Bank Holiday Sale starts this Friday ends Monday 25th May

Bank Holiday Sale starts this Friday ends Monday 25th May

10% off all items and Klarna Stage Payments.

If you are interested in grabbing some great priced products, we are giving you 10% off all products on our website (they already enjoy some excellent discounts to the RRP).  Minimum spend £30

In addition, we now have Klarna at our checkout  which allows you (if you wish) to spread the cost of your purchase in 3 equal instalments. Your chosen card will be charged automatically. No interest. No extra fees.

We do hope that you might consider us when looking to purchase your ultralight outdoor kit

 

May 21, 2020 — Mark De Ath
Spring Update

Spring Update

 

 

COVID-19

As a small family business specialising in the manufacture of our own ultralight outdoor equipment and retailer of specialist outdoor brands we will be facing some challenges in the days and weeks to come just like many companies large and small in the UK.

Our website is still open with good stocks and we will continue to manufacture our products going forward.  We continue to dispatch product and hope to offer the same great service that our customers value. Just to say with the very large increase in online sales across the UK, you may experience some delivery delays.

We know that this will be potentially a tough time for everyone and we appreciate the business we receive.  We know it will not be possible for people to get out and about to do walking, backpacking and camping given government restrictions now in place. 

10% off all items and Klarna Stage Payments 

If you are interested in grabbing some great priced products, we are giving you 10% off all products on our website (they already enjoy some excellent discounts to the RRP).  Minimum spend £30

In addition, we are also introducing Klarna to our checkout in the coming days which allows you (if you wish) to spread the cost of your purchase in 3 equal instalments. Your chosen card will be charged automatically. No interest. No extra fees.

We do hope that you might consider us when looking to purchase your ultralight outdoor kit

 

#ValleyandPeakGardenCamping Fundraiser

 

A number of backpackers and wild campers have been tweeting about Garden Camping including Matt @backpackartist and Gary Bacon @fatgazbo.  We often camp in the garden when we can’t get out to the hills and it is a great way to do some initial product testing.  We saw that Becky had done a magnificent 440 reps of her stairs at home equivalent to climbing to  the top of Mt. Snowdon, so many are finding ways to replicate the outdoor experience at home!

After this, Gary Bacon @fatgazbo suggested that perhaps people could camp in their garden and donate the equivalent to a nights’s camp site fees to charity. We thought this was a great idea.  

We would like to do the following;

From now until midnight Easter Monday, why not pitch your favourite tent in the garden and sleep overnight, (as many times as you want) and then donate to your favourite charity the equivalent of a night’s campsite fee for each night camped. (You could also donate to a campsite that is closed at the moment). Tweet or post on Instagram a picture of your overnight camp using the hashtag #ValleyandPeakGardenCamping.

For our part we will donate £2 for each photo tweeted or posted on Instagram showing your Garden Camp up to £250 in total to the two main Mountain Rescue Organisations splitting the money between England and Wales and Scotland.

So get #ValleyandPeakGardenCamping and take those photos!

If you have any questions relating this Newsletter please do email us at support@valleyandpeak.co.uk

We hope it won’t be too long before we can all get back to the hills and mountains.

Thank you and stay safe.

Mary and Mark

 

March 25, 2020 — Mark De Ath
Christmas Gift Ideas for Backpackers and Campers From Valley and Peak with up to 20% off!

Christmas Gift Ideas for Backpackers and Campers From Valley and Peak with up to 20% off!

Christmas Gift Ideas for Backpackers and Campers From Valley and Peak

Not sure what you should get your loved ones or yourself this Christmas?  Here is a load of gift ideas from Valley And Peak.  Have a look below. 

Backpacking and Wild Camping Tips For the Winter Months

Backpacking and Wild Camping Tips For the Winter Months

 

Winter on Great Gable

Some people will never go wild camping outside of spring and summer, others are unsure of how to go about camping in the depths of winter and others absolutely love winter camping and say they prefer it to all other times of the year. For me, I love spring and summer camps, but winter in the right conditions, can be equally wonderful as the long days of summer. I do admit that I’m rather adverse to those dreadful dreary wet days that we can get and much prefer the cold crisp mornings and with a bit of luck a snowy camp.

Winter camping means planning ahead, taking different kit to summer camps and more of it. Here we discuss this and give you some thoughts and tips to help make it a memorable experience for all the right reasons and hopefully none of the wrong ones!

