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What is tent comfort?

I follow a lot of different groups on facebook, and one comment I am always surprised to read is when someone of say 180cm or less is saying a tent that I personally use and think works just fine is “Too small”. An example of this is a comment I recently received on my article “My favorite solo tents” about the Hilleberg Enan. I was a bit surprised when the comment was basically “I’m 170cm and i think the Enan is too small”. So this led me to start thinking about the concept of tent comfort. 

How can someone like myself at 190cm think the Enan is just fine and actually rather comfortable, while somebody at 170cm think it’s too small. I have a lot of theories on this, but I have kind of landed on one in particular: Tall people in general have to learn to like smaller tents. A tall person knows and in some cases actually likes their body squeezing against the inner tent. I know for example on the Enan I really like that I can mush my pillow into one side and kind of squeeze my head in there between the inner and pillow. I like it because it holds my pillow in place allowing me to fold the pillow a few times, to create height for my head for when I sleep. This means that I don’t get back pain while I sleep on my side as my head is elevated. 

I also know that having your bag mush on an inner tent is no issue at all, it doesn’t cause you to get wet from condensation, or your bag to get wet, or from some kind of chain reaction that will result in death. The bigger issue is if you are mushing against the outer tent – that should be avoided. In the Enan my head, squeezed against the inner tent, does of course touch the inner tent, but not the outer. No part of my body is even close to the outer. Which means I don’t have any issues with condensation showers. However in some single walled tents, like most zpacks tents, my feet or head, or both are mushed against the outer, leading always to a very uncomfortable and wet night.

Shorter people on the other hand never have to deal with issues of touching inner and outer tents. So the idea that a strand of hair is touching the inner tent will lead to one feeling that a tent is “too small”. We can make arguments that a tent is not as big as another tent, or that you feel a tent is small. But just because one can’t set up a lawn chair and do jumping jacks in a  tent doesn’t mean a tent is “too small”. It just means you prefer a larger tent. 

I think this is an important factor to take into consideration when buying a tent. At no time should you be terrified if some part of your body is touching the inner (there are exceptions to this – such as with the Nordisk tents where the inner is literally touching the outer). More important factors to take into consideration are: is my body touching the outer, is the tent big enough for what I want, is the tent too big where I can’t find anywhere to pitch, is the tent easy or hard to pitch, Trekking poles or not and so on. 

Anyway, just a quick thought on tent sizing and how to think about it!

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My favourite solo tents for 2020

Choosing a tent is always difficult. There is no such thing as the “Perfect” solo tent for all uses. My uses for the most part are rather specific. I want a tent that I can use both in the forest and above tree-line. Can stay comfortably in them for at-least two weeks in a go, fast and easy to setup, maximum weight of 1kg, fits nicely inside my backpack, has full bug protection and is built for somebody like myself that is 190cm tall. There are of course a lot of tents I have left out here, but not necessarily because I think they are terrible, but often because I just don’t like them as much as I like these tents that I mention. 

With that said, I test dozens of tents every year, so I never really get a chance to fall in love with a specific tent. I have to use them, abuse them, then move on to the next one. SO the tents I do mention here are ones I have used a lot and are the tents that I myself reach for when I am going on hikes for myself. 

1. Tarptent Stratospire – at 990 grams the Stratospire takes the proverbial cake for me. It’s massive inner space and vestibules, excellent above tree line performance, total cool factor. To me the Strotospire is as near a perfect solo tent as one can get. 

The positives:

– Big , there is no solo tent even close to the shear size of this tent.

– Stable above tree-line

– Double walled

– Dual entry, exit

– Two big vestibules

The negatives

– it’s big. Almost too big for a solo tent. Finding camp spots in forest or campgrounds can be a real problem because of how big it is. In my guestimation it’s the size of two Hilleberg enans side by side.

– It can be tricky to setup. Even after having set mine up hundreds of times over the years, I still find it a pain to setup. at-least 8 tent pegs are needed, a good internal understanding of geometry, and patience. 

The Stratospire 1 can be purchased in Sweden at: https://backpackinglight.se/talt/1-personstalt/tarptent-stratospire-1

In Europe at: https://backpackinglight.dk/tents/one-person-tent/tarptent-stratospire-1

2. Lightheart gear Solong 6 – As far as most liveable space, the Solong 6 is in a league of its own. This tent is designed with tall people in mind. it’s big, its light and it’s a fun tent to use. I have several tents I use and love but don’t have listed here for different reason. But one feature on any tent that I love is a big awning – the MLD Trailstar has the biggest, an open tarp is quite nice and the Tramplite shelter are all excellent tents with an awning. But the Solong 6 is the only “proper” tent with a nice big awning built in. With dual entries, a big liveable area and a massive awning, I just love this tent. This is a tent that you don’t really mind having to hunker down in for a long rain spell. 

