UKC

/ Brecon Beacons winter camp - some questions

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BattyMilk - on 03 Jan 2018
Some friends and I have decided to take a winter wild camp trip in the Brecon Beacons next weekend (12-14 Jan). We're staying in a hostel the Friday night and intend to wild camp the Saturday night.

I've wild winter camped solo once before - in the Remarkables in NZ with borrowed gear but the others have no winter camping experience. We've adequate gear for the walking during the day and keeping warm and have a (not great - but functional) tent between us.

I have a question about sleeping bags. I currently have a very cheap bag so am looking to pick up a new one for this and future trips. I'm looking at the Synthetic Mountain Equipment Starlight 3 ("good night's sleep down to around -10") or 4 ("good night's sleep down to around -15"). I'm not carrying much fat and can be susceptible to cold. Would either of these bags suffice - they are around the price range I'm looking at and on spec seem fine. If not, could anyone recommend an alternative?

We're looking to walk up Pen Y Fan (weather permitting) on the Saturday and find a camping spot around there (not at the top!). Appreciate folk may not want to give away their wild camping spots but if anyone has camped there and would be generous enough to point us to a grid ref for a nice place to camp it would be hugely appreciated.

Is it safe to drink from streams? What precautions should we take with sterilizing water?

Any other tips would be greatly received.

Cheers!
1
planetmarshall on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to BattyMilk:

> I have a question about sleeping bags. I currently have a very cheap bag so am looking to pick up a new one for this and future trips. I'm looking at the Synthetic Mountain Equipment Starlight 3 ("good night's sleep down to around -10") or 4 ("good night's sleep down to around -15"). I'm not carrying much fat and can be susceptible to cold. Would either of these bags suffice - they are around the price range I'm looking at and on spec seem fine. If not, could anyone recommend an alternative?

It's really hard to say. Best advice I can give is to borrow a bag and see how you get on. Take an insulated jacket with you and you can always use it to pad out the insulation if necessary.

> Is it safe to drink from streams? What precautions should we take with sterilizing water?

Unless there's a dead sheep in it, I'd say yes. I've never used any kind of sterilizing treatment when drinking from streams in the UK.

> Any other tips would be greatly received.

Just the usual - leave no trace. I wild camped in Glen Etive over New Year and it's sad how difficult many parties seem to find this very simple rule.

Welsh Kate - on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to BattyMilk:

I'd say yes at this time of year it's safe to drink from streams high up the hills, as there are no sheep up high. There's a spring on the by-pass path behind Corn Du which should be running (unless it's frozen which it sometimes does). I wouldn't drink from Llyn Cwm Llwch or its outlet stream though - the llyn gets a lot of silt in it from the escarpment.

If the weather's nice, a high camp west and south a bit of Bwlch Duwynt is good, and the Upper Neuadd reservoir area is ok for a lower level camp. The Caerfanell valley is also good, and there's space for a tent or two at Llyn Cwm Llwch.

If the weather's cr@p and you don't fancy a night in the hills, there's informal camping the farmer at Nant Cwm Llwch allows, next to the river.
BattyMilk - on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to planetmarshall:

Thanks. I don't know anyone with kit that I'd be able to borrow from. Will probably just take the hit on the bag and hope for the best (keep an eye out for a nearly new sleeping bag in the for sale/wanted forum in a couple of weeks from now). We're not planning a massive amount of walking to no issue traveling a little heavily with extra layers!

Will absolutely be clearing up after ourselves.

Thanks for taking the time to respond!

Cheers
1
BattyMilk - on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to Welsh Kate:

Thanks for the recommendations. I'll dig the map out and take a look at those places. Great to have a start in the right direction!

Also good to know about water. With all the other kit, if we can confidently go without taking too much water in, it'll lighten the load massively.

Cheers!!
Doug on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to BattyMilk:
What do you have as a sleeping mat? a decent layer isolating you from the cold ground is as important as your sleeping bag
Post edited at 18:07
BattyMilk - on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to Doug:

I've a cheapish 3/4 length inflatable camping mat. One of these: https://www.decathlon.co.uk/forclaz-a100-ultralight-camping-sleeping-mat-blue-id_8029334.html

Probably not sufficient?
Welsh Kate - on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to BattyMilk:

Stick a cheap closed-cell mat underneath and you'll have insulation and comfort
BattyMilk - on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to Welsh Kate:

Thanks. Cheap is a word I like ;) Can you recommend one
ben b - on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to BattyMilk:

The "ideal for warm temperatures (+20 degrees C)" bit suggests this might be a struggle

Especially for the bony / under blubbered I think insulation from the ground is critical for comfort in winter. An expedition grade down bag in a tent will still be uncomfortable as lofted down (on top) is warm but compressed (underneath) has no real insulation value.

