Category: blog

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My return to the USA – culture shock and family reunion

Spent this last Christmas and new year with my brother and his family in Ozark, Alabama – together with our parents.. This is the first time we have all come together an had Christmas together, and the first time in 20 or so years since my parents, my brother and myself have spent Christmas together. Anyway, I had a great time, and as always I have mixed emotions about my homeland: I love the fact that parking is free in a lot of places, public toilets are generally everywhere and not to mention a lot of great places to eat and shop. I am however heart broken about many things, signs of a fallen nation just waiting to crumble, a populace that willingly accepts it’s dumbing down by a broken news media and a willful ignorance to find out the truth. George Orwell once coined the term “double think” – Doublethink is the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct. This couldn’t be more true when talking about politics with people.

There is another term that unfortunately is lost on me now, but the idea is that it takes an incredible amount of intelligence to realize you don’t understand something. Often, the least understanding individuals are the ones that will argue loudest for the ideas or concepts they don’t understand – and not realize they don’t understand.  I find this prevalent beyond belief, not only doublethink and the willful ignorance associated with that, but also the complete lack of understanding for general ideas – which often leads to pointless discussion on subjects that I may have studied for years and have a general understanding of, and find myself in the middle of discussion with people who obviously have no clue. Simple facts that are easy to prove or disapprove are simply ignored, often ideas of conspiracy are preferred over simple explanations; in the world of modern USA 2+2 does not equal 4. 2+2 is equal to whatever and whomever decides to argue the loudest.

Ideas that once could be expressed and a discussion could take place existed in a not too distant past, today I can be called a nazi and a snowflake in the same discussion with no thought or mental process from the accuser being apparent. Names and terms have become a kind of acceptable replacement for rational thought and discussion. I think these terms are crutches for the conversational cripple and it says more about the accuser than the accused.

In discussions people will simply refer me to look up the “facts” on Alternet, PragerU or Breitbart, Alex jones, or whatever Trump decides to vomit up as his latest wisdom. (disclaimer: I’m not generally for or against Trump. If he does something good I acknowledge it, if he does something shitty, I say it.) I was left with the feeling that there is no going back, when simple conventions and truths that society are built on are simply ignored, it creates an unnatural conflict, an unwillingness to change and learn. The radicalism that I have simply seen online was put on display in so many ways. I don’t just mean left wing radicalism, but also right wing. It’s all there, it’s not only online, it’s right there, just beneath the surface in everyday situations with real people.

Simply put, I believe it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better – and there is no guarantee that it will get better. 

With that said, in general I love the people, the workers the survivors: because if nothing else can be said about the USA, one thing is certain, Americans are survivors. Life is not easy in the USA, the reality of working two full time jobs and still not make ends meet, is very real, and you see it everywhere. I sat down with my family to eat at Wendys, my son started playing with another kid who I thought was sitting with his family, then his “family” left him there, alone. Well, turns out his mother was working, at Wendys. These are the people the media likes to call “welfare queens”. Working their asses off, surviving, hustling and just trying to get by.

 

Video filmed on DJI Spark drone and Olympus OMD EM5 II

In any case, I have put together a few pictures and so far one video here from my trip to Ozark, Alabama and a couple days along the Florida coast in Panama city and Pensicola.

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Sarek national park 2017 part 3

The journey continues! I setup camp in Snavvavagge and in this video I make the trek down into Rapadalen and end the night near Aktse cottage after an incredible walk along Rapadalen and ride a boat in Rapadalen with the incredible beauty of Nammatj beckoning adventurers into the vastness that is Sarek.

I look at these videos, and I can’t help but be inspired, certainly not by the videos, but by the journey itself, the memories of it all.

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Sarek national park in Video part 1

So I finally got around to editing some of my Sarek video from july, I’m not really sure the direction I want to take the films.. should they be long, with long melodic segments of nature and so on, or do I cut it down like I did here to show what I want to show then move on? It’s one of those issues I have with video really.. What is it I want to show? Do I talk, do I not talk? Let me know what you think and I will keep it in mind for the next videos.

blogGearGear reviews

Gear review: Cumulus panyam 600 sleeping bag video review

Make a lovely trip out during the weekend and made time to finally review the Cumulus panyam 600 sleeping bag. In this video I discuss the panyam make, size and weight as well as my ideal uses for the bag.

