River paddling and canoe camping

Since I first bought an old used canoe last fall I instantly got hooked on canoe camping. I wanted to get a better, lighter canoe, more suitable for solo use as well as for tandem use. So I’ve been saving up for a new canoe, and had several different ones in mind. Eventually I ended up with a Mad River Explorer 14TT. It’s not the lightest, but it had a good mix of weight, price, durability and low maintenance.

I received it a couple of weeks ago, and instantly wanted to try it out. Despite being winter in Sweden, the temps had been pending around freezing, and I was hoping to be able to do some lake paddling. But when I finally got out on the weekend the lakes where frozen over. I thought about canceling the trip, and go on a short hiking trip instead. But I saw that the flowing waters where still open, and decided to drive to Korrö, south of Växjö, and see if I could do some river paddling in Ronnebyån.

When I got to Korrö I unloaded the canoe from the car, and packed it with my backpack and a sack of firewood. There were quite a lot of people dressed for a party at Korrö. They might have looked at me a little strange. It’s not that common for people to go canoe camping in the middle of winter.

The water levels had risen a lot, and the river had flooded much of the surrounding areas. I put in the canoe in a flooded field, that looked like a small lake. A thin layer of ice covered the water closest to the beach.

I paddled the canoe reverse, sitting in the front seat. The pitch black water was still in the flooded field, but started to flow as soon as I reached where the river was originally. The river went under a road and then continued with fields and forests around it.

It was hard to see where the river was at times. Much of the area was flooded, and I accidentally paddled both through fields, meadows and forests. I had to turn around several times, where I had missed that the river had turned, and just kept paddling straight.

At times, brushes and fallen trees made the passage so narrow that I had to duck or drag the branches to go forward. At the end it felt like I had half the forest in my canoe, in form of broken branches.

I passed over a few fallen logs, and I was a bit worried that my canoe might tip over. But as I passed them, the logs sank down instead. Once in a while my presence scared off birds swimming in the river.

My goal for the day was a camp site about three km south of Korrö. I had been there before, when I hiked Utvandrarleden 2014. It wasn’t a long paddle, but since this was my first river paddling, and I’m still new to solo paddling, I wasn’t sure how well I would be able to paddle the river back upstream.

When I got to the campsite it had been flooded too. 2-3 dm of water covered almost the entire area. There’s a large roofed area covered with tables and benches, that was above water level, but there wasn’t enough room to set up a tent. The grounds around that area was also covered in a layer of ice, with air underneath, from when the water levels where even higher.

My heart sank a bit. I hadn’t found any other suitable camp ground earlier, and I didn’t want to paddle too far down stream before I knew that I was capable of paddling back home again, against the current. I took a break at the camp ground, made lunch and reviewed my options. Eventually I decided to turn back towards the car. I was mentally prepared to call it quits and go back home, but I would still look for somewhere where I might set up my tent during my way back.

Getting away from the camp ground took some effort. The river was pretty fast flowing here, and I had to paddle like crazy to get far enough upstream for it to calm down. After a while I found a good flow in my paddling, and was able to paddle upstream at a steady, albeit slow, pace.

I paddled through the forest and looked for places to camp several times. Every time the grounds where uneven and covered in a layer of ice from previous floods.

Eventually, when I was about 1km from Korrö, I found a narrow stretch of flat, somewhat dry ground. With the flooded fields around it, the place had become an island.

The grounds where still pretty soaked, but it was the best place I could find. I set up my tent and fixed my sleeping gear. I had brought the cheap AliEpress floor, and I’m glad I did. With the grounds being so wet, the floor could stop at least some of the condensation.

When my home away from home was all set up, I started to prepare the fire. I had brought firewood with me, and chopped a couple of pieces to use as a floor to place the rest of the firewood on. Lighting the fire was easy, as I cheated and used a Vaseline drenched piece of cotton. No bushcraft style elite fire starting here.

For this trip I had prepared a piece of meat, potatoes, carrots, red onions and butter that I copped in medium size pieces, wrapped in tin foil and put in the fire, once I had some glowing coals. I turned the package regularly and let it head for about half an hour. It tasted great, and I had a cold beer with it.

I like the ultralight principles of hiking, even though I’m far from a hardcore ultra lighter, and my base weight keeps pending. I like to keep my weight and bulk down and not bring unnecessary stuff even when canoe camping, but I do like he ability to bring more luxurious food and drinks without having to suffer from the weight penalty of having to carry it.

