All posts by Kenneth Shaw

Blogger, photographer and backpacker. If you like my writing or my site don't be afraid to follow me, like or share my posts here on the site. Thanks and enjoy!

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How to succeed in a changing world

I woke up today with reports of “4500 people fired from Arbetsformedlingen” – sorry, translation not great, but something like that. 4500 educated, professional workers will be forced to leave their jobs at Arbetsformedlingen. Arbetsförmedlingen is Sweden’s national employment agency and my former employer. If any job would be considered safe, if would be a government job. It’s going to be a tough time for these 4500 employees as well, as it’s a very specific competency that is needed for Arbetsförmedlingen.

I’m not writing this to give my thoughts on privatisation, or the state of politics in Sweden or about the economical future of Sweden as a democratic socialism. My thoughts are more on the “what now” part of the equation. While I don’t think the layoffs come as a massive shock, I had been warning my employees for sometime that looking at the nature of things, the government has no choice but too sooner or later re-structure the agency to meet the demands of the future.

I’m not sure how long this process of thinning out the herd will go on for, but my guess is that the internal process of each employee at Arbetsförmedlingen is about the same:

  1. shit, no way, my union will not allow this to happen
  2. Ok, shit it will happen… that’s too bad for everybody.. else…
  3. No not me, I’m too valuable
  4. Shit, me
  5. Now what

Of course this will look different depending on the person in question. It’s always tough to lose a job, especially a job that would be considered a “safe” job. The truth is however, that no job is safe, no employer is loyal and no government will remain the same. You have two choices in this situation:

  1. Hide in a hole and cry
  2. Be the first out of the gates and get your shit together

If you choose to hide in a hole and cry, that is fine, but remember crying and complaining never solved anything. You can bitch all you want to your Union reps, but the fact remains the same – Your safe job is no more. Many parts of your government have already been sold off to the highest bidder, to international corporations, to unknown teens living in the Bahamas and so on. Arbetsförmedlingen was/is the latest government program to fall: To be downsized, underfunded than in the end, privatised and sold off to hipsters drinking lattes on the beach.

Here is my suggestion:

Even if the pink slip hasn’t come yet, and the horizon looks like a 12 month process – start acting now. You most likely won’t be bought out, so don’t wait. Just do. Realise your job is no more – there is nothing you can do about it. In the modern world, most employees for most businesses don’t matter. The game is rigged against you, that is life. Soon doctors will be replaced by computers, semi-trucks will drive themselves and thinking computers will build other thinking computers and replace the human race altogether. Accept it and act. I once read a book by Adam Scott called “how to fail and everything and still win big”. In this book Adam gives an anecdote of a CEO he once met on a flight and it went something like this:

“we sat next together on the flight and I (Adam) was still a teen and trying to figure out what to do in my life. And this guy sitting next to me has a nice suit and we start talking. I ask him what he does and he said that he is a CEO (can’t remember all the details here.. ) of some major company that the CEO had a word of advice for Scott.

  1. Never be loyal to an employer – Business will never be loyal to you. That is not how the world works.
  2. Be constantly looking for a new job.

The CEO then goes on to explain how he was able to get so far in his life – he simply changed jobs constantly. Before anybody realised he was even there, he was gone. The experience helped him climb the corporate ladder to the point that he was now leading a major corporation.”

Adam Scott than goes on to describe his own experiences as an employee in hilarious detail.

Anyway, I bring this up because I know a lot of people working at jobs like Arbetsförmedlingen (government jobs) were convinced that it would be for life. Or at-least until they found something better.

See this as an opportunity – If you have been dreaming about doing something different with your life but never dared, now is the time. That’s the thing with a good cushy job – they are good for comfort, routine and to pay bills; but usually at the cost of ambition and dreams. With that said, by and large the majority of the employees working at AF are highly motivated, hard working, highly educated individuals that many businesses are in need of.

The job market is strong, if you have what employers want. Employers don’t want tired, depressed workers looking for a new (cushy) job to replace the old cushy job. They are looking for smart, motivated and experienced individuals that have the grit to push through whatever life throws at them. Not an employee that fights tooth and nail over an ergonomically optimised keyboard and chair. Employers want solutions – not problems.

The time is now

The time to offer quality is now. Everybody is doing mediocre in a world where the average attention span is between 1 and 6 minutes, or between “likes”. To excel in todays marketplace is quite honestly, easy. Everyone else sucks, just show up on time, put your phone on silent, be engaged and think of solutions. It’s that easy. Being engaged is not sitting and bitching about how nobody is taking care of the dishes or how the coffee taste funny. This guide will hopefully help you get your shit together and provide worth to society.

Want to start a blog – why bother there are millions of blogs. True, but most suck, including this one. Do a good job and your blog will succeed. Want to be a photographer? Take good pictures. Your pictures right now suck – admit it. Put time, effort and energy into the projects you want to succeed in, and, you will.

There is always a market for quality. Focus on the quality and everything else will take care of itself.

You matter

Well, you kind of matter. In an economy based on money and stats you matter less than we all care to admit, but you still matter. The truth is, if you get your shit together and show a company how you can bring more value to them, than you will in essence, be worth more than the cost to employ you.

Perpetual forward motion

If your not moving forward, you are dying. Can’t remember were I read that, but the idea is that our bodies get weaker if we don’t train, our IQ sinks if we don’t use our minds, (we get stupider with age), even on a biological basis, our sex organs quit working if we don’t use them. Put this altogether and the sum of the parts is simple enough to understand: If you’re not growing and improving, then, you are getting fatter, stupider and dying. Sounds lovely doesn’t it.

My point is this – you have now been working at the same job for quite some time (probably). The job quit being a challenge, you got comfortable and the honest truth is that the new people coming in know more than you do after 6 months of work than you have gained in over 20 years. Why? Because in your world, you knew it all, there was nothing left for you to learn. Or at least that is what you thought. All the events and courses meant nothing to you – because you knew it all already. This is not unique to you, or to the employees at Arbetsförmedlingen. This is just human nature. But we all know the employee who has been working at the same job for 20 years and doesn’t seem to know anything. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, then chances are, you’re that person.

So how do you learn new stuff? How could you possibly learn anything new after 10 or 20 years at the same job?

There is a learning technique called FAST

F – forget everything you know

A – Actively partake in the learning process – take notes, ask questions

S – State of mind – Is the course your taking a waste of time, or a chance to learn something new?

T – Teach – We learn the most by teaching.

If I have to explain myself deeper here, you’re not paying attention…

A morning routine

Own the morning, own the day. Sounds like some cheesy tag line on a Modafinil commercial.. If they made those (commercials for speed I mean). The truth is nothing is better for confidence, productivity and state of mind than a consistent morning routine. I’m not going to write about the benefits of a solid morning routine, there are many other writers out there far better at explaining such things than I, but if your looking for more info – Google is your friend.

Let’s be honest, you just lost your job, your life is changing in massive ways and everything is now thrown into chaos. I have been there, I know. However, now, perhaps more than ever, is a time to build a solid morning routine. A time to pull your head out of your own ass and rekindle your passions. Don’t have any passion? who cares, do a morning routine anyway. Don’t have goals? Who cares – as Adam Scott is quoted as saying “Losers have goals, winners have systems”. And a morning routine is the first part of a solid system. Sometimes we don’t know where we want to go, but we certainly can’t get anywhere by lying in bed eating ice cream and watching re-runs of Friends.