 

 

About the Cumulus Panyam 600 sleeping bag:

The Panyam series bags from Cumulus are lightweight, high quality bags that start the Cumulus winter series bags. The Panyam 600 is 850 down quality, -6 bag that weighs in at under 1kilo. These bags are built to the highest standard and the baffles are sewn with trapezoid style baffles.

Trapezoid Construction:

The use of the trapezoid design in the Panyam means that with a comparable weight of down, the trapezoid is a more advanced design than the box structure, because there is less likelihood of “cold spots” than with “H” chambers.

Weight and temperature ratings:

The Cumulus Panyam 600 weighs in at just 1kilo for the standard size. This is good enough for users up to 190cm according to Cumulus. I would say however that the standard size might be a big short for a 190cm user – I am 190 and find my feet hit the end of the bag and the shoulder draw cord doesn’t completely close around my shoulders. Simply put, I am too tall for this bag. I would say a more proper sizing would be 188cm or less for the standard bag.

The Panyam 600 is rated with a comfort temp of -6 celcius and a limit of -13. This is a fairly accurate rating in my tests, and I would even say it’s a bit on the safe side. I found it to be considerably warmer than the rating lets on.

Quality:

My overall take on the Panyam 600 and all cumulus bags are that they are high quality bags selling at a low quality price. Which of course is awesome for most shoppers, however, many people still base “quality” on price and “brand”. But as many more small local cottage companies come along, I think this stereotype is starting to vanish. The panyam 600 and the panyam 450 are some of the best quality bags available at the 850 down range, and definitely the cheapest at that quality.

Winter layering:

An ancient indian technique (talking out my ass here) for maximizing warmth in the winter is to layer bags. The Cumulus panyam 600 is a great first layer for deep winter, and layered with a synthetic quilt on top, say an As tucas sestrals blanket apex 167, could easily push your winter kit to -30 celcius. At minimal weight.

Conclusion: 

Watch the video.. But in all seriousness, if you are looking for a high quality winter down sleeping bag that packs down tightly and has minimal weight and cost; You don’t need to look any further than the Cumulus panyam 600.

 

Where to buy:

In Sweden: https://backpackinglight.se/sova/sovsack/vinter/cumulus-panjam-600

Throughout Europe: https://backpackinglight.dk/sleeping/sleeping-bags/winter/cumulus-panjam-600

 

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Working hard on video…

I know it seems that I am rather unengaged with ultralight and comfortable as of late.. as far as writing goes I am, too many projects at the moment 🙂 I am however very engaged at backpackinglight.dk where I even send out a newsletter now and than. I also have been working tirelessly on video as of late as I like the format for reviews and showing off gear. It’s funner to play with gear, test it and show it off on video than taking pictures and writing reviews.

With that said I have put up about 40 videos in the last couple of weeks all gear related. Still finding my style and quality in the videos, but I think the project is heading in the right direction. Let me know what you think! Also if there is any gear you would like me to do a demonstration of, let me know as well!

https://www.youtube.com/ultralightandcomfortable

A demo video as well:

blogLiving simplymindfulness

Uncopyright all my work

Uncopyright

This entire blog, and all my ebooks, are now uncopyrighted (as of Nov 4 2017).

That means I’ve put them in the public domain, and released my copyright on all these works.

There is no need to email me for permission — use my content however you want! Email it, share it, reprint it with or without credit. Change it around, put in a bunch of swear words and attribute them to me. It’s OK.

Attribution is appreciated but not required.

I’d prefer people buy my ebooks, but if they want to share with friends, they have every right to do so.

Why I’m releasing copyright

I’m not a big fan of copyright laws, especially as they’re being applied by corporations, used to crack down on the little guys so they can continue their large profits.

Copyrights are often said to protect the artist, but in most cases the artist gets very little while the corporations make most of the money.

I think, in most cases, the protectionism that is touted by “anti-piracy” campaigns and lawsuits and lobbying actually hurts the artist. Limiting distribution to protect profits isn’t a good thing.

The lack of copyright, and blatant copying by other artists and even businesses, never hurt Leonardo da Vinci when it comes to images such as the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, or the Vitruvian Man. It’s never hurt Shakespeare. I doubt that it’s ever really hurt any artist (although I might just be ignorant here).