I laid by the fire for quite a long time before I went to bed. The sleeping bag was cozy, and I laid there, watching Netflix offline. I had downloaded a few different movies and series, but I lost interest in all of them after a few minutes. Eventually I watched “Under the arctic sun”, to feed my need for adventure.

I slept pretty good the entire night. But I do toss and turn a lot. Now that I’ve been able to get the three season quilt to work without drafts I’ve been thinking about switching out my winter sleeping bag for a similar quilt instead. But people seem to recommend mummy bags during winter, even in the UL community, so I might stay with the bag.

The next morning it took all my mental strength to be able to open up my sleeping bag and get out into the could wet world outside. With that much air humidity and wet ground, the inside of the tent was covered with condensation, despite that the top vents and the door had been partially open all night. I hadn’t expected anything else it those conditions though.

I made a small fire for making breakfast, made coffee, fried a couple of eggs and grilled a pita bread.

After breakfast I packed up camp. The sleeping bag was quite wet since it had touched the inside of the tent.

I packed up the canoe again and started to paddle the last stretch back to the car. I took a shortcut and paddled across a flooded field. I felt like a swamp man as I stood up in the canoe and used the paddle as a stake to pull myself forward in the shallow waters.

I got back to the car, packed up and left for home at around noon. It turned out to be a nice trip after all, and I like my new canoe. It’s large enough for me to be able to do canoe camping trips with friends or family members but still light and small enough to be able to handle it alone. It’s also relatively cheap. I’d like to have a beautiful cedar strip canoe from Esker Wood, or a lightweight kevlar canoe from Swift Canoe. But for now this is the prefect middle ground that suits my need.

I’ll keep doing canoe trips like these, and when the weather gets warmer I’ll bring my youngest daughter with me too.

See you on the trail, or in the waters!

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Exped Lightning 60 – review

I bought the Exped Lightning 60 in October 2015, and it was my first lightweight backpack. I bought it as a replacement for my previous backpack, a traditional pack that weighted around 3kg.

Exped Lightning

This pack is made from a 210D ripstop nylon with a 1500mm water column. It’s not considered to be waterproof, but water repellent. The seams aren’t sealed either, so you need waterproof stuff sacks or a waterproof liner, like a track bag. You could also use Mcnetts seam grip to seal the seams.

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The pack turned inside out for seam sealing

The Exped Lightning is a clean backpack without many bells and whistles. It has a large main compartment, with a small mesh pocket inside. On the opposite side of the mesh pocket there’s a pocket with solid fabric that can be accessed from the outside, through a waterproof zipper. There are also two hip belt pockets and two mesh water bottle pockets on the sides. That’s it. Exped also offers an optional shove-it bag that can be strapped in the outside of the pack. It’s got one mesh side and one solid side, and is attached to the pack through four bungee cords with hooks. I use this for rain gear, toiletries and other stuff that I like to have easily accessible. I like the simplicity of the design, and I wouldn’t want or need more pockets than this.

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Compression straps, adjustable load lifters, and the optional Flash pack pocket.

The pack has a roll top opening, which means you open and close it like a regular water proof stuff sack. Compression straps goes zig zag from both sides of the pack to a strap in the middle. This, and the roll top closure, makes it really easy to expand or compress the size depending on your pack volume. The straps are also long enough to be able to be used for strapping larger gear on the outside of the pack, like snow shoes or a shovel etc.

This is a framed pack, and it uses what’s called a T-Rex suspension system. It has one aluminum stay in the middle. The shoulder pads are attached to the stay, and you can adjust the back length with sliding it up and down if you open up the lumbar pad.

The pack weighs 1170g, which should only deter the most hardcore ultra lighters. The design of it though makes it able to haul loads comfortably up to 24 kg. The size, the ability to strap large bulky gear on the outside, and the capacity to carry heavy loads makes it suitable for longer unsupported trips, and trips that require special bulky gear.

It comes in two sizes, 45l and 60l. I’d recommend buying the 60l, since it gives you the possibility to pack more if you’d need it, but you could still easily compress the pack when you pack less.

I’ve had this pack since late 2015, and used it on a number of trips, both long and short. This is my favorite pack, and it is the most comfortable pack I’ve used. It’s durable, lightweight and has great capacity. I highly recommend it.

Tresticklan – first trip of 2018

For a few years now I’ve had a tradition to go on a hiking-/ camping trip the first week of the year.