A solid morning routine starts your day in the right direction, and when your in the worst state of mind, this creates a small amount of order in an otherwise chaotic world.

My morning routine: 

I wake up every morning at 5-6 am – no matter what. I start with 10 quick push-up, burpees or some other exercise that gets my heart racing and my brain goes from “fuck you why are getting up” to  – “alright, lets do this”.

The trick is to get up before your brain tells you to fuck off – Get up and get down (push-ups) before you get a chance to procrastinate and let your brain take over.

Make my bed then brew coffee

From here – I meditate – my favourite meditation app at the moment is Waking up by Sam Harris. A great guide. Otherwise I prefer no sound or apps at all. The idea is to calm your mind, turn off the ongoing noise for a few minutes a day.

After 10-20 minutes meditation I do the Wim Hof breathing method – gets me high and energised at the same time. Follow this up with a cold shower and you firing on all cylinders.

Grab a cup of coffee that is now done brewing –

Next up is the 5 minute journal. There is a physical paper journal called the “5 minute journal” – there is also an app by the same name. Both work well. This journal just allows me to think about what needs to get done for the day, what I’m grateful for and a follow up at night to kind of check everything off. You don’t need the journal or app, they just work for me.

From here I dedicate at-least 20 minutes to reading a book, or listen to an audio book or something similar on something I want to learn about. Usually non-fiction, autobiography, business, self development – what-ever that falls into that category.

That’s it – this routine usually takes between 60 and 90 minutes to complete. I don’t always do everything in the list, but normally 50 percent of it and always the meditation and 5 minute journal.

Building habits

There is a great book on habits called “Atomic habits” by James Clear. Read the book, don’t just take my butchered down version of it at face value. In any case, the butchered down version can be summed up as Start small, repeat. Want to build a daily running routine? don’t start by lacing up your shoes and going running 10k everyday. While this works for some people some of the time, for most people it will fail most of the time.

Humans want shit easy – period. The least amount of resistance is how we are programmed. Within a very short amount of time the process of lacing up your shoes, putting your running clothes on, going outside and then running will be too much of a pain in the ass to be worth the benefits. So start small. Everyday at exactly the same time, put your running clothes on and your shoes. That’s it. Force yourself to then take the shoes off and go about your day. Don’t run, don’t leave the house – just change back. The process shouldn’t take more than a minute of your life daily. Eventually the pain of not running will be greater than the pain of running.

You can break down every habit in this manner. Want to write? Write. Everyday, without pause, at-least 200 words. That’s it. This blog post is 2610 words – so the first paragraph might be 200 words. It’s that simple. Write. Don’t have anything to write about? Who cares, write.

Want to meditate 20 minutes daily? Break it down to 1 minute until the pain of not sitting longer is greater than the joy of quitting after a minute.

Whatever your dream habit is – start small. You are lazy, it’s built into your DNA. Plan for that and you can re-program your mind.

Putting it all together

Get up from the shower floor, wipe the snot from you chin and get your shit together. You lost your job, ok, that’s horrible. But it happens, it’s life. Nobody is doing anything to you, god or some magical rock doesn’t hate you. In fact, they don’t give a shit about you or your problems. The truth is, you are a product of your actions – take ownership. Want to keep working at Arbetsförmedlingen? You can’t, get over it. But you can continue working with the issues that AF is working with. Just because the budget has been cut and 4500 people are being fired doesn’t mean the problem is going to magically disappear. This is not 4500 people that aren’t needed – This is 4500 people that Arbetsförmedlingen lost in an argument about politics and vision and the equation of where the money for the problem should go.

The majority of the AF budget goes towards the long term un-employed, immigrants, teens, under educated and handicap citizens. These problems have not magically gone away. Instead, heres what’s going to happen:

Certain parts of AF are going to be privatised – that means that you, if you so wish, can start a business and apply to take over certain contracts from the government. You will be fighting for these contracts from other such individuals and entities. So again, provide something better and you will have the contract. My guess is that the contracts will be worth more (cost more to tax payers) than your salary currently costs. But it doesn’t matter. AF lost the war of opinions and in re-turn – you your job.

There will be many opportunities in the coming months as more and more of AF are outsourced. While your time at AF is done, what you do with your future is only starting.

 

 

backpackingblog

A quick update and more!

Strange title I know.. first off let me start by saying thank you! Thank you for following Ultralight and comfortable for so many years, and making this one of the most visited lightweight blogs around on the internet. It has been an honor to keep this site going and to keep it going in the future. With that said, I find that I have less and less motivation to write as I am enjoying the other formats better. Namely Youtube and very soon Podcast format. Most of the updates on this site will probably be in the form of Video or podcast moving forward as my time is getting rather limited these day with Backpackinglight.dk taking off.

So here is a look at my different projects:

  • Backpackinglight.dk and .se
  • Ulcomfort.com
  • Youtube.com/backpackinglightse
  • Instagram/backpackinglight.se
  • Designing own gear – soon to be announced within next few months under new brand name
  • New Podcast coming – where I move this blog into audio format with interviews, travel stories and more
  • Adoption – Moving to Zambia in a few weeks to live for 6 months

 

Video is a blast to work on, but takes an amazing amount of time. Each video I produce takes a minimum of 4-8 hours when all is said and done. While I certainly enjoy the format, it does take far more time than writing blog posts.

Backpackinglight.dk is growing and is now a full time job and more – Thank you for the support! We are working hard on taking it to the next level. Cleaning up the format and re-writing a lot of product texts in both Swedish and English as well as adding gear reviews and so on to each product.

Along with this I am also writing articles for Backpackinglight, as a guide for customers.

ISPO Munich is coming where I have a few meetings, interviews, podcasts and Video projects in the works

I will write a more detailed article on the new Podcast series coming – I can say that it won’t solely be gear discussions and more about what makes people tick. What gets them out of bed and do the things they do day in and day out. How can we deconstruct what they are doing and apply it to our own lives? These are the kind of discussions that I love to have and I hope that shows in the series!

 

My day and morning routine:

For me, nothing is more important than a good morning routine. To set a standard so high in the morning that you can’t help but be productive the rest of the day. I have had some form of morning routine for the most part of my adult life.

With that said, how does my day look? I am working on a video, but decided here on a Saturday night to just write a bit before I go to bed!

5.00 – I wake up do 10 quick pushups or burpees..

meditate for 10-20 minutes

Coffee

Write in a journal for 5-10 minutes – usually about what I’m grateful for.. or if I’m in a shit mood than I write a few pages about how everything sucks.. but 99% of the time it’s a grateful exercise

10 minutes of writing a plan for the day – usually a quick list of different items I need to get done for the day

20 minutes of reading – usually books about philosophy, stoicism, self help, investing..

15 minutes of brain training – puzzles, math, science, language

6.30 – start my day!

Here I wake up my little boy and wife, make breakfast and take the little one to school.

