Thursday 27 October 2022

An Teallach: A Trip Report With Gear Reviews

Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill, An Teallach

Last year I began an occasional series of trip reports with the emphasis on the key gear used for The Great Outdoors. This is the third one, an early summer two-night trip to An Teallach.  I've edited it slightly and updated prices.

An Teallach is one of those mountains where the clouds seem to gather as soon as I approach it. In many visits over 40 years I had seen nothing. From other hills An Teallach shone in the sun from other hills but as soon as I came near it always disappeared. One of my ambitions was to climb the mountain, often rated as the finest in Scotland, when I could actually see it.

A good forecast gave me hope this summer and it did look promising as I walked up beside the rushing waters of the Allt Airdeasaidh late in the afternoon. The multiple summits of An Teallach stretched out ahead. I camped at the head of the glen where there was a breeze I hoped would keep off the midges and watched the summits sink into darkness and the clouds turn pink. I felt excited for the next day.

After sunset

Then during the night I woke to find I was camped in mist. By morning it was even thicker. I was not pleased. Another day on An Teallach without views? I decided to move camp nearer the mountain and hope there would be a clearance. Up in Coire Mor an Teallaich I camped at 670 metres right under the summits and still in the mist. I sat outside the tent over a long lunch. Waiting.

The mists begin to clear

At 3pm a touch of blue appeared high above. Then hazy peaks with mist swirling round them. I had my pack ready and was away within minutes. I climbed out of the cloud to hot sunshine, bright blue sky, and brilliant views. Everything below about 700 metres was hidden in a white blanket. Looking down I could see my tent appearing and disappearing as the mist. In the distance dark jagged peaks rose out of the cloud, silhouetted against the deep blue sky.

The full glory of the mountain was unveiled when I reached Bidein a’ Ghlas Thuill, the highest of An Teallach’s two Munros. Ahead lay the sharp peak of the second Munro, Sgurr Fiona, and the jagged pinnacles of the Corrag Bhuidhe. This is one of the most tremendous views in the Highlands. I stayed on the warm summit for nearly an hour, just absorbing the scene, before continuing to Sgurr Fiona. The reddish-brown sandstone rocks were warm in colour and warm to touch.


There were no other people about but there were plenty of goats, clattering over the rocks and sunbathing on rock platforms. Their easy movement over the rough, steep ground made me feel clumsy and uncoordinated. One stood almost on the summit of Sgurr Fiona, gazing out over the mist. I decided not to disturb him and stopped not far below the top.

Back in camp the mist lapped the tent. The night was chilly and when I woke the summits were in cloud again. I didn’t mind. I’d had a glorious day on An Teallach. Now I just had a gentle meander back down.


This was a summer trip with a forecast for calm sunny weather. However, I was venturing into wild country and planning on camping fairly high up so I didn’t feel I could cut my load by too much. Also, as I was intending to walk in and camp and then climb the hills with just a day load the overall weight wasn’t critical. If I’d been going to backpack over An Teallach I’d have wanted to really reduce the weight I carried and would probably have taken a lighter tent, sleeping bag, and mat. 

First camp

The forecast for hot weather suggested a sun hat and sunscreen would be a good idea plus ample water bottles, especially as I knew there was no water up on An Teallach. Calm weather meant midges would probably be a problem – they weren’t, I think it was too dry – so insect repellent, mosquito coils, and head net all went in the pack.

If the forecast was correct I wouldn’t need much in the way of clothing, except maybe in camp if it was chilly early and late. I reckoned a light insulating layer and a windshirt could deal with that. I did take lightweight waterproofs – the weather in the Highlands can change unexpectedly and anyway I just don’t feel happy without them.



Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60L     1.23kg   £175      ****1/2      Best Buy

Likes                               lightweight, adjustable capacity, cost
Dislikes                           only two back lengths

Capacity                          60 litres
Materials                         100D Nylon-Poly Ripstop/420D Nylon Oxford
Closure                            zipped lid
Back system                    two sizes, curved DAC Pressfit Aluminium frame, scapular & lumbar pads
Back length                      61cms (M/L), 55cms (S/M)
Compartments                  one
Pockets                           1 lid, 2 stretch side, 2 stretch shoulder strap, 2 hipbelt, mesh hydration sleeve
Features                           side/front compression straps, ice axe/trekking pole straps
This has been a favourite pack for several years. It’s lightweight, stable, and comfortable. I knew it would handle a heavier and bulkier load than I’d be carrying on this trip as I’d carried it with much more inside for a month in the Colorado Rockies. I could have chosen a lighter pack but the Flex Capacitor has one big advantage for this type of trip – the ability to reduce the volume easily for use with a small load. With the four front straps cinched tight and the side straps pulled in it closes firmly round the contents so they don’t shift about and the pack remains stable. This was important for the steep rocky terrain high on An Teallach where I didn’t want a pack that might throw me off balance. As it was the Flex Capacitor performed well for both the backpacking and day walking parts of the trip.


Hilleberg Anaris      1.4kg    £705   *****   Best Buy

Likes                                roomy, stable, good ventilation, lightweight
Dislikes                            expensive
Outer                               Kerlon 1000 20D silicone Ripstop Nylon  5000mm hydrostatic head
Inner                                mesh doors, 10D nylon roof
Groundsheet                     PU 50D nylon, 12000mm hydrostatic head
Poles                               none, uses trekking poles
Porches                           2
Inner Dimensions              220 x 120 cm, 41cm high in centre

The Anaris is a lightweight two-person tent. I could have taken something a bit lighter but I prefer roomy shelters and weight wasn’t critical. The Anaris is designed for just the conditions I was expecting too. With big mesh inner doors, porches on both sides, and a flysheet that doesn’t come right down to the ground it has excellent ventilation, making condensation less likely. As it was, the latter was minimal as it was so dry. At the same time I knew it would withstand wind and rain if the weather changed. It pitches with trekking poles, which did mean I wouldn’t have these for the walk up An Teallach. On rocky terrain poles can sometimes be a nuisance anyway and I reckoned I wouldn’t miss them. And I didn’t. Another bonus of the Anaris was the big porch doors which meant I could lie in the inner and look out at the mountains and the sky. As it stayed dry and there was never more than a light breeze I only closed the outer doors when I went up An Teallach.


Nemo Riff 30
       930 grams       £350    ****1/2   Recommended

Likes                        roomy shape, ventilation, lightweight 
Dislikes                    draft collar 
Fill                           280g 800fp hydrophobic RDS down
Shell                        20D Nylon Ripstop w/ DWR outer, 30D Nylon Taffeta w/ DWR lining, 40D 
                               Nylon Ripstop OSMO™ w/ DWR footbox
Construction             box wall
Zip                           two-way 3/4      
Sizes                       Men: Regular, Long Women: Regular, Long
Rating                      -1°C

As with the tent I could have taken a lighter sleeping bag. However, I had this down one on test and I’d really liked the roominess on my initial trial so I decided to take it. Rather than mummy-shaped the Riff 30 is more like an hourglass, being wider at the elbows and knees. The idea is those of us who don’t sleep on our backs can stretch out and feel comfortable. It works too and I love the freedom the design gives. The Riff 30 also has two zipped panels on the front. Unzip these and you have a little more room and two uninsulated sections for coolness. I didn’t need these on this trip as the nights weren’t that warm with overnight lows of 10°C and 5°C. With the front zips closed I was perfectly warm, as I’d expect with a bag with this rating.


Nemo Tensor Insulated       480 grams    £180           **** Recommended (tentatively)*
Likes                         comfort, packs small
Dislikes                     not that light 
Type                          insulated air bed
Shell                         20D PU polyester
Insulation                   2 layers suspended metalized film
Dimensions               183 x 51cm
Thickness                  8cm
Rating                        R-Value 3.5, all season
Taking this mat was definitely to choose comfort over weight. I really didn’t need a mat that should be warm down to -10°C in a Scottish summer. For an insulated mat the Tensor isn’t actually heavy but there are plenty of lighter ones suitable for summer use. However, I had this to test and just lying on it at home told me that it was very comfortable. It has a grid pattern rather than tubes and this gives when you move – I never felt I would roll off. It inflates easily by mouth – there is a pump stuffsack if you want one. Packed it’s small for an insulated mat.