The solong 6 is also a relatively easy tent to pitch, but does require some practice as the trekking poles are setup on the inside of the inner-tent which is somewhat unusual. 

The positives:

– Big and light

– Excellent awning function

– Double entry & exit

– Packs down small

Some negatives

– requires 6 tent pegs, two trekking poles, an awning pole and between the two trekking poles a PVC pipe.. 

– I don’t really like the concept of having to buy a “basic tent” and then to purchase all the add ons. I wish companies, even small cottage companies would just sell a complete tent with everything I need to pitch and enjoy. Lightheart gear take this to a new level with basically everything being extra. 

– Not sure I love the tent setup procedure. Would like to see a more optimised guy-line solution for the four corners. Not sure how much that PVC pipe is actually needed or if it could be scrapped in leu of a different solution. Like two poles and no PVC, or two poles and a simple strut that is sewn in place. 

The Lightheart gear Solong6 can be purchased in Sweden: https://backpackinglight.se/talt/lightheart-gear-solong-6

In Europe at: https://backpackinglight.dk/tents/lightheart-gear-solong-6

3. Hilleberg Enan – I don’t always want to bring trekking poles, in fact I find more and more that I am moving away from trekking poles and opting to instead have my hands free for camera gear and so forth. If I’m not bringing my trekking poles, than a trekking pole tent is a rather pointless venture for me. So with this, I bring the Hilleberg enan. Mine weighs in at 960 grams (Kerlon 600). That is complete with tent pole and add an extra 50 grams for 6 TI pegs. That is a lightweight, small packsize tent that is actually quite comfortable for someone of my height. 

It also saves me weight by allowing me to leave my trekking poles at home – which together weigh around 350 grams. There is not a lot I don’t like about the Enan – it’s light, roomy, comfortable, double walled, easy to setup and fits in tight spots. I even love the fact that I can push my sleeping mat all the way to the top of one end and mush my pillow into place inside the inner tent. This is great for when I want to situp and read a bit, or at-least have my head raised. It’s the tightness of the tent that creates supreme comfort. 

Positives:

– Top quality

– I love the yellow inner-tent – the comfort it gives is indescribable

– No trekking poles needed

– Can withstand just about anything the mountains throw at it

So what don’t I like: 

– It takes 6 tent pegs for a good setup. I would have like to see this cut down to 2 like the Tarptent Moment DW. 

– While I love the tightness of the tent, I don’t really like getting caught in bad weather with it. Because of the tightness – in bad weather every tent shrinks (psychologically speaking), and the Enan just because a hassle with the size and condensation in bad weather. 

The Hilleberg Enan can be purchased in Sweden: https://backpackinglight.se/talt/hilleberg-enan-rod

In Europe at: https://backpackinglight.dk/tents/hilleberg-enan-red

4. Tarptent Notch – Everything I like with the enan I can copy and paste for the Notch, with the added bonus of it being lighter and easier to setup. With the notch you just need 4 pegs and two trekking poles and your done. The Notch has also great ventilation, double vestibules and entry/exits. The Notch is simply a superb solo tent. They even make this beast in an even lighter DCF version weighing just around 550 grams. That’s a double walled tent. The standard notch has a total weight with solid inner at around 770 grams. Perhaps the main drawback of the Notch is that the actual sleeping area of the inner tent is a rather tight fit. Cozy as some people might describe it. Where the Enan makes use of a little bigger inner-tent and one vestibule, the Notch cuts back on the inner-tent and instead makes room with two vestibules. I’m not sure which of the two I prefer. 

Some pluses:

– Fast and easy setup

– Great weight at just 770 g for standard, 550 g for DCF

– Great ventilation

The negatives:

– small inner-tent

– can get drafty in certain situations 

The Tarptent Notch can be purchased in Sweden: https://backpackinglight.se/varumarken/tarptent/tarptent-notch

In Europe at: https://backpackinglight.dk/brands/tarptent/tarptent-notch

5. Sierra designs High route FL – I get the question, often, If I could only choose one tent what would it be. This is such a difficult question for me because I am not limited to just one, so I can choose the one tent that best matches the situation I am likely to find myself in. With that said, one tent that usually passes everything I want or need to do is the High route FL. I love this tent, as easy to pitch as a pyramid tent, can be pitched with both inner and outer tent together, can easily remove the inner, comes complete seam sealed with tent pegs, big enough for me, and can withstand just about anything nature can throw at it. Granted the 2020 model is a little smaller and doesn’t have the dual entry & exits, it is considerably lighter than the previous model. 

