Planning Vålådalen 2016

We’re starting to get closer to our date of departure for Vålådalen, mid September. Bought the map of the area a couple of weeks back and yesterday me and Jon sat down to put out some proper map markers of possible campsites. We also talked about food, water, equipment and weather.

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We’re gonna spend about 8 days on the trail depending on the weather and how many detours we’ll do. The detours are mainly, loosely, planned around Helags and Sylarna.

Food, we’re gonna bring less snacks for this one and pick up some on the trial. There are a lots of mountain stations along the way, the map even stated, “Wifi-connection”, jeez… I guess it’s a good place to upload your Instagram pictures and update Facbook… A must have in the outdoors nowadays…

Water, we’ll carry our Platypus one- and two liter bags as usual and pick up water on the trail. There’s plenty of water in the area so that won’t be an issue.

Equipment, not much is going to change here. Some items will be replaced like socks and things like that which are consumables more or less. Jon is opting for a new inflatable sleeping pad that’s longer than his/our current one that we use, Therm-A-Rest NeoAir X Small.  He’ll probably get the Klymit V2 pad. I’m contemplating on buying a new pair of shoes as my Inov-8 Trailroc 245’s are showing some wear on both the lugs and a hole on the inside of the heal counter that could be a good spot to get blisters. The Trailroc 245’s have been very comfortable but it looks like they’ve been discontinued. If I am to get a new pair it’s probably gonna be from Inov-8 again. The Inov-8 X-Talon 200 looks nice and quite similar to my Trailrocs with the difference that they’re lighter and have bigger and fewer lugs.

Weather, we can expect rain and colder temperatures maybe down to 0 degrees Celsius at night. Hopefully we’ll have some sunny days with temperatures around 16 degrees. Cold weather is fine as long as it’s clear so we can enjoy the views.

I hope that this will be a good trip!

This summers trekking adventure

I’ve previously said to a few selected friends and colleagues that me and Jon would be going to Scotland this summer. It’s been one of our goals basically since we got back from Iceland last year. Now that time and work have caught up with us this can’t be a reality this summer.

However, the planing and the help we’ve gotten at trek-lite.com and other sources have been great and we can just store these in a little box for the future. Thanks!

Well then. Lets play a game to figure out where this summers trekking adventure will take us…

I spy with my little eye, something that starts with V:

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What do you see?

A rough estimate, 175+ km with some small detours on top of that. Mid September.

 

Is Fjällräven feeling the lightweight competition?

In the latest number of Fjällrävens spring and summer edition the first pages are seriously pointing out that lightweight materials and lightweight gear isn’t a must to have a great time in the outdoors.

“Lightweight” isn’t lightweight anymore…

“To chase experiences and not grams”

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Even though there’s some truth to this I can’t instantly start thinking that Fjällräven and simliar “heavy weight” material brand are starting to feel some pressure of the lightweight community. All this boils down to that they want to point out that their gear is super durable but still “lightweight enough” to not make you feel cumbersome on your trip. Sustainability is their leading word. I don’t blame them at all. I love that Fjällräven are one of the leading companies towards environmental sustainability just like Patagonia. That is one big factor for me when buying new gear. They must be durable enough to last for years but yet lightweight. On that last point Fjällräven fails but not according to them.

“But lightweight isn’t everything”

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On the next text filled page in the latest number they’re pointing out that it’s well know for Fjällrävens items to be passed along from generation to generation. I still feel that many of my lighter weight items would still be able to do just that.

Fredrik Hyltén-Cavallius, product developer,”For us lightweight isn’t everything, really, and we think that the products of the future will separate on this point. Our focus has always been on simple light and functional tents.”

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Well yeah. I can’t argue with that but that’s just saying that, all of our stuff will outlive everyone and everything. Sustainability again. I dig that stuff but lighter items be it a tent, a pair of pants or a jacket will still last for a very long time if you care about it. A “heavy duty item” will surely suffer the effect of time if not properly cared for.