Just to say that we don’t have all the answers and we don’t set ourselves up to be  gurus who are all wise.  What we share with you is our accumulated knowledge over many years, together tips and tricks, chatting to fellow wild campers face to face and on social media, listening to podcasts and generally absorbing the subject through the backpacking and wild camping community. We have a comments section, we would love for our readers to add to this accumulated knowledge. 

Shelter

 Hilleberg Soulo Lake District

In the winter, you are going to spend  long periods of time, around 16 hours inside your shelter. You should take a shelter which is storm-worthy for the time of year and ideally, one that is going to allow you the space to move about a bit. Ideally enough room to sit up easily and not keep brushing the tent walls that could be very damp or even frozen.  I have 3 shelters that I deem suitable for winter camping. `One is a two man Pyramid, another a one person trekking pole supported modified A- frame style, and one which is a Bomber 4 season that will take anything but being one man doesn’t have as much room as the others.  The Pyramid tent has undoubtedly the most space and given enough flat ground, would be the one I would ideally choose for a long winter night.

A large lightweight tent, such as a Pyramid can give the room you need on long winter nights.

I have written in a previous blog post about ditching the inner of your tent in winter to save space and weight and an increasing number of winter wild campers are not taking an inner.  The addition of a bivy like the Ultra Bivy will give more space and also add  protection from condensation as well as adding warmth as it is a more enclosed environment to sleep in.

Condensation management

You are likely to produce a lot of condensation in a tent in winter. Here are some of our tips to help you manage this.

  • As soon as you have set up your shelter for the night make sure all wet clothing is left outside in the porch or vestibule area. Ideally use one of your  dry bags with you, turn it inside out and trap this source of moisture inside the dry bag, thereby avoiding additional condensation in your shelter.
  • Open up all vents and keep zips open as much as possible to allow humid air coming from your breath and cooking to escape and let ‘drier air’ in.
  • If at all possible, cook outside, but if not possible, keep the door zips open as much as possible in line with the weather conditions.
  • If it is snowy, brush as much snow off your clothes and kit as possible before entering your tent or shelter, again minimising sources of condensation.

 Tent Pegs/stakes

Take a good variety of different types of pegs, the ground may be very wet but it may be frozen, certainly don't just take the pegs that have come with your tent or shelter.  For the main guying points carry enough large flat pegs, such as the Lawson Equipment Apex pegs or similar that can give good holding power in wet soil.  These can also be turned horizontally, with the guy-lines tied around the middle and buried under the snow to give good anchor points.  Some people also carry a few old stuff sacks, fill them with snow, attach to guy lines and buried in the snow as well.

Sleep systems

First, make sure you get a warm winter mat and if you can bear the extra weight, get one that is wide for comfort you are going to be in your sleeping bag/quilt for a long time.. Also carry a closed cell foam (CCF) mat as this will add to the R value of your sleep system and if your inflatable mat fails, at least you will have some level of insulation as a backup.  With the two mat system, you may be able to take a summer rated mat as the combined R values of your inflatable mat and CCF mat may be adequate.  The CCF mat is also useful for when sitting up and cooking etc.

 Stacking Sleeping Mats

At Valley and Peak we do recommend the use of an synthetic Over - Quilt, not only will that allow you to take a 3 season down bag with you and stay warm but also it will protect the sleeping bag or Quilt from drips and possible damp down which will not insulate you properly.  Synthetic Quilts do really keep you warm when the insulation is quite wet. I have woken up before in a pool of water, at the foot end in one of our Quilts, because a load of rain had blown in under my shelter and not even noticed until I touch the outside of the Quilt that it was even wet!

The photo below shows the Sierra Designs Cloud 35 ( 2 degree C) inside and protected by an APEX 167 Valley and Peak Over- Quilt. Combined these two should get down to -10 to -12C depending on how warm or cold you sleep.

 Over - Quilt and Sierra Designs Cloud 35

Use a three Glove System

I utilise the three glove system during the winter which gives you the warmth but also allows dexterity to check your GPS system, smart phone or map and carry out fiddly tasks.

This comprises of 

  1. A pair of thin summer gloves which I can easily take photos with them on  and I can also sleep in these if its really cold.
  2. A thicker pair of wool/Primaloft gloves which goes over the above with e-tips which allows operation of a smart phone with a gloved hand.
  3. A  Water and Wind proof gauntlet outer shell which goes over the first two.