There is a lot of talk about the x-mid by Durston, for me the High route is a more useable tent. The x-mid is just too small for my needs, the high route is just right. I also find it an easier tent to pitch and more flexible. (Though still testing the x-mid, and I can say it might be just right for your own needs) What I liked most on the Lightheart gear Solong6 is the big awning, the High route has two of them. It is also the cheapest of all the tents that I rank as my favourite solo tents. 

Some positives:

– Fast and easy setup

– Big, roomy tent – even the updated version

– Lightweight at under 800 grams

– Two vestibules that easily convert to Awnings

Some negatives:

– I think it sucks they got rid of the two entry and exits.. Ok, admittedly I rarely used both at the sametime, but the flexibility of it was nice. 

– Not sure I dig the color scheme so much. It works, but I kind of miss the red they had on the earlier model 

– The actual vestibule space is tight – I usually try to pitch with awning for more room

The Sierra designs High route FL can be purchased in Sweden: https://backpackinglight.se/talt/1-personstalt/sierra-designs-high-route-fl-1-talt

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

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MYOG – make your own gear

In leu of finding someone to work with here in my studio in Umeå (northern Sweden) – basically a partner to design and develop outdoor gear. I have taken it upon myself to at least learn the trade and what is needed. I am certainly no expert and my sewing skills are absolutely minimal. But I am enjoying the process and certainly learning a lot along the way. This is my philosophy in life to be honest: Do something new – try something you will suck at. That’s me, at this moment and I’m happy as a clam! 

So, like I always do, it’s just my own method of working, I buy minimal gear. Or rather what I think I might need, use it, and add more. Now my economy means I can’t buy the best, but I certainly don’t have to use garbage. I started by borrowing a simple Durkopp 211-5 straight seam sewing machine that I oiled up and repaired. Total cost about 30USD.

The Durkopp 211-5 single needle straight seam machine.

Then I bought a Pfaff 142 two needle sewing machine. Which I knew I would need for studier stitching, fell seams and so on. (Can be done on a single needle machine, but I love the look of the double needle stitch). Total cost 650usd. Borrowed a Bernina 1008 home sewing machine from my wife. Total cost 0usd. And built a proper cutting table that is about 250cm long by 160cm wide – supported by 3 Ikea Kallax bookcases – Total cost: 140USD. 

Then I started to use everything and realized real quick that cutting lightweight material is a bitch. I started with a high quality roller cutter. Works nice until it doesn’t – it’s easy to cut the material wrong. Or the roller to kind of do it’s own thing if not fully focused. Then I tried scissors and an electric knife. All of these sucked. I read a post online from a guy who suggested a hot knife. I don’t have a hot knife and was too eager to get started to wait a month to get one from China. So I bought a soldering gun instead – works amazing! I don’t have to use pressure on the material which means my cuts are nearly perfect every time! Cost of soldering iron: 15USD.

Of course I need other materials and so on, rulers, scissors, oil, etc.. all in all about 120usd for this. All in all my little sewing studio here minus sewing textiles and materials is around 955usd. Which considering that is three sewing machines, all cutting tools, a nice sized cutting table and all in all a very comfortable working environment: I can deal with the outlay. 

Up close of the cutting board. You can see I use it as a photo studio as well when I need to take product photos for Backpackinglight.se. My little office in the corner there by the window

I like having a working environment where I can go from one task to another without having to stop because I am missing something, or I have to rearrange one thing or another. I like getting into the flow of a process and this studio allows that for me. And within a few days I am starting to produce gear that I find useful and is fun to make. Along the way I am changing how the room is organized, I am moving furniture around and re-thinking certain areas. But that is the whole point: A rough draft studio that I can work in and change depending on efficiencies and knowledge. I won’t know everything I need from the very beginning without ever sewing so much as a ditty bag. So I keep things to a minimum and improve or upgrade as my skill and knowledge increases. 

My guess is that when I find someone that wants to come here and sew stuff, they will want to change the room around completely. Which is what I expect. Anyway, this was just a little intro into my MYOG studio here in Umeå, my next posts will be regarding the stuff I am actually sewing!

