Tag: ultralight backpacking

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Test: Granit Gear Crown2 60l

Marcus Falck, Backpackinglight.se, Juli 2021

At the height of the summer, the long-planned fishing and hiking trip to Hattfjälldal in Norway, on to Kittelfjäll I had with both haspel and fly fishing stuff, wading boots and a lot of different fishing gear.  When I’m going fishing in new waters, I want different rods and baits to test my way through. “What if the fish swims on the surface and only takes night dragonflies and dry, or stands deep and chops on spoon strokes”. I want to be ready for any scenario. Normally I like to wear light but have no problem wearing a little heavier if I must. I was first in the choice between a Sierra design Flex capacitor or Osprey Aether Pro, both with frame, and which I know can handle heavier loads and have comfortable and proven carrying systems.  But since I have already walked with these, the choice fell on a newcomer in the range; Granit Gear Crown2 60 litres.  The total weight of Crown2 in size Long with head, back plate and hip belt is: 1116 grams. Here are my thoughts on it:

Overall impression

The narrower hip belt and shoulder straps are reminiscent of HMG’s backpacks and the different back section with a plastic plate supported by a reddish foam on my back made me curious. Can this seemingly slightly less robust backpack even work for my needs!? Now in retrospect, I don’t regret the choice. Granit Gear Crown2 60  sits very nicely on the back, around the hip and shoulders.  You do not need a wider hip-belt or a more developed aluminum frame to carry up to 15 kg-16kg. This backpack proves it. The roller top opening under the head allows you to compress the gasket and provides a good water repellent function. But the thinner material with 100 D nylon on top and 210 D nylon at the bottom still makes me choose the safe for the unsafe and use a waterproof pack liner in the backpack.

The compression straps on the lid and sides make the backpack versatile and usable for different pack volumes. For shorter day trips from base camp, I was able to scale down my backpack by removing the head (73 grams), lap belt (186 grams), and getting down a bit under the kilo in weight. If you wanted to scale it down even more, you can also remove the back plate, (172 grams) but I chose to keep it. It was warm outside and the hollow back plate with its patterns provided some ventilation.  The larger mesh pocket in the middle I used to store coffee, rubbish and later also to have some lighter fishing gear in. my two rods and their rollers. The deep side pockets combined with the compression straps on the sides worked well to attach the fishing rods to. Note that I only use split rods, not telescopes . Having said that, there must be compression straps in the middle or on the upper part of the backpack because my rods stand out a bit.

The volume then, 60 liters plus 5 liters in the cylinder heads was perfectly ok for a week’s tour. Between the roller top opening and the head, I was also able to store my wading pants and further stretch the pack volume at the height. Instead of classic 2 kg wading shoes, I use a pair of worn foppa slippers of about 250 grams that give a completely ok attachment to stones and sand. They dry quickly and I can even use them as camp slippers. These can easily be attached to the outside of the backpack. On the lap belt there are also 2 pockets of about 0.5 liters each, good for putting small picks in, such as my snuff box.  Finally, there is also the possibility to put a fluid system along the back of the inside, but I did not test this.

On the lap belt, the Granit Gear Crown 60 has a smart adjustable function where you can customize its range. The middle part of the lap belt can be adjusted with Velcro and then easily threaded back behind the tail cushion. I see this as a big plus that you can adapt your lap belt to sit comfortably regardless of hip size. This means that the backpack is suitable for both men and women with different hip ranges. Still, there is a Granit Gear Crown2, custom made for women with more S shaped shoulder straps. You can read more about it  here. The  chest buckle can also be adjusted upside down. I see these adjustable features of The Crown2 as a big plus and something that I wish more backpack manufacturers would follow.

Another feature is that the head can be used as a chest/waist belt. Perfect for those who want access to more equipment, such as a camera or binoculars at your fingertips. You only need two carabiner hooks to attach it to the front of the backpack.

What about the lifting capacity? I tried using the backpack with different volumes and weights in it. Up to 15-16 kg, the backpack does very well, but when you go up to 18-20 kg, the lap belt begins to feel against the hip and the backpack loses its comfortable posture and balance. So would recommend not to carry more than 15 kg in this, i.e. in line with what the manufacturer writes.

Plus: Lightweight, comfortable comfort and balanced backpack up to 15 kg. Granit Gear Crown 2 is a smart backpack that you can adjust the hip belt range, chest buckle position and packing bag volume through smart compression straps and roll top opening. It works well as a hiking/fishing backpack where you can use the top as a Waist/Chest bag, or as many will prefer: slimmed down, completely without a head. The overall rating in general is very good.

