Last year I bought the new Zpacks tent – after much internal debating, as I’m not a huge fan of the duplex (too small, too exposed for my tastes), I was a bit slow to pull the trigger on the Plexamid. However, after seeing a few initial reviews of how big the tent was, I decided to go for it. I don’t normally worry too much about cost as it easy to get the money back when selling.
My initial impression when I received the tent was “damn this is light” – followed by, shit it’s going to be too small. After setting up the plexamid and playing with it for about 20 nights out and 7 months later, I can say that it’s not too small. In fact, the tent gives me more liveable space than the Duplex. Even when I slept in the Duplex diagonally, it was too small for me. Meaning I had to basically use the entire internal space of the Duplex, just for my sleeping pad. Kind of sucked.
Anyway, this is not a review, but simply an overview of the Plexamid, as I want to give this tent a thorough beating before I give a true review.
A video overview:
What is it:
The Plexamid is the newest ultralight solo tent by the Florida based cottage company Zpacks. Zpacks specialises in ultralight, dyneema made gear. The tent weighs just 439grams on my scale, with guy lines without tent pegs and center pole.
It’s a big solo tent – I’ve actually slept with my son in the tent a few nights and there is plenty of room for us.
Performance so far:
One of the reasons I am not willing to do a proper review yet is that the weather and conditions I’ve had the Plexamid in have been relatively mild so far. 15mps winds (34 mph) and two days of rain. In those conditions, it has held its own, and the size of the tent makes the heavy rains bearable. Though, in prolonged rains, the condensation does become an issue. However, as the tent is quite large and the sides sloped as they are, the condensation just runs down the sides and out through the mesh onto the ground – and not onto your gear and sleeping bag.
I have used this tent enough to confidently say that If I were to do the PCT, the Plexamid would be the tent I bring – no doubt. I am confident enough with the tent to have it as my only tent for the next 6 months while in Zambia. It’s big, light and stable.
Keeping warm is essential to sleeping good. Hypothermia and freezing to death is not a fun past time. In the summer it’s easier to get along with Ultralight gear and probably survive.. Chances are good… In the winter however, things are different. Especially in areas like northern Sweden where I live – here the temperatures can easily drop to -30c in the winter. It’s important to be prepared and have a relatively good idea of what your doing. Here I will go over some of the details that helps keep me warm and comfortable during the winter months on longer treks:
Food before bed
Run around for warmth
Extra bottles for foot warmer in the morning
A also made a video of this article that you can watch below:
First on my list is the sleep system – this is by far the most important aspect of sleeping warm and safe in the winter. All parts of the sleep system must work in order for the whole to work. With a sleep system I mean of course the Sleeping mat and Sleeping bag.
My system for winter hiking looks something like this with an example of a week long unsupported trip in minus 20 to 40 degrees:
Thick evazote mat – 14mm – this I usually have directly on the ground as I use floorless shelters most of the time. I can also use a double wide evazote mat which can also work as a nice wide ground sheet as well.
Thermarest xTherm sleeping pad – added warmth and comfort. The xTherm isn’t really necessary when using a thick 14mm evazote mat, in fact I know a few people who use their summer pads or xLite in the deep winter without any problems. The 14mm evazote is warm enough on it’s own. The blow up pad is an extra comfort. Don’t skimp on the sleeping mat – it’s just as if not more important than a proper sleeping bag.
I have three bags in total – known of them are meant for extreme weather. So I stack them. I have a Sierra designs cloud 800 0c degree bag, an As Tucas sestrals synthetic quilt – rated at about 0c as well, and a Sierra designs nitro 0F (-18c). In Sweden, anything warmer than a 0c bag has very little use except for in the warmest two weeks of the year unless summer is just extreme. With the Cloud 800 and As Tucas Sestrals, these bags are fantastic for the Swedish climate. In anycase, if I know I will be in – 30c or colder for extended periods than I stack my Nitro and as tucas quilt giving me a warmth that stretches down to about -35.
This is in Farenheit, for our purposes it works – just keep in mind that Celcius and Farenheit meet at -40, 0 Fahrenheit is equal to -18 Celcius. 32 Fahrenheit is equal to 0 celcius.
