Category: blog

backpackingblog

A part of life

I thought I would send out a quick mail about what I’ve been up to lately! I have had my hands full to say the least! Anyway, here is a copy of my first newsletter from backpackinglight.dk plus some extras..

Hi Everyone!

It has been a journey to start backpackinglight.dk. This idea of starting a webshop for lightweight gear popped into my head sometime in the spring when me and my wife had just sent in our papers for starting an adoption process. I got the idea because I wanted to offer excellent, lightweight backpacking gear in Sweden and Europe. Why I got the idea to do it in conjunction with the adoption process is because we plan on adopting from a nation that requires us to be abroad for 6 months. So my idea was that my wife and I could potentially have atleast a small side income while living abroad, and at the sametime I could bring a lot of cool gear with me to try out in the wilds of Africa! win win win.

R0290482Too much gear to test, too little time! The Sierra designs Flex capacitor 60 after 3 days on the trail.

Anyway, I was hesitant on starting the shop because I saw the competition from Denmark (backpackinglight.dk) and from Germany (Trekking-light-store) as two great shops that are already established and I didn’t really want to compete is such a small nisch marketplace, on top of this the major outdoor companies such as Addnature and Outnorth could easily kill off anything I wanted to do if it so pleased them. I will never be able to compete on price with these monsters or any of the major european outdoor shops – which is also why I won’t carry many of the same products as they do.

However, being the gear nerd that I am and realising that Sweden really is behind the times in lightweight gear, I decided to give a go anyway, and at the same time I had a bit of luck as Niels from backpackinglight.dk wanted to move on and do other things. So, my little idea was closer to reality and I just said to “hell with it, let’s do it!” So I finalised the deal in late July as I was sitting in a bus far above the artic circle on my way to Sarek national park for 10 days out in the wilds. (I know a few of you tried to get a hold of me during this period, unfortunately I was away where internet doesn’t exist)

R0290457The excellent Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 2. A little bigger than the MLD Duomid and in my opinion a proper two man tent.

So now you have a bit of background about why and how I started backpackinglight.dk, I don’t need to waste your time anymore explaining all the details!

What I really wanted to say is how grateful I am to the instant success that the site has been! So many people already on the mailing list, a lot of orders from great people all around europe. I couldn’t have asked for a better start. With that said, the success has also emptied my inventory a bit, but some of the more popular products are back in stock such as the Tarptent Stratospire 1 (probably the best made tent on the market right now), the Six moon designs Lunar Duo and Lunar Solo as well as the Hyperlite mountain gear Porter pack and Windriders 4400. I have also finally moved everything over to a Logistics center that will help me with the packing and shipping. – They can do it cheaper, faster and better than I can. So packages within sweden should reach their destination within a day or two.

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Me chilling after a 7 day hike through Sarek national park, checking to make sure the deal to take over Backpackinglight.dk had gone through. This was the only place along the trail that internet actually worked.. 1200 meters above sea level looking out over Rapadalen.

If you haven’t read it yet, Jörgen Johansson from http://www.fjaderlatt.se wrote an excellent article for backpackinglight.se on how to choose a backpack that you can find here.

If there is anything that you would like me to stock, let me know and I will see what I can do!

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Happy Hiking!

Kenneth Shaw
Backpackinglight.se

blogLandscape photographyPhotographysarek

Sarek i Bilder (in pictures) – Part 1

My schedule is filled at the moment while trying to get Backpackinglight.se up and running. So instead of a long trail report, I will post some pictures! More pictures coming soon.

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Mukka Stugan is a small little emergency cottage that while offers a nice place to eat lunch while it’s raining, has unfortuantely become a trash can for hikers who can’t be bothered to bring their trash with them.

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The Trailstar by the glacier river.

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13 kilos for a 9 day trip – fully safe and secure with a fishing pole and satellite phone to boot. My packing is watertight, I’m set for far below zero temperatures if needed.

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Dinner!

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Taking a coffee and candy break while drying out my shoes.