You have a 'comfortable" but not very insulated mat. A good value option would be taking a karrimat type pressure blown EVA mat to go underneath it, and then you get both warmth and comfort for less than the price of a new winter inflatable mat. Slightly heavier and much more bulky but very cheap. I never found space to be a massive problem for blown foam mats as I just strapped them to the side of the pack (unless skiing).

HTH

b
Welsh Kate - on 03 Jan 2018
ben b - on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to Welsh Kate:

You beat me to it ;-)

Pressure blown foam more resilient than chemically blown (i.e. old Karrimat Expedition or Extreme). Personally I went for the purple/yellow combo with a loop that can be sacrificed as ab tat, and some duct tape on the corner it is tied through to stop it ripping. Very 80s but indestructible and light, if bulky. Still going some decades later.

b
ben b - on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to BattyMilk:
This is the one I use - with horror I note that the price of this mat is now the same as I paid for my full length full thickness thermarest Original in, er, 1988. And no longer 15 quid.

https://www.needlesports.com/4171/products/beacons-products-expedition-summit-12-xl-mat.aspx

b
Post edited at 21:30
pasbury on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to BattyMilk:

A lot depends on your tent, the superlight, mesh inner ones can be pretty chilly. You will be miserable if your sleeping bag can't keep you warm; the nights are long.....

If in any doubt about water, just bung a puritab in it or boil it for a brew. Carrying water is daft. If you're going to carry a liquid, I would suggest a peaty one from Scotland.

Consider the area west of the Storey Arms car park; Fan Fawr is a nice hill and the area above Ystradfellte Reservoir is good for wild camping..

Enjoy.
Rob Exile Ward on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to ben b:

Please don't tell me there's something wrong with the classic yellow Karrimat. I've relied on those for 45 years - surely they're fine???!!!
1
ben b - on 03 Jan 2018
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

Ahhh but.... classic yellow Karrimats came in a couple of different types. There were some 3 season versions made of chemically blown foam, which didn't do well at scuffs and scrapes compared to the near indestructible pressure blown ones. Punctures and rips tend not to propagate in pressure blown foam as much, so they tended not to get the deep long gouges that used to occur when thrashing through woodland with a mat on the outside of the pack.

If yours is still going at 45 years and looks pretty much like it did almost half a century ago, it is almost certainly the old pressure blown extreme version.

I need to get out more

cheers

b

BattyMilk - on 04 Jan 2018
In reply to Welsh Kate:

Ah, awesome. So basically just a standard foam mat. This I can stretch to ;)
BattyMilk - on 04 Jan 2018
In reply to ben b:

Sounds like this is the answer! Thanks so much for the info. I'll grab another mat and take both. My existing mat packs down tiny and weighs virtually nothing so no dramas taking both.

Cheers!
BattyMilk - on 13 Jan 2018

Thought I'd give an update. Thanks all for your advice. I'm currently nice and warm in the ME Starlight IV with my crappy 3/4 length £13 mat and an additional cheap £5 roll mat from decathlon under me. On a shelf, sheltered from the wind overlooking the valley between Fan y big and Cribbin.

The tent is going in the bin after the weekend as the ground sheet has torn away from one of the fixing points on the corner. Luckily it's not too wet and it's being held in place by a rock inside the tent. 

Brought in 3l of water between us and boiled water from some ice with the lack of streams for dinner. 

Pretty much perfect apart from the slight decline we're pitched on which has me sliding towards the door anytime I lift my feet. 

Thanks again all. Cheers!

 

toad - on 13 Jan 2018
In reply to BattyMilk:

Sat in front of the log burner with a glass of wine but have to admit I'm a teeny bit jealous. Stay safe, warm and dry...ish and have an excellent adventure

Welsh Kate - on 13 Jan 2018
In reply to BattyMilk:

Nice one!

mary on 13 Jan 2018
In reply to BattyMilk:

Pop a couple of shoes /rolled clothes under the edge of your mat, stops you rolling and makes it proper comfy.

Mz


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