I rarely use my Sierra designs nitro -18c bag – I prefer to stack as it’s usually a warmer option in almost every situation.
For temperatures between 0c and -20 I usually go with my two summer quilts – Cloud 800 and As tucas sestrals.
xTherm on the bottom, Sierra designs cloud 800 35 in middle and as tucas sestrals apex 167 quilt on top. A great winter layering system
No matter which solution I choose – I always have the synthetic quilt on top of the down bag as synthetic handles the extra moisture much better than down does.
Picture stolen from the interwebs – Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 2
Shelter systems in the winter, much like summer can vary – my main recommendation is to find a tent that can handle everything. Wind, rain, snow – and is relatively easy to set up. I prefer the Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 2 or 4 for winter use. It’s the most solid winter tent I’ve ever used and gives me a lot of space to really live like a king. I know a few people such as Jörgen Johansson over at Fjäderlätt who likes his Black diamond Firstlight – even though it’s a tad small for him. I also like the Firstlight, but I don’t like how my head and feet mush the sides creating a lot of extra wetness on my bag and clothing. There are of course advantages to a free standing tent in the winter. If you don’t care too much about weight than there are tons of solutions out there with Hilleberg Suolo coming to mind among others.
In anycase, while a shelter is certainly important with a winter system, you could just as well bring a shovel and build a snow cave, or find a large pine and sleep under the snow drift. I prefer even the beauty of sleeping under the stars if weather permits.
If planned properly, your winter clothing can easily be a big part of your sleeping system – allowing you to leave one of your sleeping bags or quilts at home. This is a great solution for shorter trips where condensation is not going to be as big of a problem. If I’m leaving a quilt at home, which I can normally do in temperatures down to -10c. Than my winter sleep gear might comprise of the following:
Wool long johns and long arm shirt
Thick wool socks
Fleece or wool sweater
Down puffy jacket – something like the Cumulus incredilte – a great lightweight down puffy
This layering system gives me a lot of flexibility and warmth in camp – sometimes I even have two puffy down jackets with me depending on how low temperatures are expected to drop. This setup easily keeps me warm and comfortable walking around camp, as well as being part of my sleep system at night.
Food before bed
In the winter, keeping food and water in your system before going to bed is vital. Keeps the furnace burning hot for many hours. I try to load up on carbohydrates before bed, usually while lying in bed getting ready to sleep. This is usually in the form of pasta.
The way insulation in your sleep system works is that it keeps the warmth in. The more insulation the more warmth the sleep system is able to keep. The system itself does not create any warmth on it’s own. There is no heating element in your sleeping bag. This means that if you go to bed frozen, chances are the insulation will work more like refrigerator, keeping you nice and cold. This is why it’s important to get out and run a bit, or do jumping jacks, create a lot of internal heat before climbing into bed. Not so much that you are sweating, as the moisture will have an opposite effect.
This also falls in line with make sure you are ready for bed, before you actually climb in. Once you are in your sleeping bag or bags, body is warm, belly is full – make sure you stay in your bag. I have made the mistake a few times of being way too warm in my bag, got panicked and opened up the bag only to start freezing again.
Staying tight in your sleep system is vital for overall comfort and warmth. This is also why a pee bottle is essential. Make sure you get a wide mouth bottle as this will help take away the guesswork and leave less room for error. The important aspect is to not open up your bag and climb out in order to go out and pee. Also, remember to keep a large volume bottle for this purpose as bodily fluids coming out in the winter are usually much more than at other times. It’s not unusual to pee close to a liters worth of fluid in the winter.
In the winter, one of the biggest problems facing all hikers is keeping our feet and shoes warm. Some people place their shoes in the sleeping bag with them, others not so much. I fall into the category of “not so much”. I don’t want any moisture coming along with me into my sleeping bag. Not to mention, the wettest part of my entire system – my shoes. It is possible to keep your shoes in a water tight bag and put them in your sleeping bag with you. But then they are still wet in the morning. What works for me is a rather simple system: In the morning when I wake up, still tucked nice and warm in my sleeping bag, I cook water for my early morning coffee and breakfast and with that I cook extra water for two small water bottles. After I shake out as much of the frozen moisture as possible from my shoes, I then place the hot water bottles, one each, into each of my shoes. While I am eating breakfast, my shoes are getting nice and toasty – when I put my shoes on, my feet are encompassed with a warm and lovely feeling. Later on I have the added benefit of having two extra filled water bottles that I can drink while hiking.
