Tag: essentials

essentialsGear reviewstrekking poles

Gear review: Fizan compact trekking poles

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a representative from Massdrop on writing a review for one of their upcoming massdrops. For those of you not familiar with massdrop it’s a community or social shopping network that sets up different products for ridiculously cheap prices. For example right now they have an 800 down Enlightened Equipment high quality quilt on sale for 189usd. So the prices are fantastic and the products on offer are often of the highest quality.

Being the kind of guy I am, I have no problems exchanging my time for products and doing a review as long as I can fit it into my schedule. Also it’s not unusual for me to get request to do reviews for products and companies in the USA as a lot of my visitors to this site come from the USA. (Not so strange considering I write in English and come from the USA myself).

With that said, I have known about Fizan as a company for some time as they make trekking poles that are known throughout Europe as a high quality brand. I’m not sure if the products exist in the USA, but in Italy and Europe they have been around since the 1950’s and still being made in Italy.

The timing for Debbie over at Massdrop couldn’t have been better as I was in the market for a new pair of trekking poles as I’m not completely happy with the ones I have. I was in the market for highly adjustable, lightweight, aluminum poles. (I keep breaking my Carbon fiber poles). Feeling I would be more than happy to sacrifice some weight for the added strength of Aluminum.


Anyway, I got my Fizan compact trekking poles in the mail a few days ago and I was immediately surprised by the writing on the poles ”worlds lightest trekking poles 158grams”. I thought – bull… But to be honest they are the lightest adjustable poles on the market which is pretty awesome. (Correct me if I’m wrong here). My current carbon fibre adjustable poles weigh in at 184 grams each. These with the straps and baskets weigh 175grams. Take off the straps and baskets (which I normally do) and were down to 158grams each. Light.

175 grams with the basket and strap on. Hard to find Carbon fiber adjustable poles at this weight.


As I stated I haven’t had a whole lot of time to test these out, I have been out a few nights and walked a total of about 65 kilometers with varying weight on my backpack and with two different tents. (The MLD Duomid and the MLD Trailstar). The poles have held up well (holding the tents up) even in some really heavy wind and rain on one of my nights out.

The Fizan compacts use a three part proprietary interlocking system, that they have been using for years in their compact system without problems. I find no reason to doubt this interlocking system.

To be honest, I have no real issues with the quality here, as I said before, Fizan is a well known brand and I have had their poles once upon a time a few years back, they never let me down. I don’t feel like this will be issue with these poles either.


Looks and feel

I think these poles look good, as good as trekking poles can look that is. They are still old people sticks (joke from my book), but do what they are suppose to do. I have seen much uglier poles. They do however feel fantastic. Weight and balance and even the tiniest of attention to details really stand out. I like the feel of the straps and how small the poles pack down to due to the three part adjustable system.

The color on the Massdrop sale for these pole swill be blue and not the red that is seen in these pictures.


My Fizan compacts are adjustable from 58 centimeters (23 inches) to about 132 centimeters (52 inches) maxed out. In other words perfect from any toddler sized human to about my size 190cm (6’3”).


The Fizan sticks holding up an MLD Duomid + Innertent


Weight with straps and basket: 178grams each

Height: 58cm (23 inches) – 132 centimenters (52 inches)

Material: 7001 Lightweight Aluminum

Locking: Proprietary Flexy internal locking system

Grips: Ergonomic EVA foam grip with rounded plastic top

3 sets of removable baskets: 35, 50, and 95 mm

Suggested price: $59.99

Massdrop start date: Monday, June 5 at 6 a.m. PST.

Address for the massdrop site and sticks:




Lightweight adjustable poles


Extra baskets

Cheap (to be honest, I’m surprised by the price on these.. This is cheap)

Great brand

Made in Italy



Aluminum (You can get lighter with non-adjustable carbon fiber)

The tips on these are wider than standard trekking poles which means the pole extender on the MLD Duomid won’t work. That’s why in the picture above I use PVC piping instead of the carbon fiber pole extender.

Perhaps shouldn’t be used as ski poles…. . .

The Fizan compact poles are an excellent compliment to the MLD Trailstar as they are highly adjustable.


