Category: Gear

backpackingblogGearGear reviews

Gear review: Sierra designs High Route FL

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

IMG_3946

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

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

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

Size:

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

IMG_3893

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

Weight:

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

Usability:

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

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

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

IMG_3859

Conclusion:

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

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

A side note:

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

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

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

If your in Europe this tent can be purchased here:

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

Eller i Sverige här:

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

IMG_3896

blogGearGear reviews

Gear review: Gossamer Gear The One tent

This is not a review of the old Spinnaker cloth The one, rather of the new silnylon The one. And more recently the 2017 version (if there is a difference between 2016 and 2017 I don’t know). Anyway, the One has been a classic ultralight solo tent, and one that has been used and abused by many backpackers over the years until the Spinnaker cloth version of the tent was cut. Mainly from what I understand because Spinnaker cloth itself was no longer being produced. In anycase, not very interesting but gives me something to fill up my word count with.

Now, 2017 I brought in The One to Backpackinglight.dk webshop to sell, and like everything else if I can’t stand behind a product, I don’t bother selling them. So, I have been testing the One quite rigorously now for the last 5 months and this review will be a rundown of what I think about the One, it’s goods, bads and quirks.

Video Review: 

What is the One: 

The One is an ultralight, fully enclosed, complete single wall tent. Meaning, it has a floor, walls, bugnetting and everything else you need to be considered a tent. The one is easily setup with two trekking poles, or tent poles.

Weight:

On my scales the One complete with stuff sack, guy lines and seam sealed weighs just 618grams. Add 6 tent pegs and your upp to about 700grams.

Setup: 

Stake the four corners, stick in trekking poles, stake out the trekking pole guy lines and your done.. stretch and tighten accordingly. Takes a few setups but you’ll be an expert in no time!

Useage: 

Well, anywhere really. But should probably avoid winter camping and highly exposed and wet campsites. The silnylon and low 1200mm waterproofing means that it’s not a tent for week long trips in heavy wind and rainy mountain trips. For everything else it works great.

The Good:

  1. the one like most silnylon tents packs up nice and small – I know this doesn’t seem like it should matter, but the amount of volume a cuben tent can take up in a backpack is crazy. Silnylon on the other hand has about half the pack volume of a caparable cuben fiber tent.
  2. Big – unlike most ultralight solo tents, the One is fairly large and I feel that even for me at 190cm or 6’3″ The One is roomy. Definitely enough room to situp in and move around.
  3. Lightweight – at 618grams the One is hard to beat for size and comfort
  4. The One is a complete shelter – I don’t need to think about bug nets, bathtub floors, seam sealing or add-ons in general.
  5. Nice pockets on inside of tent
  6. Easy setup – takes about a minute to setup once you know what your doing
  7. I love tents that can open up large – the One offers a massive screen view when in the vestibule is rolled up. One of my favorite aspects of this tent.

The Bad:

  1. the 15D silnylon seems like it would rip quite easy. Though, I have not had this problem, and it’s more of a feeling than an actual gripe
  2. Silnylon – silnylon has it’s pluses and minuses. A minus is that it stretches – which means you have to tighten down the tent from time to time, and more so when wet.
  3. Tent peg intensive. Requires 6 pegs to setup. I don’t like having to use 6 pegs for setup. I like 2-4 for setup and 2-4 for strengthening.
  4. Because of the very thin silnylon floor, you really have to check where you put your tent – the nylon if placed on wet ground, will seep in water (bad grammar here) in anycase, if the ground is wet, the inside of your tent will get wet when applying pressure.

Improvements:

I really don’t see too much in the way of improvements, but I would like to see a tie out point in the middle of the tent side. Much like a Lunar solo with would give me the option of tieing out the side to give me more head/feet space, better wind protection and better overall stability.