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Thermarest vesper quilt 32 Review

The Vesper quilt is a new line of quilts released in 2019 by Thermarest. They are Ultralight by all means using some of the lightest materials on the market to achieve an excellent weight to warmth ratio. using high quality down 900 hydrophobic treated to help protect against moisture and using small lightweight straps to tie down to your sleeping pad.

Full video review:

Weight:

The larger wide version of the Vesper quilt 32 comes in at just 489grams and has a warmth rating of around 32 degrees. Now like all companies do, they market the limit ratio instead of comfort. Comfort on this bag is around 37-38 degree F or 5 degrees Celsius. The medium or standard length of the Vesper quilt weighs under 450grams.

Warmth:

In my opinion any bag that markets itself as a 32 F bag and you freeze at the temp, just isn’t worth the money. Luckily, the Vesper quilt does a good job at keeping to it’s comfort temp and limit. I would say the comfort temp is around 37-38 F or 5 degrees Celsius. Limit is 32. Though I would say there are warmer 32 degree bags, but certainly not as light or packable.

Comfort:

The Vesper quilt is designed for being light over everything else. This is a simple quilt. Period. Two straps and, a clip around your neck and a foot box. That’s it. I find the large big enough for me who comes in at 190cm and 92 kilos, or 6’3″ and 210lbs. I can move around nicely and it keeps me warm down to about 5 Celsius.

Versatility:

It can be used as a summer and three season quilt. That’s about it. I wouldn’t use it as an extra quilt for warmth in the winter as it might be too tight for that function.

Overall:

I find that since I started using the Vesper quilt it has become one of my go to quilts as it does what it’s suppose to do. It keeps me warm, it packs down really small and is one of the lightest 32 degree quilts on the market. What more could I ask for?

Plus:

  • Ultralight
  • Well rated
  • Comfortable
  • Sidelong baffles means it keeps the down in place and minimizes weight

Minus:

  • Straps can be a little flimsy – easy to lose

The vesper quilt can be purchased in Europe at:

https://backpackinglight.dk/search/Vesper

And in Sweden at:

https://backpackinglight.se/sok/Vesper

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Solo tents for tall hikers..

The disadvantages of being tall….
Let me paint a picture.. granted with my limited grasp of vocabulary, it might not be a very clear picture.. but a picture nonetheless.. I am by most rights, rather tall – 190cm (6´3”) to be exact. Most tent designers are about 160cm (3’4”) and think a tight fit is just fine for them. (For somebody 160cm short). There are countless examples of this, so I don’t feel I need to list all the guilty tent producers here, I will instead highlight the few tents where the designers actually remembered there are tall people roaming this earth as well. Short people have many advantages within the outdoor world – Tents are smaller and lighter, backpacks that might fit a big persons shoe, can fit all their miniature gear.

Hence in most cases it’s rather impossible for a tall person to have an UL standard that small people would have. Which is also why I think harddrawn lines on what UL is just doesn’t work. I.e 2kg for UL baseweight – utterly ridiculous and simply not possible for anybody that is taller than 160cm and hikes further than their backyard. I still think the best overall measurement for lightweight is 3 for 3. Which simply means your biggest three items at a maximum weight of 3kg. Your sleep system – sleeping bag and pad. Tent/shelter system and backpack and all under 3kg. 

This simple measurement will probably work wonders for most people. Now, back onto my headline here – tents for tall people. I am somebody who has grown accustomed to having my feet and head smush against the innertent on most double walled tents, I don’t mind it much, and in some cases it’s rather nice. The problem of course is when I mush so much that I mush the innertent into the outer tent and everything gets drenched in condensation. This on the other hand, is not very nice. So I will list a few of the tents designed for and by tall people. 

Keep in mind this is just tents I can think of off the top of my head that I have tested. There are probably other tents that should make the list – but this is a good start

I hope this helps all of my taller friends out there! 
Lightheart gear Solong 6. 
This tent is probably the single biggest solo tent available. Designed for users up to 197cm – even for me this tent seems like a palace. At 900 grams it’s rather light as well, and it’s got a pretty cool Awning feature (if you order within the next 4 days – I will include the Awning pole for free 390kr value). Long, wide and tall the Lightheart gear solong is the premier big person tent and takes tops spot here
Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 2.
The Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 2 is a good sized tent, of course a little unfair it’s on this list because it’s a two man tent. However, with a half insert, you can call it a very, very big solo tent. With that said, with an insert in, you will probably find your head or feet touching the inner tent if your over 190cm. Again, not an issue as long as your not musing the outer. But important to know. The ultamid 2 is by far the single best year round/ four season tent on this list and the lightest to boot. (500grams for the outer and 450 for half insert)
Luxe outdoor lightwave. 
Big and cheap, but also on the heavier side for a solo tent. This is a proper double walled tent that can be used year round. Big and sturdy – but weighs in about around 1.7kg. 
Luxe outdoor Mini XL
Massive tent. This is good for users up to 195cm who just need a ridiculous amount of space to spread out in. Perhaps you have a herd of sheep that you wish to keep sheltered with you? Who knows – in any case this is an excellent winter tent as it big and has a stove jack – allowing for a proper wood stove to be used inside the tent. Did I mention this tent is a steal at 200Euros?