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It looks like hell, but believe me, this is some of the best aspects of wearing trailshoes in the wild. When my feet get hot I can just go trudging through some cold water. No blisters, no pain, no problems! Trailshoes are a luxury few have yet discovered.

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Down by Rapadalen – Amazing

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If only Ron would let me sell his MLD gear! The yellow trailstar is probably the single most beautiful tent build today. An incredibly light and well performing piece of kit.

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My Fizan poles and HMG windrider 4400 after a week in Sarek. Both performed incredibly well – so good in fact that I will be supplying both at backpackinglight.se. These are simply the best products available for their intended purpose.

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New (old) webshop on the way..

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Hi everyone, it’s been a while since I’ve last updated this site.. I had some plans about putting up pictures and trip report for my Sarek trip, but got distracted by a different project. I have been in the works now for a few months of building my own gear shop here in Sweden and europe and/or producing my own gear in Sweden. Well an oppurtunity presented itself and I bought out the well known danish shop Backpackinglight.dk in early August and have been working non-stop on getting everything together for an early september re-launch.

Backpackinglight.dk has been one of europes first and best webshops to offer ultralight gear and is Denmarks only online site for UL gear and now backpackinglight.se will be Swedens premier shop for lightweight equipment. There will be two domains:

backpackinglight.dk for danish and european customers and

Backpackinglight.se for swedish customers

So far many of the old suppliers such as Tarptent, Cumulus, HMG, Gossamer gear and ULA equipment are on board with a few new suppliers on the way such as As Tucas, My trail co, Evernew, Toaks, Six moon designs, Fizan and a few more surprises along the way 🙂

The site is currently being revamped and moved as well as all the inventory being cataloged and ready for shipment! I am also working on an affiliate program for bloggers and will be setting up a few “live” conventions to show off the gear.

I am really looking forward to this new venture and so far it’s been a blast putting it altogether!

Happy Hiking,

Kenneth Shaw

 

 

backpackingblogRunningsarekvegan

How running has changed my backpacking

Last year I made a 7 day trip through Iceland, north to south through some incredible countryside and even meeting up and joining the Laugavegur trail for 5 days. It was a lovely trip and I had about 10 kilos of gear and food with me for the excursion. The hike at times was tough, or atleast one or two days of the journey was tough, all in all, on a scale of 1-10 for difficulty I would rank it around a 5. A great trail for anyone who is properly prepared. There are however two major inclines (major..) on day one while leaving Landmannalaugar and day 5 between Porsmark and Skogar. These two inclines kicked my ass in every possible way. The last day I was so tired on the incline between porsmark and skogar that I thought I would die. If memory serves me the total incline was around 900-1000 meters. I thought at the time, that considering the circumstances (climbing a 1000meter cliff with backpack on), that I did quite well. It wasn’t until I did my recent trip through Sarek national park in Northern Sweden, that I realized the truth behind my Iceland trip.

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Let me paint a little picture here. Hard wind, rain, knee high swamp for hours on end, daily 500-1000 meter inclines and declines, waist high wading and to top it all off – no trails. Complete wild and a 13kilo backpack. That was my most recent trip to the Sarek national park in Northern sweden, a few hundred kilometers north of the arctic circle. This trip was demanding in every possible sense of the word. On my gear, physique and psychology. But I didn’t feel it. My body was such a well oiled machine for this trip that I literally felt as if I could turn around and do it again without any problems. I didn’t have any of the normal knee, back or lung issues. And on the last day I was afraid to tell my traveling companion just how damn good I felt (after a 1300 meter incline with my backpack on) because I didn’t want him to think I was doing the “manly” thing of bragging about how cool I am I could carry my backpack up a hill. (like many of the heavy miserables that like to brag about how much weight they can carry)

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My body was functioning better than it ever has on a backpacking trip, this was on minimal sleep and a deprivation diet. Honestly, no matter how much food I pack and eat I still run a deficit on these kinds of trips. The changes this year compared to last year, and the relatively easier Laugavegur trail? My running and diet changes I made late last year. Since going full vegan and running I have lost around 22 lbs (10 kilos) off my body, that’s 10 kilos my legs don’t have to carry when backpacking and the insane amount of carbs I eat on the diet fuels me like nothing else. My running has improved my cardio exponentially, when last year I could barely make the last incline on the Laugavegur trail, this year I did that same 0-1000 meter climb on several occasions and felt damn good.