A small zipper opening on non-vestibule side. This way I can extend the trekking pole from the inside when the material starts to stretch, or just place small odds and ends that I don’t necessarily need with me in my tent or under the vestibule

Conclusion: 

The One in my opinion is a great, relatively cheap ultralight selection for most people doing thru-hikes on something like the PCT or Appalachian trail, forest trails and so on. I don’t know if I would be comfortable using the One on a wide open site, valley and so on. I also setup my tents in the least exposed areas possible, and I certainly wouldn’t make an exception for the Gossamer gear One.

I don’t mention condensation in my review because I don’t really see much of a difference between this or any other tent. Camp selection, ventilation and outside temperatures are always the biggest determining factors when it comes to condensation. The One has great ventilation so in theory condensation shouldn’t be a problem – or atleast not more of a problem than any other option.

Where to buy:

If you live in Europe than in my own opinion Backpackinglight.dk is the best shop – in Sweden backpackinglight.se

 

backpackingblogcampingGearGear list

A night in paradise: video and gear list

Hammock glamping.. that’s right, glamping maxed out, and no shame at all. The first real day of spring has arrived in Stockholm so I did what any highly motived government employee would do: I ditch work early, packed my backpack and headed to the lake.. This particular area is called “Paradiset” – The paradise. I agree. I love this little area and it’s only about a 15 minute drive from my house in Farsta.

No long walk, no ultralight, no dehydrated fodder – just glamping. I made an awesome little lentils, carrots and broccoli casserole in a thick and heavy Trangia kitchen set along with freshly grinded coffee beans in a snow peak coffee press. I slept like a king in the REI quarter dome hammock system (assuming kings sleep well of course). All in all it was just a great night out and one that was sorely needed after the long and depressing winter.

Testing different editing options, I edited this video completely on the Ipad mini using Lumafusion. Not a perfect edit but good enough.

Full gear list:

https://lighterpack.com/r/8nul9i

blogGearGear reviews

Video: Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 4 – Review

Ok, it was cold, shitty and hardly any snow – in other words a typical winter day in Stockholm. Stockholm is known for it’s absolutely horrific and pointless winters. With that said, it’s a good enough place to test different gear for upcoming winter trips in the mountains. So I went out to test some gear including the hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 4, The soto muka multifuel stove, my winter quilt system and a few other pieces of equipment that I plan on using on a winter trip in Jämtland in a few weeks.

If you haven’t seen it already I posted a video of the Soto muka stove that you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKt7adKB9rg&t=3s

What is the Ultamid 4

The HMG Ultamid 4 is a massive 4 man pyramid tent from Hyperlite mountain gear. Here is Hyperlite mountain gears description of the Ultamid 4:

Providing maximum coverage at a minimum weight, the UltaMid 4 pyramid tent is stripped down and dialed in to meet the exacting requirements of passionate, goal-oriented adventurers. This ultralight four-person tent takes harsh conditions in stride all four seasons of the year. It handles, wind, rain, snow, sleet and hail better than traditional tents with much smaller footprints.

Weight: 

A tent this big surely must weight a ton you say.. no. The Ultamid 4 weighs just 618grams – without all the guylines, so around 700 with. The pack size is not too bad either, about two liters in total volume.

Size:

The Ultamid 4 is massive – in the video I show myself more or less standing up in the tent, slightly bent of course, but still. It’s easily a four man tent. Most four man tents might fit two, and two man tents are excellent one man tents. The Ultamid 4 however is a four man tent, and an excellent two man, and a palace for one.

actual dimensions are

  • Width: 111” (281.9cm)
  • Length: 111” (281.9cm)
  • Height: 75” (190.5cm)

Overall conclusion:

I have been a fan of pyramid tents for years and have used them all over the world in various conditions. The Ultamid 4 is by far the largest of all the pyramid tents that I have and would bring with me. I like the sturdiness of the Ultamid series in general – as both the Ultamid 2 and Ultamid 4 have a ton of tie outs and are built to be used and abused. Easily all around, year round tents. If you are looking for that one tent that can be used everything and have cash to burn, then you can’t go wrong with either the Ultamid 2 or Ultamid 4.

