Category: Gear reviews

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Gear review: Jetboil TI Sol

I have owned the Jetboil TI Sol for almost 3 years now, so this has to be the slowest gear review in the history of gear blogging. I’m not sure if I can add anything to discussion, but what the heck. The Jetboil TI Sol is the titanium version of the Jetboil solo stove. A complete cooking system in a light package. It’s main purpose is to boil water, and it’s damn good at boiling water.

If  your like me and just about any other backpacker on the planet, your main need is to boil water to rehydrate your packaged foods and boil for coffee.. then the Jetboil should suite your needs just fine.

What you get

The Jetboil TI Sol is a self contained unit with everything thats needed in a simple little package. It has a pezo lighter built in, an adjustable pressure regulator, insulated pot sleeve, Plastic lid with strainer, a plastic cup and last but not least the actual pot itself that is .8 liters.

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A gas canister easily fits in the pot along with with the regulator. I usually leave everything at home except for the pot, lid and gas regulator. Though I’m certain that the rest of equipment serves a purpose….

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In use

I am a sucker for simplicity and I’m not sure it’s possible to make an more simplistic stove. Just screw on the gas can, put the pot on and press the ignitor. (this of course can be said for any jetboil or these style of stoves). Having used this stove on and off for over three years it has only failed me once, in Iceland, pouring rain the ignitor didn’t take. With that one exception this stove has been very trustworthy. There is a lot to be said about these kinds of stoves and there is a very good reason they have become so popular during the last decade or so.

With that said the Jetboil TI Sol has one function and one function only: Boil water as quickly and effeciently as possible. There is no simmer (officially there is, but don’t bother). This one function it has and serves perfectly. Boil time on my kitchen stove (which by the way is the most useless metric in backpacking is a staggering 3 minutes and 47 seconds with .5 liters of water) Fuel consumption is around 5grams of fuel. In the wild depending on the wind and chill factor (colder air means slower boil time), boiling is around 3.5 – 5 minutes. I usually try to calculate for my trips 8 grams of fuel per boil.

However this gives kind of an unrealistic picture of the jetboil and how I use it. I rarely boil water in the wild and most the time I run water through my filter and get the water to “warm enough” – which is around 2.5 minutes and 4 grams of fuel. Meaning one tiny can at 229 grams will last me a very long time along a trail.

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Eating

This probably goes without saying but I will write anyway. I eat directly from the pot, because the pot is rather tall I find that regular length spoons are a pain, so I use a long length spoon to dig deep in the pot. Also, though the cozy I’m sure serves a purpose, it atleast let’s holding a freshly heated meal possible.

 

Conclusion

A lot of new stove system have been introduced on the market since the Jetboil TI SOl has been released. The weight differences today are perhaps not as wide as they once were. Aluminum systems that weigh 100 grams more can be bought for a 100usd less. There are also simple pot and stove solutions that weigh 150 grams total (evernew pot and BSR 1000 titanium stove). However, I still find the Jetboil ti sol to be a viable solution if your looking for this style stove. They can now be purchased at competitive prices on ebay and amazon. This system is still to my knowledge the lightest fast boil system available (correct me if I’m wrong)

After three years this system is still going strong for me and while it might not be my first choice, it is by far my simplist choice.

 

The good:

Complete cooking system

Fast boil

Self contained unit that fits nicely in my backpack

Relatively light at 242 grams for the trimmed down system that I bring (just the pot, lid and regulator)

 

The bad:

Like hot water? That’s all your going to get with this. Don’t bother bringing anything else

Not sure what purpose the pot cozy has.

Heavy compared to some of the ultralight kits available. (Trail designs, BSR1000, any alcohol stove and so on)

Uses gas – I am terrible at determining how much gas I need to have with me, thus I always bring way too much.

No wind shield.. Always looking for a hole to dig this down in as each breeze increases boil time significantly.

Gear reviewsRunning

Gear Review: Merrell all out terra trail shoes

After my Iceland trip last year I realized it was time to buy new shoes as I had started using tape to keep my Haglöfs together. I’m not a big buyer of shoes so I had no idea what was being made at the time. I did however have a plan in my head of designing my own pair of hiking shoes. My ideal pair that I would design would be as light as the Haglöfs LIM low but offer superior grip, would have better toe and heel protection and if possible would even have a built in gaiter to keep rocks out. This to me would be the perfect trail hiking shoe.

So in my new found inspiration in life, and absolutely certain I had invented in my head the next great shoe; I decided to make my way to the local gear shop here in Stockholm and get more inspiration for how my new shoes might look. Little did I know how far shoe development had come in the time since I last bought a new pair of trail shoes. While a lot of the shoes I was looking at was close to what I had in my head none of them checked all the boxes… Until I ran across a pair of Merrell All out terra trail shoes. They had the same lightness (almost) as my beloved Haglöfs, they had much better grip with the vibram sole, toe and heel protection and as an added bonus they even had a built in gaiter.