Small bottles are filled with warm water in the morning and used as feet warmers while I break down camp and eat breakfast. The bottles are then just regular water bottles during the day. Picture stolen from http://www.fjaderlatt.se
Before heading out on your trek across antarctica, it’s important to practice first, find what works for you and get comfortable with all the nuances of winter camping. Winter camping is both hell and joy at the sametime. Dangerous and fulfilling. Be smart and don’t take anything for granted. Just because you have this checklist doesn’t mean you are an expert – Theory and practice are two completely different things. This list will help you maximize your chances of success – but this is only a guide and not a guarantee. What works for me might not work for you.
A good place to practice is your backyard och nearby forest. Car camping is also a great starting place or in wind shelters. I spent a season or two just camping around in my local forest. My first backpacking trip in the winter once I was comfortable with my gear was a fairly popular mountain trail and I setup my tent about 50 meters from the different cottages. This way I could practice without putting myself in any major danger.
There are many reasons to go lighter, but the most important reason is of course to have a more enjoyable time out in nature. Don’t believe me ? Grab a backpack, pack it with 30kilos and climb your nearest hill or mountain. Now, do the same thing with only 5 kilos in your pack. Which is a more enjoyable experience? My money is on the 5 kilos. Now with that said, it’s easy to cut back weight so much that camp is no longer enjoyable. Say, you replace your spoon with your fingers, you don’t bother with a proper tent, toilet paper is for losers and so on. While it’s possible to be ultra minimalist light, it’s probably not desired or safe for most backpackers.
So what should be your goal as a backpacker? To me, it’s the joy of both the hike and the camp. It’s about the climb and the descent. In other words, it’s about the experience and the joy of the journey itself. If your not loving the hike, whats the point?
Knowing your gear and your needs is probably the most important aspect of your backpacking life. This is regardless of weight or goals. If you don’t know what’s in your pack, then why bring it? In skydiving, every skydiver is expected to pack their own parachute, the process of folding, loading and preparing, this way, the skydiver knows exactly what’s in his pack when he launches himself from a perfectly good flying craft thousands of meters above sea level. I believe the same dedication should be used when packing a backpack for an outdoor adventure. If not more so, after all, the results of a poorly packed backpack could be potentially as bad as a poorly packed parachute.
In my view, the single most important part of hiking and or trekking is packing your backpack. Knowing exactly whats in your pack, right down to the amount of grams every item takes. This means creating a proper journal for your gear. However you choose to document your gear, whether in an excel sheet, word document, on your smartphone or in a paper journal, is completely up to you. We prefer services like lighterpack.com that is a highly configurable, easy to use, free service to document and share a gear list.
Your first purchase:
Start your transition by purchasing a proper digital kitchen scale, than, with deligence start weighing your biggest items first and jot them down in your journal. In excel, your list might look something like this:
The big three
1. Tent – Hilleberg Akto – 1,6kilos
2. Backpack – Fjällräven Abisko – 2,4kilos
3. Sleepingbag – Cheap synthetic summer bag – 1,4kilos
4. Sleeping pad -Exped Synmat – 560grams
Total of big three: 5,96 kilos
Of course you would probably want to add brand of tent and so on, but you get the general idea. For reasons perhaps more apparent later, it’s better to jot everything down digitally in lighterpacks or excel as this will allow you to move around, change, reorganize your gear much easier.
Now, after you jot down your big three, move of to the rest of your kit. We like to organize our list in the following categories:
1. The big three (tent, backpack, sleep system)
2. Hydration and cooking
3. Clothing in backpack
4. Personal item (washing, first aid, teeth care, hygene)
6. Extras (stuff that doesn’t fit in the other categories)
7. Clothing worn (while backpacking)
Once all your items are indexed, weighed and categorized it’s much easier to make educated decisions, rather than just guestimations. You will know exactly what is in your pack, what purpose it may or may not serve and the weight of each item. From here you can place your focus on your heaviest items, which tend to be the big three (tent, backpack and sleep system).
