With Elan away on his @AntiClockwiseEire expedition we have lost our top trip report collator for a while, so we thought that rather than the usual monthly staff update we'd let former staff member Duncan Irving let you know what he's been up to recently.

Duncan Irving

Duncan helped Norman and Chris sell their first gear on upandunder.co.uk back in 1999; Over a couple of years, he created a stock control and e-commerce site for Up and Under to supplement his meagre income finishing his PhD in glaciology. Duncan has been a climber, mountaineer and fell runner for over thirty years and has always looked for challenges and experiences off the beaten track. Introduced to alpinism as a late teenager, he spent the next decade filling in the gaps in his UK cragging, coming to appreciate the finer points of Scottish granite, Welsh rhyolite, slate and seacliffs of all shades. He is now settled in the Peak District where he has been introducing his three children to walking, climbing and fell running for the last ten years. While there’s a lot less time to go do big Alpine faces (he’s done over 100 grandes courses), Duncan has still manages to fit in the odd mountain marathon and longer undertakings (Pennine Way in five days), and he loves combining sports in events like the Three Peaks Yacht Race (note: the boss Norman has won this event in the past) and the Scottish Islands Peaks Race. He’s still not quite ready for a second alpine winter mountaineering season – ski touring is much more fun and involves a warm bed each night. He still loves exploring remote moorland edges on a long summer’s evening – ideally with a long run to a good pub to finish the day off! Duncan still gives advice and guidance on the Up and Under range of “niche” running and mountaineering kit – even when they don’t ask for it.

High Peak Marathon 2017

Duncan and three other ex-Cardiff Uni climbers-turned-runners entered the High Peak Marathon this year. Whilst the name is correct in that it’s in the High Peak, it’s actually 42 miles. Much of it at night. In March. Around the Derwent Watershed. Unusually for Duncan (or Lewis, Simon and Aldous), nothing untoward happened and they all had a great time – possibly the best Friday night getting sweaty together since they were all students in the ‘90s. This was attributed to a combination of training (lots of it – physical and navigation), and luck with the weather.

High Peak Marathon 2017

The team made it round in good time, weakening a little after Snake Pass (30 miles in) but keeping good pace and even better conversation for all of the nearly 13 hrs of running/shuffling. The “highlight” of the route is negotiating the undulating and sodden tussocks from Margery Hill at the NE end of the Derwent Reservoirs, across to Bleaklow and thence to Snake Top. After this, there’s a punishing 10 miles of flag stones back round to the Start/Finish at Edale. This requires a thoughtful footwear choice. Duncan used La Sportiva Bushido's which are a great hybrid shoe with just the right amount of cushioning and torsional support for the flagstones, but enough tread to retain control in the peat (most of the time!). This is Duncan’s second pair of Bushido’s – he was raving about them after spending five days wearing them running the Pennine Way. He logs everything on Strava and reckons on a 600 km lifespan for these shoes (not bad given that they have to carry all 80 kg of him!) – so he’ll be placing an order for his third pair in a few weeks. Those that wore studs all the way round regretted it!

Mountain Marathon Equipment List

Duncans also done a number of mountain marathons over the years competing in Elite Class and Long Score courses on the OMM for example. He's given us a run down of his favoured kit and the overall weights below to help give you a ball park idea of what you might be carrying, or should aim to be carrying.

Shared equipment:

Tent fly 520g (partner carries inner), tent pegs 85g (partner carries poles), repair kit 10g (for tent, clothing, shoes etc), Duncan uses a precursor to the Lightwave t10 raid.

Stove and igniter 110g, fuel 204g, windbreak 45g, pans 120g. There are a wide variety of lightweight gas stoves to suit all pockets, with favourites including the MSR Pocket Rocket 2 at 75g. You'll need an igniter or firesteel to reliably light this one though and choice of fuel will depend on the stove you choose.

Personal equipment:

Rucksack 340g, Chest pouch 275 and Bumbag 130g - Duncan prefers the OMM Last Drop, Ultra Waist Pouch and Chest Pouch all clipped together to make roughly 23 litres of capacity. Whilst there are lots of alternatives we favour the Ultimate Direction Fastpack 25 or 35 and Raidlight Olmo Ultra Vest 30L here for easy access to on the go essentials and a comfy stable carry.