It didn’t take me long to do the math in my head: Either buy these shoes for 100usd or invest thousands of dollars, design a pair, spend countless hours making different prototypes and in the end make simply a competing shoe that probably wouldn’t be as good as these shoes. So I purchased the shoes and a year later I’m not disappointed. For one my toes aren’t black and bruised anymore from stomping on rocks, I’m not sliding down the side of a cliff because of bad grip and I no longer have to bring gaiters with me.

Features:

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These shoes have excellent grip for most surfaces besides ice. I have done trail runs, backpacking and regular road races in these shoes and I am not at all concerned about the grip. You can’t go wrong with Vibram soles and the Merrell all out terra trail shoes make the best of it.

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Mesh all around no goretex to be seen anywhere means these babies get wet fast and dry just as fast. Perfect! Even the tongue and insides are mesh. This shoe is perfect for the trail.

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No more black and bruised toes. This nice solid rubber toe guard protects my toes from any rocks or branches the trail happens to throw at me. I still stumble on my ass, but atleast I’m not sitting for 10 minutes holding my toes.

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The Merrell allout terra trail shoes have excellent heel protect, side protection and a built in gaiter. Whats not to like about these near perfect trail shoes?

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The Merrell allout terra trail shoe fits like a glove around the feet. I am truly impressed by these shoes and even after about 500 kilometers they are still holding strong.

Weight:

The allout terra trail shoes are light, not as light as some trail shoes on the market, but I will take the extra weight for the total protection and gaiters anyday. These shoes weigh in at 333 grams each or 666 for both.

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Comfort:

The Merrell allout terra trail shoes fit my foot very well. I love the gaiter wrap and the missing tongue. These shoes just sit tight regardless of the terrain. The only real negative here is that I usually need a pair of Superfeet in my shoes, on the Allout terra trail shoes a pair of superfeet make the shoes lose their form a little. Or perhaps I need to buy a smaller pair. Not really sure, but they don’t pass inside the shoe as well as on some other shoes. But that’s not the worst thing in the world to deal with as the shoes are comfortable without superfeet insoles.

Conclusion:

As I stated in the introduction of this review, I had gone into the shop looking for ideas to the shoes I had already designed in my head. I was thinking of either starting my own company with my own shoe design or going Haglöfs with the design idea and see if they would license it. I left the shoe store with pair of Allout terra shoes and never looked backed. These are exactly the shoes I had in my head. Truly worth the investment. I see no reason not to buy these shoes if your looking for an excellent pair of outdoor trail shoes. I can’t really judge them as trail running shoes as I have only run a few runs in them totaling about 100kilometers. However I do have closer to 600kilometers walking in them.

enlightened equipmentGearGear reviewsquiltrevelation pro

Enlightened equipment revelation pro Quilt: Gear review

Some pieces of equipment become such an engrained part of your gear closet, a standard set piece in all your backpacking trips that they become easy to forget about. For me, the Enlightened equipment revelation pro Quilt is exactly that piece of equipment. I bought this quilt several years ago directly from Enlightened equipments website and haven’t thought about it since. It’s just always with me, summer, winter or fall this quilt is the base of my sleep system. It always works, always keeps me warm and is at the perfect weight to warmth ratio for me. On top of this it’s one of the lower priced high quality quilts on the market. Read More

GearGear reviewsminimalismsimplicity

Mission Workshop The Vandal backpack review

Ok, I admit, this review has nothing to do with ultralight backpacking – I won’t even bother weighing the Vandal as I can say it’s heavy.. I’m talking almost Kajka heavy (well not really.. 2 kilos to be exact). My motivation for buying the Mission workshop Vandal backpack? I wanted an everyday backpack to replace my 5 different bags that I already had. I wanted the one backpack to “rule them all” sort of speak. I had a different bag and backpack for different occasions:

  1. for everyday walking around – usually messenger bag that was limited in size, my shoulders would get pretty tired carrying around the weight on one arm
  2. Gym bag – for that off chance that I might someday start going to the gym again. I this was a duffel bag
  3. A job bag – for when I want to bring my work computer home
  4. My travel suitcase – a samsonite carry-on that no matter how long i was gone for this was all I ever had
  5. Several “beach bags” – for those days when I wanted to head out to the beach, or some other spontaneous activity.

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Gear reviewsPhoto reviewsPhotography

Sony RX100 – The ultimate ultralight backpacking camera?