Minus: The thin mesh fabric on the back plate feels completely unnecessary. You walk with the feeling that it’s going to break at any moment. Many of Ospreys lighter backpacks have a similar mesh fabric but there is a clearer distance between the bag and the mesh mesh, there is not here. So I just don’t understand the feature of this!?

Buy your Granit Gear Crown2 on Backpackinglight.dk

Other gear in my backpack I would like to put a spotlight on

Sleepling bag: Nordisk Passion Three 560 gram, fantastic warm, light and comfortable sleeping bag! I will use it more!

Sleeping mat: Sea to Summit ether light XT 630 gram, There are lighter sleeping mats, but they’re not as comfortable as this.

Pillow: Klymit Pillow X-large 91 gram, Likes big pillows, this one was really nice but a little too cold! Solved it by threading the sleeping bag over the pillow.

Warm pants: Omm Mountain Raid: 300 gram. Incredibly comfortable, warm and light trousers to wear in the evenings.

Rainjacket: OMM Halo Smock: 95 gram. Used it both against wind, rain and mosquitoes and weighs almost nothing. Great clothes!

Rainskirt Ritsem Regnkjol: 40 gram. Left the rain pants at home and didn’t have to put on and off. Extremely functional!

Kitchen: MSR Pocketrocket with gas: 190 gram. reliable and good kitchen!

Foodpood: Sarek 12 liter. Why haven’t I had a foodpod before? I’m going to use this again!

Mosquitoannorack I don’t know where I bought this but, some gas station I guess. I couldn’t have made this trip without you! thanks!

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My packing list for a week in mountains

I recently went on a week long hiking and fishing trip in Northern Norway and Sweden. Total walking distance about 100 kilometers, and because I would be fly fishing I needed some extra gear with me like Wading pants and wading shoes (Crocs). I also had my dog with me and she slept nicely next to me in my tent on the Sarek 3mm EVA pad and my RAB synthetic jacket as her blanket to keep her warm. I will write more about my trip and the gear I used as well as publish a few videos on Youtube, but for now here is my full list with links to gear as well as quick info about the items I liked the most or surprised me the most.

Total weight:

The Big three:

I opted for comfort here and let me tell you, I never slept so good as I did on this trip, so the extra grams was worth it in the end. The Q-core is great. Very warm and plush, robust for my dog as well. Most comfortable sleeping pad I ever slept on. Highly recommend it for anyone who is looking for better sleep in the mountains. The EE Revelation has been my goto quilt for nearly a decade now, as always it performs as expected. Light, warm and comfortable.

The Osprey Aether Pro 70L – normally I opt for a HMG pack, but I wanted to give this one a try, I stripped off a few grams by getting rid of the toplock and one of the pockets. With the HMG pack I normally get bruised hips as the belt is very thin and I sweat like a pig as the HMG fits a little too tight against my back. I certainly didn’t have any of those problems with the Aether pro 70. Incredibly well fitting backpack and will be my goto pack for heavier loads. I am retiring my beloved HMG windrider 70. The aether is simply in a different class as far as comfort and carrying is concerned.

Sarek gear The Mid. and Inner. We had several different tents with us on this trip, I choose the mid as I love the space and weight of it, and after having used it in some seriously heavy storms, I trust the performance of it in the mountains. On one night in Norway the wind came in heavy gusts at around 17 mp/s – which is very very heavy for summertime winds. One of the tents we had with us snapped and Marcus came and camped out with me and Anna in the Mid. The Mid held it’s own, and other than the noise, I slept fairly well and certainly confident in the tent.

RAB Xenon synthetic jacket – Excellent lightweight synthetic jacket. I have been using this jacket for all my 3 season hikes this year as well as in town. I have nothing bad to say about the Xenon jacket. Simply a great, and great looking jacket at an excellent price. Sarek rain skirt – does exactly what it’s supposed to do at very little weight. Really nice not having to take off my pack everytime I want to put my skirt on.

Full list and links here:

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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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Nordisk Lofoten ULW 2: A review

When I first reviewed Nordisk Lofoten a few years ago at the outdoor show in Munich, I couldn’t understand what it would be good for. Far too small for a tent, I wrote about it then that you might have it as a dog tent. Then I got some requests from customers who wanted to buy it, so I brought it home. Still, I wasn’t so keen to test it myself. Why should I? I don’t hate myself enough for that. I am 190cm tall and 95 kilos large. This tent barely accommodates a dog … or so I thought.