This time I had planned to do a two-night trip, and I really wanted to go to Tresticklan National Park as I really like the place, and hadn’t been there since May 2016.

Tresticklan is a ~29km2 National Park in Dalsland, just at the border of Norway. Together with Lundsneset nature reserve on the Norwegian side you have 55km2 of protected lands. The area consists of rift valleys, with vast pine forests, small lakes and ponds and bogs.

I have been in Tresticklan and Lundsneset two times before, and if you like solitude this is the place for you. It’s far away from any larger towns. The closest town is Ed, 15 km south of Tresticklan, with just under 3000 inhabitants. Apart from the occasional airplane passing by, you don’t hear any man made sounds. Being far away from towns also means that there aren’t that many visitors, at least in my experience.

I had taken a few days off from work, left the youngest kids at my parents and in laws so that my wife wouldn’t be left alone with the young tornadoes but also get some lone time, and left home early on Thursday morning.

The weather changed between rain, sleet and snow, and it was a 6 hour drive to get there. I can’t say I enjoy having to drive so far alone, and I can’t wait for self driving cars to be common (and affordable).

I got up to Tresticklan around 14.00. There was a small uphill from the main road to the road leading to the parking lot. The uphill was covered in ice, and my car slid down on the main road again. But with enough gas, and having the left wheels a bit in the ditch, I could get enough grip to get up the hill. The road wasn’t plowed though, and I almost ended up in the ditch a couple of times, even though I drove carefully.

When I came to the parking lot my car was the only one there. It was cloudy and snowing, and there was quite a lot of snow on the ground. The temperature was just below freezing, so the snow was quite wet. I put on my rain gear before I left the parking lot.

I knew from my earlier trips that it’s hard to find campsites for tents here. The rift valleys makes it hard to find level ground, and when you do, the ground is often to shallow to peg a tent, with rocks just underneith.

I hiked the trail west towards Lundsneset, and then turned south on western end of the circle trail in the middle of the park. I had camped here during my last trip, but I couldn’t find the location in the snow. I lost track of the trail several times, since it was covered in snow, and wet snow had stuck to the trees, covering the trail markings.

It was getting dark fast, and eventually I felt that I couldn’t keep hiking any longer, and had to set up camp somewhere. I left the trail and hiked straight up a hill, and found what looked like a somewhat flat place, with lots of undergrowth. I tried to compress the snow and the undergrowth to make it somewhat level, and set up the tent. It wasn’t level by any means. I had to put my sleeping pad in the wrong (shorter) direction in the tent, and stow my backpack and clothes under one side of the sleeping pad to make it level enough not to roll off it.

There was a heavy snow fall with wet snow, and I started to make dinner. I’ve seen one of the people I follow on Instagram bring premade rice porridge on her trips, and I had to try it, and brought it with me this time. I was a bit tired since I had barely slept the night before, and made just rice porridge and glüewine for dinner.

I had brought a twig stove with me. There is a fire ban in the park, but I had asked the authorities about it before the trip, and a twig stove was ok. But you’re not allowed to break any branches from neither living nor dead trees, which left me with already fallen twigs laying on the ground. Since everything was covered in wet snow I didn’t even bother. I used my gas canister stove, but since I had brought cheap gas it didn’t work well in the cold, and I had to hold the canister in my hands to keep it warm enough to give a flame. Next time I’ll be smart enough to bring either Primus Winter gas or my Multifuel stove.

Bringing rice porridge is far from UL, but it was super delicious. After dinner I crawled into my sleeping bag and watched Bright on Netflix. I didn’t sleep well, as the sleeping pad still wasn’t level, and it was pretty uncomfortable. I also think I might have set up camp on, or near someone’s toilet. There was a slight smell of… poop. But I was too tired and it was too dark and snowy outside for me to wanna move camp.

Next morning I tried to find the source of the smell after I broke camp, but didn’t find it. I was prepared for a nasty surprise under my floor, but fortunately it was clean.

After breakfast I kept hiking south. In the southernmost part of the circle trail there is another trail that leads down to the southern end of Tresticklan. I hadn’t been in the southern parts before, and decided to go as far south as I could before 13.00, and then turn back. I had planned to get back home early on Saturday, and wanted the next camp to be pretty close to the parking lot.

It was a lot of snow here, and sometimes it was knee deep. It was hard to follow the “trail” and I lost track of it several times.

