Sleep system update

When I first started to get seriously interested in hiking, and keeping the weight down, I bought my first down sleeping bag. Changing the sleeping bag from a synthetic bag to a down bag is one of the things that could greatly reduce your weight and bulk.

After a lot of research I choose to go with Cumulus, and bought their Panyam 600. When I bought it my goal was to have it as “The one bag to rule them all”, and use it all year around.

It did however prove to be too warm even for late summer use in the mountains, so I bought a Quilt 350 from Cumulus. It was my first quilt and I had some issues with it at first, but after some tweaking I got it to work good without getting any drafts. The Quilt 350 has a sewn foot box.

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When buying gear for my family I stumbled upon the Wind Hard Tiny quilt from AliExpress. It’s cheap, with sewn-through baffles, but it proved to be better than I expected, and now I use it myself in the summer.

I really liked the rectangular shape of the quilt, without the sewn foot box, and decided to update my sleep system.

I’ve sold the Quilt 350, and bought the updated Quilt 450 from Cumulus instead. With the new model they’ve updated the straps, and they don’t have a sewn foot box, but instead have the ability to open it up like a regular quilt at home. The warmer rating will make it possible for me to use this almost all year around in southern Sweden. If it gets really cold I could use the Wind Hard Tiny over the Quilt 450.

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This will probably make the Panyam 600 a bit redundant, since the rating won’t differ so much between the Quilt and the Panyam. My plan is to eventually sell the Panyam and buy a Teneqa 850 or an Excuistic 1000 as I want to do deep winter travels in the north, either on skis or with snow shoes.

My new Quilt/sleeping bag setup will be the Wind Hard Tiny for summer use, the Quilt 450 for spring, fall and southern winter use and the Teneqa or Excuistic for deep winter use.

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Quilts vs sleeping bags

When it comes to reducing your pack weight, reducing weight on the big three often has the biggest impact with just a few items. The big three is the backpack, tent/shelter system and the sleep system (sleeping bag and sleeping mat).

One thing that saves a lot of weight and bulk is to choose a down sleeping bag instead of a synthetic one. Down weighs less for the same insulation, compresses better and have a longer lifespan without loosing loft. A way to save even more weight is to switch from a sleeping bag to a quilt.

In the ultralight community quilts have become more or less the standard. A quilt, as opposed to a sleeping bag, doesn’t have a hood, and is also open in the bottom, where your sleeping pad insulates you from the cold.  This saves weight as it uses less material. For colder weather a down hood can be used, which add warmth but is more flexible than a sewn hood on a sleeping bag. Another great feature with quilts are that it’s easy to regulate temperature and they’re easy to get in and out of.

Quilts come in different versions. There are ones without the sewn in foot box. These can be opened up like a regular rectangular quilt at home, which gives great ventilation and an easy way of regulating temperature. The foot box can be closed with zippers, buckles and draw stings. One negative thing about these quilts is that in theory the foot box doesn’t get as warm as a sewn in foot box since it’s not completely sealed.

The other version is a quilt with a sewn in foot box. The bottom of the quilt looks like a sleeping bag, which makes it a bit warmer than an open quilt, but you also loose ability for configurations and ventilation.

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The quilts can be used as a regular quilt at home, where you just wrap it around you, but for colder weather you’d want to prevent drafts. To do this most manufacturers have straps that you wrap around your sleeping pad and then secure to your quilt. This will make the quilt stay in place when you move around in your sleep.

Quilt modification

I switched to quilts for three season use in 2016, but it took a while for me to get used to it. My quilt was a Cumulus Quilt 350, and I had a hard time getting the straps to work good without getting cold drafts. I was close to selling it and go back to using sleeping bags when I finally found a way that works; Using the lower strap around the pad, with the quilt above it, move the upper strap to the middle of the quilt, securing it under the pad with the quilt down to the sides.

Since I got it to work without drafts I started to really like quilts. Especially since I toss and turn a lot at night, and also like to sleep on my belly. Having a quilt, that doesn’t have a hood and that you don’t get tangled up in, works very well for this.

Manufacturers

Below is a list of some of the most known quilt makers.

