A question I regularly get asked is "What do you use when testing a new piece of gear?". Well, this is my short guide to testing new gear and what to use. It seems straight forward and it is, if you get your system right.

For me, I usually just use my day hike gear but with a few extras. The one thing I change is my pack. I use an Exped Typhoon 15L pack. Using this rugged, lightweight and smaller pack gives me maximum weather protection allowing me to get outdoors with my new piece of kit knowing I can rely on my pack to get the job done.

Exped Typhoon 15

The Typhoon 15 is a heavy duty daypack which is 100% waterproof thanks to the high quality ripstop nylon and seam taped liner that will take a beating on rocks and low hanging branches on those woodland walks.

That's what I take as my pack, here is what I take as a standard for my day hiking testing kit.

Without fail, I will always pack my Evernew 0.9L Titanium UL Pot. As I'm sure you're aware by now, I can't go on a hike without it. It's super lightweight and big enough to fit my stove in with my Vesuv Windshield and Vargo Triad stove.

Evernew Titanium UL Pot with Vesuv Windshield

This week I wanted to try out the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 so I popped out with my usual gear in to the Lincolnshire Wolds on a lovely morning. After walking for only 30 minutes with my dog Alfie tagging along, I found a great spot to pitch up, try out the tent, covered by a nice hedge and made a coffee while having a look at my tent. The usual kit, that I get more used to every time I go out, came with me. The stove and pot system mentioned above came along and, as always, I was able to get my testing done without having to worry at all. The Typhoon 15 performed exactly how I wanted it to and it was proof that the small, lightweight and sturdy pack was my go to when needing to nip out and try out some kit.

Alfie and Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1

My top tips when testing new gear:

  1. Always go out close to home, in case an essential bit of kit fails (not everything is perfect). This way, you are not too far from help or your car. This is more critical when out camping but still applies with day hiking kit.
  2. Make sure you know how the piece of gear works before setting off. It's easy to forget instructions when heading outdoors so either read them well before, or quickly check over the item at home first.
  3. Pack light - make it enjoyable so your first experience with your new stove or tent is a positive one where you're not slogging it up a stinker of a hill with a heavy pack slowing you down.
  4. Have a selection of go-to bits of gear like my stove set up. This way you can use your new gear in an environment where you would likely use this set up all together. For example, wildcamping with your new tent and needing to use your stove set up for tea.

As I will always tell people, please do what is comfortable to you. Never push yourself beyond your skills and capability. By testing gear this way, you are always set up and prepared to use it when you go out on a trip or wildcamp for real.

If you are struggling for ideas or can't find that perfect combination, please reach out to me in the usual places - @valleyandpeakuk on Instagram or on jim@valleyandpeak.co.uk for email.

Jim - Valley and Peak