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“Damn this is a tiny package!”… Literally the first words out of my mouth when I opened the box with the Nemo hornet 1. The Nemo Hornet one is probably the smallest tent package I have ever seen or held. The tent literally fits in the palm of my hand. And light, did I mention the Nemo hornet one is light? This of course led to my next thought “there is no way in hell this is a full size one man tent”. I am always suspicious of one man “ultralight-tents” by major producers. They usually prefer to sacrifice size and usability for weight.
What is the Nemo Hornet 1
The Nemo Hornet 1 is a semi-freestanding one man tent from Nemo equipment. Or in their own words:
If you’re looking for the master of ultralight tents, look no further. The Hornet offers the ultimate in livability and comfort. The 2-Person has two doors and two vestibules for two pounds, and the 1-Person weighs in at an ethereal 27 ounces.
The single pole construction allows for lightning quick setup, free-standing support, and minimal pole weight. Triangulated volumizing guy-outs increase interior space up to 15%, making your home on the trail even more livable. Hornet’s smart design and fabric set make it the ultimate ultralight experience.
Since nobody actually understands ounces and pounds or really any of the imperial system (really, 32 degrees is freezing? what the hell is that.. not to speak of 212 for boiling.. WHAT THE HELL!) the 27 ounces literally says nothing about it’s weight. So, with my rant out of the way, the Nemo hornet 1 weighs just 780grams trail weight. I have it at about 800grams complete. That’s damn light for the usability of it. To put that into perspective, the Hilleberg enan weighs 1,2kilos complete, the Tarptent Notch weighs 800grams and the MLD Duomid with inner-tent weighs around 1kilo (minus weigh of trekking poles)
While the aforementioned Notch has the livability of a coffin (for me), the Nemo Hornet 1 is surprisingly roomy for even somebody as tall as I am 6’3″ or in a more comprehensable measurement of 190cm on the metric scale. Though, I would say that my height is probably the limit – anyone taller would probably be touching the ends of the tent. With that said, for me it’s more comfortable living space than the Terra nova 1 laser competition.
Height 102cm, length 221cm and width at 102cm
The Nemo hornet may not be the largest one man tent on the market (that honor probably goes to the Tarptent Stratospire 1), but it’s certainly not the smallest. It has about the livability of something like the Terra nova laser one, but with it’s steep sloping walls it actually feels bigger than something like the Terra nova laser and Hilleberg Enan.
I remember when I hiked Iceland a few years ago, that was the first time I ran into the Nemo Hornet 1. I don’t remember who I talked to or anything like that. But I remember talking to a guy who had been using the Nemo Hornet 1 for sometime and he was super happy with it. He did mention that in real heavy winds the hornet faulters if the extra guylines are not staked out. I can say that I had pitched my Duomid fairly close to his hornet and that night the winds were howling down the mountain side and my duomid was shaking pretty hard. I got out to re-stake some of the guys and took a look at his tent – it held up. Perhaps not as well as the Duomid but it certainly held it’s own.
I am mentioning that experience as I normally don’t pitch in exposed areas so I can’t really give an honest opinion about that on the Nemo Hornet 1. I will say that for everything I have used the tent for, it has held up really well.
“But that big gap on the back, it just has to let in a lot of water”.. No, no it doesn’t. That is however something I read about alot online, and found after a lot of research nobody that actually owns the tent that has had that problem. I myself have not had the problem when the tent is properly pitched. So, my conclusion is that with the very tall bathtub floor, I just don’t see how rain would be a serious problem.
Pitching the tent
Back in the early days of my hiking life I used to only want tents that would pitch the inner and outer tents together. I.e the Hilleberg pitch. Don’t get me wrong, in areas where it’s only raining for days and weeks on end it’s probably to be preferred. But these days I do prefer pitching the inner and outer separately as it allows a little more flexibility in setup and tear down. The Nemo hornet 1 is pitched with a separate inner and outer tent – which for me is excellent. I like being able to pitch only the inner if the sun and bugs are out, while being able to separate the outer from the inner on tear down during a wet period is also quite nice. I can keep the outer on the outside of my pack, while keeping my inner tent on the inside of my pack nice and dry.