And while I’m certainly not da Vinci or Shakespeare, copyright hasn’t helped me, and uncopyright probably won’t hurt me. If someone feels like sharing my content on their blog, or in any other form for that matter, that’s a good thing for me. If someone wanted to share my ebook with 100 friends, I don’t see how that hurts me. My work is being spread to many more people than I could do myself. That’s something to celebrate, as I see it.

And if someone wants to take my work and improve upon it, as artists have been doing for centuries, I think that’s a wonderful thing. If they can take my favorite posts and make something funny or inspiring or thought-provoking or even sad … I say more power to them. The creative community only benefits from derivations and inspirations.

This isn’t a new concept, of course, and I’m freely ripping ideas off here. Which is kinda the point.

Counter arguments

There are a number of objects that will likely be brought up to this idea, and here are a few of my responses:

1. Google rank will go down. My understanding is that Google penalizes pages that have exact duplicates on other sites, when it comes to PageRank. But in 4+ years of uncopyright, Zen habits has had no loss in PageRank. Anyway, SEO isn’t important to me.

2. You’ll lose ebook revenues. If people buy my ebook and then distribute it to 20 people, and each of those distributes it to 20 more, and those to 20 more … I’ve lost $76,000 in ebook revenues. Perhaps. That’s if you agree with the assumption that all those people would have bought the ebook if it hadn’t been freely distributed. I don’t buy that. In this example, thousands of people are reading my work (and learning about Zen Habits) who wouldn’t have otherwise. That’s good for any content creator.

3. Who knows what people will do with your work? Someone could take my work, turn it into a piece of crap, and put my name on it. They could translate it with all kinds of errors. They could … well, they could do just about anything. But that kind of thinking stems from a mind that wants to control content … while I am of the opinion that you can’t control it, and even if you can, it’s not a good thing. What if someone takes my work and turns it into something brilliant, and becomes the next James Joyce? Or more likely, what if they take the work and extend the concepts and make it even more useful, to even more people? Release control, and see what happens. People are wonderful, creative creatures. Let’s see what they can do.

4. What if someone publishes a book with all your content and makes a million dollars off it? I hope they at least give me credit. And my deepest desire is that they give some of that money to a good cause.

5. But … they’re stealing from you! You can’t steal what is given freely. I call this sharing, not piracy.

 

This post in fact is stolen from Leo over at Zen Habits – And why not? It’s a great post that I simply change to match my own needs with small changes.

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An honest reflection: Ultralight and comfortable book

I have this habit of being brutally honest, with my friends, family and colleagues. Though, I am hardest on myself. I have found that it’s best to just tell the truth and move on: That way I don’t have to keep track in mind what lies I’ve told and to whom, I have tried to make exceptions and tell white lies, but I find even those I don’t really have any justification for. In any-case, I want to talk about my book, and give my honest opinion on it, what could be better, and most importantly, how I look upon it now, 4 years removed from writing it.

I got the idea for writing this post when I read a comment on a forum, trek-lite I think is what the forum is called. Basically the author of the comment wrote: “I hope he can run the store better than he can write a book”, my first reaction was not sadness, or angry or anything else, I simply smiled to myself and thought, me too. Don’t get me wrong, some chapters in my book I think are pure genius, and still some of the funniest writing to be found in a hiking book. And this was kind of my goal with the book, to just have fun and take a piss on everything. It was a great laugh when I wrote it, and as I’ve said, some chapters are brilliant. However, there are other chapters that are mediocre, and a few that are complete garbage. My guess, is that with a proper editor for the book, more than half of the book would have been sent back for re-edit, not just in context but in style.

Of course I knew this at the time, and it’s also why the book is as cheap as it is, because I knew it was a good laugh, but perhaps not a complete guide on anything and everything ultralight hiking. I have over the last couple of months been working on a re-write of the book, as I think some chapters could use a bit more filling, and proper information. Such as tent selection, trip planning, trekking poles and so on. Other chapters I have decided to just delete altogether. Also, as with most things we grow and advance – I’m not the same hiker or person when I started writing the book four years ago, and if I’m honest, if I had to choose just one thing for people to remember me by, it wouldn’t be my book.

