This is a debrief of the gear I took on my walk across the Pyrenees on the GR10 in summer 2022. A lot of it is the same as the gear I walked across New Zealand with and my thoughts remain largely similar on those pieces.
I intended to make a big change here and switch my tent from my Tarptent Scarp to a Tarptent Notch. I tried to like the Notch, I really did. On paper it’s great – it packs down smaller and is nearly half the weight, in part due to relying on walking poles rather than tent poles. But after some test nights out in it I just couldn’t get on board with the massive reduction in liveable space that I’ve been spoiled by with the Scarp. The Notch has big porch areas on both sides so you can bring kit under cover, but the enclosed inner was only slightly wider and slightly longer than my sleeping mat, and it felt a little like a coffin. A rather expensive coffin. It also never felt quite as stable and robust as the Scarp, which was probably at least in part due to my pitching, but it wasn’t an area I was willing to make concessions. My walking poles have had a long and tough life so I was a bit apprehensive about the tent’s reliance on walking poles to pitch, what if they broke? If I was a hardy ultralight hiker then the Notch would be a no-brainer, but I was going to be spending a lot of time in my tent on the walk and so opted for comfort and space. I can definitely see myself using the Notch more in the future and it’s been great for short bikepacking trips.
So, I returned to ye olde faithful, the Scarp. Before I left I gorilla-taped up a little hole in the mesh inner and one of the corners of the bathtub floor, but overall it has held up impressively well to my fairly gung-ho use over the years.
However. My Scarp tent pole broke on day 7 of the GR10. I’m pretty sure this was down to user error, I’m assuming the two middle sections weren’t fully interlocked as the middle cracked and split. Luckily, a walker that I’d met the evening before had a tent pole repair sleeve and gave it to me. I used this and gorilla tape to fix it over the break and it lasted fine for the rest of the walk. I didn’t test it in any particularly strong winds, but I was still impressed. And very thankful.
I used an Enlightened Equipment Enigma quilt instead of my Alpkit sleeping bag. My reasons were driven mostly by weight savings and utility; I use my sleeping bag as a quilt 90% of the time anyway. The EE quilt was very cosy and on the colder nights towards the end of the walk I used the clips to wrap it around myself which worked well. I used my ~15 year old Trekmates silk sleeping bag liner for huts and hot nights.
The Thermorest Neo Air X-Lite was once again my sleeping mat, and to be honest this has lasted longer than I thought it might do and I’ve not been treating it preciously. Pretty sure it’s quite mouldy inside by now and if I get a new inflatable mat at some point I’d use a bag to inflate it rather than directly breathing warm air inside. A tiny inflatable pillow completed my sleeping setup, and I wouldn’t camp without one now. It took a couple of tries to find one that was comfortable, but the Nemo is.
I deliberated for quite a while when planning this walk over whether to invest in a lighter backpack. In the end I didn’t, and used the Osprey Aura 65 again which I’m still very happy with. My pack weight still required a supportive backpack. The Aura itself weighs almost 2kg, which is a fifth of my total base weight. But the design over compensates for that, and for long distance walks it’s amazingly comfy to wear. I usually carried 3-5 days food at a time, and at least 2 litres of water, which was easy to fit in and the backpack didn’t blink at the weight. I’ll try and remember to wash it beforehand next time though.
Inov-8 Roclites have been my shoes of choice for walking for the last ~5 years, but the Roclites are now only available as waterproof shoes. Gore-Tex makes my feet sweat horribly so for long distances I always prefer non-waterproof. So instead I tried out the Inov-8 Rocfly. It’s a sturdier boot with higher ankle support, but still lightweight and comfortable. The Roclites would have been near the end of their life after 2 months of demanding walking, but the Rocflys are still in one piece with little sign of wear except for the tread. The tread had worn quite a bit by the end of the walk but the grip was excellent on rock. The toe box seems to be a little narrower than the Roclites and my little toes got some fabulous callouses. For that reason I’m not sure if I would buy them again. As alternative footwear to air my feet out I had Luna Mono 2.0 sandals, very light and comfy.
My Columbia shorts had finally disintegrated, so I had to get a new pair. It’s taken a long time to find a pair that I’m happy with but the Alpkit Wind River shorts are pretty perfect for me – 2/3rds thigh length, not skinny fit, deep pockets that can fit my phone, lightweight and quick dry, flat waistband with internal drawstring. I might try the Teleki shorts as well. My Alpkit Teleki trousers have become my staple summer walking trousers as well as general travel trousers. They’re light, comfortable, fit well and don’t scream ADVENTURER.