At around 12.30 I made lunch at the shore of the lake Stora Pylsan. I took my time, enjoyed the solitude, and then turned back north. The forest was beautiful, with snow covered trees, freshly formed ice on the lakes and the tranquility you get when no other humans are around. I walked around with a big smile on my face, and really enjoyed my time there.

When I came back to the circle trail I followed my foot steps back towards the trail to Lundsneset, and then back towards the parking lot. When I came to a section between the lakes Lilla- and Stora Tresticklan i left the trail and hiked up a hill. There I found a perfect campsite, and was able to make a perfect pitch of my tent (unlike the night before).

It had been getting colder during the day, and I put on my fleece, down jacket, wind jacket and my down booties. Boiling water was a pain, and my fingers got numb from trying to heat up the gas canister. Despite me having under my jacket to keep it warm. I was however able to make dinner eventually. I also boiled water to keep in a bottle wrapped in socks as a radiator in my sleeping bag.

I went to bed and slept quite well during the night. As so often, I woke up around 4-5 o’clock, feeling cold. I put on my fleece jacket and went back to sleep. I think the temperatures dropped down to around -7 to -8°C during the night.

When I woke up I really had to struggle mentally to make myself leave the comfortable warm sleeping bag and get outside in the cold. I did it gradually, and boiled coffee while still in the sleeping bag. I had brought Growers Cup coffee, which tastes really good, and can be reused. I had brought one, and the refilled it with regular coffee during the trip.

I left camp around 9.30, and hiked through the forest in beautiful weather. I could see the sky for the first time this trip, and the air was really crisp and cold.

I walked the last stretch back to the car, and at the parking lot I met three peoplewith a dog, that was going to do a short day hike. My footsteps had been the only once I’d seen in the park, which means that during my time there I’d had 55km2 of beautiful forest all to myself. I really wish I could get back here more and I would have loved to stay here a couple of more nights.

It was a great start of the year, and I hope it only gets better.

Ultralight and ultracheap – an updated gearlist

As I wrote in my plans for 2018 post I plan to do an ultralight ultracheap hiking trip later this spring.

I’ve ordered my last piece of gear to this kit, as I’ve sold my Luce Outdoor Sil Twinpeak and bought a 3F UL Gear Cangyang 3.

Most of this gear was bought to get lightweight gear for my family, but other things, like the stove etc was bought for myself.

My main gear is very expensive, and it’ll be fun to try do a trip with this gear and see how well it works. I like the thought of being able to get an complete UL set for less than 400€.

There are cheaper options to some of the stuff on the list, but I added things I own (except for the rain jacket and the down jacket).

Here’s the updated ultralight ultracheap gear list

Plans for 2018

My planning for this year isn’t done, but I do have a few things in mind already:

  • To do a lot of canoe camping trips, and bring my kids with me. My youngest is getting big enough for me to dare to take her along in the canoe
  • I’ll make another attempt at getting out on at least one overnighter each month of the year, and I’d really like to succeed in spending 10% of the nights outdoors.
  • A 3-day trip to Trestickan (I’m going on Thursday, but I’d like to get back there in spring or early fall too)
  • A 3-4 day canoe camping trip at Halen-Raslången-Immeln this spring. This will be my first longer canoe camping trip, and I’m really looking forward to it.
  • A weeklong canoe camping trip in Femundsmarka this summer. I thought about doing the ACT in Greenland this summer, but I’ll probably wait for the kids to grow older before I do this trip, and do a week in Femundsmarka instead.
  • An Ultralight ultracheap hiking trip. This is something I’m really looking forward to trying. I’ve acquired a complete set of ultracheap lightweight gear while buying stuff for my family and also stuff I’ve bought for myself. I’ll post my updated ultralight ultracheap gear list in an upcoming post and it’ll be a fun test.
  • I’d like to do another social hiking trip again. It was fun to meet other hikers in general, and especially to meet UL hikers and discuss gear and stuff like that.

These are some of the things I have planned for 2018. I hope it will be a great year, and I’m looking forward to it.

A summary of 2017

In a post in December last year I wrote about my plans for 2017.

I had a plan to get out on at least one overnighter each month of the year. I almost made it, but stumbled on the finish line, as I didn’t get out in November. But I did get out on a total of 16 trips, with car camping trips, canoe camping trips and hiking trips combined. I also tried social hiking for the first time , with the C2C Sweden, and really enjoyed it.

