Canoe camping with Friluftsfrämjandet friends

(Disclaimer: Below list contains two affiliate links, which means I get a small commission for purchases made through the links. The gear is bought with my own money though and I have not been asked to review the gear.)

I have gone from camping almost every month of the year a few years back, to barely be out at all this year. I can’t find any specific reason. I love it but I just haven’t had the feeling. I don’t know if it might be because I’ve done so many short overnighters all around here that I want more. More hiking, longer paddles, mountains and multiday trips.

But in July me and C finally got out on an overnighter. We went on a canoe trip with Christoffer and his daughter E, that we met through Friluftsfrämjandet Skogsknytt and Skogsmulle. Both Christoffer and I are leaders for a Skogsmulle group.

We decided to do the trip on Tolgasjön where C and I usually paddle and camp, since it’s a narrow lake to paddle and short distances. It was E:s first canoe camping trip so we didn’t want to make an expedition out of it.

We had also decided to go with two cars and drop off one car at the end of our route, and drive the other car with the canoe to our starting point. We didn’t want to have to paddle too long back, in case the kids would be homesick.

The paddle wasn’t long though, and in retrospect we could have chosen a starting point further away from the island we had planned to camp on.

Last time we camped together we had one tent each, but this time we shared my HMG Ultamid 4, so I brought the full inner.

We had loads of room, but we had to tell the kids several times that they couldn’t use the carbon fiber center pole for pole dancing.

We fought an uneven battle to stop the kids from tripping over the guy lines. Christoffer put backpacks to block the way, but they would still wrestle through and trip. Eventually he found a big branch with a lot of leaves on it, pushed it down by the guy line (basically planted a tree) to block it. Still they kept running through it and trip.

Since we had brought the tent Christoffer said he could bring the food. He had brought burgers, and I decided to fry some on my pan too, to make the cooking speedier. The kids played and seemed to be content, and me and Christoffer had a couple of beers. I had put mine in the freezer before we went, so it was more or less beer slush. But I liked it. A cold slush beer on a camping trip is still a cold beer.

Most of the afternoon and evening we had good weather, but we did have a couple of rain showers. But it was plenty of room for the four of us in the tent so we didn’t mind much.

The kids had a hard time going to sleep. I read “Frejas första fjällvandring” by Emma V Larsson to get them sleepy, but I had scared them earlier in the evening when I told them the (true) ghost story about the times that me and my father had seen the legendary ghost that roams the road up to the house where I grew up.

Eventually, sometime after 23.00 they both fell asleep. C woke up at 04.00 though and had a really hard time getting back to sleep. I went outside and took a few photos of the sunrise, and I was afraid that C wouldn’t get back to sleep. Eventually she did though, and I dozed of and fell in and out of sleep until it was time to get up.

Christoffer made breakfast to all of us. Toast with bacon and fried eggs. A great way to start the day.

The kids seemed tired, and had a few arguments between them. It was time to go home, so we broke down camp and packed the canoe. The paddle back was very short, just across the lake back to the shore where there’s a campsite for Värendsleden canoe route.

The 400 meter uphill carry of the canoe from the campsite to the parking lot was a pain though. The canoe really isn’t lightweight, but I thought I would try to carry it on my shoulders anyways, while Christoffer took a lot of the other gear.

Once back at the car we drove to our starting point to get my car. I got back and picked up the canoe and all of us got back to the city and got some ice cream.

It was a nice summer trip. We’ve had great weather all summer and it’s perfect for canoe camping trips like this. Next trip will probably be a solo trip though, and I already have a place in mind.

Camping and first canoeing of 2021

It’s been a while since I wrote here. It has been a lot going on this spring and I just haven’t had the time or energy to write. But I do have a few trip reports to post, so I’ll start with No. 1 out of 4.

Trip report

On 30th of April C and I got out on an overnighter together. It was our first overnighter together since our hot tent overnighter in Januaury, and it would be the first time C got to use the new Ultamid 4. I had only used it once before, on my ski trip in February, but that time I used the half inner. For this trip I brought the full inner, to get a chance to test it.

We got away later than first planned, and since we had to get back early the next day drove to our “secret” spot, that is close to home. It’s also C:s favourite place to camp. I brought the canoe too. We didn’t plan to paddle to a campsite, but I wanted to do at least a short paddle.

When we arrived I set up camp right away. The spot where we usually put up the tent was in the danger zone though. A pine tree had cracked about 100cm up, but was still standing. It would have been stupid to put up the tent within falling distance from it, so we cleared out a new spot and set up the tent.

After that we made dinner, chicken paeng red curry with noodles. I loved it, but C prefered the noodles over the paeng.

We paddled for a while and C got to use her new fishing rod. We didn’t catch anything though. But after a while C wanted to get back. It’s neither the hiking nor the paddling that she prefers. It’s playing in the tent.

So we got back to the car, put the canoe back in the roof and went back to the tent.

There where a lot of Canada geese that honked all around us. Their nests are everywhere in these parts. But we also heard the lonely calls from Loons. The sound of their cries cut through everything, and I think it’s one of the most beautiful sounds in nature.

As the sun was setting we got out on a rock on the far edge of our peninsula and just sat there, looked over the lake and listened to the sounds of nature.

After a long time we got back to the tent. C slept like a log all night, but I woke up several times when my Massdrop Klymit mat had deflated (I later found a tiny little hole in it.)

The next morning I made french toast from a pancake powder mix I had made at home. It was a pretty nice breakfast.

We packed up after that, and when I started to take down the tent the rain started.

And that’s that. A simple short overnighter, but a nice time spent in nature and hanging out with my daughter.

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.