8.00 – 9.00 I’m sitting at my desk, turn on my computer, phone and mail. first hour or so write back to customers

next hours go through inventory

rest of day – burning questions or action items. Right now: Product text and format. 1000 products of re-writes takes time.

Sometime after 15.00 I start working on videos, Podcast ideas, ULcomfort and so on.

16.00 My boy comes home and my evening starts!

21.00 my evening routine starts.

All electronics off, warm tea on the stove and papper book in my lap

21.30 warm shower/bath and audio book

22.00 sleep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On top of this I have a full time life outside of just sitting in front of a computer screen 🙂 So

backpackingblogcampingessentialsGear list

My winter sleep system for ultralight hiking

Sleeping good in the winter

 

Keeping warm is essential to sleeping good. Hypothermia and freezing to death is not a fun past time. In the summer it’s easier to get along with Ultralight gear and probably survive.. Chances are good… In the winter however, things are different. Especially in areas like northern Sweden where I live – here the temperatures can easily drop to -30c in the winter. It’s important to be prepared and have a relatively good idea of what your doing. Here I will go over some of the details that helps keep me warm and comfortable during the winter months on longer treks:

 

  1. Sleep system
  2. Shelter
  3. Clothing
  4. Food before bed
  5. Run around for warmth
  6. Pee bottle
  7. Extra bottles for foot warmer in the morning

 

A also made a video of this article that you can watch below: 

 

Sleep system:

 

First on my list is the sleep system – this is by far the most important aspect of sleeping warm and safe in the winter. All parts of the sleep system must work in order for the whole to work. With a sleep system I mean of course the Sleeping mat and Sleeping bag.

My system for winter hiking looks something like this with an example of a week long unsupported trip in minus 20 to 40 degrees:

 

  1. Thick evazote mat – 14mm – this I usually have directly on the ground as I use floorless shelters most of the time. I can also use a double wide evazote mat which can also work as a nice wide ground sheet as well.
  2. Thermarest xTherm sleeping pad – added warmth and comfort. The xTherm isn’t really necessary when using a thick 14mm evazote mat, in fact I know a few people who use their summer pads or xLite in the deep winter without any problems. The 14mm evazote is warm enough on it’s own. The blow up pad is an extra comfort. Don’t skimp on the sleeping mat – it’s just as if not more important than a proper sleeping bag.
  3. I have three bags in total – known of them are meant for extreme weather. So I stack them. I have a Sierra designs cloud 800 0c degree bag, an As Tucas sestrals synthetic quilt – rated at about 0c as well, and a Sierra designs nitro 0F (-18c). In Sweden, anything warmer than a 0c bag has very little use except for in the warmest two weeks of the year unless summer is just extreme. With the Cloud 800 and As Tucas Sestrals, these bags are fantastic for the Swedish climate. In anycase, if I know I will be in – 30c or colder for extended periods than I stack my Nitro and as tucas quilt giving me a warmth that stretches down to about -35.

 

Here is a rather decent stacking guide that I stole from Enlightened Equipment:

 

Quilt/Bag Ratings 50ºF 40ºF 30ºF 20ºF 10ºF 0ºF
50ºF 30ºF 20ºF 10ºF 0ºF -10ºF -20ºF
40ºF 20ºF 10ºF 0ºF -10ºF -20ºF -30ºF
30ºF 10ºF 0ºF -10ºF -20ºF -30ºF -40ºF
20ºF 0ºF -10ºF -20ºF -30ºF -40ºF
10ºF -10ºF -20ºF -30 -40
0ºF -20ºF -30ºF -40ºF

 

This is in Farenheit, for our purposes it works – just keep in mind that Celcius and Farenheit meet at -40, 0 Fahrenheit is equal to -18 Celcius. 32 Fahrenheit is equal to 0 celcius.

I rarely use my Sierra designs nitro -18c bag – I prefer to stack as it’s usually a warmer option in almost every situation.

For temperatures between 0c and -20 I usually go with my two summer quilts – Cloud 800 and As tucas sestrals.

Skärmavbild 2019-01-18 kl. 06.23.48.png
xTherm on the bottom, Sierra designs cloud 800 35 in middle and as tucas sestrals apex 167 quilt on top. A great winter layering system

 

No matter which solution I choose – I always have the synthetic quilt on top of the down bag as synthetic handles the extra moisture much better than down does.

 

Shelter:

Bayard-winter-1.jpg
Picture stolen from the interwebs – Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 2

Shelter systems in the winter, much like summer can vary – my main recommendation is to find a tent that can handle everything. Wind, rain, snow – and is relatively easy to set up. I prefer the Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 2 or 4 for winter use. It’s the most solid winter tent I’ve ever used and gives me a lot of space to really live like a king. I know a few people such as Jörgen Johansson over at Fjäderlätt who likes his Black diamond Firstlight – even though it’s a tad small for him. I also like the Firstlight, but I don’t like how my head and feet mush the sides creating a lot of extra wetness on my bag and clothing. There are of course advantages to a free standing tent in the winter. If you don’t care too much about weight than there are tons of solutions out there with Hilleberg Suolo coming to mind among others.

In anycase, while a shelter is certainly important with a winter system, you could just as well bring a shovel and build a snow cave, or find a large pine and sleep under the snow drift. I prefer even the beauty of sleeping under the stars if weather permits.

 

Clothing:

 

If planned properly, your winter clothing can easily be a big part of your sleeping system – allowing you to leave one of your sleeping bags or quilts at home. This is a great solution for shorter trips where condensation is not going to be as big of a problem. If I’m leaving a quilt at home, which I can normally do in temperatures down to -10c. Than my winter sleep gear might comprise of the following:

  1. Wool long johns and long arm shirt
  2. Thick wool socks
  3. Fleece or wool sweater
  4. Down puffy jacket – something like the Cumulus incredilte – a great lightweight down puffy
  5. Down/synthetic puffy pants – The Omm Mountain raid pants are excellent synthetic pants as well as the Cumulus down basic pants
  6. Down/synthetic puffy socks
  7. Gloves
  8. Down/synthetic baklava or fleece beenie

 

This layering system gives me a lot of flexibility and warmth in camp – sometimes I even have two puffy down jackets with me depending on how low temperatures are expected to drop. This setup easily keeps me warm and comfortable walking around camp, as well as being part of my sleep system at night.

 

Food before bed

In the winter, keeping food and water in your system before going to bed is vital. Keeps the furnace burning hot for many hours. I try to load up on carbohydrates before bed, usually while lying in bed getting ready to sleep. This is usually in the form of pasta.

 

Run around

The way insulation in your sleep system works is that it keeps the warmth in. The more insulation the more warmth the sleep system is able to keep. The system itself does not create any warmth on it’s own. There is no heating element in your sleeping bag. This means that if you go to bed frozen, chances are the insulation will work more like refrigerator, keeping you nice and cold. This is why it’s important to get out and run a bit, or do jumping jacks, create a lot of internal heat before climbing into bed. Not so much that you are sweating, as the moisture will have an opposite effect.

This also falls in line with make sure you are ready for bed, before you actually climb in. Once you are in your sleeping bag or bags, body is warm, belly is full – make sure you stay in your bag. I have made the mistake a few times of being way too warm in my bag, got panicked and opened up the bag only to start freezing again.