Another plan for 2017 was to spend 10% of the nights (36-37 nights) in a tent. I didn’t make this goal either, but I did spend 29 nights outside, which is a record for me so far.

I’ve made a few day hikes with my youngest daughter, and also a few overnighters, both with her alone and with the rest of the family. She has spent 11 nights outdoors during the summer and early fall.

When it comes to food, I did try a few other things than the regular freezer bag cooking. But much of the change came with me starting to do canoe camping trips, where weight wasn’t an issue. While hiking I wont be carrying that much heavy fresh food.

Buying a canoe was also a goal of mine, which I succeeded with. I bought a used, cheap heavy fiberglass canoe, and I loved canoe camping from the start. Since I’ll be paddling solo 99% of the time I needed a lighter canoe. The one I bought weighted 45kg and didn’t have a carrying yoke. I sold it, and got all my money back. With the new canoe I went back and forth between many different options; foldable, cedar strip, aluminum etc. But in the end I decided to buy a Mad River Explorer 14TT. I do love the cedar strip canoes from Esker, but they’re too expensive for me, and I think this one will be a great priceworthy canoe. I’ve prebooked it, and will order it in January.

Other than these goals I also had plans to be more active on the blog, to start making movies and to work on getting a hiking trail around Helgasjön.

  • The blog has gotten a lot more readers, but I haven’t been as active as I want to be. Especially this fall.
  • When it comes to movies I actually made a short one from an overnighter that I didn’t publish. And I thought that it took to much effort and focus from enjoying the serenity of nature while hiking, so I didn’t follow through with it.
  • When it comes to getting a hiking trail around Helgasjön, I’ve contacted local authorities a couple of times, and tried to get a public interest by writing about it at the local outdoor Facebook group. But so far it’s been a dead end. I haven’t given up yet though, and plan to contact other organizations to see if I can get it done through volunteer work and donations.

Despite not reaching my goals I’m happy with the outdoor year 2017. I’ve been out a lot of trips. I’ve changes tents two times and finally found “the one” with the Tentipi Olivin. I finally bought a canoe.

I hope next year will bring a lot more for me and I can’t wait for the outdoor year 2018 to start.

Happy new years everyone!

My tents, past and present

In my search for the perfect home away from home I’ve owned quite a few tents over the years. Here’s a summary of the tents I’ve owned, and my impression of them:

McKinley 3p tunneltent

I don’t remember the model name (similar to this one), but I bought it in 2005 to use while camping with the family. We only got to use it for a couple of nights before it was stolen from the storage in our apartment building.

Bergans Compact 3

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A three person tunnel tent made from PU nylon. It was the first tent I bought when I got interested in hiking again in 2014. It was heavy with its 3800g, cramped and only had 100cm of headroom, with even lower roof in the foot end. I used it on a few hikes, both with a friend and with my daughter, but I ended up selling it. The weight and bulk off it didn’t match the interior space, and it was too low inside to be comfortable, especially with more than one person inside.

Luxe Outdoor Sil Hex peak

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I bought this tent as my first solo tent. I had recently found out about UL hiking and wanted something lighter than my Bergans Compact. I could use my trekking poles as the center pole, it was fairly cheap, and I liked the tipi style. I had a half-inner to shield me from the bugs, and the other half for all my gear. It was a bit short however, and sometimes my sleeping bag got wet from touching the rain fly. They upgraded the model in 2015, making it a bit larger for the European market, and adding an optional two person inner and a separate floor. I used it on quite a few trips, and overall I was happy with it. The inner felt a bit cramped at times, and setting up the inner and the outer separately was a bit of a hassle at times. I sold it when I bought the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, but I still recommend it as it’s a nice, lightweight, modular and price worthy tent.

Luxe Outdoor Sil Twin peak

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I bought this one to get an UL tent for two people, in case I’d bring my daughter or my wife with me. I’ve used it by myself on a couple of occasions, and this summer my wife and oldest daughter used it on Laxaleden while me and our youngest daughter used the Ultamid 2.

I don’t really like it. I can’t say anything specific, but it just didn’t feel right. I’ve thought about selling it and buy a 3F UL Gear Cangyang 3 instead to have lightweight options for the whole family. But I don’t know if I’ll be able to persuade the rest of my family to go on hiking trips with me, so it might be unnecessary.