Then I brought home the Nordisk Lofoten ULW2 and tested it. First in the showroom then out in the wild. If I see it as a tent, well, then I think there are tents that are both bigger and better for most uses. But if I think “Bivy sack”, then we’re talking. Basically lighter than any waterproof bivy bag on the market, as well as with good ventilation and relatively good comfort compared to a standard Bivy bag. Beyond that, it is double walled, so you don’t get too much condensation in the tent or on yourself.

After sleeping in the Nordic Lofoten ULW 2 under various circumstances just over 6 nights from rain, sun and even snow, I can say that it is actually quite okay. I can also say that it is quite fun to use. I like the “big” awning, and its small footprint on the ground. One of the first nights I slept in it I couldn’t find a good spot to pitch the tent, it was raining and in the forest there was simply nowhere that a standard tent would fit. Then I found an extremely small area, basically the size of my body. In 5 minutes, the tent was set up, under two trees, near a beaver hole. Fun! No other tent I would be able to pitch in such a place with.

Then another night I woke up in the middle of the night because it was snowing and the whole tent sucked in on me, but shook the tent a few times and fell back asleep

The tent is small, no doubt about it. Both my feet and head Mush the inner tent, it was not easy to get in and out and trying to put on and off clothes in the tent was not so easy. Not to mention sitting in the tent and blowing up my sleeping mat and getting everything in order for bed. Basically things you want to do when it rains. But, I did it. And you can’t do that in a bivy bag. Sleeping in it is actually quite nice – you feel like a little sneaky spy hiding. It has good floor surface and a large pocket where you can have some things in.

Now I’m just talking about what it’s like to have the Nordisk lofoten as a standard tent, I don’t run mountain marathons for which it is really made. As a tent, I think it works well! And it’s something I will use more often when I don’t want to carry hiking poles.

Plus:

– Extremely small pack size. Does not take much room in the backpack
– Light weight
– Double walled bivy
– Good floor surface
– Large awning
– Easy to set up
– Fun to use
– Low condensation
– The best Bivy bag

Negative:

– Extremely small living space
– Not two-man tent
– Can hardly be counted as a tent

Specs

Weight: 500 grams

Material: 7d sil-nylon

Size: tiny

The Nordisk lofoten can be purchased in Europe at Https://www.backpackinglight.se

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My favorite 2-man tents for 2020

  1. Big agnes Copper spur HV ul 2 – There is a reason the Copper Spur hv ul2 is one of the most popular tents in history. This tent is a fantastic balance of weight, stability and living comfort. At just 1220 grams and freestanding, the Copper spur can more or less put up with anything the mountains can throw at it. Granted, my size at 190cm, I would rather pick up the HV UL 3 version instead if I’m sharing the tent. But I can say that with just about any two man tent.

Positives:

  • Fast and easy setup
  • Ultralight two man tent
  • Stable enough for most conditions
  • Great ventilation
  • Love the new awnings
  • Double entry and exits
  • Freestanding

Negatives:

  • Can be small for two people
  • There are lighter solutions – but not many
  • Outer tent and inner are pitched separately
  1. Hilleberg Anaris – A proper two man trekking pole tent from Hilleberg that can withstand anything the mountains throw at it. Fast and easy to pitch, this is a great two man tent for most people not looking for the lightest solution, but a long term solution that will last a lifetime and a great weight for two people at around 1309 grams ex tent pegs. The Anaris is also a very flexible tent which is why it kicks out several other similar solutions that might weigh less. Can be used as a simple tarp, or if you just want to pitch the inner, or half and half. Hilleberg is one of the originators of the trekking pole tent, in fact the design of the Anaris was more or less stolen from a tent they introduced in the early 70’s. Generous sizing and vestibules make the Anaris an excellent purchase.

Positives:

  • Generous sizing – a proper comfortable two man tent
  • Great weight for two man tent
  • Very flexible solution
  • Easy to pitch
  • Can withstand the mountains
  • Will last a lifetime

Negatives:

  • There are lighter solutions
  • When pitched in “shit weather mode” the ends can be a little low
  • Would like to see a single man version of the Anaris
  • I hate the tent pegs. The three star top always cuts my hands when I have to use force
  1. Luxe outdoor sil Hexpeak f6a – Big, light and cheap. A great combination! Granted, outer and inner together make this the heaviest combination of my recommendations. But a Tipi this size normally doesn’t need an inner tent. Pitch it close to the ground and you’re not going to be bothered with bugs. The Hexpeak 6a in a generous sized two man tent that comes complete with inner tent and tent pegs. I have used mine in some seriously bad weather above treeline on a few occasions with zero issues. If you’re looking for a great Tipi solution for two people or one big and a bunch of kids, the Hexpeak might be the perfect tent for you.
Not a pic of the f6 – this is the Hexpeak v8.. Similar but not the same. This is also the winter version with stove jack. I couldn’t find my pics of the V6

