GR5: Changes To The Itinerary And A TN Laser Comp For Two


We’ve been having a bit of a think.

All things considered, we really won’t want to stay in huts for the whole trip.

And, we won’t want to come home at the end of it.

So as a solution, we’ve decided to take a tent and to stay for seven weeks!

The decision to go from five to six weeks took quite some discussion and planning and weighing up of variables.

The decision to go from six to seven weeks was more along the lines of “Oh… b**ks to it! Why not?”

We’re both freelance and don’t have any more ties than a mortgage at the moment. Not even cats to milk or goldfish to shave.

We’ve been looking at what we might do as Variantes along the way.

The Vanoise National Park looks particularly good and was on the list of potential Big Walks already. We’re thinking about going down through it, back up, and down again all on different routes!

But at our proposed pace, that would put the trip beyond seven weeks without any rest days. Though if we stick to the days in Paddy’s guide it would actually fit… it all depends on how much we speed up…

Enough of all the waffle – what about the main raison d’être for this blog; the kit?

We’d been itching to camp but the thought of lugging camping kit around when we plan to stay in huts for most of the trip had put us off.

But this isn’t 1975. We don’t have to carry a canvas ridge tent and wooden stakes.

So I made up the list of what we’d need to carry:

Tent – Terra Nova Laser Competition (extra weight is “proper” stakes – 4 Ti Nails, 2 Y stakes and 5 Ti skewers) 1,094
Sleeping bag – XL PHD Minimus 560
Sleeping mat (torso) – halved Gossamer Gear NightLight 3/4 112
Sleep mat (legs) – cut-down Gossamer Gear ThinLight 68
Stove – Whitebox + wind shield and stand 68
1.5L Saucepan (MSR) 112
1.5L Saucepan lid (MSR) 62
Pot grab – MSR 28
Mini Firesteel – Light My Fire 10
Knife – Spyrderco Ladybug (three revisions old now) 18
Sporks – Alpkit X2 26
Fuel bottle – 500ml Platy Bottle+FireLite Red Spot Cap 22
Meths (half litre) 400
Subtotal (grams) 2,590
Sleeping bag – PHD Minimus 496
Sleeping mat (torso) – halved Gossamer Gear NightLight 3/4 112
Sleep mat (legs) – cut-down Gossamer Gear ThinLight 52
Food Flavourings (curry powder, herbs, salt, pepper) 80
Subtotal (grams) 740
Total (grams) 3,330

For a whisker over 3.3 kilos, including fuel, we can go from whatever our base pack-weight for hut-to-hut will be, to being able to heat water and sleep in a bag on a comfy mat in a tent. It’s a no-brainer.

Ah now the tent…north-wales-aran-fawddwy-may-09-7-small

The more knowledgeable might spot that a tent rated as “1+” by the manufacturer is being used by two people.

Well with LB being on the petite side and despite me being 6’2″ (187cm) ish I’m not exactly carrying any extra poundage, we can “snuggle” quite nicely into the Laser Comp‘.

The porch is surprisingly generous. There’s at least as much as in the Voyager Superlite taking into account the fact that with the Voyager you have to traverse the length of the porch to get in and out and therefore can’t really use a lot of it as storage. With the vertical room it’s quite suitable for cooking under as well.

We’ve tried it for a weekend of camp-site camping and for three days on the hill in some pretty nasty weather on a couple of exposed sites.

We’ve found that we can adapt our usual routine quite easily and the extra 900 grams knocked off the pack-weight is well worth any extra faff.

And to justify all this spending on new kit, we only have to avoid staying in a few huts over the trip and it’s paid for itself!

21 Replies to “GR5: Changes To The Itinerary And A TN Laser Comp For Two”

  1. The long porch on the Laser Competition will make it work for you fine. Also the Laser Competition has a deeper porch than the Laser (50cm to 40cm ) It is a fantastic porch in that you can reach round to the ends of the tent and put trail shoes there and stash packs etc each end. It is so underrated by some and yet the Laser series porches are superb for their size. Dave that is a fine light set up of kit you are using there.

  2. We’ve been very impressed with the Comp’ so far Martin. The usable porch size really is huge as you say. It means you can use every inch of the inner of the tent for your sleeping area. Thereby making it feel like a much bigger tent.