TO read more about these poles check out this excellent, detailed review:



backpackingessentialsGearGoing Lighterultralight

The UL Jacket – Essential gear for any backpacker

I once wrote an article a long time ago about the ultralight wind jacket and how I felt it was the single most important piece of gear for any backpacking regardless of your weight preferences. (Whether you enjoy ultralight or prefer being heavy and miserable.. ) I would like to propose that the second piece of essential gear for any backpacker would be an ultralight down jacket (synthetic works as well but usually heavier for the same warmth). For the last 3 years I have been using a lightweight down jacket that weighs at around 180grams for the XL size. (Haglöfs L.I.M essens down). I find this jacket much like the wind jacket allows me to leave a few extra layers at home. And the down jacket combined with a wind jacket is hard to beat in weight to warmth ratio.


When I talk about ul down jacket I mean any down jacket under 200grams for a large size.

My typical three season layer scheme looks something like this:

Wool or bamboo fiber Shirt 150grams – main layer always on

Windjacket with hood 80grams – Always with me and depending on weather usually always on (in the nordic regions of the world)

Down jacket 188grams – I usually put my down jacket on the minute I stop for the day. It’s very rare that I actually need this while hiking.

Total weight: 418grams or about 1 lbs.

That’s it. That’s my entire upper layering system for most three season hikes. If it’s raining I put my rain jacket on (so fourth layer). And depending on how long I am gone I usually don’t bother with a an extra shirt to sleep in, unless I will be hiking in wet and cold regions. Also, as you can see, I don’t bother with sweaters or thicker shirts or anything else that usually becomes redundant and heavy when you have a light down or synthetic jacket. Most sweaters, wool or otherwise, are going to be heavier than a down jacket and won’t be anywhere near as warm.

This setup will easily keep me warm to down around 30 degrees farenheit. So even on cold nights when the temperature will drop to 20 degrees, I can keep warm and snug at night in my three season gear (quilt, sleeping pad and down jacket).

As with any high quality UL product, lighter usually means more expensive, but there are always exceptions to this rule. However no-matter what, your never going to get into silly money prices that you could end up paying for when purchasing main stream products that weigh much more. If you inclined to do so, there are a few MYOG patterns and kits for synthetic and even down UL jackets. When my current jacket breaks down I will probably replace it with a synthetic jacket. Main reason being that I use this same setup even in the winter with the inclusion of a thick down puffy, which creates more moisture, and that breaks down my inner down. So, a synthetic would fix this problem.

Ultralight Down and Synthetic jackets:
Haglöfs L.I.M Essens down
Western Mountaineering Flash jacket
Yeti streto ultralight down
Crux turbo top
Mountain Hardware ghost whisperer
Mountain hardware Micro Thermostatic (synthetic)
OMM Rotor smock (synthetic)

These are just a few of the ul jackets currently available as of this writing.

If your interested in sewing your own:

The kinsman insulated pullover is the best design I’ve found


enlightened equipmentGearGear reviewsquiltrevelation pro

Enlightened equipment revelation pro Quilt: Gear review

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

GearGear reviews

Review: Globalstar GSP 1700 satphone

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

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

Gear reviews

Gear review: Trail designs Ti-tri Caldera Cone

Finally.. after two years of fairly constant use I think I am ready to give my review on the Trail designs Ti-tri Caldera Cone. I have the fusion Ti-tri that I purchased with all the extra gizmos and gadgets. (inferno insert and floor) suited for my Snowpeak 900ml titanium mug.



I purchased the Ti-tri fusion as I wasn’t 100% satisfied with my Bushbuddy at the time or backcountry boiler. Mainly because of the limits of a pure woodgas stove. When I simply go on a nice little night out then I don’t mind a good woodgas stove, but for other purposes, such as a thru-hike I find their use to be rather limited for fairly obvious reasons.  Anyway, I purchased the Ti-tri as I liked that it gave the option of three fuels, though I never use Esbit so I will say two fuels: Wood and Alcohol.

For me alcohol has been a love love relationship and something that has come and gone. Being from the USA I was raised on the old Coleman camp stoves, the white gas monsters of the Americas. I think we had to have a car pull that thing around it weighed so much. Anyway, I was introduced to the alcohol stove when I moved to Sweden for the first time in 2001 when a girl I was dating at the time bought me a Trangia kitchen set for my birthday. I was so fascinated by this stove, I never knew that alcohol stoves existed let alone were complete with windshield and no noise.