 

Pee bottle

Staying tight in your sleep system is vital for overall comfort and warmth. This is also why a pee bottle is essential. Make sure you get a wide mouth bottle as this will help take away the guesswork and leave less room for error. The important aspect is to not open up your bag and climb out in order to go out and pee. Also, remember to keep a large volume bottle for this purpose as bodily fluids coming out in the winter are usually much more than at other times. It’s not unusual to pee close to a liters worth of fluid in the winter.

 

Extra bottles

In the winter, one of the biggest problems facing all hikers is keeping our feet and shoes warm. Some people place their shoes in the sleeping bag with them, others not so much. I fall into the category of “not so much”. I don’t want any moisture coming along with me into my sleeping bag. Not to mention, the wettest part of my entire system – my shoes. It is possible to keep your shoes in a water tight bag and put them in your sleeping bag with you. But then they are still wet in the morning. What works for me is a rather simple system: In the morning when I wake up, still tucked nice and warm in my sleeping bag, I cook water for my early morning coffee and breakfast and with that I cook extra water for two small water bottles. After I shake out as much of the frozen moisture as possible from my shoes, I then place the hot water bottles, one each, into each of my shoes. While I am eating breakfast, my shoes are getting nice and toasty – when I put my shoes on, my feet are encompassed with a warm and lovely feeling. Later on I have the added benefit of having two extra filled water bottles that I can drink while hiking.

48380881_10157024566983594_5375968052816904192_o.jpg
Small bottles are filled with warm water in the morning and used as feet warmers while I break down camp and eat breakfast. The bottles are then just regular water bottles during the day.  Picture stolen from http://www.fjaderlatt.se 

 

Practice

Before heading out on your trek across antarctica, it’s important to practice first, find what works for you and get comfortable with all the nuances of winter camping. Winter camping is both hell and joy at the sametime. Dangerous and fulfilling. Be smart and don’t take anything for granted. Just because you have this checklist doesn’t mean you are an expert – Theory and practice are two completely different things. This list will help you maximize your chances of success – but this is only a guide and not a guarantee. What works for me might not work for you.

A good place to practice is your backyard och nearby forest. Car camping is also a great starting place or in wind shelters. I spent a season or two just camping around in my local forest. My first backpacking trip in the winter once I was comfortable with my gear was a fairly popular mountain trail and I setup my tent about 50 meters from the different cottages. This way I could practice without putting myself in any major danger.

 

backpackingblogLandscape photographyPhoto reviewsPhotography

Camera gear over the years

Over the years I have gone through dozens of cameras. Different purposes, but mainly because I have a serious problem with GAS when it comes to cameras. I have become a freak with gear, much like backpacking gear, I go through gear until I find what works best for me in the variety of situations that I use my gear in. A quick run down follows:

1st camera and one I’ve used until about 2004 – Canon AE-1 Program with a 35-70mm zoom lens. While it quit being my daily camera in 2004, I actually still use it even today. It’s not really my camera, which is probably why I’ve never gotten rid of it. It’s officially my moms camera that she bought back in the early 80’s new. I have used that camera like crazy and love it. Unfortunately, film is not very practical for everyday use so I eventually went over to some Kodak digital camera that had an amazing 5 megapixel camera.

IMG_0296

I used that Kodak for a couple of years on my various trips to Australia, Thailand, Greece and Italy. I have a lot of pictures and video from that time, but, the quality is so bad I never got around to posting any of it. My photography lust cooled down a lot after that camera.. The pictures sucked, the video sucked.. the camera was boring..

Eventually I picked up my AE-1 Program again and started using it. My lust was reignited in 2012 when I bought a Sony NEX-7 then a Sony A7 Full frame and right after a Sony A7R. I liked the Sony cameras, and in a way they reignited my love for photography. Though they both seemed like unfinished masterpieces. Video was not great, lenses limited, software terrible, menu system lacking and with the Sony A7R it was nearly impossible to get sharp images handheld, on top of that, the Sony’s are extremely boring to use (I am used to the feel and look of the AE-1 Program which is rather fun). I also had a problem with the Sony business mantra of selling half finished products, and releasing just newer models every year. I traded my Sony A7R and Zeiss lens for a Fuji x-t1 with a few lenses. I loved the Fuji.

I used the Fuji on a few backpacking trips but found it to be a little on the heavy side and the video was still lacking. Fuji also started raising the prices of the lenses – they were getting heavier and more expensive than full frame lenses – and still are to this day. I upgraded to a X-T2 – though more of the same I thought. So I went over to an Olympus OMD EM-5 mark ii with a few lenses that I got really cheap, so I sold my Fuji and was perfectly happy with the OMD as it was better for video. IMO.. With a flipout screen, cheaper lenses, built in stabilization and in my opinion just as good if not better picture quality than the Fuji, I was more than happy to be an Olympus fanboy.

It was at this time I started to play around with video – last year, and this is when I realised that the Olympus was sorely lacking. With it’s less than optimal autofocusing and in non-perfect lighting conditions the video just looked terrible. And even in perfect lighting conditions with the most expensive lenses, video had artifacts and just all-around looked very amateurish. Don’t get me wrong, I am an amateur, but I figured there had to be better for the money.

IMG_0299

This is when I went over to a Canon M50, In general I have been against Canon, because it seemed to me that while everybody else was innovating and pushing the boundaries, Canon has a board room filled with monkeys stuck in the 80’s. Warren buffet once said “I buy companies that can be run by idiots, because eventually it will be.. ” this is where Canon is – a company run by idiots. However, the Canon M50 while being the worst camera on the market for so many things does a few things very good.

  1. Great video autofocus – it works no matter what
  2. Flip out screen
  3. Great colors from the camera – don’t have to color grade for my purposes
  4. Mic input
  5. Decent, cheap, light lenses.

Now I really like the M50 but it has a few things I don’t like that have made me sell it for my current camera a Canon 6D mark ii

  1. Lenses are not great
  2. Battery life is lacking
  3. Camera is boring to use
  4. Not weather sealed
  5. No depth of field
  6. Low light performance is horrific

Everybody bashes on the M50 because it does(nt) have 4k- or at least not useable. But who wants to edit 4k video?

Now I have landed on the Canon 6d mark II – This camera has the technology of the Sony a7 from 2013 – if not worse. It’s bad in just about everything – that is Canon at it’s finest – making horrific products that just barely glide by, then pay vloggers and reviews to give it exposure. No 4k, terrible 1080p video codec, bad slow mo, no dynamic range, not very good autofocus for pictures.. so on and so forth. Canon has literally just placed a shit sensor from an Canon 80D and decided to take double the price. It’s these kinds of decisions that will kill this company. The board room asses that know nothing about photography or video and thinks they are competing against cameras from 2010.  HOWEVER, there are things I like about this camera:

  1. I love the feel in my hands – the ergonomics and size is just right for a big guy like myself.
  2. Full frame – other than the Sony A7R, A7 and a few Leicas, I haven’t had FUll frame digital. I love the depth of field and quality of the video and images coming from the camera
  3. Weather sealed
  4. Great, cheap lenses – the EF system is ancient. Lenses are a steal right now as everybody knows Canon is sinking so they are jumping off the Titanic before it goes down – doesn’t make the glass any worse.
  5. Flip out screen
  6. Good 1080p for Youtube and internet videos
  7. Built in Timelapse mode – making completed timelapses in camera

That’s it.. That is why I have the Canon 6D mark ii and why I’m actually pretty happy with it.