    Glad you like the look of the kit list – I hope it inspires others to think about taking a tent for the Alps!

  3. Well I think I missed some changes along the way, Laser Comp for 2, cosy but I can see the benefits. By the way I also agree with your weights, the marketed weight in my view is unrealistic for real world camping.
    Whitebox stove? I thought you were a committed bottled gas user. I was obviously wrong, the whitebox solo stove is a great stove, but why are you not using gas?

  4. Hope you don’t mind me invading your blog. I wouldn’t relish such a prolonged trip sharing a Lasercomp. Have you considered using the fly without the inner? I’m no great fan of tarps but the flysheet-only option is a stage up from a tarp, giving much more usable space without sacrificing weather protection. I think one of you would eventually end up sleeping in the porch anyway, so why not go prepared? A lightweight groundsheet cut to cover the whole floor area would minimise ground- sourced condensation problems, assisted by the extra venting from the new 2-way zip. I’ve no personal experience of the area you’re visiting but have read that condensation is not such a problem as in the UK.
    You may want to eyelet the groundsheet & shockcord it to pegs & prepare “boots” to stop the short end poles from sinking into the ground(try cut down small plastic bottles or cycle handlebar end plugs)

  5. Roger – As it happens I was a committed MSR users until last summer when I went back to the canisters because of the weight saving for Iceland.

    I love the Whitebox. I have a hard time explaining why. It’s more fiddly and slower than gas. But I think it’s the silence and perhaps something about the skill of warming it and getting it lit whilst protecting the flame from the wind that appeals. I can’t really justify it rationally!

    That and the fact that we never really stay out for more than two nights during most of the year means it’s generally lighter.

    I’d decided on it more out of habit. Thanks for that – you’ve set me thinking. Gas may well be the way to go after all!

  6. thinkgreysky – Welcome! No way to “invade” a public blog – all comments very well received. It lets me know that I’m not wasting my time and that it is provoking some thought. :)

    And of course the comments often provoke thought for me – as you and Roger certainly both have.

    The trip will mainly be in huts (probably 90% – we’ll see!) so the odd few nights in the tent will be no hardship.

    And we really have found it no problem for us both sharing it.

    But you also have got me thinking…

    I do like the idea of having a proper twin walled tent. Less from a condensation point of view (I’m quite sure it is less humid!) but more to provide a second layer in a storm. Especially if the outer were to tear (pole failure is no fun in a mesh-inner tent I can tell you!).

    But if it’s really that rare that we’ll use it, maybe a fly-only option is the way to go.

    I know Morph over at teamio does a Laser Comp footprint that he’s told me only weighs 125 grams. I think it doesn’t cover the porch but I’m sure that could be changed. Edit: It’s 160-180g for the full footprint (all the porch too).

    One of the Backpacking Gear reviewers decided he loved the tent but only when used fly-only.

    I might have to do some sums of full groundsheet+ pole boots vs. inner… :)

  7. Yeah and you got me think about stoves for the trip along the Nordkalottleden Trail, initially I had been thinking gas (or bushbuddy), but you focused my mind back on meths stoves. There is a weight saving as the amount of fuel carried can be controlled, whereas with gas it will probably have to be 2 canisters, with left over fuel. So for now it is more likely to be a Caldera cone and an Evernew pot with a meths burner, which will probably save about 200 gms. By the way i have a Whitebox Solo, but feel that the fuel usage will be higher than the Caldera.

    As for the comp, I use a Tyvek groundsheet, which maybe worth considering if you can get hold of it cheaply enough.

  8. I think the Caldera is more economical on the fuel. I’ve not got around to looking to see if there’s a 1.5 litre pot that goes with one. I do hear very good things!

    You mention something that I like about the meths – no canisters to dispose of. Something that I could see being a pain on the GR5. I might be wrong – but at the moment I can’t imagine it would be easy to get rid of them!

    I have got to weigh the inner on the Comp’…

  9. RedYeti – when I see the gear-lists that you, Martin and SectionHiker put together, I feel like bowing down at your lightweight boots. Of course, I can’t because my back is killing me from lugging too much kit about… :-)

    Seriously, though, thank you for so diligently posting your lists – plenty of ideas in there. Dammit, I will lighten up this year!!