Cumulus is a polish brand that makes sleeping bags, quilts and down clothes. They make high quality gear at a reasonable price, and their products are common in Sweden. I’ve bought several items from them over the years and I’m very happy with both the products, the service and the price. They recently (2018) updated their line of quilts, so they now come without a sewn foot box and with an updated strap system.

Katabatic Gear is by many considered to be the best in the industry, with very high quality on their products. There are a number of different configurations you can do, with both width, length and fill. They are, however, a very pricey.

Hammock Gear is another company that often gets recommended. Especially their Econ quilts when it comes to recommendations for getting ultralight on a budget. For us Europeans customs and sales taxes would probably push the price up a level where it’s not price worthy anymore.

Enlightened Equipement is an American cottage brand. Unlike most other companies Enlightened Equipment uses vertical baffles instead of horizontal. I’m not sure if there’s any benefits with the design, but if I remember correctly it’s designed like that to be able to push the down up and down to where you’d want the most warmth. There is a bit of a lead time to get the quilt, but they regularly go on sale on Massdrop.

As Tucas is a small European cottage brand founded in 2013. As Tucas makes both synthetic and down quilts, as well as bivy bags and clothes.

Issues with the canoe hull

I recently decided to wash and wax my canoe. In retrospect I read that you really don’t have to wax canoes with a polyethylene hull since the wax won’t stick anyway, so in one aspect it was unnecessary.

But waxing the canoe exposed what seems to be an issue with the mold. The hull was covered with small air bubbles and holes, most of them in the aft and stern, and less in the middle. The holes got filled with wax, and thus easy to see with the naked eye, and with a closer look I saw that there where air bubbles inside the plastic. Some of the holes where also fairly large.

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I took a couple of photos and asked about it in Reddits caone forum and got the answer that it should definitely not look like that, and that I should contact Mad River about a replacement. I’ve read before about issues with the hull on these models but I thought it had been sorted out.

I’ve contacted the retailer and Mad River, and now I hope for the best. I haven’t heard back from the retailer yet, but Mad River was forwarding the info to the fabric.

Since I was considering selling it I guess the best case scenario would be to get the money back, especially since the shipping alone of a new canoe costs 150€ (should be covered by the warranty but I don’t know). If the manufacturer doesn’t come through, selling it with these issues would mean loosing a lot of money, if it’s even possible.

Now I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that everything works out with Mad River and the retailer as fast as possible. With the never ending heat stroke we have here in Europe I’m more and more leaning towards canoe camping in Femundsmarka rather than hiking in Hardangervidda, to have constant access to the lakes for cooling off. But with a potentially weakened hull I’m not too keen on taking it on a week long trip far out in the wilderness. I hope everything works out before I leave.

Update 31 July

I got in contact with the retailer again, who said that according to Mad River the issue was just a cosmetic one, that doesn’t affect durability or function, and nothing they will return it for. I’ve also emailed their European contact, who forwarded the images to the factory, but said he thought it looked like a cosmetic issue.

If this is accurate it’s nice to not having to hassle with shipping it back to the retailer. My wife and I have been out on more short canoe trips, and now she has started to like canoeing and wants me to keep the canoe as a family canoe. I’ll save up for a more lightweight canoe for solo use in the future though. I’m not all too pleased about having paid full price though, as this probably affects second hand value. I do think that Mad River should offer a partial refund.

Storminstove alcohol stove system

I just received my stove system from Storminstove. Storminstove is a small UK based business, and the closest resemblance would be the Caldera Cone.

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I bought a set with a cone, that serves as both a wind shield and a pot holder, a ground reflector and a stove. Everything together weighs 70g.

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The cones are made to order and you can give the dimensions of your pot on the webshop, but he already has templates for a lot of different pots.

I have the Toaks 700ml UL pot with thinner titanium. I didn’t have to state any measurements, but he already had a template for my pot. The communication was great, and he answered all my questions in a very short time, even during the weekend.

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The cone is made of two parts, that you put together using rivets on the lower part. The pot fits tightly in the cone. The stove has a capacity for 30ml of fuel, and the system is estimated to boil 450ml of water on 15ml of fuel. With three boils per day you only have to use 45ml per day. On my average two-night trip I have five boils, which means a fuel weight of 75g. The lightest gas canister weighs 198g full. I also like that alcohol stoves are quiet.