Anyway, this is just the run-down of my main camera systems that i have used over the years. I have gone through quite a few Compact cameras as well as Film cameras.

At the moment my film camera of choice is a Ricoh GR21 (a fantastic 200 gram compact camera with an amazing 21mm wide angle lens) – This camera is a beast that takes extremely sharp pictures. A lot of fun for street photography – discrete, wide and sharp

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My preferred compact camera is the Canon G7x mark ii. Yes it does basically everything worse than the Sony Rx100 series – all of which I have used a lot over the years. But, it has better colors right out of the camera which means a lot to me.

backpackingblogcamping

2019 a year in travel – What to bring?!??

2019 is going to be a fun year! Starting off with a few weeks in Vietnam, than followed up with 6 months in Zambia! We will be traveling, exploring and above all else living a new life with our adopted child. I am really looking forward to this time to just focus on family and Backpackinglight. I will be backpacking as much as possible in Zambia, but hopefully I can get my family out with me. With that said, this also creates a lot of logistical problems for me and for the family. Being a minimalist in a lot of aspects, especially in travel, I now have a problem. I can’t exactly live in Africa with only one backpack with me. There are now a lot of different aspects I have to plan for.

  1. Living a day to day life
  2. Running my business
  3. Travelling and photography
  4. Backpacking
  5. Videography

These different hobbies and aspects don’t fit in one minimalist Minaal travel backpack… unfortunately. While I can normally have everything I need for any amount of time travelling in one backpack including camera gear. The length and goal of this trip to Zambia means that I also need to bring backpacking gear to test and take videos of. It is not possible for me to buy the gear and have it sent to me in Zambia as it is too expensive, and too many possible problems.

Projects during the trip: 

  1. Photography book – Zambia in pictures. Daily life and turists
  2. Vlog – Daily short stories of some kind

The part of planning here that is easy are the first two:

  1. living day to day: I would need my computer, clothing, running clothes and shoes.
  2. Running my business: Easy enough – my computer and bank cards

The harder part in the planning is the last two for different reasons:

  1. Travelling and photography
  2. Backpacking and hiking
  3. Videography

I will start with travelling and photography – Is there one camera that can be great for video and stills? Vlogging and documentary style video? Sharp pictures for everything from street photography to Astrophotography? Am I willing to bring a lot of weight? so probably a lightweight camera that does everything.. does it exist? I currently own a Canon m50 that I kind of bought to hold me over until I could find the perfect camera for myself. I have had and tested tons of different cameras and like the ease of use, autofocus and colors of the M50. I actually sold my Fuji X-t2 for an Olympus Omd EM5 ii.. A great camera, but not the greatest video – this could be said for both the fuji x-t2 and EM5, But I fell in love with the flip out screen of the Olympus. The Fuji had great stills but not the greatest for video as autofocus was weak. Maybe the XT3 is ready for a new chance? The M50 is great, but, the dynamic range is not great, it’s not weather sealed and high ISO is non-existent.

So for me to figure out what I need and what I want and hopefully find a good camera for that. I will write down my list here

Needs: 

  1. Good out of camera video colors – I don’t edit colors much or at all
  2. Good stills – sharp and with decent dynamic range.
  3. Weather sealed – I am in the elements a lot – I don’t bring the m50 because of this
  4. A flip out screen (maybe not the biggest need.. but close to it)
  5. Slow mo up to 60 FPs – but I won’t complain with a 120FPS
  6. Mic input
  7. good, fast Autofocus – As I normally film myself autofocus has to be good
  8. Great battery life
  9. Good depth of field – I like blurry backgrounds

Wants:

  1. I want my camera to look damn good (I see you Olympus OM-D 1 mark II)
  2. Lightweight if possible
  3. 4k.. maybe, I suppose it would be useful.. maybe.. not much of a want or need really
  4. A great wide angle lens

Cameras I am currently looking at: 

Canon 6d mark ii – Ticks a lot of the needs, but HEAVY when you count in the glass as well. A bonus here is that I can use my glass on both the M50 and the 6D. The biggest problem I have with the 6D is the company that makes them.. I don’t want to support a lazy, uninspired company. Canon is just pathetic in a lot of ways and giving them my money just doesn’t feel right.

Fuji X-T3 – Ticks also a lot of the boxes for me – though no flip out screen and Autofocus? hmm not sure. Also I really liked my X-T1 back in the day.. Though I do like the company and cameras

Olympus OM-D E 1 mark II – Looks great, ticks a lot of my wants and needs.. but maybe not the greatest depth of field.. not to be underestimated of course, but can’t compare to full frame.

Canon EOS- R – Another uninspiring effort from the company of mediocracy. But light, good colors, Full frame and flip out screen

Nikon Z6 – Because if I’m dreaming I might as well dream of them all..

Last but not least – sell all of it and but a small compact camera like the Sony rx 100.. Nobody cares about the gear anyway.. it’s about the content 🙂

Backpacking gear

This is where things get a little interesting. While I won’t have time to take week long trips solo, I do have plans to bring the whole family on different trips throughout the country, car camping and maybe even campground camping. But I do want the option to pick up and go backpacking by myself. So the question here is do I bring two tents – one two or three man tent that my wife and kids can sleep in and a solo tent for me. (I don’t like sharing a tent anyway). Or do I bring a big tent that is lightweight to use as a solo tent as well? This same reasoning basically needs to be applied to everything.

So if I’m looking at tents – do I bring something like the The Tarptent saddle, Big agnes Copper spur 3 and a solo tent to match like a Plexamid or Stratospire. Or do I just bring the Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 4 with inner-tent? I’m leaning towards the Ultamid as that keeps everything simple, but I really don’t like sharing a tent…

Quilts, sleeping bags, kitchen sets, hiking gear, backpacks so on and so forth.. Am I trying to combine too many hobbies into one trip? Even if we are gone for six months, maybe the better option is a camper van with day hiking gear instead?

As I’ve said.. this really is a pain in the ass.. But I think I answered the question by writing this.. Solo gear, as light as possible and car camping otherwise.

Vlogging? 

This goes back to my video and camera gear – I am thinking about doing a vlog for during my trip in Zambia. The question is what will it be about? I don’t like reality TV, or Reality vlogs and so on, and I would never want to force my life upon other people in that manner. There needs to be a story, a reason to watch, fun and interesting. I don’t want to only do gear reviews. I want to capture life in an interesting way.

backpackingblogGoing Lighterultralight backpacking

Going lighter Step 1: Jot it down

Going lighter:

There are many reasons to go lighter, but the most important reason is of course to have a more enjoyable time out in nature. Don’t believe me ? Grab a backpack, pack it with 30kilos and climb your nearest hill or mountain. Now, do the same thing with only 5 kilos in your pack. Which is a more enjoyable experience? My money is on the 5 kilos. Now with that said, it’s easy to cut back weight so much that camp is no longer enjoyable. Say, you replace your spoon with your fingers, you don’t bother with a proper tent, toilet paper is for losers and so on. While it’s possible to be ultra minimalist light, it’s probably not desired or safe for most backpackers.