backpackingblogcampingGearGear reviews

Soto Muka stove review – a video

I’m back! again.. with yet another gear review.. again. Out in the wilds, again.. It’s what I do! This time around I was out sleeping in tyresta again here in Stockholm, Sweden. Middle of winter so temperatures got down to around -10 celcius, which means it’s time for me to drag out my Soto muka multifuel stove. Yes, yes I know that a true “ultralighter” brings a gas canister and sleeps with it to keep it warm, what can I say? I cheat – I like to keep things simple, so white gas it is. No need to keep the fuel warm, no need to think about different insulations for the gas canisters.. just pump, light up and boil.

 

What is the Soto muka multifuel stove

The Muka Stove has revolutionized common understanding of a gasoline stove’s characteristics such as becoming dirty with soot, cumbersome preheating, and maintenance before and after use. This gas stove combines a reliable, powerful output and ease of care. Muka is not a simple gasoline stove but the next generation of stove. Includes hose, pump, maintenance tool and a carrying case. Wide mouth Fuel Bottle sold separately.

Weight:

160 g without pump 320 g including pump

Specs:

  • Vikt: 160 gram (320 gram inklusive pump)
  • Mått: 8,0 x 6,5 x 8,0 cm (13,5 x 13,5 x 8,0 cm utfälld)
  • Brinntid: ca 56 min med 480 ml bilbränsle
  • Effekt: 4000 kcal/h / 4650w / 15800 BTU

Now just take a look again here at the BTU – yes 15800 BTU! that is insane. For reference a Jetboil has a 4500BTU, the Svea 123 has 2800BTU. This, this monster has 15800 BTU! this is melt your TI pot kind of heat.. so be careful. Now there is a good explanation for that kind of heat – the Soto Muka is a non-soot producing stove, even when burning unleaded gasoline. The heat needs to be high inorder burn gasoline cleanly, in other words, the high BTU output is the reason there is no soot.

A quick rundown: 

Out of all the available multifuel stoves available, nothing quite compares to the Muka Stove. The lightest of the bunch, non-priming and extremely high output. If you need a multi-fuel stove, this is the one to buy.

The old Svea 123 is a gas stove that I have used for years – and love it. It doesn’t require much other than a bit of priming; which is the process of pouring a little white gas on the primer plate under the burner, on top of the brass gas tank. The fire balls are awesome on the Svea 123, the thrill and excitement of wondering if this was the last moments of my life every time I light it. The Soto in comparison requires pumping, and while there is still a fireball, it doesn’t seem as life threatening – so the that’s a bonus, I guess. The weight is about the same as the all brass Svea 123, complete weight with fuel bottle is about 530grams. Heavy, but still one of the lightest mutifuel stoves on the market.

Watch the video for full review!

 

The stove can be purchased here: https://backpackinglight.dk/stoves-and-kitchen/multi-fuel-stoves/soto-muka-multifuel-stove

 

Eller i sverige: https://backpackinglight.se/friluftskok/multifuelkok/soto-muka-bensin-kok

blogGearGear reviews

Cumulus Teneqa 850 winter down bag review – demonstration

 

Ok, so this weekend starts the ISPO Munich 2018 convention – worlds largest convention for outdoor and sports gear.. I going to Amsterdam instead. Maybe I will make Munich next year 🙂 With that said, I have been busy going through a bunch of new and old gear, trying to put together more videos and so on for ULcomfort.com as well as backpackinglight.dk. I have also moved all the inventory over to a new fulfillment center that will improve shipping times, minimize mistakes and make shipping cheaper for Backpackinglight.dk customers. So, for me, Amsterdam seems like an awesome weekend getaway.