Positives:

  • Comes complete with everything that is needed
  • Generous sized two man tent
  • Robust material will hold a long time
  • Great price

Negatives:

  • Heavy compared to the other tents on my list (if bringing inner tent)
  • Massive footprint. You need to find a camp spot big enough
  • Needs to be seam sealed
  1. Tarptent Stratospire 2 – A massive two man tent that can withstand anything, more or less. If you want lots of room, the stratospire 2 is hard to beat. Many of the reasons I loved the Stratospire 1 apply for the Stratospire 2. My only complaint? Its really big. This size has a cost when trying to find a good flat surface to pitch your tent on.
The Tarptent Stratospire Li – DCF dyneema tent. Weighs just 750 grams with tent pegs

Positives:

  • Big and light
  • Stabile in most three season weather
  • Massive vestibules

Negatives:

  • Requires a lot of space to pitch
  • Needs to be seam sealed

Alternatively you can get the Stratospires LI DCF version of the Stratospire at just 750 grams!

  1. Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 2 – 471 gram alpine tent. I have used the Ultamid 2 and it’s bigger brother the Ultamid 4 year round above treeline. To say the Ultamid 2 is a competent tent in any conditions is an understatement. From being snowed in late April, to sunny hikes in Sarek the Ultamid 2 has never let me down. Now that 471g is the weight of the outer only, so if you need an inner add another 500 grams or so. The Ultamid 2 also makes for a great solo tent. If you are looking for the perfect solo tent that even works as an excellent 2 man tent, look no further than the Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 2.

Positives:

  • Ultralight 
  • True all season tent
  • Big
  • Takes little room in pack
  • Fast and easy to setup
  • Easy to repair

Negatives:

  • Inner tent isn’t included in sale price
  • Single walled tents = Condensation is more obvious
  • Tent pegs and Trekking pole extender not included

Bonus Tent:

The Vargo No-Fly 2 man tent – I couldn’t possibly leave the Vargo No-fly out here, so I am cheating on my own list. Anyway, the no-fly 2 probably has the biggest living area of any of the aforementioned tents as the sides are steep, so you don’t lose any length or width because of hard sloping sides like you get in a pyramid tent. The No-fly is also for the most part freestanding, and I have pitched it on tiny broken sidewalks on the edge of a river with no pegs. Two big vestibules, extremely easy to pitch, great ventilation and a lightweight at just 1195 grams. Did I mention everything you need is included in the package? Seam sealed, tent pegs and carbon fiber tent poles. Excellent creation from the Vargo team.

Positives:

  • Fast and easy to pitch
  • Freestanding
  • Great ventilation
  • Complete tent
  • Lightweight

Negatives:

  • I would have liked to see a bigger side opening with the vestibules. Demands a bit of trickery to open up completely on sunny days
  • Included is 4 vargo ti pegs, I think 6 would have been better as it requires 6-8 if you want it completely pitched. 

Runner up: Zpacks duplex,

Zpacks Duplex: I felt a lot of internal pressure to include the Zpacks Duplex here. But for me personally the tent doesn’t work. My head and feet push hard on the outer tent, meaning I get wet. Wind blows through it, so on top of being wet I also get cold. The tent also loves condensation, so morning rain showers are common. However, if I were to hike warmer climates, summertime, then I would definitely look hard at bringing the zpacks Duplex with me. However for me, in the swedish mountains in most of the conditions I find myself in, the Duplex simply is a no go.

These tents can be purchased in Sweden at https://www.backpackinglight.se

In Europe at: https://www.backpackinglight.dk

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Solo tents for tall hikers..

The disadvantages of being tall….
Let me paint a picture.. granted with my limited grasp of vocabulary, it might not be a very clear picture.. but a picture nonetheless.. I am by most rights, rather tall – 190cm (6´3”) to be exact. Most tent designers are about 160cm (3’4”) and think a tight fit is just fine for them. (For somebody 160cm short). There are countless examples of this, so I don’t feel I need to list all the guilty tent producers here, I will instead highlight the few tents where the designers actually remembered there are tall people roaming this earth as well. Short people have many advantages within the outdoor world – Tents are smaller and lighter, backpacks that might fit a big persons shoe, can fit all their miniature gear.

Hence in most cases it’s rather impossible for a tall person to have an UL standard that small people would have. Which is also why I think harddrawn lines on what UL is just doesn’t work. I.e 2kg for UL baseweight – utterly ridiculous and simply not possible for anybody that is taller than 160cm and hikes further than their backyard. I still think the best overall measurement for lightweight is 3 for 3. Which simply means your biggest three items at a maximum weight of 3kg. Your sleep system – sleeping bag and pad. Tent/shelter system and backpack and all under 3kg. 