So I’m at an impasse, do I re-edit my book completely, or do I delete it and start over? Maybe write a new book and give Ultralight and comfortable away as an ebook on my site? How has the book aged just 4 years on?

blogPurpose

A side hustle – key to happiness?

I recently listened to a podcast that Rich Roll put up, if you haven’t discovered Rich Roll yet, I can highly recommend his podcasts and books. Along with Sam Harris, I absolutely love the Rich Roll series, in fact, in my world these two podcasts are must listens. With that said, Rich roll recently did a podcast with Chris Guillebeau called “everyone needs a side hustle, even if you love your job”. I never heard of Chris Guillebeau before this episode, but apparently he has a few side hustles that are going good for him, and in a way the entire podcast was about the need to have  a side hustle. A side income of some kind, it’s nothing you have to live off of, but just an extra income.

I can’t really go into detail about the podcast, as I’ve already forgotten most of it and I’m currently writing this at a kids playhouse while my son is running around being a kid.. Anyway, it got me thinking that for almost my entire life I have had a side income or hustle of some kind. When I was in grade school I was recycling bottles and putting that money into government bonds. Those government bonds eventually I cashed in for DJ equipment when I turned 14. Along with DJing in High School I was cleaning carpets, buying and selling on Ebay when it first broke through, trading stocks, writing books so on and so forth and today I run Backpackinglight.dk and .se. A site dedicated to lightweight backpacking gear – and I absolutely love it.

To say that I was raised with an entrepreneurial spirit is to downplay the things I’ve done. My family was and is very much a hard working middle class family. For the entirety of my adolescence I was a military brat. Not until I moved to Sweden did I actually experience life outside the military “socialist” bubble. I call it a socialist bubble, because that’s exactly what being in the military is: From school, to work, to shopping.. Everything is a self contained socialist bubble. Real life didn’t start for me until I left the states.

Anyway, I don’t know if I was raised in the manner that I must always have a side income, it was more just something I really enjoyed, and I find that I am happiest when I have something going on in my life outside the normal 9 to 5 job. To me, it’s not about the money, it’s about the joy of dedicating my life to something, for myself. With a job, I dedicate my life to my employers, to a middle class lifestyle that I don’t particularly care for, to my wife and child and their safety and economic security. Most of my life is spent in dedication to others, dedicated to everything outside myself and my own interest. A side hustle on the other hand, is something that I dedicate to myself. Instead of spending my time and money on things that mean or lead to nothing (video games, TV and so on) – A side hustle is a dedication to my passion. It engrosses me fully.

Some of my side hustles have been a great source of income, and even led to being my only income for many years – such as being a DJ and producer. It was a great life while it lasted, but I always knew I didn’t want to be the 40 year old dj, half drunk and playing golden oldies at geezer parties. So I moved on. Other side hustles have barely pulled in any income at all, but were enjoyable no less.

It’s easy to confuse a side hustle with a hobby. Running is a hobby. Playing video games is a hobby, even hiking is a hobby. A side hustle is when you run and maybe do training sessions for paying clients, or write books on running. Hiking, just for the sake of hiking, is a hobby, a damn fun one, but it’s not a side hustle – a side hustle might be designing and sewing your own backpacks to sell.

Another misconception with starting a business is that you have to give up everything and take out a loan on your house and life, all or nothing approach. I think that’s fine if you’re 20 and have maybe a cat as your biggest dependent. But later on in life, it’s time to grow up and be realistic – often times a side hustle doesn’t have to cost anything at all. The chances of being able to drop everything, start a business tomorrow and be able to live off of it within days is simply a fantasy for 99.9999% of the world’s population. But often that’s exactly how many people think and it’s not completely unusual for people to take out massive loans where most of the money goes to their own living expenses.  It takes time, dedication and intelligence. You have to put in the ground work, and yes, you will probably have to continue living life at a job you hate, or love, until the side income gets moving.

When I started this blog, it didn’t have any income, it still doesn’t, more or less. Though it has led to other sources of income such as Books and Backpackinglight.dk. I still work at a 9-5 job as a manager over 20+ employees, I love my job, but I don’t want it to be the only dedication I have in life. And to be completely honest, my dream is to live off of my hiking hobby. My dream is to work hard 3 weeks a month and run my business, write in my blog and have contact with potential customers at backpackinglight – I absolutely love this, and spend a week out hiking. This is my dream that I have been working towards for the past 4 years. Maybe I will succeed with my dream, maybe not, but atleast I am trying and it makes me extremely happy. Fulfilled I guess is the proper word for it.