Gossamer gear the one.
A light, single walled, big man tent. 697 grams seam sealed and ready to go. This is great for users up to 194cm and probably you could get away with being a little taller. Granted, the 7Denier silnylon used to build this tent means that you probably wouldn’t want to take it up above tree line. It will work, and with the extra tie outs and so on it’s not a bad option – but of all the tents it’s the one I would trust the least when it comes to durability. 
Tarptent Stratospire 1.
Big, roomy, double walled and light. The Tarptent stratospire 1 is a proper mountain tent, built for maximum sturdiness, durability, comfort and lightness. Great for users up to 194cm. I can’t give enough praise for the Stratospire 1. If I have to say anything negative it’s that it can be a pain to setup in the beginning, and it has a massive footprint. 
Vargo No-Fly 2p Tent.
The vargo is new to my list, but boy is this a special tent. Carbon fiber poles, freestanding, proper two-man tent the No-Fly is a big, light tent at 1,2kg. While the copper spur 2 is a proper 1p tent for a big person, the Vargo is a proper 2p Tent that would even work for two big people. Fast and easy to setup and sturdy enough for three season use above tree line. 
Hilleberg Enan.

Tight squeeze, but I like it:

I use and love my Enan. I like that I can squeeze my pillow into the end the innertent will hold it in place all night without my head or feet touching the ends. I like the tiny footprint, the gorgeous and happy inducing yellow innertent, easy and fast setup, the fact I don’t have to bring trekking poles and because I use the Kerlon 600 version, my entire kit with pegs and pole weighs just around 1kg. (We still have a couple of Kerlon 600 in stock). On top of this, it is a proper 3 season mountain tent. Users up to 194cm should find this to be a perfectly fine tent. Though don’t expect maximum comfort and it’s not something you want to be stuck in long periods of time. 
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Zpacks Plexamid – an overview

Last year I bought the new Zpacks tent – after much internal debating, as I’m not a huge fan of the duplex (too small, too exposed for my tastes), I was a bit slow to pull the trigger on the Plexamid. However, after seeing a few initial reviews of how big the tent was, I decided to go for it. I don’t normally worry too much about cost as it easy to get the money back when selling.

My initial impression when I received the tent was “damn this is light” – followed by, shit it’s going to be too small. After setting up the plexamid and playing with it for about 20 nights out and 7 months later, I can say that it’s not too small. In fact, the tent gives me more liveable space than the Duplex. Even when I slept in the Duplex diagonally, it was too small for me. Meaning I had to basically use the entire internal space of the Duplex, just for my sleeping pad. Kind of sucked.

Anyway, this is not a review, but simply an overview of the Plexamid, as I want to give this tent a thorough beating before I give a true review.

A video overview:

What is it:

The Plexamid is the newest ultralight solo tent by the Florida based cottage company Zpacks. Zpacks specialises in ultralight, dyneema made gear. The tent weighs just 439grams on my scale, with guy lines without tent pegs and center pole.

First impression:

It’s a big solo tent – I’ve actually slept with my son in the tent a few nights and there is plenty of room for us.

Performance so far:

One of the reasons I am not willing to do a proper review yet is that the weather and conditions I’ve had the Plexamid in have been relatively mild so far. 15mps winds (34 mph) and two days of rain. In those conditions, it has held its own, and the size of the tent makes the heavy rains bearable. Though, in prolonged rains, the condensation does become an issue. However, as the tent is quite large and the sides sloped as they are, the condensation just runs down the sides and out through the mesh onto the ground – and not onto your gear and sleeping bag.

Sitting straight up and down on a sleeping pad with plenty of room to spare. For reference, I am 190cm tall and 90kilos

Conclusion:

I have used this tent enough to confidently say that If I were to do the PCT, the Plexamid would be the tent I bring – no doubt. I am confident enough with the tent to have it as my only tent for the next 6 months while in Zambia. It’s big, light and stable.

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Do we change?