This simple measurement will probably work wonders for most people. Now, back onto my headline here – tents for tall people. I am somebody who has grown accustomed to having my feet and head smush against the innertent on most double walled tents, I don’t mind it much, and in some cases it’s rather nice. The problem of course is when I mush so much that I mush the innertent into the outer tent and everything gets drenched in condensation. This on the other hand, is not very nice. So I will list a few of the tents designed for and by tall people. 

Keep in mind this is just tents I can think of off the top of my head that I have tested. There are probably other tents that should make the list – but this is a good start

I hope this helps all of my taller friends out there! 
Lightheart gear Solong 6. 
This tent is probably the single biggest solo tent available. Designed for users up to 197cm – even for me this tent seems like a palace. At 900 grams it’s rather light as well, and it’s got a pretty cool Awning feature (if you order within the next 4 days – I will include the Awning pole for free 390kr value). Long, wide and tall the Lightheart gear solong is the premier big person tent and takes tops spot here
Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 2.
The Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 2 is a good sized tent, of course a little unfair it’s on this list because it’s a two man tent. However, with a half insert, you can call it a very, very big solo tent. With that said, with an insert in, you will probably find your head or feet touching the inner tent if your over 190cm. Again, not an issue as long as your not musing the outer. But important to know. The ultamid 2 is by far the single best year round/ four season tent on this list and the lightest to boot. (500grams for the outer and 450 for half insert)
Luxe outdoor lightwave. 
Big and cheap, but also on the heavier side for a solo tent. This is a proper double walled tent that can be used year round. Big and sturdy – but weighs in about around 1.7kg. 
Luxe outdoor Mini XL
Massive tent. This is good for users up to 195cm who just need a ridiculous amount of space to spread out in. Perhaps you have a herd of sheep that you wish to keep sheltered with you? Who knows – in any case this is an excellent winter tent as it big and has a stove jack – allowing for a proper wood stove to be used inside the tent. Did I mention this tent is a steal at 200Euros?

Gossamer gear the one.
A light, single walled, big man tent. 697 grams seam sealed and ready to go. This is great for users up to 194cm and probably you could get away with being a little taller. Granted, the 7Denier silnylon used to build this tent means that you probably wouldn’t want to take it up above tree line. It will work, and with the extra tie outs and so on it’s not a bad option – but of all the tents it’s the one I would trust the least when it comes to durability. 
Tarptent Stratospire 1.
Big, roomy, double walled and light. The Tarptent stratospire 1 is a proper mountain tent, built for maximum sturdiness, durability, comfort and lightness. Great for users up to 194cm. I can’t give enough praise for the Stratospire 1. If I have to say anything negative it’s that it can be a pain to setup in the beginning, and it has a massive footprint. 
Vargo No-Fly 2p Tent.
The vargo is new to my list, but boy is this a special tent. Carbon fiber poles, freestanding, proper two-man tent the No-Fly is a big, light tent at 1,2kg. While the copper spur 2 is a proper 1p tent for a big person, the Vargo is a proper 2p Tent that would even work for two big people. Fast and easy to setup and sturdy enough for three season use above tree line. 
Hilleberg Enan.

Tight squeeze, but I like it:

I use and love my Enan. I like that I can squeeze my pillow into the end the innertent will hold it in place all night without my head or feet touching the ends. I like the tiny footprint, the gorgeous and happy inducing yellow innertent, easy and fast setup, the fact I don’t have to bring trekking poles and because I use the Kerlon 600 version, my entire kit with pegs and pole weighs just around 1kg. (We still have a couple of Kerlon 600 in stock). On top of this, it is a proper 3 season mountain tent. Users up to 194cm should find this to be a perfectly fine tent. Though don’t expect maximum comfort and it’s not something you want to be stuck in long periods of time. 
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Zpacks Plexamid – an overview

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.

First impression:

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.

Sitting straight up and down on a sleeping pad with plenty of room to spare. For reference, I am 190cm tall and 90kilos

Conclusion:

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.

backpackingblogcampingGoing Lighter

A lighter kind of philosophy

As I came up over the ridge I couldn’t help but feel that maybe, just maybe, ultralight is not always the perfect solution for every backpacking trip. I stood there, wet, tired and miserable. I had just hiked 15 kilometers on a cold rainy afternoon along the Laugavegur trail in Southern Iceland. The trail stretches roughly 75 kilometers from the north in Landmannalaugar down to the south in Skogar. I made my journey in mid June a week after the trail had just been opened for the season. Snow was still prevalent along this part of the trail from Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker. I flew in from Stockholm to Reykjavik and arrived around 9 in the morning. From there it was about a 4 hour bus drive along thin gravel roads, streams and an endless view of mountains and volcanic ash.