A while ago I was able to purchase a very used original Sony RX100 for about $130 – I really wanted a lightweight, or ultralight backpacking camera that would be “good enough”. While I don’t mind bringing my Fujifilm X-T1 and zoom lens (816 grams with battery), I wanted to try an even lighter camera and I read that the Sony RX 100 series is one of the best weight to quality cameras available. This one is of course the first version in (now version 4 is available) So, this review is rather dated, but what the hell 🙂 I still use an analogue camera, so a 4 year old camera is fairly new by my standards. In anycase, I have learned that the camera rarely makes a good photograph: Subject, framing and lighting are the essentials, it’s just important to have a sensor that can capture those three key ingredients. So with that said, the Sony Rx 100 fits the bill. Read More

GearGear reviews

Review: Globalstar GSP 1700 satphone

I have now been using the Globalstar GSP 1700 satphone for about 6 months in different regions. (mainly in Sweden and Iceland now). I think this is a solid performer in most conditions. Lightweight and one charge will last plenty long for most trips. What follows is my full review including video

What is it?
The Globalstar GSP 1700 is a satellite telephone that uses the globalstar satellite network (spot connect). This will basically allow you to make very clear calls from around the world. I chose a satphone over a spot or inreach because I wanted the two way communication capabilities. I like to be able to call home. On top of that both the spot and inreach require yearlong subscriptions.. seems pointless in my book. The Satphone allows me to buy just the minutes I need what I need them.  Read More

Gear reviews

Video Review: Haglöfs LIM Essens down jacket

Finally after getting a few hours over and a little bit of motivation, I got around to digging threw my hours and hours of video from Iceland (someday I will even compose a complete video). Here is a simple video review I made while on my fourth day where I stopped in Bazar for the evening.

In the background you can see the glacier and some volcanos.

 

 

What is it:
The Haglöfs LIM Essens down jacket is another excellent edition to the LIM series. In my opinion the LIM series by Haglöfs is some of the best UL gear available right now, and most of it is resonably priced. The Essens down jacket is an Ultralight down jacket with minimal features, it does what it’s suppose to do: keep you warm

Weight:
The xl jacket that I have weighs just 188grams. Because of its lightweight and extreme packability I usually have it with me on all 4 season trips. In spring, summer and fall as my only insulating jacket or sweater, and it the winter I layer it.

Usuability:
The Haglöfs LIM essens down jacket does exactly what it’s supposed to do: Keep you warm. As a bonus it packs down very small and has two pockets. It’s windtight and very warm for the weight. I have had it down to around 0 celcius without too much problem, below that I need to start layering.

Conclusion:
Buy it, like it and use it forever. I trully like this jacket and it’s one of those products that is so well designed for it’s nisch market that I have to wonder if Haglöfs sells any? In any case, if this one falls apart I will buy another.

GearGear reviews

Mountain laurel designs Solomid XL cuben 

Well, after feeling a little spontaneous I decided to splurge on a Cuben MLD Solomid XL (I believe this is the same thing as the Solomid 2016). I found this New on eBay For about $390.. Way too much For a spontaneous purchase.. But what the hell, I figure if it doesn’t work for me I should be able to sell it for about the same amount.

I can’t say that I am tired or not happy with my MLD Duomid, quite the opposite actually. I find the Duomid to be and continue to be the best tent I have ever had and plan to keep it for a long time. I bought the Solomid out of boredom I guess and wanting to try something lighter and hopefully with the same amount of comfort as my Duomid.

Full review of the MLD Duomid you can read here

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Gear reviewsPhoto reviews

Gear Review: The Fujifilm X-T1

It’s been a while since I’ve done full on camera review. I think camera reviews are some of the hardest reviews to do simply because the only thing that really matters is the final product. Are the pictures good and did the camera capture the scence the way you saw it or better? When looking for a backpacking camera I usually even take in to consideration how good is the camera in comparison to other cameras of similar weight and features.

In a backpacking camera I am looking for a few of these essential aspects:

  1. Picture quality – how good are the pictures and what is “good enough” for the desired trip
  2. Weight – I would never bring a big full frame Nikon or Canon with me as the weight doesn’t justify the end results (in my opinion)
  3. Water proofing – Some waterproofing is usually a good idea as the longer I am out the less I care if my gear gets wet.
  4. usability – This perhaps effects me more than it might others; I come from a background of analog cameras – in face I still use a prefer analog for just about everything. So usability for me is very important, I want a camera to be fun to use.
  5. Battery life – The longer the battery life the less batteries and recharges I need to bring i.e much less weight.

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Gear reviews

Black diamond HiLight tent – a gear review

Around winter is the time I start going through all my gear and seeing what might actually work and what won’t work in the winter. After reading a blog post a few years ago on Jörgen Johanssons excellent blog at http://www.fjaderlatt.se on the Black diamond firstlight, I decided to go ahead a purchase one. At the time the firstlight wasn’t being produced anymore and instead the updated version the Hilight was available.

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