Hilleberg Enan (Kerlon 1000 version)

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I wanted to try a Hilleberg, and with their Enan model the weight finally appealed to me. I bought it with a foot print that covered both the inner and the vestibule.

At first I really liked it. The quality was impeccable, and I realized why they get that much praise. I thought it would feel a lot more cramped than it did and was pretty happy with it at first.

Condensations did however make it sag a bit, and my sleeping bag touched the foot end, and I had fabric really close to my face.

When I used it in Jotunheimen in 2016 it stood up to some severe winds. But the winds also made me see the downsides of having such a small tent. The wind pushed the fabric in and compressed the already small interior a lot. The worst night I had fabric pressed against either both sides of my feet or on my face and back.

All in all, I think it was a really good tent, but I wanted more space and ended up selling this one too. If you don’t mind the downsides I recommend it. You could hardly get better quality than Hilleberg.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2

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I’ve had my eye on this one for a long time, even before I bought the Hilleberg Enan. Eventually I made up my mind and bought it. I wanted more space than I had in my Enan, and I also wanted to try Dyneema Composite fabric. The weight, size and material made me take the plunge and buy it. This was my first use of a one walled floorless shelter. I also bought a Gossamer Gear polycro groundsheet and a Borah Gear bivy. Bugs and the thought of getting flooded worried me, and after I bought it I practiced  site selection a lot while hiking to get a better eye for suitable locations that wouldn’t get flooded.

The first times I used it, I also used the bivy. But after a couple of nights my fear of bugs subsided and I used the tent without the bivy.

The Ultamid 2 had gotten a lot of praise about its robustness and its quality. I wouldn’t say that quality is a special feature though. At that price I wouldn’t expect, or accept, anything other than really high quality.

The tent was well made, lightweight (albeit heavier than advertised), and stood up to severe winds without breaking a sweat. I liked that it didn’t sag when it got wet, and I really liked the interior space, compared to the Hilleberg Enan. It’s also quite photogenic :-). I can’t say anything specific that I didn’t like about it, but it didn’t feel perfect for me. I sold it when I bought the next tent on my list.

Tentipi Olivin light

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I bought this tent because I like the tipi style tents, I wanted to be able to use a fire inside and I liked the snow skirts that prevented a cap between the fly and the ground. Being made from Silpoly it doesn’t sag as much as Silnylon when it’s wet.

It was love at first sight. The tent is heavier than the Ultamid 2, but the weight includes a dedicated center pole, that can be replaces with two trekking poles for weight reduction. It had a nice venting system that’s controlled through lines going down the center pole. No need to even get out of the sleeping bag to open or close the vents. It’s fire retardant and you could have a small open fire inside. It doesn’t have a dedicated floor, and I had a mail-conversation with Tentipi, and they don’t plan to make one either. The 3F UL Gear Cangyuan 3 (AliExpress tent) has a floor with the same dimensions that costs ~25€, and I bought that one to use with it. I only wish that the floor could be opened up for the use of a fire inside.

I think I found the perfect tent for me. It’s a subjective feeling, but I really liked it from the start. For once I’ve stopped looking for other tents and feel like I found the one I’m going to keep. I know this might change though, but I hope I’ll stick to this one.

Family tents

Mc Kinley Alpha 4

The family bought this one for camping when our first Mc Kinley tent got stolen. It’s similar to this one, but a four person version. When we bought it I hadn’t started to hike yet, and didn’t know a lot about tents and outdoor gear. It’s a heavy camping tent, and we’ve used it on a couple of occasions, but it’s mostly being used by my oldest daughter and her friends for camping in the backyard during the summers. I can’t say I like anything about it for my intended use, but as a wear and tear tent for the kids it’s perfect.

Helsport Nordmarka 6

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We planned to do a bike-camping trip this summer, and wanted something a bit lighter, and bigger than the Mc Kinley tent. The sports chain XXL had a sale, with 25% discount on all their tents, so we bought the Nordmarka 6 with a floor. It’s Helsports cheapest tipi, made specially for XXL but we really liked it. It was large, with 250cm of headroom and a diameter of 450cm. It could easily hold out entire family with lots of spare room left.

The pegs were simple heavy folded tin, that bent easily. I bought lighter aluminum tri-pegs from AliExpress instead. The center pole was also heavy steel, and I bought Helsports aluminum center pole instead. It was for another one of their tipis, and 5 cm too long, but I sawed it off. This way I could shed quite a lot of weight off the tent.