3 Glove Layering System

Stoves and cooking

Fuel types

Outside of winter I tend to take a meths/biofuel stove as it is light but a number of people tell me that they take these year round. I just feel that if I have to melt snow for cooking and drinks or its just really cold, I think I need a bit more power.  So in general this means gas or multi fuel stoves. Firstly with gas stoves you don't want to use butane in winter, as it won't work at around freezing where the 4 season gas mixtures will go much lower. Keep the canisters warm when not in use and place the canister when using on top of a small piece of CCF to insulate from the cold ground.   

A multi fuel stove that will take unleaded petrol as well as gas such as the Soto Stormbreaker may be appropriate if you have a lot of snow melting or cooking for a group.  It has a lot of power.  This is a stove that you really want to use outside of the tent however.

Snow melting

If there is no running water around, you are going to need melt snow. First plan ahead during the day and make sure you have at least some water to start off the process. Don't just melt snow as it can taste horrible and you may very well burn a hole in your pan if you are unlucky.  

First boil some water, a few 100mls in a large pan, (this protects the pan).  Start to add clean snow slowly, then when you have a good amount of water, add bigger amounts of snow. Once sufficient water is obtained, you are ready to cook. Make sure you have melted enough to fill your water bottles as well.  You will get a much better melt with a large flatter pan such as the ones in the Soto Navigator Cook Set.

With snow melting you will use quite a bit of fuel, I would suggest taking 2-3 times the amount you would take in the summer.

Entertainment

16 hours in a tent is a long time. Remember to download a film or two, take a Kindle, download a radio app or the Audible app.  I like to catch up on backpacking podcasts as well.  

Cold weather can cause reductions in battery power, whether that is your phone, power pack or camera batteries. The Valley and Peak Insulated pouch is made from silky soft nylon taffeta and Climashield Apex insulation. Put your batteries and gadgets into the Insulated pouch and place in your sleeping bag or quilt to keep them warm and dry ready for their next usage. 

Valley and Peak Insulated Pouch

When nature calls

I write the next tip as a bloke, it may not be as easy for a female to do this! However to avoid getting out in the middle of the night to go for a pee, take a wide mouth Nalgene style bottle with you as pee bottle, its so much easier. Just make sure you mark your bottle with a large letter 'P', your morning tea or coffee tastes so much better using liquid from the right container :)  I have also successfully used a large zip lock bag as well, again mark with a large letter P!

 A few essentials sometimes forgotten.   

It may be winter, but on a sunny day, remember to take a tube of sunscreen and importantly, don't forget sun-glasses because the reflection from the snow can literally be blinding. Special sun glasses for snow and snow googles are even better, particularly if the wind is strong they will give better protection for eyes from stinging snow whipped up by the wind.  I also take a warm buff and will take a balaclava which will cover the nose and mouth again useful if there is wind blown stinging snow.

 

 

 

Ditch the inner use a Bivy instead! (Well at least for part of the year)

Ditch the inner use a Bivy instead! (Well at least for part of the year)

This article mainly talks about the Valley and Peak Ultra Bivy but if the dimensions of other bivy’s are right they could work with what I discuss in this article.
Here I discuss the idea of using the Ultra Bivy instead of the inner provided with your tent or with a single skin shelter where you may use just a groundsheet. In doing so you can save weight, increase space inside the tent and with the enclosed nature of a Bivy it’s generally warmer than using the tent's inner, especially in winter.

How you can put the Ultra Bivy to good use, take it with you outside of the summer.

It may sound counter intuitive to use a Bivy outside of summer during wild camps.  However in my experience of camping in the summer particularly in Scotland (but also you will find this in Nordic countries for example), lying in a Bivy all evening protecting yourself from plagues of midges or other such annoying insects is not much fun.

If you do however, want to use a Bivy in the height of summer, we have an option of quick access side zips, a unique feature to our Ultra Bivy which allows access to gear and I’ve also cooked without leaving the confines of the Ultra Bivy.

Above photo: Quick Access zips, can make life easier inside the Ultra Bivy

Winter/Spring and Autumn

Replace the tent inner with the Ultra Bivy which lightens your load during a period when you will have maximum weight in your pack.  It also allow for increased space inside your tent for those long nights and added warmth due to the enclosed nature of the Bivy compared to the inner. I suspect that an additional 5C of warmth can be gained.  The Optional Hood for the Ultra Bivy will give additional protection from draughts.

Summer - during bug season

This is the time when your inner tent will give most benefit because of midges and other flying and crawling beasties. The increased weight is offset by the fact that you will have a lighter sleeping bag or quilt and less insulated clothing to carry.