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Everything nests in the pot and my complete system with the Storminstove-set, pot, spoon, fire steel and mini bic weighs 225g.

I’ll write a review as soon as I’ve used it enough.

Trangia stove system – a walkthrough and review

If you’ve grown up in Sweden with any sort of outdoor experience it’s highly likely that you’ve come across a Trangia stove. The company started in 1925 with regular cooking utensils, and in 1951 the first prototype of the Trangia stove system was launched.It’s far from a lightweigh stove system, but it is very windproof, fuel efficient and relatively safe to use around children. The stove consists of a frying pan, two pots, a gripper, an upper and lower windshield and the burner. The standard burner is an alcoholburner, but you can also get the set with a canister gas burner. The gas burner is also sold separately. You can also use the Trangia with the Multfuel X2 burner, witch uses kerosene, gasoline or canister gas amongst others.

Sizes

The series are the 25-, the 27-series and the Minitrangia. There are three different sizes, and a lot of different options to choose from, with regular aluminum, Hard anodized aluminum, duosal (outside aluminum, inside steel), non-stick or with a kettle.

Trangia stove setsTrangia stove sets

Burners

The spirit burner weighs 110g. The gas burner weighs 180g and the Multifuel burner with everything included weighs 525g. All burner can be used in the 25- and 27-series, but the Trangia Mini can only use the spirit burner. With a Trangia Triangle (stove stand 112g) other burners can be used with the Trangia Mini too.

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25-series

The 25-series is the largest one, suitable for 3-4 persons. It has a 1,5l and a 1,75l pot. The windshields of the 25 series weighs 200+120g, the pots weigh 110+115g, the frying pan weighs 110g (165g for the non-stick) and 48g for the gripper. The strap that holds it together weighs 20g.

27-series

The 27-series is the medium sized system, suitable for 1-2 persons. It has the same basic components as the 25-series, but everything is smaller, and it has two 1l-pots. The windshields of the 27-series weighs 170+90g, the pots weigh 80g each, the frying pan weighs 85g (120g for the non-stick). The gripper and the strap weighs the same as with the 27-series.

Mini Trangia

The Mini Trangia consists of a spirit burner, a pot stand, a 0,8l pot, a non-stick frying pan and a gripper.

The pot stand/windshield weighs 50g, the pot weighs 92g, the frying pan 76g and the gripper weighs 18g.

Setup

You set up the stove with the vent on the lower windshield facing the wind. This drives the wind up through the windshield providing oxygen to the burner. If you face it in the opposite direction the air will be drawn out of the windshield and pull the flame and the heat down, with a risk of melting the windshield.

Trangia 25UL, Trangia 27ULHA, Trangia MiniTrangia 25UL, Trangia 27ULHA, Trangia Mini

Put the burner in the hole in the lower wind shield, and fasten the upper windshield on the lower. If you use a gas burner or a Multifuel burner, pull the tube through the big hole on the side of the lower windshield.

The upper windshield has three pot holders. When they’re flicked down, they hold the pots inside the windshield. You flick them up to use with the frying pan.

Trangia 25UL, Trangia 27ULHA, Trangia Mini

Using the Multifuel X2

The Trangia Multifuel X2 can be used with gasoline, diesel, kerosene, canister gas, well basically any fuel. You put the burner in the hole in the bottom windshield, and put the hose through the larger hole on the side of the windshield. Connect the stove to pumpbottle and pump it 20-25 times if the bottle is full. More times if there’s less fuel in it. The bottle is marked with an on and an off sign on each side. If you use liquid fuel you first need to prime the stove. Make sure the on-sign on the bottle faces up and turn on the valve for a couple of seconds and then close it again. Then light the stove. When the flames have almost died out, slowly turn on the valve to let more fuel out. If the stove is hot enough you should get a nice blue flame. To put the stove out, turn the bottle around, so the off-sigh is facing up. The fuel in the tube will burn up, and it will depressurize the fuel bottle. Close the valve after this, and unscrew the bottle.

My usage

There is something almost sentimental about the Trangias. It’s the first stove I’ve used, as a boy scout lending my parents stove. For a long time I basically though it was the only stove out there.