After 12 hours of traveling I just wanted to move, I needed to get out and walk and even though I arrived at Landmannalaugar at 4 in the evening, I made the decision to just walk. I couldn’t be bothered by the massive rainfall or the awesome hot springs. I pulled out my rain jacket, adjusted my backpack and made my way.

I arrived at that ridge after about 4 hours of hiking in wet, cold snow feeling like shit. Sure the first hour was a blast, but the rest, not so much. I just wanted to get somewhere warm and pitch my tarp for the night. When I reached that ridge overlooking the campsite the only thought that came to mind was “fuck”. My shitty day is turning out to be only worse, what I wouldn’t give for a 4 season, two layer tent, a thick winter sleeping mat and bag. Perhaps even a warm bed and shower. I looked over at the cabin walked in and requested a bed for the night. Of course I wasn’t alone here, all the beds were taken. I resigned and accepted the fact that tarp it would be.

When I stood there looking over the campsite, dread creeping in on the knowledge that I would now have to walk from the warm cabin down to the campsite about 100 meters away, cold and wet, walking in knee high snow in my mesh trail runners, knowing all too well that my night was about to be much worse than my day. I was unprepared for a winter hike, the thought that I would be hiking in knee high snow in the middle of June simply didn’t occur to me. While I tend to plan well, and pack warm. A tarp, trail runners and a torso pad with a summer quilt are not always the best choices for a winter hike. To make matters worse the campsite was placed at the bottom of a deep valley with no trees or wind shields in place. The wind was screaming down the snowy mountain side.

After a while I was finally able to set up my tarp in the volcanic ash, placed out my torso pad on my plastic trash bag ground floor and in the end, I was longing for that warm bed. The feeling of dread overtook me later on when I was really warm in my bag and had to get out, walk that 100 meters with frozen shoes on because I had to take a raging piss.

The moment of change

It was in that moment lying in my warm sleeping bag, knowing I would have to get up, get clothed and put those freezing cold shoes on and hike 100 meters in that snow in the middle of the night just to take a piss, that my love for ultralight backpacking and hiking altogether started to dwindle. This is how backpacking works, it tests us mentally and physically on all levels. This first days are always the worst. 

When I crawled back into my sleeping bag, wet and miserable I started to re-think how I would like to tackle these situations in the future. I started to wonder if the entire trail would be like this or if it’s just here, at the northern end of the trail. In any case I started to write down what changes I wanted to make to my gear. What worked what didn’t and so on. I wanted to find a good compromise of weight and comfort as well as usability in all situations. I found that while my general backpacking weight is very light, a base weight on this trip of about 2.5 kilos (5.5lbs), it was lacking in overall comfort and safety for surprise conditions. When I started to write everything down I found that I made certain compromises that were simply not necessary: I could easily hold the same weight with more comfort and safety without crossing the threshold to “stupid light”.

Some of the bigger changes I had to make was to my torso pad and sleeping mat (I carry both a blow up wide torso pad and an evazote sleeping mat) these together weighed about 500 grams. I also had to re-think my trailrunners. Not necessarily changing from trails runners to boots, more changing to a different form of trail runners.

Why not boots? Well, to be honest that first day I was longing for a pair of nice warm boots, longing for the comfort and warmth boots can obtain in cold, wet climates. Then I made my way into that first hut at Hrafntinnusker and saw that everybody’s shoes and feet were wet and cold. The only difference is that my shoes would be dry in the morning while everybody else will have to put hot warm feet into wet cold boots that would stay wet and cold the entire trip. On top of that I really like when my feet get hot in trail runners that I just plow through some cold water and voila! Cooled down and ready to go. What I wanted to change in my shoes was the sturdiness, I was sick and tired of stubbing my toe along the trail and it hurting like hell afterwards because my trail runners are the equivalent of walking barefoot as far as how much protection they give.

I was also looking at perhaps changing my tarp to a more traditional tent – heavier of course than what I have, but still keep me within my 3 for 3 goal, the 3 for 3 I talk about extensively in my book Ultralight and comfortable. It’s basically your biggest three items under 3 kilos. (Tent, sleep system and backpack)

I also started to re-think just what my goals where, the truth is, backpacking is not a black and white equation. I can’t give you all the answers and what will work for you specifically. I am constantly trying out new variations along new trails. I personally don’t like hikes longer than 14 days, you might like month long trails. More power to you. I also at this moment in my life have zero ambition to climb mount Everest or hike the entirety of the Appalachian trail.