I personally own two Fjällräven jackets, a heavy duty sweater, pants, a backpack, duffle and have previously owned a tent (my kids have a small Kånken each) and I can still say that my Patagonia items and similar brand feels just as durable as the Fjällrävens ones even though they’re much lighter and more often have smarter features. Right now, writing this, I even wear my Fjällräven Sörmland Roundneck Sweater, but I would never bring it on a backpacking trip.

What I’m going for with this is that you can be outdoors with both traditional, heavier, items or more lightweight stuff. But from my personal experience I prefer the lightweight option as I feel more comfortable and get to experience more with it as it’s less cumbersome. I do hope that these traditional brand takes a serious look at the cottage manufactures and changes their direction towards lighter but still durable items. I’d love a super lightweight Fjällräven jacket/pant on one of my future trips. But right now I can’t see that happening.

So, I chase the experience with grams. Even though it takes me some more time preparing before going on a trip rather than just visit the local outdoor shop and buy everything they have on the shelf to feel safe and secure.

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Lightweight isn’t less durable, if you’re not setting of to go to war with those items which I guess is not the case for most.

 

 

All the quotes in this article are freely translated. 

 

Why you won’t freeze or starve going ultralight

Quick reblog from Mike at HMG.

I think this is the thing that people always look at me with that strange look when they ask about what I bring to a backpacking trip.

– Will you survive out there with just those things? How can you even wash your utensils if you don’t bring the kitchen sink? Look! I bought this at [enter random store name here], it was super cheap and the sales person said it was the best thing ever. I bought two just in case…

Link to my kit-list.

Remember to never go stupid-light!

People new to thru hiking and backpacking often don’t realize they need far less than what they think or what their local big box outdoor store salesperson tells them they need. They base what they bring on their fears. Don’t fall into this trap. Understanding what you need is the secret to knowing what you don’t. You absolutely need something to sleep on, to sleep in and to sleep under. Plus you need insulating layers, waterproof layers, some kind of water treatment, a knife, a headlamp and the right kind of food at the right time. Anything else is gravy. I’m not saying you must leave your nonessential, favorite items behind; I simply recommend you strip down to the bare essentials, and then rebuild your list from there with your wants.

These are some common fears or questions we’ve heard over the years:

  • How warm is that tent?
  • I’d better bring 2 layers of fleece in case I get cold!
  • What if I don’t have enough food?
  • I need a stove to cook.

These fears are misplaced, and here’s why.

Read more!

Lecture with Renata Chlumska

Attended an event this evening with Renata Chlumska the great Swedish adventurer which has climbed Mount Everest, paddled around the US and also climbed the Seven Summits.

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The topic of the lecture was ‘Find the motivation’ (Freely translated). She talked about all of her great adventures and how the mind is your greatest part of your body. It’s not how well trained you are or how fast you can paddle but how motivated you are to completing the task at hand.

Really great, I’d recommend anyone who gets the chance to listen in. It was super inspiring! Stoked! A great way to start the main hiking season.

A few notes I jotted down:

  • Planing
  • Training
  • Final preparations
  • GET OUT THERE!

One of her key points were basically, just make sure you do it. Many adventures have just been made on a piece of paper and never gotten any further. If you go, and you succeed or fail, it doesn’t matter. If you succeed, good for you but if you fail you gain more experience to redo it and finally succeed.

This does not go just for backpacking or adventures in general but with your everyday work goals too. Put your mind in the right place and you’re half way there.

Iceland 2015 – Gear talk with André

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Post-hike-picture

Here’s a rundown of what I brought to Iceland. All in all I’m very please with my gearlist and how everything works together. But sure, some items could be switched to lighter alternatives especially some clothing. I mainly refer to my Patagonia items. I’m a big Patagonia fan and that’s also why I don’t see any need to switch them to anything else before they break down completely. And this far they’ve held up really good!

Big Three

Zpacks Arc’Blast Backpack

One of my latest additions to my list. Sold another backpack for this one and I haven’t looked back since. Very good quality and super comfortable.