So what should be your goal as a backpacker? To me, it’s the joy of both the hike and the camp. It’s about the climb and the descent. In other words, it’s about the experience and the joy of the journey itself. If your not loving the hike, whats the point?

Getting started:

Knowing your gear and your needs is probably the most important aspect of your backpacking life. This is regardless of weight or goals. If you don’t know what’s in your pack, then why bring it? In skydiving, every skydiver is expected to pack their own parachute, the process of folding, loading and preparing, this way, the skydiver knows exactly what’s in his pack when he launches himself from a perfectly good flying craft thousands of meters above sea level. I believe the same dedication should be used when packing a backpack for an outdoor adventure. If not more so, after all, the results of a poorly packed backpack could be potentially as bad as a poorly packed parachute.

In my view, the single most important part of hiking and or trekking is packing your backpack. Knowing exactly whats in your pack, right down to the amount of grams every item takes. This means creating a proper journal for your gear. However you choose to document your gear, whether in an excel sheet, word document, on your smartphone or in a paper journal, is completely up to you. We prefer services like lighterpack.com that is a highly configurable, easy to use, free service to document and share a gear list.

Your first purchase:

Start your transition by purchasing a proper digital kitchen scale, than, with deligence start weighing your biggest items first and jot them down in your journal. In excel, your list might look something like this:

The big three

1. Tent – Hilleberg Akto – 1,6kilos

2. Backpack – Fjällräven Abisko – 2,4kilos

3. Sleepingbag – Cheap synthetic summer bag – 1,4kilos

4. Sleeping pad -Exped Synmat – 560grams

Total of big three: 5,96 kilos

Of course you would probably want to add brand of tent and so on, but you get the general idea. For reasons perhaps more apparent later, it’s better to jot everything down digitally in lighterpacks or excel as this will allow you to move around, change, reorganize your gear much easier.

Now, after you jot down your big three, move of to the rest of your kit. We like to organize our list in the following categories:

1. The big three (tent, backpack, sleep system)

2. Hydration and cooking

3. Clothing in backpack

4. Personal item (washing, first aid, teeth care, hygene)

5. Electronics (camera, battery pack, tripod, batteries, smartphone, ipad, computer)

6. Extras (stuff that doesn’t fit in the other categories)

7. Clothing worn (while backpacking)

Once all your items are indexed, weighed and categorized it’s much easier to make educated decisions, rather than just guestimations. You will know exactly what is in your pack, what purpose it may or may not serve and the weight of each item. From here you can place your focus on your heaviest items, which tend to be the big three (tent, backpack and sleep system).

 

In case you guys haven’t noticed yet I am actually very active on Youtube! So don’t forget to subscribe there!

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blogGearGear closetgear sale

Gear closet clear out fall 2018

It’s about time again for me to clear out my closet.. especially now when I am living in a much smaller apartment here in Umeå… Most of the equipment can be shipped throughout Europe – But I prefer not to ship outside the EU as shipping costs usually negate the cost savings for the shopper. This will probably be updated throughout the coming weeks with more gear.

Shipping in Sweden: 49kr

Shipping throughout the EU: 99kr

  • If the item is sold I will mark it as sold 

Payment made via wire transfer or Paypal. Swish in Sweden

 

 

Nemo spike storm 1

Designed with guidance and testing from professional hunters and anglers, the Spike™ Storm is a truly minimalist shelter that will get you further off the beaten path. Its trekking pole-supported design is meant to shed every ounce possible, and resulting in a shelter that is just over a pound and packs incredibly small. Silicone-treated fabrics increase strength, durability, and waterproofness, and are free from toxic fire retardants. Unlike the original Spike™ floorless minimalist shelter, the Spike™ Storm has an added floor and mesh door for use with any bag and added protection from insects.

Tent is more or less new – used and tested just a few times.

Price: 1690kr 

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Vargo Hexagon TI wood stove

Used woodstove – works like it’s suppose to. Lightweight and pretty awesome 🙂 Already have one.

weight: 116grams

Price: 490 kr

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BRS-3000T ultralight stove

yes, they are the lightest gas stoves made. I bought a bunch of these to resell on backpackinglight.se – unfortunately the quality is not up to my standards. They will (should) hold for a season or two. But much like most of the cheap stuff from china, they are built for one season use and then throw away. These are new, in package.

weight: 26grams

Price: 100kr

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Six moon designs – Newest model – New tent – Seam sealed and ready to go

I brought home a few Lunar solos to seam seal and sell. I did this one and thought, screw it. So A completely new Lunar solo, seam sealed and ready to go.

Weight: 760grams

Price: 2490kr – kan även köpas genom backpackinglight.se

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Nemo Spike 2 – shelter

An excellent hunting shelter – large, light and easy to use. This tent is more or less new – I have used it for 3 nights outs. Comes with tent pegs and guylines.

Weight: 639grams

Price: 1390kr

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Gossamer gear Kumo 36

A great lightweight backpack in near new condition. I have the older model and wanted to try this model to see the difference. A big difference, but I don’t need two Kumos 🙂 This is the newest model of the Kumo 36.

Weight: 525grams

Price: 1390kr SÅLD

 

Klymit inertia x-wave 

Same here – used it on my Iceland trek, and realize I don’t like torso pads. Great shape.

weight: 350grams

Price: 390 kr SÅLD

 

Trail designs Caldera cone – for Vargo bot 700

This is with the KOJIN burner. More or less new. Used on just one occasion. Already have 10 different stove systems.

Weight: 59grams

Price: 490kr SOLD

Thermarest xLite Small 

Used a few times, but realize I prefer regular or large for my oversize body. This is the torso length version

Weigth: 200grams

Price: 890 kr SÅLD

Soto Amicus burner

I used this for testing. Excellent condition, in box, like new. A great burner from Soto. Guarantee available

Weight: 81grams

Price: 390kr SÅLD

 

Zpacks Duplex:

This tent is in good but used shape. No rips, holes or any noticeable problems with it.. A little dirty and some leaves left in it 🙂 This is my third iteration of the Zpacks Duplex and the third one I’m selling off. I have it had for about 20 nights on the trail. Great for shorter people under 185cm.

Weight: 539grams

Price: 5900kr – SÅLD

 

Hyperlite mountain gear Echo Shelter II

This kick ass modular tent I have had for a few years, and it looks and feels used. No leaking, and still has a few more years of useage left in it. I will include a cuben repair kit as well in case leaks do start to appear.

weight: 820grams

Price: 3190kr SÅLD

 

Six moon designs Lunar Duo explorer

This tent was bought by a customer at backpackinglight.dk – used without being seam sealed and some of the seams broke. So I patched it up – no structural weakness, more looking bad. The tent needs to be seam sealed, and other than the stitching done, it looks and feels like a new tent.

weight: 1098grams

Price: 1690kr SÅLD

 

backpackingblogcampingGoing Lighter

A lighter kind of philosophy

As I came up over the ridge I couldn’t help but feel that maybe, just maybe, ultralight is not always the perfect solution for every backpacking trip. I stood there, wet, tired and miserable. I had just hiked 15 kilometers on a cold rainy afternoon along the Laugavegur trail in Southern Iceland. The trail stretches roughly 75 kilometers from the north in Landmannalaugar down to the south in Skogar. I made my journey in mid June a week after the trail had just been opened for the season. Snow was still prevalent along this part of the trail from Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker. I flew in from Stockholm to Reykjavik and arrived around 9 in the morning. From there it was about a 4 hour bus drive along thin gravel roads, streams and an endless view of mountains and volcanic ash.