 

While my backpacking trip wasn’t full vegan, in fact I snuck in some powdered milk to my breakfast and cheese on the last day at the hotel.. Oh and I did make the mistake of eating a sausage, it had always been the mainstay of my backpacking trips – the reward at the end of the day kind of thing. Only to realize my taste buds have changed, and what once tasted like gods hands massaging my tongue, now tasted like salted dead pig and had the effects you would expect on my daily shitting habits. With that said, I don’t beat myself up about it, I am always working towards long term health goals and benefits, and I can’t kill myself everytime I make a slip up. Beside, being a bitch to other people about their habits is probably the worst thing to do to get converts.

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Anyway, last year after laugavegur I was satisfied, ready to hang up my boots for a while a relax. Much like a traditional hiker who normally takes a year off between longer hikes, I felt much the same. Now, the only thing I want to do is get out again. My body, feet and soul feel perfect after my last trip and I can only credit my diet and training habits.

 

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Full packing list and route Sarek 2017

It’s finally here.. my summer journey through Sarek national park in Northern Sweden. I will be leaving from my apartment here in Umeå at 06.30 in the morning by train, and arrive at the gates to Sarek at 17.30 in Ritsem. My journey through sarek if I hussle shoudn’t take more than 5-6 days, however since I plan och doing a lot of day trips, climb several of the higher peaks and do some fishing along the outskirts of the park (fishing is illegal in the park). I plan on pushing my journey to around 10 days. Basically just living life and enjoying my time in some of the more secluded parts of europe. There are no trails, stores or cottages in Sarek, so everything I need on the trail I will have with me in my backpack.

I have made some changes to my gear since making my last post, that have increased the total weight of my packing by about 600 grams. I can live with the extra weight as it is justified by the added warmth and security along a wet and cold trail. The trail this year is much colder and wetter than usual, which means I have to be better prepared for these kinds of conditions, hence the extra weight in rain gear and warmth.

Some of the changes I have made:

I traded out my thermarest xlite small and ul sleeping pad total weight 350grams for the warmer and larger thermarest xtherm weighing 580 grams. There is still a lot of snow along the trail and I don’t want to have to compensate a cold nights sleep by bringing more sweaters and jackets and so on.

I also traded out my Ricoh GR for my Sony rx 100. Same weight, same usb charging, only rx100 gives me the flexibilty of good video and zoom.

Tenkara rod and flies – I added this because, why not! 130 grams for a complete fishing kit. Seems like a small sacrifice to have in some of the worlds best fishing waters.

I’ve opted for the MLD Trailstar and Innertent instead of the Hilleberg enan. I just prefer the room and comfort of the Trailstar to that of the Hilleberg Enan. Weight is about the same as the Enan, and living space is more than twice as large. (well 100 grams lighter but whos counting..)

Packed and ready to go! 13,5 kilos (food weighs less than 5 kilos and not the 6,5 as according to my list) The advantage of the HMG Windrider and the reason I bought it, is the fact that for unsupported trips over a week it’s hard to stuff everything in a 50 liter bag. (when travelling to regions of the world like Alaska and northern sweden)

  All the food being prepared for it’s stuff sack, a 13 liter sea to summit bag.

 

 

Complete gear list:

Item Ounces Grams
Packing
Hmg Sidewinder 4400 34.2 970
Red 2l Pack Bag 0.7 21
Red 4l Pack Bag 0.9 25
Red 4l Pack Bag 0.9 25
Thermarest Pillow Sheet 1.9 54
Shelter
Ti Tent Pegs 3.5 98
Mld Trailstar 18.7 531
Trailstar Inner 14 397
Sleep
Eye Mask 0.5 15
Enlightened Equipment Quilt 22.9 650
Xtherm 20.5 580
Cooking
Sea To Summit Long Spoon Ti 0.4 12
Zefa Water Bottle 3.5 98
Ti Tri Fusion 3.2 90
Snowpeak Ti 900 W/lid 4 114
Cozy 1.2 33
Clothing
Mld Waterproof Gloves 1.6 46
Wp 200g Pants 6.1 174
Haglofs Green Wind Jacket 2.3 65
Headnet 0.9 26
As Tucas Red Beanie 1.8 52
Grey Patagontia Shirt 4.8 137
Haglifs Lim Puffy Jacket 6.7 191
Wp Thick Socks 2.9 81
Alpine Rain Jacket 6.4 181
Soft Shell Rain Pants 6.7 190
Overshoes 0 0
Other
Murla Knife 0.7 20
Superfeet 4.2 119
Ul Teeth Care 3.1 89
Iphone 6s Plus Ink Case 9.9 282
Msr Towel 1.2 35
Thermarest Repair Kit 0.5 14
First Aid Kit 3.1 89
Usb Cables 0.8 24
Globalstar satphone 8.5 240
Sony RX100 8.6 245
Dji Spark Kit 17.7 501
20100 Anker Battery Pack 16.2 460
13000 battery Pack 12.3 349
4400 Battery Pack 4.1 116
Amazon Kindle 7.4 209
Gopro Hero 5 W/3-way 9.7 275
Dji Spark Remote 9.7 275
Worn
Aklima Hoody Wool 13.3 377
Haglofs Grey Zip Hiking Pants 10.8 307
Merrell Allout Terra Trail Shoes Pair 23.5 665
Black Beenie 1.2 35
Suunto Ambit 2.8 78
Craft Underwear 2 57
Fizan Sticks 12.5 354
Consumables
Toilet Papper 5.3 150
Coffee 3.5 100
Alcohol 14.1 400
Food For A Day 25 600
Food For A Day 25 600
Food For A Day 25 600
Food For A Day 25 600
Food For A Day 25 600
Food For A Day 25 600
Food For A Day 25 600
Food For A Day 25 600
Everything ex worn 511.8 13648
Everything ex cosumeables 288.9 8198

My route has not changed since the last time:I will be starting in Ritsem and finishing in Kvikkjokk. Should be a great little trip! This is the straight trip to kvikkjokk, but as I’ve said, I plan on making a lot of daytrips and sideroads along the way.

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My camera gear for Sarek 2017

I find that I absolutely love video diaries of backpacking.. I have been following and watching them for years on YouTube, but I never really got around to doing it myself. I’ve tried a few times on a smaller scale, but never any real effort. My YouTube channel I don’t even bother marketing and in general I’m not very active on there. I’m not sure why this is to be honest, i guess I just couldn’t figure out how to make it work in practice while holding onto my ultralight philosophy. As well as being stuck on just doing gear reviews, which honestly, is a chore. On top of that I’m not really a computer guy – I don’t like editing video or photography and making an interesting video out of hours and hours of footage is no easy task.

With that said, because I love the format of video documentaries, I am going to start working on it more and more. I am changing up my camera gear for my upcoming trips along the High coast trail in northern Sweden and my two weeks through Sarek journey. My strategy is simple: Record everything! I found out the hard way that it’s damn difficult to make an interesting movie with limited footage. I have been editing my Iceland video now and realize that I hardly recorded anything at all, so as an embarrassment to myself and to the suffrage of everyone watching my videos, I do a 2 minute intro where I’m just describing what was happening… In any case, it kind of works, but would have been better to show instead of tell.

A link to the video: Alone in Iceland part 1.

This means that my Fujifilm x-t2 camera and lenses have been sold to make room for video gear and after my Iceland trip, I’m convinced a pocket camera works wonders for what I do. So some of the gear that my Fujifilm x-t2 has financed so far are as follows:

Gopro hero 3 black edition with accessories – used cost about 150USD (200 grams)
Ricoh GR – An excellent digital compact camera that I absolutely love 200USD (245 grams)

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I used the Sony RX100 in Iceland, however I find the Ricoh GR to be a completely different beast altogether with regards to picture quality

DJI Spark drone and controller with two extra batteries 1000USD (550 grams complete)

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The DJI Spark is a tiny drone with serious power

To top it all off I have two 20100mhv battery packs to keep everything charged along the way.