I bought the 25-series on my first hike in Norway. I really had no idea that there where different options at the time, and thought everything Trangia was the same. So I went on a hike, using a stove-set for 3-4 persons for just boiling water for freeze dried food. I do still use it however, when I’m out with the family on day hikes or car camping tips.

The Trangia Mini was the second stove I bought, and my first lightweight stove.

I wanted to use a gas canister stove instead and didn’t come to use the Mini that much. It is however compact and fairly lightweight. I do recommend a separate windshield, since the pot stand is only a windshield by name.

I bought the 27-series and the Multifuel X2 burner when I planned to go to Greenland, where it can be hard to find gas canisters. I wanted the hard anodized aluminum since they doesn’t scratch as easy, and you could use sand and other stuff like that to clean it out. I haven’t used it that much, but it has come to use when I’ve been out in the colder seasons. I should have brought it when I was in Tresticklan in January, since it was too cold for my gas, and I barely could get a flame.

I like the stoves. They’re really stable, and the windshields makes for a very fuel efficient burn, even in very windy conditions. The stability makes them good when you got small kids around. They’re suitable for real cooking. The negative thing with them is the bulk and the weight. If you don’t do any real cooking, but just boil water, there are a lot lighter options. I mostly use my FireMaple 116T (48g) with a Toaks 750ml pot (113g).

The gram geek in me has a hard time recommend them, but there is something with Trangias that just makes me want to use them. They are really good quality, and if weight isn’t a priority, or you like to expand your outdoor cooking to more than just boiling water, I’d recommend them. I do prefer the hard anodized aluminum version though.

Cumulus Junior 250 – first impressions

I’ve been looking for a dedicated sleeping bag for my youngest daughter. She’s two years old, and I have bought cheap Aegismax quilts and sleeping bags for the rest of the family. But since C is a lot smaller, and basically the only family member that likes to join me in the woods (Outside of car camping), I thought I’d get her a dedicated kids sleeping bag.

The Cumulus Junior comes in two versions, the 150 and the 250, which states how much down it has in it. They both come with 700cuin down as standard. The 250 has a comfort temperature of 9°C. The fabric is made from 35g/m2 Pertex Quantum. I prefer the thicker 35g/m2 to the 27g/m2 that I have in my Quilt 350. Especially since it’ll be used by a kid that might not go so easy on the gear.

I made a custom order of the 250 with 850cuin down. This gives it an estimated comfort temperature of 5°C, according to Cumulus. With a thick fleece base layer I think it’ll be ok down to freezing. She has always slept really good outside, in her stroller, with just a thick base layer and a knitted wool blanket. I could also bring the Aegismax Wind Hard Tiny as an extra layer over the sleeping bag for insurance.

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Since it was a custom order it took a few weeks for it to arrive. As with my other products from Cumulus it has a feeling of high quality, and it lofts up fine. There is a tag on the baffle along the zipper that states the cuin of the down. It comes with a small stuff sack, and a larger mesh storage bag.img_0490img_0491

In the foot end there’s a draw cord. You could stuff the lower end of the sleeping bag into itself, and close the draw cord. That way you get a shorter sleeping bag, with less air to heat up, that is suitable for smaller children.

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Cumulus Junior 250

The weight of the sleeping bag is 520g. It suitable for kids up to 140cm.

As it is now I’m just waiting for the temperature to warm up a bit before I bring C along again. Winter still holds a firm grip of Sweden, and night temps dropped down to -16°C just a few nights ago. I don’t want to risk exposing her to those temps, and give her memories of he outdoors as the place where you’d freeze your ass off.

Tweaking gear and shedding weight

It’s no secret that I really like my Tentipi Olivin. It was love at first sight, and I don’t regret buying it. It is however a lot heavier than my the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 that I owned before I bought this shelter.

The Ultamid, with pegs, all the guylines attached, polycro groundsheet and polestraps weighted just under 1000g.

My Tentipi Olivin with the 3F UL Gear floor weighs 2325g.

The gram geek in me just couldn’t let that stand, so I looked at ways to reduce weight.

There are 12 perimeter anchor points, and 6 guylines. I had 18 Y-pegs, but changed 6 of them to Toaks Shepard Hooks. They weigh less than half of a Y-peg.