  10. Ah but what I’m not mentioning is the kilos of camera kit I’m also taking! At the moment it’s an EOS400D, two fat lenses and a kilo of very nice tripod! ;)

    Besides – with what you tend to get up to in the winter there’s no getting away from the heavy boots etc. You do far more serious stuff in far more serious places than I ever get to see!

  11. Hi Juris,

    I’ve just updated the About The Pictures page with mention of the tripod and the lenses are mentioned on there too.

    Most of the time the Canon EF-S 10-22mm lives on the body though.

    And I’ve just gone over to an EOS 550D though none of those images have made it onto the blog just yet!

  12. Thanks, I see you have a Gitzo CF one. Good choice, though above my price range.

    I’m thinking of bringing a Panasonic GF1 m43 camera with a GorillaPod (168g) pseudo-tripod. I’m not sure if the GorillaPod is good enough, but it at least is light.

    I also forgot to say I think your website is excellent, as is the book.

  13. Hey thanks Juris that’s nice of you! I do hope the pictures in the book are enjoyable. I live in trepidation at anyone actually reading it and discovering just how blow-by-blow it actually is… ;)

    I think the big GorrillaPod looks an interesting bit of kit. I have a feeling it will work really well. And the Lumix – never hear anything bad about them! Have yet to try one myself sadly.

  14. Yes, the pictures are great too, although seeing them through a PDF reader makes them lose resolution; but I intend to look at your Picasa albums after I’ve read the book.

    The nice thing about the GF1 is that with the kit lens/battery and all it is 543g only. Makes a big difference for me compared to my DSLR, though you lose some high-ISO quality and DR.

    BTW we’re thinking of doing about 5-7 days of GR5 next year in July but our physical conditioning isn’t that great at the moment.

    Which part would you recommend as the most beautiful? I’m leaning towards from Vanoise to Chamonix going S to N.

  15. Hmmmm… what a hard question. It was all very, very beautiful. Honestly!

    Finishing in Chamonix is a good bet certainly. Though the Chamonix and Vanoise areas are both highlights (just!).

    But beyond Chamonix we really enjoyed the stretch over towards Samoëns…

    Oh heck – it’s an impossible question to answer! You can’t really go wrong! :)

  16. OK, thanks – I am getting Paddy’s book tomorrow and will read it too and that should help decide.

    Thanks again for all your interesting and informative posts and please keep writing!

  17. Wow – thanks Juris I really do appreciate that.

    I am utterly, utterly buried at the moment: close family member very ill, prep for GR20 in three days, live launch of major client site tomorrow and at a crux point in one of the largest personal projects of my life today!!

    And on my “Will Do Today” list; “Blog something!” is the thing I keep on reluctantly pushing on to the “Tomorrow” list.

  18. Hi there,
    I have been planning a ski touring trip with my girlfriend in the same kind of region, vanoise and later aguilles rouges and have been wondering how comfortable a laser comp might be with two (with the added spice of snow!). Like the trip that started this page I would hope to stay in huts for much of the time but would like the flexibility of a tent – can two easily sleep side by side on their backs? … it looks very tight? … my other options are single skins like the BD firstlight or highlight… any thoughts? anyone have other tent suggestions (under 1.5 kg) ?
    thanks, ben

  19. To be frank Ben, it’s a tight fit! Especially with the more bulky mats you’ll need in the winter.

    Though we use Thermarest NeoAirs now. We’ve had to roll the long edges up and gaffer tape them to get them to fit into the tent though. And with the extra height, your nose is noticeably closer to the roof!

    It’s very hard to give a good indication. It certainly works for us. I’m over six foot tall but LB’s about 5’6″ and so fits into the smaller side of the tent, away from the door. And we’ve camped together, a lot, for years so we have the whole thing quite slick.

    Critically though, we’re both fully aware of the benefit gained by carrying a light pack verses the inconvenience for a small proportion of the trip by having a small tent.

    If you’re not sure or can’t get Laser Comp+girlfriend together for a trial run, I’d have a look at the TN Laser perhaps. At 1.24 kilos it’s hard to beat and I’d assume it would shed snow reasonably well.

    For that reason, I’d not be tempted by the much larger TN Voyager Superlite since it certainly doesn’t shed snow!

  20. Thanks, yeah i was thinking along the same lines, a colleague here has a Laser and says it is much more comfortable with 2 than the comp. The kit amassing continues!
    best, ben

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