I’ve sold all my Fuji gear for around 2400USD

Total weight for my new photography and video gear = 1095grams
Total weight of Fujifilm x-t2 with lenses and batteries = 1114grams

Weight of battery packs 490grams each (added one for the drone)

Total weight increase for new system: 300grams

Total money savings: around 1000usd

I can live with a total weight increase of 300grams for so much more flexibility and control. The Ricoh GR works fantastic for me as almost all my photography in the wild is at 28mm, no matter what lenses and cameras I have with me – my shots are always wide. and now I have true video capabilities.

Concerns about drones: I got some feedback with regards to bringing a drone with me or drones in general. It seems to be a very hot topic in the USA and something I hadn’t thought about before as drones have never bothered me personally. I will call it the “road rage syndrome”, there are people who have an incredible amount of pent up rage and are looking for something to go bezerk over and I have to take this into consideration when flying the spark.

To the advantage of the spark it is tiny, unobtrusive and quiet. With that said I think drones should fall somewhere between loud music in camp and deficating on the trail.  Neither of these should be practiced, and with proper fore thought and consideration for others, can easily be avoided.

My strategy for succeeding with video:
Record everything! Better to record days and days of video and edit down to a highly interesting 30 minute clip, than to take minimal video and try and stretch it out.

I also need to work on my editing skills. I don’t like working on computers that much, so I will have to find presets and styles that I like so I can get my editing done quickly. I also know what kind of footage I like – So I will try to emulate this.

Where it could possibly fail:
I like to keep things simple, sometimes it’s a hassle to record. To always have to think about the shot. To pull out a drone and start recording takes me out of the moment. hopefully I can overcome this, as I find I really love the video format, and I love watching my old videos of all the hikes I’ve done. (sadly I have barely edited any of them… so nothing is on youtube yet)

 

 

 

 

 

backpackingblogLiving simplymindfulnessRunning

A little secret

I’m going to fill you in on a little secret, something that has been in progress for sometime and only now am I starting to accept it. It all started about 6 months ago and was cemented into place around 3 months ago. Since around 2014 I have been sick constantly, in fact somewhere around 2-3 times a month from anywhere between two days to weeks at a time; to say that is has been difficult to keep to a training regime is an understatement. I figured I wasn’t getting enough sleep, or my child was making me sick, or I became allergic to something. In any-case I figured it would go over soon enough so I never bothered with going to the doctors.

On top of always being sick I have had very little energy over the last couple of years. I figured it was part of getting older! However after finally getting sick of always being sick I decided it was time for a change. I was sick of being sick and tired!

Before I go any further let me roll back my timeline another two years about the first time I tried to get into running, it was after I read the phenomenal book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It was this book that inspired me to start running, and with that I also learned that I couldn’t keep any routine as I kept getting sick all the time. I also figured that losing some weight and running more is probably a good idea considering my “adventurous” lifestyle.. or backpacking.

I kept giving it a shot, and whenever I needed some extra motivation I would go back to reading Born to run. Well, getting sick and being tired has a bad habit of sapping what little motivation I had to move and at the same time I started to get more fat than usual around my stomach and chest. Man boobs started to form and where I once had a slight visible muscle definition was now replaced with fat and mushyness. My thin muscular face has been replaced by a somewhat gooey one. To say I was aging bad, in my opinion was an understatement.

I had always followed the Paleo diet or carb free diet for most of my adult life, not religiously but it had definitely become my lifestyle. I preferred a steak a plate full of broccoli and sweat potatoes to a pizza. I believe that this kept me from getting overly fat, as the diet does work as a diet. I never thought that it was my diet that was leading to my sickness and getting fat. Then I watched a documentary called Forks over knifes a while ago, more like a year or so ago, and it stuck with me. So I decided to watch it again as well as read a few books on the subject of a whole foods plant based diet. To my amazement these are some of the absolute best researched books i’ve ever read of diet and nutrition such as the China Study and Whole by Colin t. Campbell. How not to die by Michael Greger and a few others. I also read Rich Rolls book on his similar journey from half dead to making a change; Finding Ultra.