After 12 hours of traveling I just wanted to move, I needed to get out and walk and even though I arrived at Landmannalaugar at 4 in the evening, I made the decision to just walk. I couldn’t be bothered by the massive rainfall or the awesome hot springs. I pulled out my rain jacket, adjusted my backpack and made my way.

I arrived at that ridge after about 4 hours of hiking in wet, cold snow feeling like shit. Sure the first hour was a blast, but the rest, not so much. I just wanted to get somewhere warm and pitch my tarp for the night. When I reached that ridge overlooking the campsite the only thought that came to mind was “fuck”. My shitty day is turning out to be only worse, what I wouldn’t give for a 4 season, two layer tent, a thick winter sleeping mat and bag. Perhaps even a warm bed and shower. I looked over at the cabin walked in and requested a bed for the night. Of course I wasn’t alone here, all the beds were taken. I resigned and accepted the fact that tarp it would be.

When I stood there looking over the campsite, dread creeping in on the knowledge that I would now have to walk from the warm cabin down to the campsite about 100 meters away, cold and wet, walking in knee high snow in my mesh trail runners, knowing all too well that my night was about to be much worse than my day. I was unprepared for a winter hike, the thought that I would be hiking in knee high snow in the middle of June simply didn’t occur to me. While I tend to plan well, and pack warm. A tarp, trail runners and a torso pad with a summer quilt are not always the best choices for a winter hike. To make matters worse the campsite was placed at the bottom of a deep valley with no trees or wind shields in place. The wind was screaming down the snowy mountain side.

After a while I was finally able to set up my tarp in the volcanic ash, placed out my torso pad on my plastic trash bag ground floor and in the end, I was longing for that warm bed. The feeling of dread overtook me later on when I was really warm in my bag and had to get out, walk that 100 meters with frozen shoes on because I had to take a raging piss.

The moment of change

It was in that moment lying in my warm sleeping bag, knowing I would have to get up, get clothed and put those freezing cold shoes on and hike 100 meters in that snow in the middle of the night just to take a piss, that my love for ultralight backpacking and hiking altogether started to dwindle. This is how backpacking works, it tests us mentally and physically on all levels. This first days are always the worst. 

When I crawled back into my sleeping bag, wet and miserable I started to re-think how I would like to tackle these situations in the future. I started to wonder if the entire trail would be like this or if it’s just here, at the northern end of the trail. In any case I started to write down what changes I wanted to make to my gear. What worked what didn’t and so on. I wanted to find a good compromise of weight and comfort as well as usability in all situations. I found that while my general backpacking weight is very light, a base weight on this trip of about 2.5 kilos (5.5lbs), it was lacking in overall comfort and safety for surprise conditions. When I started to write everything down I found that I made certain compromises that were simply not necessary: I could easily hold the same weight with more comfort and safety without crossing the threshold to “stupid light”.

Some of the bigger changes I had to make was to my torso pad and sleeping mat (I carry both a blow up wide torso pad and an evazote sleeping mat) these together weighed about 500 grams. I also had to re-think my trailrunners. Not necessarily changing from trails runners to boots, more changing to a different form of trail runners.

Why not boots? Well, to be honest that first day I was longing for a pair of nice warm boots, longing for the comfort and warmth boots can obtain in cold, wet climates. Then I made my way into that first hut at Hrafntinnusker and saw that everybody’s shoes and feet were wet and cold. The only difference is that my shoes would be dry in the morning while everybody else will have to put hot warm feet into wet cold boots that would stay wet and cold the entire trip. On top of that I really like when my feet get hot in trail runners that I just plow through some cold water and voila! Cooled down and ready to go. What I wanted to change in my shoes was the sturdiness, I was sick and tired of stubbing my toe along the trail and it hurting like hell afterwards because my trail runners are the equivalent of walking barefoot as far as how much protection they give.

I was also looking at perhaps changing my tarp to a more traditional tent – heavier of course than what I have, but still keep me within my 3 for 3 goal, the 3 for 3 I talk about extensively in my book Ultralight and comfortable. It’s basically your biggest three items under 3 kilos. (Tent, sleep system and backpack)

I also started to re-think just what my goals where, the truth is, backpacking is not a black and white equation. I can’t give you all the answers and what will work for you specifically. I am constantly trying out new variations along new trails. I personally don’t like hikes longer than 14 days, you might like month long trails. More power to you. I also at this moment in my life have zero ambition to climb mount Everest or hike the entirety of the Appalachian trail.

In the end

My gear choices worked very well, but what had me thinking was that I had left very little margin for error. As I stated earlier, I am quite good at planning my trips, and forseable problems that might occur. I had even understood that there would be snow along the northern section of the trail. But for some reason it seemed to have slipped my planning. It turned out that the rest of the trail was more what I planned for, and I had a great time.

I did start to re-think my packing though, and it’s quite easy to go stupid light, and it’s something I still do from time to time and it’s usually in conjunction with arrogance. Sometimes I just take certain situations for granted because I am too comfortable with my own experience and skill. While it’s good to have knowledge and skill, it’s no crutch for making stupid decisions.

A thought

With that said, I want to propose a different approach to the ultralight movement, or at least my own movement of the Ultralight and comfortable variation. Just as the heavy miserable community or traditional backpacking community obsesses about “ruggedness, survivor, name brand” and so on. The ultralight community has a tendency to go overboard on the “ultralight, superlight, grams, ounces”. We spend so much time obsessing about weight, that somewhere along the lines we have to lift our eyes a bit and realize that different hikers have different goals. I would also like to suggest that lighter is not always more comfortable. Sometimes a backpack that weighs 1.3 kilo with a sturdy frame, hip belt and good carrying capacity is a much better choice than the 300 gram Ikea bag sewn into a backpack – for any purpose.

So we have to find a good medium, maybe we still have to obsess about the weight, but we have to take into consideration comfort, distance of hike and of course the goals of the hiker. When I made that trip in Iceland I couldn’t help but stare at everybody and think “those poor bastards, they simply have no clue”. I can only assume that everybody looked at me at thought “wow, that guy is simply amazing with his ultralight gear.. Looks like he is flying over the terrain”.

backpackingblogcampingLandscape photographyPhotography

Pictures from Borgarfjäll

I recently had an outing with a few friends here in northern Sweden up in the Borgarfjäll mountains, about 350 kilometers inland from Umeå. This was the very reason I moved back to Northern Sweden: To get to the mountains! This was a fun trip, and more in line with car camping perhaps than a rough tumble through the wilds of Sweden, but I had fun non-the less.. In fact, there is something to be said about parking the car outside a mountain top, summiting, sleeping over, fishing and coming back down again. I was out a total of two nights and it was well worth the drive.