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Sleeping bag

Cumulus Quilt 250

Also quite new, have had a few nights in it but not any cold ones. I had great hope that it would perform as I liked and I can’t say anything else. Cold/warm nights aren’t a problem as you just cinch it tighter or leave it open depending on the weather. Had the coldest night in it since I bought it, around 0 degrees centigrade and it wasn’t a problem. If it would get a bit colder than that you’ll have to sleep with more clothing on. For around zero you’ll be good in long johns and a shirt.

Sleeping pad

THERM-A-REST NeoAir X-Lite

If it was a liiittle wider it would be perfect. Happy with the length if I just put a sitting pad under my feet during the night to keep them off the cold ground.

Shelter

HYPERLIGHT Mountain Gear Ultamid 2

I’ve had this for some time now and it always feels like a safe place to sleep. One thing that I’ll probably change in the future it’s the HMG pole straps. They’re not bad but not the best either. If something will fail with the shelter it’s probably them. I’ve looked at a few options and I think I’ll have some sort of pole extension. Probably the “The Missing Link“.

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BEARPAWWD INNER Net

Good stuff but a little heavier than other options on the market right now. When I got it there weren’t any real good options to this one. Happy with it.

Clothing

I’ll just be a little lazy here and not put everything out here from my list. As I started this post I mostly use clothes from Patagonia and they’ve always performed well. Nothing to complain about really other than they could be a little lighter.

INOV-8 Trailroc 245

Great buy, cheap and durable! After this trip I’ve bought new inner soles just as an easy upgrade. Not really sure that my current ones are worn out but better safe than sorry. Have walked +300km in these and on the outside the mesh still looks good and the sole still have plenty of grip left. Something to note is that the grip will eat away faster on rocky terrain like in Jotunheimen rather than the mixed terrain on Iceland (go figure).

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Well… They’re comfortable but won’t keep your feet dry long enough even if you just use them round camp. When they’re brand new the do the trick pretty good but the GTX membrane will deteriorate quite fast. Will probably look for a replacement.

Mountain Laurel Design Rain Kilt

Also first time use on this trip. Never had to use it in rain but wore it in camp once after a quick “swim” in the hot pool. It’s supposed to be good for when you do laundry on thru hikes and such (and of course in rain) as it’s not see-through. Jon however commented on that it might not be. Don’t know if people was looking at me because of the kilt/skirt or because they saw something underneath it… I’ll never know:)

Tools

Suunto Ambit

Great watch with good battery life. Unfortunately it has been acting up some times and have had problems with acquiring a good GPS-fix. I’ve noticed that it’ll “jump” a few hundred meters in all directions and then coming back to a good fix (out on the trail). It’s completely on random as far as I know and I haven’t found anything on the internet saying that this is a common problem with the particular model. I’ll just have to get in touch with Suunto’s customer service and see what they think.

Sony rx100 mark 3

Great little camera! I was very please with the quality of the pictures. It’s most definitely comparable with the expensive DSLRs on the market like the Canon 5D Mark II.

BLACK DIAMOND ALPINE CARBON CORK

Just, wow, everytime you use them. When you’re out there you don’t really think about them, they just work. They never complain, the flick-lock system hold everything in place during the day and the night when it supports the tent. Can’t recommend them enough.

HMG Stuff sack

These I just got before we left for Iceland. Replaced my sleeping bag stuff sack with one of these and the other I used for the food. Worked just fine, nothing to complain about.

TRAIL DESIGNS SIDEWINDER + INFERNO CONE W. EVERNEW TITANIUM ULTRA LIGHT .9L POT

Aaah, the kitchen. What makes you go further (and lighter). Works great with both alcohol and wood. For this trip it was only used with alcohol and we had no problem with it even in windy conditions.

The stove and HMG stuff sack filled with food.