Maybe you like writing – what would that cost? Don’t know how to properly write or how to sew a backpack? Youtube is an awesome source of inspiration and knowledge. There is no limit to what you can achieve if you’re willing to put in the time and effort.

To sum it up:

  • Get your side hustle moving today! You are your only road block.
  • Think small and scale up! Don’t quit your job today and expect to live off your fantasy tomorrow.
  • Willful ignorance is your friend! My secret to getting things done is to start! I usually say to people who ask that I see the goal (where I want to end up) and I see the first steps. Everything else I ignore – and I do this because if I always know how difficult something would be, I would never start.
  • Do something you love – Obviously.
blogGearGear reviews

Gear review: Hyperlite mountain gear Windrider 4400 backpack

I bought this pack about a year or so ago with the intention of replacing my Zpacks arc-blast. I wanted a larger backpack capable of carrying heavier loads, yet still light enough to use on my shorter trips. There are a few backpacks that meet this criteria, but none quite fit the bill as well as the Windrider did. The arc-blast is a 55 liter backpack, and while this worked for me on a lot of my trips – I found the liter and carrying capabilities limiting for winter hikes, hikes longer than 5-7 days, family hikes and so on. I am an avid believer in Cuben textiles for backpacks because it’s waterproof, or atleast doesn’t absorb water, lighter than traditional materials and a heck of a lot stronger.

DSC06882The Hyperlite mountain gear Windrider 4400 is absolutely beautiful in it’s simplicity.

With that said, I bought my Windrider form the states, and even with the winter discount HMG was running, I ended up paying about 500usd to get the pack to Sweden after import fees and shipping. Though the initial price tag was appealing! Now of course I would just buy from one of the many European retailers such as backpackinglight.dk (my own webshop).

I have been using the Windrider for all my trips since I got it last year. This includes 10 days across the wilds of Sarek national park in northern Sweden, a winter trip through Jämtland mountains, a few smaller week trips along Sörmlandsleden and many weekend trips with the family. So it’s been put through it’s paces for it’s intended purpose (or the purpose I intended to use it in)

Who is Hyperlite Mountain Gear?

HYPERLITE MOUNTAIN GEAR IS NOT ABOUT BELLS AND WHISTLES. NONESSENTIAL FEATURES. OR THE LATEST TRENDING COLORS. WHAT WE’RE ABOUT IS STRIPPED DOWN, HIGH PERFORMANCE GEAR THAT’S BEEN DIALED IN TO MEET, IN AS MINIMALIST A MANNER AS POSSIBLE, THE EXACTING REQUIREMENTS OF THE PEOPLE WHO USE IT.

Hyperlite mountain gear produce all their own gear in Maine, USA.

What is the Windrider 4400

The 4400 is a 70 liter backpack made from Dyneema (fd cuben fibre) material. The material itself is 100% waterproof, while the backpacks are not 100% waterproof, they are certainly much closer to that watermark than anything else on the market. The Windrider much like Hyperlite mountain gears other backpacks is a stripped down, essentials only backpack. I love and prefer a roll top on my bags, no zippers or anything else that will undoubtedly breakdown over time. As it goes, I also like mesh pockets on the outside, though the Southwest 4400’s solid pockets, certainly keep things aesthetically cleaner. I prefer the mesh pockets though as I like to see what I have in those pockets.

The Windrider also uses aluminum backpack stays, which are removable, and foam padding to increase the overall comfort of the packs. On top of this the packs are seam sealed, have hydro ports, ice axe loops and so on.

Another key point here is that the hip belt is not removable, I actually prefer the simplicity of this. They have just four sizes to choose from and the hip belts are meant to fit all sizes: Small, Medium, Large and Tall. Sometimes when buying gear the choice can get fairly ridiculous. Small hip belt, with medium large backpack, nano size hip belt pockets, sternum or no sternum straps so on and so forth. So points for simplicity here.

DSC06837

Weight:

My windrider 4400 white pack weighs 988 grams. Not the lightest on the market, but light enough for most uses and most applications.