With that said, I put together a quick video of the Cumulus Teneqa 850 winter down sleeping bag. It’s rare that I would chose a single bag option in the winter over a layered system, for example a down quilt, with a synthetic quilt on top. I just find a layered system to be good enough and cheap enough solution to solve my winter needs. However when I got the Teneqa 850 in the mail for a customer I decided to buy one for myself and give it a good testing throughout the winter season. I haven’t gone on any long winter artic expeditions or anything like that, but a few cold nights at around -5 to -17 and the bag has held up very well. Honestly, I am rethinking my winter layering system, as a single, fully enclosed mummy bag is certainly warmer for harsh winter conditions than something like a layered quilt system. I sleep snug as a bug in the Teneqa 850, and props to Cumulus for making such a high quality down bag at this price point (400 euros)

What is the Cumulus Teneqa 850:

It’s probably our biggest star, which we are extremely proud of, although it’s only 3 years old. This sleeping bag is filled with 850 g of the highest quality 850 cuin Polish down. When laid out, it is really impressive – it may even be said to be beautiful. A revolutionary, advanced winter sleeping bag, weighing only 1330 g. Made of Pertex Quantum fabric weighing 35 g/m², equipped with advanced V-chambers, which gives it a big advantage over the competition. The Teneqa 850 is a combination of Japanese technology, Polish down and Polish innovation which has led to the creation of a great product.

Specs:

  • Total weight: 1330 g
  • Down weight: 850 g
  • Weight of unfilled sleeping bag: 480 g
  • Comfort temperature: -14 ˚C
  • Limit temperature: -22 ˚C
  • Extreme temperature: -44 ˚C
  • Maximum user height: 190 cm
  • Length: 210 cm
  • Width (top/bottom): 85/59 cm
  • Stuffsack’s dimensions (height/diameter): 32/21 cm
  • Stuffsack’s volume: 11,1 l
  • Number of down chambers: 37

Size – My view: 

If there is one issue I have with Cumulus bags, and sleeping bags in general, it’s that they are made smaller than rated. For example, the Panyam 600 is rated at a user height of 190cm. I am 190cm and I would say the bag is rated for someone at 186cm. It’s just too small for me. It squeezes around my shoulders, my feet are crunched at the end and I can’t fit the mummy hood over my head and tighten around my shoulder – I just doensn’t fit. So I resolved myself into buying a bigger Panyam. With that said, the Cumulus Teneqa 850 standard size is perfect for me. Good room around my shoulders, I can toss and turn all-night without the entire bag following me everywhere, My toes just barely touch the footbox, which is exactly how I like it. It’s just a great fitting bag. In really cold nights I could easily fit inside with a few extra layers of clothing if I would need to. Again, cudos to Cumulus for making a great fitting bag.

 

Warmth and comfort:

To me, a warm bag is not always a comfortable one to use. Especially winter bags that have a tendency to get a little too warm if it’s not freezing outside. I find the Teneqa 850 to be a good balance between warmth, weight and comfort. At -15 rating I’m not going to be sweating my ass off when the temp is hovering around 0 – I just open up the footbox a little. Also, if the cold drops to -30 I can fit in with a few extra layers of clothing. It performs very nicely at around -10 to -20. For reference I am a very cold sleeper.

Overall feeling: 

Overall I like the Cumulus Teneqa 850 – warm, light, cheap-ish, excellent form and fit. If there is anything I would like to see improved for later version it would be a plastic zipper flap like the Western mountaineering bags – such light materials like those used on the Cumulus bags, easily get snagged in the zipper without the flap. Of course WM bags are twice as expensive, but I wouldn’t say they are twice as good. In fact, as far as make, fit and quality I would say Cumulus give WM a run for their money.

Will it replace my panyam 600 and as tucas sestrals poncho winter layering system? Probably not for my longer winter trips where I will be out for a week or soon in the Arctic, but certainly for trips up to 4-5 days I could see myself bringing the Teneqa 850. Perhaps, I could see myself replacing the Panyam 600 with the Teneqa, and then layer with the As Tucas. – Warmer and a little more flexible – however, heavier of course.

