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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 be that guy, you know the one I’m talking about.. The ass that sits at his computer and bitches about drones. Don’t do it, drones exist, except it, have fun and enjoy life! With that said, don’t be the ass that flies drones over peoples heads, or chases bikini clad girls on the beach. Be respectful.
Now, with that out of the way, here is my review of the DJI Spark drone. I bought this drone in earlier in the year when it was first released here in Sweden. Stupid as I am I couldn’t wait for the fly more package and instead bought everything separate – what is now around 500usd, cost me roughly 1000usd or more.
Weight: 302 grams for drone and battery
Total weight for complete kit: 903grams for drone, two extra batteries, case and controller
Alright, here is part two of this journey… Seems like most of you liked the format I had.. not too long, quick edits but follow a chronological order and storyline. On this section we hit lots and lots of rain, wading and wet trail.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
Me 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.
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.
Big 70L pack
Simple, effective design.
Great carrying capabilities
Robust, durable fabric and mesh
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.
Small hip belt pockets
Hydropocket not easily removed – razor blade needed
I really enjoyed my time at the german trade show, got to meet a lot of nice people and talked with a lot of representatives from many different companies. The show is massive and I’m happy I took the 4 days to really see as much as I could… Even four days wasn’t enough.
I was impressed by the focus on the ecological processes and social responsibility that most companies made a drive towards. We can no longer state that it’s just patagonia thinking about these principals. They may have started the trend, but the others are catching on and pushing it forward. I also don’t think this trend is purely consumer driven, I get the impression that many of these companies are asking the important questions and getting ahead of the trend before the average consumer is there.
The Haglöfs LIM Bield rain jacket and shorts are in my opinion absolutely brilliant. 165grams for the large jacket and 20000mm water resistance. Taped seams, breathable and stronger material than gore-tex.
Sea to summit showing off their new Spcialist solo and duo.. The solo weighs 445grams and the duo comes in at just 633grams. (these weighs are minus tent poles and pegs)
The nano puff getting lighter and lighter.
The backside of the much anticipated Osprey Levity 45 and Levity 60. This pack will be available spring 2018 at an estimated price of $240.
The front and side of the Osprey Levity 60
I liked the coleman booth – glamping at it’s finest!
Ultralight hammock by Sea to summit – 155grams.
Nice looking packs from Haglöfs
Me being sandwhiched between two of the four Gossamer gear gang. Nice chat and planning for the future. Grant on the left and Glen on the right. Amazing story Gossamer gear, started with Glen sewing his own gear and eventually expanding to meet demands. Inspiring stuff from a great group of guys!