Who’s it for?

As it’s a 70Liter pack, the Windrider 4400 is probably best for trekkers who carry either a lot of gear, winter gear, longer unsupported trips or family gear. For me it has become my all in one pack that I can use on everything from my two days hikes to several weeks. It’s my go to bag for just about any trip I make, anywhere I plan to go. It’s certainly large at 70Liters, but it can easily be compressed down with the roll top and side compression straps.

Here in Sweden the HMG windrider is actually starting to be used by most “professional” hikers, lightweight or otherwise. At least when they get to choose. The HMG packs have also made a big mark on the Packraft and kayakers gear lists, as they are lightweight, waterproof and can carry a lot of weight.

If most of your hikes are summer time hikes of under a week or so, then this bag is probably a bit much, and I would suggest looking at their smaller bags such as the 3400 and 2400 which are 55Liter and 45 Liter packs.

Will it hold?

Dyneema is the strongest, lightest material being produced right now, and the HMG series backpacks are built to last. You’re probably not going to find a more robust backpack on the market – anywhere by any producer. In all seriousness, this pack will probably last as long as you do.

Ventilation

I’m not going to do a side by side comparison to other backpacks here with regards to ventilation on my back. When the aluminum stays are in the HMG and I stand with proper posture, the backpack doesn’t press at all against my back – regardless of how much weight I have in it. This of course allows for good ventilation and except for my shoulder blades and lower back, no part of my body is being touched by the backpack. Just how I like it.

My own experience

On my trip through Sarek it rained constantly for about 2 days as well as waist high wading daily – I don’t use rain covers or anything like that so I have to trust my backpack that it will do it’s just in keeping things dry. Now of course you’re thinking “what an idiot”. You’d be right in thinking so. In actuality I pack everything in watertight stuff sacks, I prefer the Pack pods from HMG and the Stuff sack pillow, and I use a giant trash bag as a pack liner on the inside to keep as much water as possible out. I find this combination of watertight-ish backpack with only one entry point (the roll top), a giant trash bag liner, and everything packed in watertight stuff sacks, keeps everything perfectly dry no matter the rain or wading, and this proved the case even in Sarek on the wettest of terrain, my gear was kept perfectly dry.

I also find that for my longer trips the HMG windrider holds up without any problems, at most I have had around 17 kilos in my pack and while the pack can certainly handle the wait, my body can’t. So it’s hard for me to say anything about carrying capabilities in the 17+kilo range as I think it sucks no matter what backpack I have on.

DSC06368Me in northern Sweden with the windrider 4400. This was packed for a 9 day hike and around 13 kilos. 

Some people have reservations about mesh pockets on the outside of a pack – they can “tip the balance”, they can easily tear in forestry and so on. Personally I don’t really have this problem. The mesh pockets I use mainly for my tenkara fishing rod, a water bottle and trash. Balance is not an issue. As far as the mesh pockets tearing, this as it were, has not shown itself to be an issue either, and I have certainly trounced through a lot of unkept forestry.

Conclusion:

Lets face it, plunking out 500USD for a backpack is expensive. (In the USA the packs cost 375usd). Though, they are not the most expensive packs by a long shot. Many of the “big brands” have 4-500USD packs that come nowhere near the quality or robustness of the HMG backpacks. If you need one backpack for most everything, you can’t go wrong with a Hyperlite mountain gear Windrider 4400, or any of the 4400 packs. While it’s not the only bag I use, it’s certainly the one I prefer over anything else I have.

Plus:

  • Big 70L pack
  • Simple, effective design.
  • Lightweight
  • Great carrying capabilities
  • 95% watertight
  • Robust, durable fabric and mesh
  • Compressible
  • Removable stays
  • Excellent construction and quality
  • No zippers or do-dads. Just what is needed
  • Small, Medium, Large and Tall. That’s what you get to choose from. Perfect. I hate too many choices as I’m always afraid of getting it wrong.

Minus:

  • Small hip belt pockets
  • Hydropocket not easily removed – razor blade needed
  • Not the lightest 70 liter pack on the market

 

Where to buy:

In The usa: Hyperlite mountain gear

In Europe: Backpackinglight store

Direct link to the Windrider 4400