Tag: outdoor gear

backpackingblogGearGear reviews

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.

IMG_3946

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.

IMG_3893

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.

IMG_3859

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

IMG_3896

backpackingGear

Day 4: Final impressions and gear Outdoor show Friedrichshafen 2017

I really enjoyed my time at the german trade show, got to meet a lot of nice people and talked with a lot of representatives from many different companies. The show is massive and I’m happy I took the 4 days to really see as much as I could… Even four days wasn’t enough.

I was impressed by the focus on the ecological processes and social responsibility that most companies made a drive towards. We can no longer state that it’s just patagonia thinking about these principals. They may have started the trend, but the others are catching on and pushing it forward. I also don’t think this trend is purely consumer driven, I get the impression that many of these companies are asking the important questions and getting ahead of the trend before the average consumer is there.

IMG_7844

The Haglöfs LIM Bield rain jacket and shorts are in my opinion absolutely brilliant. 165grams for the large jacket and 20000mm water resistance. Taped seams, breathable and stronger material than gore-tex. 

 

IMG_4388

Sea to summit showing off their new Spcialist solo and duo.. The solo weighs 445grams and the duo comes in at just 633grams. (these weighs are minus tent poles and pegs)

IMG_2065The nano puff getting lighter and lighter.

 

IMG_4380

The backside of the much anticipated Osprey Levity 45 and Levity 60. This pack will be available spring 2018 at an estimated price of $240.

IMG_4379The front and side of the Osprey Levity 60

IMG_0360

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

IMG_0761

Ultralight hammock by Sea to summit – 155grams.

IMG_1506Nice looking packs from Haglöfs

IMG_4353

Me being sandwhiched between two of the four Gossamer gear gang. Nice chat and planning for the future. Grant on the left and Glen on the right. Amazing story Gossamer gear, started with Glen sewing his own gear and eventually expanding to meet demands. Inspiring stuff from a great group of guys!

Gearultralightultralight backpacking

Day 3: Outdoor show in Friedrichshafen

IMG_1638

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

 

IMG_4341

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

 

IMG_3022

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

 

IMG_2818
A sherpa frame from Evernew, perfect for the Glampers!

 

IMG_1012

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

 

IMG_6007

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

backpackingcampingGearultralightultralight backpacking

Day 1: Outdoor Show 2017 Friedrichshafen

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

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

R0261079

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 🙂

R0261090

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.

R0261094

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.

R0261100

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.

R0261115

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.