Some examples of weight savings compared to using inner tent

Here are some of the tents tested with the Ultra Bivy.

 Tent Total weight of tent  Weight of inner only  Weight of Ultra Bivy  Saving
Hilleberg Soulo  2400g  605g 210g   395g

Tarptent

Stratospire 1

1125 400g 210g 180g
FT Xenon 2 UL 1900g 716g  210g   506g
Wikiup 3  1980g 878g 210g 668g

 

Other benefits to weight savings, include having more room to move around in your tent or shelter.

We have not tested the fit in all shelters, but the Ultra Bivy should fit in most and it is not essential to hook up the foot end which may make the fit better in some tents.

The following are real life photos of the Ultra Bivy in use, not the studio photos that you see with many Bivy’s showing them pulled tight and not a crease in sight!

Above. Ultra Bivy in Hilleberg Soulo.

 

Above. Ultra Bivy in Tarptent Stratospire

Above. Ultra Bivy in Wikiup 3 

Above. Ultra Bivy in  MLD Trailstar will fit at back as in photo or running front to back.

The Ultra Bivy is available in Orange, Dark Olive and Titanium Grey.  Details can be found here

 

 

 

October 16, 2019 — Mark De Ath
Sleeping bags and Quilts, do you have the right temperature rated product?

Sleeping bags and Quilts, do you have the right temperature rated product?

One of the most important pieces of kit when camping is a Sleeping bag and more recently Quilts are proving popular, particularly with the wild camper and backpacker, but how can we ensure that we get the right temperature rating and what do we need to look out for to ensure we have a comfortable night's sleep. At Valley and Peak we stock both, but specialise in Quilts, particularly Synthetic Quilts and Over quilts, which we manufacture ourselves as a standard or made to measure product. We stock the range of Sierra Designs Zipper-less Sleeping bags, which are a hybrid in addition, more about that later.

Sleeping bags

The most popular choice. I'm not going to go through all the features, advantages, disadvantages, construction techniques etc etc as I could fill a whole book about this. However I'm going to give some thoughts on a few areas where I have had issues in the past, and I know just from looking at Twitter conversations, others have as well.

The European Standard - EN13537 which gives temperature ratings is quite a good way of comparing various sleeping bags, whether synthetic or down. (At present there is not a standard for Quilts).

Often people get confused about temperature ratings and what they mean and also how they compare between men and women. I've also seen manufacturers and suppliers present the data in different ways.

I'm going to choose just two of the ratings which I think are the most important.   I will ignore the Upper Comfort level which is not always quoted and the Extreme limit as I believe that no-one should purchase a sleeping bag based on that rating as there is a danger of frostbite or hypothermia at the temperatures quoted.

The ratings below are based on a person lying on an adequate sleeping mat and wearing a thermal long sleeved top and leggings with long socks and a hat. In the test a heated manikin is used, so this may not compare exactly to how people will sleep at the temperatures given.  The table below shows the two main limits shown on most products.

  Limit    Description
Comfort Lower limit of comfort range, to which a woman will be comfortable in a relaxed position
Lower Comfort Limit Lower limit at which a man in a curled position can sleep without waking.

 

What temperatures are you likely to encounter in the year ?

 Seasons in UK  Likely night temperature range
Summer  15 to 8C
Spring and early autumn  10 to 0C
Late autumn and winter  3 to -10C

 

Of course if your live in Southern Europe, your temperatures will be warmer in the summer and in the Nordic countries, winter temperatures may drop below -30C in some areas, so choose wisely.

Now some people just sleep colder or hotter than others so think about moving up or down one temperature level.  Generally women are more likely to sleep colder than men, I have read that they need a 5C warmer bag but I have also read 8C, so definitely look to upgrade the warmth rating, unless you know for sure you will sleep warm.

The photo below show two Sierra Designs bags we have in stock, one on the right suitable for spring and summer and on the left suitable for late autumn and winter where temperatures don't dip beyond the -7C mark if you are a man.  I personally think that a good minimum guide at least for me is between the levels indicated, so for the Cloud 35, that would be around 0C, you may be different and perhaps want to stick to the comfort limit of 2C. For a woman, this bag may get you to say 7C in comfort if you are a cold sleeper, and perhaps going for the one on the left with more down in it would be more appropriate. 

 

Everyone is different and this may need some trial and error, so I always think one should err on the side of caution if you are new to this. Of course you can always add additional insulated clothing in the night if you are feeling a bit cold.