I walked in the same two SuperNatural merino t-shirts that I have done for a long time, and I remain impressed by their durability and lack of immediate smelliness. For when it eventually did get a bit cooler, my ancient Lowe Alpine jumper kept me warm. I wore my Rab down jacket maybe twice, took gloves but never wore them, and wore my buff only a couple of times for the wind. I walked mostly with my hat on, but swapped for sunglasses when it became too windy.
Patagonia pants that can double as a bikini, and Darn Tough socks rounded off my wardrobe.
I only wore my waterproofs for three days in eight weeks of walking. I know. It did mean I was wishing I’d packed my lighter coat as it stayed in my bag most of the time, but I was glad to have my Mountain Equipment Manaslu when I needed it. Both it and the Berghaus trousers have a small tear in, but they are still excellent at their job. I’ll reproof the coat before my next trip.
My little Alpkit Koro stove continues to win my heart, punching above its weight and boiling water very quickly and using little gas. I picked up a 250g gas canister in Paris between trains on the journey out, and swapped it for a full one half way through in Banyuls-sur-Mer, but neither were empty by the end.
I added a few tiny cooking accessories this time which I would take again – HotLips so you can drink from a titanium pot without burning your mouth, a GSI Outdoors scraper for easier porridge clean up, and a small and slightly flimsy cutting board from Cascade Wild. The stove, accessories and lighter all fit inside the pot.
The Cnoc water bladder’s design has caught on with other brands now, and it’s one I still use to easily collect water from streams to filter – to filter with the Sawyer Mini. The Sawyer works fine but you need to carry the flush-syringe and blackflush it regularly on the trail to stop the slow flow reducing to a trickle. If I do another long trip where I need a filter, I might look at a different system that’s faster, but they’re all pretty expensive.
With 2 x 1L collapsible Platypus bottles, 1 x 750ml bottle, and the 2L Cnoc, I had plenty of capacity for carrying water. The most I carried at one time was 4 litres during one of the heatwave days where there were no reliable streams on route.
My Garmin InReach remained in my backpack most of the time but was tracking me at 30 minute intervals, and was there if I needed emergency help. I was mostly on well-travelled paths, but you never know what can happen when in the mountains, and I was glad to have it. By tracking at 30 minutes and turning it off when I stopped walking, the battery lasted 10 days before I needed to charge it and it does charge pretty quickly.
I started walking with a solar panel – Anker 21W – to top up my battery pack. For a few reasons, I sent this home during the trail. Firstly, I was walking broadly west to east, into the sun. So unless I wanted to wear it like a heat-seeking bib, it was shaded a lot of the time. Secondly, most days I was walking in forests for some of the morning and afternoon. Thirdly, I just didn’t need the extra juice. My phone would last for 2 days and my Anker 20k power bank could charge my phone four times, and I had access to mains charging more frequently than that.
Continuing my love for the Black Diamond Trail Trekking poles. Still going strong after over 3,000km of pretty rugged use which is rather impressive. Support, balance, river crossings, bog checking (although very little bog on the GR10).
I started walking in the dark a few times to get a head start on the heat, and my Alpkit headtorch gave an impressive wide beam whilst being fairly lightweight. You can get tiny ones but I’d rather have one that I know will last. Not actually sure of the model and they don’t make it anymore anyway.
Coming in at possibly the worst on the £ : grams ratio – laser eye surgery. It meant I didn’t need to pack glasses and 150 daily contact lenses (light, but take up a lot of backpack space). More importantly was the freedom it gave me, being able to wake up in the morning and see, not worrying about giving myself an eye infection, not worrying about breaking my glasses, and just the ability to see life in full screen.
Excessively detailed full gear list
|Osprey Aura 65
|Tarptent Scarp 1
|Thermorest NeoAir X-lite
|Enlightened Equipment Enigma quilt
|Alpkit Mytipot 900
|Sawyer mini filter
|Luna Mono 2.0
|Alpkit Wind River
|Socks x 2
|Long sleeve shirt
|T-shirt x 2
|Rab Microlight Alpine
|Mountain Equipment Manaslu
|Pants x 3
|Sports bra x 2
|Toothpaste + floss
|Compact (brush and mirror)
|Clothes wash, plug, line
|Coghlans Backpacker Trowel
|Chargers & EU plug adapter
|GPS & SOS satellite phone
|Garmin inReach Explorer
|First aid kit
|Mattress repair patch
Total base carry weight ~11kg.