Gear: Berghaus 64Zero daypack

The Berghaus 64Zero rucksack is a light 30L capacity daypack weighing in at 690 grams. It has one main compartment plus 7 mesh pockets, 2 on each side, one on the back and a small pocket on each hip strap. It’s made (in China) out of nylon fabric and includes a hydration pocket.

I chose this pack because I wanted something light and simple that would fit all the gear I’d need to carry each day on the coast to coast walk. I’ve recently being trying to reduce the amount of weight I carry both when walking and when travelling, hence the requirement for minimum weight. I also didn’t want to spend too much on something that when not being used on the c2c walk was going to be scrunched up in my suitcase.

This pack fit these requirements well. It’s light at around 690 grams, does not have any internal frame thus allowing it to be compressed for packing, and is quite cheap. Capacity wise, there’s enough space for a jacket/fleece, lightweight gore-tex jacket and over-trousers, hat and gloves plus water and lunch, which is ample for most daywalks outside of winter. Personally, I would have liked a zipped pocket on top or on the back (the only pockets with zips are the two on each hip strap), but the trade off here would be extra weight.

Construction wise, it survived both the c2c and my extended overseas trip unscathed. We didn’t get much rain, but when it did rain, it started to leak fairly quickly, the material didn’t strike me as particularly water resistant and the slit in the top for the hydration tube to go through seems like it would let in water pretty easily. I had my gear in an internal waterproof bag, so this wasn’t a problem – but I’d certainly recommend a waterproof bag or external waterproof cover.

The pack has a mesh back which is supposed to encourage ventilation, but I didn’t really find it any different to my old Berghaus daypack without this feature – my back still got damp. There’s a round badge sewn into the back with slightly rough edges that will rub and cause your shirt to pill where the badge presses against it.

Despite the few niggles noted, I would recommend this pack. It’s light, has a useful amount of capacity and is well constructed. I’m finding that lightweight walking is much more fun and I’m happy to put up with a few compromises for less weight.

UPDATE 25/11/2012:

I’m still using this pack, and it has proven to be an excellent buy. In addition to the c2c I’ve used it on daywalks in the UK, Switzerland and Australia as well as on the Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Base Camp treks in Nepal. Alas, it appears that it is no longer available – the link below goes to Berghaus’ current range of daypacks.

(Link to manufacturer’s current range of daypacks)

Gear: Brasher Hillmaster GTX Walking Boots

Brasher Hillmaster walking boots

I bought this pair of Brasher “Hillmaster” GTX boots back in 1999, and they have since given 8 years of sterling service. I’ve used them in all conditions – from snow and pelting rain to hot dry days. They’ve covered many, many miles around a good part of England and Wales as well as Switzerland and Australia, along all kinds of terrain.

The boots are constructed of a leather upper with Gore-tex lining and a rubber sole. The waterproofing is generally very good, although it is wise to remember that no boot can ever be completely waterproof, given water can get in from the top and around the tongue. The soles on my pair have worn down quite a bit but still have plenty of life left, and they are still firmly attached to the uppers. I’ve had no problems with seams coming undone or indeed any other manufacturing issues. I should add that the boots have often been stored wet and have not been cleaned that often, I’ll also have to admit that I have sometimes opened up the boot bag in which they are stored to discover dust and dirt and a rather fragrant pair of socks stuffed in them from the previous walk, which makes their longevity all the more impressive. Comfort has been excellent right from the start – no blisters at all, and at around 1.3kg they are quite light for a solid pair of boots and this makes a big difference towards the end of a day of walking.

In summary, definitely the best pair of walking boots I’ve owned: comfortable and light with excellent performance and quality. I’m retiring this pair now because the leather on the top of the boot at the front has finally cracked after the flexing of thousands of steps (the leather in this area has also become a bit brittle), but my next pair will be Hillmasters¬†Supalites.

(Link to manufacturer’s site)

UPDATE: Well I visited a Field and Trek store while I was in London fully intending to buy a new pair of Hillmasters…but I tried on a pair of Brasher Supalites, and after much deliberation decided to give these a try instead. First impressions have been good, again they were very comfortable out of the box, just a little rubbing at the top of the ankle at the back – but I get this with all new shoes and it didn’t cause a blister.¬†

The boots are and feel lighter but the trade off here is that they don’t feel as sturdy and I don’t expect they’ll last as long. I’ll report back in a year or so.