This trip also gave me the chance to test my Sierra designs Cloud sleeping bag/quilt and using my Samsung 9+ for all video and photography before taking my planned longer fall trips. Video coming eventually…..

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The view from Buarkantjahke at about 700 meters

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A lot can be said about the Zpacks Duplex – but there are two that define it most: Light and Cold. What you gain in weight, you sacrifice in size and “tightness”. This is a payoff usually worth the cost, but in cold, fall conditions the Duplex should be changed out for tents better situated for these conditions.

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The Zpacks and Hilleberg Allak side by side.. both did just fine in the mountains – though the Allak weighs about 2kg more.

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My favorite pack: the Hyperlite mountain gear windrider 2400. A great combination or weight, robustness, usability and looks.

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Me

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David finding loads of chanterelle mushrooms – we filled up several plastic bags with mushrooms.

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The view by Saxån overlooking Buarkantjahke mountain. 1235 meter peak and were we camped the night before at around 900meters.

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On the way back from Borgafjäll I walked a few kilometers along Lögdeälven and camped right by the water

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Down by Öreälven

backpackingblogGearGear reviews

Gear review: Sierra designs High Route FL

Where to start – The High route FL is a weird tent. Or at-least that was my first impression. An impression that was both negative but hopeful, I mean, how could I not be hopeful, it was designed with Andrew Skurka. In short, it’s a boxy, weird, half pyramid tent half something else that uses trekking poles and looks like it would be rather shit in heavy winds. That was my first impression, than I got it home, and I wanted to love it, but couldn’t as it was too much of a pain in the ass to setup. Not the process itself, but my poles would never sit in place. Unsatisfied, I sold the tent and moved on.

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I came back to the tent again by chance, I finally secured a European distribution for the tent for sales at backpackinglight.dk, and I decided to give it another shot. Or rather, I needed to show it off during an outdoor show here in Stockholm. So, regretting having to set it up again, I pulled it out of it’s (new) stuff sack – as I noticed right away that the stuff sack was different from the version I had earlier which was a direct import from the USA. Than I started setting up the tent and noticed it was much easier to setup this time around. So I don’t know if it’s official or something I dreamed up and my competency in setting the tent up actually increased over the time period. In any-case I believe that the version of the High route I bought for retail in Sweden was actually a better, stretchier sil-nylon that makes the tent easier to setup.

Since I gave it another shot, the tent has kind of grown on me and one I truly enjoy using. I have used the High route for many trips throughout the summer ranging from mountain trips to forest trips. In all about 30 nights which I feel is a fair amount to give a decent review of.

I even did a video review of this tent earlier this year that you can watch here:

Size:

First off, considering Andrew Skurka is a rather small guy, the High route FL is large, I mean, Large. I fit very comfortably in this tent. For reference I am 6’3″, 200lbs or in the more comprehendible metric system 190cm 90kg. Most tents are too small for me, and this has led me to believe that tent designers by and large are tiny people who simply don’t understand the concept of “tall”. When it comes to “ultralight” tents, the disparity is even greater. Ultralight tents usually equate to coffin.

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The High route is a comfortable tent. I can situp, stretch out, have my gear in the tent with me and because of the non-centered trekking poles, the height is extended beyond just the standard center. This is where pyramid tents really lose some of their utility, is that you only have space to move around in the exact center as the sides slope hard.

Weight:

With that said, the size of this tent, and the fact that it uses standard 20denier sil-nylon, means that it’s going to weigh a bit. Which it does, for a trekking pole, lightweight one man tent it weighs 1,1kg. Which isn’t bad for the amount of space you get, but there are lighter solutions. However, if you just use the outer fly and can’t be bothered with an inner-tent, than you are looking at around 600grams – which would give you much more room in the tent, making it very much so, a two man tent with far more usable inner space than any two man pyramid tent that I know of, with perhaps the exception to the Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 2.

Usability:

At first glance it’s easy to get blinded on one detail: It has no vestibule. But in truth, it does have a vestibule, and not just one, but two, on both sides with the double entry ways. It might not have a useable vestibule if your used to using something like a Hilleberg Kaitum GT, which you can park a car in. But it certainly has two very useable vestibules for any lightweight or ultralight backpacker. Also, don’t forget that it’s easy to stake out the entry ways for ventilation and for creating an even bigger vestibule if the need arises. Of course, you could just always bring your gear in the tent with you, which is what I do, and I just park my backpack in the vestibule and cook food in it.

So far I have not experienced anything this tent hasn’t been able to handle in the way of bad weather. Heavy rain: no problem. Heavy winds: no problem (for reference I’ve had it in 14m/s or 48 feet per second wind – it certainly shook, but the trekking poles act as an extra shield for keeping the fly off of you). It’s actually rather competent in most conditions.

Of all the tents I have used, the High route FL probably has the best ventilation possibilities – from the two large vents up top, to being able to open the side doors completely, to being able to stake them out at different levels. All of this enabling a tent that is highly flexible and useable in different situations.

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Conclusion:

I get the feeling that Andrew Skurka approached Sierra designs and said something like this “Guys, I have this awesome Idea for a tent, I want it to be the greatest tent ever made for the kinds of conditions I would want to use it in” – Sierra designs said “great! but you should do it like this and this and this..” and the end result is a tent that is excellent in design and function, that takes a lot of inspiration from a standard pyramid tent. But does have noticeable compromises. It has the ease of setup (nearly) as a pyramid tent, better rain protection than pyramid tents, more useable space and has the added bonus of being both a simple tarp with fly only and includes an inner tent. On top of this it has double entry and exit’s, packs down small, relatively light and relatively cheap.

The high route FL is something special, unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, Sierra designs are releasing a newer version of the tent next year and discontinuing the current model altogether. They are getting rid of the double entry way, making it overall smaller, and changing the color to blue. I’m sure that the 700grams total weight will have a bigger audience, but for me, the High route as it is, is a near perfect tent. It’s big, easy to setup, great ventilation, lot’s of useable space, can be setup in different configurations depending on what you prefer, and it packs down rather small..

A side note:

I often see the tent justice warriors of the world say the High route is a direct copy of the Tarptent Stratospire or the Yama mountain gear Swiftline. Honestly, I don’t see the resemblance, I want to, but it’s just not there. The only thing they have in common is the asymmetrical pole setup and sil-nylon fly. I would say there are far more differences than commonalities in these tents. I just thought I would write that here to avoid my comments section to be filled with these kinds of comments.

With that said, I love my Stratospire, and I can’t really choose between the two which one I prefer as they are both great tents. Though, I will say that I tend to take the High route as it uses less volume in my backpack.

Update: Sierra designs is now saying that there is a difference though its not USA and European, it’s just an updated version with a lighter Silnylon – which explains my thoughts on why it’s easier and strechtier material. This gives a total difference in weight between the older and newer version of the tent to about 200grams.

If your in Europe this tent can be purchased here:

https://backpackinglight.dk/tents/one-person-tent/sierra-designs-high-route-fl-1-tent

Eller i Sverige här:

https://backpackinglight.se/talt/1-personstalt/sierra-designs-high-route-fl-1-talt

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