To sum things up I’m very happy with everything I have right now and there isn’t anything that i really need to change because it’s not working right now. But there’s always possible to upgrade some items just to be safe like with the adaptor for the hiking poles to support the shelter better in high winds.

Iceland 2015 – Gear talk with Jon

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Final day of the trip on top of volcano Magni. Carrying all I needed for the trip. No less, no more.

So now with some time to reflect after the trip it’s time to do a gear rundown. In general I am very pleased with the kit I carried for this hike. I used more or less all the items carried, never felt that anything was missing and managed to be fully self sustainable during the whole trip.

Here is a quick walk through of the gear I brought on the trip. I have kept the information very short. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

Big three:

Arc Blast Haul Cuben fibeR version

The suspension of this pack is totally fantastic. After five days and 100 km + of walking I felt like I hadn’t even worn a backpack. No problems with aching shoulders, no sore hips after the belt and the vented back actually helps a bit to get the sweat of my back.

The only downside is that the mesh on the front pocket got ripped in a couple of places. I don’t have any good ideas how to fix this so i guess I’ll have to live with it. A bit disappointing for 400 dollar backpack to.

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Striking a pose above Skogafoss. My shoulder pouch well visible. Also note the dyneema shoulder straps and roll top that clips down to the side of my pack.

The shoulder pouch is worth mentioning. Used this for my camera and sunglasses. And it got used all the time. A perfect way to store these items that are a little bit fragile and good to have close by. If now someone could make a version with padding

Sleeping Bag

RAB Neutrino 200

Kept the temperature really well. I love the waterproof dry/stuff bag that comes with it. Considering getting either lighter version, possibly a WM Hi Lite to save some weight.

Sleeping pad

Therm-a-rest Z-lite

One of the few items I’m not satisfied with. To sleep better during longer trips I have now realized i need a wider and full length sleeping pad. Considering getting a Klymit pad for this.

Shelter

HMG Ultamid 2

Superb! Nothing more to add.

Bearpawwd inner tent.

Besides the weight the only problem with this inner tent was that its lack of solid walls made it quite chilly inside the tent when the winds got stronger. For future trips in these kind of conditions a similar version with solid fabric for the lower part of the walls seems like a good idea.

Clothing

Houdini Motion Light Pants

Light weight and dry up fast, an important ability when doing lots of river fording. On the downside these pants are starting to get worn out. Seems are loosing and I got a couple of small holes in them. I think I will look for a new set of pants for next season. Hopefully I can find a model with zippers on at least one of the front pockets.

RAB Helium T-shirt

Sheds away sweat like a champ. Dries up fast. It’s a keeper.

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State of my shoes after one day in the lavasand!

Salomon Fellraiser

These shoes fits me perfectly. The toe box is a bit larger than usually and gives good room for my toes. Inner soles were completely finished after this trip, so when i found them at a discount in a nice green color at Wiggle i ordered directly.

Haglöfs Lite Webbing Belt

I don’t know why I didn’t switch this piece of crap out after last year. Loosens up all the time and forces me to stop and adjust both pants and belt. Combined with Andrés bad experience with Haglöfs products I am now starting seriously to question the quality of their products. Needs a replacement asap.

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One of the few moments I didn’t wear the wind shirt, only my Icebreaker Merino. Sunglasses neatly stuffed in my shoulder pocket.

Icebreaker GT Merino long sleeve

Used more or less all the time. Combined with an outer shell this gives enough warmth for all but the coldest weather. Used by itself it ventilate good enough to be worn almost all of the time. I actually think this shirt was worn 99% of the time I was on trail.

Microfiber boxer shorts

Dries up to slow. I need to get a pair of merino boxers.

Inov 8 Mudsoc Mid

Wearing regular pants there is no need to have longer socks than this. Combined with a pair of 10 denier ankle socks I managed to keep my feet in perfect condition. Despite walking for over 20 km in snow, crossing dozens of rivers and in general walking with wet feet.