To say the Hornet 1 is easy to pitch is an understatement. It can be pitched in a minute needing only the minimal of brainpower to setup. This tent is in other words idiot proof.
Ok, so the Nemo hornet 1 is roomy, light, double walled and relatively cheap. It’s easy to setup, holds up well to most weather conditions and if you don’t use trekking poles is just a damn good solution for most solo hikers in my opinion. Downfalls then? Of course a tent this light means that it’s going to be using much lighter materials that probably won’t hold up to the test of time. My guess is that the Nemo Hornet 1 is good for a few good seasons of relatively easy usage. But, it the wind picks up and really starts to batter the hell out of it, well, all bets are off. I don’t know what the tear strength is of the 15 denier sil-nylon that the Nemo uses, but if I compare it to the other 15 d tents I’ve had, I would say it’s good for a few seasons but not much after that.
Of course, most of us buy and sales tents several times over the course of a season.. so.. there is that.
Nemo doesn’t pay me to write reviews of their tents, I don’t get these products for free from Nemo. Instead I have a very priviledged position in life in that I run and own a Backpacking gear shop here in Europe called Backpackinglight.se. I have the honor of being able to try and test gear before importing and selling. In other words, if the gear is crap, my shop is not going to sell it.
So it’s not unusual I get asked “will this tent fit me, my wife, kid and dog?” – usually with regards to a solo tent. While I certainly give props to the dedication to the ultralight thought process here, my answer is usually “how much do you hate sleeping?”. In this video I go through my own view of sharing a tent with loved ones, hiking buddies and so on.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m not a really big fan of owning a lot of gear. For the most part I try to keep my backpacking life simplistic for many reasons, though for the most part it’s because I want to spend more time in the outdoors knowing exactly what I own and how to use what I own, than spending hours in a gear shop or gear closet.
With that said I also love going on little mini adventures with my son who is soon to be four years old. In these adventures we usually look for trolls living in trees or rocks. (My bedtime stories usually involve a dad and son on a camping trip and a big friendly troll that lives in a tree… a story for another day). In any case these small bedtime stories prime my sons sense of adventure and every time I mention sleeping in a tent he’s racing out to the car with his backpack on. Like father, like son!
Me and Eric bring our kids out for a lovely evening by the lake. Right side of the pic my son and our yellow gear. Left side of the pic Eric, Klara and his Double rainbow and green hammock
But as I stated in the beginning, I don’t like having a lot of gear, and I certainly don’t like carrying a lot of gear. Kids gear to say the least is, shit. It’s heavy, expensive and rather useless. So I choose to build my sons kit around my own needs. For example, I own only two quilts and two sleeping mats. One quilt is a down quilt rated at -6 Celsius and weighs 630 grams, and the other quilt is a synthetic -2 degree bag that weighs 720 grams. I bought the synthetic quilt as a winter complement to my down quilt. This quilt combination brings me down to -20 in the winter. In the summer it’s a great bag for my son.
Is this big rock where the troll lives??
My two sleeping mats are a thermarest xl xTherm and an Xlite small. The xtherm is excellent for my winter adventures and the xlite is a great torso pad that weighs 200 grams for 3 season use. It’s also a perfect kids sleeping pad.
Our entire kit for the night. The duomid, two quilts, sleeping pads and more
The tent I use is the Mountain Laurel Designs duomid with no inner tent and two trekking poles setup in an apex at the top opening up the center completely. A great two man tent that weighs 700 grams with the perimeter netting.
I even bring along a tenkara fly rod and flies to do some fishing with total weighing in at 103 grams. A hammock for him to play in, a DD super light hammock that weighs 270 grams, food, and flashlights to go look for trolls with.
Depending on how where feeling we´ll even bring a MLD Trailstar.. Though it’s less accessible than the Duomid. It’s much larger floor space means no fast in and outs
Everything I need for me and him with extra clothes, food and gear fits in my HMG windrider with room leftover and weighs less that 6-7 kilos for all gear and food for an overnight trip. If we want to be out several nights we just pack more food. Simple as that. No shit gear, no wasted money, just great gear for all seasons and reasons.
Everything fits nice and snug in my HMG windrider. Well, minus my sons toys which he gets to carry in his own backpack.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.