After reading these books I realized that there was a very real possibility that it was my diet that was killing me and not some unknown infliction that came up from hell and has decided to plague me personally. So I figured that I could at-least give the idea of the whole food plant based diet a try for a short while and see if there is any difference. What is a whole food plant based diet? (WFPB diet = VEGAN) Or sort of, in reality vegan could be chips and coke cola, WFPB is a healthier alternative.

At about the same-time I started to make my progress over to a WFPB diet, I finally made my way to a doctor to get my blood work and so on done. The test results came back negative on finding any reason on why I am sick, but came back positive on that I will probably die a young and horrible death due to heart disease as my cholesterol levels where much higher than normal for my age. What did my doctor prescribe? Pills and lots of them or change my diet and start exercising more (this is Sweden, doctors are allowed to prescribe diet and exercise as their not yet completely owned corporate subsidies of the drug industry). I decided I would try diet instead.

My process has been slow, it has taken me several months to replace my typical meat recipes with WFPB alternatives, to empty my shelves of my meat and dairy recipe books, and to restock my fridge and cabinets with vegan goods.  When I got the test results from the doctor, my WFPB transition was more or less complete, with the test results pushing me over completely.

Disclaimer: I hate the term Vegan, when I think of the word vegan all sorts of strange shit pops into my head, the PETA people throwing paint on fur wearers, the hippy dread lock guys refusing to shower or wear shoes, or the creepy vegan gangs standing outside McDonalds terrorizing bystanders. With that said, I certainly think animals should be able to live their own lives, but It simply doesn’t sell me on being a vegan, I love bbq chicken wings and a lovely juicy cow on my plate.

No, my motivation for a WFPB diet is this: I don’t want to die a horrible slow death. I don’t want cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s or any other number of afflictions that can be attributed to the typical western diet. I would love to write a lot about the research done and used in the books I listed above, but I won’t. It’s just too much and I prefer everyone to do their own research before listening to me. There are studies of patients, hundreds of patient on their death beds with heart disease and diabetes who went over to a WFPB diet and within months their health improved so much that they didn’t need pills anymore. Many of them in the control groups lived an extra 20 years or more while the subject who continued their traditional diets and moved over to pills and operations died within the first year or two of the studies. I could go on and on, but I will leave that to you. You will know when the time is right, you will feel it in your bones and when you feel it, you will read these books and make the changes.

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Stopping to drink some cocunut water and eat a banana on a 70k bike ride

So what are the results so far? Since I converted over to a WFPB diet I have not been sick, not even close to being sick. My energy levels have increased ten fold – I feel like I’m 18 years old again. I have so much energy that in-order to not go crazy I have to get out the house and run! How much do I run? Hundreds of kilometers every month on top of several hundreds kilometers biking. I don’t get tired, I just keep moving. My muscles and bones are completely recovered from one day to the next. I’m sleeping better, I don’t get tired after eating and I’m losing a lot of weight. My energy levels increased so dramatically that I quit drinking coffee altogether – from a liter or so of coffee a day to nothing. To say that the side effects of eating a WFPB diet are far beyond my expectations is again and understatement. The new me is so addicting that the idea of ever going back to a traditional western diet with dairy and meat is simply not a possibility. Another plus side is that most restaurants only have one or two vegan dishes, AWESOME! I don’t have to spend time debating on which of the 20 different meals to choose from.

Left: Just finished the Stockholm tunnelrun 8k
Right: About to run my third competition for the year. 10k which I came in at 56 minutes.

I have no idea what my test results will show the next time around, but honestly, I’m not too worried about it. There is no doubt in my mind that my cholesterol will be radically reduced and my heart will be thumbing at full blast without interference for many years to come.