I really liked this tent for family trips. It’s large, easy to set up, you could have an open fire or a stove inside, and it also looks good on photos :-). It seems like Helsport stopped making them, but if they start selling them again I strongly recommend them as they are really price worthy.

Last trip of 2017

I had a plan to do at least one overnight trip each month of the year. I almost made it, but eventually stumbled on the finish line, and didn’t get out in November.

On Friday December 1 I did a short overnighter in Lerike. As I wrote in my earlier post I’ve hardly had any time to get outside, as the situation at work has been crazy. But I needed my time in the woods and drove out for this short trip.

It did however get less relaxing than I thought. When I came home from work I had to quickly pack my backpack and hurry out to Lerike. It was already quite dark when I got there. There wasn’t any hiking involved, but more of a car camping trip instead. I don’t think my mind had the time to change pace from work, as it does when you spend longer times outside.

I put up the tent, set up my sleeping gear and made a fire.

I sat by the fire for quite a while making dinner, and drinking mulled wine (classic Christmas beverage in Sweden that’s served hot with raisins and almonds.)

It was nice to get outside, but I didn’t get the tranquillity I was looking for. There’s a large road across the lake, and also an airport, and there was a constant sound of traffic and airplanes landing and taking off.

After dinner I went to bed and watched a movie on Netflix. I had brought my Panyam 600 sleeping bag for the first time this season, as winter was closing in. I also tried my hexagonal AliExpress floor Thad the same dimensions as my tent.

I was hoping for snow during the night, but was out of luck. Temperatures did however drop during the night, and I had frost on the inside of my tent.

When I woke up I had the usual mental struggle to force myself out of the warm sleeping bag and out into the cold. I got the fire going and made breakfast and coffee and walked around the cape. Water levels had risen quite a bit since last time I was here, and the end of the cape had now become an island. After breakfast I packed up and left.

It was a short trip, as most trips have been this fall. I want to get away on a two night trip soon, and I’m considering going to Tresticklan on the 5-7th of January on my annual first-week-of-the-year camping trip. I really like Tresticklan as it’s desolate, quiet and beautiful.

My long absence from the blog

It’s been a long time since my last post, and I’ve hardly even thought about the blog for a while.

There’s been some reorganization at work, and theses last two months have been crazy. I’ve been more stressed out than in a long time, and have been to tired to think about the blog and write about the outdoors. A coworker compared our situation to the Greek mythology about Sisyphus punishment in the Underworld, where he for all eternity has to push a bolder up a mountain side and when he almost reach the top it keep rolling down again.

It’s in times like these that it’s more important to actually get outside to recharge and de-stress, but I haven’t had the time.

I had plans to get out this weekend, but other engagements came up, and I have to postpone it even further.

I don’t think my next trip will be a canoe trip since temperatures keeps dropping below freezing, but probably a camping trip pretty close to the car, with lots of food and a camp fire. It’s getting dark early this time of year, which means more time in camp.

When it comes to gear I bought a Tentipi Olivin earlier this fall, and I really came to like it. It’s heavier than my HMG Ultamid 2, but I actually liked it better, and it felt a lot cozier. I can shed weight by using trekking poles instead of the dedicated center pole.

Tentipi doesn’t make a floor for it, but I found a floor on AliExpress for a 3F UL Gear Cangyang 3 that has the same dimensions. It only cost me ~25€.

As for the canoe, one of the fiberglass seats, that already had a crack in it when I bought it, broke on my last trip. I made two wooden seats instead and used them instead of the fiberglass seats. The canoe is too heavy for me to use alone, and I would need the space in my basement for other things, so I’ve been saving up for a new canoe. I’ll sell this one and probably buy a Bergans Ally foldable canoe. It only weighs 18kg, and can be stored in its pack without taking up that much space.

When it comes to trips I’ve been planning next years trips, and I’ll do a 4-day trip at Halen-Raslången-Immeln in Blekinge and Scania in the early spring. It’ll be sort of a test run for longer canoe trips.

In summer I plan to go to Femundsmarka national park and do a weeklong canoe trip. I had planned to go to Greenland this summer, but I might postpone it again. I was away from my kids for two weeks this summer and I missed them too much.

Here’s my canoe camping pack list.

It’s a lot heavier than my regular UL pack list. Partly because of my heavier tent, but also because I bring more gear for cooking and an axe for campfires. Weight isn’t that much of an issue when canoe camping. But I still like to keep it down as much as possible without cutting down on comfort.