In the end

My gear choices worked very well, but what had me thinking was that I had left very little margin for error. As I stated earlier, I am quite good at planning my trips, and forseable problems that might occur. I had even understood that there would be snow along the northern section of the trail. But for some reason it seemed to have slipped my planning. It turned out that the rest of the trail was more what I planned for, and I had a great time.

I did start to re-think my packing though, and it’s quite easy to go stupid light, and it’s something I still do from time to time and it’s usually in conjunction with arrogance. Sometimes I just take certain situations for granted because I am too comfortable with my own experience and skill. While it’s good to have knowledge and skill, it’s no crutch for making stupid decisions.

A thought

With that said, I want to propose a different approach to the ultralight movement, or at least my own movement of the Ultralight and comfortable variation. Just as the heavy miserable community or traditional backpacking community obsesses about “ruggedness, survivor, name brand” and so on. The ultralight community has a tendency to go overboard on the “ultralight, superlight, grams, ounces”. We spend so much time obsessing about weight, that somewhere along the lines we have to lift our eyes a bit and realize that different hikers have different goals. I would also like to suggest that lighter is not always more comfortable. Sometimes a backpack that weighs 1.3 kilo with a sturdy frame, hip belt and good carrying capacity is a much better choice than the 300 gram Ikea bag sewn into a backpack – for any purpose.

So we have to find a good medium, maybe we still have to obsess about the weight, but we have to take into consideration comfort, distance of hike and of course the goals of the hiker. When I made that trip in Iceland I couldn’t help but stare at everybody and think “those poor bastards, they simply have no clue”. I can only assume that everybody looked at me at thought “wow, that guy is simply amazing with his ultralight gear.. Looks like he is flying over the terrain”.

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TGO Challenge 2018 part 1 video and pics

Scotland, what a beautiful nation and what an incredible hike Scotland has to offer. Truly incredible experience and one I thoroughly enjoyed. The TGO Challenge is a hiking adventure that is organized once a year since 1980. You have a few different starting points, and a few ending, and you make your own route through the country. Our route started in Lochailort and ended at Dunnottar castle of the coast of Stonehaven – A total hike of about 340km with some of the detours and other site we sent of towards. We did this is 12 days of hiking.

you can either read all of this, or just click on the video and watch all of it..

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The full route as seen on Viewranger

I flew into Edinburgh, took the direct bus to Glasgow, in Glasgow I sent two packages to myself at the post office that is located right outside the bus stop. I had my resuplies sent to the Inverlochy villas in Fort william where I was staying for the night and Braemar youth hostel. This cost about 3pounds per package.

From Glasgow I met up with Niels blok who has ultralightpedestrian.com, and we took the train up to Lochailort where we arrived at around 23.00 in the evening. Tired, and no place to sleep we pitched the Ultamid 2 in the parking lot right outside the train station. This worked just fine as we arrived on the last train, and the first train wouldn’t start until around 7.30 in the morning.. plenty of time to get sleep.

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We woke up, packed our shit and after a nice long and healthy fight with the Lochailort inn employees, we were able to get breakfast and check in for the TGO Challenge. Though we were one step away from having to grovel on our hands and knees to get that damn breakfast.

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From there we made our way into the mountains via the Prince charlies cave, which we didn’t see, along the Loch beoraid where we stopped and ate breakfast at or around the Kinlochbeoraid bothy

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From there we pushed through the Gleann Donn, a wild trail, or rather no trail, just bogs and rocks to climb up a ravine and down into Glen Finnan where all ambition to climb another ravine was lost and we set up camp at the bothy there.

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After a nice evening at the camp we decided that the ravine wasn’t for us, so we made a detour around the ravine as you can see in the pic below.

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That worked out just fine for us and we continued on our journey.

IMG_2876.jpgDay two started with that detour taking us around Beinn an Tuim, though, next time I will probably opt to climb up and over as I don’t care for road walking too much either.

Once we caught up with our route we then made our way along the Leann Fionnlighe which was rather spectacular at times, felt like we were heading into true scandinavien mountains. Large rolling hills, wet bogs, bugs and some waterfalls along the way.