Where to buy:

https://backpackinglight.dk/sleeping/sleeping-bags/winter/cumulus-teneqa-850

blogGearGear reviewsVideo

Gear Review: Black Diamond Firstlight tent

Ok, the black diamond is not the worst tent available, it’s bad but not the worst. For alpine conditions: Dry, windy and lots of snow – it’s perfect. For anything else it’s terrible. I have been using the Firstlight and sibling Hilight for about 5 years in varying instances. This video is a rundown of the tent and my review of the Firstlight.

 

What is it:
The Black diamond firstlight is a freestanding two man alpine tent. As per Black diamonds website (spelling errors and all… come on Black Diamond, spell check does exist… contructed? what the hell is contructed?):

A compact two-person, four-season tent built for weight-conscious climbers, the Black Diamond Firstlight is based on the I-Tent’s expedition-specific design with steep walls and a simple floor shape to optimize living space and increase headroom. For durability, all seams are double sewn and the stress points are reinforced. With two equal length DAC Featherlite poles that fit inside the tent with hook-and-loop wraps, it’s easy to set up—even from inside. For cross ventilation, both the small rear window and the door are covered with no-see-um mesh. The canopy is contructed with water resistant, breathable NanoShield fabric. For interior organization, the Firstlight has two interior mesh pockets.

Weight:
at 1,5kilos the Black diamond is light for a two man winter alpine tent. A bit heavier as a single man winter alpine tent and completely pointless for any other purposes.

Size: 
The Black diamond firstlight is marketed as a two man alpine tent. It’s not. It’s a one man alpine tent, and more to the point, it’s a one-short man (woman or kid) alpine tent. The actual dimensions are: 208 x 123 x 123 x 107 cm (82 x 48 x 48 x 42 in) – 208 is the length. My 196 sleeping pad stretches out the floor of the tent. My head and feet both push out the sides of the tent. I get wet from my bag squishing against the side.  For me, the firstlight is a one man tent.

To the point:
Watch the video for a full review. The firstlight is a tent I both love and hate. For the intended conditions it’s a “good enough” tent. It’s freestanding, light-ish, and I definitely have confidence in it even under the most brutal winter conditions. For everything else, it sucks.

backpackingblogGear

Nemo Apollo 3 – really a 3 man tent?

I this video I setup and show off the Nemo Apollo 3 – advertised as a 3 man tent.. but is it really?

 

What is the Apollo 3:

The Nemo Apollo 3 is advertised as a three man, lightweight backpacking shelter. It is in fact a more or less pyramid tent that is complete with tent pegs and center pole. A great value for money, but is it any good?

Weight:

595grams without center pole, 704grams with.

backpackingblogcampingGearGear reviews

Nemo Hornet 2 – gear demonstration

Okej, very excited here as a finally got home the Nemo hornet 2 as well as the Apollo 3. Two ultralight tents. To be honest, I was mainly looking forward to the nemo hornet 2 as I have been longing for an easy to setup tent with a large net innertent – that can easily be used separately from the fly. In this video I demo the Hornet 2, set it up, play in it and show it’s size the best I can.

 

About the Nemo hornet 2:

The Hornet is Nemos lightweight tent series designed for trails like the APT or CDT in the Usa. Basically long walks in varying climates. The tent can easily be setup semi-free standing. You can make it work with rocks if needed.

Weight:

The Nemo Hornet 2 weighs just 910 grams complete with tent pegs, seam sealed and tent pole. In otherwise, a fairly light tent for one person, and superlight for two.

Use: 

I would use this for just about any trip I would like to go on. I will debate bringing it along on the TGO Challenge. It’s large for one person, big vestibules, double entry and exits as well as removable fly make this an excellent choice.

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to my youtube channel

 

This tent can be bought in europe: at https://backpackinglight.dk/tents/2-person-tents/nemo-hornet-2p-ultralight-backpacking-tent

Or in Sweden: https://backpackinglight.se/talt/2-personstalt/nemo-hornet-2p-ultralight-backpacking-tent