I enjoyed the comfort, which is really quite luxurious. I don’t yet know how warm it actually is though. I’ll find out in the winter. In the meantime, I can certainly recommend it for comfort. There are also mummy-shaped regular and short versions that weigh less. My first choice would be for one of these.

*The mat was returned to Nemo so I never did find out how warm it is.



BAM Air Fitted Boxer & BAM Ramble T-shirt    175 grams (T-shirt)   £18 & £29  ****1/2 Recommended
Likes         soft fabric, very comfortable, low cost
Dislikes     slow drying compared to synthetics
Fabric        68% bamboo viscose/28% organic cotton/4% elastane
Sizes         men S-XXXL
Strenuous walking in hot weather really challenges next-to-skin clothing both in terms of comfort and smell. Some materials work fine for a day but then need washing before they’re fit to wear again. Bamboo viscose clothing isn’t like that. In hot weather it’s very comfortable and stays that way for several days. On this trip both t-shirt and boxer shorts were fine. They did get soaked in sweat and didn’t dry as fast as some 100% synthetics do. However, they still felt comfortable and in the hot weather being a little damp didn’t matter. Whilst neither item smelt much after the trip the t-shirt in particular was badly sweat-stained.


Klattermusen Njoran 2.0 Hoodie 365 grams   £200    ****    Recommended

Likes                stretchy, comfortable, hood
Dislikes            quite expensive
Materials           51% recycled polyester/49% polyester
Pockets             2 hand
Cuffs                 double-fabric
Hem                  extended back, shockcord
Sizes                men XS-XXL, women XXS – XL

This lightweight mid-layer is designed for summer and was all I needed for warmth on this trip. In fact, I only wore it in camp early in the morning and late in the evening when it was a little chilly. I wouldn’t go without something like this though even in summer. The fabric is soft and comfortable and very stretchy. I like the hood which can be pulled up quickly for extra warmth and the pockets which sit high enough to be used when wearing a hipbelt. The sleeves are long – I can pull the cuffs over my hands. I’ll be wearing this in cooler weather under a wind or waterproof and I expect it to perform very well.


Picture Organic Wailer windshirt      165 grams                       £119.90   ***1/2

Likes                     lightweight, recycled fabric
Dislikes                 not that breathable
Fabric                    recycled polyester with Teflon EcoElite PFC free DWR
Front closure         ½ length YKK water-resistant zip with inner flap
Hood                     elasticated rim
Pocket                   front pouch with water-resistant zip
Cuffs                     elasticated
Hem                      drawcord
Sizes                    men S-XXL
A windproof top is often my most-worn garment after my base layer and so it proved on this trip even though I didn’t wear it very often, mostly just in camp when my t-shirt was not quite warm enough and for walking from my first camp to the second in a breeze. It resisted this breeze okay and on other trips has been fine in stronger winds. The fabric is thin. It has a distinctive appearance with its black and white pocket. This isn’t a different fabric though, it’s just cosmetic.

The fabric has a slick feel and is quite comfortable. It’s not that breathable though. On the short and not that strenuous walk between my two camps I did get a fair amount of condensation inside. This did dry quickly once I stopped. Picture Organic gives it 5/10 for breathability and 5/10 for waterproofness. As I always carry a fully waterproof top anyway, I’d rather have less waterproofing and better breathability. For short strolls where a shower is possible, and you don’t want to carry a waterproof the Wailer should be fine. I wouldn’t rely on it alone in the hills though.

The Wailer is quite light but has fairly hefty water-resistant zips. I think much lighter more flexible zips would be better given that it isn’t fully waterproof. I like the big map-size pouch pocket. The garment can be stuffed into this for packing. The cuffs don’t allow any ventilation but are stretchy enough for the sleeves to be pushed up if necessary. The hood is quite-close fitting and stays on in a breeze.


1 comment:

  1. Hello Chris,Thank you for your latest update on the kit that you were testing on a fantastic mountain.The price ticket on most of the items are quite off putting but that is just my budget talking.When I used to be in the outdoors i always used the Hilleberg Akto,now that was an item with a big ticket on it,but it was easily the best piece of kit i ever bought,and it served me well,in any weather conditions,for many years.I am very pleased that eventually you got to the tops the forge and had an hour on top.Excellent article,Thank you.