With only 5 (!!!!) weeks before I depart for Scotland, my kit is starting to form up nicely. I already have most of my essentials, like the pack, clothes, shoes, etc. However, I have two new pieces of gear that I'm really excited about. So excited, in fact, that I'm posting this even before I've received them!
The first is my new tent. Originally, I had planned to go with The One from Gossamer Gear. From looking at the specs, this tent is quite literally on the cutting edge of technology. As far as I know, it is the lightest fully enclosed tent to offer both bug and water protection. However, Gossamer just revamped their design for their 2009 models, and Grant (always a good guy) from Gossamer informed me that the run won't be completed until April and, although he did guarantee I would have it one by May, it wouldn't be until the last weeks of April that it actually arrived here in Duluth. A little to small of a time window, I thought. In addition, The One now sells for $295, which, for a broke college student, is a good chuck on change. Without a time constraint and my lack of money, this tent would absolutely be in my kit, and I look forward to including it later in my hiking adventures.
After much thought and searching, I have decided to go with another homegrown, USA manufacturer: Henry Shires' Tarptents. The concepts of the Tarptent are identical (or nearly) to that of Gossamer's The One. The specs on Henry Shires' work are impeccable, and their reputation speaks volumes. Tarptents have been used by all manner of outdoor enthusiasts for all manner of trips in all sorts of countries. Another improvement point is that Tarptent specializes in tents and only tents, while companies like Gossamer Gear, although great, make a wider ranger of products. The ideas that go into a Tarptent are fresh, original, and efficient.
The second piece of gear to arrive soon is my gloves. Traditionally, I don't use gloves unless its extremely cold. However, I've been searching for a decent multipurpose glove that is still lightweight and functionable. My first idea was something like Neoprene. However, neoprene is not something you can get for very cheap, and it's also rather thick, so it looses most of its dexterity when made into a complex pattern like gloves. For this reason, I've decided to go with another of my favorite companies: Outdoor Research. The mini gaitors I wear are made by outdoor research, and I've also used their hats and gloves before. Their construction is solid and their gloves in particular seem to do very well.
Both of these new pieces of gear should arrive this coming week. When they do and after I've looked them over and tested them, I'll share my findings here. Don't want to ruin the surprise (or look like a fool!)