Houdini Airborn Hat

I love this little beanie. One of my favourite pieces of kit. The merino/silk combo works wonderful. Keeps me warm in the breeze and stays cool when my body builds up heat. Also dries up fast, an ability that’s important for me if you haven’t noticed…

Woolpower liner socks

Extra socks I wear to warm my feet when sleeping. Keeps me warm and gets my feet dry.

Sealskinz

These started to get wet after a couple of days. I only use these at camp to let my wet feet rest and get warm. So these socks don’t get used much. Have heard good things about Rocky GoreTex socks so I’ll maybe give them a try.

Arc’teryx Konseal Fleece

Didn’t use this much at all. But it fills a niche when I need an extra layer and is to sweaty or wet from rain to use my down jacket. Stays for future trips.

Icebreaker Long Johns

Only needed this for cold nights in the tent. Did the job well. Only alternative I could see is a pair of down pants but im a bit sceptical about those.

RAB Pulse Rainjacket

Incredibly we had only lighter rain showers so I only used this jacket once! It’s lightweight and keeps away rain showers reasonably. But I have noticed that the Pertex fabric is starting to peel of at the shoulders. I guess the wear from the shoulder pads is to much for this fabric. Think I will keep my eyes open for a eVent jacket.

Montbell Versalite Rain Pants

Didn’t need to use these. Light weight though.

RAB eVent Gaiters

Didn’t use.

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Montbell Ex Light Wind Parka. 65 gr of wind proof magic, straight from Japan.

Montbell Ex Light Wind Parka

MVP of this trip. Used this ridiculously light wind jacket so much. It breaks wind perfectly and is quick to adjust when you get warm. Even the super flimsy hood does a good job of keeping my head warm in the chilly winds of Iceland.

Montbell Plasma 1000

Super light down jacket. I downgraded from my thicker Arc’teryx hoodie that was overkill for these conditions. Used as insulation for shorter stops and at camp.

Outdoor Research Versaliner

These gloves still hold up and suits me perfectly. Didn’t need to use the waterproof shell but it’s a nice insurance to have if the weather gets really bad.

Vans Spicoli Sunglasses

Cheap and durable Wayfarer style shades. For hikes in more sunny environments I would probably go for something with more cover.

Tools

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A quick stop on the way up Mount Gathilur. On ascents like these hiking poles are a great help.

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork

These trekking poles are perfect. The flick lock system doesn’t compress a single millimeter. I used them almost all the time and at night they double as support for the shelter. The fact that these poles are not at a fixed length also makes it possible to pitch the shelter at different heights depending on how much airflow you want.

I have yet not needed to use the snow baskets for these so I think they will have to stay in the gear box for now.

GoPro Camera

Didn’t use this one very much as André stood for most of the filming. I’ll leave this one at home next time.

Canon IXUS 240HS

This one was ready in my shoulder pouch and I took loads of pictures. Of course not a high end tool but ok for my needs.

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A long spoon for your freeze bag meals. Some times it’s just that easy!

Sea to Summit, Long Spoon

Perfect to dig up that last bit of mashed potatoes out of the bottom of your freeze bag.

Platypus flasks

Ditched the push pull cap for a normal screw on version. Does it’s job, lightweight and still holds up.

Zpacks dry bag and stuff sack

A dry bag for my dry clothes and a lighter stuff sack for my food. I have learned that one dry bag is enough for me. Use a 3 L Zip lock as extra storage for wet clothes that i don’t want to put in the dry bag.

Trail Designs Sidewinder + Inferno Cone w. Evernew Titanium Ultra Light .9L Pot

Used this only with alcohol this time as wood is quite sparse on Iceland. Worked well but takes its time to get water boiling.

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27 g

Deejo 27 folding knife

Used this for cutting cord, opening food bags and so on. Does what it’s intended for but don’t expect more from such a small blade.

 

So, for the future I can see some room for improvement. Of course some of these are depending on where we I will be going next. But there still are some smaller items I wan’t to switch. But in general I feel that I now have nailed down a very good UL-kit that I can depend on in tough conditions!