I recently listened to a podcast with Joe Rogan and Sam Harris – they talk a lot about redemption and change. One of the questions is with regards to Liam Neeson and his recent confession about how he once stood outside a bar waiting to kill a black man – any black man for the rape of his friend. A completely unnecessary confession from a man that has a lot to lose. Without actually reading the confession or hearing the dialogue for myself, just from the quoted aspects of that interview with Liam Neeson it was obvious that the man thought it was abhorrent how he felt at that time. Obviously, I don’t think anybody actually read his interview and thought “Liam Neeson is a racist and needs to be banned from the world..” If there is somebody who thinks that, they probably have the intellect of a 10-year-old.

But Joe Rogan and Sam Harris spent a lot of time discussing the “outrage culture” that exists today in the media. Which I agree there is a ridiculous amount of “outrage” being spewed all over the place. We see it constantly on the internet – the main reason for the outrage culture, in my opinion, and its effects on modern journalism is because it creates clicks. Journalism today is more about creating headlines and getting clicks than it is about an actual story. It’s not unusual to click on an article only to realize that the content of that article is completely different from the clickbait title.

A lot of discussions and mental space is given to the likes of Twitter and Facebook – and my own idea is that we give too much weight to youtube and twitter comments. Are twitter comments a good gauge in how outraged somebody really is? Most of the time I think of twitter and youtube comments to be an exercise in verbal diarrhea. Yet entire news articles are written, complete with perceived opinion polls, based purely on how the Twitterverse reacts to the news. On top of this, any crowd, digital or not, are going to sink to the lowest common denominator – in other words, the crowd will always sink to the level of a festering pile of shit if given enough time and big enough platform.

I also get the impression that Sam Harris and Joe Rogan give too much weight to this. Maybe I am wrong, which I probably am, but I think people use social media as an outlet to spew their shit lives in. I don’t think somebody read that article with Liam Neeson and thinks “Liam is a racist and he needs to be removed from public life” rather what is really happening is this; “fuck my life sucks, school is too expensive, I have a shit job, my future reaks, my tax bill is too high.. so I’m just going to vomit this comment here and let somebody else experience my own shit life for an instant and become somebody else, somebody important”

Still the same person?

Now back to the title of this article: Do we change? There seems to be a movement on, again, social media about destroying peoples lives for shit they did 20 years ago, or posted on twitter 10 years ago. At what point do we just admit that the people digging up old skeletons and trying to make it an issue, are in essence, rotten and at the least, suspect with a very clear objective. I’m not talking about Bill Cosby skeletons, or R. Kelly style skeletons – those can never be forgotten.

I’m talking about the teenager who wrote something stupid on twitter 10 years ago and now as a young adult are running for Congress. Or being a film producer or any of the above. The stupid teenager now as an adult – yet still being judged by past fuck ups.

So am I the same person I was when I was 20? In some ways yes.. I considered myself an intellectual then as I do now. I wrote articles, even a few books that are on my hard drive still, I listened to a lot more music, my general politics have changed, but I still believe in the good of people. Looking through my own eyes I can barely see a difference, but when I take an outside looking in approach, I see a massive difference.

There is so little of the 20-year-old me left, the insecurities, the blind ideologies, the black and white view of issues and politics, my transgressions with women, drugs, and debauchery. I was a 20-year-old American house DJ living in Sweden. Of course I did stupid shit, an unending, relentless stream of bad ideas followed by more bad ideas. My life has changed so profoundly, my mind and mental state are years beyond the 20-year-old me.

I imagine I am not alone in this progression? I imagine most of us learn, grow and strive to become better people with each waking moment. At age 20 I thought I owned the world, and in my own little way, I did. But it didn’t make me happier, so with time, I vowed to change, to progress, to be thoughtful and thankful for the life I have. I dreamed of creating a better life and mind for myself. It’s something I strive for every day, to be better than the day I was before.

Jordan b. Peterson has a quote that I think fits good here:

“These kids want to change the world economic system, rebuild earth and create a new society. Yet they can’t even make their own beds. Start small, start with yourself and move up from there.”

Judging others

Yet, today there are literal movements to destroy people who did stupid shit when they were younger. My guess is that like most things, this movement is powered by people who wish not themselves be judged. I wouldn’t trust somebody who hasn’t done stupid shit in their lives and have grown up and moved on. Life is about experiences and if you haven’t done something incredibly stupid in your life, then you haven’t lived and you sure as hell can’t be a judge of others. Your fuck up’s simply haven’t come to pass yet, they will. And the truth about fucks up’s is that the older you get, the bigger your fuck-ups become. So fuck up when you’re young, because when you get older your fuck-ups affect a lot more people and tend to be a hell of a lot more expensive.

