats we had. The weight and pack volume as about the same but the mat was 1cm thicker. It seems to have been enough to ensure a comfortable night's sleep so well worth the money spent.
Having enjoyed the quiet operation of the Trangia Mini in 2005 I decided to go for a bigger Trangia to replace the second home made alcohol burner. We bought set from the Trangia 25 range a Trangia 25-3 with a non-stick frying pan and the standard 1.75 and 1.5 litre pans. We then added a 0.9 litre kettle from the same range. The Trangia is a design classic (like the Ortlieb Roller Classics) which stacks nicely like Russian dolls and is very stable on the ground. It also stays cool underneath the burner and does not need a separate windshield. I really enjoy using it and you have none of the 'jet fighter taking off' roar that you get with petrol burners. The first indication that the water is near to boiling is the hiss and rumble from the water itself.
Although the Trangia 27 is supposed to be fine for two people, we like the size of the pans in the 25 range better and consider them worth the weight penalty (around 2-300g). The 25 is a great improvement, in terms of ease of use when compared to the Trangia Mini and our old pan set, and it looks cool too! The Trangia Mini is handy for brewing up during the day, and lives in my handlebar bag with a small Trangia kettle, folding cups and tea and powdered milk. A handy thing with the Trangia burner is that you can store fuel in it. At breakfast I usually check the burner in the Mini and make sure it has some fuel in it for the day.
You do have to learn how to use a Trangia. The controls are basic, it is either on, off, or simmering. The off is achieved by dropping a sort of cap onto the burner itself. The centre of the cap can be slid sideways and the lid then becomes the 'simmmer ring'. This also has to be dropped into place, although we now use the pan handles to put the lid in place. It is advisable to get a second ring so one can be used to put out the flame and the other one to simmer. We have a second one as the Trangia Mini has exactly the same burner. Once the fuel is finished you have to wait a few minutes to add more fuel to the burner. We find that if the burner is filled to 2/3 full we can boil a kettle of water (0.9 litre) for coffee and make 4 pieces of toast (on a Canadian toaster plate we bought from SLEE). Having a second burner makes life a little easier and the Mini is very small indeed.
Now having the pans that came with the Trangia, our old cheap aluminium pans have been retired. We made no major changes to cultery and crockery and the Orikaso plates and bowls are still going strong. One change was to dump the plastic jug we used and replace it with a storage container of similar proportions with a 1 litre capacity. This had a lid and we put markings on the side so we could measure quantities of fluid with it. The cutlery roll fits in it when packed up and the lid allows us to make coffee in it in the old fashioned way. By putting the grounds in with the water it is easier to dispose of them afterwards and we don't need to take filters. or clean out a re-usable filter.
I also decided to organise smaller items better. I took my old handlebar bag and used that for sundry items such as tea reserves, sugar, coffee, milk powder and seasonings for cooking. The bag is water resistant and stays upright when placed on the ground. It is also very handy to be able to get all of these things out of the bag in one go, rather than say rooting around for a small bag of tea in a 20 litre pannier.
One other minor change, was to add a Platypus 2.4 litre water bag to our collection. It doesn't have a big zipper like opening of the 6 litre bag and is used mostly to carry extra water during the day. It is sometimes handy to be able to take more water to the tent if the tap happens to be a long way away. Another gadget we use regularly, is a sort of lid/plate/cutting board/sieve thing that integrates with the Trangia. It is called the Trangia Multi-disc and is a surprisingly handy thing to have.
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Page created 16/03/2007. Moved 06/03/2009 updated (broken links etc) and reworked.