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My mousli banana crunch. A vegan breakfast that taste amazing

So heres to the new me, and my own continued progression, I am even thinking of making a simple VLOG to document my journey. I am also in the process of converting all my backpacking recipes to vegan alternatives and so on. With all this said I hope that you two will do the research and find the motivation to change. It will change your life and make you wonder what the fuck you where doing all these years killing yourself slowly, when you could have been living life to the fullest. Focused, energized and on fire.

Some tips for your own transition:

  1. Watch the documentaries Fork of knives, Food matters and the newest What the health
  2. Read some books The china study, Whole, How not to die
  3. Buy some new recipe books. Fork over knifes has a great app as well as recipe book. The plant power way is a good book. Green kitchen has a great book and App.
  4. Replace your favourite recipes with vegan alternatives. Experiment! you can’t be afraid to try new dishes when making the transition.
  5. Be patient and realistic, the transition is not going to happen overnight. Give it a month or so to take the first steps, then go all in! The feeling of being unstoppable and awesome is addicting.
  6. Remember: on a pure health basis if you want to avoid cancer and all the other diseases and sicknesses attributed to the western diet meat and dairy should not exceed 5% of your total consumption. So in other words, it’s perfectly ok to eat a little cheese now and then if you get the urge!
  7. You don’t need dread locks and wear hemp clothing just because your diet changes. But if you feel like it go for it!
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Snowy arctic paradise and gear failure hell

I felt the warmth on my face as the afternoon sun crept through the mountain ridges, my body hot from from the layers of winter clothing and the gore-tex jacket and pants keeping all the moisture in. My winter backpack weighing in at 11 kilos and well prepared for anything the cold winter night could throw my way. I had been longing for this moment for over 4 months, planning, preparing and daydreaming about this very scene, the skis under my feet, backpack on my back and the magnificent mountainous regions stretching as far as my eyes could see.

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I had planned everything in the minutest of details, nothing left to chance, this far out in the Swedish wilds in the middle of winter is nothing to take lightly. -20 degrees and fridged wind blowing through the valley, even the slightest mistake could lead to serious problems.

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My skis, a pair of Madshus Glittertind backcountry skis are made for this kind of backcountry touring, my poles and my trusty ski boots all fitted and working in unison, propelling me across the harsh arctic landscape. A smile is stuck on my face, and sheer joy has taken over my consciousness. Then, from out of nowhere I hear a snap, suddenly my ski is off to the side of me, I lose my balance and fall, somewhat reluctantly, headfirst into a deep snow drift. Smile gone, joy replaced with pain, the pain of freezing wind blowing down onto my wet, cold face. ”Shit” I said, as I looked down, realizing the sole on my ski boot had separated from the boot itself.

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Sitting there, hands frozen, ears and toes starting to go numb, and tears dripping from my eyes because of the cold harsh wind, I knew I had a problem. 10 kilometers away from the nearest cottage, and now no skis to ride on. As I looked up, not too far away I spotted a small emergency wind shelter, strategically placed for just these kinds of incidents. I picked myself up and made my way to the shelter. I took off my ski boot and assessed the damage – the sole had almost completely come off from the rest of my boot. Not sure how to fix it, I did the only thing I could do, I wiped my boot clean, pulled out my duck tape and got to work.

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The patch job might not have been the best, but for fucks sake, it’s duck tape and I’m desperate. As the saying goes ”if you can’t fix it with duck tape, your not using enough”. After fixing my ski boot I had a decision to make: Stay here at the wind shelter for the night, or jump on my skis and hope I can make it back to my starting point and to safety before night fall. I sat in the shelter for a while longer, freezing, I decided it would be best to jump on my skis and make a go for it.

I learned some very important lessons this day: 1. Duck tape doesn’t hold in freezing cold and 2. If one boot breaks, there is a high possibility the other will follow suit.

After less than two kilometers into my 10 kilometer journey both the silver tape and my only working boot broke. 8 kilometers back to safety, night fall in an hour and I was starting to prefer the warmth of a house and bed to my current predicament.

