Tag: gear reviews

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Kammok Mantis UL: An ultralight hammock kit

My first impression of the Kommok Mantis Ul when I got it in the mail was “Did they forget something? What is this wizardry” My Hammock of choice over the years has either been the Warbonnet ridgerunner or Henney hammock. Both are fantastic hammock systems that don’t weigh too much, but do take up some volume in my backpack. The Kammok Mantis is considerably smaller than either of the previous mentioned hammocks. The entire Kammok Mantis UL system is about the same size as just ridgerunner or just the Hennessy hammock minus tarp and pegs. Not much larger than a 1 liter Nalgene bottle. Keep in mind the Kammok Mantis UL is a complete system – you don’t have to buy anything else (well underquilt or sleeping mat). Tree huggers, Hammock, tent pegs, mosquito net and all guylines and stuff sacks needed. 

Setup: 

The Kommok mantis has a rather unique solution for it’s tree huggers, I can’t really explain in words, but kind of a ladder system that you feed into itself, rather intuitive and fast to use. Once the tree huggers are wrapped around a tree, you simply hook the hammock into the ladder system using a supplied carabiner, stake out the two hammock spreading guylines and your done with the hammock. The Tarp you simply pull tight the guylines, hook it into itself and use the supplied linelocks to tighten the tarp. Easy peasy. While not as easy to setup as the Hennessy Hammock, it’s not far off and on top of that weighs less that 500 grams that of the Hennesy explorer.

Weight:

On our scales the Kammok Mantis UL weighs just 1029 grams – with everything included in the weight. On top of this, it takes very little space in a backpack. One of hte lightest if not the lightest complete hammock system on the market. Atleast one meant for full sized humans. 

Size:

I am 190cm and 94 kilos. I find the Mantis UL to be a great size, I think I am on the limit though, and perhaps someone a little taller might want to look elsewhere. But certainly for anyone 190cm or under, the Mantis is a great size. I also find the Tarp to be a great size as well. On the Hennessy Hammocks, they often have a asym tarp that barely covers the hammock and just barely useable for anything other than light rain. The Mantis UL tarp is more of a flat tarp that covers the entire hammock and even leaves room over if you want to have a little camp in the rain. 

Overall impression:

It’s hard not to like the Kammok mantis UL. By pure chance I took it into the shop, but found that it’s such a high quality product that it’s going to stay in the shop for years to come. The mantis UL is the lightest complete hammock system in our shop and one of the lightest on the market. There are of course lighter hammocks, but usually a bit small, and weight starts to add up once you add a tarp, bug net, tree huggers, stuff sacks so on and so forth. I am also a huge fan of how easy the hammock is to setup, I’m not much a of knot guy, so I will gladly take linelocks and carabiners any day as it makes the Mantis idiot proof.. .. more or less. 

Plus: 

  • Very light system
  • Intuitive design and functions
  • Very small pack volume
  • Easy to setup
  • Nice size hammock and tarp
  • Full zip bugnet 

Minus: 

Review by Kenneth Shaw

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Soto Windmaster: A long-term review

My thoughts
I have been using the Soto Windmaster almost exclusively for over 2 years. Through Sarek, Padjelantaleden, Kungsleden, Island, Scotland and more. I have never needed a windshield and the Windmaster has never failed me. I have used it with dozens of different pots and pans without fail. Simply put, in my opinion the Soto windmaster is the single best stove on the market for pretty much any boil water and simple cooking needs. It is fast, efficient, lightweight and dependable. Even in high winds it is effecient and fast, rarely losing any of it’s performance. If there is one thing I think is a negative it’s that when I bought my Windmaster the tri-flex was included as well as the 4-flex. However, they have opted to sell those seperately now, which means that if you want the lightest most compact solution – the 3-flex. That must be purchased seperately. With that said, the 4-flex is an excellent, robust pot holder. I just prefer the tri-flex. 

Sizing
I am not too interested in physical diameter and height and so on. Instead I am interested if it fits in a single pot with gas tube. The soto windmaster fits nicely in pretty much all pots 600ml and more (with gas tube). This was always what was so convenient with the Jetboil kits – everything fit nicely in one pot. The difference between this and a jetboil are considerable – the Jetboil is not great in high winds, locked to one pot and in general considerably heavier than the Windmaster.

Weight
With the included 4-flex pot holder, the Windmaster weighs about 80 grams in total. Keep in mind, this is with a pezo lighter and no need for a windshield. So by any standards: Light.

Performance
This is where the Soto windmaster really stands out. For a long-time the Windmaster stood alone on it’s peak as the best performing stove on the market. Now it can be argued that the MSR Pocket rocket DLX shares the title. In anycase, whether it’s cold, windy or sunny: The Windmaster performaces with excellence. To show off to my friends on hiking trips it’s not usual for me to setup and cook my food in hard blowing winds while they all stand hovered around rocks and backpacks trying to cook their own food – only for the windmaster to be faster and more efficient. It really is remarkable. This of course also means that a can of Butane is going to last much longer with the Windmaster than pretty much anything else. 

Conclusion
The Windmaster is my favorite stove. Nothing really compares. There are lighter and smaller stoves – but once you add in the fact that you have to have both a windscreen and lighter, the Windmaster usually wins the weight war as well. The Windmaster is the “Ron Swanson” of stoves. Simple, effective and very high quality. 

Pros

  • Fast and efficient
  • Very good performance in high winds
  • Light
  • Small
  • Reliable

Cons

  • Tri-flex pot holder sold seperately

Review by Kenneth Shaw 17 February 2021

To buy the windmaster in europe check out https://backpackinglight.se/varumarken/soto/soto-windmaster-micro-regulator-stove

Video comparison

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Gear review: Sierra designs High Route FL

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

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

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

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

Size:

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

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

Weight:

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

Usability:

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

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

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

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Conclusion:

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

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

A side note:

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

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

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

If your in Europe this tent can be purchased here:

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

Eller i Sverige här:

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

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Nemo Hornet 1 – A tent review

“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.

 

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Weight

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)

Livability

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

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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.

Extremes

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.

Rain

“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.

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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.

Conclusion

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.

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To buy this tent:

https://backpackinglight.dk/tents/nemo-hornet-1p-ultralight-backpacking-tent

Disclaimer:

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.

 

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Video: Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 4 – Review

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

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

What is the Ultamid 4

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

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

Weight: 

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

Size:

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

actual dimensions are

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

Overall conclusion:

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

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Soto Muka stove review – a video

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

 

What is the Soto muka multifuel stove

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

Weight:

160 g without pump 320 g including pump

Specs:

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

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

A quick rundown: 

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

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

Watch the video for full review!

 

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

 

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

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Cumulus Teneqa 850 winter down bag review – demonstration

 

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

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

What is the Cumulus Teneqa 850:

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

Specs:

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

Size – My view: 

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

 

Warmth and comfort:

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

Overall feeling: 

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

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

Where to buy:

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

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Gear Review: Black Diamond Firstlight tent

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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.

DSC06837

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