I hope I’ll get out on another trip soon. I can’t wait for the snow to fall, and I want to do a snowshoe hiking trip, but I’m also looking forward to spring and to be able to do longer canoe camping trips.

Canoe camping in October

There’s been a month since my last camping trip. My last trip was my first canoe camping trip ever, and I instantly got hooked.

As so often before, when it’s been a while since I’ve been out, the need to get out again grew stronger every day. It was great to get back out.

I took the Friday off from work, and left home at around 11.00. I had packed my Exped Lightning full of gear and food. As I’ve written before, a nice thing about canoe camping is the ability to bring lots of heavy food, since you don’t have to carry it on your back.

Just as the previous trip, getting the canoe on and off the roof of my car by myself was an adventure on its own. The canoe is an old 4,5m fiberglass canoe that weighs a ton. Now that I know I’ll continue with canoe camping I’ll save up to buy a lighter canoe, that’s better for solo use, and won’t make me break my back every time.

I drove to Helgö, loaded the canoe full of gear and started to paddle. My goal for this trip was Ramsö, a larger island a bit east of Ferön where I camped last month.

It was a bit windy, and I had head-wind the entire time. But I think I’m starting to get the hang of the J-stroke, and paddled with a descent pace.

It was hard to take a straight photo when the waves kept rocking the canoe

The wind made the canoe turn as soon as I stopped paddling. It made navigation with the compass a bit harder since the canoe kept turning.

Eventually I came closer to Ramsö, and I found a small beach with a fire ring on the southern end of the island.

At first I had planned to paddle around the island to see if there where other good places to set up camp, but since the beach was so perfect I stopped there.

The southern end of Ramsö had a perfect spot to camp

I took a short walk around the beach, to search for the best place to set up my camp, but the best place to set up camp was just next to the beach.

I put up my Tentipi Olivin, and my sleeping gear before I started the fire. I had brought fire wood, but I also collected some more fire wood from the island since there where a lot of fallen trees.

Starting the fire was pretty easy since I used my own dry birch wood.

I wasn’t sure I did the right thing when I bought the Tentipi Olivin, but after these two trips I really like it. I just hope Tentipi will start selling a floor to it too.

I fried a couple of sausages for lunch, and then spent the rest of the afternoon chilling by the fire.

It was nice, but windy. I tried to set up a tarp to shield me from the wind, but somehow I got it wrong and made a smoke trap with it, that also turned the smoke around and made the entire area close to the fire covered with smoke, so I put it down again.

My smoke trap

The skies where covered in clouds most of the day, but just before sunset the clouds scattered and I had a little bit of sun. I decided to make dinner and put some extra firewood on the fire to get the heat up. I made bifteki with Somun bread this time too. It was delicious, and I had brought a couple of beers to drink with it.

My home for the night

I sat by the fire for a couple of hours before I went to bed. I watched an hour of Gangs of New York on Netflix before I went to sleep.

The wind picked up during the night and really shocked the tent. I considered pegging the guy lines too, but I thought that 12 ground pegs should be enough, and stayed in bed.

When I woke up the next morning the wind still blew hard, and it rained on and off. I stayed in my sleeping bag until 9.30 before I finally got up.

I got the fire going after several tries. The wind blew so hard that I had trouble keeping the fire going. When I finally got it going I made my morning coffee, fried some bacon and a couple of eggs that I ate with the left-over bread.

Making breakfast

I started to pack up after breakfast, but just before Inwas going to take down the tent it started to rain heavily. I layed in the tent for 10 minuets before it stopped. I took the tent down, packed up the canoe and left for Helgö.

Unfortunately I had head-wind today too, but with stronger winds and larger waves than yesterday. The weather report said 9 m/s, which isn’t that much, but enough to be a challenge for a rookie paddler like myself. The waves where large enough to flush over the bow, and they  kept trying to turn the canoe around. I had to paddle like crazy just to keep the canoe straight in the water, and my arms where sore when I reached calmer waters.

I finally came close to Helgö and the waves calmed down. I paddled the last stretch back to the car without effort.

Back at the parking lot I once again had to get the canoe back up on the roof of my car. And again it felt like I would either break the canoe, my car or my back.

I’m back home now, but I can’t wait to get back out on another canoe trip. I’ll get back to Ramsö again, but I also want to explore Åsnen, Smålands largest lake, and Halen in Blekinge.