Quilts

 

Now quite established, but not as popular as sleeping bags, quilts with the comfort, freedom, weight and flexibility compared to a sleeping bag have won over many a backpacker. As stated earlier there is no EN Standard for Quilts, but maybe one will be developed in the future.  Most manufacturers will provide approximate temperature ratings whether synthetic or down.

Here are our ratings for our synthetic Classic Quilt below using Climashield Apex insulation

                                                   Temperature rating
 Climashield Apex Level  100   133  167  200
Temperature rating   10 to 8C   5C  2C       -1C

 

In the pursuit of ever lower weight, many lightweight down sleeping bags and quilts use a simple 'stitched - through technique' where, the shell and liner are sewn together to create channels for the down (which stops migration). One of the problems is that this can cause a series of cold spots across the sleeping bag or Quilt.  This was one of the reasons why we were attracted to manufacturing synthetic Quilts and Over-Quilts made out of Climashield Apex insulation as you can make them from using one continuous sheet of insulation, with the fabric and insulation sewn together around the complete perimeter of the Quilt with no cold spots.

As you can see from the table above, most Synthetic Quilts typically will go down to -1C, however you can go lower by adding additional sheets of insulation sandwiched in between the outer and inner fabrics.   Down quilts can go as low as sleeping bags but once you are significantly below zero, they are generally not likely to be as thermally efficient as a mummy style bag.  The use of a strapping system, which straps the quilt to a sleeping mat and cuts out draughts together with placing the synthetic or down quilt in a Bivy bag or inside an Over-Quilt will also help to remain comfortable in lower temperatures.  Our unscientific tests suggest an additional 5C added by placing a Quilt in our Ultra Bivy.

Over-Quilts 

 

This is becoming an increasing popular way of increasing the warmth of any sleeping bag or quilt. By adding a lightweight synthetic Quilt to a sleeping bag you protect the down sleeping bag or Quilt from damp conditions which can cause poor lofting of the down, and at the same time increase the temperature rating. It will also allow you to take a summer sleeping bag in combination so that you won’t generally need a 'full on' winter bag.

Just make sure the Quilt you are using is wide enough to allow adequate loft of the down sleeping bag or quilt, many probably won't be.  Better still get a made to measure Over-Quilt  from us to make sure of this. In the photo above, the Over- Quilt was made especially to add warmth to another and was made big enough to incorporate a sleeping mat inside as well.

Zipper-less sleeping bags

Sierra Designs have developed a range of Zipper-less bags ideal for people who would like the idea of a quilt but don't want to leave the familiarity of a mummy bag. On the face of it, they look like a normal mummy bag but where one or both sides opens up so that you can tuck around you to keep snug. If you are too warm this top section can be laid out on top of you like a quilt. These have been tested under EN 13537 and have a temperature rating like standard sleeping bags.  The Zipper-less sleeping bags are ideal where you encounter a wide range of temperatures, because of the venting options.

Final thoughts

We cannot rely solely on a sleeping bag or quilt to keep us warm. Remember that a sleeping mat needs to be adequate to reflect the season(s) that you will be camping, so a summer mat in winter will not keep you warm even if you have a good winter bag, simply because you will feel the cold underneath.  The EN tests above were tested using a manikin, with a long sleeved top and long bottoms with socks and a hat, so dress similar if you want to feel comfortable in your bag or quilt.

Doing some light exercise prior to getting into the bag or quilt and eating some food will help stoke 'your inner furnace'. Remember don't go to bed cold, it will take a lot longer to get warm.

We are up and running!

We are up and running!

Today we launch our new company - Valley and Peak. Its been a long year, developing and testing our designs, along with a 'few gear testers', putting the website together and generally getting our company up and running.

Valley and Peak is a small cottage manufacturer.  Mary a life long sewer makes all our in house products on a full time basis and Mark when not doing his day job helps out on the product design, testing and input on our website. 

Valley and Peak was born out of our passion for the outdoors and our life long interest in camping, hiking, camper van touring and Mark's wild camping trips.

We supply both our in house manufactured products and a carefully selected range of quality outdoor brands aimed at the backpacker, lightweight camper and camper - van owner.  However, there are products to suit all outdoor people, so take a look.

Many of the brands we feature are favourites in the USA, but have been hard to get over here in Europe, such as Cascade Wild, CNOC, Easton tent stakes, Lawson Equipment, Kelty and Sierra Designs. 

We are looking to add more quality brands in the near future, so check back on a regular basis!

 

August 13, 2019 — Mary De Ath