Category: Gear

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DJI Spark – A video review of the ultimate backpacking drone

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

Flight time: 12-13 minutes (actual flight time)

Camera: 1080p HD

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Sarek national park in Video part 1

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

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Gear review: Cumulus panyam 600 sleeping bag video review

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

 

 

About the Cumulus Panyam 600 sleeping bag:

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

Trapezoid Construction:

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

Weight and temperature ratings:

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

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

Quality:

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

Winter layering:

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

Conclusion: 

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

 

Where to buy:

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

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

 

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Working hard on video…

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

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

https://www.youtube.com/ultralightandcomfortable

A demo video as well:

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Gear review: Hyperlite mountain gear Windrider 4400 backpack

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

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

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

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

Who is Hyperlite Mountain Gear?

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

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

What is the Windrider 4400

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

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

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

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Weight:

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

Who’s it for?

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

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

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

Will it hold?

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

Ventilation

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

My own experience

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

Plus:

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

Minus:

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

 

Where to buy:

In The usa: Hyperlite mountain gear

In Europe: Backpackinglight store

Direct link to the Windrider 4400

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Day 4: Final impressions and gear Outdoor show Friedrichshafen 2017

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.

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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. 

 

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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)

IMG_2065The nano puff getting lighter and lighter.

 

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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.

IMG_4379The front and side of the Osprey Levity 60

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I liked the coleman booth – glamping at it’s finest!

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Ultralight hammock by Sea to summit – 155grams.

IMG_1506Nice looking packs from Haglöfs

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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!

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Day 3: Outdoor show in Friedrichshafen

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The Wisp 1 in silnylon by Big sky products, weighing in at 500 grams. A great little tent that cost around $220. Easy to setup and big enough for most people.

 

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Tentipi.. a 3.5 kilo beast of a tent and the lightest one in their collection. Maybe large for one person, certainly not lightweight, but great for family Glamping.

 

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I found this little umbrella tucked away in the Evernew booth. Weighs just 90grams and big enough to cover my head and pack. Will be available in europe and the USA next year.

 

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A sherpa frame from Evernew, perfect for the Glampers!

 

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Roza Vetrov from russia makes these titanium cooking sets. I liked the handbuilt quality to them. Inside this is two casseroles, a water flask and a shot glass. 

 

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Otto from Onak canoes. The onak is a folding canoe, that you can see in the right side of the pic. Pretty cool

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Day 2: The outdoor show in Friedrichshafen

So much gear, so little time. It’s the ultimate orgy for gear lovers! Again, I did my best to walk around, be slightly social and take some shots of gear I thought was interesting and listened to a few keynote speakers.

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Western mountaineering throwing it’s hat into the quilt game. Unfortunately I have no info on the quilt as the reps had been busy all day. But if it’s western mountaineering than it will probably be light and excellent.

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The Osprey Levity 60. Won the outdoor award for best backpack. Light at 840 grams and rather functional. est. price $240 and release in april 2018. It’s nice to see even the big brands going lighter and lighter.

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Toaks had this little alcohol stove on display. At first I thought it was just a little titanium cup that you fill up with alcohol and burn. However when I looked closer I could see the small holes around the rim – Would love to test this out in the field!

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My wife thinks we need to invest more in our Glamping lifestyle.. she’s not too happy about sleeping on a tiny slippery mat and sharing a quilt with our son. I think this combination from Exped would work wonders. It’s a two man quilt and sleeping mat. Works wonders for family glampers or SUL hiking buddies.. you choose

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Sierra designs had the famous Skurka designed Flex capacitor backpack on display. An excellent looking pack I have to say, something I could certainly see the use in. From tightening down to 40L and if needed can be expanded to 60L.

Unfortunately they didn’t bring the High route tent so I can’t give my impression on it…

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Mont-Bell. Oh how I wish thee existed in Sweden. I’ve always been a big fan of Mont-bell and I don’t think it’s because I’ve only been an admirer from a distance. I’m certain they make good, lightweight gear and someday I plan on testing my theory.

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Bill from NWApline looking rather happy with himself, as he should. From what I can tell NWAlpine is making some excellent lightweight climbing gear. A cuben rain shirt and an impressive looking cuben tent. NWAlpine is a small cottage manufacturer based out of Oregon.

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My thoughts on cuben: while cuben will give any ultralight backpacker wet dreams, if we really are honest with ourselves, the minimal weight savings just isn’t worth the price. I don’t see how cuben will break into the mainstream, or even stick around for too many more years if they don’t look at the cost structure on it.

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Day 1: Outdoor Show 2017 Friedrichshafen

It’s hard to put into words just how massive the Friedrichshafen event really is. It is quite simply the epicenter of outdoor gear and trade here in Europe connecting manufacturers with agents, distributors, pr and bloggs. If a company wants to break into the european market, this event is a must. I am happy that I gave myself the four days to go through it all.. It’s just massive. With that said I can imagine it’s fairly easy for a company to be drowned out, it was easy to see that many were. Also, it’s very difficult for a company to not only be seen in this kind of enviroment, but to stand out with products.

In general I’m not looking for this years next big thing, and writing about gear is not my biggest passion either, I can however say that some companies did have products that I liked and these I will post here.

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Carsten Jost from fastpacking.de looking rather happy at his time at the Outdoor blogger base. A well organised and put together station were all the bloggers of the world (well… atleast some of them?) meet up at network. I have to work on my networking skills 🙂

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There were a lot of very interesting tents at the show, many of them would give any ultralight blogger wet dreams, however these I was not allowed to take pictures of.. so, I instead took pictures of the Big Sky international wisp 1.5 cuben tent which I was allowed to take pictures of. The wisp 1.5 is a big brother to their Wisp. So far it’s the only cuben tent on display that I have seen, and the only one on sale in stores in Europe.

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Jetboil had some new products to show off. Or atleast the same products with new valve features that allows for much faster boils at around 1.30 minutes per boil. Impressive. Sadly no more Titanium SOL.

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This Nordisk tent is incredibly light for a double wall tent, weighing in at 500 or 600 grams (can’t remember now). Even won the award for most innovative product. Honestly though, not knocking the product, but I don’t see how a real live human could fit in this. The top of the loop didn’t even reach my knee caps, that’s how small this tent is.

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Hilleberg on the other hand had a product that stood out for me, the Mesh 1 and the Tarp 5 you see here. A real live human can easily fit in this with room to spare. Total weight 710 grams for the tarp and mesh inner, with a few impressive innovations that I would like to show off later. I am in the talks with them now, and hopefully I will be able to use this kit for one of my future outings this year.