I still have that Trangia kitchen set today, though sadly I haven’t used it for a few years. After a few months with a Svea 123 (which I still own and use for certain occasions) and the Jetboil TI, I eventually made my way back to alcohol stoves and my fascination with alcohol stoves soon turned into a sheer delight  and love for them. I have made a few of my own including the excellent fancy feast version and have had and used many different commercial alcohol stoves as well.


After trying many different stoves over the years I have come to truly love and enjoy my little Ti-tri. It has by far the best windshield of any stove I’ve ever used – just recently on a week long trip through kingstrail in northern sweden I would setup my little Ti-tri out in the open while everyone else I was hiking with would look for rocks, or dig holes or set-up some kind of make shift windshield with their bodies and backpacks. (standard cook gear for most hikers these days is the Jetboil)

It performs to exact standards every time – I know exactly how much alcohol is going to be needed for each boil (20ml for 500ml water) and exactly how much to bring with me on my trips (3 dl for 5 days). The Ti-tri never falters in this manner. It works today as well as it did yesterday, the day before that and the 500 times before that.


The Trail designs alcohol burner. Well used but going strong!


Setup is fairly easy though granted, a bit more of a process than just turning a knob on a Jetboil. As I have the Ti-tri fusion it is a two piece set when in alcohol mode plus burner and two pot holders. The titanium sheets are simply slided into each other and then stacked on top of one another. Once the alcohol burner is lit then it’s just a matter of putting the pot holders in and pot on top.


The wood gas stove is probably closer to a 20 piece project (a bit exaggerated of course – but you get the picture). Because I have the inferno insert which is two extra pieces and a floor the process starts to get a bit more daunting when you just want to have a cup of coffee.


I use my Ti-tri fusion in various different setup and arrangements. From just the cone and alcohol stove only which weighs just 67 grams, to bringing the entire fusion inferno kit so that I can do some wood burning which weighs 114 grams. I can even use just the upper half of the two piece cone as an ultralight windshield for my Fancy feast stove 5 grams, this setup weighs just 30 grams total. All of this fits nice and snug inside my Snow Peak 900ml Titanium mug which weighs 104 grams.


In fancy feast mode – Just the top section of the two piece ti-tri fusion set

On most of my trips I skip the wood burning option and bring only the two piece cone section and burner. Together with my snow peak mug the total weight is 171grams for a complete kitchen set with windshield. I prefer the Trail designs burner over the Fancy feast burner as in my experience I find the trail designs burner burns faster, more stable and more efficient.


In my experience there isn’t a better alcohol stove on the market, in my bias there’s not a better ultralight stove period. As I wrote earlier it’s lighter, burns faster and more efficient than anything else I’ve tried. The simplicity of this stove for alcohol use is incredible, on top of that the windshield is better than anything else being made right now.



While the Trail designs ti-tri fusion is certainly a pain in the ass to put together and setup in wood gas mode, once it’s setup; it works. The Ti-tri with the inferno kit burns easily as well as my Bushbuddy with the added benefit of being able to pile on some pretty big pieces of wood. (Instead of just the dainty little twigs that the bushbuddy requires)

Here the Ti-tri fusion is setup in wood gas – it burns damn hot damn quick. 

Here you can see just how large the opening is, once the pot is on it, it is still quite easy to pile on some pretty big branches and so on to keep the fire hot.

Without the inferno setup, burning twigs just isn’t the same. It’s like hiking in boots: You know something’s not right. It takes a little longer to get the fire started, it takes a bit more effort to keep it going; in the end it still works, just not as fun as the hot hell fire known as the “Inferno”


No idea, I image it works quite well here as well. The secret is in the shape of the cone.

Boiling time

A completely useless metric in the world of backpacking stoves. Your in nature, enjoy yourself. Whether it takes 3.5 minutes or 7 minutes doesn’t really matter does it?


If you love alcohol or wood stoves you will love the Trail designs Ti-tri fusion. If you don’t love alcohol stoves, it’s time to start and this is the perfect tool for the job. With it’s built in windshield, easy to track fuel usage, light weight and extremely versatile usage – there is no reason to look any where else for three season usage.

Watch me do the impossible and compare this stove to my wife: Before I met my wife I didn’t mind trying out new models and changing out one woman for another. Once I met my wife my interest for everyone else disappeared completely, from the very first day (which is why I am now married). This stove had the exact same effect on me – Once I bought this stove, my interest in all other stoves disappeared completely.