Västra Vätterleden section 8 & 7

On Good Friday around 11.15 I started walking from Mullsjö towards Fagerhult. I’ve previously walked the two sections up to Mullsjö via Bottnaryd a couple of years ago, Södra Vätterleden.

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The weather was cool, around 4 degrees Celsius, when I started walking. I soon found myself a little confused as to where I was to go. The trail markings (orange) were not the best at times and I actually managed to go off trail after only 5-600 meters or so. I’ve been here before because one of my friends used to live here so I knew this area a little but with a quick glance at the map I soon found out that I could just keep walking on the gravel road I was standing on and I would link up with the trail a kilometer or so later. My initial thought was to go on the black and white trail but I didn’t want to risk it. However it wouldn’t have been a problem as they crossed paths further down the trail. If I were to redo this part I’d follow that one instead and jump on the orange marked trail later.

DSC00844The first part of the trail is a good mix between gravel roads and trails in the forest. All in all these sections runs more on roads rather than trails but it was ok.

For the most part it was easy to follow the trail but at times you really had to stop and look at the map and try to find the trail markings as they where missing from logging machines driving through or they were just hidden behind younger trees or even very faded to the point that they were hard to spot.

This is no hard trail to walk. Mostly flat with the odd hill or two but nothing fancy.

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The first longer stop I took was at Julared mill. Roamed this place for 5-10 minutes and then tried to find the trail again. It was well hidden and I lost it again. The tip here is to follow the lake towards the ziplines and connect with the road there. That’ll get you directly on the trail a little further up that road.

Easy walking with quite a lot of gravel roads up a head. Coming ut of the woods on to a road I found this sign. Wasn’t sure if I was to call him or not but I decided to do so. He was very thankful that I called him so that he could take the dogs inside as the trails passes right on his front porch.

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Lunch in the sun. Found two stumps with my name written all over them.

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I didn’t meet a single sole for long periods of time. It was when I hit the Hökensås area that I came a cross some people fishing at the lakes and a bunch of people training hunting dogs to track. But all of that happened more or less within 45 minutes and then I was alone again.

The area around Hornsjön is very beautiful and there are plenty of good spots here if you want to pitch a tent and call it a day. There are even some “campsites” that you can use.

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Gagnån

I arrived at Fagerhult around 5 pm and it had started to hailing about 30 minutes ago. I’d expected rain as that was what the weather forecast said but I was happier with this as it doesn’t get you wet. I took some water from the stream and kept walking to find a spot to pitch my tent.

I found one not too far from here up on a hill away from the trail and with no trees above as I didn’t want any branches falling down on my tent or head during the night. The ground was covered with moss so I took a spot where I could have some of it where I were to lay down but tried to not have it where I would be storing my gear etc not to disturb the ground. I found a good place with a tractor track on one side and moss on the other. As soon as I had pitched my tent, it started snowing…

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The white dot is my aproximate campsite

Saturday

The night was cold, freezing my butt off at some points. I did get to try out my new lantern but I’m not that sure it’s something that I’ll use that often. I’m very used to hanging my Petzl there anyway and it produces way more light than this. I felt it was kind of redundant. But who knows, I’ll bring it again and get a proper opinion on hit.

I slept in and didn’t break camp before 11 am again. As I sleept poorly between midnight and 2 am I wanted to get some extra sleep as it got “warmer”. Had a quick breakfast, a sandwich I had made at home and boiled some water for a cup of tea.

I think my fingers and toes have never been that cold packing up the tent. It was to the point that I couldn’t feel my fingers packing the ice cold tent and it took me a few kilometers of walking until my toes came back to life. Just love that feeling when you start getting warmth back in your toes, it brings forward such a nice pain that can’t really be described but have to be experienced, haha.

Walking from Fagerhult towards Hökensås Semesterby is quite boring. Not much to see and you’re mainly walking on forest roads where most of the trees where cut down. It’s not until you come up towards the lakes the landscape changes and it gets very beautiful. The pictures below are not giving the place justice. The overcast did however give it a moody feeling but at the same time very calming. For long periods of time the trail goes next to the water or on ridges where you can get a good overview of the area.

As you’re getting closer to Semesterbyn (vacation village) you start meeting people running on the trails, camping, fishing etc.

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Very typical trail at the last bit of the section.

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End of the line.

Gear

I used my RAB event gaiters for the entire time. I’ve never really used them before but I wanted to give it and them a go. I found gaiters to be quite neat at times but this particular model leaves some room for improvement. They’re “bulky” and not very form fitted. I do believe it’s a good thing to have but maybe something like Inv-8 or Dirty Girl Gaiters are a better choice.

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This is however the result of two days of walking with them on soft terrain. I don’t want to know what walking on stone paths or similar would do to them. Some kind of hooks or velcro that attaches to your shoes would be better.

Was also happy with my new Injin toe-socks, they were very comfortable.

Locus Gear Khufu CTF-B

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I recently got a new shelter from Locus Gear of Japan. It’s a one person shelter with a semi solid inner covering half the foot print. In this way I will get good protection from cold drafts and also a vestibule for storing wet gear and cooking in foul weather.

First impressions are very good. Craftsmanship live up to the hype. This is the Khufu CTF-B, that means that the whole tent is taped together. Only seams are along the zipper, and these are then bonded with cuben tape. Compared to the UltaMid I have been using the last two years this is at least of the same quality.

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The inner attaches easy on the inside but as always its hard to get a good stretch on it. Regarding the clearance there is no problem what so ever, at least 10 cm all around.

The tent weighs in at 330 g with pack bag and the inner is 300g. Together with 8 pegs it sums up to almost exactly 700g. Very nice for shelter this size that will hold up good against weather and wind.

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Material in the inner looks very nice, the red color is really strong. White walls are very easy to see through so if you plan stay at camps and want som privacy I would recommend something darker. The silnylon is super slippery so I will have to add some seam sealing to the floor to avoid ice skating night time.

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Quick update

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10.9 kg excl. water

Some changes to the trip. Jon is unfortunately ill and can’t make the trip.

Therefore I’ve done some changes to my kit, added the cook set and inner tent. But instead of going with my Bearpawwd Pyranet that’s quite big for just one person I borrowed Jons Six Moon Designs Serenity NetTent.

Right now my pack weighs in at about 10.9kg. That’s almost 500g lighter than my packing list. So either something in there’s not weighed correctly or I’m missing something vital, haha. I guess it’s the former one as I’ve dropped a few things in my first aid- and repair kit and haven’t checked their weight afterwards, lazy, yes…

I’ve been looking for a smaller inner for my HMG Ultamid 2 and this is a sweet combo so far. Might be a good buy for me. I’ll get back to how the two performed together after the trip.

So without further ado, Hyperlite Mountain Gear meets Six Moon Designs Serenity NetTent!

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Packing for Vålådalen

It’s starting to get closer to this years trip into the wilderness. We’ve been test-packing and checking our gear today in the sun and then went for a supply run to stock up on food and snacks. Everything looks like it’s in order.

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I’ve bought some new stuff for this trip. Some items were just too worn out to bring and I also got something new as an complement, down vs synthetic.

New items:

  • Inov-8 Terraclaw 220 shoes (replacement)
  • 2 pairs of socks (replacement)
  • Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoodie (complement)
  • Patagonia Houdini Jacket (replacement)
  • Arc’Teryx Venta Gloves (replacement)

My gear list can be found here, it’s a work in progress. Haven’t weighed and repacked the food just yet but everything is bought. Besides that everything should be there.

Jons list gear list also more or less completed.

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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!

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.