Now balancing on two cross country skis I made my way painstakingly slow and wet (I fell, a lot). I couldn’t help but see myself in an episode of some Bear Grylls survival show, fantasizing about how I might have to eat tree bark and drink my own piss to survive. Or perhaps I would be like one of those Vietnam blokes that during the war sought refuge in the jungles only to come out 40 years later to a whole new world. Yes, these are the fantasies that kept my mind occupied during this cold journey back to safety. Finally, after deep in fantasy about how king Gustav Vasa must have felt this way when he skied 90 kilometers on one ski in the 1600s to get away from an invading army, finally, I crossed the marker I had been waiting for, and not too soon either. The 2 kilometer marker.

Now both my soles have come completely off, there was simply no possibility for me to even balance on my skis anymore. So I took my skis off, strapped them on my HMG sidewinder, took my ski boots off and hiked the remaining distance in knee high snow. It was cold, but exhilarating, my adrenaline pumping hard kept my feet and body warm.

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This is the story of my 4 day trip in the frozen backcountry of Jämtland in northern Sweden. The 4 day trip that ended up being just one day because of one fateful decision I made the week prior: Namely, the choice not to buy new ski boots when I knew the ones I had were starting to get worse of the wear. I knew I probably should have, I knew it in advance, I had even looked at a few but opted to wait until next season, thinking I could get one more out of the boots I had. To say this story could have ended much much worse is an understatement. No cell communications, no GPS phone with me, and the particular route I chose was the complete opposite of the one I had left with my wife – for really spontaneous reasons.

With that said, I had a great time, I learned a lot and I can laugh about it now. So heres my suggestion – when it comes to winter camping, don’t be stupid.

My gear for the trip:

Item Ounces Grams
Packing
Thermarest Pillow Sheet 1.9 54
Black Pillow Case Holder 1.5 43
Red 2l Pack Bag 0.7 21
Hmg Sidewinder 4400 34.2 970
Shelter
Msr Winter Stake 0.8 22
Msr Winter Stake 0.8 22
Msr Winter Stake 0.8 22
Msr Winter Stake 0.8 22
Hilleberg Enan 38.8 1100
Sleep
Montbell Ul Pillow 2.6 73
Enlightened Equipment Quilt 22.9 650
Pee Bottle 0.5 15
Xtherm 20.5 580
Ee 30 Syntheic 28.1 798
Cooking
Sea To Summit Long Spoon Ti 0.4 12
Zefa Water Bottle 3.5 98
Marches 0.4 11
Feet Warmer Water Bottle 0.4 10
Feet Warmer Water Bottle 0.4 10
Evernew Flatpot W Lid 4.8 136
Clothing
Western Mountaineering Booties 4 114
Wp 200g Pants 6.1 174
Haglofs Green Wind Jacket 2.3 65
Kristal Ul Gator 3.2 92
As Tucas Red Beanie 1.8 52
Montbell Puffy Pants 16.8 475
Haglofs Black Layer 2 Sweater 14.3 405
Wp Thick Socks 2.9 81
Hestra Mittens 8 226
Wm Flight Jacket Xl 13 368
Haglifs Lim Puffy Jacket 6.7 191
Other
Murla Knife 0.7 20
Candle Lantern 6 170
Ul Teeth Care 3.1 89
Bd Headlamp 3.6 101
Iphone 6s Plus Ink Case 9.9 282
Msr Towel 1.2 35
First Aid Kit 3.1 89
Usb Cables 0.8 24
Snowclaw 5.9 168
Fuji X-t1 Body 16.1 456
Fuji Samyang 12mm 10.4 294
Fuji 18-55 11 311
Fuji Battery 1.6 46
Fuji Battery 1.6 46
13000 Battery Pack 12.3 348
Worn
Black Beenie 1.2 35
Aklima Hoody Wool 13.3 377
Black Shell Pants 25.3 717
Salomon Goretex Orange Shell 870 31 879
Puma Winter Running Tights 9.4 267
Fleece Mittens Bula 2.5 70
As Lucas Ul Pants 2.3 64
Consumables
Butane Cannister Small 7.1 202
Food For A Day 26.5 750
Food For A Day 26.5 750
Food For A Day 26.5 750
Toilet Papper 5.3 150
Total 423.1 11993