So do we judge negatively on Liam Neeson for the stupid shit he did at a younger age, or do we give a pat on the back for admitting his own stupidity and moving on? At what point do we accept an apology as sincere? And who are we to judge if an apology is sincere?

Start with yourself

In the end, the life we have is the life we have created for ourselves. The society we have is the society we have created. Do we really want to be a society built on outrage culture? Is banning speakers from universities a proper path forward? Virtue signaling, fake outrage, twitterrage, whatever.

Start with yourself, the next time you want to unleash a shitty comment on Twitter or vomit your ideas on Facebook, take a step back, breath and try imagining that the person on Twitter is real. The comment you are about to leave will be read by a real person. Interact with social media the way you would in real life. And remember that being angry or pissed off at somebody and carrying that around on your shoulders, is about the equivalent of drinking poison and waiting for that person to die.

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Vegan no more… or why I moved on from vegan diet

Lot’s of energy, getting thinner and feeling great were my side effects of being on a vegan diet. Not bad right? Right. Honestly I didn’t mind the vegan lifestyle which I held for over a year. In the beginning I don’t remember if it was my constant running that inspired me to eat vegan, or the other way around. I guess it doesn’t matter at this point. I can attribute both the running and vegan lifestyle to books like “how not to die”, “Born to run”, “The china study” and “Whole”. Great books, great research and really, a great lifestyle to live for many people.

The first months or so I lost weight, felt great and in general was impressed by how much food I could eat and not get fat. Pretty amazing. However, later on I quit running daily and realised that my weight started to come back and on top of that my body fat % was increasing. So I eliminated fats from my vegan diet, didn’t help. Just ended up being more tired, and I mean really tired. So I started increasing sugar and fruit intake. This didn’t help much either and instead I started to have energy crashing and constant cravings. The entire time during my vegan experiment I noticed that I had to eat constantly – at least 3-5 times a day, proper meals. I was always hungry. I’m not a scientists or doctor, but if the vegan diet is suppose to be the optimised human diet, why would I have to eat all the time? That was my thought process.

I also started fasting more, sometimes one day a week to just intermittent fasting, I don’t find the vegan diet to lend itself so well to fasting. My hunger would be ravenous quickly. Within hours of my last meal, I would be craving a new meal. When I woke up I would be desperate for food. When I would fast on a vegan diet, I would basically be lying in bed staring at the clock. I have a lot of will power, something I train daily. But I also like to use my willpower on issues other than food; like being a creative, productive individual to society. Reaching goals, building systems and running different businesses.

I also found that while I was quite happy living vegan, my family, not so much which often created unnecessary irritations in an otherwise excellent relationship. While I love animals and empathise with the plight of the factory farmed animal – the mental stress and bodily stress just wasn’t worth it for me. Sorry.

So where I have gone with my food then? Honestly after living vegan for a year, my body and mind was craving fat and meat. I felt it in my bones. So, I ate fat and meat. Lot’s of it. I am very much against factory farming, so I am in the process of getting my hunting liscense. I’m not sure there is anything more ethical or meaningful than being a hunter. (not trophy hunter killing near extinct animals.. those guys are pieces of shit) This is something I have learned over the last year or so of reading and studying hunting.  This is also what convinced me to drop the Vegan lifestyle in the end. I would venture to say that without hunters, many more animals would be extinct, many more animals would die of starvation, disease and pretty much any other cause.

Now I know a lot of vegans that will say “your doing it wrong that’s why it’s not working for you”.. perhaps, but being vegan is not that difficult. You don’t eat meat or animal fats and proteins among other principles. Maybe I wasn’t eating enough sugar and cupcakes. Also, you can pretty much make the argument “you not doing it right” with just about anything. Look at communism for example – has never worked, will never work and is an absolute plague among mankind. Yet people still long for the controlling hand of Mao or Stalin. Remember “It has just never been done right”

Keto 

I have read quite a bit about Keto, and it’s something I might want to try with more dedication in the future. But mentally I’m just not there yet. From time to time I drink bulletproof coffee after a long night of fasting, but haven’t found any positive cognitive functions or any noticeable effects on my body.. other than a higher body fat %. I do like the taste though. I recently did a 2 day fast only drinking water and found that I finally came into ketosis with a 1.3 mmol ketones level. Not sure the effort is worth the results. But again, this is something I will experiment more with in the future.