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After what turned out to be the worst campsite of the trail, a small little tick infested hell by the water (though the water and view was nice).. We trekked our way into Fort william, ate a burger, drank a beer and changed out my Ultamid 2 for a Terra nova laser 1 competition. Several reasons for that really, 1. I wanted to try a new tent that I had plans on importing and selling 2. I wanted a tent with a smaller footprint and 3. I wanted a little better protection from ticks. My hiking mate Niels had been talking about his horrific experience with Lime disease, and just the whole, spending a week in a hospital nearly dead stuff kind of scared me into submission.. inner tent it would be then.

 

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Gear review: Gossamer Gear The One tent

This is not a review of the old Spinnaker cloth The one, rather of the new silnylon The one. And more recently the 2017 version (if there is a difference between 2016 and 2017 I don’t know). Anyway, the One has been a classic ultralight solo tent, and one that has been used and abused by many backpackers over the years until the Spinnaker cloth version of the tent was cut. Mainly from what I understand because Spinnaker cloth itself was no longer being produced. In anycase, not very interesting but gives me something to fill up my word count with.

Now, 2017 I brought in The One to Backpackinglight.dk webshop to sell, and like everything else if I can’t stand behind a product, I don’t bother selling them. So, I have been testing the One quite rigorously now for the last 5 months and this review will be a rundown of what I think about the One, it’s goods, bads and quirks.

Video Review: 

What is the One: 

The One is an ultralight, fully enclosed, complete single wall tent. Meaning, it has a floor, walls, bugnetting and everything else you need to be considered a tent. The one is easily setup with two trekking poles, or tent poles.

Weight:

On my scales the One complete with stuff sack, guy lines and seam sealed weighs just 618grams. Add 6 tent pegs and your upp to about 700grams.

Setup: 

Stake the four corners, stick in trekking poles, stake out the trekking pole guy lines and your done.. stretch and tighten accordingly. Takes a few setups but you’ll be an expert in no time!

Useage: 

Well, anywhere really. But should probably avoid winter camping and highly exposed and wet campsites. The silnylon and low 1200mm waterproofing means that it’s not a tent for week long trips in heavy wind and rainy mountain trips. For everything else it works great.

The Good:

  1. the one like most silnylon tents packs up nice and small – I know this doesn’t seem like it should matter, but the amount of volume a cuben tent can take up in a backpack is crazy. Silnylon on the other hand has about half the pack volume of a caparable cuben fiber tent.
  2. Big – unlike most ultralight solo tents, the One is fairly large and I feel that even for me at 190cm or 6’3″ The One is roomy. Definitely enough room to situp in and move around.
  3. Lightweight – at 618grams the One is hard to beat for size and comfort
  4. The One is a complete shelter – I don’t need to think about bug nets, bathtub floors, seam sealing or add-ons in general.
  5. Nice pockets on inside of tent
  6. Easy setup – takes about a minute to setup once you know what your doing
  7. I love tents that can open up large – the One offers a massive screen view when in the vestibule is rolled up. One of my favorite aspects of this tent.

The Bad:

  1. the 15D silnylon seems like it would rip quite easy. Though, I have not had this problem, and it’s more of a feeling than an actual gripe
  2. Silnylon – silnylon has it’s pluses and minuses. A minus is that it stretches – which means you have to tighten down the tent from time to time, and more so when wet.
  3. Tent peg intensive. Requires 6 pegs to setup. I don’t like having to use 6 pegs for setup. I like 2-4 for setup and 2-4 for strengthening.
  4. Because of the very thin silnylon floor, you really have to check where you put your tent – the nylon if placed on wet ground, will seep in water (bad grammar here) in anycase, if the ground is wet, the inside of your tent will get wet when applying pressure.

Improvements:

I really don’t see too much in the way of improvements, but I would like to see a tie out point in the middle of the tent side. Much like a Lunar solo with would give me the option of tieing out the side to give me more head/feet space, better wind protection and better overall stability.

A small zipper opening on non-vestibule side. This way I can extend the trekking pole from the inside when the material starts to stretch, or just place small odds and ends that I don’t necessarily need with me in my tent or under the vestibule

Conclusion: 

The One in my opinion is a great, relatively cheap ultralight selection for most people doing thru-hikes on something like the PCT or Appalachian trail, forest trails and so on. I don’t know if I would be comfortable using the One on a wide open site, valley and so on. I also setup my tents in the least exposed areas possible, and I certainly wouldn’t make an exception for the Gossamer gear One.

I don’t mention condensation in my review because I don’t really see much of a difference between this or any other tent. Camp selection, ventilation and outside temperatures are always the biggest determining factors when it comes to condensation. The One has great ventilation so in theory condensation shouldn’t be a problem – or atleast not more of a problem than any other option.

Where to buy:

If you live in Europe than in my own opinion Backpackinglight.dk is the best shop – in Sweden backpackinglight.se