I also ordered Hyperlite Mountain Gear polestraps to use my trekking poles instead of the dedicated center pole. The centerpole with its bag weighs 484g. The polestraps weighs 36g.

I’ve switched the original tent bag for my Luxe Outdoor stuff sack that weighs 22g instead of 67g.

I’ll also skip the bag with the repairkit and the pitching aid, which saves me 29g.

With this setup my shelter weighs a lot less:

  • Tentipi Olivin fly: 1161g
  • HMG polestraps: 36g
  • Pegs + bag: 214g
  • 3F UL gear floor: 320g
  • Tent bag: 22g
  • Total: 1753g

I could save 220g more if I use my polycro groundsheet instead of the silnylon floor.

That’s it. With a few simple moves I could reduce 572g from my shelter system, with another 220g easily removed if I want to.

It still not a UL shelter if you count it as a one person shelter. But it’s still quite a lot lighter than before. I’ll try this new setup the next time I’m out.

Other than that I ordered a Hyperlite Mountain Gear stuff sack pillow when I ordered the pole straps. The stuff sack pillow weighs the same as the old stuff sack that I used to store my down jacket in, but I can skip the inflatable pillow, which sheds another 49g of my base weight. Hopefully it’ll also improve my sleep, as the air pillow isn’t that comfortable.

Over and out from the gram geek.

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

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.

Ultralight and ultracheap

When you think ultralight it’s easy to also think ultra expensive Dyneema composite fabric cottage gear. And you could spend a fortune to get a light gear setup. (Trust me I know. I’ve done it)

However, there are ways to get a cheap descent lightweight kit. Maybe for family members who rarely, but occasionally join you on hikes. Or friends that are showing an interest in hiking, but don’t want to spend a small fortune before they even know if is for them. On Reddits UL-forum there is a constantly changing lighterpack gearlist with ultralight affordable alternatives.

I put together a version for a somewhat complete gear list for a price of around $300 and a weight around 3000g using parts of the Reddit gearlist.

Weight: 465g     Price: $61
– Innertent: 3F pedestrian
Weight: 450g     Price: $26
Weight: 270g     Price: $17
     + Polycro groundsheetWeight: 67g        Price: $7
– Backpack: 3F frameless backpack 40+16lWeight: 950g     Price: $52
– Sleeping bag: Aegismax Mummy bagWeight: 692g    Price: $96
– Sleeping mat: Naturehike (Z-lite copy)Weight: 436g    Price: $14
– Pot: Imursa ~700mlWeight: 71g       Price: $6
– Burner: BRS-3000T
Weight: 25g     Price: $11
 – Water treatment: Sawyer mini
Weight: 70g   Price: $20
Weight: 2g      Price: £16
– Hiking poles: Alpenstock
Weight: 270g  Price: $24
Most of it is from AliExpress. I’ve bought both an Aegismax Wind Hard quilt (496g / $80) and an Aegismax G1 mummybag (692g / $94) for the occational times my wife or any of my kids join me.  Concerning the ethics I read a post on backpackinglight.com earlier this year that they are supposed to use down from the same source as the rest of the major companies that have their manufacturing in China.
Aegismax G1 with 380g 800 cuin down, Naturehike sleeping pad, 3F UL backpack and Windhard quilt with 290g 850 cuin down

I also bought a down puffy ($21), a foldable sleeping pad ($18) and the 3F frameless pack (950g / $43) for my wife.

You do however skimp on quality. The low cost comes with that. There have been reports that the fabric in the sleeping bag and quilt doesn’t breath well, which makes you sweat, and in the end will leave you colder. They’ve changed the fabric on the sleeping bag, but it didn’t appear to be fully down proof as down seems to seep through the fabric. The quilt also has sewn through baffles, but I plan to use these primarily during the summer. But I might also use the quilt over my winter sleeping bag if the temperatures drop as much as they did on my January overnight trip.

In most cases I’d say that more expensive gear from known quality brands will give you better products. And I like to support the cottage industry. But if you, like me, want to get a lightweight setup for family members without having to spend a fortune on gear that seldom gets used, it’s nice to have a cheap option.

Update in January 2018:

I’ve made an updated post with a lighterpack here