Slow carb

So I guess you could say I’ve landed somewhere between a keto diet and Slow carb. I have cut out all sugar, white carbs and fruit from my normal day to day eating. With a cheat day every week. I find that the cheat day is something that I look forward to, but when the day comes, I realise just how bad and uncontrolled my old diet really was. Things I would eat daily have now been pushed to a certain time slot one day a week. I also find that my insulin levels are low and my energy is high as well as an elevated cognitive function. Much clearer thinking and brain functioning than my year with veganism. As an added bonus I am losing weight and body fat rapidly and eat twice a day with barely any hunger pains in between meals. Amazing. In less than a month I have lost 6 kilos body weight and 3% body fat. No training or running of any kind as it’s been too damn cold here. Just a light Wim Hof training daily (breathing, some pushups, and weightless squats)

I usually eat my last meal between 18.00 – 19.00 and don’t eat again until 11-12 the next day with no loss in energy or cognitive function. Now that seems to be an optimised human diet, or at-least an optimised diet for my genetic makeup. I recently did a two day fast – just water for two full days. My energy levels held up, though I would say by the end of day two I was getting hungry.

Fasting

As I have written a few times, I have started experimenting with fasting, as there is a lot of research suggesting that fasting is excellent for long term health. My goal is to do a three day fast every month and maybe a 5 day fast once every six months. I recently did a 2 day fast without too many complications, though I did have to fight boredom a bit. I realised by fasting that I am a “stimulant” eater. I like to eat as it gives me something to do.

Going to the movies: gotta eat popcorn

Watching a movie at home: Popcorn, chips and nuts

Playing video games: candy is nice

upset: chocolate

Sitting on the couch: grapes, oranges, apples.. anything really

So boredom is definitely a factor in my eating process and something I am mentally working through. Especially now when I work mostly from home. Interestingly enough, I find using the local coffee shop as my office is great for the boredom factor and I don’t eat at all. Buy a coffee and I’m good to go.

Results of my fasting so far: not sure, forgot to measure everything. The only thing I did measure during my fasting was my glucose blood levels and my Ketons.

Conclusion:

Now I don’t think I will get any backlash here from the vegan crew out there as I never professed to be a vegan anyway. Barely ever mentioned it, and certainly didn’t build my reputation on being a vegan. I don’t believe in dieting to lose weight, for me it’s about optimisation. What works best for my body with the least amount of work, thought and foresight required without making me fat, stupid and disease ridden. I am always experimenting and I love the process of trial and error and measuring results. Veganism simply doesn’t work for me, maybe in the future I will give it a go again, when I’m rich and can have a full time cook working and preparing all my food. Until then however, I will go with an option that works for my body, schedule and laziness.

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Hell yeah.. or no..

I heard this quote from Derik Sivers in this post https://sivers.org/hellyeah. This is something I have truly followed for a long time, and reading it like this really hit home with me. I found out long ago that if I put my time into things I didn’t want to, I usually zone out onto my own little planet, or complain and bitch or a combination of the two. Mildly put, I’m a pain in the ass to be be around in those situations – on top of that it’s a horrible experience for everyone involved.

I don’t strive to be an asshole, and I would say that I am anything but. However, I’m also very adamant in controlling my calendar, often to the detriment of my own social network. I’m ok with the trade-off.

With that said, the idea is this: Either something is a “Hell yeah” or it’s no. Because if you fill up your calendar with a bunch of “why nots” or “well, alright” – you won’t have time for those few “hell yeah” opportunities that pop up. To be a productive, effective, creative individual, you have to dedicate time, your time. Nobody is going to give you that time to pursue your dreams, in fact, most people most of the time are vampires. They suck the time and life out of you. Well, ok, that’s a bit harsh because by this standard your wife/husband and kids would also be vampires.. which in a way they are. But the trick is to find a balance. Do you want to fill up your calendar with “well, alright” and not have time for you kids?

See, for me, every project, gathering, event or meeting is a direct time thief from my most important priorities – My wife, child, business and hobbies. Every new offer has to be passed through that filter. Am I willing to give up x-hours for x-event at the cost of not seeing my son? I can say not many things pass that filter. My son is smothered by his father 🙂

This is also why a morning routine is so important for me – If I’m up at 5am, I have two hours to myself to build structure and routine for the day. To think about what I need to get done for the day, and clean out my schedule. People often assume I am constantly busy. I’m not, far from it – I own my calendar and I plan accordingly with my priorities always in focus. Saying no is my salvation.

When I do say yes, I am dedicated and follow through the best I possibly can.

That’s it.. just a short post. Enjoy your day and practice saying No!

 

 

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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.