Sleeping bag 500g - this is an area where you can save bulk and weight by spending a lot of money on something like a Western Mountaineering Summerlite which weighs 500g. You can go for a lower quality down or synthetic bag and compromise on weight and bulk or you can compromise on warmth and comfort as well and take a gamble that you will be so knackered that you will sleep whatever and you can wear all your dry clothes with a skinny budget sythetic bag. Please remember that good quality sleeping bags will use EN13537 ratings for their bags, budget ones may well have plucked their figures from the air. Sleeping mat 173g - Duncan has upgraded from a balloon bed to the Klymit Inertia X Lite for improved comfort at a very minimal increase in weight and almost no increase in bulk but a whole lot less faff and chance of deflation. Sleeping bag liners 280g - will keep a lot of the days mud and sweat from making your expensive down bag filthy silk ones weigh around 100g and less expensive cotton ones 325g (we have some on sale at the moment). Bivvy bag 360g, this can add a tiny bit of warmth to your bag and help keep it dry from your wet muddy kit and your partners inside your tent. It also acts as an emergency survival bag - the heavier options like the Rab Survival Zone and Lite version weigh 320g and 240g respectively but our favourite is the SOL Heatsheets Emergency Bivvy at 100g.

Spork 10g, cup 68g, first aid kit 130g - we recommend the Lifesystems Light and Dry Nano at only 95g, compass 30g - Duncan has used a variety from thumb compasses to larger base plate styles and thinks the level of accuracy from a larger easy to use compass will save you lots of time in errors so we recommend the Silva Expedition 4, emergency rations 100g - high energy stuff that you will be able to stuff down if it all goes wrong, penkinfe 80g, headtorch and batteries 165g - Duncan uses the Petzl Myo but we think you can save weight and get a similar output from the 92g Petzl Actik, pencil and paper 20g, drybags (45g each - check out Seal Line BlockerLite dry sacks for the lowest weighted durable drybags).


Shell - Waterproof Jacket 240g, overtrousers 150g - Duncan uses a Montane Spektr Smock which is still going after many years and Marmot Minimus Pants. The terrain, race duration and time of year all come into play here, so for some events a lighter jjacket like the Ultimate Direction Ultra Jacket is a good option, but something that crosses over into general lightweight hill use will also work for late season events where you might be in it soldly for 2 days, e.g. Patagonia M10 Anorak or Jacket at 200g or Rab Kinetic Plus Jacket at 320g. For ladies the Arcteryx Norvan Jacket Women's would cover all options beautifully.

Core clothing - worn almost all the time - Long sleeved baselayer 180g - Duncans a Helly Hansen Lifa fan and this coming autumn version is awesome and will hit our shelves in September, 3/4 shorts 240g, peaked cap 50g - check out the gorgeous Arcteryx Motus Hat and Calvus Cap, Sealskinz waterproof socks 130g - you could be in a bog for 2 full days in fellshoes, so waterproof socks can help a lot, for dry summer events we recommend Injinji Trail Socks. Fell shoes 310g - Duncan prefers the Inov8 Mudclaw for most OMM events, but you need to find what suits your feet and the particular event you are doing.

Second Layer - Odlo warm long sleeve crew neck 200g has a huge warmth to weight ratio but wicks like nothing else and dries quickly (merino which is popular with some can easily double in weight and not dry out overnight in wet weather), odlo warm leggings 215g.

Emergency and camp wear - skinny baffle down jacket 400g, we favour down jackets from Crux but there are a whole hosts out there and future synthetics are begininning to rival them without the negatives of down collasping when wet (don't forget that keeping moisture out in the first place will stop conductive heatloss as well), balaclava 50g.

Food: day 1 hillfood 100g, evening 200g, day 2 breakfast 100g, hillfood 100g. We are fans of Expedition Foods dehydrated fare as they taste nice, are easy to work with and come in 800 and 1000 calorie options. For hillfood and drink additives check out our range here.

The above list totals at 6.5 kg of which you will be wearing around 1 kg. So thats 5.5kg on your back. You can slightly lighter as some suggestions above state but for some events like the OMM which are late in the year can be too much of a compromise between light and fast and safety and comfort.

Big thanks to Duncan from everyone at Up and Under, hopefully we'll catch up soon for a run or climb.

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